The dark, brutal realism of a dystopian post-nuclear future, paired with the vibrant, trippy surrealist cinematography of director Pete Travis gives you “Dredd 3D;” a movie that’s practically designed to dole out violence and gore in the most visually intriguing way possible.
Envisioned by John Wagner back in the late 70s, the British import comic finally has a decent film adaptation if we ignore the Stallone flop “Judge Dredd” from 1995.
In the near future Mega City 1, plagued with crime, poverty and filth, law enforcement officers act as judge, jury and executioner. The faceless, almost nameless Dredd is one of these officers, appropriately entitled Judges, played by the stoic Karl Urban. Dredd, a grim action hero, could have been played by anyone with a deep voice, five o’clock shadow and who could hold a frown for 98 minutes straight.
There’s almost no other expression in the entirety of the movie besides one of complete seriousness. Even while ensuring every character that enters the screen gets a bullet in them, the rejoiceless-ness of every death seems to only emphasize the melancholy nature of the future.
I should have expected nothing less from the character who inspired American cinema’s Robocop. The robotic nature of the dialogue makes for some unremarkable scenes by the book explanations. With only one moment of humor to speak of, there’s really no other time where talking was needed unless to familiarize newcomers with this forgotten series.
The plot is incredibly linear and seems to offer only venues for continuous action. In fact, the movie seemed to be consciously trying to force itself away from any other option by literally voicing violence as the characters’ only suitable plan.
The single-mindedness actually fits quite well- there’s no love story or flawed heroes because the environment and characters don’t allow for it. The story could be summarized in a few words, and was at the end of the movie, only further nailing home the triviality of it all.
Ironically, the future is surprisingly clean. The slums of the city look quite adequate for living and the city itself just gives off the vibe of an inflated Chicago. Most of the film takes place within an apartment complex, making the set pieces repetitive and visually bland. However, this only causes the special effects to stand out more brilliantly.
For once the overuse of high-speed cameras and 3D are entirely justified by incorporating the psychedelic perceptions that go along with the use of the drug slow-mo. The 3D created a new depth that the drugs allowed for and the slow motion scenes were excuses to force the audience to witness the overly colorful and even sparkly gore and gunfire for longer than otherwise possible.
In your face gore would be an understatement. The brutality of death in this movie far exceeds the realism it was trying to portray, making this movie something lovely to look at but also something you really wouldn’t want to.
It’s very successful for what it is, a B-rated action movie.