Friday, 7 September 2012

Review: Dredd 3D

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Dredd 3D poster

Dredd (3D)
98 mins / Dir. Pete Travis

Y'know, you wait bloody ages for a movie about a principled, uncorruptable cop, trying to make his way to the top floor of a slum apartment block, because a drug-dealing crimelord who owns the whole building (in every sense) has locked it down when they've gotten wind of the aforementioned cop's presence… and then two come along at once.

The Plot: Pretty much that thing I said, up there. Oh, his rookie sidekick has Psi powers in this one, though. And the baddie's a chick, as well. Are you with me, fellas?

The Pre-amble: In all honesty, I can't call myself a Judge Dredd fanboy. I read 2000AD religiously for a couple of years in the early 90's (it was the awesome Necropolis run that got me into it), but after a while it just wasn't for me. I get Judge Dredd, and I know what I want from a movie adaptation, but I don't speak for those who know it far better than me. I'll also point out now that I never actually watched the god-awful Stallone version: I turned it off after twenty minutes. So with that, I sat down this afternoon to watch the last big movie of the Summer...

The Good: Some of the photography in Dredd is gorgeous. Part of me suspects that the whole 'drug that makes time slow down' thing was just a massive excuse to shoot in hi-def 3D at 2000 frames per second, because it's used a lot. More than is strictly needed, really. The 3D's not too shabby for a live-action, but like most 3D, it's not really necessary. I quite liked that Judge Anderson uses her psychic abilities fairly regularly (and usefully), rather than it just being a device to get them out of a tight spot. The actual scope of the film is fairly small, so after a very generic and cringe-inducing voiceover intro, the film-makers don't really have to explain the rest of the Mega City One universe, it's just sort of there. In this respect, it'd make a good introduction to a TV series about the Judges.

The Bad: This really is just The Raid, but with no martial arts (…or excitement). Dredd's worst crime is how grindingly average it is. Karl Urban was a terrible choice for the role as he has neither the build, voice or presence to pull it off. Wearing a decent rendition of the outfit and doing your best Eastwood impersonation isn't enough, I'm afraid. There's also a point early in the movie where he tells a vagrant (illegal in M-C1) not to be there when he gets back. It may be a setup for a weak joke down the line, but the Dredd I thought I knew wouldn't let anyone off with anything, no matter how small or whatever other job he was on. On a character front, only Anderson gets any real room to breathe, and everyone else may as well be cut out of cardboard with numbers on their heads. Even Dredd is left-be, as everyone seems to have taken the approach of 'preserving his mystery'. Y'know… 'not bothered laying out any characteristics outside of catchphrases from the comics'.

If this had been a non-franchised future-noir action thriller, it'd be pretty good. Unfortunately, it sets its own bar too high with pre-release promises of greatness, and can't quite shake of the shadow of a former disappointment. Just being better than a shit thing does not make you a good thing.

The Ugly: I'd half-prepared a rant about the ridiculous excuse for the Lawmaster bikes they're using, but they're not actually featured in the film much, so I'll leave that for those with a more genuine grievance to handle. I was a little surprised at all the effing and jeffing going on in the film (even at its 18 Certificate), only because I thought the universe had developed its own friendlier terminology. That said, having hardened criminals walking around in an 18 Cert and saying 'Drokk' may undermine the seriousness of the piece somewhat. And it does take itself quite seriously.

All-in-all: It's not good, bad or ugly. Just a really straightforward action-thriller. If there'd been some sort of setup for Judge Death appearing in a sequel, I could probably get more excited about it. As it stands… well, it's not as awful as I was expecting it to be.

After the Credits: Nothing. Names on the screen? You can make your way out.

Worth £10+? Not really, in all honesty. Worth an Orange Wednesday though, for sure.


• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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