The Score: "[Dredd 3D Traps] The Hero In Both Headgear & An Unwritten Screenplay That Erase His Humanity"

Friday, Sep 21, 2012 2:00PM

Written by Cyrus Langhorne

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  • Dreadd 3D
  • Karl Urban
  • September 21, 2012
Screen Rant 4/5
Game Zone 4/5
Entertainment Weekly 8.5/10
Film 8.5/10
Wired 7/10

The time for judgement has arrived. Less than two decades after its original release, a remake of 1995's Sylvester Stallone-starring Judge Dredd arrives in theaters today in the form of Dredd 3D taking action sequences to futuristic heights.

Rather than carry on where the '95 flick ended, director Pete Travis completely changes the script.

These days, the typical Hollywood action movie is a bloodless PG-13 affair featuring a protagonist on a journey of self-discovery. Then there's Dredd 3D, a darkly funny blood-soaked romp about a guy in a helmet who kills a lot of people. Karl Urban stars as a supercop locked in a skyscraper filled with criminals who want him dead. Adapted from the same British comic as Stallone's forgettable Judge Dredd, this one makes the most of a familiar Die Hard-ish premise. Director of photography Anthony Dod Mantle creates an evocative dirty-neon future world. Paul Leonard-Morgan's thumping techno soundtrack is thrilling. And Urban manages to give a credibly wry performance using little more than his gravelly, imitation-Eastwood voice -- and his chin. (Entertainment Weekly)

The action-packed thriller relies heavily on introducing new faces to familiar characters.

On the acting front, Karl Urban owns the part of Judge Dredd. He's got none of the silliness of the original "Judge Dredd," instead replacing it with a determined scowl and a gruff surliness. Lena Headey also does legitimate work as Ma-Ma, channeling her best impression of Gary Oldman from "True Romance." Olivia Thirlby brings a quiet competence to trainee Anderson, alternating vulnerability with a "fail fast forward" mentality that you'd expect out of a recruit. Then there is the action quotient, which is high to quite high. While I'm not convinced that this film exactly needed to be in 3-D, I was at least impressed with the overall level of visual effects. The Ma-Mas are drug traffickers, peddling a narcotic named "Slo-mo," and the film does excellent work in showing off the drug's effects. The pacing is also stellar, there's not a dull moment, but it's also not completely frenetic and aimless. (Film)

The 3D adventure takes viewers to the sky with a futuristic environment controlled by Judges.

Dredd 3D is set in a dystopian future where the population of America is packed into a walled-off cityscape. Called Mega-City One, like something out of a Capcom game (or the actual decades-old comic book character Dredd is based off of), it houses over 800 million citizens in giant, 200-story buildings that tower over the old cities they're built upon. When three men are skinned alive and dropped from the top of one of these buildings, two Judges are called upon to clean up the mess. The Judges are the law enforcement of the city, executing on the spot or sending criminals away to the Iso-Cubes. (Game Zone)

Fans looking for a solid story will likely get blown away by the flick's emphasis on high-powered sequences and on-screen violence.

Fortunately, the answer is: yes. Dredd delivers - in a big way. There's no doubt the film shares plot similarities with The Raid, but for every jaw-dropping knife fight in Evans' film, Travis offers a comparably fun gun battle (and plenty of iconic Dredd scowl). Ultimately, Dredd is a grounded action experience - relying heavily on the titular character's physicality and gruff personality to keep things entertaining. There are some fast-paced set pieces (such as the opening motorcycle chase) and loads of slick visuals (thanks to the "Slo-Mo" drug at the center of the plot) but instead of over the top action, moviegoers are treated to a smart combination of entertaining character moments, an intriguing near future backdrop, and thin but enjoyable plot points that make room for Dredd to take center stage - dispatching one thug after another in a variety of brutal conflicts. (Screen Rant)

Although praised by many movie critics, some pointed out Dredd 3D's overall presentation and lack of character development.

Remember that old TV cartoon show "Clutch Cargo"? It was so low-budget that, rather than animate the characters talking, they would cut a hole in the face and show a real, human mouth speaking the dialogue. It was creepy, but that effect at least made the kiddie program something of a standout in bizarre pop culture. Don't expect "Dredd 3D" to be nearly as memorable, despite the fact that actor Karl Urban spends the whole film wearing a helmet that covers practically his entire face, leaving only the movements of his mouth to do all the acting. If the 1995 Sylvester Stallone vehicle "Judge Dredd" annoyed fans of the original British comics by having the hero wear his trademark helmet too infrequently, "Dredd 3D" will no doubt put off mainstream audiences by trapping the hero in both headgear and an underwritten screenplay that erase his humanity. (Chicago Tribune)
Dredd could've easily been an underwhelming mess, but writer Alex Garland , the scribe who gave us 28 Days Later, smartly confines this story to one day and one place, a decision that keeps the story simple and clean. The characters might be one-note, but at least they consistently hit the right one. It will presumably get no Oscar nods -- it's a movie, not a film -- but in the last hurrah of a summer filled with complicated and conflicted heroes, it's not terrible to have a good time with a guy who just wants to bring some justice and call it a day. (Wired)

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