Comic book movies are in full-flight but do we need another?
Dredd follows Judge Dredd, a lawman given the right to pass verdict and punish a citizen of the dystopian Mega-City One on the spot. Dredd finds himself trapped inside a 200 storey tower block, Peach Trees, which is run by a violent gang. He must try to escape or face them one storey at a time.
Unlike the Stallone vehicle, Judge Dredd, this film cleverly expresses the enormity of the city by showing just how big one tower block can be.
Along with this, the film centres on a gritty action tone moving away from science fantasy and has more in common with Gareth Evans’ wonderful The Raid than it does with the previous Judge Dredd outing. This is demonstrated early on when three men are thrown from a building and land as pulp which quickly flags this film as a serious one.
Dredd, played by Karl Urban, is loyal to the comic book character – a hardnosed, no-nonsense lawman without a sense of humour. Despite the lack of John McClane charisma/profanity the film is strengthened by his miserable outlook.
Director Pete Travis compliments the bleak world of Mega-City One with beautiful ultra-artificial direction. Flames reflected in Dredd’s visor are an outlandish visual, while the widely abused drug SLO-MO creates spectacular slow-motion sparkles in gruesome shoot-outs and eerie character segments.
Cassandra Anderson, played by Olivia Thirlby, is a psychic Judge and the film uses her powers to good effect: interrogation scenes test her new found position as a judge and create a new element to an old action set up.
Bringing fresh ideas to the direction and creating a loyal vision of the comic book has resulted in a hugely entertaining film and an excellent addition to the action/sci-fi genre.
If you liked this you may enjoy Robocop and The Raid.