Judge Dredd’s 1995 adaptation did not at all get it correct, nor was it even close. The scum-riddled, rusted streets of the Mega City One – a largely dying metropolis and addled with so many violent crimes – were too stagey and too clean. The plot was too cloudy or complicated.
The performance of Stallone was too amazing as well as heroic. Stallone even removed his helmet. John Wagner, one amongst the co-creators of this project, really dismissed Dredd by saying, “Judge Dredd wasn’t really Judge Dredd.” But eventually and thankfully, that project’s failure led to a film which is really Judge Dredd.
If anybody is simply unacquainted with either the classic comic series of 2000AD or the dismal adaptation of Stallone, Judge Dredd is actually set in an amazing dystopian future, in which large parts of America has already become an illuminated wasteland. But humanity refuses to stop surviving. Mega City One, a huge entrenched metropolis located in the East Coast consists of 400 citizens. Crime has become norm there.
Fallen to the scum and gangs in such broken future the only ray of hope related to order sticks with The Judges. Individuals contributed with the great power of punishing and providing sentence to criminals on the very spot. Dredd is undoubtedly the most exacting and amongst the fiercest sort of legal or law enforcement.
Dredd never strains its set up. Mega City has really a unique bleached feel in it and it was shot entirely in South Africa. There is so much heat that the complete landscape seems to be baking due to the fallout. This movie earns this much effective sense of situation and place mainly without any kind of elaborate or intricate special effects. The film is a low budget one but it seems to be its greatest strength. Like Christopher Nolan’s Gotham city, it is also recognizably a real one. Than a coldly fabricated distant world by computer imageries, it actually feels like a nightmarish and amazingly projected reality.
Without even capturing any spectacular Pete Travis through Dredd has created a concussive and concentrated action sequence of just 90 minutes long.
Mega City One’s skyline is entirely dominated by the City Blocks – huge 200 storey housing complexes, warring gang factions and sheltering the poor. Almost all of the film was shot in one of these city blocks and close to the sounding Peach Trees. Dredd in cooperation with Anderson involves himself in an investigation of triple homicide, a routine one. They investigate a cadet narrowly failing her test in becoming a judge though she is being provided with another chance due to her incredible psychic abilities. Anderson as well as Dredd immediately apprehends the murderer though they got trapped within the Peach Trees by the psychotic prostitute-turned-overlord of that building Ma-Ma as she is afraid of the revelation of everything by the prisoner under interrogation. Dredd has to climb up floor number 200 from the first floor to escape and in this process he arrests Ma-Ma.
The simple yet elegant conceit is one of the greatest strength of this movie. People who like to attend spectacle as summer blockbusters might be a little bit upset because this movie does not feature anything unique. No single standout set piece of actions is present in this film and having similarities in plot structure Dredd faces comparisons with The Raid – a jaw dropping, amazing action movie.
Though the action is not at all amazing in Dredd, the violence shown in this film is worth watching. The faces of the criminals are torn apart by the bullets in just slow motion and they collide with concrete at so much high velocity. Even at one pint of time, from a wound blood splashes over the frame’s edge as if it would splatter the onlookers too. The 3D helps in watching the violence more clearly. The world of MCO really needs to be this much brutal so that the extreme form of enforcement by Judge Dredd becomes legitimate.
Karl Urban is the best and perfect choice for the role of Dredd. He is not only terse but also unstoppable and grizzled. Alex Garland has produced a fantastic source material-sensitive and smart script. The key moments of actions are punctuated with sardonic quips and witty one-liners. The betrayal of the characters is smartly avoided. Dredd does enforce the law. He’s performing his job so well that the result would be grimace but not a conceited pun. It is really refreshing and it also helps the character in emerging more intimidating.
Dredd’s character is actually held purposely distant from the viewers. The very decision of leaving the helmet on during the whole film works. He is an excellent forbidden examiner from Anderson’s perspective. On their first meet Anderson is readily asked to read the mind of Dredd just to demonstrate her interesting psychic abilities’ extent. Anderson’s description broadly and clearly sketches out Dredd’s character. But when Anderson is going to unearth his veiled motivations, she is cut off by the Chief Justice. It clearly hints at the deeper character present there but it is deliberately kept obscured. The decision of keeping his helmet on during the entire film underscore Dredd’s character and people sinks in that purposed ambiguity.
Olivia Thirlby is also the perfect cast by the director for the role of Anderson. She’s an emotional and sympathetic counterpoint of to the remoteness of Dredd. Anderson nicely uses her impressing psychic abilities and met out her very own forms of justice. Lena Headey does absolute justice to her role of Ma-Ma, a disfigured prostitute. Lena Headway is famous for her role-playing of Cersei Lannister in the movie Game of Thrones. Ma-Ma clawed her own way just to become the Peach Trees’ peerless boss. For Dredd she is really the perfect and potent antagonist. But ultimately Ma-Ma is simply there to keep the plot moving.
Dredd is primarily a character study. His character is fueled by action and violence. This character of Dredd keeps the audience stuck to their seats with curiosity, amazement, attention and surprise. There would never be any other better way of re-introducing Dredd’s character to cinema viewers.