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He Said, She Said Review Site

Dredd 3D

What She said:

She

Are you in the mood for an excessively violent 3D spectacle?  Well, then Dredd 3D is just what you are looking for.  The movie tells the tale of a futuristic and post-apocalyptic world, where most of the population lives within the confines of a city, Mega City One.  It’s apparently one giant city that runs from Boston to Washington, DC.  Anyway, there are older, smaller buildings, more of what we’d be accustomed to today, and then there are these super huge ones that are cities within themselves.  All the buildings, big or small, seem pretty run down.  In fact, the cities in general seem pretty depressingly dumpy.  Life here is chaotic and policing is done by these individuals deemed “Judges” who are in-and-of-themselves judge, jury, and instant executer.  If you break a law and they catch you, get ready to have your sentence carried out on the spot, even if it’s death.  You’d think this would scare people into submission but Mega City One has a huge criminal underbelly.  The Judges are always busy scooting around on their zippy motorcycles in their combat gear trying to stop the baddies.

Dredd 3D

Judge Dredd is one particularly monotonal and talented Judge.  He’s hot on the tail of some criminals related to a new drug epidemic in the city, Slo-Mo.  Slo-Mo makes the user experience a sense of euphoria where the world around them seems to slow down to a fraction its usual speed.  Everything also gets super glittery.  Dredd is forced to take a young psychic and Judge-in-training, Anderson, under his wing as he investigates a series of murders at Peach Trees, one of the mega buildings.  Peach Trees is a downright scary place.  It seems more like a prison than an actual dwelling.  I think they mention in the movie that the unemployment rate in Peach Trees is something like 98 percent.  So, most of the inhabitants spend their days using Slo-Mo and/or steering clear of the bad guys who essentially run the building.  The head baddie is Ma-Ma, a crack-head looking ex-prostitute that has somehow managed to claw her way into a position of ultimate power, manufacturing Slo-Mo and overseeing its distribution.  She’s a total psycho who not only kills people, but also has them skinned.  That’s how brutal she is.  When Dredd and Anderson begin to unravel the truths of Slo-Mo’s origin, Ma-Ma traps them in Peach Trees and declares war on them.  They must fight to save their lives, bring down Ma-Ma, and get out of there with all their limbs intact.

Those were a lot of words to describe what is a very simple plot.  Dredd and Anderson get trapped in Peach Trees and have to pretty much kill their way out.  And kill they do.  There’s so much killing in this movie it’s almost hard to believe.  Not that it all actually looks realistic.  Some of it is sort of cheesy, particularly those battles that take place when someone is on Slo-Mo.  Things get sort of Matrixy as bullets fly in slow motion and faces contort in anguish.  I’d say, after the first half hour of this movie I was super unenthused.  Things were predictable, graphic, and not particularly insightful.  Then the pace started to pick up a little and there was more at stake.  That helped to make this more interesting.  That said, it’s not my favorite.  I should note that I did NOT see this film in 3D.  That’s right, I elected to see Dredd 3D in 2D.  I could see where the film would benefit from being viewed in 3D, particularly in those sections where time slows to its 1 percent the normal pace and the music starts to thump super loud.  Did I mention the music?  It’s sort of a mix of industrial, psychedelic, and goth rolled into one really loud score.  Maybe it was just my theater, but I think my right eardrum exploded. 

I know the movie is not meant to be taken completely seriously, but Dredd and Ma-Ma were sort of caricatures rather than fleshed out characters with back-stories.  The Judges are not super-humans, nor are they robots.  But Dredd seemed so robotic in his delivery it made you wonder if he was actually a man under all that armor.  Come on dude, have some emotions, or at least let your voice have some pitchiness.  He was almost like the Terminator, but at least Arnold had an excuse.  Meanwhile, Ma-Ma was more of a mess each time you saw her.  Her hair looked like it had been licked up by a moose, while her emotions seemed increasingly manic.  She definitely captured the “hey, I’m a crackhead” vibe very well.  Too well.  She seemed like such a drugged out mess that I wondered why anyone would follow her, or how she could run a drug ring of Slo-Mo’s magnitude given her condition. 

Anyway, enough rambling.  I’m actually surprised that I had that much to say about this movie.  It wasn’t the worst thing ever.  But I wasn’t as enthusiastic about it as I reckon “The He” was.  I guess I was looking for something just a little less shallow, and something that wouldn’t give me a headache.

Thumbs a quarter up.

Dredd 3D

What He said:

He

I’ve never read a single Judge Dredd comic in my life. I do know that it is about a dystopian future in which the U.S. has been torn apart by years of nuclear war. The country is a radioactive wasteland and most of the stories take place inside the last remaining city: Mega-City One.  Mega-City one is  a huge city consisting of the remnants of several East Coast states. There’s over 800 residents in it, so it’s a little crowded, and has something of a crime problem. There city is run by a bunch of cops called Judges. The future is a rough place and there’s a lot of crime, so Judges serve as judge, jury, and executioner.

The most well-known Judge around is Judge Dredd (Karl Urban). There isn’t a lot to Dredd. He is all about the  job. The law isn’t just his job, it’s his life. He likes his job and is good at it; which is apparent from the very beginning of the movie. The movie opens up on your typical day in Mega-City One. There’s some small riots, some junkies out for a joy ride, and other typical stuff. Unfortunately for these particular junkies, Dredd is hot on their tail. We’re just a few minutes into the movie here and the tone is already set. Dredd is riding this bad-ass, futuristic, version of a Harley and he is chasing these hopped up bad guys who are firing at him with no regard for civilians. This annoys Dredd greatly and he’s not too kind when dispensing their sentence. He comes to find out they were high on a new drug called Slow-Mo.

Slow-Mo is a new drug that is fastly becoming popular in Mega-City One. It is manufactured and distrubuted by a most unpleasant woman named Ma-Ma (Lena Heady). Ma-Ma is an up-and-coming criminal boss. She is one mean bitch and rules with an iron fist. She dispatches of some employees who have screwed up one too many times, and this attracts the attenion of the Judges. They send Dredd and rookie Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) to investigate the deaths.

Anderson is on a trial run. Her test scores aren’t particularly good, but there’s something about her that makes the bigshots down at the Judge’s headquarters think she’s got potential. Dredd doesn’t have a lot of personality, and from my understanding that goes all the way back to the comics. He’s just an ass-kicker of a cop and there isn’t much more to him. So a lot of the characterization – which I admit there isn’t much of – is seen through this character. She wants to make an impact, but isn’t used to the violence of Mega-City One. If Dredd gives her the thumbs up, she’s got the job.

After investigating Peach Tree Tower – Ma-Ma’s base of operations – Dredd begins to suspect something is up. Ma-Ma is doing her best to avoid being detected, but when it comes time to roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty, this chick goes all out. She puts the tower in lockdown and declares an all-out war on the two judges.

This is the movie in a nutshell. Two cops, dozens of henchman, and a disturbed drug dealer. It’s kind of shawllow, very violent, loud, and loaded with vivid colors and effects. But to be perfectly honest, it worked for me. That’s sort of what I expected going into it and that’s what I got. The Stallone version of Dredd tried to create a little backstory and that movie sucked. The best thing about it was the bad guy’s giant robot. I want to see that thing pop up in another movie, because it was cool then and I still think it’s cool now. It is a bit of a throwback to action movies of the 80s and early 90s (think Robocop and Total Recall) with some modern effects thrown in. If that’s youre kind of thing, I suggest giving this a chance. If not, run away and run fast; because this one’s bloody.

Review:  Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on September 24, 2012.