Not totally Dredd-ful

by Gazette Reporter
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Judge Dredd

DARLINGS! I’m back! Well, “back”, as in “back doing a couple of fill-in reviews for a temporary week or two, as I slunk off from The Gazette Group some time ago”-back.

So, it’s my great pleasure to say hi to all of my old fans – yes, yes, I missed you both, too – and to say hi to all the rest of you and, more importantly, to give you a review of a film for your consideration.

While we’re in the mood of being all happy and welcoming, and news editors not paying very careful attention to temporary film reviewers’ expenses claims, may I say that it’s been simply dreadful for me, wondering how on earth readers would cope without my on-the-nose reviews?

But nothing, perhaps, as Dredd-ful as this week’s review, Dredd 3D. (See what I did there?)

Taking the long-running comic book character (Judge Dredd) and his setting, we’ve got a noisy action film that tries to do him justice. (All right, all right – whoever started shouting from the back about Sly Stallone’s misguided version ages ago can sit down again.)

As a set-up, in the near future, most of the world is a nuclear wasteland, with the remains of humanity packed into vast, teeming and totalitarian megacities – with none more sardine-packed than Mega City One (formerly known as separate places called New York, Chicago, Washington, etc).

Unfortunately, even by chaotic Mega City One standards, life’s more hellish than usual, thanks to the effects of a drug, Slo-Mo, on the people and gangs. Oh, you know, crime and drugs aren’t ever going to lead to a happy story, right?

With Slow-Mo causing warfare across the city, it’s time to send in The Law – with none more lawful than Judge Dredd, not just one of the city’s tough-nut cops but, also, a one-man judge, jury and executioner. Literally.

Given Dredd’s habit of dispensing instant capital punishment for virtually every misdemeanour (TV licence inspectors may take note), he’s the right man to send into one part of the city to tackle the Slo-Mo problem there.

Dredd (a grunt-tastic Karl Urban playing Dredd appropriately, as half-scowl, half-helmet) and his rookie sidekick, slightly-psychic Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) find themselves in a typical, 1km-tall tower block, home to thousands of residents …

Except that, wouldn’t you know it, it’s not just a base for Slo-Mo, it’s THE base for Slo-Mo. Of all the tower blocks in all Mega City One, Dredd walks into that one. (I’d ask that man to start buying your Lotto tickets, if I were you.)

Crimelord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) immediately orders a block lockdown, with a bounty on Dredd and Andersons’ heads, leaving two judges to face off against lots and lots of trigger-happy minions…

To say any more would put me back in “…and then the Titanic hit an iceberg” territory. Suffice it to say that, yes, it’s got all of the gunfire and gunplay that you’d expect from such a film, but it’s elevated – slightly – from the usual standards of such films by the interesting crew behind the camera, leading to some arresting sights, and some admittedly stylish cinematography.

Given the subject matter, it’s certainly a Dredd-ful film, but, thankfully, not quite a dreadful one. There are certainly worse films to spend your money one. Hmmm.

That indirectly reminds me of a joke about an old cinema nemesis of mine. “What’s the only thing worse than a new Clive Owen film? Two new Clive Owen films!”

That’s all, folks!

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