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A movie directed by Pete Travis

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The judge should not be young; he should have learned to know evil, not from his own soul.

  • Sep 29, 2012
I remember Stan Lee once saying that "Every comic is someone's first". Mine and where it was?  I was a young boy sitting on my bed with my brother reading Judge Dredd #16 where Dredd has to find Fink Angel.  It was such a weird story with a mutant and his pet rat running around the city, a flashback to Fink's childhood.  For all I know this story is hated by fans or looked down on for being an older book when better ones were made.

Years later, the Judge Dredd movie came out and my brother and I were all excited.  Then we saw the movie and well....I'll just say that I can find some good points in that diamond in the rough, but nothing changes that it's a pretty butchered adaption and left a sour feeling in my stomach that this would be our only on screen major appearance of my first comic book character.  That is until years later when rumors were out on would be making another attempt at the movie?  Oh yes, another shot at Dredd and while not perfect, it's a closer attempt at those 2000 AD serials and a much simpler story over the Hollywoodized Stallone flick.

If you are unfamiliar with Dredd and his world, here is the cliffnotes version.  At a point in the future, a major world wide nuclear conflict contaminated most of the world, leaving it an irradiated wasteland and called "The Cursed Earth".  The good land that is left was made to build the Mega Cities where the world's many survivors are crowded into.  In these cities, most people are crammed into 200 story high tenaments almost like passengers on a Japanese train and many are jobless cause automation and robots dominate the work force.  This leads many to lives of crime and anarchy that only a super police force can handle, and they are the Judges.  Judges are dispatched to crime scenes, break up riots and often will end up in fire fights with criminals.  Survivors are given immidate sentances on the spot, and even those left alive can still be executed.  Dredd is the focus of the stories being the most cold and efficient of his force and while he has a backstory, the comics were best when it dealt with issues like government excess, world politics and issues like over population, nuclear war, racism and other hot topic issues.

Dredd 3D is the latest cinematic offering of the facist bootboy Dredd keeps the plot simple and on it's meager budget, things aren't overcomplicated.
Dredd on a routine assignment has him following perps under the influence of a hot new drug called SLOMO, which affects the brain and slows down reality for those under it's influence.  Dredd however gets saddled with a new recruit named Anderson, a telepath who is under scrutiny by Dredd to be a full street judge like he is.  They're first mission takes them back to where Dredd tracked the earlier criminals to, The Peachtrees Block, a ghetto of a commune where 3 men are found dead and Anderson learns that many of the gangs players are on an upper level.  Coming back down with a witness to the 3 dead bodies, the block's sick bitch criminal leader Ma-Ma Madrigal locks down the building with blast doors and orders the judges dead or she will not re-open the building.  Anderson, Dredd and the witness must stay alive until back up can arrive.

Yes, that is the plot.  Keep a witness alive while trapped in a building, and battle who gets in they're way.  And while that may have been acceptable for maybe a 3 or 4 prog run in 2000 AD, it is light for a movie, or it WOULD be if they didn't make the most of it.  Dredd during this time puts Anderson through the paces, communicated with the enemy, get to see a twist when cavalry does finally arrive, how the law is carried out when criminals are caught and more.  A great scene comes toward the end where a man is caught but a probe by Anderson lets him go free and when Dredd is about to call her out on it, she perfectly defends her actions and even Dredd has to admit that she is right.

Karl Urban as Dredd blows Stallone out of the water, I'm sorry.  Urban is less a superman, doesn't have the lines about emotions being illegal, a stupid catchphrase, and if you haven't heard it before THE HELMET STAYS ON.  It's also nice to see Dredd doing his JOB in this movie, other then an opening scene and then fighting against his own injustice.  Olivia Trillby as Anderson shows enough vulnerability early on with her own cunning before settling into her own later on, and that includes her first execution.  Lena Heady sure looks and acts like a sicko who runs a house of skinning and raping prisoners in her high rise but her screen time is sorely lacking.  Thankfully her few scenes show her sadistic nature enough.

One other note about this movie, it's VERY bloody and gory.  head shots, including those with flaming and exploding bullets, skinning and splattering abound often.  The first movie was nonstop action but was largely bloodless, but when the action comes here, every bullet leaves a mess.

I sadly don't feel a perfect score is good enough here.  I can deal with the minor plot as it's nice and simple but this movie only touches on again what the Stallone movie only touched on, and thats the society that Dredd lives in.  Nothing really said or touched upon about total police control and even innocent things like sugar being contraband, nor the facts that without the Judges, the city would colapse.  It gets an implications in lines about how the Judges can only respond to so many calls, but I felt a little more could have been said.

