Dredd 3D: Solid

Mind you, it would have been, without it.

Director Pete Travis and Karl Urban as Dredd deliver a solid reboot of the 2000 AD comic character first brought to the screen in Danny Cannon’s “Judge Dredd”, by Sylvester Stallone.

The Stars

Karl Urban as Judge Dredd
Olivia Thirlby as Cassandra Anderson
Lena Headey as Madeline “Ma-Ma” Madrigal

The History

Judge Dredd first appeared in the UK publication 2000 AD, as a sort of post-Apocalyptic Dirty Harry. A remorseless, vigilante cop operating several notches above the other vigilante cops charged with policing a society, gone wild.

In the 1995 film “Judge Dredd”, Sylvester Stallone brought the character to life in a high-gloss, big-budget tale of betrayals, huge robots, cannibals, and clandestine genetic experiments that featured Diane Lane as Dredd’s colleague Judge Hershey, and Armand Assante as his evil twin, Judge Rico.

The Revised History

“Dredd 3D” offers the same global situation, but with markedly less gloss.

A near-future Earth ravaged by disease, conflict and nuclear disaster (terrorism, toxic spills, war, or any combination thereof), where the remnants of humanity are crammed into high-rise apartment blocks in any of several Mega Cities.

The Judges – of whom Dredd is still by far the most efficient – are charged with maintaining order, and have the power to act on the spot as judge, jury, and executioner.

The Premise

In Mega City One (Dredd’s jurisdiction), there’s a new crime cartel in town, headed by scarfaced ex-prostitute Madeline Madrigal (a.k.a. Ma-Ma), played by Lena Headey.

This cold and ruthless lady is looking to flood the streets with Slo-Mo, a new designer drug that lets anyone using it experience time at a quarter speed.

It’s also one that gives the effects department full rein to exploit 3D technology in creating a number of quite elegant reduced-time events.

Meanwhile, over at the Hall of Justice, the Chief Judge gives Dredd the task of breaking in Cassandra Anderson – a young mutant (resulting from the effects of nuclear waste) who is flunking out of the Judges’ academy, but whose powerful psychic skills would make her a huge asset to the force.

Dredd and Anderson are dispatched to the block where Ma-Ma is (unknown to our heroes) hiding out, in plain sight.

Cue ambush, lockdown of the huge building, and a tense siege situation, as Ma-Ma and her minions attempt to dispatch (ie. kill) the two officers of The Law.

The Trailer

Courtesy of YouTube:

The Verdict

Solid.

Solid set-up.

Solid performances, all round.

Solid cop thriller. The premise in the apartment block would play out with any metropolitan police force.

Not big-budget flashy, but not cheap, either.

Dredd 3D is played straight. And adult; there’s a lot of salty language on offer, here.

There are (very) occasional one-liners, but overall the tone is as grim as the expression on Karl Urban’s (visored) face.

Yes, true to the original comics, Dredd’s helmet never comes off. And that’s good.

He does get to declare his signature line, “I am The Law” – but not in a cheesy way.

I was a little underwhelmed by Olivia Thirlby’s rookie Cassandra Anderson – mainly due to my own preconceptions.

Judge Anderson was always one of my favorite female comic book characters, and I know Olivia Thirlby as a talented actress of considerable wit and personality.

Her performance here is solid, but there’s not much evidence of the sexy, sassy, psychic Anderson that I know and love.

Granted, it’s the character’s first outing in this new franchise. And she’s on “sudden death, will she or won’t she become a Judge” probation here, so she can’t exactly wisecrack with her supervisor (Dredd, who’s not the wisecracking type, anyway), but still.

A bit more fire and humor from Thirlby / Anderson would have been nice – and in keeping with the relationship Judge Anderson has with Dredd, in the comics.

Perhaps we’ll see more of this, in the sequel(s).

There should be one (or more), because this movie is pretty good, over all.

7 and a half, out of 10.

And a welcome respite, from the Obama – Romney show, I’ll bet.

I’ll see you, post-election. I hope.

Till then.

Peace.

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