It was in 1995 that Sylvester Stallone had impressed us as Judge Dredd, even as most of us watched it much later. That was a movie which was fine, but was a commercial and critical failure; here the story of the same Dredd has been remade, even as the plot is entirely different and so is the style – but the result in the box-office was the same. The critical success it received was well deserved though. The British comics of 2000AD has surely done us a favour with this character, as proved by this movie. Its financial disappointment is quite depressing, to be honest. Knowing that it was released in the year when The Avengers grossed so much, leads to further despair. It is due to the same reason that I chose to like the page for its sequel (https://www.facebook.com/MakeADreddSequel) and also signed the official 2000AD petition (http://2000adonline.us5.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=a6e40236aa24d482cfff600d2&id=62906ebdcc) as we never really had enough of Dredd in the one and half hours of mayhem which this movie provided us with. There had to be the demand for more, and there is; if you see the number of likes and the number of petitions – the movie has risen, but as it didn’t rise when it was in the theatres, the effect will be so much less. This realization about the awesomeness of the movie has made people know what they have missed.
We have to bring back Dredd, and watch Dredd 2 in the theatres first show. It is a hope, considering the box-office failure that it was. But why should we cheer for that sequel? The reasons are supplied unlimited. When the judge, jury, police and executioner are all the same, during a distant future when America is an irradiated wasteland, with one city surrounded by deserts beyond its walls; the cursed Earth supporting a cursed city stretching from Boston to Washington DC, an unbroken concrete landscape, 800 million people living in the ruins of the old world and the mega structures of the newer world, it is Mega City One – The place where the judges are everything when it comes to the law. These men from the Hall of Justice are the only group fighting for order among the chaos and destruction as the crime rates go up. They serve justice hot, at the right place at the right time, with no remorse or regret – like the man said in the 1995 movie, “It’s impossible! I never broke the law, I AM THE LAW!” Dredd is a legend, and he is a Robocop in many ways, still human enough to be liked and loved. The movie didn’t get that love from the audience, but there is a lot more than just the viewers that define this movie. Living in an uninhabitable wasteland with huge Mega-Cities in the middle, taking his awesomeness to the world of evil, Dredd needs all the attention!
Along with so many crimes reported daily there is also a new drug in the market called Slo-Mo has been introduced, and it slows the user’s perception of time to one percent of the normal one. These drugs are slowly becoming more and more viral. The Chief Judge has given Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) the job of evaluating a new recruit Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), a powerful psychic who had just failed the aptitude tests to become a Judge, and she asserts that her failure was only marginal. Among the large number of crimes, Dredd lets Anderson choose one scene, which had the drug lord Madeline Madrigal (Lena Headey), a.k.a Ma-Ma’s men throwing three rogue drug dealers down from the top floor of a 200 storey residential building, after having them skinned and infused with the Slo-Mo drug. They arrest a man named Kay (Wood Harris) whom Anderson finds out to be the murderer who had tortured and thrown the people down. But the drug lord seals the building down and stops all communications, leading to Dredd and Anderson being caught among the criminals who are asked to take them down by the drug lord. They manages to call for some help, but the help is unable to get in, and what they would get are in the form of a group of corrupt judges paid to take them down, and to add to it, Anderson is captured, leaving Dredd in a situation against all odds.
The movie’s strength is clearly Karl Urban. He fights through his duties as the masked keeper of justice with so much power. Even after covering most of his face with that mask, he still displays a lot of his acting skills. When he is done, one has to agree that he is the law and there is no other law. He has been provided an ideal world here, and without doubt, it has been utilized. His performance in Pathfinder had gone unnoticed, and Doom and And Soon the Darkness didn’t add that much. There is a lot of bad luck involved with Dredd too, as the movie had to share the screen with many other movies when it was released. But that wouldn’t make him as Dredd, an unnoticed hero – for he is indeed brilliant as the provider of infinite justice. He has made Dredd the hero which one had expected. Sylvester Stallone’s Dredd had his own style, and this one has another, and I have to say that I am able to consider this one as the more suitable Judge, even as the one from the 1995 movie was also strong enough to make the needed impact. As that movie failed in what it wished to achieve, it was necessary that this leading actor do a splendid job, and thanks to Karl Urban, that problem is solved. One has to respect the fact that he has kept the helmet on throughout the movie, unlike the previous Dredd. The only scene where he is without it is in the beginning, and then too, there is no face, as the shot is from the back. Still, he has been that good that we can now recognize a masked Karl Urban.
