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I'm a huge fan of the comic 2000AD and the character Judge Dredd since
1979, and this film completely satisfied me. They changed all the right
things and kept all the right things. Director Pete Travis tackled the
problem of filming a comic book by making something that looks nothing
like a comic book and more like an action movie shot on location, with
a simple linear plot that keeps rolling and never slows down.
Megacity 1 is made markedly less futuristic than the comic in order to become so believable that it is hard to tell where the real slums of Cape Town end and the CGI kilometre high city blocks start. I have an uncomfortable feeling that in less than a hundred years cities like this may actually exist.
The comic Judge's uniform works on paper but can't in real life - giant golden eagles, shoulder pads and bronze name badges hanging off a leather one-piece body suit would sag, wobble and look daft. The movie gives us body armour that looks like it actually gets used whilst keeping the helmet exactly the same. The effect is striking and believable, like everything else in this film.
The plot revolves around a drug which makes time seem to slow down a hundred times, the perfect excuse for scenes of ultra slo-mo explosive bloody (and beautiful) anatomically correct violence that earn this film its 18 rating. Not a kid's movie at all. Every supporting actor looks like they came out of a gang documentary, scarred, nasty, sweaty and mean. Lena Headey totally kicks ass as the ruthless gang lord Ma Ma, calmly relishing the deaths of her enemies, eyes sledging from narcotic addiction.
In a way this is Olivia Thirlby's movie, since she gets the character arc, rookie judge Cassandra Anderson assigned to Dredd for evaluation and finding herself on a very steep learning curve. She is vulnerable, spikey and tough as called for, vital to the movie in order to balance Dredd.
How do you play Dredd? He is the opposite of a character. He has no personal arc, never changes or grows. He has no sense of humour, the comic finds that by placing utterly deadpan 'ol stony- face in ironic situations that reflect off him. And where do you find an actor prepared to wear a helmet obscuring everything but his mouth and chin for the whole 95 minutes? Karl Urban must be a huge fan himself to play the part so right. One reviewer described his performance as "ego-free" and it is. I didn't see Urban anywhere in this movie, all I saw was Dredd.
Me and Dredd-heads everywhere thank you Karl. You smashed it.
The basic aim of Dredd is simple it needs to be bold, true to the
source material and full of juicy violence, enough to wipe out the
memories of the notoriously poor Stallone attempt of 1995 that threw
plenty of money at the screen without bothering to work on anything
resembling a decent script.
The character of Judge Dredd, now entering his 35th year in UK comic 2000AD (they know it's 2012 - don't ask), isn't a complicated one. He is, as he is fond of stating, the law. The time is the future, and amidst the wasteland that is America there is a single, massive city with 800 million inhabitants, appropriately called Mega City One. It's quite the scumhole, and the only thing that stands between it and total chaos are the Judges, trained for years to be the ultimate in law enforcement, yet so outnumbered they can only handle 6% of the crimes committed. This, people, is as thin as the blue line gets.
The film is written by long time fan Alex Garland (28 Days later, Sunshine), and has had plenty of input from Dredd's creator (and still main writer even now) John Wagner. Filmed in South Africa on what passes for a tight budget these days (especially for Sci-Fi), it could be compared to District 9 in terms of the sheer effort put into it, with a result that is similarly impressive although aesthetically miles apart. Director Pete Travis (Endgame) does an excellent job, and between them they have turned in a film that will stand the test of time as a superior, adult action movie.
The premise is reasonably simple, something that works well as an introduction to what is, in the comics at least, a sprawling future world. Dredd is accompanied on patrol by rookie Judge Anderson, very well played by Olivia Thirlby, who is on the verge of failing her final assessment but is being given a second chance because of her powerful, and rare, psi abilities. A routine triple homicide (it's that sort of city) turns into a siege when they are trapped in a massive tower block by criminal nutjob Ma Ma (Lena Headey) and forced to fight their way out and stop her manufacturing the addictive new drug, Slo Mo. Obviously there's a bit more to it than that, but this is the basic set up and it works very well indeed, allowing for plenty of violence, some character development and no few explosions.
