OK, so this review will pretty much invalidate my last one; last year’s Dredd makes Judge Dredd look like offal. On nearly every level, this is a superior movie.
Think Blade Runner meets Die Hard and you’ll be close. Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is taking the newbie Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) on a practical examination. They reach a gigantic slum-like tower block known as Peach Trees, which is run by the incredibly violent Mama Gang, itself headed by the eponymous Mama (Lena Headey). When she seals the exits to Peach Trees, Dredd and Anderson are the only Judges inside, and they must fight off waves and waves of enemies. Similarities to The Raid also come to mind.
The dialogue in this film seems much closer to the comics than the Stallone version. Not once in the original film did I hear the words ‘isocubes’, ‘meat wagon’ or ‘recyc’. Also, it’s refreshing to see that it isn’t peppered with annoying catchphrases. ‘I am the law‘ only appears once.
The special effects, whilst superior to the original film, are not nearly as garish or in your face. A brilliant plot element is the futuristic drug slo-mo. As the name suggests, this drug gives the user the impression that time has slowed down, and director Pete Travis – who also directed the disappointing Vantage Point – invites us to see the effects. We witness droplets of water flying through the air as well as bullets gracefully rip through flesh. It’s all rather beautiful, if highly gruesome. It’s a brilliant effect to put in the trailer, and actually works well in the film, in a stylish comic-book fashion. While I only watched it in 2D, I can see that the 3D would have worked really well, especially in the slow-motion sequences.
The Judges in Judge Dredd seemed to have rather glamorous costumes, with giant impractical shoulder pads. In this film, their updated costume seems more reasonable. Judge Dredd never takes off his helmet, and never smiles. Much better. Urban makes for a much grittier Dredd than Stallone. Inevitable really.
It’s still not incredibly clever, but it’s the film that fans were hoping for all those years ago. Violent, adrenaline fuelled and darkly humorous, this is a remake worth seeing.