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!