Review #1- Dredd 3D

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Rated 18

Starring- Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Wood Harris, Lena Heady.

Well, I went into this movie with fairly medium-sized expectations. Comic book-based movies over the past few years have (with one or two Green Lanternesque exceptions), been excellent. So I was almost positive that it wouldn’t be worse than the Stallone-Schneider rom-com of the mid- 90s.

At only 94 minutes, it’s a short movie by modern standards. This was in its favour I think, for a movie where the main guy doesn’t reveal his face (hallelujah for staying faithful to the comics), there is little sex (a few minutes in a scene where you get inside one of the criminal’s head), not that much dialogue and a lot of violence and action. This movie is not for the faint hearted. It starts with an excellent chase scene, followed by bodies being squished, and then wait another 15 minutes, and more bodies are splattered.

The story centers around Dredd (Urban), a Judge, whose role is to be judge, jury and executioner when arresting a criminal. Judges are glorified policemen, and Dredd lives in Mega-City One, one huge city on the eastern coast of America. Shot in Johannesburg, it really captures the post- apocalyptic feel of the grim future Dredd 3D paints. Dredd is assigned a rookie with special powers, Anderson (Thirlby), to accompany him around Mega-City One as part of her assessment to become a Judge. They enter a tower block which a criminal overlord, Ma-Ma (Heady), has taken control of, and distributes the drug, SLO-MO, which slows the user’s perception of time to 1% of its normal. Dredd and Anderson become trapped in the building, and obviously, chaos ensues.

I’m not a fan of 3D, but in the case of Dredd, its use is superb for capturing the effects of the SLO-MO drug. There’s one scene where Dredd and Anderson open fire on a group of drug users in the tower block and (despite making me feel slightly queasy), you can see a bullet fly through a guy’s cheek and out again, pretty impressive. I thought Urban made a great Dredd, he’s quite one dimensional as a character, very focused on solving Mega-City One’s problems, but with a few lines of humour, he is admirable and likeable, albeit not immediately. Heady makes a good villain, and to be honest pretty damned scary, she gives the impression of being as insane and bloodthirsty as Heath Ledger’s Joker.

Impressive. Visually stunning. Comic book faithful. I can’t wait for the sequel. Four and a half stars.

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