Dredd blows away bad memories of Stallone

Last updated 12:03 11/10/2012
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STRONG PRESENCE: Kiwi actor Karl Urban plays Judge Dredd.

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REVIEW: Dredd
R18, 1hr 45min
Reviewed by Katy Breheny.

At the heart of Dredd beats a compelling story that will hold you captive - that is, if you can stomach some excessively messy visual effects to get to it.

In a post-apocalyptic world, humans cling to seedy survival in mega-cities made up of huge residential structures.

Crime is rampant, and justice systems have little hope of stemming the tide. To fight the odds, judges who can deliver a verdict and administer instant justice, as well as look cool on a massive motorbike, are the answer.

One such judge, Dredd (Karl Urban), is having his usual six-executions-before-morning-tea Monday when he is ordered to road-test a rookie judge.

Fresh from her training, Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) has technically failed by a small margin, but she has a secret weapon on her side.

The legendary Judge Dredd may have doubts about her abilities, but when pitted against the considerable resources of violent drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), Anderson has surprising qualities.

While you may have judged this movie to be all testosterone and no substance, based on the bikes, the reflective helmet and some forgettable advertising, Dredd defies such description. The viewer is quickly entrapped in a terrifying story with only one way out, and the odds are that it won't be a good one.

You would expect this movie to draw on some very tired stereotypes and fall back on game-type combat scenes that make most of us yawn.

Instead, it avoids the usual pitfalls, having the ability to happily traumatise most of us in the process. That is, unless you close your eyes during the gory bits.

Having found the violence rather too much in 2-D, I would advise only those with a cast-iron stomach to chance the 3-D version.

New Zealand's Karl Urban has the role of Judge Dredd, and he never raises his helmet while attempting to convey all that Dredd represents.

His gravelly voice, strong presence and a touch of empathy all come through, as well as a touch of stubble.

Depending on audience age, Dredd may seem vaguely familiar.

Judge Dredd, with Dredd played by Sylvester Stallone, was released in 1995, although it did not rate highly.

But in this film, although it may be difficult to see what is going on behind reflective sunglasses and helmets, there is no reason for the film-makers to dread the ratings.

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- Manawatu Standard

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