Judge, Jury, and Executioner might be what Dredd thinks he is, but here, on this blog, I get to judge and maybe execute his film. I would have loved to play with the title and maybe call the post Dredd-ful, but as luck would have it, the film actually surpasses a lot of my expectations.
Karl Urban in a role that requires him to wear a helmet covering most of his face throughout the film, does a great job of playing the über-cool Dredd. Lena Henley as the villainous Ma-Ma plays a female character that leaves a strong impact both on Judge Dredd and the audience. Putting these two characters inside a 200-floor apartment block and letting them loose in a head-to-head battle not only forms the premise of the film, but gives it a claustrophobic feel that works rather well. It also helps keep the story moving in one direction, not meandering away with unnecessary sub-plots (of which there a couple).
Dredd gets tremendous credit for coming up with an ingenious way to get away with somewhat excessive use of slow-motion. Unfortunately, that doesn't stop the film from being draggy at times and it doesn't really pick-up till the "machine-gun massacre of floor 76" around the halfway mark. There is a lot of running around corridors without much action at times, but the film stays clear of too much melodrama staying true to the action. With special effects helping the cast at every corner, Dredd is at times visually stunning to watch, even though this generally includes people getting shot and/or killed.
What really was dreadful about the film is the 3D aspect. I cannot be sure, but checking the screen in-between it seemed that the film was one of those where only parts were in 3D and not the entire film. I could be wrong about this. Nevertheless, if 3D has to succeed, it needs support from everyone involved, and when the cinema provides dirty and scratched glasses, it really doesn't help much, so much so that I had to strain my eyes at times to make out what was going on screen.
As Dredd makes for an above average action flick, it manages to grab attention for not shying away from the gore and bloody mess that is a result of all the fighting. It does lack the one-liners that are ever-so-important to make such action films memorable. While the film is in a completely different league than its predecessor, it might just miss out on the type of cult status other films like Robocop has had over the years, or for that matter even The Raid earlier this year. It does, however, have scope to be converted into an eagerly awaited franchise.