A Dredd 3D movie review from Orlok

From: (title unknown)

Review written by Orlok

Finally, after what seemed like months of waiting I got to see Dredd 3D.

Was it worth the wait? Was it a good piece of cinema? Was it a good Dredd film?

Well, I’ll answer those questions at the end.


Fortunately I live in what is the real world equivalent of Springfield. We have disasters in the form of volcanoes, earthquakes and tornadoes.

The town is populated by the biggest collection of freaks you have ever seen outside of Swansea. There is a bloke who wears red ribbons in his hair, another dude who cleans windows in a pair of hotpants and sparkly cowboy boots and a homeless man on Queen St who wears a horse’s head mask while playing “Michael Row The Boat Ashore”  on the clarinet. I shit you not.

We bump into celebrities and people of interest on a regular basis. Within a few months of living here I had met the Mayor (who my wife hates) and seen the Prime Minister in the flesh as he drove past the end of the street.

Lucy Lawless lives two streets away. There is a restraining order in place that I am not allowed to mention.

So, because of this I found myself at the NZ première of Dredd 3D. I sat off to the side of the red carpet as the press snapped away at the various “NZ Famous” celebs who showed up for a free bit of publicity.

Then, about ten minutes before the film was due to start I headed in. There in front of me at the door was Karl Urban.

“Hey Karl.”I said. “Welcome home, mate”. A big grin set upon his face and he shook my hand with a “Cheers, mate…good on ya.”.

We chatted for a bit and then off I went to claim my seat which was between some guy with a Greg Staples Judge Minty t-shirt (I need to get one of those) and a Maori actor from local soap/Gitmo torture device Shortland Street.

Makes me sound special doesn’t it? Well, I’m not. Karl Urban is such a cool bastard he personally shook the hands of, and chatted with, everybody going in. Everybody.

The film actually started 25 mins late because he was such a nice bloke.


So, to the film…I fucking loved it.

From the deafening roar of the Lawmaster in the opening chase to the post mortem one word Dreddism at Peach Trees it was a joy.

I knew from the off that the Dredd film I had in my head was never going to make celluloid without a budget the size of Halliburton profits. Alex Garland had said that he had to sacrifice something as part of the overall production and so we got a futurescape not too far removed from our own.

The money saved was thrown into the cinematography and it is superb. The slo-mo scenes are astonishing in 3D. I have never seen anything like it.


The direction is practically flawless. It is a violent, violent film and our heroes are seen handing out double taps like Jimmy Saville used to hand out “Jim Flicked It For Me” medals. But this violence works in the context of the story and the setting. In fact, some of the violence (as it occurs in the slo-mo scenes) is actually beautiful and it is a brave film to bring that to the fore.


The soundtrack is perfect for the film. It is industrial and tension filled with the odd quiet moment of reflection.


For the three main actors, Urban breathes life into Dredd the way Stallone never could. He owns that role from now on. Fucking owns it. There is no Arnie/Stallone witty dispatch of enemies, just brutal and quick Judgement and his delivery of that line is perfect. It is less understated than the trailer but still powerful.

Urban not only knows the character, he was trained well for this. His stance, measured arcs of cover and alert demeanour are of a ruthlessly trained professional ready for action at the pop of a cap. You actually believe he is a Judge. More to the point you actually believe he is Judge Joe Dredd.

As the man himself recently said… “He’s one of those heroes who doesn’t have super-powers, he has an extraordinary skill set, a cool gun and a cool bike. He is the guy who is walking into the building when everyone else is rushing out in terror, which is what defines his heroism.”


Lena Headey (I definitely would, scars and all) brings a menace to the role of Ma-Ma that I didn’t think was possible in such a limited amount of screen time. She is genuinely a scary fucking bitch. I was surprised we didn’t get to see more of her back story but feminising a bloke with her teeth probably works best as a mental image. It also meant I could sleep afterwards.


The big surprise for me is Olivia Thirlby. I’ve seen her in a few things but she never really stood out. Here she brings a vulnerability and almost gentleness to the role of the Big Meg’s top telepath. As she grows up fast in the reality of Peach Trees the Judicial training comes to the fore (though she never truly forgets her humanity) and she becomes a force to be reckoned with. I think she stole that film.


The movie leaves a few threads dangling…Anderson’s parents, the “other thing” behind Dredd’s anger and control and the repercussions of four bent Judges.

We will get to see a sequel? Fuck, I hope so but I have my doubts.

What worries me is that three factors will have an impact on takings…

1.      the violence- this isn’t a PG 13 friendly The Avengers

2.      the lack of buy in from the Yanks – who would instead rather queue around the block to watch Liam Neeson commit cinematic larceny with Taken 2

3.      the fact that the lack of 2D showings (which have been rarer than rocking horse shit) are going to alienate the man in the street, who, let’s face it, watches X Factorand thinks Kim Kardashian is anything but a vapid cunthammer.

This film, regardless of how it goes will be one that we as Dredd fans will always look up to and say “that one was for us” and time will be kind to this film. It will become a cult classic.


And the answer to those questions at the start…yes, fuck yes, oh sweet zombie Jesus…yes.