Monday, September 24, 2012

I'm in on Dredd 3D

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 (Karl Urban) 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 (Olivia Thirlby), 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 story vertical slum controlled by prostitute turned drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) and her ruthless clan. When they capture one of the clan’s inner circle, Ma-Ma overtakes the compound’s control center and wages a dirty, vicious war against the Judges that proves she will stop at nothing to protect her empire. With the body count climbing and no way out, Dredd and Anderson must confront the odds and engage in the relentless battle for their survival

At last, an actual comic book adaptation. I had my reservations about Dredd – The trailer did little to inspire, which made me think this incarnation might actually be worse than Stallone’s horrible campy version.

 But I’m happy to report Dredd is very good. Not only did it put my fears to rest, but banished any memory I had of Danny Cannon’s Judge Dredd. Finally, the Judge Dredd I grew up reading in 2000 AD comics has been rightly portrayed. With so many great films yet to come, I may have to extend my yearly list because of films like Dredd.

 When I heard that Karl Urban was signed on to play Dredd, I knew it was a good move. Urban embodies Dredd, and has his characteristics down to tee. Even the famous Judge Dredd profile looks exactly how 2000 AD artist Carlos Ezquerra used to illustrate the character. Urban is brilliant in this, and I hope he signs on for the upcoming sequels. Oh wait! If they decide to make any sequels! 

Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) as Mama does a superb job – she’s just a nasty piece of work. Just as her Game of Thrones character but with a bit more bite. In a year where we’ve had loads male villains, Headey holds her own in Dredd, and puts in a memorable turn as the Mama. Olivia Thirlby offers good support as the daisy faced rookie and the reliable Wood Harris puts in a solid performance as the slimy henchman to Mama.

 The story in Dredd is very similar to that of The Raid: Redemption. The two judges have to battle their way to the top, to get to Mama. Although I saw The Raid earlier this year, Dredd holds its own when it comes to the set pieces, which are fast, furious and very violent – but almost comically violent?

Visual effects are stunning. The use of the 3D Phantom camera in the slow mo scenes looks extraordinary. One of the few films this year I would definitely say is worth seeing in 3D. Mega City One looks beautifully Utopian, which is how it should look. I really like the look of this version of Mega City One. Big, tall, monolithic buildings in a harsh, dystopian environment look visually stunning. Mega City One in the original Dredd film had a sort of Blade Runner look to it, which I didn’t appreciate as much. 
Gone and erased are memories of Stallone torturing Dredd’s infamous catchphrase ‘ I AM DA LAAAHH’! Dredd is an exciting, visceral thrill ride of a movie. Karl Urban puts in one of his best performances as Dredd.  The reviews for this have been extremely positive. And I hope the box office viewing public are just as generous. Dredd is faithful to comic book and to its main character.
 I’ve given it lots of praise, but Dredd isn’t perfect. It drags in several places to focus too much on character development. Plus the film is much longer than it needs to be. Other than that Dredd is awesome and will definitely deserve a second viewing.

Good performances, action packed and very violent. I recommend you see Dredd, but it may not be for the faint of heart.

I have hopes this R-rated version will deliver the dark world of Dredd which never appeared in the Stallone version!