This week I was excited to go and see Dredd. As a teen Judge Dredd was one of my favorite comics. Sly Stallone made a sad attempt back in the 90’s to portray the cool, severe judge but failed miserably. I don’t recall Judge Dredd ever removing his helmet and allowing his face to be seen.
In this new rendition, which is NOT a remake or a sequel merely a British take on the comic, Karl Urban (LOTR and Chronicles of Riddick) dons the helmet. He carries it well with only the curl of a lip showing. What really helps him to pull off the role is his low, rough voice that betrays no emotion, even when doling out death sentences. Known throughout Megacity as the judge not to toy with, Dredd is assigned a fresh out of the academy rookie to assess in the field. Olivia Thirlby (Juno) turns up as rookie Anderson, a mutant with psychic abilities from the radiation that destroyed most of the world.
As they leave the Hall of Justice on assessment day Anderson chooses what would seem to be a simple triple homicide in Peach Trees, a 200 story slum block. While there they end up in a drug bust where they detain a high level supplier of the Ma-Ma gang. Headed up by Ma-Ma, an ex-hooker played by a too-soft Lena Headey, they are the single producer/supplier of an all new drug called Slo-Mo that is all the rage In Mega City 1. Upon learning of the capture of her Associate, Ma-Ma locks down the building and informs everyone inside that until the two judges are dead the building will remain under lock down.
What ensues is massive hour long shoot ’em up. Anderson uses her psychic ability, indicated by a goldish glow around her head, to learn and gather information that will help them in their pursuit of Ma-Ma who spends most of her time in her 200th story sanctum. At one point her computer guy is able to “trap” the judges so that she can kill them. However even the three gatling guns she uses to pulverize the entire floor and its inhabitants does not kill the judges. They proceed on their quest, guns blazing, until Anderson is taken captive. Dredd continues his pursuit and eventually catches up to Ma-ma on the 200th floor, where he is reunited with Anderson, who has been accidentally freed by a moron. After a final battle Dredd is able to overpower and outwit Ma-Ma, save the residents of Peach Trees and walk out ready to fight another day with Anderson by his side.
What I haven’t told you is that this movie is available in both digital and 3-d. Now, the digital version is a blast and will keep you on the edge of your seat. I did not see it in 3-d because I often become ill in 3-d movies. However, I think that other than a few elevator shafts I probably would have enjoyed the 3-d version. With all the gun fire the audience would have been “showered” in glass and debris as well as been engulfed by Anderson’s psychic aura and the exhaled Slo-mo from the criminals inhalers.