September 23 2012

Dredd 3D Review, the Film the Fans Deserved

Dredd movie postsDredd 3D can be summed up very easily for fans of the long-running comic book series: Pitch freaking perfect.

I was able to slide out of the office early enough today to catch a 2D matinee of the film – I have yet to see a 3D screening of a film, and don’t plan to – and walked in with a lot ofĀ trepidation. From rumors of problems in the editing room, to Mega-City One not looking quite right, Ā I wondered if I was walking into a disaster of a film that would leave me angry at theĀ inconstanciesĀ with the source material.

While there was one moment in the opening monologue that made me a littleĀ concernedĀ (it sounded like Mega-City One was the only city, and it isn’t in the books, but a very minor quibble), from that point forward this movie hit all of the right notes. From the oppressive nature of the city, to the dystopian system that is held together by a thread, everything is here.

Karl Urban’s performance as Dredd does, however, seem to teeter at times between intense andĀ caricature. His snarled lip almost sent me into fits of laughter in one scene, but otherwise it was believable and carried the gravity of the city’s top judge. There is no compromise with Dredd, the law is black and white and everything he does is 100 percent by the book of the law.

Olivia Thirlby’s turn as Judge Anderson does something I thought was impossible: It made me actually care about Anderson. While the character has had a long run in the series, she has just never appealed to me, but showing her as an uncertain rookie that could teach Dredd something about not being so quick with his judgement made her more human and likable. Yes, we have seen the story of a “seasoned cop with the rookie under his wing” more times than I can count, but it worked here on a very different level due to the stark and brutal nature of the world they inhabit.

This movie is not for the squeamish. The slow motion violence though is beautiful in its own way, but it will leave you wondering about the fragility of the human body as you see it ripple from impacts. A good portion of the $45 million budget had to of gone to the amount of blood that gets splattered generously around the edges of the frame, but it is shot in such a way that you never feel like itsĀ gratuitous.

In short, it a fun romp with a highly unoriginal basic plot, but you don’t care. You can just sit back and enjoy the ride and receive a crash course in the world of Judge Dredd and his totalitarian police state future.

Stallone who?

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  • Jack

    We saw Dredd over the weekend, and yes, they spared no expense on the brutality. The slo-mo FX were pretty. The performances were fine, the script didn’t make me wince, the music was magnetic. Still didn’t like it. Makes me wonder if I’ve been reading the comics wrong all these years, because I have always seen Judge Dredd as the straightest possible straight man in a comic with a strong satirical edge, and also with seriously goofy bits. For instance: there’s no space in this movie, none, for Dredd to have an annoying, deeply loyal servant robot with a speech impediment. There’s no room for the absurd fashions and fads of Mega-City One. There’s no *humor*, full stop. In fact, I’d argue that in this regard, the first Robocop movie is a far better Judge Dredd movie than any we’re ever likely to see.
    I know that things get lost in the translation to screen–heck, that’s the major point of difference between us re: Peter Jackson’s Tolkien films; those translations seem faithful to me. They capture what I like about the books. Dredd doesn’t, or not for me. There’s plenty of grimdark out there, but there’s more to Judge Dredd than grimdark.

    • I almost wondered if the fashion got tossed out over the Hunger Games. Once I saw the previews for that I immediately wondered if they had been reading Judge Dredd. I gave them a bit of a pass on that part because they were dealing with a low-end block, but in a sequel – which will never happen – it would have to show up.

      For a set up to what they hoped would be a franchise, I felt it worked. If they had brought in too much of the Dredd humor, it would have caused immediate Stallone flashbacks and could have blown up in their face. There were very Mega-City One ads in the background several times which made me smile as it was a very wink-and-a-nod that they knew folks such as myself were out there.

      All that being said, yes, RoboCop actually may be the best ever Dredd film, but for one under the proper banner, I’m still darn happy.

      … Jackson. BAH! Three movies. DOUBLE BAH!