I have never read the comics so I can't judge Dredd from that perspective, no pun intended. I have seen the original film and now this one so I have judged both of them as stand alone movies. The original movie had a few main weaknesses and I thought this one addressed all of those. Never like the first film to this. I thought the weaknesses of Stallone's Dredd were the lazy writing, the cheesy 1980's styling, and the numerous plot holes. Karl Urban's Dredd kept the high entertainment value, well done action sequences, and unique setting that is Mega-City One and with the corrected flaws, you would think it would be a much better movie. Not so much. While it lost the cheesy 1980's effects, it replaced them with possibly worse made-for-3D cinematic effects that do nothing for the movie and only drag out a not-so-interesting plot. The gore factor was also a bit high. While I am never one to have any issues with violence or anything,
"Dredd" plays out a lot like another of 2012's popular little action movies, "The Raid: Redemption." Both use the straightforward premise of a skilled hero trapped in a dangerous slum building controlled by a ruthless crime lord (in this case lady).
Dredd is a judge of the Hall of Justice in Mega City One, a concrete jungle stretching from D.C. to Boston built amidst the ruins of the world that we know today. With crime rampant, judges are granted the powers of law enforcement and the legal system all rolled into one — judge, jury and executioner. All we know about Dredd is that he plays everything by the book, but he's far from a softie. Karl Urban does a nice job as Dredd to the point that you forgot its him. His voice is pretty much how I've imagined Dredd to sound for 25 years and his lip curls and jaw acting is fantastic. The rookie Anderson was played by Olivia Thirlby and again, she was excellent. I feel Anderson is a bit touchy feely but here her vulnerabilities added to the character and in truth it's really her film by way of character development. My favorite performance in the movie would be Ma-Ma whom is played by Lena Headey. You don't get a lot of brutally sadistic female villains these days and trust me; she's pretty terrifying here.
I love this film along with my husband. "Dredd" keeps thing incredibly simple, entertaining and gleefully violent. That's not everyone's cup of tea — the style of the movie could definitely be considered too niche for mainstream tastes — but regardless of how good you might feel it is, there's no question that in executed a stupidly simple story so well, "Dredd" makes bad action movies that try to do too much look that much worse. No one will ever label "Dredd" an action classic of the early 2010s, but it will stand the test of time better than anyone expects.
on June 27, 2013
This film was one of the best films in 2012, and essential viewing for fans of action, sci-fi, or simply damn good storytelling. The story is deceptively simple -- a day in the life of a cop, set in a dystopic future -- but therein lies its brilliance. Rather than tacking on extraneous sub-plots, character backstory, and overwrought twists, the makers of this film decided to strip everything down to its most basic level, resulting in a story that is accessible to non-fans of the comic-book character, while preserving everything that could be demanded by the most vociferous fan.
Karl Urban does a phenomenal job, acting in the titular role. Using only the lower half of his face (true to its origins, Dredd never removes his helmet), he is able to deliver every line with the full force required, with a surprising amount of range for a seemingly one-dimensional character; avoiding the temptation to shout every line, Urban is able to reign in the volume, in favour of preserving the mood of the scene he's in. And, he has the advantage of truly excellent material to work with, as the dialogue is sharp as a scalpel, and snaps like a rat-trap.
For those that slaver over sets and special effects, this film has those, as well. The setting of Mega-City 1 is presented, in dank detail (saying 'vivid' would be an inaccurate description of this bleak, urban arena), as a study in human entropy, where life is misery, death unremarkable, and joy only possible through the use of cutting-edge designer drugs. Full use is made of high-definition filming, as the 'slo-mo' sequences capture all the miniscule details of movement, and all the depth and saturation of colours, which transforms the most mundane of actions into moving portraits from the impressionist era. At the same time, the film is not afraid to melt into the darkness, throwing the audience into an environment where natural light has been replaced with the claustrophobia of poorly-lit hallways of unadorned concrete, steel-barred doors, and the confines of a building with no exit.
