Judge Dredd is a futuristic Dirty Harry who first appeared 35 years ago on the pages of British comic book 2000 AD. He is a lawman who is policing a dystopian society. He gives readers a guilty pleasure as well as a satirical commentary on Anglo-American society in the late 1970s.
Now comes Dredd 3D, which is a reboot of the pop culture icon for the 21st century. The movie is written by Alex Garland, who is the author of The Beach and screenwriter of 28 Days Later. This is the second time Judge Dredd is seen on the big screen. The first movie is released in 1995 starring Sylvester Stallone. It is a disappointment for fans of the comic character and mainstream moviegoers.
Garland and director Pete Travis make Dredd 3D to be a better movie than the first attempt. It is more faithful to the original comic and is made for fans of sci-fi thrillers. The downside is that it is rated R, which can limit its commercial potential. It has good special effects and action that can generate healthy box office numbers.
The first Judge Dredd movie is heavily sanitized for family viewing and Dredd 3D takes the opposite route. It a graphic violence and gore that make it deserve its R rating. The movie takes place in a single location, which is a huge housing project that is controlled by the crime boss Ma-Ma (Lena Headey).
Dredd (Karl Urban) and his rookie partner Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) goes to the high-rise ghetto to investigate a triple homicide but they end up being prisoners as they fight for survival against Ma-Ma’s army.
The limited location and more serious atmosphere may disappoint hardcore fans of the Dredd comic book. Mega City One is only seen in short glimpses. But purists might approve Karl Urban portrayal of Dredd yet it still feels like a one-dimensional performance in a 3D movie.