(Originally written September 24, 2012)
In the 90’s, Sylvester Stallone starred in the movie Judge Dredd which was one of those bad but fun action movies. It was full of all the typical clichés of a 90’s action movie and some hilarious over the top acting such Stallone screaming and mispronouncing the word LAW over and over. Now it would be a few years till I actually saw it as I was just a kid back then and even a few more years till I learned that Judge Dredd is based on a comic book and pretty much all the comic fans hated the movie. One of the big complaints fans had is that Dredd is never supposed remove his helmet. Ever. Well, fans can be happy that you never see his entire face in this new movie and it actually works well in adding to the character’s badassness. The overall look and feel of the movie is far more gritty, dark, and violent than the previous film. It should please the fans and seems to be pleasing the critics surprisingly which is one of the main reasons I decided to check it out. A movie like this could easily be horrible and it wasn’t. It’s nothing more than what you’d expect from an R-Rated action movie but it proves to be quiet entertaining.
The story is quite a simple one. Instead of having a complicated story like the 95 movie which goes into conspiracies and Dredd’s past, it focuses on a really bad day type scenario. In the future, the remains of the US are walled into a super city. Crime rates sky rocket and a special police force known as the Judges act as judge, jury, and executioner for dealing with all the crime and they deal with it very harshly. The most badass and feared of these judges is Judge Dredd played by Karl Urban. This day he takes under his wing rookie Judge Cassandra Anderson played by the lovely Olivia Thirlby. Anderson is special because she is a mutant and has telepathy and they believe her powers will be useful and they are. While investigating three murders inside one of the mega block, 200+ floor apartment complexes that fill the city, they happen to piss off the head of a powerful crime syndicate that controls the building that is lead by Madelaine “Ma-Ma” Magrigal played by Lean Heady. I give them props for having a female antagonist. She manages to lock the building down, sealing the two judges inside with hundreds of gang members wanting to kill them. It then turns into something out of a video game as Dredd and Anderson move and shoot their way up the levels and hallways of this mega building. It is actually quite successful in building tension and suspense in several scenes. At only 95 minutes, the movie moves at a good pace though it does have a very lack luster ending and a suddenly plot point that was poorly explained and required me to read Wikipedia when I got home to understand it.
The gritty and dark tone of the movie never lets up and there is very little humor (though it didn’t stop us from making our own here and there). This movie is also VERY violent. If you have a problem with graphic violence, DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE. A head melts within the first ten minutes and it just keeps getting worse from there. The acting is nothing special. There are no over the top lines like from the 95 movie. Karl Urban does a good job of keeping Dredd cool and level headed but totally badass at the same time but I do miss Stallone yelling ‘I AM THE LAWL!’ We get no real character development out of Dredd so if you like to see character development in main characters you will be disappointed. Olivia Thirlby is the only character with development in the movie as the cliché trial by fire rookie but does well with the role and she is nice to look at. Lean Heady’s acting is very subdued but you can tell she’s evil and twisted in her actions and body language more than in her dialogue. Everyone is more or less a cliché or a target to be shot or die in some horrible way. The action scenes are well done and specially the drug induced scenes where a character or more than one character are on a drug called ‘Slo-Mo’ and everything is slowed down and given a heavenly aurora around it. It makes for some interesting and artistic action scenes. Now I saw this movie in 2D but everyone says it is amazing in 3D. If you know me, you know that I HATE 3D movies but I will admit that these drug induced shoot’em up scenes would look pretty cool in 3D. Does this is mean I’m going to go see it in 3D just for that stuff? Hell no.
Overall, it’s a cool little action movie that does much more JUSTICE to the source material than the 95 Stallone movie did and it should please fans. Even if you aren’t a Dredd fan or know nothing about the comics in which it is based on and enjoy gory, mindless action films, you should have a hoot with this.
'I AM THE LAWN!'