Film review: Dredd (4 out of 5 stars)

Judge Dredd in action
Judge Dredd in action

Making a movie about cult figures is a tough ask. Get it wrong and the failure will hang round your neck like the proverbial albatross.

Sly Stallone is still remembered as the man who messed up Judge Dredd in the 1995 movie.

However, Karl Urban will be held up as the actor who made a darn good stab at the character.

Director Pete Travis also deserves a pat on the back for recreating the dark, brooding mood of the iconic comic series.

Judge Dredd has had a massive following since he appeared in the 2000 AD comic way back in 1977.

But it took nearly 20 years before anyone had the courage to bring him to the big screen.

Sly certainly had the facial looks but committed the cardinal sin - he took his helmet off (something Dredd never does).

So, thankfully, Urban in this latest version sticks to the original concept and by the end of the movie actually contorts his chin to look like the drawings.

Judge Dredd is a violent and uncompromising comic strip.

It’s set in the future where large swathes of the planet are a war ravaged wastland (the cursed earth) and millions of people are crammed into high rise blocks. Employment is virtually non-existent and crime is rife.

To make law enforcement easier, uniformed judges combine the duties of police, judge, jury and executioner.

This new movie uses all that background and sees Dredd face the head of a gang Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) who is controlling a new drug that slows down reality (SLO-MO).

He enters the hi-rise Ma-Ma controls and has to battle his way through the building.

He’s helped by the rookie Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirby), who has psychic powers (and who proved so popular she got her own comic series).

The action of the drug allows for a lot of slow motion carnage scenes which are pretty graphic.

And unless you have a calculator handy there’s no point trying to add up the body count.

Judge Dredd fans should be pretty happy and those who haven’t read the comics shouldn’t feel left out.

The only big difference between comic and film is the language. Because of its audience, the comic gets round any swear words by creating its own (eg drokk, grud).

The movie just goes for the usual four-letter words.

Overall, a worthy attempt to create a full-on action movie involving a much-loved character.

Steve Payne

Screening courtesy of Cineworld Crawley

Film details: Dredd (18) 95mins.

Director: Pete Travis.

Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirby, Lena Headey.