Film Review – Dredd (2012)
I have a healthy appreciation for the Sylvester Stallone adaptation of Judge Dredd. It is a mess and it has nothing to do with the source material outside of the name but I’ll be damned if it isn’t like watching stuff melt in the microwave. You know there’s no reason for your eyes to be subjected to what you’re seeing but you can’t stop yourself. If you want to see what kind of enjoyment you can get out of that particular film, be sure to check out the “How Did This Get Made” podcast episode about it. They basically spend the whole time hung up on the pasta robot. It’s glorious.
Put aside everything you know about that previous adaptation. It isn’t part of the equation. This new film, titled simply Dredd, is a start from scratch effort to reboot the character for film and it does so by keeping the character as close to his roots as humanly possible. He doesn’t take off his helmet and he doesn’t take any shit. This is the Dredd that fans of the character have been hoping for. It is a bloody dystopian action massacre that does not reach outside the bounds of what makes the property popular. The movie doesn’t waste time setting anything up. The voice-over from Karl Urban as Dredd letting us know that it is the future, the future is fucked up beyond repair, everyone lives in cramped crime-ridden Mega Cities, and that the Judges try to keep shit in check lets us know everything we need to know. We don’t need to know why things are the way they are, we just know that the stage is set and the violence is forthcoming.
While the film does not directly adapt any storyline that I know of, although there is some controversy about its plot and that of The Raid:Redemption, the film does a far better job of capturing the mood of the 2000 AD series than the previous film. Granted my knowledge of Dredd is somewhat limited having only read some of the Case Files trades in passing while I still worked in a comic store, so take that how you will. What I do know is that this film does bring in Judge Anderson, who has a fairly storied history of her own. She was first introduced in the popular storyline that debuted Judge Death and her inclusion goes a long way toward establishing the overall universe of Dredd in a way that the previous film did not.
Now, how does the film work in and of itself? Pretty damn well. The action is executed well and Karl Urban does a very good job playing the perpetually scowling and snarling Judge. The blood flows freely and the film doesn’t pull any punches. There was audible audience reaction in several places at my showing which is always a good sign for a film like this. If you can catch the audience off guard and get them invested you have done your job and Dredd does its job well. There really isn’t much of a point wasting words about a film like this. If you like hard-R action flicks this is one for you.
Put your reservations aside and check this one out. Anything else would be criminal.