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Dredd 3D

September 23, 2012

Dredd 3D is incredibly violent, well acted and introduces us to a fantastic world. This film is a wonderful journey into a new world and Karl Urban has the perfect chin to lead us into the fray.

Many years in the future the world has been reduced to scorched earth. What remains has been forced into several super cities. Dredd inhabits Mega City One. A city that runs from Boston to Washington D.C. that holds 800 million people. Mega City One looks like any other city except for the 200 story towers that hold 75,000 people. These slums are run by various gangs and a new drug called Slo-Mo. The most powerful gang in a particular tower called Peachtree  is Mama’s gang. One day they kill three rival gang members and drop them 200 stories. Dredd and his rookie partner Anderson are called in to make the judgement. What follows is action at it’s best and most creative.

Lena Heady (Game of Thrones, 300) is the viscously monotone leader of the Peachtree tower gang and they produce Slo-Mo (slows the body down to 1% of normal speed). Mama is the perfect foil for Dredd because she is capable enough to take over a block tower but in over her head when she takes on Dredd. I love that she is not a supervillian. Just a woman who killed her way up the ranks and can only be stopped by someone who does the same. She is kind of like Batman’s nemisis The Scarecrow (Read my piece on him). She can challenge him but never defeat him.

Olivia Thirlby (The Darkest Hour) does a fantastic job as Dredd’s partner Anderson.  She  plays her rookie role with equal parts confidence and hesistance. She is never a hindrance and her her psychic ability is handled intelligently. By the end of the film you are rooting for the partnership of Dredd and Anderson.

Dredd is a simple film. However, a lot went into keeping it simple. The set design is perfectly grunge and the cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle (Slumdog Millionaire) captures the expense of the high rise and claustrophobia of the dimly lit halls.

What I love most about this film is this just another day for Dredd. He has been there and killed that before. The film avoids the origin story and goes straight for the gun fights. He uses his training and skills to outmaneuver, outsmart and outscowl every drug dealer around. He knows their aim is crap and his is better. There is never fear only determination to get the job done. I’d have to watch the movie again but it seems believable how he dispatches the bad guys.

The $40 million dollar film was shot in South Africa and reminded me more of District 9 type science fiction. It is serious with dark comedy. It will draw inevitbale comparisons to the fantastic Indonesian film The Raid. They are both urgent, bloody and action packed. The plot forces them to move in ways that are not forced. To live you always stay on the move. This is the film that the Punisher flicks wanted to be. Dredd doesn’t compromise the character like Sylvester Stallone’s Judge Dredd did. That film took a comic approach and was wonderfully lampooned on The How Did This Get Made podcast (listen to it here). Dredd was made with love of the source material and appreciation of the bombastic gore. If you ever are bored and in the mood for some fantasticly violent films watch The Raid, Dredd and the Norwegian film Headhunters. They juggle humor, character and explosions with maturity and zaniness.

Dredd is a wild ride. I hope this film makes enough money to justify a sequel because everyone involved created a world worth revisiting. A world without the Gotham monologues and the managerial skills of The Avengers. Dredd is a love letter to it’s fans. I appreciate that.

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