Title: Dredd 3D
Director: Pete Travis
Watching the gritty, and times, artistic, 95 minutes of Dredd 3D will lead one to recalling a bunch of likenesses from cinema’s action past.
Karl Urban dons the British comic-book based helmet and persona that Sylvester Stallone once did back in 1995. Urban’s take on being the hard-nosed lawful judge – highly trained police offers that have the power to sentence criminals – in the rundown future is a mating between Snake Plissken (Escape from New York flicks) and Robocop. The helmet never comes off (all you see is mouth and chin) and his body armor is juggernaut-like. And his decision-making in compromised situations is always sound.
So when he, and a rookie judge (Olivia Thirlby) are called on to investigate a homicide in one of the many poor high-rise mega structures – where most citizens scrape by these days – the two stumble upon a major drug operation run by one of the fierce gangs in the sector. Led by Ma-Ma (Lena Heady), the cold-hearted femme overlord shuts down the two-hundred story complex and sends her small army to kill the tactically skilled judges.
That’s pretty much it my friends: a mindless shoot-em up action piece with lots of blood.
Getting back to the drug operation, the latest craze on the streets that Ma-Ma is pushing is a product called SLO-MO. It is put into the body using an inhaler, and the effect is that time is slowed-down (hence, the “creative” name). The reason the opening sentence included the word; “artistic” is due to the fact that when the audience sees a handful of thugs using the drug, the entire screen-shot goes into ultra-slow-motion. While it (use of the drug) doesn’t happen a lot, the filmmakers were kind of creative in showing the users’ perspective when say Judge Dredd busted into a room spraying bullets on an assortment of bad guys. During these sequences, the flick could remind one of 2008’s Max Payne. Personally, it was cool to see this technique used once, but other than that, it just became tedious despite its briefness.
Another annoying technical aspect was the damn blurry 3D! Suggestion: Save some cash and see the standard 2D version (buy me a beer with the saved funds in thanks for the helpful hint). One can see why the filmmakers chose 3D as they tried to capture the scope of the hollowed out building the entire flick takes place in. But this ends up being useless; for the majority of the action takes place in tight quarters (hallways and apartments) with people ducking around corners and such. Naturally, the 3D, in conjunction the aforementioned slow-motion moments, backs up the quaint artsy nature of this; yet again, it ends up being ancillary, and hello, still blurry to all hell. And some of this visual madness has to do with the ever-changing coloring and lighting in almost every scene.
With that being said, Karl Urban plays Dredd pretty straight-forward and maintains character continuity the entire way through; even though there were plenty of Terminator-esque opportunities within the script (i.e. Deadly robot Arnold Schwarzenegger selling out to say a comedic line).
Overall, Dredd 3D doesn’t have much to offer except a good old-fashioned one man army wiping out inept losers with high-powered artillery. The script isn’t that sharp, for the character’s actions (especially the slew of antagonists) just make no sense whatsoever. Still, its unplugged approach (scaled back budget) is an improvement from the 1995 creation. And way the hell better than this year’s genre mate, Lockout.