Dredd 3D Movie Review ** Spoilers!

When I heard a new Judge Dredd movie was coming out, I was ecstatic. When I heard it was going to be shown primarily in 3D, my elation fell. I am not a fan of 3D, it just makes the screen look dark and cluttered. However, Dredd-3D was shot in 3D, which makes a huge difference in quality when compared to post production 3D.

When most people hear Judge Dredd they will either respond with a confused look, or recall the Sylvester Stallone camp fest Judge Dredd from 1995 also featuring Rob Schneider. This earlier film is by most accounts a bad movie. However it enjoys a status of so bad, it is amazing. Sly Stallone shouting “I AM… THE LAW!”  (check out a clip here) or even “I knew you’d say that” is satisfying on many levels.

The new film, starring Karl Urban as Dredd and 300’s Lena Headey as the antagonist Ma-Ma, takes a much grittier, darker tone in line with comic book movies of the day (such as The Dark Knight and The Watchmen). This was probably a good move to distance itself as much as possible from the earlier Stallone film.

For those unfamiliar, Dredd takes place in a war ravaged America. Population and cities have been decimated and all that remain are Mega-Cities. The main one, stretching from Boston to Charlotte is known as Mega-City-One.  This city is separated by a ravaged, cursed landscape from the rest of the war torn world.  These cities are rife with crime and the only ones who can try to keep order are the Judges. These Judges are cops, judge and jury, making their decisions on the spot. Dredd is an envisioned world of war, crime, and loss of civil rights, and the film does a good job of  making that universe seem real and believable.

Now, for the movie review: Sleeper hit of the year. This Dredd movie was everything that a comic book action movie should be. The plot consists of Dredd training a new psychic recruit, and by chance, responds to a call in a giant multi-hundred story state housing project-like complex. This complex is run by a drug kingpin, or in this case Queen, known only as Ma-Ma. She is responsible for the manufacture and proliferation of a drug known as “slomo.”  This drug makes the users brain process time super… you guessed it, slowly. The camera effects and slow motion during these scenes is perfect, and at times brutally breathtaking. It seems to serve a purpose here as opposed to just looking bad-ass ala Zack Snyder. Ma-Ma has a pension for brutality and the Judges notice this quickly. The action sets off in a pretty simple affair. Ma-Ma wants the Judges dead. The Judges must fight their way to the top, most floors encountering all sorts of crazy gun battles along the way. There is a cool scene with the rookie psychic when she has an interesting mind battle with a deranged member of Ma-Ma’s upper echelon.  One twist in this simple enough plot is the introduction of corrupt Judges who Ma-Ma pays off to take care of the Judges. These four “dirty cops” try to take out Dredd and the psychic as our heroes’ ammunition gets low. Though sheer bad-assary and a bit of psychic-ness, the four are taken out. The final boss fight in this video game movie plot also has a bit of a twist and ends perhaps a bit anti-climatically, in a pretty neat scene that I won’t spoil.

Overall, Dredd is a fantastic action movie. The plot isn’t too complicated, therefore little plot holes can be made. The action was bad ass without being overwhelming. The 3D looked good as there was never too much on the screen to mess with your head. The acting was good and the look perfect. I am really glad they didn’t hit us with a ton of origin material, as sometimes that can be a crutch in comic book movies. (Did we really need another Spiderman movie explaining how he became Spiderman?)

Go check out this flick, it would be a good one to make a series of, if this film was any indication. Action fans and Judge Dredd fans I imagine will be very pleased to see it. It’s even worth shelling out a few extra bucks for the 3D.

Check out my radio show, The Pumpkin Patch every Wednesday at 11am PST on KSSU.com, Sacramento States Student Run Radio.

Jack O’Lantern



  1. i must be the only one who actually like the old version with stallone haha

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