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Review: Dredd 3D (TIFF 2012)

Sep. 10, 2012by: Chris Bumbray


PLOT: In the dystopian metropolis of Mega City One, law is enforced by the judges, a police force that serves as judge, jury and executioner. Of the judges, Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is a legend. He's assigned a young trainee, the telepathic Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby)- and on a routine assignment to a city slum- they find themselves trapped in a building ruled by a vicious drug lord, Ma-Ma (Lena Headey)- who puts the building in lock-down, and orders the judges killed.

REVIEW: Do yourself a favour and forget all about Danny Cannon's notorious 1995 film version of JUDGE DREDD, which infamously starred Sylvester Stallone, and eliminated virtually everything about the character that made him a comic book icon in Britain during the late-seventies/eighties. In fact, I'd hesitate to even call DREDD 3D a reboot as literally nothing from the old film is carried over. Instead, this is a gritty, contained take on the character that could potentially launch an excellent new action franchise for leading man Karl Urban, who makes an ideal Judge Dredd, adopting a laconic growl and style that's way more reminiscent of Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry than Sly.


Directed by Pete Travis, who- in addition to VANTAGE POINT is known for his hard-hitting, politically-tinged docudramas (OMAGH and ENDGAME), DREDD inherits the social commentary of the comic it's based on, with this world- which resembles the modern ghetto projects of the US, and the UK- in the same way that the comics were a reaction to Thatcher-era Britain of their time.

Always a borderline fascist character, in the hands of Travis and writer/producer Alex Garland (28 DAYS LATER)- this big-screen version of DREDD is an absolutely merciless crime-fighter, less interested in protecting the public than punishing anyone who crosses his path. Urban, who never removes his helmet- plays him as an unstoppable killing machine, without mercy or fear. To me, he seems to be a perfect match to the character- without the movie-star baggage that an icon like Stallone brought to the part. Dredd has to be a bit ambiguous, and if Urban continues in the role, I could easily see them taking the character into an even grayer zone than they do here.

As a contrast to Urban's vicious Dredd, we get Thirlby's empathetic Anderson, who questions DREDD's occasional cruelty and tries to inject some compassion into her work. Thirlby brings a warm energy to the part that works well for the character. I also really like Lena Headey in a stark departure from her usual parts and the scarred, sadistic Ma-Ma. In a nice touch, Headey avoids chewing the scenery, and instead underplays the part somewhat, which is unusual, but extremely effective.

Social commentary, ambiguity, and even acting aside- the real question here is still whether or not DREDD delivers as an action film. While the premise is admittedly very similar to THE RAID, DREDD is satisfying on its own merits, with it being loaded to the gills with firefights, pyrotechnics, and surprisingly effective use of 3D- especially when illustrating the effects of Headey's slo-mo drug, which slows perception down to 1% of it's normal speed. In fact, the use of slo-mo is some of the action scenes even gives DREDD a tinge of the avant-garde, although it's not overused enough to be either pretentious or tiresome.


Running a lean ninety minutes, DREDD is a contained piece of work- with a minimum of exposition, and a maximum of carnage. Like the comics, DREDD is ultraviolent, with the gore being ramped up to such an extreme level that it becomes satirical (similar to Paul Verhoven's ROBOCOP), and feels appropriate and ballsy. Everything in DREDD is kept tight, and it moves at lightning speed, being driven along by a propulsive techno score by Paul Leonard-Morgan, who does the same thing here he did with his score to LIMITLESS last year.

Hopefully, DREDD will find it's audience once it hits theatres at the end of the month, as the Judge Dredd universe is one that could easily sustain a whole series of movies. Watching DREDD, it's obvious that the essential ingredients to a worthy franchise are here, and I'd be very happy to see a DREDD 2 before long.

Source: JoBlo.com

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6:59PM on 09/10/2012
Does anyone else hate how they added "3D" onto the end of the title? I feel like it undermines the movie somehow, highlighting the gimmick instead of the character. Simply calling it Dredd would have been so much more effective. Stupid Hollywood marketing.

