After the gorgeous looking but incredibly shallow and camp 1995 movie starring Sylvester Stallone, the world finally gets a decent adaptation of 2000AD poster boy Judge Dredd. No, scratch that – this film isn’t just decent; it’s excellent!
In a far, dystopian future, Judges patrol American streets, acting as judge, jury and executioner for the scum that populate them. In Mega City One, Judge Dredd and newly recruited rookie Casandra Anderson attend a disturbance at the Peach Trees Megablock, only to get targeted by a gang controlled by the vicious Ma Ma.
Ignoring the heritage of the licence, Dredd is a stunning achievement in its own right. In an age where films are more and more becoming sanitised and aimed at the key teen audience, Dredd is an unabashed, superbly violent action movie. Bullets shred bodies, viscera sprays, bad language is thrown around with wilful abandon (but never feeling immature or forced) – it’s the kind of film studios seem to have been reluctant to produce since the 90’s and it’s a welcome return. It’s a cracking, tight story, clocking in at just over 90 minutes run time. Credit goes to screenwriter Alex Garland who obviously knows the material and its audience well.
And that brings us to the character himself. Dredd, portrayed by Karl Urban, is an intimidating figure. Stomping confidently through Peach Tree’s, you know he means business. It’s a tough role for Urban, spending the entire film with his face behind a visor, having to act with only his jaw and body. He truly captures Dredd from the comics.
Audio/visual is also superb in the film, the interiors of Peach Trees washed with a sickly yellow light that make them seem dank and skanky. The CG environments are also 100% convincing, meshing with the real sets to give the Megablock a true sense of epic scale. Credit due too to the 3D used in the film which, instead of taking the opportunity to push things out at the audience (with the exception of some gorgeous slow motion scenes) captures a sense of depth; extreme close ups of the characters faces push into the screen and give an incredible image. The soundtrack is also shockingly minimal, a mix of deep, booming bass and light electronica punctuating the gunfire.
A film made by fans, for fans, Dredd can be appreciated by anyone as an amazing, grown up sci-fi action movie.