‘Dredd 3D’ Review

Published 3 years ago by , Updated November 18th, 2014 at 4:17 am,

Karl Urban Dredd 3D Dredd 3D Review

Dredd 3D offers an extremely enjoyable action ride and, for some, might even stand as one of Hollywood’s most entertaining comic book adaptations.

The 1995 Judge Dredd movie starring Sylvester Stallone remains a guilty pleasure adventure for plenty of action fans, not to mention a never ending Internet meme generator, but fell short of expectations for many comic book diehards. While Stallone may have been taking the role seriously, the campy one-liners and melodramatic character interaction undercut some of the most enjoyable qualities in the Judge Dredd character – namely a ruthless (and faceless) judge, jury, and instant executioner.

Rising above the standard skepticism surrounding franchise reboots, fans as well as action lovers remained cautiously optimistic about director Pete Travis and star Karl Urban’s Dredd 3D. Despite the optimism, early plot synopses and feature trailers drew strong comparisons to the premise of Gareth Evans’ Indonesian hit, The Raid: Redemptionabout a team of cops that must fight their way through an apartment complex, one level at a time, to arrest a merciless drug lord – causing some moviegoers to worry that Dredd was little more than an uninspired franchise reboot fashioned onto the premise of a lesser known (but more original) film production.

Dredd was actually scripted long before The Raid became a breakout hit but, considering comparability, the film is now faced with an even steeper challenge. So, does Dredd manage to deliver its own action-packed (and memorable) thrill ride – one that successfully rebrands Judge Dredd as the gritty character longtime fans remember?

Fortunately, the answer is: yes. Dredd delivers – in a big way. There’s no doubt the film shares plot similarities with The Raid, but for every jaw-dropping knife fight in Evans’ film, Travis offers a comparably fun gun battle (and plenty of iconic Dredd scowl). Ultimately, Dredd is a grounded action experience – relying heavily on the titular character’s physicality and gruff personality to keep things entertaining. There are some fast-paced set pieces (such as the opening motorcycle chase) and loads of slick visuals (thanks to the “Slo-Mo” drug at the center of the plot) but instead of over the top action, moviegoers are treated to a smart combination of entertaining character moments, an intriguing near future backdrop, and thin but enjoyable plot points that make room for Dredd to take center stage – dispatching one thug after another in a variety of brutal conflicts.

Karl Urban Olivia Thirlby Dredd 3D Dredd 3D Review

Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) and Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) in ‘Dredd’

Instead of spending time introducing audience members to a backstory of how Dredd became the most feared Judge in Mega-City One, the film presents the character (much like in the comics) as a faceless force of nature that will stop at nothing to enact justice and protect innocent lives. When Dredd and a would-be Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) respond to a series of homicides in the “Peach Trees” slum block, the pair begin an investigation that threatens infamous drug kingpin Madeline Madrigal – aka Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), whose “Slo-Mo” is quickly becoming the narcotic of choice in the city. In an effort to retain her control over Peach Trees, Ma-Ma locks down the 200 story slum – and offers a sizable bounty to any resident who can kill the Judges. With nowhere to escape, and no backup, Dredd and Anderson are forced to fight their way through Peach Trees – clearing the complex one floor at a time in an against all odds attempt to free Mega-City One from Ma-Ma’s grasp.

Anyone looking for a deep Batman Begins character piece will likely be underwhelmed by the storyline in Dredd – as the movie is significantly more interested in the crisis at hand rather than trials the Judge may have faced in the past. Travis is unapologetic in this approach – as even Anderson appears to know better than to dig around behind Dredd’s helmet. However, Dredd has never been a character that needed a lot of exploration – and the narrow focus of the film allows for an unapologetic (and fun) opportunity to watch the Judge, armed with limited resources and ammunition, react to a variety of challenging circumstances. Urban, who never takes off his helmet during the entire film, embodies the dry humor and cold wit of Dredd at every turn – with a gravelly voice, imposing physicality, and an unrelenting/iconic frown.

