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 director must really struggle to find balance between the over-the-top silliness of the violence as well as more serious undertones; unless the ability to do so comes naturally. Those who didn't like Stallone's Dredd (so pretty much everyone) will want to be checking out the new film ("Dredd"), which stars Karl Urban in the title role.
This is one that's been in development for a while now. The need to remake the Stallone "Judge Dredd" came almost immediately and with much good reason. I assume what was desired from a film featuring the Judge who refers to himself famously as The Law was a Judge Dredd adaptation that was badass, insane, and absurd and of course wholly entertaining. Well, after years of waiting, we've finally been given that very film by director Pete Travis, whose "Vantage Point" was as much of a missed opportunity as "Dredd" is a gained one. It's a no-hold bars thrill-ride of a movie; a completely satisfactory genre picture that will turn the heads of those looking for a rare R-rated action flick to serve up true justice.
The plot, as it is, is simple and reminded me a lot of this year's "The Raid" (another superb and perhaps even slightly better film featuring consistent action that is easily one of my favorites from 2012 already). As I mentioned earlier, the story takes place in the future; a wasteland known as the Cursed Earth. Criminals are certainly aplenty, so we've appointed Judges (the equivalent to the police) to restore order wherever they can. Judge Dredd (Urban) is more or less the most important of all the judges, and when a new drug known as Slow-Mo (called so for the effects that it has on perception and sense, which are illustrated beautifully) hits the streets, he and a rookie Judge with psychic abilities named Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) are assigned to take down the suppliers.
This is easier said than done when the supplier is the nefarious drug lord known as Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). Once Dredd and Anderson are inside the building and have taken on of Ma-Ma's men (Wood Harris) captive for later judgment and probable execution, she literally locks them in and orders everyone in the 200-story tower block called Peach Trees to kill the two judges before they can reach the top. And there you have your movie. About an hour and forty minutes of Judge Dredd and Anderson kicking drug-addled criminal ass, eventually finding their way to the big boss in what I'll admit is a slightly underwhelming finale to an otherwise overwhelmingly superb cinematic experience.
Do not go to this film if you have a movie-going bias against the action genre. "Dredd" knows exactly what we (the fans of the genre) want and gives it to us completely free of bullshit. It is simultaneously self-aware with satire and deadpan humor and gritty with a solid portrayal of an underground-esque drug/crime civilization. There isn't much of a story and the characters are very simplistically developed, but it's far from shallow as far as movies go. Thirlby's Anderson actually provides the film with some form of emotional gravity, even if it doesn't run necesarilly deep. The characters embody all that they are supposed to; that's right, no more laughing at Dredd when he does the deed, walks the walk, and speaks those famous words ("I am the law"). You'll root for him because Urban's performance - and jaw - is surprisingly quite compelling. Even if he constantly dons the helmet and heavy armor, none of it looks the slightest bit silly. The villains are threatening and the heroes are likable. Everything but the brutal, frenetic violence in "Dredd" seems grounded in reality, but not too much.
When "Dredd" was over, I had the desire to see it again. That's how good it is, for what it is. I sort of loved it. Indeed there's not much of a market for R-rated action fare these days (as indicated by the disappointing box office gross for this one), but that shouldn't impact the quality of the film at all and it doesn't. This is bombastic, ambitious, indulgent filmmaking at its best; and Travis seems to have improved as a director since his last outing. There's something kind of artful about all the bloodshed and mayhem of his latest film; thus I can't wait for his next. "Dredd" is so well-cast and well-made that I can't help but recommend that every open-minded movie-goer see it ASAP as long as they can dig these kinds of movies. My geekiness might have completely taken over with this one, but the fact that few films can provoke this kind of reaction certainly says something for it.
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 … more
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 … more
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 … more
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. … more
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 … more
Quick Tip by Pine_Bluff_Variant.
November 05, 2012
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 … more
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.
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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