WHAT IS IT?
Dredd is the movie reboot/re-imagening of Judge Dredd, the popular UK comic character who appears in the long-running comic, 2000AD! The film stars Karl Urban in the title role as Judge Dredd, alongside Olivia Thirlby as Judge Anderson, and Lena Headey as former prostitute-turned-chief bad gal, Ma-Ma.
To clear up any confusion, Dredd was not related to the 1995 Sylvester Stallone-starring movie, Judge Dredd, but instead was a smaller scale take on the character. The film's budget was $45 million, half the cost of Stallone's Dredd movie, and as a result of the decreased budget the action largely takes place in one location, a large multi-storey building.
The story of Dredd focused on the introduction of rookie psychic judge, Judge Anderson and saw Dredd and Anderson team up for the first time to take on Ma-Ma.
WHAT WAS GOOD?
After the cheese-fest that was the original Judge Dredd movie failed to ignite much interest in the character, the second take on the iconic lawman saw the movie's budget scaled back considerably. A reduced budget was arguably a smart, and invaluable move, as it allowed for a more streamlined take on the character that didn't need to rely on OTT stunts and big-name stars. By restricting the action to just one location the film also benefitted from a tighter story with more focus on character development, specifically new recruit Judge Anderson. In fact the pairing of Dredd and Anderson drove the story and created an engaging team-up which helped audiences to bypass the limitations of the budget.
The casting of Urban as Dredd was also a marked improvement over Stallone's ham-fisted take on the character and of course the film's biggest achievement was that it didn't star Rob 'Deuce Bigalow' Schneider!
WHAT WAS BAD?
Although the diminished budget worked largely in Dredd's favour, there was a slight downside - the story was a bit too simple. Although small scale movies with static settings can often work (think Pitch Black, The Cube etc) the downside is that these films can become repetitive quite quickly. In the case of Dredd, there were a couple of moments when audiences could be forgiven for thinking they were watching a bunch of guys and gals playing a game of Laser Quest. Albeit a violent game of Laser Quest.
Likewise, whilst chief bad girl Ma-Ma provided a satisfactory villain for the story there was never any doubt that she wouldn't get her comeuppance sooner or later and so she never seemed much of a threat.
WHY PUSH THE BUTTON?
If Dredd had been the pilot for a TV show then it would have been a fantastic opener, but as a big-screen movie it could have perhaps benefitted from a bigger villain and a few additional scenes. That said, as a reboot of the franchise Dredd successfully wiped the taste of the original Judge Dredd movie out of audiences mouths, so it deserves to be rewarded.