Calum's Review of Dredd
Judge, Jury and executioner, the 'judges', a futuristic cop-team who won't take no for an answer are faced with the influx of a new popular drug, aptly named 'Slo-Mo'. It's the job of Judge Dredd and his newly appointed rookie to investigate the drugs ring and ultimately 'bring em down'!
An oddly popular technique within comic book adaptations is to strip them down to the bare bone, where it simply becomes a basic (and usually corny) story about a badly dressed man with an unorthodox fighting style. All the positives of an accomplished series are diminished in seconds as we see our favourite hero's lose all their credibility, uniqueness and likability through scenes of careless ridiculousness. Of course their are exceptions, most notably being Christopher Nolan's batman series and of course the recent release of Dredd 3-D.
Contrary to many films of a similar theme, Dredd (or Dredd 3-D if you must) actually manages to live up to it's highly violent persona, which is something to be expected of from a graphic novel. Ignoring the 'warnings' over box-office intake through incorrect target market, Dredd produces a much deserved sturdy '18' certificate, wanting to portray a realistic representation of the comics and doing just that...x10. Armed with countless amounts of unique bullets, Dredd intelligently slaughters those who stand in his way through a plethora of mediums including, fire, explosives and good ol' brute force! Creating for a thrilling hour and a half of action in which no one person dies the same way. This hardcore action is aided by the exceptional use of Slow-Motion, used not only as a plot-device but also for some truly stunning visuals. Whilst a bullet tearing through a man's cheek may not be the most delightful of images it certainly helps to convey the brutal pain that the 'judges' deliver. Especially effective was the use of slow-motion within a POV shot, casting a eerily realistic shadow over the scene, as we follow the victim descending to his inevitable death through the building in an all to beautiful 3rd dimension. Being the only impressive 3-D film to date, Dredd takes this technological premise and uses it as an immersive technique rather than an ineffective money-grabber, by sending blood and similar debris/body parts flying at the screen. Never over-dramatized, the 3-D is always there but not always noticeable allowing the audience to become truly involved within the action.
Taking the reigns from the brilliant/diabolical performance of Sylvestor Stallone's chin is a difficult challenge for a majority of actors, which makes Karl Urban's performance all the more mesmerising. In a sense mimicking the work of Stallone, Urban manages to create the same aura of intimidation without the temptation of removing his helmet. Every judgement is brutal, yet voiced in a comedic style, as you begin to support this oddly likable mass murderer with morals. Following him in his activities is his undeniably useful rookie 'Anderson' carrying the ability to read minds, a premise initially shunted but which actually proved to be used extremely effectively. Poignantly used in the harrowing interrogation scene, this psychic ability, although debateably unnecessary, did insert some much needed change into the otherwise linear narrative, which wasn't aided by the tame leadership of the anti-hero.
Ma-ma, a babies first word and now apparently a threatening name for a diabolically sick ringleader, who aims to take over the city after she takes down the law. Quite an ambitious ask for a tame performance from the poorly casted Lena Headey, with her femininity protruding too much from the male-dominated gang. None of her commands felt genuine and once she grasped the mounted machine gun and mindlessly obliterated a whole floor, a huge dose of unrealistic stupidity seeped in.
An immersive narrative isn't wholly necessary here, a thrilling experience can be created through it's multitude of barbarically graphic action sequences. Delivering unprecedented creative techniques in order to convey unbearable pain and fear, Dredd certainly wipes the floor with the rest of it's comic book competitors. After all who wants to see some dumbed-down unrealistic action when you could see the whole picture in all it's explosive glory.
80%- Justice has been served for 1995