Do not be put off by any negative impressions you may have formed -- this film will genuinely surprise you. It is nigh-impossible to convey how truly wonderful this movie is, to one who has never viewed it. Take the chance, watch it, and then watch it again. You won't regret the decision.
Comic book anti-hero Judge Dredd has been brought to the silver screen before, in the notably loathed 1995 film adaptation starring Sylvester Stallone. That movie was critically panned due to a tangled script, bad lines, and too many liberties taken with Dredd source material. In 2012, Hollywood took another shot with the franchise, and managed to give Dredd the live-action presentation that he justly deserves.
'Dredd' is played Karl Urban, who brings his clockwork grimace and growl to a character that actually makes the best use of them. As part of an elite law enforcement unit known as The Judges, Dredd is tasked with patrolling the sprawling post-apocalyptic mega-tropolis called Mega-City One, dispensing quick and brutal on-the-spot justice according to established law. Armed with a sophisticated multi-functional sidearm called a Lawgiver, Dredd is both judge, jury, and if need be, executioner. As the story begins, Dredd is tasked with investigating Peach Trees, a 200 storey building which houses some of the worst known violent offenders in the city. At the top of the hill is Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), a cruel and sadistic psychopath who peddles the new designer drug "Slo-Mo," which seems to slow down a user's sense of time while giving them a euphoric high. Ma-Ma orders the brutal skinning of three dealers who are then unceremoniously thrown from the top of the building to the ground floor. Dredd arrives to investigate, but he isn't alone. Paired with him is Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), an unseasoned young Judge who failed initial aptitude tests, and is now being personally evaluated in the field by Judge Dredd. When Anderson and Dredd raid an apartment being used as a drug den, Anderson is able to use her powerful (and rare) psychic abilities to determine that one of the thugs was responsible for the execution of the three dealers. Fearing reprisal, Ma-Ma orders the lockdown of the entire Peach Trees building before Dredd and Anderson can exfiltrate their prisoner back to headquarters for interrogation. Alone and without backup, Judge Dredd becomes a one-man army against legions of Ma-Ma's armed criminals, while Anderson undergoes the biggest and most important test of her entire life.
As a comic book adaptation, 'Dredd' nails the source material quite well. Urban's Dredd is a singular-minded war machine, masquerading under the thin pretense of a law enforcement officer, and he's a great actor to bring the character to life, despite his narrow and largely linear progression. I had less faith in Olivia Thirlby and her petite body as ever being able to withstand the rigors of life as a Judge, but at least her character develops in a realistic and well thought out manner. Lena Headey is once again a standout, playing another socio/psychopath with stunning clarity and conviction. There's little that's sexy about her character, even when she's high on Slo-Mo and relaxing in a bath. Very good character choices, all around. The movie's plot is itself a rather straightforward one. There's little in the way of plot twists or complexity. It's essentially a movie about Dredd fighting his way to the top of a building, but that singular plot device is peppered with some fantastic and varied action sequences. Director Pete Travis has a tendency to go overboard on Slo-Mo (pardon the pun) shots, however, which are there seemingly as a means to drape the movie in a particular visual style. Dredd is also an extremely (and graphically) violent movie from start to finish, which will please hardcore action buffs. If you have a weak stomach, be warned. Explosive blasts tear through bodies, people are shot through their cheeks and mouths, and heads are cooked from the inside out by incendiary rounds. That's just some of the violence which continues to try and desensitize our society, and it's done realistically, not comic book-esque. It fits well with the gritty and nihilistic tone of the future Cursed Earth, and is certainly in line with the character of Judge Dredd, and what he must deal with on a daily basis. The movie is shot in a perfectly plausible tone. Mega-City One looks and feels like something that could definitely exist, and that's largely due to the people who inhabit it. The film's opening freeway chase is devoid of anything outlandish, and feels grounded in reality. This sets the tone for the main stage in the Peach Trees building, which befits today's culture of high rise condominiums and the need to pack a growing population into tighter and tighter spaces. In other words, what 'Dredd' lacks in substance, it more than makes up for in style. I would have liked to see a bit more ambition in the plot, however. No matter how you slice it, Judge Dredd is a wooden character with singular intent, and that's largely by design, but unless he's shooting things up, he isn't the most riveting character to watch. If nothing else, props should be given to the filmmakers for keeping Dredd's helmet on throughout the entire film, just as he does in the comics.