I can't write this review without focusing on Karl Urban, who has previously stood out for his excellent turn as Dr McCoy in the Star Trek revival. Not afraid to go through an entire movie with a helmet on, he is spot on as Dredd. He gives us an emotionless machine, a man who cares for nothing but the law, but a man you want to get behind and cheer on as he splats bad guys left right and centre. The humanity comes from Anderson, and it helps that Thirlby doesn't have to wear a helmet herself, with the handy excuse that it interferes with her psi abilities. Between them they give us the tired old wardog and the 21 year old rookie on the streets for the first time, and you sympathise with the life of a Mega City Judge.
Some people have criticized the apparent similarities between Dredd and the recent film The Raid: Redemption, in which Indonesian cops storm a tower block and much chop sockey ensues. To be honest, I was a little worried myself, but having seen both films I can happily confirm that they are nothing alike. Whilst The Raid is a pretty intense martial arts film which is rather dull between fights (although the fights are awesome), Dredd is a tight film all the way through, with the plot more than an excuse to go from fight to fight.
In conclusion, I can heartily recommend this film, in case you hadn't guessed. It's sort of like a cross between Robocop and Die Hard, all moderned up and with better music. It's no coincidence that those are two of the most kick ass action films ever, and Dredd borrows from the best, although as Robocop stole from Dredd in the first place it's more like recovering pinched property. The 3D is actually worth shelling out for, and there are some beautiful sequences where it comes into it's own, whilst the film itself is gritty and dirty, although not without a few lighter moments amidst the carnage. The humour in Dredd's comic strips comes from the city around him rather than his own actions, and here's hoping we'll see Alex Garland penning a sequel that allows us to wander through Dredd's world. Quite simply a superior action film, and whilst it's no masterpiece (then again, it's not supposed to be) it's as good as fans could ever have hoped. Here's to the sequels
At a time when emotionally fragile heroes are fashionable, where they
have unrequited love, where each carries some heavy baggage from their
past so an audience can empathise with them, we have Dredd.
Dredd is none of these things. He's a tightly wound coil of anger and purpose wrapped in the trappings of totalitarian law enforcement from a dystopian city that is simmering under crime and filth. In a city so sprawling, and with a population that seems intent on devouring itself if left unchecked, the Judges can only respond to a fraction of crime, and no time is spent on unnecessary bureaucracy. Due process is a barely remembered dream.
Broken the law? Sentence them. Resisting? Shoot them. Need answers? Beat them to a pulp or take them in for extended interrogation, and all without a glimmer of sympathy from behind that opaque visor. He's a libertarian's worst nightmare who will break you if the Law requires it.
Urban does a tremendous job without ever removing the iconic helmet that is so loved by the fans of the 'comic' character. He is completely uncompromising. No action-film trope one-liners here. The nearest he offers are caustic comments of derision when people stray from his personal standards, usually before breaking bones or blasting large colourful chunks off perpetrators.
Clearly in need of an emotionally accessible character for the audience to identify with, we have rookie Judge Anderson, a psychic mutant who is put through the ringer by Dredd on her 'make-or-break' assessment. Thirlby also does a great job here and certainly has the most growth over the course of the film. Beneath the cold appraising glare of Dredd, she evolves under that pressure in a very satisfying way. This is a role that Dredd has played several times in the comic, and is widely known as having the strictest standards for what passes for a Judge, but also for producing some of the city's finest.
Here is a source of genius for some, a source of disappointment for others. The film does not aim high in terms of blockbuster material, but instead elects to tell a very focused, character driven story - a day in the life of a Judge tale that will have you thankful you don't have to walk in their shoes.
What follows is a harsh look into a world where, frankly, you would not want to live. If there is a hell on earth, then Mega City 1 is most certainly it. A futuristic version of New York crossed with Mogadishu with all the negative connotations those connections infer, and remarkably few of the positives.
Unemployment is a rampant plague that feeds the city's crime. The sky is littered with Justice Department surveillance drones and infractions for crime, if you're unlucky enough to be spotted, are harshly dealt with.
Many film-makers would have flinched at making such a movie incorporating such clear violence and obvious fascism, and tried to soften the blow with lashings of humour, but no such intellectual dishonesty here. The result is an extremely violent, often times bleak adaptation of a comic character that was always more violent than its peers to begin with.
Deservedly adult in rating, Dredd offers a punishing ride, equally violent, beautiful and horrible, and often at the same time.
For the uninitiated; this is the perfect entry film and offers a fantastic time for fans of violent crime thrillers.
