Ror Reviews: DREDD 3D
So, does Karl Urban bring the requisite judgement? You've already read a glowing review from a non-fan, but what did this lifelong follower of old stony face think of his latest big screen outing from director Pete Travis? Read on to find out..
2000 AD was one of the first comics I ever read as a kid, and in a universe filled with amazing characters, Judge Dredd always stood out. There was something fascinating to me about this cold, ruthless lawman being portrayed as the hero, and the stories were nearly always gripping enough to keep me coming back for more. As I got older, I began to pick up on the more satirical elements too, and started to realize that this anti-hero did have a heart..even if he couldn't remember the last time he used it. Yes, it's safe to say I was and remain a huge fan, so I had pretty high hopes for this movie - especially after the Stallone debacle.
I'm happy to report that Dredd is a success - in most respects anyway. Set over the course of one day, as the grizzled veteran, Dredd, puts psychic rookie Anderson through her paces, the plot isn't exactly what you'd call complex, but then it doesn't need to be. The majority of the action takes place in one huge "mega-block", as the vicious Ma-Ma attempts to ensure the Judges never leave. To say violence ensues is an understatement - this movie more than earns it's 18 certificate. But because most of the victims are themselves evil criminals, it's never too shocking, and despite the barrage of blood, brains and eyeballs, you'll have a lot of fun with it. The action sequences are also brilliantly shot, and very exciting - even though the nature of the story means there are few real surprises. The 3D works really well during the "slo-mo" scenes, but otherwise looks - you guessed it - like every other movie you've seen in 3D.
As Dredd, Karl Urban is pretty much perfect. I was a bit worried when I heard that whispery, gruff voice that is so often used for "bad-ass" comic characters (Batman, Rorschach), but he never overdoes it, and really, would Dredd talk any other way? He is of course acting from beneath a helmet for the entire movie, but he totally nails the intensity and determination of a man who has completely given himself over to the law as its instrument of justice. We never get to know that much about him beyond that - aside from a brief scene in which Anderson reads his mind, hinting at some more layers beneath the uniform - but that's ok, it's enough to just see him kill lots of people and spout the occasional hilarious one-liner. Trust me. Olivia Thirlby is also top notch as Anderson, providing us with a bit more of a sympathetic hero to root for. I thought she may have been miscast when first announced in the role, but she plays the sensitive, but tough Psy-Judge brilliantly. Lena Headey plays Ma-ma as a calm, almost laid back monster, and does it very well. I would have liked a couple more scenes with her though.
My only real problems with the movie were that the final few scenes seemed a bit rushed. The very last scene in particular could have been a lot stronger - obviously I won't say what it was. The fact that so much of the movie is set in the one location also means that it does seem slightly repetitive at times. I understand why they chose to do it that way, but I couldn't help but wish we could see more of Mega City 1. There are also some elements from the comic that they didn't really touch on, but that's to be expected of course. But as a big Judge Dredd fan, I was very happy with this - I just hope that we get a sequel so that this great world can be expanded upon, and let's get the Dark Judges in there for good measure.
Dredd is an ultra-violent little gem from start to finish, that should appeal to fans and non-fans alike. Those of a squeamish disposition might want to think twice, but I really can't imagine any genre fan not finding something to enjoy here. Get out there and see it so we can get that sequel!
Dredd is out now in the UK and Ireland, and hits September 21st in the US.
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