Saturday, September 29, 2012

DREDD Review

Of all the comic book film adaptations coming out this year if you had to peg just one with your lowest expectations then most would've singled out the new Judge Dredd re-adaptation. It certainly has an uphill battle considering the highly negative reception of the previous film adaptation which starred Sylvester Stallone. Fans of the 2000 AD comics from which the character of Judge Dredd originates were also highly critical about how the previous film didn't even bother trying to maintain what made the comics so well liked. So with all this baggage on its shoulders, could the new film shot on a modest $45 million budget (by Hollywood standards) stand a chance? Well... surprises certainly do happen! And the new Dredd film is a very pleasant surprise!

Judge Dredd is played by Carl Urban, and fans will be pleased to know that, yes, the helmet stays on throughout the entirety of the film. Dredd's face is never seen, and Urban manages to be just as imposing, cold, menacing and bad ass under the helmet as the comics portray the Judge. Judge Dredd is also joined by Judge Anderson, played by the lovely Olivia Thirly, who is a rookie out with Dredd on her first assignment. her performance will determine whether she will pass to become a full fledged judge. Anderson is also a mutant who possesses psychic abilities that allow her to read the minds of those around her and this will make for some interesting confrontations!

The story involves Dredd and Anderson investigating 3 murders in a monolithic and brooding Megastructure named 'Peachtree.' These Megastructures are enormous high rise skyscrapers that can house an entire city of people and are in fact small cities unto themselves.While looking for witnesses they perform a drug bust and manage to apprehend one of the dealers. Unbeknownst to them, their prisoner is someone who knows too much. This arrest leads the top underworld boss of Peachtree to lock down the entire building in an attempt to prevent his interrogation by the authorities. This means either killing him or killing the judges. The film then turns into a large scale version of Die Hard where Dredd and Anderson, trapped in a building with an entire population held hostage, must overcome incredible odds to reach the top and take out their adversaries in order to enforce the law upon the Megastructure. And Dredd is not the negotiating type.

The film is brutally violent with a high body count though the violence is portrayed in an over the top comic book style that manages to spill a lot of blood and break a lot of bones without being too gruesome. The Judge Dredd comics are also known for their dark humour and slapstick social commentary, and all this is well preserved in the film within a serious deadpan style of delivery by both the characters and embedded throughout the Megacity surroundings and textures.

The new Dredd doesn't go as completely sci-fi looking as in the comics with regards to Megacity 01. Instead it settles for a neat in-between mix of a contemporary urban city setting with a dystopian futuristic design pervading it.There are a number of Megastructures standing out amongst typical modern day architecture and highways. A lot of influences for the setting and style look to be drawn from films like District 9, Mad Max and Robocop, where grounded realism and science fiction somehow find a nice way to merge together in both functional and absurd ways without getting too far fetched.

Dredd was shot natively in 3-D, and I highly, highly recommend checking it out in 3-D! It is easily one of the best 3-D films to release to date, handily outdoing every other superhero film from Marvel where most were lazily converted to 3-D. There are lots of wonderful 3-D shots, nice use of 3-D scale, depth and distance and very cool use of 3-D slow motion to highlight effects of drug use as well as Anderson's psychic abilities! 3-D is certainly the way to go to best enjoy this movie!

The new Judge Dredd manages to surpass expectations, and fans will be greatly pleased by the end result and dying for a sequel! Of course that all depends on the box office, and this is a film that earns any action cinema fan's ticket purchase! If you miss that 80's style of violent action heroes and the Expendables didn't quite do it for you, then Judge Dredd is your man! He's Bruce Willis, Schwarzenegger and Stallone all rolled up in one good package with cool guns at the hip, explosions aplenty, a beautiful sidekick, and despicable villains just begging to be brought to justice! What more could you want? The verdict is good! Check it out in theatres before it's gone! And don't forget to drop by our store if you're looking for Judge Dredd Graphic novels!