Thirlby as Anderson is also a smart juxtaposition for the callous and veteran Dredd. The actress offers a “rookie” perspective, while appearing at home with the violence around her, assisting in teaching the audience about this version of Mega-City One and the Judges – without in-your-face exposition that might otherwise inundate the action. Despite her inexperience and smaller frame, Anderson has the added benefit of psychic abilities that lead to a number of the film’s most entertaining moments. Headey’s Ma-Ma, on the other hand, is mostly presented as a MacGuffin – a problem that must be addressed – more than a multilayered person. Travis provides a backstory for the character and she serves her function in the larger Dredd plot (to regularly instigate the Judges) but is, without a doubt, underserved by the final film. Ma-Ma’s characterization won’t bother most viewers, but next to captivating versions of Dredd and Anderson, the villain falls a bit flat – especially with a talented actress like Headey (Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones) in the role.

Lena Headey Dredd 3D Dredd 3D Review

Ma Ma (Lena Headey) in ‘Dredd’

As mentioned, the action in Dredd is grounded and there are no giant robot fights this round. Travis relies almost entirely on practical effects – letting the characters and explosions sell the film experience. Moviegoers who are easily wooed by style-over-substance CGI action fare (like Resident Evil: Retribution) might be underwhelmed by the, at times, limited scope of Dredd‘s action sequences. Instead, the movie focuses directly on its titular character, following the Judge through one explosive hurdle after another. The conflicts are fun, and considering the heroes are significantly outnumbered and low on ammunition, each quarrel presents a different side of Dredd and Anderson’s respective skill sets – allowing the movie to showcase Dredd’s ingenuity instead of dropping him into one brainless gunfight after another.

Dredd is showing in 2D and 3D theaters, and while many moviegoers might be skeptical about the premium upcharge, the 3D is worth the added price. The Slo-Mo drug sequences are especially enjoyable in 3D and, for the most part, the film makes smart (and even artistic) use of the format. Admittedly, a good chunk of the movie takes place in tight hallways where the effect is dialed down but a number of key sequences are successfully enhanced by the 3D – meaning some 2D Dredd viewers could feel as though they missed out on the full experience.

Action fans who expect deep character exploration or over the top CGI visuals might be somewhat underwhelmed by Dredd. However, Travis and Urban were intentional in their approach to the fan favorite hero, delivering a faithful Judge Dredd interpretation and smart Peach Trees “sandbox” – where the characters engage in a variety of tense conflicts. One of 2012′s biggest surprises, Dredd 3D offers an extremely enjoyable action ride and, for some, might even stand as one of Hollywood’s most entertaining comic book adaptations.

If you’re still on the fence about Dredd 3D, check out the trailer below:


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For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant team check out the Dredd 3D episode of the SR Underground podcast.

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comment section below. If you’ve seen the movie and want to discuss details about the film without worrying about spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, please head over to our Dredd 3D Spoilers Discussion.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future reviews, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.

Dredd 3D is Rated R for strong bloody violence, language, drug use and some sexual content. Now playing in 3D and 2D theaters.

Our Rating:

4 out of 5

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  1. I haven’t been to the pictures for years,but being a 2000AD reader and lover of Judge Dredd in the 80′s and 90′s,once I got a sniff that this movie was going to be half decent,I couldn’t resist going to see it, when away on a recent business trip. I can honestly say this was the best £4.50 I have spent in years (plus £1.00 for the 3D glasses.)The Dredd character was spot on, and the brutal judgement he dealt out,it felt as captivating as it did when I read the comic in my youth. Slo Mo action even better than bullet time in the Matrix movies.

    Now please do some more Dredd movies with the classic series:- The Dark Judges, Block Wars, Apocalypse War, Judge Child, and throw in a good measure of minor stories such as Uncle Umps, and the League of Fattie’s. I will be going back to watch Dredd again, and, and again.

  2. Well its looking like a major flop, thanks LGF marketing you did your usual excellent job. What a damn shame for movies in general.

    • Not sure how you can claim it will be ma major flop considering its budget. All it has to do is make probably a mere 75 mil for it break even (including marketing costs) which should be easily doable world wide.

