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.