With the summer 2012 movie season now at an end and with the fall season underway, one of the most eagerly anticipated movies audiences have to look forward to is “Dredd 3D.” Based on the comic book character created by writer John Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra, the movie is directed by Pete Travis (“Vantage Point”) and stars Karl Urban as law enforcement officer Judge Dredd. It also promises to be a far more faithful adaptation of the comic book character than 1995’s “Judge Dredd” starring Sylvester Stallone ever tried to be.
“Dredd 3D” takes place in a distant future where our world has long since become an irradiated waste land, and off the eastern coast lies the vast metropolis known as Mega City One; a violent place where criminals rule the streets. The only kind of order that exists is an urban police force known as the “Judges” who possess the powers of judge, jury, and executioner. That description has me thinking of Christopher Lloyd’s unforgettable line in “Back To The Future Part II:”
“The justice system works swiftly in the future now that they’ve abolished all lawyers.”
Dredd ends up being called upon to rid Mega City One of its latest scourge, a drug called “Slo-Mo” which has its users experiencing reality at a fraction of its normal speed. Joining him in this pursuit of justice is Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), a rookie judge gifted with psychic abilities. The chief villain of the movie is Ma-Ma (Lena Heady), a prostitute-turned-drug lord who wages war against the Judges when they invade her empire.
A new TV spot entitled “Legendary” does an excellent job of showcasing the movie’s stunning slow-motion photography sequences that were filmed in 3D. Watching it makes clear how seriously intent the filmmakers were in returning Judge Dredd back to the dark, visceral incarnation that was him in his comic book origins. Also, casting Karl Urban in the lead role looks to be a masterstroke as he has given unforgettable performances in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “The Bourne Supremacy,” and as Dr. McCoy in J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek.” Another thing this incarnation looks to get right is something the Stallone movie didn’t; this Judge Dredd does not take his helmet off!
“Dredd 3D” was already screened at this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego, and it received a very positive reception. Empire Online has described it as a “solid, excellent adaptation,” and Indiewire said that “as Dredd, Urban either has a better character to play than Stallone did, or simply has a better grasp on what makes him tick, but the actor continues to distinguish himself as a versatile performer who turns mimicry into emotional meaning.”
Just when you think you have seen all the best action and sci-fi movies 2012 has to offer, “Dredd 3D” looks to prove that there’s one more worth checking out before the year’s end.
Chris Hewitt, “Dredd Kicks Off Comic-Con,” Empire Online, July 12, 2012.
Todd Gilchrist, “Comic-Con ’12 Review: ‘Dredd’ A Visually Strong, Engaging But Ultimately Empty Cinematic Experience,” Indiewire.com, July 12, 2012.