You know you’re in trouble when you begin comparing the film you are watching to a universal derided mid-90’s fiasco of a film starring Sylvester Stallone and Rob Schneider and find the new version you are currently watching wanting.
I’ll say this for director Pete Travis‘ take on the comic book character, it understands the character of Judge Dredd far better than Sly’s flick ever did, but it’s bleak dystopian setting and forgettable story is about as much fun as a root canal. Dredd is 95 minutes of joyless action in which no one, including the audience, is having any fun.
Set some time in the distant future, where most of the world has become uninhabitable and forced people to flock to huge Mega-Cities ruled by Judges who are in effect judge, jury and executioner all in one, Karl Urban stars as Judge Dredd. As the film opens Dredd has been tasked to take a struggling recruit (Olivia Thirlby) out on assignment to judge her future.
Responding to a triple homicide in 200-story slum tower run by an infamous gang leader and drug supplier (Lena Headey) the two judges find themselves trapped inside with their prisoner (Wood Harris) in an enclosed facility full of crazy gangbangers who want them dead. On the plus side, Dredd is the toughest S.O.B. around and his recruit has ill-defined psychic abilities to help keep them alive.
Aside from Anderson’s psychic ability (which comes and goes as the story plays out events as scripted) the plot is full holes both large and small starting with the stupidest drug of all time: SLO-MO. In a future where everyone lives in utter squalor and never-ending violence why would anyone spend money for a drug that makes each awful moment last longer?
Dumb, bereft of any fun, and saddled with a leading man who simply doesn’t fit the kind of character asked of him, Dredd is a humorless mess of film. The only thing I can really compare it to is Dolph Lundgren‘s straight-to-DVD Punisher film which, like Dredd, is best forgotten.
Both the DVD and Blu-ray include Ultraviolet and digital copies of the film. Extras include the trailer, a motion comic prequel, and featurettes on the Mega Block of Peach Trees (where nearly all of the film’s action takes place), the film’s use of 3D, Judge Dredd’s weapons and equipment, the film’s visual effects, an examination of the character and a look back at the his 35 years in comics.
[Lionsgate, DVD $29.98 / 3D Blu-ray $39.99]