Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dredd (2012) Review:

Deciding how a comic book character should be performed on screen can be a difficult task. Then comes the story; how should it involve its main character? In Sylvester Stallone's adaptation of Judge Dredd, his role was interested in the background aspect of the character and how he dealt with that situation. But for some protagonists, the background is not needed or shouldn't be explored. That is unless it's done in a fulfilling way. This version of Judge Dredd fully embraces it's combatant with open arms and displays to its audience what the world of Judge Dredd is truly like.

To start off, the atmosphere of this dystopian America is much darker and grittier than that of the 1995 film. Perhaps that's what makes just the introduction itself so different than that of its predecessor. And to boot, various other elements have been changed. Things seem slimmer. The bikes the judges ride don't look like Honda Goldwings. The suits they wear are not big and bulky with enormous metal badges. Even from looking down at the city from a bird's eye view seemed rather spaced out. I criticized this in Stallone's film for feeling that everything seemed cramped, like it was all put in there at the last minute. But it's not like it here and that's good.

Judge Dredd & his rookie partner Judge Anderson            
Now, turning towards Dredd, I felt that Karl Urban played Dredd with high accuracy and precision. When no music was playing, just hearing his leather suit squeaking in the corridors gave me the chills. I would hate to be caught by him in that universe! Making him look even more hard-boiled was that Urban gave Dredd a five o'clock shadow. It's a nice touch actually. It makes the character of Dredd that much more believable as a soldier. Also staying close to it's comic book origins, the film crew decided not to reveal the look of Dredd under his helmet. Another brilliant choice because it creates a sense of perplexity about him as an individual. It's the same thing that was used for Darth Vader in Lucas' first three Star Wars films.

And although Urban played Dredd with rather no emotion at all it was because of how he embraced the character that made it entertaining. Stallone, how would you say, messed with the recipe. He wanted to explore Dredd's backgrounds and made him transparent and uninteresting. I also stated in my review of Stallone's version that I enjoyed Rob Schnieder's character more than I did Stallone's. That's because Schnieder had funnier lines and had some sort of dimension. In this alternate film, Urban gives Dredd a lot of good lines. And if the main character is giving better lines than the side characters, that's one step closer to making a better film.

Lena Heady as the sadistic drug lord, Ma-Ma.....real friendly
As for female characters go, Olivia Thirlby is not only very attractive here but she's also quite fun to see her character learn from Dredd. Seeing her have her way with a baddie is quite satisfying too. Lena Heady, who is more known for playing Sarah Connor in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008), also gives a good performance. Her portrayal of a violently psychotic ex-prostitute was not only disturbing, but also rather enthralling to how bad she could actually be. As for action, there's not much to be said. There's plenty of it and the gore is happily appealing.

My only complaints are of two things: the music and a subplot left unchecked. The subplot left unchecked was about a few characters that had an inside job and this inside job was never given a full explanation of how they snuck under the radar. That got to me a little bit. But oh well, it didn't matter in the end anyway. Music-wise, Paul Leonard-Morgan does create some nice tunes but a lot it is done in a way that doesn't sound engaging enough for an action film. I wanted to hear more but all I got was a bunch of electronic beats. Like can't there be a main theme? Music is important when it comes to film and that was an up-setter. However, overall, this is by far much better than the first Judge Dredd.

Points Earned --> 9:10

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