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The future America is an irradiated waste land. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies Mega City One - a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the urban cops called "Judges" who possess the combined powers of judge, jury and instant executioner. Known and feared throughout the city, Dredd is the ultimate Judge, challenged with ridding the city of its latest scourge - a dangerous drug epidemic that has users of "Slo-Mo" experiencing reality at a fraction of its normal speed. During a routine day on the job, Dredd is assigned to train and evaluate Cassandra Anderson, a rookie with powerful psychic abilities thanks to a genetic mutation. A heinous crime calls them to a neighborhood where fellow Judges rarely dare to venture - a 200 storey vertical slum controlled by prostitute turned drug lord Ma-Ma and her ruthless clan. When they capture one of the clan's inner circle, Ma-Ma overtakes the compound's ... Written by
The Chief Judge is not referred to by name in the film. In appearance she is a combination of Chief Judges MacGruder and Silver, and the setting (the boundary wall and the Fergee memorials are both referred to) would place the time of the film in Mega City history as Macgruder's first period in office. See more »
When Dredd throws Kay across the room, he rolls over a desk and his arms come apart even though he is handcuffed. See more »
America is an irradiated wasteland. Within it lies a city. Outside the boundary walls, a desert. A cursed earth. Inside the walls, a cursed city, stretching from Boston to Washington D.C. An unbroken concrete landscape. 800 million people living in the ruin of the old world and the mega structures of the new one. Mega blocks. Mega highways. Mega City One. Convulsing. Choking. Breaking under its own weight. Citizens in fear of the street. The gun. The gang. Only one thing fighting ...
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In 1995 when Judge Dredd starring Sylvester Stallone in the title role hit theatres; critics derided it, audiences dismissed it as "dumb" and it failed to achieve commercial success. Even though this film has gained a cult following, it just wasn't the Judge Dredd movie fans wanted. Now a low key British film company has had another crack at bringing Dredd to the silver screen, and the result is a great science fiction action film that holds no punches and gives the audience a gritty, gory and surprisingly relatable take on the comic book hero.
Karl Urban plays the titular "Dredd", not the most recognisable or bankable actor working, but certainly one of the most versatile. He has a far better hold on the role than Stallone did, Stallone gave a performance that was robotic and almost comical. Stallone would growl and maintain an immovable fanaticism to upholding the law, strutting about in his ostentatious costume. There was very little humanity to the character and it was difficult to relate to him, he was basically playing Robocop.
Urban brings more humanity into it, when innocent bystanders get caught in the mayhem he's sombre and vengeful. He treats upholding the law more as a burden, he would rather issue a life sentence than gun a criminal down. Only when the odds are stacked against him and he has to defend himself against armed goons does he act violently. Urban gets as much out this character as possible with half his face covered up. It's not just an improvement on Stallone's take on the character it's an expansion of the comic book character too.
The supporting cast are all excellent, and they all give great performances and have strong characters to work with. Olivia Thirlby as rookie judge Anderson deserves praise, playing a character with psychic powers is not easy, her approach on the role makes you believe everything her character can do. She is not a weak female role either she is never once the damsel in distress and there is no attempt and sexualisation. Lena Headey as the villain Ma-Ma steals every scene she's in, a crazy blood crazed woman who almost seems to enjoy going toe-to-toe with someone as lethal as Judge Dredd. She doesn't care who gets in the way she just loves the thrill of it all. An insane villain who is ready to just about pull anything is captivating and intense to watch, i really wish she had been in the film more.
The Megacity in this movie is not the Blade-Runner-Esque city seen in the 1995 film, it resembles a modern day overpopulated inner city slum. This gritty realism is one of the films biggest strengths. Dredd himself is not a superhero, he gets shot and bleeds like everyone else this feeling of vulnerability makes it easier to relate to the character.
There's no Rob Schneider in this movie, oh no, no desperate comedy at all there's just no laughs to be had whatsoever. This film is gritty to the extreme, people are seen being shot to ribbons, blown up, set alight, crushed, splattered, skinned, tortured etc etc etc. Yet it never feel over exploitative, just the right amount. It's just how this stuff would happen in real life, once again coming back to the films visceral reality.
The film is not without its flaws, coming off the heels of The Raid a similar film in premise about law enforcers scaling a tower block to get someone at the top floor makes one draw comparisons watching it. The Raid had amazing martial arts to make up for its slower parts and was consistently upping itself while being as gritty as it could be. Dredd doesn't have anywhere near the impressive stunts featured in The Raid and it makes you wish you had seen The Raid after you saw this, because you keep thinking to yourself: "this scene was done better in The Raid".
The slow-motion sections showcasing the effects of the "Slow-Mo Drug" are a little overused, the colour is over-saturated and these are the only times in the film where the 3D is used to a noticeable degree.
Overall it's a far superior Judge Dredd film to the one that came before it, and has enough action and doesn't over-complicate itself to the point where people aren't bored watching it. It takes a comic book that has been tagged as notoriously impossible to adapt, give it a gritty and realistic setting and cast some great actors to give the movie some life. I hope there is a sequel because it would be really great to see more of this version of Dredd, Urban has a better grip on what the character should be and i can see him taking it a long way.
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