  3. I just came from seeing this movie and let me tell you, This movie was RAW! Loved it! I’m so praying for a sequel.

  4. ‘Dredd’ may be one of the best (not to mention most faithful) CBM’s in a long time, but it looks like it’s going to tank at the box-office… and that’s a real shame! Everyone involved in making this film seemed to pour their heart and souls into it, but being a dark, grim R-rated movie based off a relatively obscure comic-book, and with no A-List actors or directors attached, has unfortunately meant it had an uphill struggle from the start, and it appears that hill has proven too steep…

    It might yet surprise in worldwide box-office figures, but any chance of a sequel – which is looking increasingly like slim to none – now depend on DVD and Blu-Ray sales, which I still think will do better than expected, but if this film is the only one we get, it’s still ONE HECK of a Judge Dredd film by any standards!

  5. all new reboots were good till now, total rekall was good and different and it´s good to read that dredd is the bomb. and at least some things to the new -robocop-, the suit is fantastic and it has all simillarities to the old r.c., maybe a little bit silver wouldn´t be bad. the suit is him-his body and not an armour suit like bat or snake eyes suits.

    • total rekall was good? what have you been smoking?

  6. I went to see it just to have a personal opinion and not have to rely on last weeks influx of, “OMFH, that was THE BEST comic book movie EVAR” posts.

    I thought they did an admirable job (especially considering the budget) but my biggest complaint was that it felt rather small. This was due mainly to them having the majority of the movie take place in one building and more over corridors upon corridors. It got a bit tedious for me.

    The other complaint (along with them them not using the iconic uniform) would be the “villain” was extremely one dimensional and we really didn’t get to see her do much at all. She spent the majority of the movie barking orders and looking perpetually pissed off.

    That being said it was a pretty solid and entertaining movie despite it’s shortcomings. Urban did a great job at channeling Dredd but interestingly, one of the corrupt judges I thought had a much better profile to the comic Dredd (that being a more prominent chin).

    I even think this movie would have worked better if they had gone with the correct, full blown outfit.

    • I assume you’re referring to Judge Lex, right? He had awesome profile, I agree. I still love Urban though. But I’m glad that guy was cast for Lex because he was awesome.

      • lol, I wasn’t paying enough attention to catch the other Judge’s name. I just remember seeing him in profile in the foreground and thought his chin was a better match. Weather or not he could have done as well as Urban at portraying Dredd is debatable.

        • Judge Lex (Langley Kirkwood) is supposed to be a Judge of Dredd’s own vintage.


  8. Awesome movie, loved it.

  9. I saw this yesterday (and dragged my sister with me). We did not see it in 3D because I get headaches whenever I watch a film in 3D. I really didn’t have any expectations and I thought it was a great edge of your seat movie. My sister and I kep jumping and flinching in our seats. My only complaint (and this really doesn’t have to do with the movie itself) is that a woman brought her 7 year old son to see it and he was scared shitless, actually cried out a few times and kept covering his face. Stupid parent.

  10. I thought Lena Heady was good in a very subtle way. Loved her very chilling toned down presence.

  11. I went and saw this today in 2D during a matinee and I absolutely LOVED this film!! I thought Karl Urban was FANTASTIC as the emotionless Dredd. Yes, the violence was a bit over the top, but that is to be expected with a CBM. I can’t think of anything I would change in it, seriously. I WILL be buying this on Blu-Ray as soon as it comes out. If you’re on the fence about seeing this, hop on over that fence and GO SEE THIS MOVIE!

  12. OMFG !!!

    just saw it. i was not expecting it to jump out of the screen like that. i may have kinda liked the 95 one… but this. let me tell you it is as close to the source as possible. this is a viscious, diabolical and grim world unlike the colorful one diane lane inhabited. where she talked about love and families. in this world technology seems to have stopped progressing where as the judges manufacture better than anyone else. so while their adversaries are carrying mac 10′s they are no match for dredd on any level.

    i can’t disagree with the reviewer any stronger ma ma was an animal. she single handely slaughtered children women and men with a vulcan cannon as she leaveled an area of peach tree. she also kept this assistant around as a pet and tourtured him daily and routinely. in one scene she is hangng over his shoulder like a child showing love and affection while she grabs at the muscles on his belly with one hand while her other hand drags a hook like knife across his tummy.

