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Movie Review: Dredd 3D

Dredd Screenshot

Judge Dredd is a badass who obeys the law—perfectly. When he’s sent out to train his new psychic rookie partner, Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), the two find themselves locked down in a gang infested city block, where the only justice crime knows is pain. Dredd 3D is an immensely fun action thriller that gets right what the 1995 Judge Dredd got so very wrong.

From the opening scene, it’s obvious that Dredd isn’t the type of film that takes itself seriously. This is a bloody satire that, if it wasn’t done right, could have been a colossal failure. The costumes are silly, the setting is hilariously bleak, and the characters aren’t exactly original—and that’s exactly why it works so well.

Dredd is based on the long running comic strip, Judge Dredd, which is famous for its tongue-in-cheek approach to tackling important themes, like anarchism and the growing police state. The cyberpunk strip shocked readers with its dystopian visuals and gritty storylines, many of which were very influential in shaping the future of comics.

This latest film adaptation is a successful update that is sure to please fans and newcomers alike. Like the comic strip that came before it, Dredd is a smart movie, though on its face it may seem like nothing more than a “B” production with a big budget.

Visually this is one of the most impressive 3D movies I have ever seen, and it’s very hard for me to imagine that the 2D version can hold a candle in comparison. There’s a consistent use of slow motion that, while hard to describe, is unlike anything I’ve seen in other films—it’s truly beautiful to watch, especially in 3D.

The gimmick for the slow motion is a new street drug called Slo-Mo that has self-explanatory effects on the brain. The special effects, which really do give Dredd its own style, wouldn’t otherwise fit without this explanation.

Dredd Screenshot 2

The cast sells the script well, which is saying a lot considering most dialogue is riddled with movie clichés. Lena Headey plays Ma-Ma, a brutal gangster who skins her victims alive before killing them. If ever there was a movie villain that could be pointed to as pure evil, it would be Ma-Ma. This all plays into the tone the movie is going for — Dredd is largely a satire of police films, which often portray characters with definite roles and an unrealistically narrow moral compass.

Judge Dredd is so devoted to the law that he has no need to think for himself. This guy is not a complex character by any stretch of the imagination; however, he certainly knows how to wield a gun. Dredd is portayed by Karl Uban, who probably has a frozen face after being in this movie. The infamous Judge never smiles, laughs, cries, or appears to get angry. His face never changes, his tone of voice rarely fluctuates, and despite the fact that he’s a man, he never once comes off as human.

If you ask me, Dredd 3D is hilarious. This is a movie that keeps a straight face, but somehow you know it’s still joking. Everything from the acting to the bloody action sells the satirical tone perfectly.

Dredd 3D is written by Alex Garland, the talent behind the scripts to Sunshine (2007) and Never Let Me Go (2010). He’s a smart writer and, despite what you may feel after reading the synopsis, Dredd has a surprising level of wit. This is one of the best comic book movies of the year, and if you can let yourself in on the joke, you’re likely to enjoy every minute of it.

 

About Chad Michael Van Alstin

Chad is an award-winning libertarian opinion columnist. He's done with that now. Having earned himself a B.A. in Mass Communication, Chad now spends most of his time as a wage laborer, killing the pain by consuming as many video games and movies as possible. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadVanAlstin