Dredd 3D Review
2012, 96 minutes
Rated R for strong bloody violence, language, drug use, and some sexual content
2012 has been filled with movies that were way better than they should have been (21 Jump Street and The Avengers were the perfect examples of this). This is one of them. Dredd 3D could have been just another genre picture, but instead was turned into a thrilling, extremely violent exercise in action filmmaking. Dredd 3D shows what a good script and cast can do because they do serious wonders.
Dredd 3D takes place in a world where the United States has been turned into a wasteland and the only establishment left is a crime-ridden city that stretches from Washington, D.C. to Boston. In this city, a man named Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) lives. He is part of a law enforcement group in which “judges” function as judge, jury, and executioner. He, along with a new recruit (Olivia Thirlby), have to take down a drug lord (Lena Headey) who runs her operation out of a 200-storey building. The story is remarkably similar to the superior (and far more brutal, if not gory) The Raid: Redemption, but it still works well.
Karl Urban plays Judge Dredd perfectly. He delivers the one-liners with spot-on timing, takes the silly role completely seriously, and is just fun to watch. As his nemesis, Lena Headey plays the psychotic drug lord Ma-Ma with the Urban’s same seriousness and a lot of charisma.
The script for this film is first-rate. It is simple, witty, and builds in a lot of fantastic action sequences. Dredd’s one-liners are reminiscent of the Terminator’s and got me to chuckly every time. As mentioned, the story is similar to The Raid: Redemption, but works because it has good characters and is a sci-fi shoot-‘em-up, not a martial arts action film.
The icing on the cake for this movie is the fact that it is designed for maximum entertainment value and is technically very well-made. Oscar-winner Anthony Dod Mantle (Slumdog Millionaire, Antichrist, 127 Hours) was the cinematographer for this film and used some very clever camera angles, particularly one in which a person falls 200 stories and he does a first-person point-of-view shot of the person falling. The music, by Paul Leonard-Morgan (Limitless), is also thrilling as it is a pulsing techno score that keeps the movie energetic. And, the editing by Mark Eckersley is quick and keeps the pacing on target.
This is the rare occasion when it would be worth it to spend the extra money and see this movie in 3D. This film, unlike most others which are converted to 3D in post-production, was shot in 3D. This makes the image much deeper and actually makes the 3D look 3D, instead of an image that slightly pops out. The excellent 3D effects complement the stunning slow motion sequences best.
I really appreciated the filmmakers’ decision not to use shaky cam and make a “gritty reboot”. The cinematography is still exciting while still being fluid, polished (it still has some grit) and cinematic.
Dredd 3D really has nothing wrong with it. I can’t give it a perfect rating, though, because it is simply a solid piece of entertainment, nothing more and nothing less. It isn’t groundbreaking or revolutionary, but I had a great time.