'Dredd' is hard to mark visually, due to being shot natively in 3D. I can't speak for the 3D experience as I don't have a 3D-equipped TV, but the standard 2D transfer is dirty. Very dirty. This could be seen as a benefit, given the nature of the film and its material, but if you're a fan of pristine transfers, this is going to be difficult to swallow. I'm told that the 3D edition doesn't have these problems, and it actually looks and feels more natural and realistic than the 2D transfer, thanks to stereoscopic design. I'm not the biggest advocate for 3D, as only Avatar has really managed to wow me with its deep and compelling visuals. I did see Dredd in 3D at the theaters, though I don't possess the memory of the experience well enough to make a direct comparison. I'm sure it's good, but I'm also sure that any film shot natively in 3D is going to look better in 3D. To each their own. Once again, the audio benefits tremendously from Blu-Ray technology. 'Dredd' is presented with nothing less than a DTS HD Master Audio 7.1 track, which can be expanded to utilize Neo:X technology for 11 channels of total sound. Overkill? Perhaps. My (admittedly) older speaker set isn't able to tackle anything on the scale of Neo:X, but it must be fantastic, given how great the standard 7.1 mix is. I dare say you can hear EVERYTHING in this film with crystal clear clarity. No expense was spared to make audiophiles wet their pants, and this is apparent once the louder action sequences fire up. Outside of those scenes, the sound mix becomes so atmospheric that it creates an immediate and effective grip on the viewer, which more than makes up for the spotty 2D video transfer. Special features get the shaft, clocking in at a dismal 40 minutes. Ironically, the topics I was most curious about, such as Dredd's gear, the design of Peach Trees, and filming in 3D, are all 3 minutes or less. Talk about a disappointment!
It's light years beyond the 1995 Stallone flick, that's for sure. 'Dredd' won't win any awards for being unique, or trying something new, but it's a damn fine action film which eclipses bigger 2012 contenders like the Expendables 2, John Carter, Wrath of the Titans, and Resident Evil: Retribution.
on June 27, 2014
Take Assault on Precinct 13 and work in Attack The Block. Baste in Bladerunner, and cook for 90 minutes on high octane... and you've got Dredd.
And it's actually pretty cool.
I went through a stage in the mid 80s of being 2000AD fan. I got the comics for a few years, but would never described myself as hardcore.
That said, I found Stallone's interpretation to be so appalling that I had an anger stroke that I have never really recovered from.
Fortunately, this goes some way to healing that hurt.
Dark, gritty, and broadly faithful to at least the idea, I thought there were some nice touches, particularly the Soylent Green references.
But there were disappointments; the image of Mega City 1 was terrible. The cityscapes in Fifth Element were closer to those of the original comics than in this movie.
The characterizations were good for Dredd and Anderson, but woeful for Ma Ma.
She felt like a goon of The Joker, and was just bad for the sake of being bad - no reason, just bad, and I hate a lack of backstory.#
Finally, plot holes - there were two biggies.
(1) Ma Ma never needed to shut Peachtrees down. She could have had the informant shot before leaving (she controls the CCTV) or had the 4 corrupt judges kill him before reaching interrogation. But that is nothing compared to
(2) Dredd never needed to transport the informant. Anderson could have mind probed him (like she did later) and then they could have executed him.
That said, this is not a cerebral film. It a film about the law being good, drugs being bad, and the power of the hot lead in a confined space.
And I'm even looking forward to the sequel.