Combustible Celluloid
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With: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Wood Harris, Jason Cope, Rakie Ayola, Warrick Grier
Written by: Alex Garland, based on the characters created by Carlos Ezquerra, John Wagner
Directed by: Pete Travis
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence, language, drug use and some sexual content
Running Time: 95
Date: 07/11/2012

Dredd 3D (2012)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Eyes on the High Rise

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Both Dredd 3D and this year's earlier The Raid: Redemption are set in a high rise with the bad guy at the top, where every floor is more dangerous than the one before it. Fortunately, the two movies are different enough and enjoyable enough that they can exist side-by-side.

In the future, Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) works as law enforcement in Mega-City One; his job has been simplified, allowing him to kill anyone who is actually guilty. He is assigned to test out a new rookie judge, Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), to see if she has what it takes. On their first day, they enter a 200-story high rise to investigate a triple homicide. They find a possible killer (Wood Harris) and decide to take him in for questioning. However, the evil drug queen called "Ma-Ma" (Lena Headey) who runs the entire building shuts it down, preventing any escape, and then orders the occupants to kill the two judges. Will our heroes survive long enough to complete their mission?

Based on the popular comic book, Dredd 3D is extremely violent, but minimalist at the same time. No subplots, romances, or comic sidekicks get in the way of the pure action. Even Karl Urban, as Dredd, speaks only when necessary, and only in an emotionless murmur.

Director Pete Travis uses space well, and also incorporates an awesome production design, such as a skateboard ramp that hangs off from the side of the building several hundred feet up. The "Slo-mo" drug-trip sequences in particular are quite dazzling. Thankfully, even these flashier elements are all employed solely for the purpose of underlining and enhancing the action.

Overall, Dredd 3D is not as rich or as deep as The Dark Knight Rises or The Avengers, but it's good, solid comic book fun.

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