Review: Dredd 3D

Like many, we had our reservations on Dredd 3D - mainly concerns that it would simply fall into the category of passable schlock action. Fortunately, these initial preconceptions could NOT have been more wrong. Pete Travis's feature is a spectacularly crafted, action-packed assault on the senses.

In a futuristic city where crime reigns, police are given heighten powers - where they have authority to act as judge, jury and executioner. The pairing of one of these officers, Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) with a psychically-gifted rookie (Olivia Thrilby) soon plays an integral force in taking down on one the city's most ruthless drug gangs.

Dredd 3D is a gritty, bone-crunching escape from the glossy, explosion filled action blockbusters that are so often found at the local multiplex. Travis directs with a sense of visceral rawness, which is immediately thrust upon us in the many distinct, ultra-violent fight and shoot-out sequences. This sheer brutality paired with the gloomy industrial setting, creates a dark sense of tension and dread. This stylistic vivacity seems to work hand-in-hand with the use of slow motion and 3D, both techniques which could have hindered the film if in the wrong hands.

Whilst it may look slick, the slow-motion serves a greater purpose - to highlight the effects of the drug 'Slo-Mo' which is filtered through the city. Travis uses this to Dredd's advantage - slowing down several moments of the ultra-violence and capturing the events around it, makes for dynamic and often mesmerizing viewing (with the help of director of photography, Anthony Dod Mantle). As self proclaimed heretics of 3D, Silver Screen Slags cannot deny the additional stylistic impact that it gives Dredd.

Praise must also go to Alex Garland's stellar screenplay that shapes the claustrophobic, cat and mouse narrative of Dredd 3D. Putting the two protagonists in a lock-downed single location (of a crumbling apartment block) against hundreds of viscous henchmen, creates a tense 'against the odds' style dynamic.

Karl Urban's Judge Dredd is a man of few words and the Australian actor excels in the role of the stern authoritarian officer. Urban proves utterly convincing, excelling at capturing the physical strength of Dredd, as well as the softer side that slowly shines through when dealing with Thrilby's character. The pair have an incredibly watchable on-screen chemistry, with Thrilby particularly shining as the naieve rookie thrust into an ultra-violent battleground. However, it is a scene stealing turn from Lena Headey's twisted drug boss, Ma-Ma, that ultimately dominates the screen.

Dredd 3D is a stylistic tour de force, proving that action cinema works best with a distinct physical identity. Breathtaking uses of 3D and slow motion photography alongside pitch perfect performances from the three key players put Dredd 3D a bar above 2012's other comic book adaptations.


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