Well… just watched the movie Dredd starring Karl Urban. What a disappointment! The story was fair enough but Karl Urban was just plain awful! Why, oh why, didn’t they get Stallone? He was a far more convincing Judge Dredd. I’m just glad I didn’t buy it. Urban moped around and gave absolutely no feeling of power or cold-bloodedness. Oh, he shot the bad guys and such, and he said the right things, sort of, but there was no sense of menace. If Dredd were to be like Urban, there’s no way he would become the most feared Judge in Mega-City One! Indeed, the prophets of the future, who chronicle the incorruptible Judge’s deeds in their comic 2000 AD, would doubtless have found some other Judge who better suited the role!
It’s a great shame, too, as the girl (the rookie, Judge Anderson, he’s assigned to assess) is excellent – bravo Olivia Thirlby! The bad guys are passable (some more so than others) and their leader is pretty good. But without a decent Judge Dredd, the whole thing tends to fall flat. It’s weird really. The characters are so sanitised that you’d think it was made for a much younger audience, but the special effects are gruesome enough to prevent that. Stallone, in his outing as Dredd, was so good, it was almost as if he’d been born to play the part. He was able to live up the name, which is, of course, a play on dread. Criminals of all kinds would feel dread if Dredd was the Judge they faced – but only if he was convincingly merciless. Urban just never gave that impression.
The acting aside, some of the sequences were obviously meant to convey the way the psychic Judge Anderson perceived things, but they failed miserably. Such sequences simply didn’t belong in many of the scenes. They should have been confined to the scenes where they were appropriate to the events portrayed. The sets were OK but very limited, with nothing like the extravagantly realised vision of Mega-City one that were presented in the earlier movie with Stallone.
I know that others have praised the movie and given it high ratings, while the Stallone movie has been slammed. That’s their prerogative. Mine is to give you my rating: 2.5 stars – and that’s rescued by the story and Olivia Thirlby’s performance! Now imagine what rating it would have gotten without those redeeming factors! As to slating the earlier movie, all I can say is that I’ve read the comics and enjoyed them. The Stallone version fits far better but I suspect it has been regarded as a failure because of Stallone being cast in the lead! I have observed that he seldom achieves critical approval, yet his movie are immensely entertaining and popular – even if few will confess to liking them! I certainly won’t bother watching Dredd again, but I’ll be happy to watch Judge Dredd many times more.
Movie: Dredd, 2012. Starring Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby. Written by Alex Garland. Directed by Pete Travis. My rating: 2.5 stars.