FILM REVIEW DREDD 2012
I waited for this film with some trepidation as the Sylvester Stallone take on it, Judge Dredd, made back in 1995, had reduced the character to a cartoon take on Robocop. The biggest problem for fans then was Stallone taking off his helmet for much of the film. The Dredd in 2000 AD comics famously never does. A single panel showing him unmasked in an early issue was censored.
Karl Urban bravely stays helmeted throughout the film, and plays Dredd as a humourless futuristic Dirty Harry. The Clint Eastwood drawl is very much there too.
The film looks and feels right, boldly going for an adult only audience with some very graphic violence, especially in the Slo-Mo killings. It isn’t just that the action moves in stylised Slo-Mo – much of the plot involve a drug that makes its takers see the events unfold in slow motion.
Megacity 1 is well imagined – its giant skyscrapers look both futuristic and contemporary. The vehicles, other than the Judge’s sleek bikes and CCTV drone planes, look very ordinary. This may be down to budget restraints but it gives the fascistic judges an air of decadence that others can only aspire to.
Psi-Cop, rookie Judge Anderson is a great counterweight to Dredd, and Olivia Thirbly plays her well, driven steadily to violence by the violence that surrounds her. Her Humanism and sometimes-spirited defiance of Dredd’s instructions works very well. The film is not without a dark sly sense of humour too.
Lena Headley’s Ma-Ma is a terrific villain, utterly selfish and cruel.
Dredd’s casual dispatching of villains, including women and in one instance, children trying to be grown up by trying to kill him, gives him an air of monstrousness the Stallone movie would never have dared for.
The action largely being confined within one vast city block after the opening road chase, makes the film inevitably similar to The Raid, a Malaysian martial arts movie about cops trapped in a high rise building populated by drug dealers, assassins and bent cops. I have also reviewed that excellent film. Dredd still never forgets to be about JD and Anderson though – and sequels sound likely. The Stallone turkey can now rest in the oblivion it deserves – the fans have a cinematic Dredd they can love at last.