Judgement Is Coming: And on Sept 20, 2012, it shall arrive on our shores. Having opened in the UK almost 2 weeks earlier (and shown at SDCC on July 11), the buzz on the street was that Dredd was an amazing adaptation of the long running strip from British comic anthology 2000 AD. That’s very high expectations to have, considering how the previous attempt at a movie adaptation ended up with what wasn’t critical acclaim nor nerdgasms. So does the new attempt to bring the hard-boiled dystopian epic to the big screen succeed? Check out wot I thought (after the trailer):
Let me just start with a resounding: “Yes”. Writer Alex Garland (Sunshine, Never Let Me Go, 28 Days Later, The Beach) has obviously taken what he loved most of the Dredd universe and distilled it into a “day in the life of Dredd” sort of epic. With Judge Dredd creator John Wagner also involved in the script-writing process and commendable performances all around, Dredd is a truly great comic-book adaptation, and my pick for 2nd best comic-book related movie this year.
In Dredd, Judge Dredd is selected to watch over a potential new Judge – Anderson – who was born a mutant (and has psychic powers). Problem is that she’s obviously been chosen more for her potential psychic abilities than her ability to be a Judge (a law enforcement officer, in this case from Mega-City One), so Dredd’s here to make sure that she’s actually worth being one – he’s basically judging her. Haha.
Dredd is a truly brutal and bloody action flick – some moments had me flinching – so if you have conservative sensibilities you might want to leave them at the door. There’s blood splattering as Dredd does an almost poetic take on ultra-violence. The action doesn’t let up for too long, and the special effects and camera work combine to produce a really tightly shot action film.
Anderson, who holds the show together, is played with great panache by Olivia Thirlby. She does a great job as the newbie Anderson who’s transformed over the course of the show, psychic powers and wild-eyed wonder combined, and Anderson is at times the true lead of the show, through no fault of Judge Dredd. Karl Urban’s Dredd is a constantly frowning presence (you wouldn’t expect any different), and as Dredd in this incarnation is absolute and unchanging (except for the degree of frowning – frowning, and more frowning. You’d have thought it was impossible but there is a “more frowning” setting on Karl Urban’s face). It might lead the feeling that it’s hard to relate to Dredd, but in this case it’s kind of the point of Dredd. Still, that’s why we have Anderson – and more importantly, Ma-Ma.
Ma-Ma’s acted by Lena Headey – you might remember her as Sarah Connor in The Sarah Connor Chronicles, or as the extremely cruel Cersei Lannister from Game Of Thrones. If you thought Cersei was crazy enough, Lena really brings out the cray-cray as lead Dredd villain Ma-Ma as she controls an entire Mega-City block Peach Trees. It was fun to see Lena disappear into the role, and for all the talk that Dredd was well casted, it’s really thanks to the two leading ladies.
And of course – some posters have Dredd listed as Dredd 3D, and even its IMDB page calls it that. Feel free to watch Dredd in our local cinemas in full 2D vision-o-scope, but let’s just say you’ll be missing out in the best psychedelic parts in 3D spectra-o-vision. It’s still debatable if 3D is a good thing – at points in Dredd 3D things do flatten out, but the whole point of the 3D in Dredd 3D is really for some specific moments, during which the hyper-realism works really well.
So yes – Dredd really deserves the plaudits that it got. It’s not a perfect movie by any means as some odd plot holes do affect it, and it does feel longer than its 1.5 hour running time (which might or might not be a bad thing). Still, this is a movie worth watching, possibly even a second time.
Rating: Lawfully awesome