    And dredd… what can i say karl urban is the man. he doesn’t appear fake and roboticlike as his predissessor did. and instead of that bogus clone back story from the original he appears to be a man who found a book of law as a child and red it religeously and became the law. this a simplier but far superior movie to the 95 version.

    i hope it does better at the box office otherwise this may just be the best cult film of all friggin time.

    What a shock that the best comic book thriller came out in september not the summer.

    This movie is literally Diehard times a thousand… on steroids.

    4 out of 4

    • Dredd IS a clone in the comics. He’s one of several cloned from the Chief Justice Fargo. But all the other Judges are recruited at a young age. The 95 movie did have lots of things from the comics, but they were just all over the place. They just cherry-picked what they wanted instead of focusing on the story at hand.

      • Significantly, it wasn’t a hidden secret in the comics that he was a clone. A certain % of Judges are clones.

  13. Finally got to see this. I’d been waiting to go with an old friend of mine who, like myself, started reading 2000 AD from the beginning. We both had the same opinion: good. Not great, but a solid piece of work that was more than enough to erase the memory of the Stallone version. I read the script online a year or two ago, feared the worst, and when the first production stills started appearing didn’t care for the way they’d handled the uniform, thought the lawmaster looked terrible etc etc. I freely admit I was wrong on all counts.

    Context is everything. Although the story did resemble a minor episode, on reflection I can’t imagine a better use of the limited budget or a better introduction to the character. This was not the Mega-City One of the comics, but it was entirely consistent within its own framework, and most importantly Karl Urban turned in a performance that I completely recognised: mannerisms, comportment, speech patterns, voice, everything. He had Dredd down to a T, and the script kept his laconic statements from tipping over into standard one-liners.

    The contrast with the 1995 version couldn’t have been more stark. I liked the beaten-up Mad Max end-of-civilisation vibe; the Judge uniforms battered and dusty, Dredd himself unshaven. The sense that Peach Trees was a just one prison building sprouting from the ruins of a society on the brink of total anarchy, the city having become effectively the largest penal colony on the planet. Shooting on a few limited locations in Cape Town and Johannesburg lent the movie an authentic feel the former effort couldn’t muster on twice the budget. Just as David Cronenberg’s use of Canadian cities to stand in for US ones gives his movies an added unsettling, surreal layer, South Africa in no way resembles America visually…but it’s alien enough with added CGI architecture to be utterly convincing as a decayed, collapsing, post-nuclear war America.

    Also contrasting with the 1995 movie was the almost insane level of violence. Not necessary as such, but made sense in terms of depicting the inherent brutality of a virtually out-of-control society whose only police force has the power of summary execution.

    I thought Olivia Thirlby did well as Anderson shoved in at the deep end, with the right combination of vulnerability, practicality, resourcefulness and stoicism – refusing to allow herself to become overwhelmed by either the situation or Dredd.

    Quick mention for the 3D: slow motion exploding cheeks etc notwithstanding, nice sense of depth throughout. Even the titles looked good. Also Paul Leonard-Morgan’s score: reminded me of John Carpenter in places – not the sound or melody necessarily, just the feel of a ’70s SF film. In a good way. Unusual chosen songs too.

    Sadly it looks as though a sequel ain’t to be. Once again. Dammit. The self-fulfilling prophecy in the US of lack of promotion leading to poor ticket sales, and it doesn’t seem to have performed that well internationally either. I suppose the only hope now is the DVD/Blu-Ray market. Whatever the outcome, this time around a Judge Dredd movie was made for the right reasons by people who actually believed in it, from Alex Garland, Pete Travis and Karl Urban on down. Everyone involved on the creative side did their best with what they had, took some risks, and captured the essence of an icon better than most people could have hoped for. They can be proud of that.

