“Dredd 3-D” — A Slice of SciFi Review

This review is going to have some minor spoilers so you are duly warned.

I’m sure most of us still have the scars from Sylvester Stallone’s portrayal of Judge Dredd back in the 90’s. So clear any thoughts about that abomination and embrace what Dredd 3D has to offer.

Don’t expect any deep character delving or lengthy scenes of exposition; expect blood, bullets and lots of violence.

The background: Mega-City One, a gigantic city that stretches from Boston to Washington. Outside the walls it is a radioactive wasteland. People are crammed together and there are huge complexes known as “blocks” where 50,000+ people live, work and shop. The law is upheld by Judges who are judges, jury and very often executioners.

Dredd is teamed with a recruit named Anderson who is on the bubble but is desired because she is a mutant with psychic abilities giving her insight into people. Dredd is tasked to take her out, analyze her performance and give the final score to confirm or deny that she should be a judge. Dredd lets Anderson pick where they should start. She picks Peach Tree Block which is under the control of a drug lord named Ma-Ma, this they don’t really know until it is too late.

Cast: Karl Urban takes on the role of Dredd with a straight-forward no nonsense directness. He has the mannerisms down and that perpetual frown seems glued on his mug. True to the comic book character, Urban’s Dredd does not remove his helmet at all during the entire film. The character of Dredd isn’t huggable, friendly, outgoing and doesn’t really seem human. So really, what you see is what you get. He is almost robotic in nature, unwavering and almost uncaring. His mission is to uphold the law, not play nice, not to make friends just to do his job. The humor is deadpan and understated but it is still there.

Olivia Thurby plays Anderson, the recruit with psychic powers who needs to succeed in this test with Dredd or be denied admission as a Judge. Thurby is the face humanity next to Dredd’s helmeted stoic, all business demeanor. She plays Anderson with a reluctant tilt. Anderson wants to be a Judge and make a difference but also sees the city for what it is – an over-crowded, filthy desperate place where most people just try to get by but the bad guys seem to always be present and in greater numbers.

Lena Heady plays the villain Ma-Ma. She was a hooker who ended up getting cut up by her pimp and she decides to “un-man” him with her teeth. She later begins to take over the block from the rest of the gangs putting herself and her crew at the top. Bottom line; don’t screw with Ma-Ma because you’ll end up dead or worse.

Overview – I’m not a fan of 3D since a lot of the tricks of it are lost on me due to vision issues. Dredd pulls out the typical “ooooooh! It’s 3D!!! tricks” but it also does some things right. The feeling of being in the middle of scenes with foreground, middle ground and then the background is solid at times. It gives the impression of depth with you part of it. That is solid and well done overall

The “Ooooh! Shiny!” bits tend to drag on a bit longer than they should, really, we get it. 3D=funsupergoodtimes! Nifty! Move it along ok?!

The slo-mo was overall done well but again, could have been trimmed a bit. I know, it’s cool and watching the blood fly in slow motion does make the Beavis in me go “yeah! YEAH! YEAAAAAAH!” but too much can make it old.

The soundtrack really shines in Dredd. The music has an edge and crunch with full on beats that mirrors the action across the whole movie. There aren’t many times while I’m watching a movie where I go “Hmm, I think I might have to pick up this soundtrack.” This was one of those times.

Bottom Line – Urban is great as Dredd. The movie is dark, filled with violence and doesn’t delve too deep into what makes the characters tick but it’s a blast!


  1. says

    Does Dredd take his helmet off at ANY point during the movie?

    I remember watching Stallone’s version and the helmet was off a couple minutes in. Dredd NEVER takes his helmet off. EVAR.

  2. Mark Aberdeen says

    Dredd was magnificently brutal and beautifully gory. Urban was dead on as Dredd with a Clint Eastwood rasp and permanent scowl. He never takes off his helmet, but you sort of get a shot from the back of him putting it on and that moment is iconic. Olivia Thurby was outstanding as Judge Anderson on her first deployment. This is her movie and she’s our gateway into this world. It’s very effective.

    Lena Heady is in amazing form as Ma-Ma. She ruthless and a great test for Dredd and Anderson.

    You can tell that this wasn’t a studio movie. It’s uncompromising, devastating and really captures the spirit of 2000AD. I must say that I hate 3D, but I saw this in 3D and will forever be grateful for it. The 3D is used to give gleefully gory texture to the movie and not used as a cheap gimmick. This movie is well worth the time and money.

  3. Dave in NY says

    Just saw Dredd 3D, and I liked it. I didn’t LOVE it, but it was pleasingly serious and dark.

    Best part of the movie is Karl Urban’s Dredd.

    I actually liked the original Judge Dredd and all of its campyness.

    That being said, I would have loved to see a larger story for DREDD, but if I recall it had to cut down the story and essentially use The Raid’s Storyline. I really wish I didn’t see The Raid first now. Headey’s Ma-Ma was a great villain, completely brutal!

    I think the weakest part of the movie was Olivia Thurby, I would have liked to see a little more inter-play there. I liked the ending a lot and would line up for a sequel.

    I agree that the whole Slo-Mo was dragged on a bit too long. The film looked good in 3D though.

    Karl Urban is very underrated, but is a great actor who deserved leading-man status.

  4. REM1701 says

    I guess I’m the only one who liked the 1st DREDD? Not that I care. Opinions are just like @$$**** everybody got one and they all STINK!

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