Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 24th October 2012
Releasing in cinemas across Hong Kong and Australia from October 18th
Few remakes stand up well with its predecessor, but the latest “Dredd” goes one better by being bloodier, more violent, more shocking and more relevant.
With the recent high profile remake failure of “Total Recall”, the expectations for Stallone’s “Judge Dredd” remake did not come with much expectation. However, “Dredd”, the $45 million British production, fits the bill; stand up in its own right by being grittier, bloodier and suitably engaging throughout. Karl Urban continues his “Doom” action form is almost Stallone-like as the title character and the film is enhanced by some exquisite bloody effects. The slashing of throats, arms and legs combines well with the skinned bodies and death defining bullet shots, all helps to make “Dredd” a true action blockbuster for all. Screenwriter Alex Garland who previous wrote the heavy and complicated “Never Let Me Go”, goes simpler this time around and let the film focus on what it does best – action.
Relatively newcomer Karl Urban (“Doom”) dons the helmet for the entire movie. Acting behind a helmet or mask that covers your eyes is never easy, think Tom Hardy as Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises”. However, Urban oozes in physical presences and his coarse voice combines well with his ironic smile making him a perfect action hero to follow. There are some scenes where Urban seems to be mimicking Stallone’s stoic style, but as a whole, it is exactly what you call a highly efficient performance. Another newcomer comes in the form of Olivia Thirlby (“Nobody Walks”) who reminds us of a young Milla Jovovich. There is something about the young heroine that makes her edgy, femme fatal and yet there is a sense of vulnerability underneath her. Not unlike Milla, Thirlby is tough and being the one of the two judges without a helmet, she carries the film particularly well, especially the numerous reaction after each brutal and totally gore-like killings. As villain, Lean Headey (“300”) is absolutely menacing and provides the film with the most complicated and flawed character to boot. It is a shame that not more of her past is being shown, as there are layers beneath her eyes which buries those unforgettable whoring years that made her essentially cold-blooded and driven.
Director Peter Travis (“Vantage Point”) uses shock, blood and violence to captivate the audience attention from start to finish. This is done particularly well to the maximum effect, through some startling and creative death designs and plenty of well-timed slow-mo effects. Slow motion can easily be overused and becomes all the most annoying, but rather in this film, it signals the terrible effects of drugs that prolong the agony in the process of falling to death. The scene near the end is suitably ironic as Headey met her fate.
All in all, “Dredd” is exactly what it wants to be, to be brutally violent, filled with non-stop bullet counts and some truly heart-stopping ways of blowing off a head/body part or everything else you can imagine. The film falls short of explaining more about the differences between making a differences and the reality of the situation and the critical dilemma that people like Judge Dredd faces. There is really not much wrong with “Dredd”, although the manner, in which Dredd is saved near the end, seems rather illogical and unbelievable. Still, “Dredd” as a whole is good entertainment and if you are thirsting for unlimited blood, condemning violence and pure gore and straight on brutality, then this film does exactly that. (Neo 2012)
I rated it 8/10