Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Heady, Rakie Ayola, Warrick Grier, Wood Harris, Domhnall Gleeson, and more.
Directed by: Pete Travis Screenplay by: Alex Garland Based on the Comic Strip developed by: John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra Cinematography by: Anthony Dod Mantle Original Music by: Paul Leonard-Morgan
Premise: The world is a nuclear wasteland, yet humanity survives in the confines of Mega City-One. Due to overcrowding and lack of resources, the legal system has become rigid and intolerant of deviation of the law. Dredd is a 'Judge', one of the lawmen enforcing the rules where all is chaos. When he's asked to take a rookie with him for evaluation as a possible Judge candidate, no one expected the triple murder they are sent to investigate to be anything but routine. Unfortunately, they arrest the one man clan leader Ma-ma can't afford for them to take in and interrogate. So she sets a plan in motion to contain the situation. A plan which means death to Dredd and the rookie. (Rated R)
1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Karl Urban was fantastic as Judge Dredd. I loved all the feelings and emotions he was able to get across merely by his voice, his stance, and the set of his mouth. Olivia Thirlby did a great job as the psychic and evaluated rookie Anderson. Lena Heady is definitely making a name for herself as a bad woman. Ruthlessness and self interest poured from her in waves.
2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: I truly have to commend the special effects team for the Mega-City One setup. When the story begins and they are doing an overview of multi state spanning city everything looked like any other city in the 20th century until you notice the highways are bigger, with more decks and roads, and then the huge towering structure additions. What made this sequence so amazing was that unlike most movies where these mostrous buildings would have seemed out of place, or super futuristic, they actually blended in with their surroundings and looked real.
The effects for the Slow-Mo drug were awesome. The beauty experienced by the users was such a total contrast to the dreary, ugly lives around them, it was easy to see why it was in such high demand. The way several scenes were woven in from the point of view of those experiencing the time slowing effects were fantastic.
3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: I'd had some minor exposure to the "Judge Dredd" comic series years ago, so I knew the few details that must be had for this film rendition to fit with the comic's established patterns - and they were there! The iconic golden symbol for the Judges, the telltale uniform/armor and helmet, and the biggest requirement, which they met, being the fact that the audience would never see Dredd without his helmet on.
The future in which all the comics take place is very dark and the film definitely shows it. (The R rating needs to be taken very seriously with regards to younger viewers due to the dark nature of the world and the ample servings of graphic violence.)
The plot takes a couple of twists and turns but overall is straightforward and pretty solid. There's also a hint towards the end (when Anderson sees something on the floor) that shows Dredd might have had a little unexpected help to make his theory with Ma-ma actually work.
4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: Some of the routines had CGI help, but there were still plenty of physical action done by the experts. The film has a ton of gun play as well as explosions and fights. The body count is high.
5) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: Like I mentioned in the special effects section, the city scape was excellently done and was also introduced quite nicely with the sweeping views generated for the audience. Even more impressive were the shots of the Peach Trees building with its huge central shaft area and hundreds of floors (the building holds 75,000 people - it's humongous!). This was made even more impressive when the shielding protocols were activated.
Conclusion: "Dredd" was a very satisfying film full of action and gun play. Parents, however, should take the R rating seriously as the violence is graphic and dark subjects are explored. I think fans of the comics will be very pleased with this rendition.
Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)