Genre: Science-fiction, action, crime
Director/s: Pete travis
Running Time: 95 mins
Budget: $45 million
Released: 21 September 2012
In a violent, futuristic city where the police have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner, a cop teams with a trainee to take down a gang that deals the reality-altering drug, SLO-MO – imdb
This one has been a long time coming, after the atrocious – Judge Dredd in 1995, you’d be forgiven for wanting to overlook Dredd for fear that it is merely a remake of the aforementioned travesty, but fear not, Dredd has done the science-fiction anthology – 2000AD, proud.
For starters, in case you didn’t know, 2000AD is a science fiction magazine originating in the UK, with Judge Dredd being the magazine’s longest running character since first appearing in issue #2, back in 1977. It is also a well-known fact (assuming you know anything about Joseph Dredd) that in 35 years of publication, Judge Dredd’s face has never been properly revealed, always obscured by his helmet, apart from a couple of occasions where he was forced to remove it (though his face remains hidden in some way or another). The creators of Judge Dredd decided that keeping the helmet on would reinforce the facelessness of the law, and Judge Dredd is the law. Perhaps the biggest peeve of fans was Dredd removing his helmet (within the first 15 and-a-half minutes) in the 1995 film adaptation, for the majority of the film, a fact which is still brought up today as why the film sucked (though there are many, many other reasons). Though Stallone certainly had the right demeanor and jawline to play a convincing Dredd, his rendition of the character was marred by a shitty script and poor production value.
17 years later and we have Dredd 3D. This 2012 adaptation is faithful to the source material, filled with all the gratuitous carnage and violence a Dredd fan would expect (in true 3D I might add) and best of all, Dredd never removes his helmet.
Enter Karl Urban – the new face (or rather mouth) of Dredd, every bit as brutal and bad-ass as the Judge Dredd character should be. Completely incorruptible and unwavering, Urban’s Dredd has been lifted from the 2000AD magazine. Judge Dredd is the most infamous of the street judges (something of a legend), and just like the original source material, a judge has the power of arresting, sentencing and sometimes even executing criminals on the spot, without the bureaucracy of due process.
The plot of Dredd is neither grand or of an epic scale, rather, it is a more intimate, ‘day-in-the-life-of’ story that closely follows Dredd and rookie – Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), Anderson is seemingly unfit for judge work, but being a mutant with powerful psychic abilities, she is assigned to Dredd for evaluation. After they respond to a disturbance in a 200-story residential slum known as Peach Trees, the judges are forced to fight for their lives as Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) and her gang (who pretty much run the place after wiping out all their competitors) place Peach Trees under lock-down in order to exterminate the judges. What ensues is an hour of gratuitous violence and nail-biting action as Judge Dredd unleashes the full force of law in a brutal and spectacular fashion, with Terminator-like efficiency.
…enter Karl Urban – the new face (or rather mouth) of Dredd, every bit as brutal and bad-ass as the Judge Dredd character should be…
However, it is worth noting that while Dredd is hugely entertaining, it is also essentially the exact same film as 2011’s The Raid: Redemption. Whether this is a coincidence or not, it’s difficult to determine which film came out with the screenplay first when you consider that Dredd has been in development since 2009. Having watched The Raid: Redemption first, the plot to Dredd held no surprises for me.
Dredd does not attempt to be of an epic scale, there is no over-the-top plot to overthrow the world, there is no love story between Dredd and Anderson (rather her presence signifies the ‘human touch’ allowing audiences to connect with the film) and most importantly, there is no helmet-removing nonsense. Combined with a kick-ass soundtrack, Dredd is pure, unadulterated entertainment – if you’re partial to films being violent and meaty of course…