For long-time fans; Dredd has finally arrived on screen.
I've been a Dredd fan for thirty years now, but I'm not about to give
this movie adaptation of my favourite comic character a ridiculously
high rating purely from some misguided sense of loyalty. Instead, I'm
going to give it a deservingly high score because, quite simply, it is
a very good film, one that successfully captures the essence of the
2000AD strip, delivering brutal action by the bucket-load, excellent
central performances, and inspired direction, all enhanced by
breathtaking state-of-the-art 3D special effects.
After the debacle that was Stallone's Judge Dredd (1995), the makers of this movie have clearly made their prime directive to please hardcore Dredd fans, and it shows: the screenplay, by Alex Garland, remains very faithful to the spirit of the comic, and in Karl Urban, we now have the perfect Dreddall raspy voice and humourless grimace, it looks as though the character has jumped straight onto the screen from the pages of 2000AD (helmet intact). Similarly, it would be hard to imagine anyone more suitable than Olivia Thirlby as rookie Psi-Judge Anderson (and believe me, I've tried!).
Is Dredd 3D my 'ideal' Dredd movie? Not quite... made for a comparatively meagre budget of $45million, it would be hard pushed to live up to my impossibly high expectations (just realising the Mega-City One of my dreams would require way more money than it cost to make this entire film). That said, it is definitely a massive step in the right direction, and if it is the financial success that it genuinely deserves to be, who knows what treats await us in the future: The Cursed Earth, Judge Cal, Judge Death, The Apocalypse War.... I'm salivating like a Klegg just thinking about it.
'Dredd' is an efficient and entertaining action movie, with lots of
memorable moments, kills and one-liners.
I really hope that everyone goes out to see the movie, because how often do we really get an extremely violent, faithful, intelligent science fiction movie in cinemas nowadays. I also want them to make more sequels. There is so much potential for sequels, as this movie has set up the character and the scenario, and we can really get into the more epic storytelling. The story in 'Dredd' is very confined, 85% of the film takes place in one of the huge tower blocks, and I kinda wanted to see more of the city and more of Dredd's world. But for what it is, 'Dredd' is a very good movie. There are also lots of nice character moments in between all the action, and some truly breathtaking slow-motion sequences, that almost makes the extra price of the 3D worthwhile.
Dredd is such a great character. He is a challenging anti-hero and an uncompromising bad-ass. And don't worry, the film does not glamorise violence, or justify Mega City One's judicial system. People often compare Dredd to 'Dirty Harry', but I would argue that Dredd is a more heroic character, because he would never break the rules, like Dirty Harry does. He isn't a hero because he executes bad guys, but because he is incorruptible, and will always fight for what he believes is right, despite the danger of doing it. If it is right or not, the movie leaves to the audience.
Its such an enjoyable movie that deserves success. Now go watch 'Dredd'. Creep!!
This is the dredd film you've been waiting for. It will not disappoint
and it's close to the source material. If you're looking for a bad ass
action hero and want some entertainment, then this is it.
You don't really care for much of the characters except for the villain (MaMa) and hero (dredd). Dredd is the focus point and he is a bad ass. The director did a great job on the city and you really feel like it is a corrupt and decadent city where law enforcement officers can judge, jury and execute criminals on the spot.
As I watched the film I was being surprised again and again. They really outdid themselves and it's a large improvement over the 1995 film with stallone. The plot is there, it fits in perfect and you won't question the plot or the motives of what each character does in the film. It is somewhat simple. I think this has a better plot than The Expendables 2 so if you were thinking it might be the same, then the plot is a bit better than that.
The acting is average. It's good but there's nothing worth noting or exciting nor is there any acting that is bad. It's just okay and the only acting you need to care for is Dredd and Karl Urban nailed his performance as Judge Dredd.
The film has a good pace and the action length was on the spot. I never felt bored while the action was going on or I didn't stop caring after a while when the action becomes too long. But this film was perfect in the action.
The 3D affects were surprisingly good for once with the slow motion affects and this is coming from someone who is not fond of 3D. If you are a comic book fan of Judge Dredd and want to see a good judge dredd movie then, this is it.
