Posted January 7, 2013 by Alex Moss Editor in DVD/Blu-ray
 
 

Dredd DVD


Joseph Dredd, better known as Judge Dredd is one comic book character that has been demanding a film since the comic book craze kicked off.

Joseph Dredd, better known as Judge Dredd is one
comic book character that has been demanding a film since the comic book craze
kicked off.
Created back
in 1977, by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra, Judge Dredd has become
one of comics’ most beloved characters.
He might not fit into the tidy heroes of Super and Bat variety but Dredd
is a man on a mission, a mission to clean up the streets in the broken future
of Mega City One. For many-a Dredd
fan, on the page is where this lawgiver should have stayed after the monstrosity
of seeing Sylvester Stallone remove
the iconic helmet and show Dredd’s face (something which has never happened in
the character’s comic book history).
But in the hands of British pair director Pete Travis and writer Alex
Garland
, this Dredd is nothing shy of action sci-fi brilliance. And he keeps his helmet on.

On the streets of
Mega City One, one man strikes fear into the gangs and crime lords that
reign. That man is Dredd (Karl Urban); a Judge who is able to act
as judge, jury and executioner to the criminals who are unfortunate enough to
cross him. On the trail of a new
drug known as Slo-Mo (which when taken makes the brain feel time is moving at
one percent of its normal rate), Dredd finds himself, with trainee, mutant
psychic Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby),
entering the 200 story mega-block of Peach Trees. But when gang leader Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) realises the threat the two judges pose to her
operation, she puts the building on lock-down and will stop at nothing to kill
Dredd.

Travis and
Garland forgo the PG-13 drivel of Stallone’s Judge Dredd, avoiding any comedic sidekicks
and instead eschewing for an ultra-violent aesthetic. Dredd is a hark back to the over-the-top brilliance of Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall or Robocop. Indeed Robocop was arguably the film
that came closest to capturing Dredd on film, until now.

From the moment
he enters, popping a perp’s head off with a well-placed bullet, Dredd is a
wonderfully gruff and hostile character.
He’s a futuristic Dirty Harry, a man who when he takes aim you better
run, duck and hide.

Travis handles
the action with blood-splattered aplomb.
It’s visceral, rapid-fire and often brutal to crowd-cheering, rather
than grimacing, levels. The use of
the drug Slo-Mo lends a staggering level of beauty to the film and yet,
crucially, it never feels over-used.
Instead when someone takes a suck on the old Slo-Mo inhaler it is a
treasured moment of tranquil destruction that graces the screen.

The plot is
almost an identikit to last year’s action brilliance that was The Raid; super-cop finds himself
trapped in an enemy stronghold and must fight his way out. The difference here is Dredd allows for
more character development thanks to the addition of Anderson. At first she’s all wet-behind-the-ears,
her only use is to allow Dredd an insight into the thoughts of the criminals
they’re fighting. But as she witnesses
Dredd do his ruthlessly brilliant thing so she grows in confidence and begins
to realise that maybe being a Judge isn’t what she thought it was. Thirlby never allows herself to become
a damsel in peril but rather a beating heart to Dredd’s stone cold cool.

Lena Headey,
almost unrecognisable from her Game Of
Thrones
Aryan-race, incestuous matriarch, is on stunning form. Scarred and yellow-teethed, her Ma-Ma
is one of the most wonderfully sinister villains to grace the screen in some
time. Her vile ways are almost as
calculated as Dredd’s ruthless efficiency and witnessing her mow down hundreds
of innocent Peach Tree residents, just to get a shot at Dredd, is
breathtaking. Beneath the helmet,
acting only with his chin and mouth, Karl Urban is a solid piece of casting for
Dredd. His dry, almost monosyllabic, stoic ways perfectly capture the robotic
nature of the character. In his
more tender moments, and they are rare, you begin to sense an affection for
Anderson but this being Dredd he never shows it.

A true comic-book
adaption in the best way possible; Dredd paints the screen in blood, grit and
bullets. Court adjourned.


Alex Moss Editor

 
Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com