‘Dredd’ is a remake of a 1995 Sylvester Stallone flop called ‘Judge Dredd’. With a $90M budget, it grossed ~ $35M and was one of the one of the worst films of the year. ‘Dredd’ feels more like a remake of the recent ‘The Raid:Redemption’. Sorry, but I hated all three of the films we’re talking about here. Like ‘The Raid:Redemption’, ‘Dredd’ isn’t a movie, it’s a video game. There isn’t a story here, just a premise – infiltrate a drug kingpin located on the top floor of a 200-story building. This requires the film’s characters to shoot their way out of some grimy hallways at each level. Those in favor of gun ownership may enjoy much of what’s offered here. Karl Urban’s chin gives a solid performance underneath that metal helmet – not since Linda Lovelace’s ‘Deep Throat’ from 1972 has a film relied entirely on the mouth of it’s central performer. And Olivia Thirlby’s work is on the pancake side of flat – I’m falling asleep just thinking back to her.
The video game style ultra-violence became nauseating for me. There is a singular spectacular slow motion 3-D effect which is used to communicate that a character is on a drug which is called Slow-Mo. Naturally, Slow-Mo makes time go reeeeaaaallllyyyy ssssllllooowww. An example of this is when a lady lifts her arm out of a bathtub, and the water looks like diamonds dripping off her body – yes, this is a cool effect the first time we see it. But, then it becomes gimmicky because this technique is used repeatedly to the point of exhaustion. Prospective filmmakers of this genre, please listen: stunts and special effects alone do not make a movie. You need to have a story that’s worth telling, not a premise that serves as an excuse for shoot ‘em up violence. You need to have characters that are well drawn, not artificial constructs. This film, like ‘The Raid’ is the cinematic equivalent of watching a pack of lions tear into each other. We know some will die, but in the end, we don’t care which ones. These pictures suffer from the absence of a human element. Karl Urban has agreed to participate in the film’s inevitable sequels. Perhaps next time, we can hope for a side of story and character to complement our big order of big, loud special effects.
– Jerry Nadarajah