Directed by Pete Travis.
Even stern lawmen can get a second chance. Stallone’s 1995 odyssey is such a low hurdle to clear, but Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby jump over then blast its hollow innards. The 2012 movie, released on the 35th anniversary of the character and his home at 2000 AD, focuses on Dredd’s long day busting Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) and her gang at the brutalist Peach Trees building. Dredd has unsparing violence but the movie is never dire. This comic-book adaptation breezes by 1:40 with human pain and touches of black humor.
Dredd is basically a “popcorn movie” that can be enjoyed without wasting time figuring out plot nuances. The Lionsgate release is successful in execution, but didn’t achieve boffo box office in the U.S. Looking back with limited hindsight, perhaps the movie was released too far away from other comic-book-based blockbusters (Avengers, Dark Knight Rises, Amazing Spider-Man) and American movie-goers may have had their fill of superheroic theatrics (okay, Old Joe isn’t technically a superhero, but I hope you’re following my line of thought).
With the ability to freeze frame subtle references and phrases from Dredd lore, Dredd will be a delight to any fan of old Stony Face and 2000 AD. I’m limited to a 23-inch 1080p monitor and stereo speakers, but I didn’t notice anything egregious like sharp artifacts in the audiovisual department. The visuals are gritty as it’s intended and the sounds have impact at the appropriate times.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t review the 3D visuals.
It’s great to see the faces who bring or have brought Judge Dredd to the comics pages over the years. Co-creators John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra share their thoughts along with 2000 AD editor Matt Smith, acclaimed writer Mark Millar, and even IDW’s Chris Ryall. It’s an nearly 15-minute examination of the Dredd character and how the comics stories are designed. Seeing selected pages and panels was a nice stroll through memory lane. No, not 1977, but the recent issues of Judge Dredd Megazine and the IDW incarnation of Dredd.
There’s also the motion comic based on the movie prologue. It’s a prequel detailing Ma-Ma’s rise from prostitution through the criminal ranks. I’m not too wild about it because it’s so short as an animation (under 3 minutes), but those wanting to see more movie-related action may be satisfied.
There are several featurettes, including one for visual effects. The one about visual effects spends significant time discussing the choices made shooting in 3D. If seeing Ma-Ma and her minions get high is your personal favorite moment of the movie, then I’d recommend watching it. All featurettes contain comments from the filmmakers, including screenwriter Alex Garland and Travis and also concept artist Jock. They’re mostly not very deep but I do appreciate the effort bringing a respectable adaptation of Judge Dredd. I even noticed how star Karl Urban consumed the Dredd character as Urban seems composed yet so unlike the tense lawman.
If you like blood-splattering action and fierce antiheroes, then Dredd is a recommended watch. Dredd is faithful to the spirit to the Mega-City One sagas of the past 35+ years. The special features may gain an appreciation for the movie and superfans may get the most out of them. I hope to continue to bring you reviews on the ongoing Dredd comics, 2000 AD, Megazine, & the IDW comic.
See also: Papa Kenn’s review.
Images and screencaps copyright Lionsgate.