'But Dredd is a Judge. And Judges are not ordinary men'
Dredd himself, of course, makes a terse statement or too, but there are none of the pithy one-liners that would become the mainstay of action hero dialogue in the 1980s. Or of the short, sharp declarations of intent that established Dredd in the early strips as the personification of the law not merely a man with a gun killing to uphold it. Even his 'I am the law' catchphrase is played down.
That perhaps is the one real flaw here. In attempting to avoid the comedy - intentional and unintentional - of the previous film and, yes, of the strip too, writer Alex Garland has taken something away from the source's personality. And of the character's too. In the first half of the film especially, there's a sense that, but for the helmet, this could be any tough cop or commando yomping through the concrete corridors, gun in hand.
Not a mopad or ten-wheel truck to be seen
Urban makes a bold stab at the Judge, but Garland gives him so little to go on. He has the sneer right, and the raspy, Eastwood-esque voice so many fans read into the strip, but script and direction fail to give Dredd the presence he has in the strip. 2000AD's Dredd may be nicknamed 'Old Stoney Face' by his fellow Judges, but he's no blank monolith. He is here. It's a testament to Urban that he manages to invest the character with any personality at all.
But the action and momentum pick up in the second half, after a stunning set-piece in which Lena Headey's Ma-Ma - a slightly spaced, more visceral version of her Game of Thrones Queen Bitch of the Universe persona - machine guns the shit out an entire level of Peach Trees, and the first and only time we see some BFGs of the kind that might appear in the strip. Dredd gets to operate on his own - which is when he's always best - and can use smarts as well as brawn and marksmanship to mete out judgement.
The last part of the movie begins to feel like a real Judge Dredd story, with the character taking centre stage, more judges getting involved and sidekick rookie Judge Anderson getting to flex her abilities and skills too, and do a little more than trail after Dredd. Only the anticlimactic ending lets it down.
The chin's the thing
This is no glossy megabudget blockbuster of the kind Marvel is churning out these days, but a taut, low-budget, dark, urban thriller. It sure as heck isn't SF, the drug McGuffin - called Slo-Mo, a time-dilating narcotic that makes for some very cute cinematography, courtesy of Anthony Dod Mantle - notwithstanding. Viewers expecting bright lights and spacecraft will be disappointed.
Dod Mantle does well with the 3D tech too, though it never rises above gimmick status. I'd trade the showers of lights, blood and glass splinters for a more colourful and brighter image any day. You won't miss out waiting for the 2D version.
I'm a Judge Dredd fan, and this isn't a fan's movie. For me, that's not good, but for the movie, it's the right way to go. It bravely - in part out of budget necessity - avoids that old sci-fi clichés, the dystopia, and plays down the hi-tech too. The result is a realist hyper-violent thriller intended to be accessible to a broader audience than SF buffs and fortysomethings who've been reading 2000AD since they were kids. It's the most un-comic strip comic strip adaptation that has ever been made. It's just a shame that, in the process, it has taken much of the personality out of its titular hero. ®
It JUST CANT be Dredd without big Shoulder-pads and flying cars!
How right youare Sir!--Except for the 3D which was nice to look at, there is almost nothing to recommend it -apart from some excellent cinematography and the choice of actors- but that aside, what honestly is there about this story that’s even half-way related to the Dredd we know and love, eh? except maybe his helmet, and perhaps the way he talks and also moves and quite a lot of the things he does?
But, apart from: the cinematography/casting/the-way-Dredd,-looks,-sounds,-moves-and-behaves,- there is nothing of merit for the fan or the casual viewer,
unless you count the powerful and relatable character-arc that Anderson goes through, the brilliantly-realised bent Judges and of course Lena Headey ( but that doesn’t count because she’s brilliant in everything, isn’t she?).
But, if you leave out all that,- then what is left, except a more-or-less typical, gory, action flick with an engaging premise which is so utterly uncompromising in execution that it powerfully llustrates exactly how lame and safe the rest of the genre has become? That’s what you’re left with, isn’t it?
"What’s wrong with a Dredd film that’s a ‘gory, action flick with an engaging premise which is so utterly uncompromising in execution that it powerfully llustrates exactly how lame and safe the rest of the genre has become?’"..you say?
Well clearly this reviewer knows what’s wrong…
No flying cars!
Where were they? I have never been so disappointed in my life! I go to a Dredd film to see one thing and one thing only and that’s some cars with no wheels and AIR IN BETWEEN THE VEHICLE AND THE GROUND… All this ‘story’ and ‘art-direction’ and ‘character-development’ and ‘genuine excitement’ and ‘pushing the envelope of Action Sci-Fi towards an art form in itself’ may fool some of the others but thankfully not us.
We're REAL FANS: and the cars must fly or we won’t buy.
I didnt even realise Peckham was a real place that existed outside of "Only Fools and Horses" . Now ill be travelling 1 1/2 hours across London to get to a 2d showing of dread. Drokk this 3D nightmare
i guessed as much from the trailer
as soon as i seen the trialer i was disapointed. it looks too real. dredd is ment to be OTT.
The stallone version may have been rubbish, but it got the look right. this clearly is an action movie, with dredd thrown in.
bit of a shame really. dredd could be a good film