This film proves that 3D can work and I never thought I would say that
I was a little hesitant to watch this film on DVD to be honest. Going into Dredd in the cinema, I was expecting a film that was better than the Stallone take and perhaps some campy fun but not much else.
To be short, it blew me away. Sure, it wasn’t the smartest film nor were there any real twists to the plot or unexpected directions it went, but that was to the films benefit. I actually enjoyed the 3D.
After the film finished I think I went a little mad. I sat until the intense electro industrial soundtrack finished blaring out of the cinema speakers. I ranted and raved about how good it was. I may have even called it this generations Starship Troopers. So how does the film hold up to rewatching? In 2D at that (as like hell I’m shelling out for a 3D telly)?
Pretty good actually, though without the 3D the film seems to lack something, though my thoughts on the film remain pretty much the same. Thanks to either the limited appeal of the character, or the way Lionsgate completely fluffed the marketing of the film theres unlikely to be a sequel, but its destined for cult status for a reason. Its a fast, enjoyable big budget B movie that rarely takes time to slow down and plays the films entirely straight. To the films credit, it manages to do this whilst squeezing in a fair amount of satire that has always been the staple of Judge Dredd and his fellow 2000AD characters.
So, to the plot. Dredd follows what seems like a normal day for Judge Dredd, Mega City 1s top Judge. In an almost completely lawless megalopolis surrounded by irradiated wasteland, Judges are a mix of modern day law enforcers and a more fascist ideal, combining the entire judiciary process into one person, capable of issuing on the spot death sentences if necessary. Dredd is tasked with taking a rookie Judge, Anderson, out into the streets to assess if she is capable of making it as one of the Justice Departments finest. Anderson possesses a unique gift in that she is a telepath and a powerful one at that. Together, the two enter Peach Trees, a large habitation block that just happens to house Ma-Ma, a fearsome drug lord with ambitions to control Mega City 1 with her new manufactured drug Slow-Mo. The two Judges get trapped in Peach Trees and have to fight their way to the top.
If that sounds a little short for plot, then you may be in for a shock, that is Dredds plot, most of which is set up in the first 15-20 minuets. The rest of the film covers the fight up the block to level 200, with Dredd and Anderson fighting off increasingly more determined and dangerous foes.
A note on the visuals and the content. This film is brutal and I’m not joking. Even with digital blood effects, its pretty bloody and the the body count is high and the people, both our ‘heroes’ and villains happily notch up figures in the 100s.
The visuals sure are pretty though. The crisp, high def visuals contrast with the gritty surroundings and mean that when the slow motion (and in the 3D version, the 3D effects) kick in, the violence is almost artistic, though the 2D version seems to be missing something the 3D version did.
Whilst it is a case of style over substance, its to the films credit that it can make a film this good over what is such a paper thin plot. It also allows the strongest part of the film to come out in my mind, which is the underlying satire. In a world where every sci fi property involves some complicated plot to save the world or universe, Dredds’ stripped back take is refreshing and I hope film makers take note.
By the way most reviewers seem to have missed any satire in the film, I do wonder if I’m either looking too far into things or if in years to come it will gain a fresh audience and understanding, much like the original Starship Troopers film. Needless to say, its there if you look, though not so “in your face” as a lot of recent efforts, which may be why it was missed.
Overall, if you don’t mind watching a rather standard B film, but a high standard one at that, you won’t be disappointed. Go out and buy it, preferably in 3D if you can.