The one major problem with the ‘Dredd’ film is the lack of humour. This is a mistake many amateur artists make when they include some Mega-City material using him in their sample portfolio, they only see the character and forget the environment he lives in. Judge Dredd puts an end to the chaos and mayhem but he is essentially the straight man to the crime and chaos around him. The situation displays the black humour.
Why do I make this point? Mostly because the makers of this film haven’t fully understand the comicstrip for a similar reason. I suspect, for the most part, it is because they need to use the star of the strip only by doing so, they have neglected this key element. Judge Dredd has always been described as being an extreme Dirty Harry Callahan and then forget the cop’s dry black humour. The same could also be said for Mega-City One. It looks far too clean and under-populated. Had they shown the city with a ‘Blade Runner’ noir look, it would have looked less like somewhere you wouldn’t mind living at all from the outside and you could probably avoid the criminal activity and certainly the deadly Judges.
Judge Dredd (actor Karl Urban) is assigned a potential apprentice Judge, Cassandra Anderson, for the final test on the streets. She’s hardly a star pupil but she is a mind reader making her both a mutant and unique. When they investigate a triple murder at Peach Trees mega-block, drug baron and manufacturer of the slow-go drug, Madeline Madrigal aka Ma-Ma (actress Lena Headey) and her gang go on the offensive when the two Judges pick up one of the murderers and she doesn’t want them to get away. Locking down the building, they are on their own against all the criminal elements therein. The odds don’t look good for the criminals.
It is mega-violence all the way, citizen, and nary a bit of sustained black humour. Dredd is also too soft. He doesn’t even smash the door down when denied access to the medical centre as a possible place to wait for back-up. When Dredd is wounded, he applies a medical dressing and I’m surprised he only patches up one side of the wound because he must surely bleed from the other side. It also means a missed opportunity to go knocking at the medical centre door again. Likewise, having him radioing headquarters all the time makes him too much of a beat cop than a judge having real power and authority. The comicbook version wouldn’t feel a need to wait for a back-up. He is THE law.
Karl Urban does actually make a good Dredd and it’s hard to believe it’s the same actor who played a certain doctor in a certain space travel reboot a couple years back. The costumes are more artist Carlos Ezuerra’s period with toned-down shoulder pieces than that of Brian Bolland’s which was used in the Stallone ‘Judge Dredd’ film. Olivia Thirlby isn’t quite the Anderson you know from the comics as she’s a little smaller but from the extras, I can see why she was chosen. Lena Headey as Ma-Ma is certainly someone you wouldn’t want to tangle with.
I dunno about over TV sets but my now older plasms LG seems to do 3D quite happily. You’ll have to test the limits of your own TV screen. The choice of 3D moments is hard to say, just don’t plan on jumping out of any mega-city block stories any time soon.
There is a multitude of extras exploring the making of the film and several interviews. If I was going to cursed earth on the latter, I do wish the interviews were done without a caption for the interviewer and stop it sounding so disjointed in places.
Will there be a second ‘Dredd’ film? That’s debatable. I do think they’ll probably have learnt a lot of lessons from this one. It certainly needs more than one crime in ninety minutes. If they are only solving six per cent of the crime that is taking place, then the judges certainly need to recruit more personal to cope.
(region 2 DVD: pub: Entertainment In Video EDV8713. 1 DVD 92 minutes with extras. Price: about £ 5.00 (UK) if you know where to look)
cast: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey and Wood Harris
check out website: www.entertainmentfilms.co.uk/