Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Dredd 3D: The Verdict

To start off with the synopsis: The future America is an irradiated waste land. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies Mega City One- a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the urban cops called “Judges” who possess the combined powers of judge, jury and instant executioner. Known and feared throughout the city, Dredd (Karl Urban) is the ultimate Judge, challenged with ridding the city of its latest scourge – a dangerous drug epidemic that has users of “Slo-Mo” experiencing reality at a fraction of its normal speed.
During a routine day on the job, Dredd is assigned to train and evaluate Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), a rookie with powerful psychic abilities thanks to a genetic mutation. A heinous crime calls them to a neighborhood where fellow Judges rarely dare to venture – a 200 story vertical slum controlled by prostitute-turned-drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) and her ruthless clan. When they capture one of the clan’s inner circle, Ma-Ma overtakes the compound’s control center and wages a dirty, vicious war against the Judges that proves she will stop at nothing to protect her empire. With the body count climbing and no way out, Dredd and Anderson must confront the odds and engage in the relentless battle for their survival.

Ok. This synopsis about the whole having to fight up a tower block against a gang really sounded very similar to the 2011 film The Raid: Redemption, and if you haven't yet seen The Raid I highly recommend you do so this second because its amazing. On that note, I was a little sceptical in going to see Dredd because it sounded so similar to The Raid and because I didn't think it would be nearly as good in comparison. I would say for the most part they do have a similar flavour in the sense that theres lots of guns, raw violence and the directors didn't skimp on the blood and graphics when people get shot in the face. However I do feel the villains and lead characters, although both essentially similar in both films, have a very different feel from each other. This in turn, for me anyway, made the two films feel very different. 

All in all Dredd was a really enjoyable action film and I would say for those not familiar with the Judge Dredd comics it would be a very good bridge to actually reading them. I personally haven't read much Judge Dredd but I am familiar with the 2000AD characters and their concepts. Here comes one little meh: as far as I am aware Judge Dredd (in the comics) is portrayed and the quintessential badass (which this film definitely delivered) and a hard hearted personification of totalitarian law. He IS the law! He is supposed to be a bit of an anti-hero because he is so harsh, however I'd say this is true for only about 80% of the film. We see him soften a bit, especially towards his trainee Anderson.

 However this for me is only a little meh because films and comics are two very different disciplines I do feel that if Dredd had been his actual harsh, dickish self throughout the whole film it probably wouldn't have been as enjoyable; the ending would have been different from what it was in the film. If he had done a 'Comic Dredd' ending you would have gone out of the cinema hating the 'hero' which is just not the way cinema works. You want the end of films to feel concluded and wholesome because films (unless in a 
definite series of films) should give the viewer a nice compact story and it should feel resolved at the end, which this did. 

 The film definitely got across the badass aspect with all the really great one liners and Karl Urban I think was definitely the perfect choice for the roll. He had the voice right, the swagger, the way Dredd moves and of course the defining gurn. Exhibit A:

The picture above is all sparkly and glowy because (I assume) its a shot from one of the 'slo-mo' scenes. I found this bit of cinematography really interesting. Here is a clip of one such scene: WARNING! If you don't like blood or pieces of face flying at you in slow moition, don't press play :/ 

The drug 'slo-mo' makes the brain work slower and therefore time from the perspective of the user seems slower too. The director decided to play with this idea in the cinematography and I'm not 100% sure on whether it actually adds anything or not. Part of me feels that this effect was put in simply because it looks pretty in 3D and also because really fast paced action sequences aren't very watchable in 3D. So the slow motion solves the latter dilemma. This leads me to ask: did this film REALLY have to be released ONLY in 3D. Either way the slow motion does look quite cool but I'm not sure it was necessary, so I'm going to remain neutral on this point.

To conclude, this film is well worth going to see, but not if your squeamish or don't like gritty violence. At the beginning of the film the villain, Mama, has three men skinned alive and thrown off a balcony 200 floors up and they land with a bit of a splat...
There is plans for a trilogy in the works providing that it grosses $50mil in the US. Heres some other articles I found on the matter!

In the mean time I'm going to invest in the Judge Dredd comic omnibuses. I am rather taken with the concepts for the Dredd Universe and think it'll be a comic series I will rather enjoy :)


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