Forget Stallone’s 95′ film, this is much more the Dredd movie that fans have been wanted to see. With only a $50 Million budget, director Pete Travis pulled off a satisfying Sci-fi Action film based on the comic with grit and violence and solid acting.
After we get introduced to Karl Urban as Dredd by seeing him take down some perps, the Judge is called in to assess a low testing rookie to see if she has what it takes to be a Judge. Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) may not have the chops for being a Judge in Mega-City, but her superior thinks that Anderson’s mutant Telepathy power is reason enough to give her another shot. Dredd and Anderson go on a routine homicide call, but when they arrive at Peach Tree Tower, they find out that there’s more to the three murders than meets the eye. It’s Mama’s turf, and for her involvement with the new drug – SloMo, Dredd and Anderson are going to have a tough time bringing her to justice, let alone escaping Peach Tree with their lives.
Though a fifty million dollar budget is nothing to sneeze at, this wasn’t a huge production, but Director Travis uses the sets and special effects to give you a sense of scale in a smart manner. In one scene you’re in tight corridors with Dredd, and then it cuts to an exterior shot of the tower and you feel like Dredd and Anderson have huge odds against them. The look and feel of the grimy city and the interior sets matched perfectly to cast an overall dismalness to the world.
That was the selling pitch, but what brought the film home was Karl Urban acting as Dredd. Never once did Urban make the unforgivable mistake of removing his helmet, which infuriated fans back in the nineties. All you needed was his grimace, his gruff voice, and his use of his sci-fi gun The Law Giver. Thurlby as his partner, rookie, sidekick Anderson didn’t do a bad job either, though she was somewhat low-key for a good portion of the film. Lena Headey was convincing as Mama, but she didn’t terrify me as a villain. I didn’t feel that she was a true threat to Dredd as the story unfolded, though there was a moment when she brought in her cavalry and I thought ‘Oh, she Does have some pull.’ There were no Oscar performances here (and none expected), but the cast sold the film as a believable dystopian futuristic tale. The writing and dialog were straight forward. The film had a couple little twists in the plot, but there wasn’t any room for those comedic moments that you would have seen Stallone or Schwarzenegger do in the past. No, they went in the other direction – violence and desperation and more violence. It well deserved its ‘R’ rating for the violence, but little nudity.
Costuming, lighting, set design and CG were all adequate. The only thing I though was a little cheesy was Dredd’s motorcycle. Maybe they could have designed that better, but the production designers probably didn’t want it to stick out from the rest of the look of the film
It’s sad that this film only made $6 million in the first weekend (US Box Office). The GSB Crew and I chalked it up to bad advertising and the stain that the previous 95′ film left on the myth of the character. Even if you aren’t familiar with the English based 2000AD comic character, you should still like this film if you like things such as Diehard, The Raid, and other One Man action films, (well, one man and one woman).
GEEK SOUL BROTHER gives DREDD 3D (you have to include the 3D, it’s in the title) 3.75 out of 5 COSMIC AFROS. If the story itself was a little bigger, I would have given it a 4.