"Dredd 3D" (2012) was directed by Pete Travis (Vantage Point), and has a script written by Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Sunshine). Judge Dredd creator John Wagner also had a close collaboration with the film.
In the future, America has become a radioactive wasteland. Throughout the wasteland there are Mega Cities surrounded by a vast desert called the Cursed Earth. Mega City One runs from Boston to Washington DC and the city is enforced by Judges from the Hall Of Justice. The Judges are judge, jury and execution who dish out instant sentences on the cities undesirables.
Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is one of the most famous and feared Judges in the city. During a routine day on the job, Dredd is asked to evaluate a rookie called Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), who failed the tests to become a Judge but has a talent which is very special. She happens to be one of the best psychics the Hall Of Justice has ever seen.
At the beginning of the evaluation, Dredd asks Anderson to choose an incident to investigate. Anderson chooses to investigate a triple homicide at a 200 storey tower block slum called Peach Trees, where they find out the murders were probably related to a drug called SLO-MO: a highly addictive drug which slows time down to 1% normal speed for the user. Peach Trees is controlled by a ruthless drug lord called Ma-Ma, who manufactures and supplies all the SLO-MO in Mega City One. Dredd and Anderson locate an apartment in the complex which is alleged to distribute the drug, and after a shootout, apprehend a drug dealer whom Anderson has sensed was involved in the murder.
Ma-Ma is worried the drug dealer is going to tell the Judges everything about the drug operation going on in Peach Trees, so puts the entire tower block into lock down and orders the Judges to be killed. Dredd and Anderson are forced to fight their way up 200 storeys in order to survive. I wont spoil any more of the film for you than I already have!
People have commented on the film's story, which is very nearly identical to Gareth Evans "The Raid: Redemption". I agree that it is very similar, but I think it has all been an unfortunate coincidence. "Dredd 3D" is an independent film made with a 45 million budget, meaning that the film had to avoid a lot of expensive exterior shots of a futuristic town with flying cars and robots and all that other expensive stuff. This is one of the reasons the film had to be mostly filmed indoors.
The uniform that the Judges wear has changed a bit from the comics. Alex Garland thought that since Dredd was out on the frontline fighting a war on criminals, it makes sense to be wearing a suit of body armour to withstand any knocks he might take. I don't think the uniform looks that radically different that it makes the character look bad, it makes a bit more sense on realistic terms for me.
The city also looks quite different. The comic book version of Mega City One is quite dense with a lot of buildings of all different shapes and sizes packed in close to each other. In the film the city is still bustling, but it seems more barren. Alex Garland also says that when all the tall buildings were all close together, you lose the sense of scale of how tall the buildings really are. So spacing out the high buildings were people live, shows you how massive the buildings are in comparison to the rest of the city.
Judge Dredd isn't the most talkative or emotional of characters, so the film is shown more from Anderson's point of view. For Dredd, everything is quite black and white and he is very fast at delivering judgement on people. Anderson is more emotional, and has more of a moral compass. She was raised in a slum like Peach Trees and understands the plight and desperation that most of the people in that environment have. Throughout the film, she even manages to make Dredd change slightly.
Even though there are some slight changes from the comic, this is a very faithful adaptation. The film is totally uncompromising when it comes to violence just like the comic is. There are some nice SLO-MO scenes where people are being shot in gruesome detail, and because it's so slow it seems very comic book like and even very beautiful. It's good to see a film these days that is so respectful to the source material, even in taking the risk of losing out on money by keeping the film an 18 rating. For a film like this that probably has a large audience that are under 18, it's good that the makers kept their integrity and I feel it really benefited the film.
If you haven't figured it out already, I really liked this film. Sure I may be biased since I'm such a fan boy, but I really did feel it was very close to the comic. I'll admit that the story isn't very original and is very similar to "The Raid", but if they decide to make a sequel it's a nice introduction to the characters and a good starting point to giving people an idea of the world that Dredd lives in.
Karl Urban a already a fan of Judge Dredd and had a lot of say in how the character is played, and I think he nailed it. Olivia Thirlby is great as Anderson and really does bear an uncanny resemblance to the comic version. She is as much a part of "Dredd 3D" as Urban is.
I love the dream like slow motion scenes when people are taking the drug SLO-MO. I like how the stylistic slow motion scenes are actually part of the storyline and not put in pointlessly like a Michael Bay film!
Also I like my film's violent, and on that note I'm glad they retained that tone and never pussied out.
Thanks for reading. I'd love to hear your opinions on the film or even your opinions on the comic, so please leave a comment below! I also have Facebook and Twitter pages which you can follow. The links are on the right of the page.
My next post will be on the final "Guinea Pig" film "Devil Woman Doctor".