Oh the irony!! Just after doing a post on excessive violence I watched one of the most violent movies I have seen in a while. It is even more violent than the recently reviewed Looper. Like Total Recall this is a remake of a movie produced in the 1990s. The original movie, called Judge Dredd, starred Sylvester Stallone as the dreaded Judge with Rob Schnieder providing comic relief. The 1995 film did pretty well at the box office despite poor reviews from the critics. The remake did much better with the critics but was a gigantic bomb at the box office bringing in only $13 million domestically and $19 million in the foreign market for a total of $32 million worldwide. This was far short of recapping the $50 million budget which is a small budget for this type of film.
Judge Dredd is based on a comic book character. The premise of both the films and the comic book is a dystopian future where the policefore and judiciary system is combined. The judges dispense justice on the spot. I guess lawyers are not needed in the future. Another aspect of the character is that Dredd is never seen with his judges helmet off. The helmet covers almost everything except the mouth and lower jaw. The eyes are covered and are not seen. Stallone takes his helmet off many times and is seen throughout most of the movie with the helmet off. This was one of the major complaints from the fans of the comic book against the 1995 film.
Here is my review. I almost shut the movie off! This is very violent and down right depressing! The majority of the movie takes place on one day in a dilapidated highrise building in Mega-City One. Dredd, who is training a female for a Judge’s position, when a drug bust goes bad and the criminals lock down the building and try to hunt down Dredd and his partner.
There is not much of a plot but there is tons of graphic violence shown in slow motion. The drug that these people are on gives a sense of slowing down time so we the viewers are treated to graphic carnage and bloodshed in order to experience the violence those that are on this drug are experiencing. No thanks, I’ll pass.
Karl Urban (Star Trek, Lord of the Rings Trilogy) plays the iconic judge. I think he did well overall. The problem isn’t completely in his performance, some of the problems are in the script. Judge Dredd is supposed to be a legendary judge with a brutal and feared reputation. The original 1995 film made this clear with the performance of the larger-than-life Sylvester Stallone. I don’t think Urban as an actor can pull off that the larger-than-life persona that Sylvester Stallone can. I also don’t think the script showed the Dredd character as larger than life or a judge that all feared. He seemed like just one of the many judges out on the streets of Mega-City One.
Plus, other than Arnold and Bruce Willis no one can deliver over-the-top one liners like Stallone. That was part of the fun and joy of the original. While both versions were rated R the original was fun to watch, Stallone was a larger than life Judge Dredd who gets set up by his twin brother, played by Armand Assante, and is exiled and must find his way back into Mega-City One to redeem himself. While that movie was serious it also had fun moments and never took itself too seriously.
As I said in a previous post the Batman movies has led to many comic book movies to take a turn toward gritty realism. While in the Batman franchise that is done with success, with Dredd the gritty realism fails miserably. There is no joy in Mudville.
One positive, or semi-positive aspect of the movie is Olivia Thirlby as Judge Cassandra Anderson. her psychic abilities make her a good candidate but she is on the shy and insecure side. Watching her test her skills in the make it or break it day on the job is a highlight in this picture. Without her there really isn’t a story at all. My one complaint, and it isn’t too big, is that she goes from shy-wallflower to cold-hearted judge to quickly.
I really cannot recommend this movie. I suggest you watch the 1995 original if you’re in a Judge Dredd type of mood. I only recommend this movie to those who have stomachs. One final good point is the movie is 95 minutes long and it went by real fast!
Posted on January 29, 2013, in Movie Review and tagged Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Dredd, Judge Cassandra Anderson, Judge Dredd, Karl Urban, Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Olivia Thirlby, Star Trek, Sylvester Stallone, Total Recall. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.