By: Corey Lack
With the release of Cyberpunk 2077 approaching, I decided to rewatch the excellent movie Dredd starring Karl Urban. Anyone familiar with the comic series would know this, but for those not familiar should know that it easily earns its R rating with language and graphic violence. Now, for those not in the know, this is neither a sequel nor a remake of the movie Judge Dredd starring Sylvester Stallone. Both movies may be based on the same comic series, but they are both very different.
The first thing to note about the movie is that it does not make the same choice that the previous one made regarding the title character himself and that is having Dredd keep his helmet on through the entire movie. This choice may seem small, but many of the fans of the comics had a serious reaction when Stallone’s version did not do the same. This is due to the fact that the original comic character is never seen without his mask.
As for the story, it’s a pretty simple one where Dredd is assigned to take the rookie Cassandra Anderson on a pass-fail test to see how she acts on the job. While on the job, the two find themselves caught in a cat-and-mouse game with a vicious street gang that traps them in a skyscraper that is so large it’s a city in and of itself. That said, this movie doesn’t need a complicated plot as it works well where the base plot is bad guys are trying to stop the good guys and good guys stop bad guys. Having a more complicated plot beyond that and developing more than the three main characters (Dredd, Anderson, and the main villain) would detract from the rest rather than add to it.
Throughout the movie, despite being heavily focused on the violence, there is some very well-done camera work. For instance, the perspectives of the camera showing the scene in a new way, like one point the viewers see Dredd through the eyes of some thugs right before he shoots them. The most interesting scenes, camera-wise however, are definitely when characters use the fictional drug called slo-mo. When it happens, there is a sort of sparkling, almost psychedelic change in the appearance of the scene. Falling water droplets sparkle like diamonds, force delivered to soft surfaces cause ripples, and even the music playing the background slows to a crawl. It’d be almost beautiful if it wasn’t usually tied to acts of great violence.
The best part of the movie, however, is definitely Karl Urban’s character. Dredd, even when faced with overwhelming odds, never gets overemotional and constantly speaks in this gruff, growling tone. Nothing he runs into through the course of the movie, be it Anderson’s psychic abilities, vicious gang members, or corrupt judges, seems to faze him. Even by the end of the movie, he acts as though it was just another day on the job.
All-in-all, Dredd is a great movie for those that are fans of heavy action, dystopian stories, and especially the Judge Dredd comics. In fact, those that give the movie a try will likely enjoy it, but the problem is that a lot of the references will go over the heads of non-fans and those that aren’t a fan of heavy action will not be drawn in. Even those that are might be off-put by the Judge Dredd parts. It’s a shame to say, but this great movie likely won’t get much of a following simply because of these and will likely never get a sequel.