Dredd 3D – When it was first announced as being in production, the first question was… “Isn’t there a Judge Dredd film already?”, while the second one was, “But wasn’t it a bit shit?”.
Well, yes to both. 1995’s Judge Dredd was more of a comedy, while purists moaned about the fact that Stallone took off his helmet – something Karl Urban doesn’t do here. My biggest moan about that film was the presence of Rob Schneider, who turned it into a farce and was about as welcome as Jar Jar Binks in a Star Wars film(!)
So, the attempt was made to make a more authentic Judge Dredd film. Bear in mind I’m not a reader of comics of any description, so I have to leave that to the film-makers, but I can see they were looking to make it a more serious movie, but did it make for a more entertaining one?
Well, the Judge that everyone knows best in Mega City One is called to shopping mall called Peach Trees, which is also home to residents occupying the 200 floors within. At the same time, Dredd (Urban) has to break in a new rookie, Anderson (Olivia Thirlby, above with Urban), who refuses to wear a helmet for reasons which will become clear during the proceedings, although it’s not a tactic I would recommend when there are bullets flying round like there’s no tomorrow – and there really will be no tomorrow for a lot of the inhabitants when all hell kicks off.
They’re called because three men have been skinned and tossed over a balcony to land slap bang in the middle of the mall – and quite frankly, it shows the poor design within because anyone could’ve chucked anything over the side in the past and it would’ve killed those below if it had hit them, but anyway. The baddie at the centre of it all is Ma-Ma (Lena Headey, below), who is cornering the market in the latest illegal drug – the Slo-mo inhaler, which makes life feel like it’s passing by at 1% of the normal speed, rather like the way the Cake can stimulate your Shatner’s Bassoon.
We’re told that Ma-Ma is a major bad-ass because she “feminised a guy with her teeth”, and she exerts her authority and takes control of the mall by trapping the Judges inside Peach Trees, meaning they’re up against anyone who wants to take them down… yes, it’s basically the plot of The Raid. And it’s nowhere near as good.
It barely counts as action because it’s so sparse in anything approaching that genre and it doesn’t even border on sci-fi once it gets inside the shopping mall because it could be cops in general going after the bad guys, albeit with everyone having rather better firepower. It also lends itself to Freejack with an ‘inside the mind’ sequence, albeit one which isn’t much cop compared to the 21-year-old film, and to kick it while it’s down, the occasional comedic lines fall flat.
When it comes to the actors, Karl Urban is charmless, Olivia Thirlby doesn’t exactly pull out all the stops and Lena Headey mostly sleepwalks through her role. The only other actor who stays around longer than most is Wood Harris as Kay, arrested by Dredd after Anderson fingers him for having sent the three drug addicts on an impromptu flying lesson.
I’ve also seen much better use of 3D, as it doesn’t feel like it’s being used nearly as often as it should be. In fact, it feels more like a 2D film with occasional 3D scenes, some of which are very good, most of which are so-so. The former best come in slow motion for a handful of scenes including the one described in the previous paragraph. And for anyone who’s mistaking my reasons, I can see it was definitely made in 3D, rather than being added in post-production, but my bugbear with that was that it wasn’t well-used at all. There were a handful of great 3D scenes, yes, but most of the time, while I could tell there was some element of 3D onscreen, it looked no different to how the eye would perceive depth anyway.
Soundwise, there’s lots of split-surround sound FX which are worth a listen.
So, overall, this is a very poor film. And even worse than Stallone’s effort. However, on the plus side, at least Rob Schneider isn’t in it!
Note that there is only a single Blu-ray disc released which contains both 3D and 2D versions.
Running time: 95 minutes
Released: January 14th 2013
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Redcode RAW (4.5K))
Distributor: Entertainment in Video
Director: Pete Travis
Producers: Alex Garland, Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich
Screenplay: Alex Garland
Music: Paul Leonard-Morgan
Judge Dredd: Karl Urban
Anderson: Olivia Thirlby
Chief Judge: Rakie Ayola
Ma-Ma: Lena Headey
Kay: Wood Harris
Caleb: Warrick Grier
Woman with Child: Shoki Mokgapa
Judge at Entrance: Daniel Hadebe
Judge at Entrance: Francis Chouler
Judge Lex: Langley Kirkwood
Judge Alvarez: Edwin Perry
Judge Chan: Karl Thaning
Judge Kaplan: Michele Levin
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.