Movie Review: “Dredd 3D” – Surprisingly Not Dreddful

Written by Mitchell B September 24, 2012

Comparing certain films is sometimes a pointless exercise, but given the similarities between “Dredd 3D” and “The Raid: Redemption”, and the circumstances in which I saw them, I couldn’t NOT compare the two. Both films opened up the Toronto Film Festival’s Midnight Madness section (arguably the most fun you’ll have at TIFF), and both are about cops attempting to reach the top of a high-rise controlled by murderous drug lords. One of these films is a high-octane, action packed, bloody good time. And the other is Dredd.

“I am the law”

I won’t get into plot details in this review, mostly because I pretty much summed it up in the first paragraph. That isn’t to say that “Dredd 3D” is a bad film, because it isn’t. It’s a decent film that, with a few changes, could have been a lot more enjoyable. The best part of “Dredd” is that it doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s filled with a lot of self-satire and humor, which makes us aware that this is a film we don’t need our brains for, and in turn, won’t judge too harshly. Urban does a good job with the role, providing most of the deadpan humor and ass-kickery we would expect. There are also some really cool visuals in the film, mostly the early sequences when we are introduced to the “slowmo” drug. However, the movie seems to be more concerned with the effects of “slowmo” than actually being a shoot em up, action flick.

I am smiling.

The Zack Snyder Syndrome

Violence in action films is something that I’m very particular about. I’m not a fan of the PG13 action film, where the result of a gunshot is dust exploding from the wound, rather than actual blood. In certain films this can work (The films of Christopher Nolan, for instance) but more often than not I’d rather see the carnage as it would actually take place. “Dredd” does, in fact, have more than enough blood, but the problem is that we see every drop slowly emerging from the victims’ bodies. The slow motion in this film killed the action sequences that would have otherwise been a lot of fun. Though I am not a fan of the shaky-cam technique pioneered by the “Bourne” films, I am also not a fan of slowing down every action sequence a la Zack Snyder or Guy Ritchie. Bullets whizzing past people and shootouts are a lot more exciting in real time!  Even the action sequences that aren’t slowed down really aren’t all that exciting, which can probably be blamed on director Pete Travis (Vantage Point).

Judgement Time Motherf*ckers

I can’t speak to whether or not “Dredd 3D” is better than the original “Judge Dredd”, as I haven’t seen it, but from what I’ve heard it won’t be difficult to top. “Dredd 3D” definitely has some interesting elements. Karl Urban and the deadpan humor are both enjoyable, as are some of the visual effects, but “Dredd 3D” suffers in the area you’d least expect: the action. It’s just not exciting enough to keep you entertained throughout, and for a film that doesn’t care about character development or plot, that’s kind of a big deal. It’s not a film you’ll regret watching, especially with a 98 minute runtime, but you should probably just watch “The Raid” instead.

My Rating: 6/10

 

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