In the end, it was a stray movie trailer that brought the movie to my attention. I’m naturally predisposed to like this sort of thing as I was a fan (though not a hardcore fan) of the excellent Judge Dredd / 2000AD comics. However, my expectations weren’t that high after the unfortunate Sylvester Stallone treatment that came out a few years ago. On reflection, it was probably the haunting music in the trailer (In For The Kill by La Roux) that made me think of Blade Runner and compelled me to go out and get the DVD.
And I’m so very glad I did, because Dredd is a fantastic film for all sorts of reasons.
Firstly (mild spoiler alert) it feels as though it was made by someone who had never heard of focus groups. Defying all convention, principal character Judge Dredd doesn’t go on some trite emotional journey. The young rookie Judge Anderson doesn’t teach the older lawman new tricks or force him to confront his inner demons. And there’s no contrived love-interest.
Another welcome omission is the almost mandatory how he became
section. Sure, there will be a lot of
people who come to this movie without prior knowledge of the characters or the
universe it’s set in, but Dredd works just fine without it. So many comic-book
adaptations spend so long spoon-feeding us the protagonist’s back-story, that
there’s little time for a decent story.
This does have a story, and it feels like a real, comic-book story – straight into the action, and staying with the action all the way through to the hugely satisfying end.
I loved the costumes and the production design. Often, the best science fiction has that gritty, lived-in quality – a future that might have emerged from the decay of our own present, rather than something designed by Apple. Dredd has a wonderful look – maybe the best since Blade Runner – but it isn’t all dark and gloomy. The idea of featuring a narcotic called Slo-Mo was inspired. With stunning photography and saturated, sparkling shots, the drugged-up sequences are moments of glittering beauty that starkly contrast the rest of the film.
Dredd is brilliant. It’s as good as the previous version was bad. And Karl Urban’s performance in the title role isn’t just good – it’s assured enough for him to keep his helmet on for the whole film! Grab the DVD now.