|release date||September 21 2012|
|starring||Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey|
|tagline||Judgment Is Coming.|
|trailer 1||Trailer #1|
Until recently comic book film adaptations have been less than stellar. Prior to the ground breaking Batman Begins, many comic adaptations flopped hard. In 1995 this rang true with the inaugural film adaption of Judge Dredd where director Danny Cannon and lead Sylvester Stallone did a magnificent job completely f*cking up an adaptation with real silver screen potential. With the resurgence of comic-to-film adaptations, films like Ironman, The Avengers, Kickass, and The Dark Knight Trilogy, consistently came out on top as big summer money-makers. It was only a matter of time before a studio gave ol’ Judge Dredd another go. This comes in the form Pete Travis’s Dredd 3D starring Karl Urban as Judge Dredd, and Olivia Thirlby as the mutant Judge Anderson. While it’s not all that faithful to the comics, Dredd 3D is a beautifully badass gore-fest, ranking up there with the best “comic book” movies.
The film is set in a desolate futuristic America, where the 800,000,000 people left on the planet live in massive apartment complexes known as mega blocks. The streets outside the blocks are filled with violence, poverty, drug abuse, and gang wars. The only law enforcement is a one-tier system that eliminates trials, giving the law enforcers, known as Judges, complete autonomy as judge, jury, and executioner. Judge Dredd and his rookie partner, Anderson, are sent in to one of a massive block to investigate a rather brutal turf killing. The judges quickly realize they’re in for more than they bargained for, as the leader of the mega block, Ma-Ma, and her clan are solely responsible for the sale and distribution of a new narcotic known as SLO-MO, which slows down time to 4% its normal speed in the mind of the user.
Travis’ directing is simply stunning. The use of incredible camera tricks to capture the slow motion action is awe-inducing, and coupled with the use of 3D effects, Dredd is one of the most fun action movies of the year. Travis delivers a visually heart-pounding wet dream on screen with non-stop action and highly stylized fight sequences like you’ve never seen. Throughout the film, Judge Dredd employs a plethora of weapons from his handy Judge Gun allowing him to shoot bullets, stun bolts, incendiaries, and more. Dredd’s bullets pound through layers of skin and teeth in slow motion for some of the most unique on-screen kills in recent memory. The variety of weapons and policing strategies used by the Judges keeps the action sequences fresh throughout the film, and thanks to the R rating, there’s loads of realistic gore and bloodshed.
The plot is quite basic, so don’t expect a high-concept sci-fi flick. The simplicity of the plot adds to the movie by letting the audience fully immerse themselves in the action and aesthetics of the film. Taking place almost solely in the mega block, it allows Travis to focus on constant action without having to change locations. Travis relies a bit too much on the action genre tropes and one-liners, which are overused, verging on cliché. The badguys are useless, none of them offering a remote challenge for Dredd. These are the same that you’d find in any Arnold Schwarzenegger movie with terrible strategic planning and worse aim. Luckily, the shortcomings of the script are covered up by a big wall of aesthetic gore.
Karl Urban’s Judge Dredd is picture perfect. He nailed everything from his catchy one liners to his excessive scowl. Urban is a menacing force on screen with his heavy strut and Judge helmet, which he thankfully never takes off. Though Dredd has no back story or first name, it only adds to his apathetic attitude toward everything but the law. Olivia Thrilby delivers a solid performance beside Urban as a nice counterpart to his stern character. Her character develops substantially as the film goes on, and you realize the journey is hers, not Dredd’s. Her psychic mutant powers add a much needed element of sci-fi to help break the film from its action driven mold.
Paul Leonard-Morgan’s score mixes low-fi bass driven beats with natural drones that seems to emanate from within the mega block itself. The pseudo-electronic sounds elevate the feel of the post-apocalyptic city, blending in with the derelict scenery and Dredd’s will to kill.
Dredd 3D is nothing but badass. While it’s not a faithful comic adaptation, we’re living in an age where it seems no longer fair to judge a film based on how similar it feels to the comic. These are two different mediums, and as such should be judged on their own merits. Urban’s performance and Travis’ unique style will leave you wanting more, and I hope that some of you find that in the comics. Dredd 3D is a big, stylish, and violent action flick that absolutely has to be experienced in the theatre.
Reviewed by – GreenBasterd and Lonmonster
The idea of a new “Judge Dredd” adaptation is so tainted for me by the 1995 Sylvester Stallone version that I treated Lionsgate’s Dredd as a bastard project from day one. “There’s no way this will be good,” I convinced myself. After a rash of positive reviews out of the San Diego Comic-Con this past July, and Lionsgate’s release of the ultra-violent clip, they had my full attention.
Dredd, directed by Pete Travis, and written by 28 Days Later‘s Alex Garland, is shockingly similar to the 2011 The Raid. In the latest adaptation of the comic book, Judge Dredd (Karl Urban), Accompanied by a mutant rookie (Olivia Thirlby), respond to a call where the local drug lord, Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), has set up her operations. She resides on the top floor and, in an attempt to keep this secret, locks the two Judges in the complex. The two must work their way the building to not only survive, but to kill the drug lord and stop the mass production of the new drug, SLO-MO.
By the end of the first act I was on the edge if my seat rocked by the insane action, violence and filmmaking style. My internal dialogue screamed, “why remake RoboCop? This IS RoboCop!” Dredd taps into late 80′s/early 90′s action films such as RoboCop, while also tapping into such films as Terminator, Predator, Predator 2 and even The Crow. Those of my generation will be drooling in glee BEFORE the two Judges even enter the complex.
Once in the complex, we’re introduced to Ma-Ma in a stunning cinematic vision that shows us what it’s like to be on SLO-MO. The cinematography and slow motion filmmaking was mesmerizing, yet ironically representational of the rest of the film. While the idea of having a strong (and incredibly violent) female villain was of absolute brilliance, it wasn’t enough to elevate what becomes an hour of exposition and shootouts.
Travis makes a noble attempt to mix up the gunfire with a variety of weaponry, but, ultimately, it becomes a tad monotonous. This is where The Raid succeeds, as that film works its way from gunfire straight down to barebones fistfights – that is what keep it interesting and varied enough so that the audience doesn’t become desensitized. Dredd, through two of the most climactic moments, fails to deliver that final blow (ironically, one in the vein of RoboCop, which in my opinion is the best ending of all time). As I’ve said many times before, if you’re going to emulate something, at least try and top it…
With that said, Dredd is a cinematic experience you don’t want to miss out on. The sound mix is something to behold – having made my heart slip multiple beats – and the 3-D is nothing short of stunning (especially during the drug induced SLO-MO sequences). The icing on the cake is the blissful, off-the-wall violence that only Lionsgate has the balls to deliver (think Punisher).
Dredd is a supercharged comic adaptation that’s faithful to the source material and made specifically for the fans. There’s nothing to indicate an attempt to appeal to mass audiences, which means Dredd was made for YOU, which is a rare treat in the cinematic haze of remakes, franchise films and generic thrillers. Even with a lackluster finale, soak this magnificent work of art in and enjoy the hour and a half gift from the movie gods.