Back in 1995, Sylvester Stallone played Dredd in the much-maligned box office flop Judge Dredd.
So, it was a brave decision to bring the Judge back for the simply titled Dredd 3D.
Well, 3D if you’re actually in a theater screening it in 3D. And if you’re not, you’re missing out, but more on that later.
Dredd is based on the character who first appeared in the British sci-fi anthology comic 2000 AD, as well as many comic books since.
The title character in this film is played by Karl Urban (Star Trek, Chronicles of Riddick), and where Stallone looked like the comic book character, matching his bulk and scowl, Urban looks like his younger brother.
His small shoulders and slim physique don’t match the comic book look of the character, but if you’re like most folks, you have no idea what he’s supposed to look like anyway, so it doesn’t really matter.
And he scowls throughout the entire movie, so points there.
At the beginning of the movie, we’re told all about the world having fallen into disrepair and criminals basically running rampant.
Earth is split into Mega Cities, and Dredd patrols Mega City 1 as police, judge, jury and executioner, because the courts began to be overwhelmed.
It’s a violent world, where all the judges can basically control a small percent of the violent society, which mostly resides in slums.
In the movie, no one really seems violent, just homeless.
Dredd is called in after a particular nasty incident involving some criminals and a ton of blood.
He’s introduced to a young woman played by Olivia Thirlby (Juno, The Wackness), who, even though she’s failed all the tests to become a judge, has incredible psychic powers the force wants.
They volunteer Dredd to take her out for the day and see if she’s an able candidate despite her failings.
Why they got Judge Dredd to play babysitter is anyone’s guess.
And this is where the movie gets a little sticky.
Thirlby’s character, Anderson, is there to be the tour guide for the viewers through this new world and to give everyone someone with whom they can relate.
She seems a bit too cutesy and attractive to even exist in this abusive future, much less be a judge.
Also, along the way, we’re introduced to the drug Slo-Mo, which allows time to slow down and make the gray, sad world around you seem beautiful and vibrant.
The drug is supposedly bad.
We’re never told why or what it does besides make life a little more livable. But it’s being distributed throughout the city, and that’s not a good thing.
A call about a three-person homicide in one of the slums sets things in motion as Dredd gets the call.
They reach the sky-rise slum and quickly find some Slo-Mo dealers and blow the door open, while one of the users takes a hit of the drug, causing the entire action scene to play out in extreme, gory slow motion.
We see bullets rip through the armed guard’s body, from impact to exit, as well as the user, who decided it’d be a good idea to pull a gun on a judge and catches a bullet to the face.
This is why the movie is in 3D. We get bullets, blood and debris flying out of the screen every chance they get.
Dredd and Anderson now have to make their way to Ma-Ma, the female drug lord who presides on the very top floor, and has sealed off the building.
The action in this movie is over the top. No one is spared in this movie. Innocent bystanders get iced as much as the bad guys do.
High-powered machine guns rip through an entire floor of the building, so who knows how many men, women and children bit the dust there.
Dredd is tough as nails, though we’re never really told that he may be the best judge in Mega City 1; we just figure, because he never really gets hurt or flinches when he has to go against a ton of machine-gun-wielding baddies.
Anderson, on the other hand, doesn’t seem too fazed by all the explosions and gunfire either, which is a stretch for a gorgeous, wiry little girl who weighs about 90 pounds.
While nearly the entire movie takes place in the building, it never really seems claustrophobic.
The same premise was used in the Korean action film “The Raid: Redemption” (Redbox), which uses it to a much better effect than they do here.
The slow motion effects are pretty neat and definitely a gimmick to get people to watch it in 3D, but it’s a gimmick that works in spades.
Dredd 3D is a relatively good sci-fi action romp, definitely better that Judge Dredd, but it lacked atmosphere as we’re only told through narration about the city and never really wander the grimy streets.
It’s a very good, yet unnecessary film, that is all about the journey and not so much the destination.
Dredd is playing in both 2D and 3D at Rio 6 Cinemas, 806 E. Houston St.
Paul Gonzales is the entertainment writer at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 116, or at thescene@mySouTex.com.