Written by Alex Garland
Based on characters created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra
Directed by Pete Travis
If I hadn’t seen Eega, Dredd would be my favorite flick of 2012. Which not only surprised me, but surprised everyone who saw Dredd, from the small amount of people who saw it in theaters, to the increasingly loud amount of people just now discovering it on DVD. Dredd is awesome, a solid action vehicle that builds a believable world without drowning you in lots of back story.
It’s sad that I knew Dredd would fail at the box office before it was even released, the scars of Stallone’s Judge Dredd is still too fresh in the minds of the American public, a public that has zero knowledge of the comic inspiration. But Dredd is having a second life, bolstered by loud supporters and a shocked new audience that is keeping Dredd on the top of the rental and sales charts.
Dredd succeeds because of many reasons. By keeping the action largely confined to a single mega-block, it allows for saving on huge set costs and makes the action close and personal. The fighting becomes desperate as the characters are trapped. Dredd‘s score by Paul Leonard-Morgan is among my favorite scores, and is the first film album I’ve gotten in years. The operatic Slo-Mo segments based on a slowed down Justin Bieber song contrast wonderfully with the heavy-synth action tracks.
The integration of bullet-time 3D via the drug Slo-Mo is a creative way to put Matrix action into a film and make it feel natural, the first time since the Matrix movies where the slow-motion feels like it belongs and isn’t shoehorned in because some producer wanted to ape the Wachowskis.
Olivia Thirlby’s Anderson is not your typical female action sidekick. Though in training, she’s an equal partner. Even though at some point she’s taken prisoner, she doesn’t just sit back and wait for Dredd to rescue her. She’s in control, she rescues herself, and she even saves Dredd. Anderson stays in power while going through the minds of awful people who think awful things, getting what she wants while not leaving any marks (well, not marks you can see.) It’s an equality seldom seen in today’s action epics, and painfully missed. Even Rakie Ayola’s Chief Judge seems natural, she has a respect for Dredd as the best street judge, but also firmly gives him orders.