Tuesday, 11 September 2012


Having caught the buzz quite late, I went to see Dredd 3D. It was little short of excellent - as a stand-alone tower block thriller, and as a very loving and faithful attempt at rendering Mega City One - which does (ahem) justice to the creative talents of the creators and the fervent fanaticism of the loyal followers of 2000AD. Perhaps because of the lame attempts at opprobrium by a group of teenagers in the foyer after the film had finished, I now feel even more strongly about the quality of the movie, and sincerely hope that it is the first in a franchise which will bring Mean Machine, Judges Mortis, Fear, Fire and Death - and many others - to the big screen.

Karl Urban plays Dredd exceptionally well, and has the downturned mouth absolutely perfect. Hard as it must be to convey any emotion (though in truth, there is little emotion in Dredd at all) when most of your face is covered, when it's needed, it's there. This limitation is also offset by Anderson (again, immaculately played by Olivia Thirlby) who as it were provides the yin to Urban's yang. Three D photography is utilised brilliantly, with much use of vertiginous straight down shots of the city's tower blocks, and some stunning slo-mo sequences, although all the teens in the foyer could say was: 'They loved their slo-mo, didn't they?' Fuckwits. The slow motion scenes provide a neat visual story arc device, echoing their themes at the beginning and end.

The violence is powerful, though definitely paying homage to the source material and as such the impact slightly lessened through being a little over the top. This is not a criticism, I hasten to add, and the creativity behind some of the shots is absolutely stunning. The soundtrack is as spare and taut as the onscreen action, and drives the film relentlessly forward with hardly a pause for breath. Ezquerra co-wrote, and it was great to see a block with his name on it near the beginning. I also noticed (I think) a belly wheel, near a stranded fatty in one sequence, and some Chopper graffito on one of the walls. It is a British movie, and the cityscape has been described as resembling Tower Hamlets, but I think we see a nice contrast between the ultra high tech equipment and the sordid, miserable everyday lives of the Mega citizens.

I had a slight problem with one huge set piece gun scene, which didn't really live up to the imagination of most of the others. A seemingly endless hail of bullets from several Gatling gun type weapons fails to nail Dredd as he simply runs just ahead of the barrage and then ducks beneath it before asking his Lawgiver for a High Ex shell to escape the trap. Even this was great fun, though, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Go and see it, I urge you.

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