2 oct. 2012

My Review: Dredd 3D (7/10)

¨Inhabitants of Peach Trees, this is Judge Dredd. In case you have forgotten, this block operates under the same rules as the rest of the city. Ma-Ma is not the law... I am the law. ¨

Judge Dredd is certainly the law in this new attempt at bringing the comic book hero to the big screen. Where the film starring Sylvester Stallone failed miserably in 1995, here it gets everything right from the very beginning. This is the film Dredd fans were waiting for, and they won`t be disappointed with Karl Urban`s portrayal of him, who loses himself completely in the character. I really had no high expectations for this movie since I`m not a big fan of Dredd or the comics, and I hated the 1995 version as well so I wasn’t really looking forward to this. I usually don´t like films that are entirely focused on the action and have very little character development, but here the action hooked me completely thanks to some incredible visual effects and a cool premise. A premise that we`ve seen before (especially for those of us who have seen The Raid Redemption which surprisingly has a very similar storyline to this one although screenwriter Alex Garland {The Beach, Sunshine, 28 Days Later} had written this way back in 2007) but works anyway thanks to some excellent visuals. Dredd 3D isn`t as good as The Raid Redemption because there is no martial arts here, but it´s still a lot of fun and well worth your time. I really enjoyed this film, the 3D effects are really great (coming from someone who doesn’t really enjoy 3D films either) thanks to some slow motion action sequences that are completely justified in the movie. The film works really because Judge Dredd doesn’t need any character development, the less we know about him and his past the better because he simply represents the law. More than a character, Dredd is a symbol for justice, and that is exactly what we get.

The film directed by Peter Travis (Vantage Point and Endgame) is set in an apocalyptic dark future where America is mostly a waste land due to radiation. Everyone is concentrated in what are called Mega Cities. Mega City One extends from Boston to Washington DC, a highly populated and cemented area where the crime rate is so high that the judges can attend only 6% of the calls. Judges are the police force and also have the power to act as jury and executioners. They are feared by the general public, and among them Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is perhaps the most respected of all. On an ordinary day he`s assigned to partner with rookie Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) and evaluate her in order to see if she can be assigned judge. Despite failing her exams, Chief Judge (Rakie Ayola) wants to give Anderson another shot due to her special psychic abilities which might come in handy in the force. Therefore Dredd and Anderson on duty respond to a call in Peach Trees, a 200 story vertical slum where few judges ever dare enter. Once they enter the complex, they discover that it`s controlled by a drug lord named Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) who is expanding her business through a new drug called SLO-MO that allows your brain to experience reality at 1% speed. Once the two judges enter the building, they are locked in by Ma-Ma who commands the inhabitants of Peach Trees to eliminate them before they interfere in her business. The odds are against the judges, who must face the hundreds of criminals inside the slum on their own.

As I mentioned before, it`s good that Judge Dredd has no character arc whatsoever, because he is more of a symbol. Karl Urban plays him masterfully by making the viewers forget they are watching a performance. He wears the mask that covers most of his face for the entire film. All we can see of Urban´s face is his mouth and chin. He really is Dredd and makes us forget there is actually an actor behind that mask. Dredd is practically emotionless, his only emotion seems to be anger, and Urban understands that his performance must be as selfless as possible. Who gets to show more emotions is Olivia Thirlby who gives a strong performance as the rookie. We care for her character who unlike Dredd has a lot of emotions and can be sympathetic. She can also be tough, but for the most part she wants to make a change for the better in people`s lives. Her character gives the movie a soul. Even ruthless Ma-Ma doesn’t seem to show much emotions, so the whole thing kind of centers around Thirlby`s performance. The film wouldn`t be as good without her. Several things about her character are kind of left untold, hinting as to a possibility that there might be a sequel. I really enjoyed this film, and thought the slow motion effects were done really well. Dredd 3D is a very entertaining film.  

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