Movie Review: Dredd

I don’t dislike the Stal­lone Judge Dredd movie as much as some do, but it’s fair to say that it was not a faithful adap­ta­tion of the source material.

The 2012 movie Dredd star­ring Carl Urban as Judge Dredd and Olivia Thirlby as trainee Judge Anderson hews much closer to the comic books though it does seem to be lacking the trade mark grim humor of the orig­inal work.

Early on there are signs of budget limi­ta­tions as some of the shots of Mega City 1 lack the level of ridicu­lous buildup that I would expect. However once the story gets focussed into a single block the set design is solid.

In many ways this is a small story with only a handful of fleshed out char­ac­ters. But it executes well.

It’s violent, very violent at times, which is to be expected given the subject matter. But I did get a sense that it gloried in the violence more than I cared for.

In part that might be because of the fire­fight that was filmed in slow motion to show the effects of the drug. The director seemed a little too fond of that tech­nique. It was very effec­tive and pretty, but it happened a lot during the movie.

Carl Urban really inhab­ited the role of Dredd though. Not only keeping the helmet on, but giving the facial expres­sions and reac­tions I want to see from Dredd. The only time I saw a miss-step on char­ac­ter­i­za­tion was when Dredd told the vagrant not to be there when he came back. Dredd would have punished him on the spot.

Since a largely face­less char­acter is a little diffi­cult to empathise with, Judge Anderson as a rookie is our entry point into the world. And it works very well. The script also does a good job of making sure she isn’t just playing side­kick to Dredd even with her lack of experience.

The other actor who deserves mention is Lena Headey who’s soft spoken portrayal of the ruth­less Ma-Ma is a wonderful touch.

All in all I enjoyed Dredd and really wish it would be the start of a fran­chise. Though it would be nice to see just a bit more dark humor mixed in and maybe a slightly bigger stage to play the story out on.


8 thoughts on “Movie Review: Dredd”

  1. I just caught it on Netflix earlier this week.  I rather enjoyed it too, though I wondered where the humor went.  It had the feel of some­thing that would make a good series.

  2. I just got this on DVD for my birthday. I agree with all the senti­ments expressed here, but as a long­time 2000ad reader, i wonder about Dredd giving Ma-ma the final hit of Slo-mo before she went out the window. (Spolier! Oops, too late…) Dredd was always too straight-laced for that kind of shenan­ni­gans. I’ll watch a sequel though.

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