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Genre: Action, Crime, Sci-Fi

Directed by: Pete Travis

Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey

With the demand for superhero movies on the ascendancy and with the broadening market for 3D movies, 2012 seems like a timely decision to revisit the character of Judge Dredd, having last graced our screens back in 1995 with Sly Stallone in the title role.

This new version sees Karl Urban adopting the famous helmet and snarling ‘I am the law!’ to drug dealers and dystopian city scum, and he fills those shoes admirably. The decision to cast the acting talent of Urban, a relatively unknown actor whose biggest roles have been in The Lord of the Rings franchise and The Bourne Supremacy, has been something of an inspired choice. Clearly relishing the chance to make a lead role his own, Urban has captured the grizzled but clinical attitude of Dredd, the toughest of the judges.

Let’s be under no illusions however, this is very much a no-nonsense, adrenaline fuelled punch-up of a movie, filled with plenty of gun fights, over-compensating weaponry and gang warfare. It is most definitely the kind of film to be enjoyed with your mates and a few beers. There are few thought provoking lines, or deep explorations of society, but as a comic book movie perhaps that is as it should be.
The casting of Olivia Thirlby as Dredd’s rookie sidekick Anderson also works well, pulling off  the troubles of playing a psychic, prospective judge in a harsh criminal city with aplomb.

The story charts Dredd’s response to an ordinary incident of homicide in a down-and-out apartment block in the heart of the city’s drug-dealing circle, whilst simultaneously assessing a rookie judge on her field examination. As stories go, it’s not the most aspiring, but nevertheless, the interplay between Urban and Thirlby makes for compelling viewing, and lifts the film above its mediocre plot-line.

Whilst Karl Urban works well as the new Dredd, one area where the character does fall is that you never get the impression he is ever in peril. Every situation he faces he always seems to resolve with relative ease, and little display that it is ever more than a minor inconvenience. With this as it is, you never worry that either Dredd or Anderson wont make it out of their situation alive, and as such, makes the ending a little predictable and doesn’t give the pay off the audience may expect.

All minor quibbles aside, this is a seriously good film. It’s easy on the eye, and most definitely an improvement upon Stallone’s original outing. More importantly however, it’s a showcase in how to pull off the superhero action movie where so many other comic book movies fail.


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