Directed by Pete Travis
Produced by Alex Garland, Andrew MacDonald, Allon Reich
Written by Alex Garland
Starring Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Wood Harris, Lena Headey
Music by Paul Leonard-Morgan
Cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle
Editing by Mark Eckersley
Distributed by Entertainment Film Distributors, Lionsgate
Running time 95 minutes
Have you ever watched a movie more in the sense of watching a video game unfold? It isn’t too common a comparison for me, but with a storyline in which the protagonists have to survive and escape a 200-stroy slum tower block ridden with thugs under the control of a cutthroat drug lord, it’s pretty hard not to. As if straight out of an MMORPG’s party quest or an FPS game’s secret bonus mode, Dredd is a non-stop, explicit bloodbath of drugs, gun porn, explosions, and visual allure. Prior to watching the film, I barely even knew of the Judge Dredd franchise, but I did happen to skim through one of the comic book issues at a local bookstore the other day. My initial reaction was that Judge Dredd seems like one of those series that has since become so popular that it has been adapted into many different media, by many different people. So while that particular comic book issue didn’t quite compel me in its presentation, this movie was enough to thoroughly entertain me. And in that respect, I think that’s a big part of re-adapting a series, that being introducing a different generation of viewers to the franchise. I guess you can call me easily-sold, but all the aforementioned elements was enough to keep me watching through the whole hour an a half, whether it was the simple plot with subtle under-themes, the vivid and graphic cinematography, the violent warfare, the overall bad-assery, and/or the oh so attractive Anderson, played by Olivia Thirlby (swoon).
In terms of movies based off long-running comics, it’s not unusual for the first movie adaptation to serve as a gradual introduction to the world and main characters. Dredd does so well, showing that it can present a captivating and action-packed struggle despite involving an antagonist of no particular significance. (After all, what’s a simple drug lord to a superhero?) Producer and writer Alex Garland expressed an ardent interest in making a trilogy of films for the series, but it seems box office revenues have prevented that. Nonetheless, as I said earlier, this film is a great gateway into the Judge Dredd mythos so I naturally had to wander off to Wikipedia to read more on the different arcs. And I gotta’ say, there is some good stuff there. Compelling story content and just loads of fun. The movie was a blast to watch and I now keep a keen eye open for any future Judge Dredd adaptations. Win-win.