Judge Dredd is a classic comic book character, created in the late 1970s and debuting in the second issue of 200AD, a legendary comic anthology.
Since then, this awesome, rough-around-the-edges law enforcer has captivated the minds of both audiences and comic-lovers worldwide.
While he was mostly known only to comic book fans for the longest time, in 1995 that all changed with a big screen adaptation titled Judge Dredd.
The portrayal of the eponymous character by Sylvester Stallone did wonders for the character, and the movie became a cult classic.
Since then we haven’t had much media adapted from this 1970s comic book character, and fans were wondering if Judge Dredd would return to the big screen. It was silent for a while until the 2012 adaptation of the comic titled ‘Dredd.’
Whether you’re a new audience member or an old fan, you’re probably wondering how well this adaptation holds up. Is Dredd a more authentic adaptation of the character than the 1995 version, or does it fail to live up to previous incarnations?
In this review, we’re going to take a quick look at this movie to see how it stacks up.
Synopsis And Screenplay
Dredd (2012) can be defined as a science fiction movie. It was directed by Pete Travis and based on the 2000AD comic strip.
It attempts to distance itself from the previous Sylvester Stallone adaptation, and introduce the character and world to a new generation of fans.
To give an overview of the plot, this movie takes place in the dystopian metropolis of Mega City One; a lawless place primarily run by criminals.
Without consistent laws, the police force act as both judges and keepers of the peace. It is here that we meet Dredd, known to all as one of the most ruthless judges around.
The audience is taken on a journey through the violent streets as Dredd teams up with Cassandra, a new judge on the force who has latent psychic powers.
After a series of terrible crimes, the two of them are sent to one of the most dangerous regions of the city controlled by the vicious Ma-Ma who is hell-bent on retaining control of her drug empire.
The screenplay is strong and very heavy on the worldbuilding of this new world, but expect a slightly grittier and more complex version of the source material than what you may have seen in the 1995 movie.
The standout performance in this movie is certainly Lena Headly as the villain Ma-Ma, who plays the character as a mixture of machiavellian intensity and emotional complexity.
It’s great to see a female antagonist who is much more ruthless than any other you may have come across, and she acts as a great counterpoint to the more flat performances of the our protagonists.
A big sticking point here is whether or not you enjoy Karl Urban’s version of Judge Dredd.
He attempts to play the role as a lot more realistic than the Sylvester Stallone character, and one thing you won’t find is the helmet coming off as quickly as it did in the first movie.
This makes him much more true to the original character, but also a lot less relatable as a character.
The action scenes aren’t quite as good as you may have come to expect from other movies.
Expect a lot of intense battle scenes, impressive visuals, and a tonne of explosions, but it certainly lacks some of the more impressive choreography that other action movies of the same level.
A big problem is how it was made for 3D, with a lot of the shots and sequences being tailored to have this effect in mind. If you watch the movie in 2D, you’re losing a lot of the effect and it hinders the movie from standing the test of time.
Worldbuilding And Production
The movie has some impressive CGI effects that will likely hold up into the future, and the futuristic metropolis created by director Pete Travis here has great attention to detail.
One thing we can say for certain is that there has been a lot more care put into adapting the original source material.
To wrap up, Dredd (2012) is a better adaptation of the 1970s comic strip, and if you’re a die-hard fan then there’s a lot to love about it.
With some great performances, a tight screenplay that expands the characters a little, and some well-executed action scenes, you’ll be happy with what is here.
While it might not be able to stretch the story anywhere unexpected, and some of the action scenes suffer because of the reliance on 3D-compatible shots, it’s still a fun addition to the sci-fi genre that doesn’t overstay its welcome across its 95-minute runtime.
If you’re looking for a decent action movie with a world you can fall into, this is a good choice for you – just don’t expect anything profound like Bladerunner.
If you liked this article, you might enjoy our post on ‘Fantastic Four Movie Review‘.