  14. what I loved about this movie is I had low expectations for it I thought it would be “dreadful” (pun intended) ; but it turned out to be a huge huge surprise for me; great Rated R violence the character was done justice and hands down from a personal view the best 3-D in a movie I have ever experienced ; and believe me I hate 3-D … it deserves 4 out of 5 stars…now what sucks? it barely made past its budget only making roughly 34-35 million as of now and producer Alex Garland said “50 million would allow for potential sequels” it sucks because I would love for this to become a trilogy or franchise

    • It needed to make $50 million in the US – it’s only made $13 million – not $50 million worldwide.

      • I did not say 50 million in the U.S lol i was just saying what it made in a whole dude

  15. Are you kidding me. Dredd was completely retarded. Main actor was horrible and the characters were poorly handeled.

    The sad attempts to add some depth to judge dredd were laughable. Just saying “He has depth” does not give him depth.

    Maybe l missed something or we watched different films, because the dredd l saw made me wish l had my 2 hours back

  16. I saw this movie a couple of days ago and I loved it from beginning to end.

    This movie shows that you DON’T have to mess around with an origin story for every comic book adaptation. Instead it just shows Dredd in his element, and it works absolutely perfectly. And I really liked the way the movie looked, and how Mega-City One looks like a real city.

  17. This movie’s plot is very similar to ‘The Raid’ Indonesian movie, though the raid is much better in term of action

  18. Oh, yeah… this movie ROCKS OUT WITH ITS —- OUT. Goodbye, ladies. Coming from a big action buff of the ’80s and ’90s, I felt halfway through like I was watching the spiritual movie sequel to “RoboCop”, although without any hint of conflict in the protagonist’s motives.

    Dredd, like Alex Murphy in ‘RoboCop’, is just a man. But whereas Alex was killed and ressurrected as an indestructible killing machine who could not function outside of the law without terrible consequences,
    the character of Dredd IS and REMAINS just a man, but something more: A human force of nature whose unblinking, unyielding approach to justice is more Old Testament than New, and who despite being purely human – does not acknowledge any sign of internal conflict regarding his soul(in stark opposition to ‘RoboCop’s cyborg protagonist, who was an automaton in nothing but design).

    This movie is so good it made me research the comics it originated in, and now I realize how much of an influence it surely had on the designers of ‘RoboCop’. ANY MOVIE THAT MAKES ME DIG DEEPER and still entertains at such a nerve-rattling, face-kicking pace is always welcome on my shelf.

    Those unfortunate souls cursed with remaking Verhoeven’s ‘RoboCop’ would do well to study how to approach the look and feel with contemporary techniques of this film. ‘Dredd’ is like a gut punch, and does something that such a thematically similiar film as Verhoeven’s(esp. in terms of cynicism, satire, black-comedy, and action; not to mention keeping a virtuous female partner character)could NOT do: create a resonating elemnental presence that moviegoers root for despite being able to see only his mouth – and the film-makers behind ‘Dredd’ did it without ANY exposition except time and place. This is PURE CINEMA.
    And I’m GRATEFUL it was so good that it reflected back on it’s original creators and may very well help build more of an audience for them as well.

    I mean, that’s something the Stallone flick ‘Judge Dredd’ didn’t make me do. *****

    • RoboCop was originally supposed to be a Judge Dredd film. Ed Neumeier who wrote/produced RoboCop was working on a script but he couldn’t secure the rights to Judge Dredd because Charles Lippicott owned them.

      So Dredd became RoboCop.

      Susan Nicoletti – who was a development executive for Lippincott- went to a preview screening of RoboCop and met one of the producers afterwards; he looked apologetically at her, shrugged and said, “It’s Judge Dredd, isn’t it?”.

  19. Great movie! And in 3D, it almost feels like you’re in Bisley’s comic.
    Music is awesome ambiental. I’ll be listening it far in the future.

  20. Muito boa leitura, agora eu sei mais sobre isso.

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