Dredd 3D Review
Pretty freaking awesome.
If you have read more than a few of my reviews than you know what a rarity it is for me to just come out and say a movie rocks. I’m like Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets; no matter how good a movie is I almost always find something to criticize and harp on about.
However, I’m having a hard time pulling something to bite into on this one. Sure, I could talk about the lack of character development and the thinness of the story, but as a fan of the Judge Dredd comic I not only expected that but honestly feel this character needs these things in order to function. If you take this movie for what is supposed to be-a hyper gory violent film adeptation of a hyper gory violent comic book-than it is nigh flawless.
I will satisfy my minimum bile requirements by talking a little about the 1995 Sly Stallone Judge Dredd. Like most nerds I find a certain amount of guilty pleasure in watching this film. It is entertaining in the same way putting one of your friends hands in warm water while he is sleeping is entertaining. Sure, you like the guy and would be willing to help him if he were in trouble, but you can’t help but laugh when you see him wet himself. Stallone attempted to take the role seriously, but the lines he was given were so comical he couldn’t help but come across as a douche. Also, if you read Dredd comics you know there is no room in Dredds life for comic relief, and in 1995 they saddled him with comic relief equivalent of the Ebola virus, Rob Schneider. Sorry, but there are no circumstances in which I want to see Judge Dredd running around with Duece Bigalow, Male Gigolo.
Also, and this is a big also, Judge Dredd is always painted as the grim, faceless force of merciless justice. I guess Sylvester Stallone was too big a star to include in a movie back then without showing his face, but had he kept the helmet on the entire time I think it would have been a better film. Dredd is like a justice tornade; he’s not supposed to have a face.
Fortunately for us in Dredd the helmet stays on, the voice stays gravely, and what you can see of Dredd’s facial expression ranges from scowly to OMG turn-you-to-stone scowly. In other words, this is the Judge Dredd we all wanted to see from the comic book. All the humanity and interaction we would hope to see in a film is delivered by his sidekick Judge Anderson, the psychic Judge from the comic. She manages to add a great contrast to Dredd’s grimness without distracting the story. They honestly work brilliantly together, and each uses their respective skills to accomplish the mission.
I suppose I should ding the movie for being a clear rip off of the Raid: Redemption. However, if you recall in that review I said this is what a rated R movie is supposed to look like. In most cases copies are akin to taking a mediocre image and photocopying it several times, ending up with an even worse image. In this case it is more serving you a delicious meal of all your favorite foods and then serving it to you again a year later, only on the finest china with excellent wine, a hot nude waitress, and a bucket of Ranch (Ranch image courtesy of the Cheap T Shirt category). In this case I am going to say being a remake of the Raid is actually a good move, even though saying that galls me like swallowing broken glass.
The story is pretty damned simple. Judge Dredd (Dr. McCoy from Star Trek 2009, The Two Towers, the Bourne Supremacy) is saddled with rookie psychic cop Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby-the Darkest Hour, No Strings Attached, Juno, and hopefully my future wife) for a day of evaluation. They opt to investigate three murders at Peach Tree Estate, a high rise slum in Mega City one, the dystopian home for Americas population (the rest of America being a radiated wasteland). The three murders were committed by Ma-ma, the local crimelord (Lena Headey-300, Imagine Me & You, Terminator: the Sarah Conner Chronicles) who has been creating a narcotic called Slo-Mo. Slo-mo speeds up the brain so everything seems to be happening at 1% of it’s normal speed. In most cases I wouldn’t go into a plot point like that except Slo-Mo becomes responsible for a lot of the coolest effects later on.
Dredd and Anderson investigate the local drug dealer they believe responsible for the murders and during the bust capture one of Ma-ma’s goons. In order to keep him from being interrogated she locks down the entire building and orders the population to kill the two. This is where the Raid: Redemption kicks in, only with less martial arts and more massive gun battles. Hundreds of people get shot, usually in slow motion extra-goryvision, things get blown up, and Dredd proves why he is the most infamous Judge in Mega-City One.
The stars. Staying true to canon. Two stars. Awesome action all around. Three stars. This film earns its R rating the hard way with massive gore and violence and stays there. Normally I give a movie a black hole for being rated R with no nudity, but honestly this film did not need it. One star. I can’t really give a star to the acting as most of the movie did not require a lot of acting, but the characters of both Dredd and Anderson were faithfully and accurately portrayed to both of the actors credit. One star. I’ll also say the balance between the two characters added a lot. One star. Pacing was dead on perfect, with just the right amount of great action interspersed with good dialog and character interaction. One star. The prop making for the Judges uniforms and guns was brilliant. One star. As I normally hate 3D just saying this hurts like passing a grapefruit sized kidney stone made of burning coal, but the 3D effects added tremendously to the experience and were really freaking good. If you go see this movie see it in 3D (ugh I need a shower). One star. Overall an awesome movie experience. Three stars. Total: 14 stars (!?!?).
I suppose I had better channel Statler and Waldorf and deliver some black holes or be accused of being a fan boy. The story really was extremely simple and a clear rip off of The Raid Redemption. One black hole. The character of Ma-ma as the villain was really two dimensional and kind of uninteresting. She didn’t really have any brilliant plans or evil monologues. One black hole. I suppose I could have an issue with the other Judges rather lackadaisical attitude towards Dredd and Anderson being attacked. Doesn’t quite sit with what I remember from the comic. One black hole. That’s it. Three black holes.
A grand total of eleven stars and my massive encouragement that you all see this film. If there were a chart listing comic book movies based on how well they translated over this one would be all the way over on the right next to (or even a little past) the Avengers (Green Lantern and the Green Hornet would be over on the left). See it in a theater, and pay the extra for the 3D. Date movie? Hell no. This movie is so laden with testosterone they were probably spraying it on the popcorn. There is absolutely nothing a normal girl would like in this movie. Bathroom break? Trust me, you don’t want to miss a second of this film. If you really don’t think you can hold it for 95 lousy minutes sneak an empty bottle in with you if you know what I mean (please don’t do that really. It’s gross. Just cross your legs and dash for the restroom at the end).
Thanks for reading. This is looking like a great weekend for me as I plan to see End of Watch tonight. Look for that review tomorrow. If you have comments on this movie or my review feel free to post them here. Off topic questions or suggestions can be email to email@example.com. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu (act now to be number 168!). Talk to you soon.