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TIFF 2012 Review: Dredd 3D

In a world, where cinema seeks to promote the future as a series complex, regulated, and rapid interactions, one film says no, the future is simple. And in that world, one man takes care of all of the business of the law.

Neither of those two sentences really have anything to do with Dredd 3D, an adaptation of a British comic about a one-man judge, jury, and executioner of the future (he’s the good guy), but what the film successfully does is keep things simple. Set in a future dystopia where lawyers are done away with (that’s an oxymoron, right), Judges Dredd and company patrol the densely populated streets of various mega cities on cumbersome motorcycles killing criminals, more or less.

It’s that simple. And his character, along with the plot, are that simple too.

Karl Urban plays Dredd, though you’d never know it, and not just because he channels Christian Bale’s Batman voice. Dredd is forever masked, with just a husky voice, white teeth, and day-old stubble making him recognizable. While other judges wear the same outfit, which could get confusing, you should feel safe in knowing that his rookie partner with whom he takes to the day with, is conveniently helmetless. And is a ‘she.’

While the blonde-haired and dewy-eyed wannabe judge Anderson says that wearing a helmet interferes with her psychic abilities, one could argue that she is not wearing a helmet because, well, she has blond hair and is dewy-eyed.

Yes, she is fun to look at, and Dredd is fun to listen to, and the entire film itself, an orgy of gratuitous blood and violence, is silly fun throughout. The pair decide to stake out the ironically named Peach Tree apartment building, a vast one that houses 70,000 people and is littered with fifth, both of the inanimate and animate persuasion. Of course they come to little to close for comfort for the local drug lord, and soon become trapped in the building where they are quickly hunted by the bevy of thugs and criminals.

Lena Headey plays Mama, a disfigured, drug-addled sadist of a queen, bent on painfully killing Dredd and Anderson, and while she may not be the prettiest thing to look at, the effects of her drug slo-mo are pretty wickedly cool (visually, of course; we do not condone the use of the make-believe drug of the future, slo-mo).

For all the continued criticism of the use of 3D, Dredd takes it to the bloodiest and most beautiful limits, combining lush imagery with the effects of a slo-mo to deliver some mesmerizing imagery. Dredd also nicely defends criticism against the remake. Judge Dredd was released in 1995, stars Sylvester Stallone as the man with power, and typifies action films of the era. This film 17 years later shares only the simple world created by the comic book, and one very fun catch phrase. Otherwise, this is less a remake than a re-imagining, filled with blood, gore, and other unnecessary assaults on the senses. It’s a pretty ridiculous and absurd trip, but not a bad one to take once in a while, and certainly nothing to be ashamed of.

Anthony Marcusa

A pop-culture consumer, Anthony seeks out what is important in entertainment and mocks what is not. Inspired by history, Anthony writes with the hope that someone, somewhere, might be affected.