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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Movie Review - Dredd

Dredd  $$  

95 Minutes
Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, and Lena Headey.
Director: Pete Travis.

            All of you who read the original Judge Dredd comic raise your hand.
            Aw come on, there has to be someone besides me who is familiar with this hilarious series. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
            For those of you who never read the comic, let alone have a pile of them stashed in your bedroom closet, let me give you a brief setup. In the future, the majority of humanity lives in one of the mega-cities that cover the area of several states. Dredd operates out of Mega City One, which runs along the eastern seaboard of the United States.
            It is densely-packed and dotted with mammoth building that each can house the population of a small city. With all of these people jammed together crime has rocketed. Judges have been instituted as a means of stemming the flood of chaos that plagues Mega-City. They are the legal system; police officer, judge, jury, and executioner all rolled into one mean package. And the most legendary of these judges is Dredd.
            The film begins with a crime in process. We are able to see Judge Dredd (Keith Urban) in action. He efficiently deals with the three psychopaths who have left a trail of bodies in the wake of their crime. Dredd efficiently deals with all of them while doing his best to protect civilians from further harm. And he does it without once cracking a smile – or anything else resembling an emotion.
            This sets up the gritty nature of the film as we see a typical day in the life of one of Mega-City’s finest. Perhaps this a good time to warn you that the “R” rating on this film is no accident. It is extremely violent and gruesome. Obviously, a stylistic choice by the director, but this could have been just as effective of a film if it had been made without the gratuitous gruesomeness. It also contains several disturbing sexual images that many will prefer to avoid.
            Back at the Hall of Justice, Dredd is given the assignment to evaluate a rookie judge. Anderson (Olivia Thurlby) is a mutant with psychic abilities that the Department of Justice think will be useful in rooting out perps.
            Meanwhile, over at the Peachtrees block (block being the term they use for one of the mega-structures where people live) the crime lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) makes an example of two members of a rival gang. She has them tossed from the top of the 75 story building as an example to anyone else in Peachtrees who is thinking of competing with her. She has developed a new drug called Slo-Mo that makes the brain experience reality at a much slower pace and is getting ready to expand her crime empire across the city.
            Dredd and Anderson are called in to investigate the double homicide and soon find themselves locked in the building with the Ma-Ma gang. Two judges with limited ammunition are pitted against an extremely well-armed crime syndicate. Let the shooting begin.

            Dredd was entertaining. The basic story line is solid, that of a rookie judge during her first day on the job. Those elements of the story work wonderfully and I truly enjoyed that. Other than the gruesome content, this was a good adaptation of the comic. It definitely felt like Judge Dredd.
            The acting was good. Although, to be fair Judge Dredd is very dead pan and doesn’t require a master thespian to play the part. Thurlby and Headey both do good jobs in their roles and the performance of the supporting cast was seamless.
            Special effects were good. There were plentiful amounts of explosions to satisfy the demolitionist in all of us. The technical aspects of the film were reasonable – no shaky camera style that makes the action hard to follow. As previously mentioned, the writing was good. Overall, it is a competently made movie. I just wish they hadn’t felt the need to include copious amounts of gore.
            This movie earned two movie bucks from me. If you don’t mind disturbing images in your movie going experience, then add another movie buck to that score. I enjoyed watching the movie, but it was just to gruesome for me to recommend it to everyone.

            Randy’s Rating System

$$$$   = Full Price    See this movie right away and pay full price, it’s worth it.
$$$     = Matinee      Catch this as a matinee or other discounted showing.
$$        = Discount     Wait until this movie reaches a discount theater near you.
$          = Rental         Wait until this movie reaches your local video rental outlet.
0          = No Sale       Don’t see this movie at any price.


  1. I'll probably rent that on DVD. It sounds more like the plot for a video game than a movie. But anything is an improvement on that Stallone version in the 90s right?

    1. The Stallone version had the advantage of being family friendly. Otherwise, this is a superior version of the property. But the plot was decent: a rookie has her mettle tested by a veteran. I can think of a lot of successful movies that had much weaker plots.