‘DREDD 3D’ provides futuristic, exhilarating fun

(Photo courtesy of Lionsgate films)

Creating films derived from a comic book series is a difficult art to master. Fans of the series can be hypercritical if the film does not stay true to the comic.  However, “DREDD 3D” manages to delight moviegoers and provide an incredible adrenaline rush while maintaining its origins.

The future is a bleak and grim place. Riots are commonplace in the streets and fires ravage neighborhoods. Shrieks of terror erupt from every street corner. People dressed in tight black leather suits and helmets serve as the future’s cops, also known as “Judges.” The Judges protect civilians by scouring the cities for criminals and executing them instantly if deemed necessary.

Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) encounters a relatively nasty brush with criminal activity when an addiction to a drug called “Slo-Mo” spreads throughout the population. The drug consists of an amber liquid that swirls in a container that resembles an asthma inhaler. As smoke wafts out of the users’ mouths, time dramatically slows down. The use of 3D beautifully replicates the experience for the audience.

The latest addition to the Judges arrives during the crisis.  Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), a quiet young woman with psychic abilities, assists Judge Dredd to bring down the production of “Slo-Mo.” Her performance in the mission determines whether or not she can officially become a “Judge.”
Her acting performance, however, is subpar. Her vulnerability and mixed emotions become annoying very quickly.

The woman behind the drug production is Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), a sinister antagonist. With messy hair, scars etched on her face and bloody tactics, she is truly terrifying. Her henchmen, members of the aptly-named Ma-Ma Clan, must abide by her plans to kill Anderson and Dredd as well as anyone who is unfortunate enough to cross her path.

One of Ma-Ma’s most valuable accomplices is Clan Techie (Domhnall Gleeson).  His yellow eyebrows, abnormally big blue eyes, light scraggly hair and his perpetually scared face resemble a frightened rodent. Clan Techie controls Ma-Ma’s entire technology-based system and can detect the Judges’ whereabouts.

The majority of the film takes place in a grungy skyscraper. Anderson and Dredd have to work their way through the building to face off the Ma-Ma Clan. Difficulty arises when they realize that the skyscraper houses many inhabitants. Sure enough, the inhabitants are often victims of the fights. While the fights regularly occur and appear brutal, Olivia Thirlby noted that none of it seemed real during shooting.

One thing to note is that “DREDD 3D” is certainly not for the faint of heart. Executions frequently take place throughout the movie and the bloody details are not spared. Although none of the bloodier scenes are filmed in 3D, there are enough severed limbs and torn bodies to make squeamish viewers wince.

As a whole, “DREDD 3D” is an absolutely fantastic thrill ride. The acting is fairly good for the most part. Even though Urban portrays a stern man masked by a helmet, his lines are delivered flawlessly. In addition, Headey’s Ma-Ma appears to be a ruthless and genuinely horrifying villain. The various personas featured in “DREDD 3D” mesh nicely together.

The flick certainly differs from other similar comic book adaptations. The protagonists do not have multiple scantily clad women clinging onto their arms, nor do they visit clubs during their off hours. The focus primarily shines on nonstop combat in a world that could slightly imitate Earth in the future.

Between the carefully crafted fighting scenes, relatively decent acting, and exciting plot, “DREDD 3D” proves itself to be an exhilarating film to watch.

 

Reach the reporter at lrogoff@asu.edu