Josh Wilding Reviews: DREDD 3D
Released in the UK today and in the US on September 21st, here is my spoiler-free verdict of DREDD; a film which deserves all the praise it has received since it premiered at the San Diego Comic-Con and a whole lot more besides. Check it out!
I'm not a Judge Dredd fan. I've never read a comic book featuring the character and haven't even watched the awful looking 1995 film starring Sylvester Stallone. The 2000 AD Universe has never really appealed to me, and while I'm sure that I may be missing out on some great stuff, it's for this reason that I haven't exactly been counting down the days until the release of DREDD. Sure, it looked pretty good in the trailer and TV spots, but it's not the kind of film which is going to get me as excited as something like The Avengers! However, had I known just how good it was going to be, DREDD would have been right up there as one of my most anticipated of 2012. While the film is clearly restricted by a budget which is lower than usual for this type of film (it almost all takes place in one location), that's far from noticeable and the special effects are absolutely top notch. It's not hard to imagine a sequel with considerably more money spent on it and a more ambitious screenplay rivalling the epic blockbusters mentioned above though. Regardless, DREDD is still a fantastic movie which makes for a thrilling 90 minutes at the theatre, and even if like me, you've never picked up a comic book featuring Judge Dredd, you'll still have a great time.
Karl Urban is fantastic at portraying the clearly battle worn 'Judge Dredd', but don't go in expecting an awful lot of character development. In all honesty, there's actually no need for it, especially when rookie 'Judge Anderson' offers viewers a somewhat more human and grounded perspective on events. Despite clearly being a man who cares about justice, some may find Dredd hard to care for or sympathise with as we see him brutally executing criminals. However, the film so brilliantly shows the appalling state of the crime riddled Mega City One that his actions never come across as truly being too unforgivable or extreme. While the footage released from the movie so far has shown little more than a few choice facial expressions and one-liners, there's quite a bit more to him than that, and it's all down to Urban who expertly makes the character such a great presence on screen. Olivia Thirlby meanwhile is equally impressive as Anderson, and one can only hope that the performance delivered here results in more mainstream roles for her in future. As a "mutant" with psychic powers, it means that a lot of interesting avenues are explored with her character, and one scene in particular - a psychic confrontation with The Wire's Wood Harris (also on fine form) - is VERY memorable. Lena Headey's villainous 'Ma-Ma' is as ruthless and evil as you might expect, never failing to convince. However, it's a shame that she's not the sort of foe who gives Judge Dredd a proper physical confrontation to finish off the film with.
Despite the fact that the story boils down to little more than Dredd and Anderson being trapped in a high rise and attempting to make their way to Ma-Ma, there are still a lot of great twists and turns scattered throughout to keep things interesting. The action also keeps things moving very nicely and Alex Garland's screenplay is full of great dialogue and some surprisingly humorous moments. The whole idea of "Slo-Mo" - a drug which slows slows down a users perception of time to just 1% of its normal speed - is also a nice touch and a good excuse to use bullet time (handled here far more skilfully than in Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter). However, director Pete Travis' handle on action is perhaps the most impressive aspect of DREDD as the various shoot outs and fight sequences are all equally exciting and will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. The film earns it's R-Rating, although the violence thankfully never goes too over the top or slapstick and one point of view sequence actually ends up being more impressive than almost all of those in The Amazing Spider-Man. Unfortunately, the 3D isn't particularly memorable apart from in a handful of scenes, and while it's better than most of the conversions released this year, it ultimately adds little to the overall experience.
DREDD is a must-see for fans and non-fans alike. Visually stunning and full of great performances and action sequences, it's one of the best films of 2012. Brilliant.
During a routine day on the job, Dredd is assigned to train and evaluate Cassandra Anderson, a rookie with powerful psychic abilities thanks to a genetic mutation. A heinous crime calls them to a neighborhood where fellow Judges rarely dare to venture- a 200 story vertical slum controlled by prostitute turned drug lord Ma-Ma and her ruthless clan. When they capture one of the clan's inner circle, Ma-Ma overtakes the compound's control center and wages a dirty, vicious war against the Judges that proves she will stop at nothing to protect her empire. With the body count climbing and no way out, Dredd and Anderson must confront the odds and engage in the relentless battle for their survival.
Karl Urban as Judge Dredd
Olivia Thirlby as Judge Anderson
Lena Headey as Madeline Madrigal
Domhnall Gleeson as Travis Synders
Langley Kirkwood as Judge Lex
Francis Chouler as Judge Guthrie
Deobia Oparei as Judge T.J. Alvarez
RELEASE DATE: September 7th, 2012 (UK) September 21st, 2012 (US)
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