Movie Review: Dredd 3D starring Karl Urban
Dredd 3D, the newest adaptation of the Judge Dredd comic strips, had several objectives.
It needed to deliver an authentic Dredd and, in turn, redeem the failings of the 1995 Sylvester Stallone misfire.
In Dredd 3D – a gory, visually impressive action film peppered with death and deadpan one-liners – they have achieved just that.
It’s video-game feel, bleak futuristic setting and frequent, cold-blooded violence won’t appeal to everyone, but this upfront action movie accomplishes exactly what it sets out to.
New Zealander Karl Urban replaces Stallone as the legendary Judge Dredd.
He’s like a judge, jury and executioner rolled into one, and an unempathetic dispenser of justice in a dystopian future.
With a growling, emotionless voice (reminiscent of Batman or Clint Eastwood) and constant frown, Urban captures the stoic Dredd well.
Aside from his robotic nature, his helmet covers most of his face, which makes it hard to empathise with him as a character, except through his relationship with rookie judge, Cassandra Anderson (Juno’s Olivia Thirlby).
While the helmet takes some time for non-fans to adjust to, purists will be happy to know he never takes it off (a fact that caused ire in Stallone’s version).
Instead, you get all the emotional attachment from Thirlby’s Anderson, a powerful psychic who’s placed under Dredd’s charge for a day to see if she has what it takes.
Thirlby, who’s not known for action roles, leaves an impression and she’s the perfect counter to Urban’s Dredd. They get a couple of good comedic moments (Dredd’s dry one-liners get laughs), although they could have easily handled more.
Talented screenwriter Alex Garland (Never Let Me Go) keeps the story concentrated, instead of cramming in too much from all the Dredd comics published since 1977.
Unlike other comic book heroes, Dredd isn’t about to save the world – it’s a smaller mission, with big consequences.
While on a training day with Anderson, they go to a seemingly routine homicide in the Peach Trees mega-block, a 200-storey slum that’s under control of the dangerous Ma-Ma clan.
When Ma-Ma (a near unrecognisable Lena Headey from Game of Thrones) shuts down the building before they can get out, the two trapped judges have to fight their way through Peach Trees to try to survive.
Anyone who’s seen the Indonesian film The Raid will have a tough time not making comparisons but Dredd 3D was already in production around the time The Raid was finished.
It’s tense as they battle their way through the building. It’s done in a grim and methodical way and the plot feels fairly predictable.
It has a very video-game feel and violence level as well, with the movie’s body count easily reaching into the hundreds.
In the opening scene, at least five innocent people are murdered, and other victims in Dredd 3D are skinned alive, thrown off buildings, or simply gunned down.
Visually, there are impressive moments, especially from the point of view of characters taking a hit of the fictional drug slo-mo.
There’s enough in Dredd 3D for hardcore fans to geek-out on but it’s also worth seeing for those who know what an FPS and TPS are, or who like a bit of violence. Others may have a harder time stomaching it.
See Dredd 3D (MA15+) in cinemas nationwide from today. Review by Caris Bizzaca.
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Judge, jury and executioner: Karl Urban as Judge Dredd in Dredd 3D.