Still really want to see it, though.
Does anyone else hate how they added "3D" onto the end of the title? I feel like it undermines the movie somehow, highlighting the gimmick instead of the character. Simply calling it Dredd would have been so much more effective. Stupid Hollywood marketing.

Still really want to see it, though.
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5:50PM on 09/10/2012
The only thing I remember about seeing Stallone's JUDGE DREDD at the movies in 1995 was that I was making out with a hot chick throughout most of it. That being said, Im actually excited for this version of DREDD and I'm also gonna check it out in 3D, only because it looks like it should be seen that way. Will be there opening night!!
The only thing I remember about seeing Stallone's JUDGE DREDD at the movies in 1995 was that I was making out with a hot chick throughout most of it. That being said, Im actually excited for this version of DREDD and I'm also gonna check it out in 3D, only because it looks like it should be seen that way. Will be there opening night!!
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2:09PM on 09/10/2012

Vantage Point, NOT Vanishing Point

Wow, how those two could be confused is beyond me.
Wow, how those two could be confused is beyond me.
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3:22AM on 09/11/2012
Really? You can't see that someone would confuse titles this similar to each other in the process of writting? He made a mistake, that's it, he didn't confuse the movies, he just accidently wrote the wrong title. Jeez people...
Really? You can't see that someone would confuse titles this similar to each other in the process of writting? He made a mistake, that's it, he didn't confuse the movies, he just accidently wrote the wrong title. Jeez people...
2:07PM on 09/10/2012

Vantage Point, NOT Vanishing Point

Wow, how those two could be confused is beyond me.
Wow, how those two could be confused is beyond me.
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+9
10:11AM on 09/10/2012

I'm glad you liked, I really want to see it too, but...

"In fact, I'd hesitate to even call DREDD 3D a reboot as literally nothing from the old film is carried over."

Well that's kind of what a reboot is, it's a whole new story. By definition a remake takes scenes and plot points from the original movie and a reboot is a new storyline having just the same characters. Some movies, which are actually remakes, tend to be mistankenly called reboots (see Total Recall) but a reboot is basically what Nolan did with Batman. Same character as Burton's and
"In fact, I'd hesitate to even call DREDD 3D a reboot as literally nothing from the old film is carried over."

Well that's kind of what a reboot is, it's a whole new story. By definition a remake takes scenes and plot points from the original movie and a reboot is a new storyline having just the same characters. Some movies, which are actually remakes, tend to be mistankenly called reboots (see Total Recall) but a reboot is basically what Nolan did with Batman. Same character as Burton's and Schumacher's, different world and story.
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8:39AM on 09/10/2012
Keen to see this, and am glad early reviews have been fairly positive.
Keen to see this, and am glad early reviews have been fairly positive.
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8:35AM on 09/10/2012
Loved it from the first frame to the last.
Loved it from the first frame to the last.
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8:11AM on 09/10/2012
Yeah, Dredd rules!
Yeah, Dredd rules!
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6:10AM on 09/10/2012

Unfortunately

It looks an awful lot like "Total Recall" another sci-fi remake. That movie at least had a good original film, no one liked the first Dredd movie. I think because Total Recall was such a dud, that'll hurt this one in the box office, which is a shame because this one is actually getting good reviews.

I'll be seeing this as soon as i can
It looks an awful lot like "Total Recall" another sci-fi remake. That movie at least had a good original film, no one liked the first Dredd movie. I think because Total Recall was such a dud, that'll hurt this one in the box office, which is a shame because this one is actually getting good reviews.

I'll be seeing this as soon as i can
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3:39AM on 09/10/2012
Saw it and loved it, except for the 3D, I thought it was awful. I hope it does well at the Box Office as Id love to see a sequel or two.
Saw it and loved it, except for the 3D, I thought it was awful. I hope it does well at the Box Office as Id love to see a sequel or two.
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