For good or ill, a lot of people’s memories of Judge Dredd are not tied to the 2000 AD comic books but to a movie starring Sylvester Stallone.
Though it did a good job of it visually, the movie seemed to try too hard by pulling in more references that plot lines which left viewers with an incoherent mess that won over few people.
So here we are now with a new movie that is not shackled to the past. Some of that may be due in part to it not having the massive production budget that comes with big stars but that in turn may also be its biggest strength in that the movie has been refined down to the core aspects of both the story and its characters.
The story plays out as a day in the life of Judge Dredd, played to great effect by Karl Urban. He spends the whole film under the iconic helmet and gives little away emotionally but it is completely effective and fitting. Dredd is bad ass through and through.
Working with Dredd on this fateful day is Judge Anderson, played by Olivia Thirlby. Minus helmet she adds much to the viewers perspective, often simply by watching her reactions to the events around her. She even offers insights into Dredd’s character in a manner that doesn’t damage your impressions which in itself is nice for a change.
In the naughty corner we have Lena Heady playing the crime boss Ma Ma and who must be relishing playing these kinds of roles since Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones showed she can be one mean bitch.
These three are all thrown into one giant cauldron in the shape of a massive residential block when Dredd and Anderson are left to fend for themselves after a bust results in them being locked in. Despite what sounds like restricted confines, there is still plenty of room for large scale action and the movie plays to every square inch.
Visually, the movie keeps the comic styling down to its barest but most practical. Dredd’s uniform shares much with the source material but looks like something you’d expect to be seeing someone REALLY wearing day in, day out. Mega City One is shown briefly… just enough to give you a taste of the world but not enough to draw you away from what matters.
For those with a 3D television, the movie is a great demonstration thanks in part to it’s numerous slow motion segments. There’s even a reason for those in the story believe it or not! They can be gratuitous but playing a shoot-out in show motion isn’t exactly subtle either so it kind of fits.
I really like Dredd. The movie delivers on the action and keeps you entertained right to the end. Like another movie I saw recently, it begs for more of the world and its characters and I hope that somehow we see it happen.