With a grittier vision of Superman in theaters, Flixnerd takes a look at another dark comic book adaptation. Our Flixnerd DVD review of ‘Dredd,’ the action sci-fi 2012 movie from director Pete Travis, explains why you need to give the character another chance.
Karl Urban (Dr. McCoy in the most recent Star Trek films) portrays the fearsome Judge Dredd, who protects the citizens of Mega City One and acts as judge, jury, and executioner in a future where crime is rampant and justice largely absent.
This ‘Dredd’ is not the silly and oft-ridiculed movie that Stallone gave audiences in 1995. Karl Urban portrays Dredd as a futuristic ‘Dirty Harry,’ an officer whose morals are rigid and whose methods are brutal.
Assigned to a evaluate the readiness of a rookie who may not be qualified for law enforcement, Dredd takes his trainee to a call that lands them in the thick of a den of murderers and drug dealers.
‘Ma-Ma,’ is Madeline Madrigal, the drug kingpin and gang leader who rules Mega City One. Punishment for crossing Ma-Ma is gruesome death, as her introduction into our story involves her flaying the skin from rival dope dealers and throwing them from a 200 story balcony to their deaths.
Ma-Ma has developed a drug called “Slo-Mo” which slows down the perception of time for it’s users. It’s something of a hallucinogenic heroin, and Ma-Ma won’t tolerate anyone getting in the way of her distributing Slo-Mo to the masses.
When Dredd and his trainee Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) respond to investigate the deaths of Ma-Ma’s rivals, they wind up trapped inside of Mega City One with no backup, limited firepower, and no chance of escape.
Their only chance of survival is to battle their way up through Mega City One’s gang-infested 200 floors up to Ma-Ma’s penthouse. With every gangster, lowlife thug, and murderer on her payroll standing between them, Ma-Ma will do whatever it takes to make sure Dredd and Anderson don’t survive.
Where Stallone’s ‘Judge Dredd’ played the character campy and straight hero, director Pete Travis has given us a down-and-dirty science fiction action flick. Rated “R” for graphic violence and language, the well-orchestrated shootouts and f-bombs flow freely in ‘Dredd.’
The action is non-stop, as our heroes must fight for their survival at every turn. Some comparisons structurally to the 2011 film ‘The Raid: Redemption’ are inevitable. Both are fantastic action movies, but ‘The Raid’ is one expertly choreographed martial arts scene after another, focused more on action than storytelling.
Director Pete Travis has smartly cast strong actors in the three lead performances and written them in a way which makes ‘Dredd’ a more involving movie than ‘The Raid.’
Karl Urban brings a laconic gravitas to Dredd through deadpan observations and physicality in his actions. His words might be few, but Urban’s performance is solid. He’s a morally centered, no-bullshit badass.
Lena Headey (Game of Thrones, 300) is a perfect choice as the downright nasty Ma-Ma, a villain whose physical scars barely reflect the twisted psyche beneath them.
The bleak tone is strongly accentuated in ‘Dredd’ with desaturated colors and grimy, claustrophobic locations. The scenes depicting the Slo-Mo drug and the copious bloodshed are vibrantly colored and visually “pop” when seen in contrast against the dim and grainy surroundings.
The film starts off with a bang and never lets up. ‘Dredd’ is a hyper-violent, dark, and expertly made comic book movie. Unfortunately, ‘Dredd’ failed to find an audience with movie-goers, so don’t hold your breath waiting for a sequel.
And that is a shame. ‘Dredd’ is entertaining from start to finish and is based on a source comic that has 35 years worth of additional stories to tell us.
In our DVD Review ‘Dredd’ came through with solid performances, simple but well-executed storyline, and high-octane action. Make ‘Dredd’ a “don’t miss” on DVD or streaming.