Last night I watched ‘Dredd’ for the first time, a film that my housemate saw when it first came out in the cinema and has raved about since. With all of the praise he had given it, and remembering what the last film based on Judge Dredd was like, I went into this film with a little trepidation. Despite this I was hoping for the best. Boy did this film deliver!
Set in the massive surroundings of Mega City One ‘Dredd’ follows a day in the life of Judge Dredd as he is assigned to assess rookie Judge Anderson. Having technically failed her entrance exams but offered a place as a Judge due to her extra-ordinary psychic abilities Dredd is initially harsh and distrustful of his rookie partner.
Respond to what they believe to be a routine murder investigation the two Judges’ find themselves drawn into a web of murder, torture and drugs as they become sealed inside the Peach Trees mega block, a two hundred story building home to thousands. Central hub of the Ma-Ma gang and the manufacture and distribution centre of the drug Sol-Mo the inhabitants are told to kill the two Judges or remain sealed inside the building forever.
Judge Dredd and Anderson are forced to fight their way through the levels of Peach Trees and a small army of gang members in order to find Ma-Ma and end her reign of terror.
‘Dredd’ is a beautifully made film, with a great combination of science fiction and the modern world that creates a unique and very believable future. Some characters look like they belong in science fiction, others look like someone you would pass on the street but both styles work together brilliantly.
Despite the simplicity of the plot of the film, trapped in a building forced to fight their way to the top, the story never lags and has plenty of time for some stunning action sequences as well as interesting character moments.
The action in the film doesn’t bother pulling any punches and whilst not the goriest action film I’ve ever seen doesn’t shy away from showing the brutal effects of violence. The heroes are not afraid go gun down the villains, but as police officers they offer them every chance they have to surrender peacefully, only taking lethal action when forced to.
All of the main cast members have been brilliantly cast, with Karl Urban playing a much more believable Dredd than Stallone ever did. His Dredd feels like a regular human being, a man dedicated to his job and hardened by years on the streets. Yes, he’s a comic book character, but he’s not a super hero. He’s a cop. Urban gets this message across brilliantly.
Olivia Thirlby plays Judge Anderson, another of the main characters from the 2000AD comics and is an important part of the Judge Dredd mythos. Thirlby plays the character well, making her the light to Dredd’s dark. She also shows a great deal of character progression too, going from a fresh faced rookie judge to a battle hardened warrior by the end of the film.
Lena Heady plays the main villain Ma-Ma, a brand new character for the film, does so will relish. Heady plays such a horrid looking and vile woman that it’s hard to remember that she’s an attractive woman beneath the scars and rotten teeth she wears in this film. A devious, some times almost psychotic, villain that proves to be a great threat for our heroes, throwing hundreds of her people against them and not being afraid of collateral damage.
‘Dredd’ is one of those great comic book movies that have started to become a staple of the genre in this age. Unfortunately unlike such films as The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises, all of which came out the same year as Dredd, it was a commercial failure. Perhaps there isn’t as large a fan base out there for Judge Dredd, maybe the general public were put off by how violent it looked or maybe there were just not enough people aware of it. In any case it is an absolute crime that we will not be treated to another film. We can only hope that the DVD and Blu-Ray sales are sufficient enough to warrant a second film. So go out and buy a copy now, and encourage your friends to do so. And if you’re going to buy it get it from HMV!