Posted on September 24, 2012 AT 06:39pm
When the original Judge Dredd released all the way back in 1995, it was generally noted as being a pretty terrible movie. So when the announcement was made for a new version of the film to be released, this time starring Karl Urban instead of Sylvester Stallone, skepticism was running rampant throughout all forms of media.
Surprisingly, Dredd was actually a good film. While the initial thought was that it was going to be terrible, it managed to do all the things that the original incarnation wanted to do and failed miserably at. The setting and overall tone represented the comic much better, the acting was far less corny (though, a lot of Urban’s lines were funny in a B-movie sort of way), and the visual effects were absolutely stunning, especially in 3D (which, while looking great, did little for the film as a whole). The use of slow motion was also on full display, and while the film had a genuine reason for using it, it was completely overdone. However, aside from that drawback, it was gritty, bloody, and very realistic for a futuristic film, as far as the look went.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world where radiation runs rampant, major cities have merged into Mega-Cities, with nearly 800 million inside Mega-City One, which runs from Boston to Washington, D.C. and is home to the main setting. The use of a single building (for the most part) as the setting made the scope of the city look all the more massive, taking place in a 200 floor structure that housed 80,000. Dredd, and his partner Anderson, take a call inside the building, where all hell breaks loose. Throughout the film there is violence, explosions, and all the things that make an action movie awesome, and very few of the things that make them unbearable to get through.
Urban, first off, is a terrific Dredd. He’s cold, calculating, tough, and has the perpetual frown that makes a good action hero. While some of the corny lines come through (and are amplified in hilarity by Urban’s stoic facial expression), less of it is campy, and more of it is him just being a badass. Olivia Thirlby (Anderson) does a good job as well, and thankfully her part was not written as the standard “female partner in distress”, and more as an equal partner in the film. Lena Headey, who playing antagonist Ma-Ma, the vicious drug dealer who controls the main setting, was also terrific, bringing a distinct edge to a main villain while still not attempting to be overpowering in her scope.
While mostly set inside a bottle of a massive apartment structure, the setting of Mega-City One is seen inside the film quite a bit, and it looks massive and gorgeous. In fact, the entirety of the film was very stunning, especially the aforementioned overused slow motion (which was given reasoning by the appearance of a narcotic called “slo-mo”).
Summary: While still sneaking a few corny bits in, Dredd manages to avoid the B-movie hole that the original film fell into, replacing lackluster effects and a lack of connection to the source material with stunning visuals and a (more) compelling story. With brutal action and mayhem, unbreakable frowns and good acting, Dredd is the surprise hit of the year, making what was seemingly a terrible idea into something that should have happened much earlier.
- THE GOOD: Wonderful visuals, massively entertaining action
- THE BAD: Slow motion is overused
- THE UGLY: 3D is still pointless
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