Director and writer: Peter Travis and Alex Garland. Cast: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Wood Harris, Lena Headey and others. Studio: DNA films. Release date: 2012
Dredd is the latest big-screen adaption of the long-standing comic strip and comic book Judge Dredd. The previous film released in 1995 is a baby-soft interpretation in comparison to 2012’s cult movie, which features Karl Urban as the titular character: Judge Dredd, Olivia Thirlby as Judge Anderson, Lena Headey as villiain Ma-Ma and Wood Harris as Kay, Ma-Ma’s right hand man.
One of the most impressive qualities of Dredd is Mega-City One. It brings Dredd’s world into reality; the graffiti, the demographic makeup and behaviour of the city’s inhabitants as well as the judges and unsettling conditions that people in Mega-City One live in feel real. The violence of Dredd adds to this reality, and the effects make it seem less like gore and more like art in slow motion thanks to the drug that keeps Mama’s purse fat: Slow-Mo.
Karl Urban is perfect as Dredd. His stature, dry voice and permanently down-curled lips – which at some points in the film has to be laughed at – is as close to a real life Judge Dredd that viewers will probably ever see. Dredd’s unbreakable commitment to his duty gives the character an entertaining predictability and makes every other character in the film appear small, if not smaller, in comparison to his black-and-white moral code. Each actor in the film has the chance to show their stuff: Lena Headey is a twisted villain, her henchman are cold and illustrate why the judges have the powers they do whilst the appearance of other judges are an excellent addition.
Dredd is everything like the source material: action packed and violent in a dystopian world where anything goes. It’s easy to believe in the lives of the people in Mega-City One and how existence can be so easily expendable in a land of horrific violence. This helps make Dredd exceptional, and there are several occasions in Dredd where the viewer is shown why the judge is as famous (or infamous) as he is. Such as the few times he is cornered and low on ammunition but manages to fight his way out – not without injury – due to his stone-cold faith in himself, his abilities and the law.
For how good the film is, it’s a shame that marketing for it was poor. Despite it doing well on DVD and Blu-ray no sequel has been confirmed, but a petition has been going for a few years that has, thankfully, received a lot of support. Hopefully fans can keep their hopes up for a sequel to an excellent film that brings Judge Dredd and his world to life.
- Reasons to watch: to see Dredd and his dystopian reality brought to life with slow motion and raw grit.
- Where to get: physical and online retailers.
- Favourite quote: ‘Ma-Ma is not the law. I am the law.’