‘Dredd’ Movie Review – Not So Dreadful
Pete Travis’ Dredd blasts its way into theaters this weekend among a crowded lineup. While I can’t speak for the others personally (read our reviews of End of Watch, House at the End of the Street, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Backwards), Dredd is a great contender for the weekend. However, I think it’s definitely a male-centric movie. But, then again, looking at the original comics (titled 2000 AD) or the apparently unrelated Judge Dredd from 1995 and you can’t expect much different. To the this version’s credit, their female lead is a lot better.
With that being said, it’s still a movie that is about the blood and gore before the story.
Taking place in the dystopian future, the world is ruled by the super-powerful “judges” that are literally the judges, juries, and executioners. As the one organization for order and justice, these judges are the only thing between the awful society that exists and complete and utter chaos. Of these judges, Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is the supreme power.
Coupled with the rookie, Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), the two set out to investigate a triple homicide inside a 200-story drug- and crime-infested skyscraper. At the top lies a druglord named Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) who isn’t about to let two judges take down her empire. Little does she know just how ruthless Dredd is or how valuable Anderson’s brain is to the entire situation.
The rest of the plot basically turns into a science fiction version of The Raid: Redemption, as the building becomes locked-down and they must fight their way to safety. And much like The Raid, it’s an insane combination of action and violence.
However, there were key differences, including how Dredd put a lot more emphasis on trying to create a traditional storyline. The structure is pretty simple – introduction to characters, conflict, climax, and resolution – but it delves into a more straightforward rise-and-fall, something The Raid kind of ignores. Oddly, this somehow makes the conclusion of The Raid seem even more realistic, while it bloats Dredd just a bit.
I can’t believe I’m saying this because I’m usually a story-first, action-second type of moviegoer. Right away, though, I felt that Dredd wasn’t suited to be more substantial than an action flick. So, I think it comes down to the subtlety. When a theme or particular development is shoved in front of me right away, it takes away from any subtle realizations.
Going back a bit, I’d like to again commend most of the action. There were two over-the-top ridiculous scenes that didn’t work quite as well, but, for the most part, Dredd did a bloody good job of presenting the action. Set in the future, they use this as a justification for some of the technology (although I’m not sure how the psychosis plays into it). It’s worth noting, too, that I opted to see the regular 2-D version over the 3-D, so the jury is still out on that aspect.
All in all, Dredd was an action movie first, character story second. Certain aspects could be considered a letdown, including some of the plot holes, but it seemed to have the end in mind. The action was pretty good and the gore was crazy in ways very similar to this year’s The Raid: Redemption. If you’ve seen that movie, this is undoubtedly a massive compliment. In a week full of good movies, Dredd should be another wrench in your decision-making process!
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