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Sep 8 2012

2000ad week #6: Dredd3D – the verdict

So, after 35 years of reading the comic, 17 years after the travesty of the Stallone version and months of anticipation as news and pictures slowly dribbled out on the film, I saw Judge Dredd on screen last night. It was tough, dark, dirty, violent, funny and beautiful in parts, sometimes at the same time. I loved it, the whole cinema cheered at the end and I just wanted to scream, “Judge Dredd, Fuck Yeah!” and punch the air.

There he was on screen, the character from the comic, Karl Urban nailed it, no two ways about it, he IS Dredd. Olivia Thirlby is gorgeous and did a great job as Anderson, being a rookie we’re still to see her character develop but she ends the film a different character to the one she starts it as shall we say? Lena Headey is pitched perfectly as the villain, Ma Ma - straight talking, intimidating and brutal. The script was tight and minimal, the plot was simple and believable and the score was excellent – very electronic, sometimes barely there, blending into the noises and vibrations of the buildings and city. The 3D was good, in some scenes it really made them, in others it was generally unobtrusive but you could watch the whole thing in 2D and not miss much. There were several bits where it really worked and one scene in particular where something was done with it that I’d never seen before in the medium.

For fans it hits all the right buttons, no comedy sidekick, no kisses and no taking off the helmet. There are loads of incidentals tucked away in the background from the block names spelling out famous artists and characters from the comic to graffiti on the walls referencing stories of old in the Dredd world. One of the nicest things (and this isn’t really a spoiler) is that the first names you see as the credits roll, in huge letters, are John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra – the creators of Dredd – before any actor or director credit. Alex Garland has made sure that this is how you please the fans and get them on side to build a fanbase for any possible sequels that could happen if it makes the money at the box office.

*possible minor spoilers bit, but not really*

I’m not a fawning fanboy who can’t see the flaws though, the film isn’t perfect – the lawmaster bike and vehicles in general don’t sit well together. Whilst Dredd’s bike is nothing like the one in the comic, it holds up OK on screen but it looks out of place and time next to all the other vehicles which are just the same as anything you’d see on the road today. My biggest gripe with it was that it didn’t look futuristic enough in the outdoor shots (something the Stallone film actually got right) but these are soon forgotten about as the plot quickly moves indoors. Once you get into the visual groove of the film and accept these things it’s fine and I know that this was shot on a tiny budget compared to other blockbusters and that, had they had the money, this would have been the first thing rectified. There were a few instances where Anderson could have played a more inclusive role in the scenes with her psi powers too, I’m not going to spoil anything though by highlighting them here.

For the budget they had, the film makers nailed it, the tone, the dialogue and the action. I wasn’t expecting 10/10 incredible cinema to blow my mind, but wanted a credible film that did justice to the character and superceded the 1995 one. You get that hands down, it’s perfectly pitched and is winning fans over everywhere. Here’s to a sequel some day in the future if the film turns a healthy profit although they have their work cut out for them with an 18/R rating.

PS. to add to the experience I saw Henry Flint coming out of the screening before me, grinning from ear to ear and saying he was ‘speechless’ after seeing it. This is more than a little unusual seeing as he lives in Devon and I live in London but made it all the more special.

Posted on Saturday, September 8th, 2012 at 2:32 am under Film. You can follow these comments using the RSS feed. You can trackback from your own site or leave a comment below..

Comments

  1. Pretty much my thoughts too, very satisfied indeed. Pity about the cheapness (under $45 million to make apparently) showing through in how generally “normal” everything looked but there was so much else to enjoy.

    My biggest gripe was probably all that f***ing swearing when it should have been all that drokking swearing. I think all the nonscrots out there would have handled it ;)

    I really hope this makes a profit so we get more, because Dredd felt like the entrée to what could turn out to be quite the feast.

    Comment by Mr. Primate on September 8, 2012 at 4:29 pm

  2. Indeed, knowing how rich the back story is in detail was sometimes frustrating, he did at least use the word ‘perps’ :) There’s tons of material for more, you can just see the potential all there for the taking, hopefully someone with money to invest will see that too. Comic book films are thankfully now not what they were, a lot of the mistakes have been ironed out over the years and lessons learned – mainly, listen to the established fanbase!

    It was a decent 4/5 action film which chose to make a lot more of itself by limiting its scope rather than trying to cover all bases. I’m just so happy it’s decent probably much the same as Dr Who fans must have been when the BBC finally took note and turned that dead in the water franchise around.

    I’m also very happy to see lapsed readers returning to the comic after decades away and I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised. It took a huge hit after the 1995 film bombed as they’d banked a lot on it being a success but hopefully this will generate a lot of good things to come (already whispers of a Rogue Trooper film penned by Grant Morrison)

    Comment by kev on September 8, 2012 at 4:43 pm

  3. Oh man, I’d love to see some Rogue Trooper on screen! Could be done very cheaply without having to compromise very much I think.

    There’s this terrible Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson flick called The Last Sentinel that totally ripped off Rogue down to the weapons containing the A.I. of old war buddies. It would be so good to see 2000 AD get some payback for it’s IP at last.

    Comment by Mr. Primate on September 9, 2012 at 1:18 am

  4. SPOILER ALERT:

    During one of the earlier confrontation scenes inside the Peach Tree, when Dredd used the stun grenade, Anderson hesitated to kill a wounded gunmen. You knew she was hesitating to finish him off because she understood that this guy was not an inherently bad person.

    Or perhaps there was a deeper reason for the hesitation?

    Later in the film Anderson and Dredd hid inside a woman’s apartment for a short while. Anderson gained entry in to the apartment by calling on the woman by name over the intercom, and pleaded with her to open the door.

    How did she know her name? In that moment I’m pretty sure Anderson was not yet fully cognizant as to how she knew this woman’s name. Not until she saw the photos.

    So what was on the gunman’s mind in his last moments? The same thing as was on his wife’s mind. An inseparable and identical fingerprint of love shared between and existing outside of two people.

    Anderson knew this woman’s name because of that impression of love. It was a universe of information and a lifetime shared only between two souls.

    Powerful. Amazing work.

    Comment by Sam on September 9, 2012 at 2:00 am

  5. Agreed, Justin. The 1995 film version of Judge Dredd was mreuurods the worst character assasination since Chief Judge Griffin’s Live TV appearance after Sov psycho-surgery in Apocalypse War part 16 (2000AD Prog 260). Luckily he got what he deserved! Suffice to say, the new film couldn’t be worse but it sure better be a damn sight better.Cheers for posting some of the classic Brian B art work too probably my favourite Dredd artist over the years.

    Comment by John on December 23, 2012 at 4:45 am

  6. I finally got around to seeing it and really enjoyed it. Even my wife (who generally doesn’t go out for comic book movies and cinematic gun violence) was won over by the style.

    I’d never read the comics before, but I’m now halfway through the second book of case files. Loving it.

    ~rl

    Comment by Rober Lamb on January 16, 2013 at 7:52 pm

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