Back in 1995 the iconic comic book characters Judge Dredd finally got his chance on the big white screen with in the lead Sylvester Stallone as the untamable bringer of justice. The result was – to say the least – below expectation and also financially the movie didn’t do all too well, making Judge Dredd seemingly banned to the comic books of which he originated. We’re now over a decade later and the Judge gets another chance. Hurray!
We get to see Dredd as he has to test a rookie, Cassandra Anderson, on her capacities to effectively become a Judge. Cassandra is a mutant with telepathic powers but the Judges leaders do feel she has potential, even though her results in training don’t show this. Being on the road with Dredd is her final chance to get accepted into the ranks of the Judges.
The two react to a call in the Peach Trees megablock where three people were found dead. Peach Trees, however, is the domain of the Ma-Ma clan who use the building for the fabrication of the quickly growing more popular drug Slo-Mo that makes users experience time extremely slow. That two Judges suddenly knock on the door isn’t a problem as such, but that one of the clan members gets picked up and may get interrogated by the Judges, revealing the Ma-Ma clan’s secrets, is. Ma-Ma decides to lock the building and put all her power to action in order to secure and stop the Judges from leaving. If they want to survive the day, Dredd and Anderson have no other choice than to fight their way to the highest floor to confront the sadistical Ma-Ma herself.
The story reminds of The Raid: Redemption, the Indonesian action movie we reviewed not so long ago and that shouldn’t surprise. That movie may have been released earlier, but it was based on a leaked script of this Dredd. Don’t fear for too much déjà-vu, though, as both movies may have the same background, the way they’re worked out is quite different.
Dredd, played by Karl Urban, is the straightforward Judge we know from the comics. He leaves the talking to his weapons and unnecessary romance or even a sign of feelings are totally absent. His job is to deliver Justice and that’s all that counts. Everything else doesn’t matter.
The story is pushed forward by Anderson who starts as a scared rookie doing her best to join the Judges and grows into a decent adversary for criminals. Dredd himself is for her a lead and in the movie he’s responsible for the action. As main villain we get to see Lena Headey who we previously already saw in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Game of Thrones, and she convincingly plays the sadistical Ma-Ma who doesn’t care shooting an entire floor to pieces if that’s what it takes to bring down her opponents.
The style of Dredd also differs quite a lot to that of The Raid. Where the Indonesian movie focused on combat that started with weapons and moved to more close combat, in Dredd it’s all about hi-tech weaponry. The more things can be shot to pieces, the better. Also visually there’s a big difference. The Raid was very realistic and rather raw while Dredd really goes sci-fi and especially the Slo-Mo scenes get noticed with their abundance of color and detail.
This new Dredd follows the original comics more closely than Stallone’s movie, and although the words “I am the law” sound a bit less iconic in this version, the new Dredd is a quite a lot better. Sadly enough the movie again did less than expected at the box office so the chances of getting another sequel are very thin. Don’t let that stop you, though, as Dredd is a rock solid action movie that certainly won’t disappoint lovers of the genre. The acting (as far as you expect acting in this sort of movies) is more than adequate, the action at times really sublime, and we haven’t seen a better movie version of Judge Dredd yet.
The image leaves us with mixed feelings. The first scene in which we get to see Slo-Mo in action is truly sublime and you immediately notice this movie was made for 3D. If you’ve got a 3D TV then we would certainly suggest watching it this way. In 2D there’s quite some digital noise present and everything looks a bit artificial. The quality as such is good but you just notice too much that a lot of time and effort was put into 3D effects that really don’t come over well in 2D, making the image look rather unrealistic.
The aggressive soundtrack is one to lick your fingers with. Directionality is just great, and also the subwoofer barely gets room to breathe. All channels are used at full force and Dredd may have been made with a – for Hollywood standards – small budget, you certainly won’t notice this in the sound. Dialogues are always clear, effects come at you from all sides, and even when Slo-Mo kicks in the sound changes to also draw you in in what is happening on the screen. Sublime!
Qua extras we get Dredd 2000AD The Original, Slo-Mo, Welcome to Peachtrees, The 3rd Dimension, Dredd’s Gear, Cast & crew on Dredd and interviews. These are mostly some short featurettes regarding specific subjects we get to see in the movie