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Review: Dredd 3D delivers in ‘High-Explosive’ mode

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Dredd 3D PosterIf you can imagine a young Clint Eastwood playing RoboCop in the implacable law enforcement style of Dirty Harry – and if you think that scenario could make for a very cool sci-fi action flick – then the new film Dredd 3D is for you.

Dredd 3D is more of a re-envisioning of its gritty original comic-book source material than it is a sequel or remake of the 1995 Sylvester Stallone movie (Judge Dredd), and it delivers in “High-Explosive” mode. The Judge Dredd character is played by Karl Urban (Star Trek) and he keeps his helmet on and is all business for this film’s fast-paced 95 minutes of nearly non-stop action.

For the uninitiated, in the post-apocalyptic future the world has turned extremely violent and trial-by-jury is a discarded process of the past. The law is now fully-enforced by Judges, who are an elite band of enforcement officers who are judge, jury and executioner – all wrapped-up in one crime-fighting package. Judge Dredd is the most celebrated and feared Judge in Mega City One, a sprawling east-coast city that includes both Boston and New York City.

Dredd is an unwavering and almost robotic-like vessel of swift certain justice – but that doesn’t mean he isn’t down with some fun one-liners in the process. He carries an awesome cool weapon called the “Lawgiver” pistol that has 6 settings, including modes like “Incendiary” and “Armor-Piercing,” and his ride is a souped-up motorcycle called the “Lawmaster” that has artificial intelligence and all sorts of mobile weaponry.

Dredd 3D covers a typical day-in-the-life of Judge Dredd; a day that includes assessing a female rookie-judge (Olivia Thirlby) while cleaning up an entire vertical city block of ultra-violent drug dealers who are hell-bent on taking-out the two law-enforcement officers. You never get the feeling from Urban’s Dredd, that this is anything but just a normal day on the job.

DREDD 3DThe Mega City block, innocently called Peach Trees, is ran by Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), a ruthless former prostitute who now controls the flow of the drug called “Slo-Mo,” which when ingested turns one’s perception of time down to about 1% of normal. This effect sets up some incredible sequences of Dredd whipping-up on the bad guys in graphic and bloody slow motion action.

When Dredd and Anderson (Thirlby) show up at Peach Trees to investigate a murder scene, Ma-Ma closes off the building and announces a bounty for the bodies of the Judges and it’s the two officers against hordes of killers, drug addicts and the other gun-toting tenants of the 200-story city-block.

Fortunately, rookie Judge Anderson is a mutant psychic/empath and her abilities coupled with Dredd’s dedication and experience makes them a formidable team. The pairing of Anderson’s empathic powers and Dredd’s utter lack of emotion also makes them one of the most unusual and interesting teams in the action movie genre.

Olivia Thirlby - © 2012 LionsgateBoth Urban and Thirlby do a remarkable job of bringing these classic comic-book characters to life and writer Alex Garland (28 Days Later) came up with a very tight story in which to showcase these characters. Urban as Dredd is especially magnificent and somehow manages to show just the right minuscule amount of humanity through his stony portrayal of the ultimate Judge.

The soundtrack to Dredd 3D, by Paul Leonard-Morgan, is fantastic and perfectly paced with the action on the screen. The heavy-metal influenced electronica was so infectious that I found myself having to consciously stop my head from bobbing to the tunes as the Dredd action was going down. I’ll definitely be picking up the Dredd 3D CD.

I’m not a fan of 3D films, but Dredd 3D does have its moments when wearing the glasses is worth the price and pain. Some of the graphic slow-motion sequences are incredibly crisp and although the picture has the usual muddy appearance seen in nearly all 3D films, the noirish nature of the set design within this dystopian world makes the slightly darker picture bearable.

Dredd 3D is directed by Pete Travis (Endgame) and he has created an exciting new entry into the comic-book movie catalog. This film is tight, intense and a lot of fun for both fans of the comics and street-judge rookies alike – I can’t wait for the sequel. Grade: 8/10


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About the author

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.

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