Saturday, September 22, 2012

Dredd 3D Review

Dredd 3D is the second live action film adaption of the British comic strip Judge Dredd. Taking place in a post nuclear holocaust, America has been reduced to mega-cities with other areas outside that has areas of nuclear pollution. It's a dystopian future with high unemployment and overpopulation. Maintaining order are the Judges. They are cops who are judge, jury and executioners.

Dredd 3D opens up with Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) patroling Mega-city One in his motorcycle. He is dispatched to catch a car full of drug addicts, high on Slo-Mo. It's a drug which causes the user to believe he is living in slow motion. When they run over a pedestrian, Dredd believes he is justified to using deadly force. When the car crashes killing all the occupants except one, Dredd finds the survivor holding a hostage. He is able to kill the criminal with a auto-seeking bullet that burns an individual from the inside out. Welcome to the world of Judge Dredd.

Later at judge headquarters, Dredd is asked to evaluate a judge recruit, Anderson. (Olivia Thirlby) She has average scores on her tests. The thing she does have is that she is a psychic due to mutation caused by nuclear radiation. They are dispatched to investigate a triple homicide in an apartment complex known as Peach Trees. But this is no simple building. It's a mega-building that houses seventy five thousand people and is ruled by criminal gangs. One of these gangs is the Ma-Mas ruled by Madeline Madrigal. (Lena Headey) It was Madrigal who ordered the deaths of the three.

When Dredd and Anderson capture one of the killers, Kay (Wood Haris) she fears that he will talk and lead to her arrest. She has the building shut down, trapping the judges. She then asks the residents to kill them. Dredd and Anderson must find an escape with their suspect.

Karl Urban plays Dredd like Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry. He plays it with a lack of camp and his sincere performance sells the character. Praise should also be given to Urban for acting with a helmet that conceals his forehead and eyes. Olivia Thirlby's Anderson is more than an ingenue. She's a damaged person, haunted by the loss of her parents and mutation. Lena Headey is not just a black and white villain. She has good reason for her criminal behavior as she was a victim of crime herself.

Alex Garland has written a script that is no mere shoot 'em up. You get a feel for this future America. Yeah, there's plenty of action but between the gunfights, you get subtle hints at the problems with this society. Dredd may be a good guy but he doesn't inspire the people he protects. Executing people without appeal may sound good but the movie raises a question whether it is just.

Director Pete Travis builds a believable dystopian America. It feels real. Action scenes are well staged. His use of slow motion violence featuring bullets entering people and their exploding exits may shock some but it shows the reality of gunfire. I like his use of psychedelic colors in some scenes contrasting the gritty browns of the slum. For a film with a modest budget, Travis uses CGI and other tricks to make the film look like it had a much bigger budget.

Dredd 3D was filmed in 3D. It shows. I am from the school of 3D filming where the movie must use it or lose it. Dredd is not shy about emphasizing the 3D effects. Scenes have pop. Action scenes look great in 3D. Little things like smoke and water push out of the screen. For some reason, the last third of the movie largely ignores the effect. But there's so much eye candy that it's well worth seeing this movie in 3D.

Dredd 3D is well made, thought provoking science fiction, action thriller. You will get your money's worth with this film. The grade is A.

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