Let me start by saying, I thoroughly enjoyed this film, as in my
opinion, it did everything right. Sure, it had no real substance of a
story line (hence the 8/10) but that didn't take much away from the
film. The simplistic story also had its advantages, as more time could
be dedicated to Dredd doing what Dredd does best, instead of messing
around in lengthy conversations. Besides, a detailed emotional story
might have made this film a flop, as the cold, ruthless character of
Dredd would have been somewhat diminished if that had been the case.
So what made this film for me? Simple, the fact that they weren't afraid to make it an 18. This lends strong evidence to the argument that if you want to make an action film that raises the bar, it has to contain all of the shots that just aren't allowed in a 15 rated film. The drug, SLO- M0, that is used by the junkies in this film to slow their perception of time, allows for stunning, and brutal, scenes that also look great in 3D. The 18 rating also allowed for the director to create villains that you despise and you can understand why the other innocent characters fear them, which engages us as an audience.
The film's script is cheesy, but if you've seen the other Judge Dredd film, that'll hardly be a surprise. And I must admit that Karl Urban does a fantastic job of making the lines still sound good. And overall, the acting is good, which is a relief after seeing so many action films where even the main character can't act..
Overall, a great film. Possibly not the best film to watch on a first date, but if you know what you're getting yourself in for and just want some entertaining action, I really don't think Dredd will disappoint.
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.
Seventeen years ago, a Sylvester Stallone sci-fi action vehicle was released into the world under the title 'Judge Dredd'. Based on the character from the popular 2000AD comic book series, the film was a huge disappointment with critics and a source of much heartache for Dredd devotees in the way it seemed to blatantly disregard crucial aspects of the source mythology both in look and tone. Fast forward to present day, a world in which comic book characters mean big money for film studios, surely enough time has passed to give the old Judge another crack of the whip right? I'm happy to say fans of the comic book should be able to relax and enjoy this much darker and tougher representation of their much loved character. Although the film, and it's (permanently) helmeted protagonist is a straightforward and simple beast, it actually works all the better for it. Dredd isn't given a back story or imbued with much in the way of humanity, he's instead portrayed more as the mysterious 'man with no name' whose dialogue is limited to one-liners that usually precedes some serious ass kicking. Where the 1995 Judge film was light and comedic, this version is hardcore and extremely violent with some surprising explosions of brutality meted out in a world that's long since gone to hell. As is pleasingly more and more the case in mainstream action cinema, we have strong female representation in Olvia Thirlby as Dredd's rookie sidekick and a nasty Lena Headey on form and fresh from bad girl duties in the celebrated TV series Game Of Thrones. Dredd 3D can't and won't be considered a classic of the genre, but it's a huge step-up from the Stallone version and should satisfy any and all sci-fi action fans looking for a fun Friday night thrill. Visually arresting and with a sensible running time, Dredd rocks. 3.5/5
Having feverishly waited in anticipation (skulking around IMDb,
snapping at each morsel with fanboy delight) it was a joy to finally
sit down in the auditorium; with Judge Dredd badge pinned humorously to
my DK 'Bedtime For Democracy' T-shirt (chortle).
The film starts with some spoken exposition, although where there was once James Earl Jones, we now have Urban. Establishing scenes of chaos evoke familiarity, as Mega-City One channels more current, turbulent times. Herein we are thrust into the Iron Lawman's world, and he wastes no time in dispensing justice most radical.
Olivia Thirlby is introduced as Anderson, the rookie assigned to Dredd for assessment. She is played as Dredd's emotive foil (much like the comics). Whereas in '95, William Wisher moaned that " if I couldn't care about him (Dredd), how could I hope to convince anyone else to?"--Bunk line of thinking, creep!--here we circumnavigate that with Anderson's character arc. Dredd is a hard-assed, business-as-usual guy, with the voice to match. Only rarely did his dialogue verge on the gorgonzola.
The film is an unashamed, stripped back actioner with cinematography and music elevating it far above genre requirements. Think 'Drive', with the electronic score and city shots, but scorched of gloss. DREDD is tough and that's reflected in the architecture, the uniform, and the hardware. The judges rightfully look intimidating and brutal, and the closer-quartered combat, I felt, emphasised this. I also enjoyed the wacky array of citizens, a killer 2000AD touch.
I've ran right of steam now, but overall, great film and look forward to watching it again. The film is a straight up 8, but warrants an IMDb 10 out of principle.
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