In the last 5 years, remakes, sequels and prequels have contributed to the vast majority of Hollywood's output. With Total Recall about to be released across the UK (August 29), which of course is a remake of the 80's classic starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, a new contender for the remake of a cult classic is set to hit cinema screens in the form of Dredd 3D.
Judge Dredd was a comic book character of British origin whose first appearance in sci-fi anthology 2000 AD back in 1977 firmly established him as one of the magazines longest running and most popular characters! Now for those of you who aren't as au fait with the world of Judge Dredd , a previous attempt to launch Dredd onto the big screen was made back in 1995 as a vehicle for action mega star Sylvester Stallone, a film which was at the time critically panned although did achieve a certain cult success.
It's best not to compare the two films, as Dredd 3D is an entirely different beast but like the '95 version I do genuinely think Dredd 3D in time has the capability to become a cult film much like it's predecessor.
Interestingly , Dredd 3D will be given a 18 certificate in the UK, and even though summer holidays are coming to an end for school kids up and down the country, the decision to aim the film at a more mature audience is certainly a bold move on the studios part, but ultimately It means that the studios and the filmmakers haven't had to compromise anything meaning audiences will get to see something quite rare, that is a film with commercial Hollywood sensibilities, combined with 18 rated violence and gore which completely sets it apart from films like the teen friendly Total Recall which carries a frothy 12A certificate.
As such, Dredd 3D is a hyper violent tour de force which doesn't hold back and audiences get to see some pretty nasty things! it almost feels like a throwback to the cult action movies of the 80's and 90's like the original Judge Dredd, and movies like Predator and Robo-Cop.
Another area where Dredd 3D succeeds is in the unusually simplistic narrative, for a big budget comic book movie you would expect a sprawling narrative filled to the brim with peripheral 2 dimensional characters and pointless tangential storylines. In a narrative arc reminiscent of The Raid, the downright insane Indonesian martial arts action film, Dredd works on a similar format.
Called to a triple homicide at one of Mega City's gigantic urban conurbations known as 'Peach Trees' Dredd (played by Karl Urban) and a rookie cop , Anderson, (Olivia Thirlby) find themselves on lock down within the building and must fight their way to the top in order to defeat drug baron Ma-Ma who has control of the building and its residents, see..simple right? Well not so much for Dredd and Anderson who have to fight their way through wave after wave of Ma-Ma's henchmen but proof that simple is most definitely more effective.
Like a video game where each level is an incremental series of challenges and obstacles, Dredd and Anderson push through a whole wealth of tougher baddies and more advanced weaponry in order to reach the big boss.
The action never lets up and will certainly have you on the edge of your seat! Visually the film is incredibly slick, directed by Pete Travis (Vantage Point, End Game) it combines a real sense of comic book style, particularly some of the fight scenes and when characters are under the influence of Slo-Mo (a drug which makes the user believe time has slowed down to 1% its normal speed) as well as some retro flourishes that almost make you feel like you could be watching a Paul Verhoeven movie from the 90's
With a script from long time Danny Boyle collaborator, Alex Garland, Dredd 3D retains a sense of humour about it, and as I said before the film almost feels like a throwback to the action movies of the late 80's and 90's and Garland has even thrown in a couple of cheesy one liners for good measure!
Stallone of course famously removed his helmet in the '95 film, a decision that has been completely bypassed in Dredd 3D and arguably for the better, as part of the mystique and intrigue of the character is the fact we never get to properly see his face. Im not entirely sure if hiding your face for an entire movie is more of a challenge for the actor or quite the opposite, but Karl Urban is good a choice as any to play the chin of Judge Dredd, as really the chin is all of what we see! Vocally though Urban does bring the cool with his deep, manly voice particularly for the delivery of the iconic Judge Dredd line 'I am the law!' which is sure to make fan boys a little bit giddy.
All in all Dredd 3D is a film which I personally think will benefit from having an 18 certificate, simply because grown up audiences deserve a mature and adult comic book movie, one that doesn't pander to the 'yoot' of today. It's a fun, violent, retro action movie and that should be celebrated!