Okay so i just finished watching the new 'Dredd' after waiting for the hype to die down. Funny right? You could say, 'what hype?' since it LOST 100 million at the box office (producer talk for 'I didn't get instantly rich beyond my wildest dreams'). Not that that means anything to me. If a film bombs at the cinema, it usually means it has more substance than spectacle and I'm sure this is going to be a classic even if it goes without a sequel or trilogy.
I have to say though... this film is a perfect blend of spectacle, substance and characterisation. It's one of the best examples of cyberpunk I've seen in twenty years or more (reminded me a bit of the original Robocop at times along with Richard Stanley's cult classic Hardware, minus the batshit crazy robots). It wasn't done cheaply but it wasn't overdone either. Where the hell did they go wrong?
Well I don't think they did. I think the majority audience went wrong, but then half the crap people will pay for at the cinema I wouldn't go to see!
Dredd has done relatively what Christopher Nolan did and created the fictional city of Megacity One to look like an alternate version of the modern day and made the changes where necessary. It's a dystopian future that kind of reminds you of the dangerous streets of Predator 2, only it does damn well to make the 2000AD Megacity fit into reality. Again, I'll quote Robocop for how titanic the architecture is and that is one of the biggest treats in watching Dredd.
Without spoiling the plot, we're introduced to Judge Dredd at the very beginning and Karl Urban does the man justice from beginning to end without dropping character or that damn snarl that we know Dredd so well for.
After apprehending violent criminals, Dredd is brought into the halls of justice to take rookie Cassandra Anderson, a psychic, out on the beat to see if she can pass the test. She has failed so far by 3% but her psychic abilities are so profound that it must obviously be a shame to waste them. And where do they go first thing? To the Peach Trees Tower, home of the most dangerous gang in the city; the Ma-Ma gang.
The building is locked down leaving Dredd and Anderson to mop up, but it will be nowhere near as easy as you might expect from a hard ass like Dredd. Dredd is exactly what he should be. A faceless futuristic lawman in classic Clint Eastwood mode; a man of few words who would rather speak through his actions. Like when he throws one of her henchmen off a balcony 76 stories up just to let her know he's still alive and kicking and doesn't give a f%$&!!!
Olivia Thirlby is stunning and yet she is also a brilliant actress. She does a lot of the talking when there needs to be dialogue yet she can also speak very clearly without having to use her voice.
Lena Headey as Ma-Ma... scabby... skanky... sweaty... nasty... looks like Willem Dafoe. All you could ever want from a 2000AD villain...
What I love about this film though is that it has no intention of glorifying the violence that Dredd employs to clear up the block. The filmmakers seemed to understand that he isn't the type to glorify what he does and this is proved by how vicious he is in comparison to the Ma-Ma Gang and yet the violence they employ is quite glorified and savage and that was meant to be conveyed. It's like a conflict of ethics between both oppositions and i loved that.
For those of you who said they didn't like it because it was too much like 'The Raid', I don't agree. The only similarity is that they're both based in a tower block. The Raid wasn't anything like Die Hard though, was it?!! The aesthetics, the atmosphere, the art direction, the style and the action make this something special and especially the Slo Mo scenes and the surreal but not obscure psychic scenes really help bring Dredd above standard and into the outstanding...
Watch it and scream SEQUEL. This film is so much fun!