September 27, 2012

Movie Review: Dredd

Judge Dredd is a character I am only vaguely familiar with. He comic book shops I frequented back in the day never seemed to have any of the books. However, I was a character I had heard of and was definitely intrigued by. I am almost embarrassed to say most of knowledge came from the song that Anthrax song they wrote about him, "I Am the Law." Man, I love that song. There was also the 1995 movie with Sylvester Stallone which, while corny fun, is not a good representation of the hard nosed character. Now there is a new interpretation on town, Dredd.

When I first heard about the new Dredd film, I was curious, but not sure what to think as the prior film was not exactly a good one. Then I learned of Karl Urban being cast in the title role and I was made more curious and perhaps a touch hopeful. The trailer came and it looked like fun, even if it did remind me of The Raid: Redemption. This fact does not seem to have been lost on anyone, as they were sure to say both films were in simultaneous production without knowing of the other. Basically, any similarity is purely coincidental.

Having seen the movie, all I can really say is Dredd kicks some serious ass. This is a hard edged, straightforward, violent action film, the kind of bloody violent piece tha a character such as Judge Dredd should have. It opens with some voiceover explaining this future world and then it cuts right to the chase. This is the sort of movie that dispenses with all but the bare minimum with regards to story and character development on order to focus on what really matters, body count.

Dredd is set in Mega City One, a massive, sprawling metropolis that covers much of the eastern seaboard. The massive city is filled with ruins of the old cities and new massive block towers which house entire city populations, complete with a class structure. Law is served by a new force, these cops are judge, jury, and if needed, executioner. One of the hardest nosed of these men is Judge Dredd (Karl Urban).

As the movie starts, we have Dredd teamed with a new recruit, Anderson (Olivia Thirlby). She is a young mutant, yes, this universe has mutants, with psychic abilities. Today is her assessment and her assessor is Dredd. I am sure she is thrilled about that.

The two head out on patrol and end up at a one of the giant block communities. Dead men on the ground, and a crazy drug lord named MaMa (Lena Headey). She makes a drug called SloMo that causes users to experience time very, very slowly. Anyway, Dredd and Anderson start fighting their way through the building on their way to MaMa.

That is really all there is to this, or all you really need to know, anyway. This is a movie that needs no development. This is a movie that blows up heads, throws people off of balconies and is populated with a bunch of bad asses. In short, this is an awesome movie.

Karl Urban never takes the helmet off, and rightly so. Once the helmet goes on, he becomes Dredd, always scowling, always growling, only concerned with doling out justice and punishment. It is a lot of fun and anyone who likes violent action needs to see his movie.

The SloMo effect is a good one, it is purely a gimmick to allow us junkies to watch bullets violently enter bodies, heads explode, and other such nonsense. It is realized beautifully and is one of the cooler movie gimmicks I've seen in awhile.

The movie was directed by Peter Travis and is certainly a step up from the last movie of his I saw, Vantage Point. This time around he takes everything to the basics and lets the bullies fly. It is a stripped down narrative that lets the action take center stage. It really looks like he had fun making it.

I am not sure what else I can say about this movie. It is the Judge Dredd movie I wanted. It presents the character the way he should be. It is an over the top movie that doesn't shy away from the violence. It gives us a character who is pretty much devoid of personality, yet still shines as someone to cheer for. This movie is a good old blast of ultra violence. Dig in and enjoy.

Highly Recommended.

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