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This week, Papa Kenn reviews the movie that proves a remake CAN work: DREDD 3D!
Director: Pete Travis
Writers: Alex Garland (screenplay), Carlos Ezquerra & John Wagner (characters)
Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Wood Harris
Ready for a shocker? Dredd 3D was good. Really good! I know, I’m as surprised as you are. They pulled a Christopher Nolan on the franchise and turned a Batman & Robin (Judge Dredd) into a Batman Begins. They took a page from the original comic series that I’ve never read and made a dark, gritty, and ruthless movie that will make you forget all about the one with Stallone and…Schneider.
A little backstory for those unfamiliar with all this: Dredd (Karl Urban) is famously the biggest and baddest of a group of law enforcers called Judges that, due to an overabundance of crime in the post-apocalyptic metropolis Mega-City One, have been given the power of judge, jury, and executioner. In this particular movie, he is joined by rookie Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) in a high-crime slum run by drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey).
Despite its advertising, seeing Dredd in regular 2D takes absolutely nothing away from the experience, and that point is only emphasized by the fact that there are almost no annoying 3D tricks thoughout the entire movie! The few that exist are pretty blatant and not worth the extra price for the glasses, though the scenes are done in a way that are still beautifully done and don’t take you out of the movie.
Beyond the 3D, this movie is absolutely in love with slow-motion and for good reason. Unlike most movies with an abundance of slow-motion, there is a legitimate reason for it in Dredd. As shown in the trailers, a new drug called Slo-Mo has been released that lowers a person’s perception down to 1% its normal speed, and every time we see someone taking it we are treated to either their point of view, what is going on around them, or some combination thereof. In fact, this may be the first movie since The Matrix where use of slow-motion is actually appropriate and not just another overused camera trick! There are a few instances where I feel like it goes on a little too long, but that’s a minor point at best.
Urban as Dredd is an amazing performance that is absolutely no nonsense and powerful. Except for maybe a few lines, there’s no cheesiness or “groaners” to the role. While this was a detriment to the Total Recall remake, Dredd is made much better than 1995’s Judge Dredd, with Urban showing us how he really encapsulates the character: a no-BS law enforcer that won’t stop until justice is served or he’s dead.
Thirlby gives a strong performance as Judge Anderson as well, though unfortunately I feel like the same cannot be said for Headey. It wasn’t a bad performance by any stretch of the imagination, just unbelievable at times because she didn’t seem as suited for the role visually. She has an artificial scar and snarls a lot, which in the Movie Cliche Handbook translates to “this is the bad guy”. But…it’s Lena Headey! She could be covered in blood from head to toe and not completely pull off a “ruthless bad guy” look in my opinion. As long as you can get past that however, the character actually is ruthless and evil, and no one in their right mind would mess with her…despite the fact that they do…because otherwise the movie would be pretty boring.
The only real negative I can think of with Dredd itself is that there were moments that things just dragged on a bit. Nearly all of these were in the middle, and really just served as filler between action sequences. Chances are, you won’t even notice this while watching the movie, so don’t take it to heart too much.
In the end, Dredd is a kick-ass cinematic ride that deserves a place alongside the best action films of 2012. Due to copious amounts of blood and what can only be described as hyper-violence (and the fact that it’s rated R), it’s definitely not appropriate for all audiences and especially not little kids (I’m looking at you, parents at the same theater I was in). Otherwise, I highly recommend Dredd to action fans everywhere that have been more than ready to forget about…this (Judge Dredd) for a long time now. I was blown away, and I hope you will be too.
I give Dredd: 9/10.
I’m Papa Kenn, and I’ll see you next review.
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