Posted June 21, 2012 by Alex Moss Editor in Films


What is it with atmospheric precipitation

What is it
with atmospheric precipitation and science fiction?
Ever since Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner,
it always seems to be pissing it down in the neon-lit, mean streets of the

Thank God then for Dredd
! Finally someone has
delivered a grim, gritty, grungy vision of a futuristic dystopia where it isn’t
raining! Ravaged by war, America has become a radioactive desert
wasteland, the Cursed Earth.
Covering the Eastern Seaboard, stretching South from the ruins of what
was Boston to Washington D.C., lies Mega City One – a vast, violent, teeming
metropolis that’s home to 800 million people.

Policing this brave new world is the job of the Judges –
street cops with the powers of judge, jury and, if need be, instant executioner
– and the most feared lawman in the city is the intractable Judge Dredd (Karl Urban). Tasked with evaluating underachieving rookie Judge Anderson
(Olivia Thirlby), a mutant with a
powerful psychic ability (reading minds makes solving crimes so much easier),
their first job takes them to the 200-storey Peach Trees block to investigate a
triple murder, bringing them into conflict with ruthless crime lord (or should
that be lady?) Ma-Ma (Lena Heady).

Ma-Ma rules this vertical slum as if it’s her own personal
kingdom and is the city’s major supplier of Slo-Mo, a drug that slows the
user’s perceptions of time (allowing for some stunningly beautiful, 3D
bullet-time sequences). When Dredd
and Anderson arrest Kay (Wood Harris),
one of her right-hand men, for his part in the murders, Ma-Ma seals the
building off from the outside world and orders the death of the Judges over the
building’s PA, offering a bounty on their heads. Trapped, with no way out, Dredd and Anderson must battle Ma-Ma’s
personal army to end her reign of terror.

From its breathless opening to its stunning, beautiful and
nasty climax Dredd 3D is a gritty,
sombre piece of balls-to-the-wall popcorn mayhem. Made by a team who obviously know and love the original
comic, it should satisfy fans and filmgoers alike. It’s a comic book movie that, for once, is actually made for
adults and more than lays to rest the dreaded spectre of 1995’s Stallone-starring Judge Dredd. There’s no love interest, no backstory, no
comedy sidekick. A fan of the
character since childhood, writer Alex
’s tight, economical, intelligent script delivers the movie the fans
were crying out for, capturing the essence of Dredd and his world. It’s a piece of epic world building
which, like the comic it’s based on, owes a huge debt to JG Ballard’s very British dystopian fantasies (Crash, Concrete Island and particularly High Rise).

Karl Urban is great as Dredd (practically carved from
granite) and, his face masked by Dredd’s helmet, does some of the best
chin-acting you’ll ever see, giving Kirk
and Matt Smith a run for
their money. His Dredd is gruff,
humourless, a stoic, almost mythic, avatar of blind justice. As the vicious hooker-turned-gang boss Ma-Ma,
Lena Heady is truly terrifying even before you find out how she killed her pimp
and took over his empire (hint: she bit it off) and Olivia Thirlby is just the
right mix of softness and steel as Anderson, providing the heart to the movie’s
muscle. The film is really her
story, her baptism of fire turning her from a callow, inexperienced rookie into
a tough, battle-hardened warrior.

The 3D is stunning, immersive and actually worth the sore
head that always comes with 3D movies while the Slo-Mo scenes attain a beauty
that transcends the carnage. The
action is breathless and unapologetically violent, director Pete Travis serving up, in almost
fetishistic detail, splattered heads and blown off limbs. Ma-Ma has some rivals skinned as a
warning not to steal from her. Dredd
crushes a bad guy’s throat. Buckets
of blood and brains are splashed up the Peach Trees walls. Urban gets to growl Dredd’s most famous
line: “I am the Law!” What more do you need
to know? Dredd 3D is a bruising 95 minutes of visceral pleasure.

A refreshingly mean, moody slice of ultra-violent fun with
some brutal, breathtakingly beautiful carnage, Dredd 3D is jaw-droppingly thrilling, satisfying, Saturday night

And for all you geeky fan-boys out there, here’s a spoiler
for you: Dredd never takes off his helmet. You can rest easy.

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: