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Dredd 3D Movie Review

dreddGrade B: Even if never readily available here in the US, I’ve been a fan of the Judge Dredd comic book/megazine for a drokking long while now. Though Dredd isn’t as well known on these shores as he is overseas, that hasn’t stopped Hollywood from taking the character from the printed page to the big screen, first with Judge Dredd (1995) and now with Dredd 3D. And while I’d argue that Dredd 3D is a much better film that the laughably bad Sylvester Stallone lead Judge Dredd, it still isn’t a great one.

Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) patrols the mean streets of Mega-City One, the last city on a radiation scarred American continent that sprawls 800 million people from Boston to Washington DC. The judges of Mega-City One are the law and act as judge, jury and when necessary executor of criminals. In Dredd 3D, Dredd is assigned to take new judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) out on her first patrol. What starts out as a normal drug bust turns deadly as Dredd and Anderson find themselves trapped in a colossal 200 story housing tower with hundreds of armed gang members between them and the outside world.

What Dredd 3D gets right is the tone, look and feel of the sprawl of Mega-City One. I’d also say that Urban and Thirlby get their characters right too, with Urban bringing just the right amount of gruff and fortitude to Dredd and Thirlby as new judge Anderson, who is stronger than even she knows.

Unfortunately, what lets down Dredd 3D the most is a weak story that relies too much on many, many video game style action scenes – Dredd and Anderson enter a hallway, gang members shoot at them and miss while Dredd and Anderson shoot back and do not, repeat over and over – and direction that pushes the 3D element to the extent that it seems more in line with getting cool looking 3D shots rather than driving the story forward.