One more peeve, but only a minor one, there are quite a few roads and sidewalks that are surprisingly empty for a city that is reported to have 800 million people in it.  I know the budget is tight, but a few extras and cars, please.

Dredd, as much as I love him, won't be bumping down the awesome crazy fun of The Avengers or even the dramatic slam that was The Dark Knight, but he can bump Iron Man down a peg in my list of favorite comic book movie adaptions.  We can hope for a sequel (one released in the UK anyway and blu ray here) for maybe a bigger budget, more characters and please oh please the Dark Judges.

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October 01, 2012
Oh you know I liked this movie quite a bit. Despite the simplicities of its plot, and the somewhat lack of characterization, this sure felt like a "Judge Dredd" movie. Good comment on the sidewalks and stuff. I figured maybe that crime is so rampant that perhaps people tend to stay indoors? Nice review.
October 05, 2012
Oh yeah. A new movie though sadly looks like a pipe dream now with how little it's drawn in the US.
October 07, 2012
This did well in Europe and Asia, but somehow, the Stallone flick did better in the box-office.
More Dredd reviews
review by . September 24, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
The Law According To Dredd
My first brush with the comic book character “Judge Dredd” was when he tangled with Batman in an inter-company one-shot “Judgment in Gotham”. Then on, I took a look at several stories that depicted the character such as “Return of Rico”, “Judge Death” and “Robot Wars”, but admittedly while charmed by its character as a futuristic “Dirty Harry” with a little mystery as to what his race was, I never really became a huge fan of …
review by . September 26, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
***1/2 out of ****    Judge Dredd is a powerhouse comic book action hero. Defined by his "man of few words" attitude and surprisingly elaborate set of skills, he exists in a futuristic world populated by typically intriguing ideas and an ever-increasing crime rate that just cannot be remedied. In 1995, the character was brought to the screen for the first time via actor Sylvester Stallone; whom most die-hard fans felt played the part unconvincingly. With comic book movies, the …
review by . September 12, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
For many, the 1995 Sylvester Stallone movie was perhaps their first and only exposure to the character of Judge Dredd. Originally created by writer John Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra for British comic book 2000AD in 1977, Dredd had garnered a loyal cult following through the years, but the Stallone film brought the character to the attention of a much wider audience, particularly in America. While that movie had much to applaud from a technical and visual point of view, it was ultimately crippled …
review by . September 24, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         One of the biggest complaints fans had with 1995’s Judge Dredd was that the title character, played by Sylvester Stallone, wasn’t wearing his helmet for much of the film. This went against what was established in the original comic strip by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra; you saw nothing more than his nose and mouth. I haven’t so much as glanced at a single panel of the strip. I have, however, seen Dredd 3D, a remake of sorts. …
review by . January 12, 2013
      So much of DREDD unfolds like his law enforcement exploits from the trades.  Mark my words: as comic book adaptations go, you’re not likely to see anything this faithful in your lifetime.  (For the record, you’re reading the thoughts of a tremendous comic book fan – started reading them in the early 1970’s, in fact – as well as a connoisseur of most comic-inspired films.  If nothing else, I’d like to think I know what I’m …
Quick Tip by . May 29, 2013
posted in Movie Hype
I finally got around to seeing this after a rental from the nearby Family Video, and I wasn't disappointed.      It's sad that this movie didn't do well in theaters, but let's hope it's done better on DVD and blu-ray.  This has some cool action in a Die Hard-like setting, and like any good action movie worth its salt, there's some good tension going on to make you root for Judge Dredd and the Rookie.  The antagonists are really slimy and loathsome …
Quick Tip by . November 05, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Judge. Jury. Executioner. Way better than the Stallone version.    Karl Urban takes up the mantle of one of the biggest British-produced comic characters, and nails it. I cannot comment on the similarities this film supposedly have to The Raid: Redemption as I have not seen that film, but I can say this is one of the most satisfying (and gory!) action films of the year. the minimal use of CGI (if there was CGI used, it wasn't upfront and was integrated very well) aids the gritty …
Quick Tip by . September 24, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
The comic hero/facist of the future takes on a new rookie and must escape a high rise tenement where a drug lordess and her gangs declare war on the two of them. Taut and high action without the camp and cheese of the Stallone film, but doesn't touch on as much of the life and politics that the city faces as I had hoped.
About the reviewer
John Nelson ()
Ranked #5
Born in Wausau Wisconsin. Move at an early age to Ventura California and lived for 8 years. Growing up in a big city landscape didn't prepare me for my next move: Archbold Ohio with a population of … more
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About this movie



Director: Pete Travis
Genre: Action
Release Date: September 21 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Alex Garland, Carlos Ezquerra
First to Review

"Judgement on Dredd"
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