Friday, 21 September 2012

Dredd (2012)

A futuristic police officer in armour and a helmet that covers all but his mouth stands on the corner of a building roof with a gun in his hand as large tower blocks burn behind him. Above the man reads a tagline "Judgment is Coming".You have been judged. The sentence is a drokking great film

The future world is an irradiated waste land. Somewhere off an eastern coast lies Mega City One – a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the urban police force known simply as the "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 a dangerous drug epidemic named "Slo-Mo".
During a routine day on the job, Dredd is assigned to train and evaluate Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), a rookie. A heinous crime calls them to 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 brutal, vicious war against the Judges that shows she will stop at nothing to protect her empire.
With a lead actor who's consistent with acting and a sidekick who didn't star in The Animal, this film's already miles better than its 1995 counterpart. Luckily, there's more that can be praised than better casting.

Rather than try and overload the viewers with Judge Dredd's 30+ years of comic book history, the film gives us a day in the life of the eponymous character. It manages to set up the concepts of The Judges and Mega City One without being bogged down in details for the viewers who haven't read the comics (myself included), while leave fans of the franchise hungering for more tales from the Cursed Earth.

Over the past few years, Karl Urban has managed to prove how much of an acting chameleon he truly is, adapting to the role magnificently in order to deliver what is needed, with a magnificent outcome that blends perfectly into the film. He manages to solidify this claim by giving off the films best performance, proving that this New Zealander truly is The Law. Like Tom Hardy in The Dark Knight Rises, Urban plays the role with a lack of facial expressions, due to most of the face being covered up, and still manages to convey quite a lot through the body language and one part of his face that's actually shown. This combination manages to help work towards Urban being utterly intimidating in the role.

"Have you changed your hair, Mister Schneider?"

But it isn't just Urban who gives off a terrific performance. Olivia Thirlby does terrifically as the rookie Anderson and Lena Headey proves once more how well she can play a manipulative villainess as the facially scarred ruler of the block known as Ma-Ma, and will especially have men wincing in a scene or two. Despite it being filled with bloody violence, director Pete Travis manages to lighten things up a bit by adding some humor within the mix. Urban surprisingly gives off a couple of laughs, thanks to a couple of lines he deadpans, and the black humor manages to constantly hit the right notes.

The film's budget is not big, especially for a film adapted from a comic-book, but you rarely notice, as Pete Travis manages to use the budget to it's fullest extent. One of the more surprising things I found about this film was how well the slow-motion effects were used. The change in the colour scheme made them absolutely gorgeous to behold, managing to add a touch of beauty to some of the films gorier deaths, while not being overused. Take note, Zack Snyder.

The 3D is a mixed bag, with there being moments where it's utilized well, but also many moments where it's just wasted. When the films trailer was released, many people called out the similarities to Indonesian breakout film The Raid: Redemption. While my mind did bring up The Raid one or two times, it never impacted upon my enjoyment of the film.

Dredd is the adaptation that fans of the 2000AD character truly deserve, a terrific action film that's more than just an American counterpart to The Raid: Redemption and will definitely clear your minds of 1995's Sylvester Stallone/Rob Schneider misfire.

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