Based on the popular Judge Dredd comic book series, Dredd 3D successfully captures the essence of the dystopian and futuristic Mega-City One setting, while adding a grittier and bleaker feel than the original. Dredd 3D skips the lengthy backstory of many similar film adaptations of books; instead, Karl Urban revs right onto the screen as Judge Dredd, sporting a frown and speaking in a voice reminiscent of the Dark Knight’s.
The plot of the movie is simple; in fact, it’s contained within a single mega-structure, which at times has the audience begging for air—or at least a change of scenery. Dredd (Urban) and his new rookie Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) are “judges”—the only line of defence against crime, capable of delivering immediate judgment and, if need be, execution. And, yes, most of the judgments end in bullet-riddled corpses and pools of blood.
The unlikely duo is called into a gang-infested mega-structure to investigate a recent homicide and deliver judgment throughout the hallways of the slum’s 200-storey high-rise. Once in, they are trapped by the disfigured Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), a ruthless gang leader who harvests large amounts of a new drug called “Slo-Mo” (yes, its name really does say it all). From that point on, the movie is a blur of bullets, psychedelic special effects, predictable twists, and dreddful one-liners.
Urban’s acting is heavily restricted by the bulky suit and helmet, which never comes off. The bit of face shown doesn’t help much either, because it’s a plastered-on frown that rarely moves. However, his boulder-like persona is a perfect fit for the comic book hero. Thirlby’s pretty face is visible throughout the movie, a glimmer of innocence amid the seemingly endless drugs and blood.
The action is similar to any other shoot-’em-up film, although the futuristic equipment, high body count, and special effects make it worth the time of the most bloodthirsty moviegoers. Despite the film’s title including the word “3D”, the film doesn’t warrant the extra price hike, since there are only a few splashes of 3D throughout the 95 minutes of killing. However, the special effects used to portray the haziness of Slo-Mo are stellar. Director Peter Travis does a great job of incorporating these stunning visuals into the brutal carnage of the action scenes. A few of Urban’s one-liners provided a small number of chuckles, but the weak script and acting get the audience through the movie without evoking much emotion or thought.
Dredd 3D is a successful, much-needed redemption of the 1995 film starring Sylvester Stallone, which was considered to be a big-budget, star-studded parody of the popular comic book. In the end, if you are looking for a simple, one-dimensional plot with an abundance of three-dimensional killing, this is the movie to watch. MMM