The 95-minute-long arm of the law

My! Hasn’t this year flown by quickly? We’re almost into quarter four and I’ve only just finished alphabetising my collection of video games that don’t run on Windows Vista (remind me to post an article about how much I detest Vista, by the way). Nonetheless, I’m rather pleased that autumn is here, from a filmgoer’s perspective, as there are some juicy horror flicks to watch: Silent Hill: Revelation, V/H/S, The House At The End Of The Street, Paranormal Activity 4, The Bay and Sinister. However, the film I was anticipating the most in 2012 is Pete Travis’ Dredd 3D. Glowing with anticipation, I popped over to my local cinema with some fellow nerds to find out what the devil it was all about.

The plot was not exactly groundbreaking: hard-bitten veteran and rookie cop take on a vicious drug cartel, essentially. It’s similar to a film shot in Indonesia called The Raid, but more high-tech. Nevertheless, I enjoyed watching Dredd. It captures the spirit of the comics far better than the much-maligned 1995 adaptation with Sylvester Stallone and the actors seemed to take their roles more seriously (as well they should!). Karl Urban, himself a 2000 AD aficionado, was well cast as the iron-willed Judge Joseph Dredd and, to the delight of fans, did not once remove his helmet. I hope he is proud of his performance, because he has every reason to be. Doe-eyed Olivia Thirlby provided the human face of the law as psychic ingénue Judge Anderson, while the ever-dependable Lena Headey stood against them as the ruthless and bloodthirsty crime boss Ma-Ma. Potty-mouthed Headey never fails to impress, but I think it’s high time she was given a comedy role. Come on, Hollywood! Give the woman a chance, I say.

This may sound shallow, but I am so relieved they gave this film an 18 certificate. It really irritates me how so many producers have come up with an adaptation of an ADULT graphic novel, only to sanitise it and dumb it down for the sake of reaching out to a wider audience. The makers of Dredd 3D did not sacrifice their integrity for the sake of bigger profits, I am happy to report, and they did not hold back on the blood and gore. The nightmare world of Mega City One is a brutal and violent place; it is essential that this be reflected in the story.

Although I resent having to pay more money just because a movie has been given the 3D treatment (it’s daylight robbery, as far as I’m concerned), the special effects in Dredd were, admittedly, impressive. I don’t think this production will be scooping up Oscar awards any time soon, but it was a good (re)introduction of a wonderful fictional character and a fascinating post-apocalyptic setting. To my mind, it felt more like a lengthy pilot episode of a series, but that can only be a good thing if there are more to follow. After all, our old friend Judge Death is waiting in the wings, ready to make his grand and horrifying entrance….

"Lovely weather we're having, eh, Dredd?" Olivia Thirlby and Karl Urban take in the Mega City morning air.

“Lovely weather we’re having, eh, Dredd?” Olivia Thirlby and Karl Urban take in the Mega City morning air.

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