SDCC 2012 Review: DREDD 3D Brings Mega-violence to Mega City One

Contributor; Seattle, Washington
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SDCC 2012 Review: DREDD 3D Brings Mega-violence to Mega City One

Besides being a genuinely visceral (read: ridiculously gory) action movie which happens to balance its grim material with an effective streak of black humor, the biggest surprise is how thoroughly Dredd banishes all memories of the previous big screen adaptation. Let's never talk about Stallone's buddy action movie (which, among other sins, afflicted us with more Rob Schneider along with Armand Assante as a Stallone clone). It's dead. Gone. Done. Long live Dredd.

Based on the 2000 A.D. comic character, Dredd brings the sci-fi cop back to the big screen with Karl Urban under the helmet*, partnered with rookie Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), a below average potential judge whose psychic abilities might give her an edge on the streets. She'll need them: Dredd tells us that inside the mega city of 800 million, the judges are tasked with acting as both the law and prosecutors of justice - and they're only able to respond to 6% of reported crimes.

Unfortunately, a hard first day on the job becomes a nightmare when the two judges run afoul of Mama (Lena Headey), a drug kingpin who commands the supply of Slo-Mo, an inhalant which gives the user the experience that time has slowed to 1% of its normal flow. Dredd and Anderson will have to kill their way up the 200 floors of the apartment block to reach Mama and escape. It's not an easy task.

Fantastically violent, you may want to check this one out in 3D just to see the lovingly fetishized shots of human bodies being absolutely destroyed in a hyper color glow. Bodies are simply annihilated, faces smashed, riddled with holes, people just ended by guns and fire.

Dredd is just below a primal force, occasionally breaking his perfect sternness for moments of black reaction. Thirlby takes a little while to loosen up in her role, but reveals a sort of cold cruelty masked by her character's youth and rookie status. Headey is the standout with very few scenes but an established rep along with abrupt, gruesome bursts of violence, taking cues from the Sinola cartels and Sin City in terms of how her scarred junkie matron wields power over the block.

The script is from Alex Garland who, along with director Peter Travis, is able to breathe a kind of pulpy, nightmarish life into the block. It's an action movie first, with simple science fiction flourishes to enhance the storytelling. All of these elements (the gadgets, the dusty, rusty sheen) combine with the cast to make Dredd a brutal gut punch whose release can't come soon enough.

*One of Dredd's gifts to fans is that like his comic counterpart, the helmet always stays on.

will be in theaters September 21st.

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crazybeeJuly 12, 2012 12:59 PM

I'm very excited to hear that the movie is good, but GOOD GOD, this review is borderline incoherent. It reads as if it were run though google translator.

WillJuly 12, 2012 1:13 PM

It takes all of 2 minutes to spell check. You lose all credibility when you post things as bad as this.

Ryland AldrichJuly 12, 2012 1:29 PM

Yikes! I think Charles does a very fine job of describing the film without giving away too much. Opinion + Info. I'm looking forward to seeing the film.

SiJuly 12, 2012 1:32 PM

What's the problem, people? There's nothing incoherent about this review, in fact it's brimming with enthusiasm! Sure, its cup may runneth over a tad, but who is to say that we would be any way different after having just sat through what is promising to be an epic 3D gorefest? This review has only made me even more impatient!! I wanna see it NOW!!!

electricheadJuly 12, 2012 1:34 PM

After seeing the trailer, I couldn't help but think it is a huge rip-off of the awesome The Raid

MichaelJuly 12, 2012 1:43 PM

It does look that way, but this film was in production before anyone had even heard of The Raid, so it's more likely an unfortunate coincidence. Plus the idea of a raid on a building is hardly a story, so it rests on the content and characters to differentiate one from the other.

CuttermaranJuly 12, 2012 2:10 PM

@ electric head

You think The Raid was awesome? You must be kidding, the biggest overhyped bullshit I've seen so far. Hope Dredd can bring more suspense, tension, not repetetive action scenes, humor and some relevant Dialog here or even anything that makes a movie watchable.

crazybeeJuly 12, 2012 2:51 PM

There are a ton of reviews (well-written ones too) out now for this and all of them tell me one thing: my years of being a Dredd fan have finally paid off! Now I just have to wait two more damn months to be able to see it.

SaltonerJuly 12, 2012 4:54 PM

I'm sure the review has since been corrected since everyone destroyed it in the comments section, but I was just thinking about this this morning. AICN is VERY guilty of their articles looking like they were written by 8 year olds. One of many problems with internet sites, their is no editor like newspapers have and that is what will really will keep the internet from being a respected source of content, for the most part. But that aside, I love this review and what seemed like a piece of shit movie now seems to be shaping up to be pretty cool. Maybe...

zetobeltJuly 12, 2012 8:39 PM

It also brings mega plagiarism to The Raid.

BlakberiJuly 13, 2012 8:22 AM

"their is no editor..."? "that is what will really will keep the Internet..."

Sorry, could not resist in a post criticizing internet grammar...

kungfueurotrashJuly 13, 2012 10:09 AM

@cuttermaran, you thought it was overrated shit?? Dude I'd love to know what was your ideal action movie of 2012 or the last two years or so because The Raid brought its fucking game and took fucking names.. The fucking movie and set pieces almost look identical to The Raid, coincidence or not...

kungfueurotrashJuly 13, 2012 10:11 AM

The Raid is overrated, hahahahhahahaha, whatever.... You folks need to watch that movie again then come back to me...

CuttermaranJuly 14, 2012 3:11 PM


I did not said it is overated (in terms of what so ever). It is overhyped. As an actionmovie it has lots of violent action, which is not bad at all. But it is very similiar to the repetetive "bangkok knockout". It's nothing more then an overlong stuntreel. It really has nothing more to offer, and that is why i got bored like after the first 20 minutes.
If I'm in the mood for a short actionpacked stuntreel, I'd rather watch these guys here, there's no need to spend 90 minutes on that:

As for my ideal actionmovie, I would say there's no such a thing.
It always depends wheter the action is really needed so much or that much in the story itself. Good examples are The Viral Factor, I liked Cold Steel and Yellow Sea. A good balance between all those elements like well paced story, good acting, tension, believable drama and sometimes innovative action is what a movie makes worth watching. 18, 2012 5:57 PM

For what is considered a low-budget movie ($45M) Dredd looks like it should blow most of the year's Hollywood Blockbusters out of the water. And it seems there is a point to seeing this one in 3D! I hope Stallone throws up in his throat and chokes.