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Dredd 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 of trepidation. From rumors of problems in the editing room, to Mega-City One not looking quite right, I wondered if I was walking into a disaster of a film that would leave me angry at the inconstancies with the source material.
While there was one moment in the opening monologue that made me a little concerned (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 and 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 its 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.