Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Dredd 3D (2012)

I think I've only ever read one Judge Dredd story so I don't really know the Mega City One canon; but having suffered through the 1995 abomination with Sly Stallone, I wasn't especially keen to see this one.  With Stallone's butchering of Dredd's most famous line "I am nnlaaaaa!" still ringing in my ears I found myself going to see this because I had read and heard such good things about it. My verdict? This is the film Max Payne should have been!

Brilliantly gruesome, tremendous sound all round (guns, explosions, bone-crunching and thumping soundtrack) and Slo-Mo.  I was worried that there was going to be too much Slo-Mo after the first 10 minutes, becoming over-used as the film's gimmicky feature, but happily it calmed down.  Karl Urban was pretty good considering we only ever see his chin, he was grim, gritty enough, and seemed to fit being an aggressive bastard perfectly.  Though his constant frown must have been exhausting.  Lena Heady was a suitable psychopath (looking a lot like Nina from the first series of 24), but apart from the flashbacks I didn't feel that there was enough menace about her.  Olivia Thirlby was also good as psychic newbie Judge Anderson; wanting to become a Judge, she is really thrown into it when Dredd is told to take her into the field for assessment.  Initially not sure about making decisions under pressure, she slowly comes into her own, before finally coming to a choice about her future.

The level of detail in Peach Trees (the tower block investigated by Dredd and Anderson) is very good; the kisoks, info-booths right down to the cages protecting the CCTV cameras.  The cityscapes of Mega City One look tremendous, but obviously take more than a little inspiration from  Bladerunner.  The 3D was OK, I guess the Slo-Mo scenes were specifically made for it, but otherwise I'm sure it wouldn't have lost anything by being in 2D.

Director Pete Travis has done well to turn a very simple story into and exciting, engaging film that manages to steer clear of being naff, cheesy or clichéd.  This was probably helped by a smart screenplay by Danny Boyle favourite Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Sunshine, Never Let Me Go).  Everything adds up to a surprisingly good film, proving that even simple blockbusters can be fresh and intelligent.