Reviews: Dredd

An all round fantastic film.

Dredd is, straight up, a great, tightly focused film. It seemlessly blends world building, character development and action in a clever closed circle set up with a great cast.

The two leads are fantastic, the supporting cast is superb and you don't even have to know a thing about the world beforehand to enjoy it.

One of my favourite action movies, period.

A Dredd film done right.

This is the Dredd film that should have happened instead of the poorly made Stalone take on the film. The film is great in both 3d and in 2d. While the forcing of 3d to the fore front in some theatres did not do it any favours the 3d effects were pretty cool.

The Dredd character was well portrayed by Urban. The Rookie Anderson was also well portrayed. The portrayals of all the characters in the film would easily fit inside the Comic Verse that inspired the film. Even the assorted gangs that get wiped out would find themselves generally at home.

The only complaint is that they use a lot of what is now modern weapons instead of something that fits the future setting like the Judges Law Giver pistols.

The graphic violence is mildly starting in the opening but manages to more toe the line then cross over it.

The action and gun battles are pretty epic with a display of assorted gadgets the judges use to flip the tables on the numerically superior criminals who call the building home.

For those concerned about the similarities between this film and The Raid need not worry. They only share the most basic of premise of bad guys in a tower. The two films are very different in every other way. If you are a fan of action films you should see both.

All in all this is a good action flick and I can only hope there will be a sequel that will hopefully avoid shoe horning the gimmick of 3d in many theatres.

It's Judgement Time!!

Like the Judges it's time to bring Judgement Time upon this film and my sentence is that it's Fantastic.

Setting up the world of Mega City One with a bunch of panoramic shots showing off millions of buildings (named with Shout Outs to people). We are treated to Dredd taking pyschic rookie judge Anderson out on an normal assessment to pass her or fail her.

It of course screws up when their arrival at Peach Trees for a triple homicide goes horribly wrong as the building locks down and the leader Ma-Ma demands that they are killed, leaving our two heroes to try and survive while finding out the building houses the manufacturing and distribution of Slo-Mo, a Fantastic Drug which creates some impressive scenes but never outstays it's welcome. The characters are smart and Genre Savvy and the actions is well executed as the film ends on a nice and satisfying note.

The film is well made with its 3D fitting in well (especially in the Slo-Mo sequences) and the cinematography, a barrage of colours and griminess. Each actor pulls off their respective roles rather well, Karl Urban's grimace and frown stands out on its own as he still manages to show emotion with his chin and mouth. Olivia Thirlby's Anderson provides some well needed emotional conflict and character development that Dredd himself can't provide and Lena Headey's Ma-Ma is threatening and shows some gravitas as the villain.

The violence is bloody, gory and full of body parts blowing off (or up) and is certainly enjoyable with some sequences I have definitely not seen before. From the perspective of a person who has never read the comics but has looked into the mythology, this is a well made adaptation and reboot with dedication and faithfulness to the source material. Alex Garland has definitely made a great film with the help of cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle and director Pete Travis.

It's a shame this film may not a get a sequel as it definitely has so much more to present. There was hardly anyone in my cinema except me and friends and a couple others which is even more disappointing.

Overall 4 Stars.

(I have seen The Raid but I never once thought of this film while watching this so I don't care)

Small, but powerful.

Dredd is that rarity among comic-book films; a small movie. That's not a criticism. It lets it be a good movie.

Constraints help creativity, and this seems to bear out the theory. A relatively small budget meant that the scope isn't the fate of the 800 million people of Mega-City One, but rather one 200-floor tower-block slum, "The Peach Trees". A triple murder there draws the attention of Dredd and his rookie companion, the psychic Judge Anderson, out on her evaluation shift and green as hell. Very soon after the two Judges enter the building, the criminal gang who control the tower take over its control room and activate war-mode lockdown, trapping them inside with the gang. The Judges are well-armed and well-trained, but the gang have the numbers and the ruthlessness to set a near impossible challenge.

This combines some well-worn action movie and cop-movie tropes, but it works. Especially, this makes the movie approachable for non-fans, I think. For fans, it changes some things, primarily making the uniforms more understated, but the "feel" is right.

As a fan, I approve

This is the Judge Dredd movie we've been waiting for. It's dark. It's bleak. It's brutal. And, most importantly, we never see Dredd's face.

Karl Urban turns in a spectacular performance as Dredd. He does an incredible job with just voice tone and body language indeed, Urban's voice is now how I hear Dredd in my head.

Olivia Thirlby turns in a very good Anderson. Her portrayal is of a young woman who is in a little over her head, somewhere between the flippant personality she exhibited in the early comics and the more melancholy woman she is today. The filmmakers have taken a bit of liberty with her character, but it really works.

However, the best performance in the movie is Lena Headey as original character Ma Ma. She brilliantly portrays a vicious, brutal woman who is always, always calm and in control, yet is quite physical and genuinely unnerving in many of her scenes. Bravo.

The screenplay is a new story rather than an adaptation of any particular storyline. While some elements, such as Dredd giving a cadet their final exam, have been done before, none have ever really been like this. It's a very effective introduction to the characters and to the world they inhabit; I think the relatively small scale works in the movie's favour, as it allows for deeper interpersonal interactions and character development.

Aspects of the setting have been changed from the comic. Most noticeably, the Judge uniform is quite different. However, this uniform does look really good, and looks like just the sort of thing a super-tough future cop would wear. One need only take a look at the Stallone movie to see why some changes are necessary in an adaptation.

Drokk has also been done away with in favour of proper cursing. This might irk some fans of the comic. but let's face it, having real people yell that would come across as a bit silly in an otherwise very serious movie.

One issue I had was that Mega-City One looked rather too modern, as if it was set somewhat closer in the future than the comic. This might have been due to budgetary constraints, but the scenes outside Peaches Tree felt a little off to me.

All in all, however, as a fan of Judge Dredd, I really enjoyed this movie. I would hope that non-fans would like it as well, but I'm too much of a fanboy to make a neutral assessment.