Olivia Thirlby’s Judge Cassandra Anderson is exceptional. There is the need for a warm applause as this performance is considered. The Darkest Hour‘s Natalie has come a long way to become a character who needed not the damsel in distress tag nor the punisher lady tag, but a huge amount of dynamic transformation opposed to a more static character of Judge Dredd. Being beautiful is just one of those exceptional things, and the beauty with the gun goes through a world of bildungsroman throughout this battle. As Dredd has conquered his remorse and regret to become the one true upholder of law with all his experience, the young lady, the rookie has to deal with all the emotional sides in this movie. Anderson is a lovable character from the beginning itself, as even when she is said to be a psychic, the look in her eyes show how much of struggling character she is, and there is no wonder she couldn’t keep up with the other cadets in the tests. The presence of psychic abilities might have made her more of the same. Each and every time, she is forced into the minds of others, and has to live with it, a pain which she has to endure and keep with her as a souvenir. One has to wonder what the pain of being a psychic is, and Anderson is its beautiful personification.
She is there to help in the battle of good v/s evil, but has to suffer as she has to live with the memories, and has to go through alien worlds which has secrets which she doesn’t want to reveal, and the horror which she doesn’t want to face. In the battle with Kay’s mind, she has to come out victorious fighting his erotic imaginations of violent sexual liaisons with her; fighting her own naked and helpless images in his own homeland of mind; his own self-proclaimed messed up head which scores in the beginning by makes her undress. But she fights and succeeds, thus proving her superiority as a psychic, and throws away the thoughts about her as the weak link, in the first step of her move towards being a judge. The second step is achieved when she escapes from her captors and the third when she arrives at the right moment when the corrupt judge is about to shoot Dredd. By that time, she has evolved, and Dredd himself realizes that she is ready. She is no longer that person who hesitated to shoot, and failed to use her psychic powers to the maximum advantage. She had become the most extreme of the dynamic characters, and the true Judge Cassandra Anderson, the upholder of justice. Olivia Thirlby has gone through that transformation in such a way that makes one feel the need to watch her in the same role in a sequel – another reason to get Dredd 2.
Meanwhile, Lena Headey’s Madeline Madrigal is a charming evil villain who has a devilish beauty associated with her even with the scars on her face. She is a villain one would love to watch on the screen. The use of 3D is efficient, and the presence of slow motion sequences with the help of the Slo-Mo drug further helps the movie. These are still not the usual pathetic slow motion stunts, as they are designed to work with the drug in such a way that both the action sequences and the plot involving drugs benefit. The action scenes without the drugs are also equally good. The villain’s introduction throwing the drops of water from a bath-tub shows how well the slow motion sequences can be used and how much it can add rather than take away. In simple words, this is how a Dredd movie should be, and this is how a superhero of truth should be depicted. There should be more to follow, even as there is only some hope left of a sequel. There should be Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby in that sequel, as they have made themselves that part of this movie that cannot be avoided. They have given this movie life, and this work already had so much life which means that it is more alive than most of the movies out there. We are being bombarded with those superhero movies, but actually what we need is this story of Dredd. Just remember that he is the law, and he needs his time.
Release date: 21st September 2012
Running time: 95 minutes
Directed by: Pete Travis
Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Wood Harris, Domhnall Gleeson, Warrick Grier, Deobia Oparei, Langley Kirkwood, Edwin Perry, Karl Thaning, Michele Levin, Francis Chouler, Daniel Hadebe, Rakie Ayola
@ Cemetery Watch
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