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Dredd 3D
Genre Action
 
Review:

Hollywood has run out of ideas, which is why they're starting to reboot projects that failed to reach their full potential... like Sylvester Stallone's Judge Dredd. The idea of seeing a second attempt at this comic book hero, wrapped in a 3D bow and sporting a relatively unknown cast was about as appealing as snorting that salt and vinegar popcorn spice. Turns out you may just like Dredd 3D... in both nostrils.

In this exciting reboot, Judge Dredd (Urban) takes on a new rookie, whose psychic abilities make her a powerful yet vulnerable ally as they investigate a spate of murders in a skyscraper housing development. However, when the 200-storey apartment block is locked down... Dredd and his new partner are forced into the shadows as the resident gangs begin a take down of their own.

Karl Urban is an up-and-coming Hollywood star, whose list of movie credits may just surprise you. Born in New Zealand, you wouldn't be too shocked to learn he played the character Eomer in Lord of the Rings: Two Towers and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Otherwise, you may recognise his face from Pathfinder, or from key supporting roles in The Bourne Supremacy, The Chronicles of Riddick, Doom, Red, Priest and Star Trek.

There's no point in adding Dredd to that collection, unless you're good with teeth, chins and designer stubble. Karl Urban's face is partially concealed by Judge Dredd's visor for the entire duration of the film. This may seem like a strange move considering Urban is handsome, but it's actually one of the film's strengths. By covering Dredd's face, we're kept at arm's length with the mysterious dark knight character... whose history is strictly need-to-know.

Despite this "handicap", Urban manages to deliver a nuanced performance that gives a 1000 words to every sneer, smirk and barbed comment. He's supported by the accomplished Olivia Thirlby, who makes an excellent counterbalance for Dredd. She's manages to convey all the anti-qualities of Judge Dredd, balancing out damsel in distress and Joan of Arc. While Lena Headey, best known for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, adds a twisted matriarchal villain to the mix as the notorious Ma-Ma.

In all seriousness, Judge Dredd could be Agent Smith and Robocop's lovechild. The law enforcer has an invincible quality that drives him to root out the bad guys, blow stuff up and then do it all over again... in the name of the law. You just can't imagine the guy has a life outside of his job, something that Pete Travis steers clear of by making this a day-in-the-life of the tough crime-fighter.

Dredd's attitude is down the line and so are his quips, which are funny and dead serious at the same time. The Stallone adaptation imploded because it couldn't strike the right balance between action blockbuster and tongue-in-cheek comic bravado. Vantage Point director, Pete Travis, has landed with both feet on the ground, delivering ultra-violent Die Hard action and tempering it with some bad-ass Dirty Harry comedy.

Yet, it's more than just another actioner tweaked with some sharp one-liners... Dredd 3D is also a mesmerising piece of science-fiction, emphasised by the character of Anderson, who is a blend of Neo from The Matrix and Leeloo from The Fifth Element. The cinematography takes it to another level, utilising 3D technology and composing a film that absorbs the slum colour palette from movies like City of God, occasionally breaking for breathtaking surreal high-definition slow-mo to visualise the effects of the city's new drug in moments reminiscent of Limitless.

The majority of Dredd 3D was filmed in South Africa, so you may recognise some backdrop shots and vehicles from the Cape Town CBD. As such, the film features several South African actors including: Jason Cope, Junior Singo and Luke Tyler.

Dredd 3D is a hard core action experience that spins something refreshingly new and exhilarating from its many influences. Karl Urban delivers a rock solid performance as the tough-as-nails comic book character with the support of Olivia Thirlby and Lena Headey. The mesmerising cinematography and gritty production values create a heavy atmosphere, and Pete Travis directs intense imaginative action set pieces with a script that sparkles with witty banter and fascinating characters in a simple, yet compelling story of futuristic street justice.

The bottom line: Exhilarating

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