Dredd Review – Don’t Get In Karl Urban’s Way

by on September 21, 2012

in Entertainment, movie reviews

Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby in Dredd 3D movie review

This newest remake of Dredd, stands out as a unique entry in the world of remakes.  It bucks a mold of what movies tend to do with hero characters and amazingly veers far enough away from the first movie to give it a good original feel.  Well, except for one small detail, but who is counting?

There are two versions of Dredd out, the 2D and Dredd 3D.  I hit up the 2D version cause I don’t need to drop that kind of buckage on a live-action film.

And this is a spoiler free review.

Dredd stars Karl Urban as Judge Dredd, Olivia Thirldby as Anderson and Lena Headey as Ma-Ma.  The movie is directed by Pete Travis (Endgame, Vantage Point).

Dredd 3D movie review - the city

The movie starts out with a quick rundown on how the world is these days, and it’s a dark place indeed.  As the population has increased, the world has resorted to building up into the sky with huge towers housing and society has such a huge crime rate that cops have become judges on the street.

The world of Dredd is dark.  Dark as in, if you enjoyed the dark vision of Moore’s Battlestar Galactica or the depressing twist of the franchise step-child of Stargate: Universe, you will love Dredd, as this movie makes those two shows seem pretty “Disney happy.”

We follow our judge as he chases down perpetrators and dispenses the law as he sees fit.  After that, we find him called to HQ to take on a rookie, Anderson, to evaluate her.  She’s not quite judge material, but she has potential due to a talent she has.

But their first call goes out to a triple homicide which ends up leading them on a very tough evaluation period for Anderson, as it brings them face to face with drug cooker & distributor Ma-Ma.

And let the confrontation begin, as the judges are set to face off against Ma-Ma and her minions.  The odds seriously suck, Dredd has a rookie under evaluation and trapped in this confrontation with limited resources.  It does not look good for our two judges.

The Avengers has completely spoiled me.  In amongst the drama and action is quirky humor to fill the gaps between bad guy beatings.  In Dredd, there are no gaps between the dark moments that chain together to make things seem bad.

It’s a dark, methodical situation our characters must face and to be honest, though it was a fun violence-fest, it was taking its toll on my ammo-spewing fan mode.

In other words, the message conveyed was a very successful one.

Karl Urban in Dredd 3D movieJudge Dredd is played by Karl Urban and I have to be upfront right now… director Pete Travis did something I’ve always wanted to see, but have never, in all the years of watching superhero movies:  Dredd never removes the helmet and we never see Urban’s mug.  Just the scowl under the faceplate.

So many times through the years, the main hero, without fail, always finds a reason to unmask.  Face it, fans of an actor want to see the actor, so it happens.  But here, Travis takes his chance with his vision and we never see Urban.  Just his action.

Stallone and Urban as Judge DreddBUT Urbans scowl, though very Dreddish, kept taking me back to the Stallone movie because, well, it looked a lot like him.  But that’s my only criticism.

Other wise, the movie doesn’t play too much into the future tech of the time, though there is some, but it wasn’t as pervasive as it was on the other Dredd movie.

The other aspect of the movie that I appreciated was that it was filmed for fancy 3D moments but they weren’t huge, in your face things that ruined the 2D movie.  But while watching the 2D movie, you realize that this is where the 3D movie consumer who just spend 150% more money than you, is going to enjoy.  And it doesn’t distract.

Olivia Thirlby in Dredd 3D movie reviewOlivia Thirlby is someone I’ve never seen before, though apparently she’s been around a while, with 20 movie titles to her credit and three TV series under her belt.  Being Flynn, No Strings Attached, Juno, & on TV: Bored to Death. (Imagine her with dark hair.  This might have been her first blonde role)

She brings a certain mix of innocence and sexy all at once as Anderson is put on the spot and still manages to… (Never mind, I did say this was spoiler free)  Don’t be fooled by that bubbly cute look you see above.  She manages to convey her message as a judge rather well!  [And it’s a hot chick with a gun!]

Lena Headey in Dredd 3D movie

The last time I liked Lena Headey was in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles on TV.  But she plays an evil ass in HBO’s Game of Thrones and pulls off a seriously psycho bad bitch in Dredd.

Oh, and she does it well.  She’s not a complicated crazy drug dealer, just the wall our judges face off with.  But I enjoyed Headey in the role…  well, that’s a lie,  I hated the character immensely, so she did a great job messing with my head.

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This was not a story about a man who finds himself, or we find him or what not.  This is a situational movie.  A man is put into a situation and he works his way through it.  There’s nothing fancy here.

If you like dark, gritty, hopeless movies Dredd is the flick for you.  Hell, I couldn’t even find clues or hints to if it was going to get better.

I don’t often notice the soundtrack, but it complemented the film wonderfully and between the music, the action, the moments designed around entertaining the 3D consumer, this movie almost became a wonderful piece of art.


Dredd 3D movie review

There were a few moments of brief, dark, levity, but it was more or less missing throughout because this movie is about a man who believes in upholding the law and digs in and kicks some ass doing so.  His strength comes from his dedication to the law and this is no sugar-coated popcorn flick, it’s a serious-ass action flick.

But I’m also worried that movie theaters might not be helping the movie much.  The number of screenings in my region seemed rather limited, with 5 per day versus other movies that had a multitude of screenings throughout the day.

And yea, I had no problem dropping the bucks on Dredd.  It was a darkly enjoyable action flick that made me think this was a 9 on my popcorn scale of movies.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Paul Forcey September 23, 2012 at 7:09 pm


Just got back from the movie, loved it!

I loved the comics as I was a kid, the original ones in the UK where the Judge Dredd story was part of a comic called 2000AD. I did not love the Stallone one, they tried to make it funny, there was no funny stuff in this one.

Lots of action (and lots of the F word) , I love the Anderson character they really nailed that one.

Well worth the money I paid to go and see it

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