When I heard that a new Judge Dredd movie was coming out, I thought, “Hm – this is actually a good idea. The 1995 Judge Dredd movie starring Sylvester Stallone, Diane Lane(?) and Rob fucking Schneider was God awful (just imagine Stallone yelling, “I am the law!” Got it? Yeah. It was that bad.), so this seemed like a great candidate for a reboot… as opposed to Sacred Cows like Red Dawn and the first Nightmare on Elm Street. Still, given recent reboots, I didn’t have high hopes, but Dredd 3D more than met my low expectations – I liked it.
Essentially, the tales of the movie’s use of slow motion combined with 3D got me into the theater, and that ended up holding its end of the bargain. Beyond that, I enjoyed the movie, and for a flick that never shows more of the main protagonist’s face than his mouth, the movie is outstanding. From a visual standpoint, the movie’s universe just looks cool. It’s a grim, dystopian future, but it’s grounded in a realty we recognize – highways, trash on the street (a lot of trash), old cars, advanced technology that isn’t too advanced, and lots of cool wide shots of a city that looks futuristic and run down but still familiar. As the movie goes on, the story gets confined to the 200-story slum tower block called Peach Trees, and that does get a little static after a while, as all the hallways in the building look about the same, but the story is interesting enough to keep you focused. Judge Dredd (Karl Urban – Éomer in Lord of the Rings and Bones in the Star Trek reboot) himself is reserved and sensible, and although he doesn’t have the biggest arc, it’s there, and it’s believable. Besides busting bad guys, Dredd is evaluating a new recruit, Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby – she was in Juno but did NOT play Juno… that’s all I got), who is a mutant psychic, which is cool, but there was at least one moment where I was trying to figure out why she wasn’t using her power that bugged the hell out of me. (The elevator scene between her and Kay – why didn’t she just do what she did during the interrogation scene?) Anyway, I was pleased that she didn’t just function as a damsel in distress for Dredd to save – she was interesting, too.
I don’t want to ramble on and on – this film could have been really terrible, but it’s a lot of fun. If you enjoy some dystopian violence in your film, I’d give Dredd 3D a look.