By now, most people are aware of the poor opening box office performance for Dredd. I'm sincerely hoping that through word of mouth, the movie can have a much better second week performance as this was one of the better movies of the 2012.
Dredd surprised me and not in an "I expected better" way but in a "I wasn't expecting much and was pleasantly surprised" manner. Honestly, I thought Karl Urban looked a little effete underneath the Judge Dredd helmet. But what Urban lacks in chin he makes up for with an effectively conveyed aloofness that makes Dredd come of like an emotionless, ultra-violent killing machine. Which is exactly what I want to see in a Judge Dredd movie.
Granted, I'm not the world's biggest Judge Dredd aficionado but I like to think he's the British version of Frank Castle who happens to work in a desolate future with other violent vigilantes. And let' face it, unless Marvel greenlights an R-rated Punisher flick this is probably the best 'Punisher' movie we're ever going to get. It was violent but not over-the-top violent like War Zone and the film definitively crafted its cinematic world unlike the Thomas Jane version. As cool as Urban was as Dredd I think Olivia Thirlby was a scene stealer towards the end of the film. The film takes us on the rookie evaluation of Judge Anderson who systematically takes out a local drug lord's persona militia one apartment floor at a time. While that may indeed sound very 'Raid-esque', a comparison that's been made many times before, the similarities never go deeper than the superficial description above. The movie takes place in a post-apocalyptic future, Judge Anderson is a mutant psychic and there's no martial arts in this film, it's just Dredd and his hi-tech gun dispensing justice as ruthlessly as possible. As far as Thirlby goes, her performance as Judge Anderson starts off as meek and unsure and ends as a badass Dredd-in-training apprentice who can definitely hold her own. I almost feel as if the movie didn't feature her enough, from a story-telling standpoint, if the audience is watching Anderson go through her rookie evaluation, it's odd that the story is predominantly told from the viewpoint of Dredd. Still, Urban and Thrilby definitely had onscreen chemistry as the best scenes from the movie featured both characters on screen at the same time.
Visually, I'd have to say the SFX were good but not great. The VFX for the drug SLO-MO were first rate but some of the SFX used for a few lackey deaths were lacking in the realism department which takes you out of the movie at times. Also, the motorcycle Dredd rode looked very generic and plastic, not something I would expect to see in the future. But this is really just nitpicking as the SFX on a $45M budgeted film are not going to be James Cameron level but what little there is here is carefully integrated into the film in a way that doesn't distract.
While it may seem as if I'm saying Dredd is the greatest film ever, I'm simply baffled by the lackluster turnout. I wasn't expecting Avengers numbers but $6.3M for the opening weekend is down right criminal. It's clear that Alex Garland, Pete Travis and Karl Urban put a lot into this film on a relative shoestring budget. What they produced is a lot better than some of the $150M+ big summer blockbuster films that were inflicted upon us this past summer. So go support this film, otherwise studio bean counters will just keep inflicting more Battleships on the unsuspecting populace.
Synopsis: In a violent, futuristic city where the police have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner, a cop teams with a trainee to take down a gang that deals the reality-altering drug, SLO-MO.Director: Pete Travis
Writers: Carlos Ezquerra (characters), Alex Garland(screenplay), and 1 more credit »
Stars: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby and Lena Headey | See full cast and crew