Dredd (2012) – Film Review

I’ll admit that the first time I saw the trailer for Dredd I judged it (sorry) unfit for viewing almost instantly. Dredd’s (Karl Urban) ludicrous frown was reflected in my own expression after a horribly cliche looking mish mash of action, instant judiciary, and not even the slightest hint of a compelling plot. As such, I didn’t trouble myself in seeing this film until nearly three years later.

Having just finished this 1 hour 35 minute long, cops vs robbers (or perps), shoot ’em up extravaganza I must say I am pleasantly surprised. I began watching with low expectations, perhaps lending it a more favourable review, but there’s plenty to be said for this film in several areas. The plot is seriously lacking, and character development is kept to a minimum, but I found that these flaws melted away in face of the frowning menace of Judge Dredd. I liked the dystopian scene setting, cliche as it is, and ‘Peach Trees’ (the enormous tower block in which the entire film takes place) felt every bit as gritty as it was intended to be – helped by an incredibly detailed set design and some authentic feeling acting from its grotty inhabitants.

The film started fairly slowly, I winced at Dredd’s narrative over the establishing shots however an eyebrow or two was raised at the scale of the city presented. In fact probably the biggest selling point of this film was it’s visuals. The slow start only allowed an audience to feast their eyes on slow motion scenes, gorging on exotic camera movement, and a vibrancy of colour which, as intended, felt totally and utterly out of place with the grime of Peach Trees.

Dredd colour in images

Dredd's colourist deserves a medal

Dredd colour in images

I couldn’t help myself pausing and replaying scenes like this, Dredd’s colourist deserves a medal. In an equally stimulating, although wildly contrasting way, the extent to which gore is explicitly shown in Dredd is also something that kept me glued to the screen. Each time I saw a bullet fly aI expected the telltale cut-away of a director looking to save money in post-production – I was instead confronted with a slow motion depiction of metal ripping through a fleshy cheek, with excellent CGI teeth showing through the wound. It was disgusting, grotesque even, but visceral and, most importantly, different.

Dredd even addresses some interesting moral issues – and I was pleased to see that ‘Rookie’ (Olivia Thirlby) actually chose not to join the Justice Department (a.k.a death police) after the events in Peach Trees. I was almost certain she would join and forever team up with the infamous Dredd – neatly paving the way for a sequel – again a refreshing change here. Overall Dredd easily surpassed my low expectations, I would now recommend it to those looking for a film that requires zero effort to understand but is pretty to watch. Despite the fact that without the impressive CGI and cool slow motion scenes this film would be totally lifeless, I can confidently say that if you have any interest in the comic book character of Dredd then this film will be worth a watch. 5/10.