With us unable to decide what to see this week, due to there being a few films out that we were more than happy to watch, we stumped for a film that was released the weekend before; I think the reason we picked it was due to the trailer that showed us some breathtaking visual sequences in 3D that could only look good on a big screen. The Sweeney or Premium Rush were the other choices but there was something about Dredd that was calling to us so that is what we went out to see. In hindsight could we say that it was the right choice? I don't know. There is something about the film that is great but there is also a lot about the film that is easily forgettable, and for me it turns out to be a typical, average action flick. I'm not the biggest fan of the comics, so maybe this is why I'm not too sure on it, but if people know as little about Judge Dredd as me you may come to the same opinion; it is mindless action with little story but graphic violent set pieces that are very pleasing to the eye.
The story is very simple, if you don't know already Judge Dredd is a law enforcer in a futuristic city ridden with crime where he is judge, jury and on the spot executioner, Dredd and his new apprentice find themselves trapped in a tower block where the drug baron Ma-Ma deals her product and has issued a bounty on the two Judge's heads. That is really as complex as it gets and basically the film is about the Dredds needing to battle their way to the top, confront Ma-Ma, and get out unscathed. Not much for you to really grip hold of then and you can quite easily switch off for a good portion of it and when you come back find yourself back in another action scene. This can be seen as a pro or a con depending on your mood and what type of film you wanted to see. I personally prefer a film that grips me emotionally and narratively and the problem with Dredd is that you are only engaged when the action takes place as there is nothing else to hold on to.
I don't want to take too much away from the action because it is done very well and really has been produced on a big scale. There are mini machine guns ripping complete floors out of the tower block, fight scenes in where Dredd takes out five to his one, and mind reading capabilities from the new apprentice that throws us into the wild imagination of the prisoner they have detained. All of this looks brilliant and the vision of the film really adds to these set pieces. The vision is very much like a comic book on screen, perhaps in the vein of Watchmen but only for a few scenes. It is very dark and captures a side of Dredd that the Sylvester Stallone version did not. Although the vision really is the stand out point of this film I can't help but wander is it a gimmick for what otherwise would be a bit of a dull movie? Much of the film is played out in slow motion due to a drug in the film called Slo-Mo, with which when people take it they find themselves witnessing the world in one percent of its original speed. A great idea and again a great way to show some fascinating visuals but again is it just a gimmick?
Karl Urban pays Dredd and you would never be able to tell as he never removes his mask. This is a good way to show this character as he really is as bland as they come. Urban plays it so well especially since it is his chin that does most of the acting. He delivers his lines with enough gruff that you will not believe it is him. Some of his lines however are rather cheesy but do keep in context with Dredd's way of speech. The other actors do very well with what they are given as there is little to no character development throughout the film. Not that this is a character driven story but it is difficult to attach yourself to these characters when they are just thrown from action scene to action scene. For instance Ma-Ma is intriguing and does have a little back story, but her character never seemed to become more threatening or nastier. They make her too evil from the start so when the climax comes round we don't hate her enough. We saw Lawless last week and I wanted the villain to be defeated from the minute I saw him where as with Ma-Ma I never hated her as much as I should have done.
This is a better film then some other action films I have seen this year but I do worry that it could be a little forgettable. The action scenes and visuals, especially the slow motion scenes, are the best thing about it but there is nothing with it to make me want to watch it again. Many films the more you watch it the more you get but I feel with Dredd that I have seen everything it has to offer me. For insane action sequences it could be on top of its game, but unfortunately that is all it has to offer. Judgement is finally served when it comes to erasing the previous Stallone attempt at Dredd but if a sequel to this is to be made than I feel that will be where Dredd really will spring off.
Pros: The action set pieces look great, as do the slow motion graphics.
Cons: Washed over story and lack of real character development for us to really care about them.
6 / 10
Top 10 films of 2012 so far:
1. The Dark Knight Rises 10 / 10
2. The Hunger Games 8 / 10
3. Snow White And The Huntsman 8 / 10
4. Avengers Assemble 7.5 / 10
5. Ted 7.5 / 10
6. 21 Jump Street 7.5 / 10
7. Lawless 7 / 10
8. The Expendables 2 7 / 10
9. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol 7 / 10
10. The Grey 7 / 10