8 out of 10
Release Date: 7th of September 2012
Director: Pete Travis (City of Tiny Lights / Vantage Point)
Cast:Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Wood Harris, Domhnall Gleeson, Rakie Ayola, DeObia Operai and Langley Kirkwood
Writer: Alex Garland
Never has death been depicted so beautifully and at the same time violently on cinema screens as in this British take on 2000AD lawman Judge Dredd. It would be very easy to angle style over content at this solid adaptation but that would be doing the source material a grave disservice. The story lines to 2000AD have always been easy to follow with little in the way of twists or turns from the norm. It’s great to report that this Dredd is a to-the-letter love poem to the fan base. It gets just about everything right. Pace, script and casting are all spot on. The design and look of the film, whilst every bit as eye-catching as the recent Total Recall remake, give the film a real sense of place. You can almost smell the fetid locations, dingy, mouldy and a long way from a mop or a detergent. Where Total Recall (2012) felt like CGI. Dredd feels real.
Judge Dredd (KARL URBAN – RED) and a first day rookie, Anderson (OLIVIA THIRLBY – THE WACKNESS) are called in to investigate a treble homicide at a 200 storey tower block in Mega City One called Peach Trees. It is ruled over by Ma-Ma (LENA HEADEY – 300) and her clan who are responsible for the production and despatch of a designer drug called Slo-Mo. The drug enables the user to experience real-time at one percent of it’s actual speed. Cue some of the most dazzling 3D we’ve seen yet at the cinema. After the two apprehend one of Ma-Ma’s main henchmen, (WOOD HARRIS – THE WIRE), Ma-Ma locks down the entire block and then calls for all the residents to flush them out and kill them on sight. Sound familiar? Earlier this year an equally good action film from Malaysia called The Raid screened with almost an identical plot. Where that film displayed incredible martial arts and knife / sword play, Dredd is all about fire power and technology. So at first glance they are superficially alike, but that’s where similarities end. I couldn’t pick a favourite out of the pair. Maybe Dredd just edges it because I’m a sci-fi fan.
Lead actor, Karl Urban is a said to be a massive life-long fan of 2000AD and promised he’d do his utmost to deliver the quintessential Judge Dredd. This he has achieved admirably. He wipes all memories of Sylvester Stallone’s broad, everyman portrayal from memory. This is a respectful version that gets stuck in and takes you on a brilliant adventure. Karl Urban almost outdoes Peter Weller‘s Robocop for best acting performance with half a face. His casting is perfect. And yes this version does wipe the slate clean. All memories of Danny Cannon‘s studio botched Judge Dredd (1995) are paved over. I’m looking forward to a larger budget sequel so that we can see more of Mega City One than just Peach Trees and a clutch of highways.
Olivia Thirlby is great support as the psychic rookie thrown in at the deep end on her first day. “It’s all a deep end” snarls Dredd early on. She proves a helpful partner and a canny match for the beyond sick and evil villains on display. The plot is straight forward but the film delivers in spades. A grade A action flick that could be my favourite blockbuster of 2012. All this and it’s mostly British too. This was one welcome remake that definitely shows Hollywood how to do it. It may be scaled back, but the sheer scale and look of Peach Trees make this as memorable for the sets and design as much as the performances. The soundtrack is great too, all whirrs and clicks and plenty of ((BASS)). Take headphones because the fire fights are perhaps the loudest and clearest of the year.
Home entertainment has a way to go before it can do Dredd justice so catch it in 3D at the local cinema if you can. My third favourite comic book adaptation of all time, after Watchmen and The Crow… Maybe fourth if I was in a Dark Knight mood.
8 out of 10 – Perfect action movie. Karl Urban IS Dredd! Style over substance? At least someone has found a narrative reason for going overboard with slow motion! A more colourful film hasn’t been seen since Pixar‘s Cars 2! And yes! Memories of Sylvester Stallone‘s 90s effort will be thankfully wiped. A welcome redux for once!
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT PERSON IN BEFORE?
- Karl Urban: Star Trek 3, Walking With Dinosaurs 3D, Riddick, Star Trek 2, Priest, Red, Star Trek (2009), Pathfinder, Out Of The Blue, The Chronicles Of Riddick, The Bourne Supremacy, Doom, Ghost Ship, Lord Of The Rings – The Return Of The King, Lord Of The Rings – The Two Towers, Xena – Warrior Princess (TV)
- Olivia Thirlby: The Wedding Ringer, The Darkest Hour, I Love New York, Juno, The Wackness,
- Lena Headey: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Game Of Thrones (TV), The Adventurer – The Midas Box, 300 – part 2, The Purge, The Broken, Imagine Me & You, St. Trinians, 300, The Brothers Grimm, The Cave, Ripley’s Game, The Parole Officer, Gossip, Onegin, If Only, Mrs Dalloway, Face, Waterland, The Grotesque, The Jungle Book (1994), Century, The Remains Of The Day
- Wood Harris: Creed – Rocky 7, The Wire (TV), Southland Tales, Above The Rim, Remember The Titans
- Domhnall Gleeson: Star Wars 8, The Revenant, Star Wars – The Force Awakens, Brooklyn, Ex Machina, Frank, Calvary, About Time, Shadow Dancer, Anna Karenina (2012), True Grit (2011), Never Let Me Go, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows 1 & 2
- Rakie Ayola: Now Is Good
- DeObia Operai: Game of Thrones (TV), Legacy – Black Ops, Green Street 2, Doom, Underworld, Moulin Rouge, Alien 3
- Langley Kirkwood: Tiger House, Death Race 3, Invictus, Charlie