“Nick returns to the SM.com reviewing circle with an excellent write up on Dredd 3D! The film is out this week in the US, with Australia getting it October 25th.”
I’m just going to let everyone know right off the bat that this review is from my viewing during the 2012 Comic-Con where DREDD received its very first public screening. That screening had such an impact on me that the entire movie is still very much fresh in my mind and I can’t f#cking wait to see it again when it releases this weekend. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always looked to Judge Dredd as a kick-ass comic book hero who was so different from all the rest. He wasn’t charming, he wasn’t emotional, he was just 6ft of pure ass-kicking manliness and I looked up to that as a kid since I wasn’t a big fan of Marvel heroes at the time. For me, it was just Batman and Judge Dredd (Predator vs. Dredd is one of my all-time favourite comic book stories).
That being said lets talk about Stallone’s infamous 1995 “interpretation” of the famed comic book legend for a minute. I’ll be the first to say that even though it didn’t follow the comics very well in terms of the main character, I was still thrilled by it given I was only 8 years old at the time and just seeing any form of Dredd on the big screen was wicked. Now however the movie has simply become a massive guilty pleasure (bought the new Blu-Ray which rocks!) and I always hoped that one day somebody would come along and wrong all the mistakes that the original did (apparently Stallone and the studio take most of the responsibility for that at this point).
Then comes the brilliant combined talent of writer Alex Garland, actor Karl Urban and director Pete Travis and all of them under the guidance of Judge Dredd creator John Wagner. With a modest budget of $45 million or so, this team set off to create what is now being deemed the greatest comic book character reboot of all-time (it has a higher RT rating than BATMAN BEGINS). Do I agree with this reaction? F#ck yeah! When I saw this with some buddies in San Diego the night that Comic-Con was to begin, I thought I was in a dream given that it was my very first press screening ever, the movie was incredible and the fact that once Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby were done introducing the movie, they sat a few seats down from me at the back of the theatre.
First off lets talk about the feared Judge himself played by hugely rising actor Karl Urban. When I first heard Karl was taking on this role, I was excited yet cautious at the same time. One of the first things I did funny enough was find a high-res photo of him on my monitor and put a piece of paper over his face but just showing his mouth as if he was wearing the helmet and man it worked. However after seeing the movie, I couldn’t have possibly predicted just how perfect he was playing the role and unlike Stallone and the studio that was reluctant to hide his face in the original movie given his A-list status, Karl did it with ease and without ego hence he gets massive props from me. Karl had the deep threatening voice, the “man on a mission” walk, the unshaved ass-kicker chin and the attitude to rid Mega City One of crime no matter the cost. I absolutely bought him in the role from the first frame to the last and I honestly don’t know if anyone else could have done better, it was that terrific. Watching him deal out punishment while showing very little emotion was downright disturbing at times but god-dammit that’s who Dredd is!
So even after the awesomeness of Urban, there is still plenty more where he came from. The supporting cast is also fantastic such as young Olivia Thirlby who plays a slightly mutated being named Anderson. This slight mutation gives her psychic abilities which the Hall of Justice finds very useful in tracking down criminals or being utilized during interrogations. Her character is partnered up with Dredd (much to his obvious reluctance) and man did Urban and Thirlby have great chemistry together. I’ll be honest that when the first trailer came out, I thought her performance seemed a little wooden but then I realized after seeing the movie that the trailer just didn’t convey the emotion as much as sitting there and watching the movie did. Not only is Thirlby an absolute stunner but she can also kick some ass and her scenes with Dredd and the lethal residents of the Peach Trees block are pretty exciting. I’m definitely excited to see these two pair up in future sequels if the movie makes enough money (Please go support it!).
Then come the baddies of the story and much like our heroes, the main villain and her henchmen are given top-notch performances that really suck you into the story. First we begin with the beautiful and criminally underrated Lena Headey who most know from 300 and TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES. Not only was Lena absolutely amazing as the gang-leader Mama in the film but I’d go as far as to say that she plays one of the most bad-ass villains in recent memory. And the funny thing is that when you hear about her life story, you actually feel sorry for her in the beginning as she suffered a horrendous upbringing and thus ended up in this life of organized crime. Lena was amazing in the role as was all the more prominent actors who played her evil-doers throughout the film.
Next comes the action, special effects and 3D of the film which for a $45 million flick were spectacular in my opinion. Most people might complain that the movie is only localized to a single building for most of the movie but you’ll hear no complaints from me, did everyone complain when DIE HARD or THE RAID came out? The building itself is as much a character as the rest of them and its pretty friggin’ intimidating at times. The action scenes were pretty damn amazing with some amazing fire-power shown off in various sequences and the director spared no expense when it came to showing off the various armaments of Dredd’s Lawgiver. Then comes the 3D which as much as I can’t stand the format was pretty damn impressive again considering the budget of the film. The Slo-Mo drug scenes when mixed with 3D were incredibly immersive and when you add gunfire and death into that equation, you can’t even blink from being afraid you might miss something. A terrific effort from the FX crew and cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle. Also a massive props goes to the set designer for the design of Peach Trees and the f#cking badass techno score by Paul Leonard-Morgan which fit the movie perfectly and is one of my favourites in recent memory. Watching Dredd taking fire from three mini-guns to this music will have you creaming your pants.
Now if someone put a Lawgiver to my head and made me nitpick a little bit, I’d say there was some slight pacing issues towards the end of the second act but very minute and once the third act starts, it’s f#cking hell on Earth from then on. Like I said though, I was so thrilled up to that point that I barely even noticed it.
After all is said and done though, DREDD 3D will undoubtedly be in my top 10 list for 2012 and is one of the greatest comic book reboots of all-time without question. It thrilled me all the way through and judging from the reaction of critics and the audience I saw the movie with, we all feel the exact same way. If you get the chance to see it, please do so and support a film that truly deserves it in a time when Hollywood just keeps making reboots and remakes that are utter shit. I can’t wait to see what they can do with possible sequels and a bigger budget. DREDD 3D FTW!
Review written by Nick Bosworth