Shock Alert: I’m probably one of a microscopic few that enjoyed Sylvester Stallone’s 1995 outing as Judge Dredd. That was, however, likely due to the fact that I was 7 years old and thought it was cool as hell that I was watching a 15 certificate film. On reflection, this film was god awful. Then in 2012 a trailer landed for the updated “low” budget version starring Karl Urban. I have to admit that it was a disappointing trailer after seeing it marketed as a 3D film, which I’m not a fan of in the slightest, and it also having a similar plot line to The Raid. After warming to it amongst the hype when it was finally released, I went to my cinema to catch a viewing but they didn’t have a “normal” 2D screening at all! So I took the plunge, on my first 3D cinema film since Avatar and Toy Story 3. In all honesty, I was surprisingly impressed.
Dredd is a fantastic 96 minute viewing from start to finish. Karl Urban nails it, conveying the gruff and bitter law man perfectly without taking the helmet off. Not even a tease to it. Olivia Thirlby as a rookie Judge Anderson works perfectly against Urban’s seen-it-all Dredd. Lena Headley is pretty sinister as villain MaMa too, walking the tightrope between drug lord and drug addict. It’s refreshing to see an 18 certificate action film in a time when box office returns need to be milked dry. It’s a risky move for the studio, but thankfully the low budget hasn’t stuck out like a sore thumb in Dredd. This film is über-violent; it echoes back to Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop in it’s action, really emphasising the harshness of the future in Mega City One. Kudos to the film’s composer, Paul Leonard-Morgan, for it’s industrial-heavy and slightly grungy soundtrack.
The 3D actually surprised me too. Before seeing the film I thought it was totally unnecessary and it was purely to gain more money from ticket sales, but in Dredd the 3D could be seen as justified. It makes each frame so visceral that the characters emerge from the screen and make them larger-than-life just as they would on the pages of a graphic novel. The slo-mo drug also allows for some amazing slow motion (and painful) action sequences, such as Judges Dredd and Anderson breaching a room in the Peach Trees block. Up until now 3D has been a gimmick for those family-friendly films, and it’s good to see something in this field with an 18/R-rated certificate that’s good. Dredd isn’t going to win any oscars, but that’s not what they’ve set out to do. The film is just long enough not to feel too bloated, and again it looks amazing. It may not warrant 4/5 stars because it won’t stand the test of time or age well, but it’s a damn fun viewing. If it was to correct the crime that was committed previously, the sentence….is praise! Also cheese, after I’ve just used that line. Oh god, I can hear the Judge’s sirens already.