I really like Judge Dredd. No, not the god-awful train wreck of a film starring Sylvester Stallone, but the original comics that were part of the weekly comic magazine 2000AD that started in 1977 and continues to be published to this day. The comic focused on a combination of sociopolitical commentary, black humor, and ultra-violence. Thankfully, all of these themes remain intact in the new movie simply titled Dredd starring Karl Urban, or Dredd 3D if you are into that sort of thing (more on that later).
The premise behind the Judge Dredd comics is fairly simple: America is a radioactive wasteland, and the eastern seaboard is one giant city that contains eight hundred million people called Megacity One. Megacity One is a chaotic mess of a post-apocalyptic city, and the only thing that stands between order and chaos are the Judges: men and women who enforce the law with the power to act as judge, jury, and executioner. The movie sticks to that premise and fits very well with the comics, telling a “day in the life” type story that feels like an issue of the comic book committed to the screen, rather than several arcs pasted together like in many other comic book movies.
The movie is about a triple homicide that turns into a drug bust at a 200-story slum called Peach Trees. Dredd is testing a rookie, and after raiding level 39 of Peach Trees, a prostitute-turned-drug-lord known as Ma Ma locks down the entire building to prevent them from taking a prisoner back to headquarters for interrogation. The rest is shooting. Really good shooting. There are a few breaks for the occasional surprising plot twist, and the movie's wry sense of humor works very well with its Tarantino-esque ultra violence.
I keep on mentioning violence, so now I am going to address it direct: Dredd3D is one of the most violent movies I have ever seen. One of the first action scenes is done entirely in Matrix-style bullet time, and the bullets hits are not at all clean.
If I have ever spoken about movies with you, I have probably spent at least some time ranting about 3D movies, and said something along the lines of, “If I ever see a movie with 3D I like, I will eat my hat.” well, I am currently discovering just how hard it is to digest felt and leather, because I really enjoyed the 3D effects. Rather than having random stuff jump out of the screen at you, the 3D effects are used to draw you in. They add depth, and the only things that actually come out of the screen are broken glass and blood. In combination with the excellent bullet time effects, the movie looks amazing. If I have ever seen an argument for 3D in movies, this is it.
Dredd 3D is a fantastic action movie, and most importantly a fantastic Judge Dredd movie. The pacing is fast but good, the action well choreographed, the characters interesting, and the humor entertaining. And the best part? Judge Dredd never removes his helmet. The movie is worth your time, and unless you have an extreme aversion to blood and violence, I suggest you go watch it as soon as you can.