The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Dredd | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Dredd

Directed by: Pete Travis
Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Domhnall Gleeson

Second screen adaptation of the British comic strip.
The nineties Stallone vehicle isn't quite the turkey it's reputation suggests but it certainly isn't a good Judge Dredd adaptation. Neither is this latest darker version. It makes the same fundamental mistake of the earlier film, attempting to make Dredd the hero of the piece. In the comics, Dredd is the villain, a Gestapo officer enforcing the fascist laws of a police state. The main character is not the Judge but the city of Mega-City One and the stories revolve around the lives of it's repressed underclass. In this movie he has more in common with Robocop, complete with female sidekick.
If you saw "The Raid: Redemption" you've already seen a far more impressive version of this tale. The plots are identical but where the Indonesian film had some of the best choreography between man and camera you'll see outside of a fifties musical, this has dull, lazy and uninventively filmed shootouts. The movie even features a drug called "Slo-Mo" which gives Travis an excuse for shooting his action scenes in a tedious manner. You could shave a good five minutes off the running time by excising this pretentious nonsense.
This time the helmet stays on but Urban isn't a strong enough actor to pull off a performance with just his chin on view. His voice is far too high for what is meant to be such an imposing figure and it doesn't help that the script does nothing to provide insight into the character. All we get is a guy in a helmet and a more politically correct version of the Nazi influenced uniform of the comic strip. Ironically there's another Judge in one scene who seems much closer to the character than Urban. Thirlby is way out of depth as Judge Anderson, a psychic whose powers seemingly only kick in when it's convenient for the script. Bizarrely for a psychic, she's constantly surprised by other characters creeping up on her. The lines written for her are terrible and her monotone delivery certainly doesn't help.
Lena Headey does her best in no more than a rent-a-villain role. The comic is full of colorful foes like Judge Death and Chopper (whose name we see scrawled on a wall here) so why they neglected to use one is puzzling. Imagine Batman without The Joker.The problem with Judge Dredd is that such a left-wing comic strip is never going to translate well to Hollywood. I could only see it working as a mid-budget British production. Maybe third time lucky?

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