'Judge Dredd': A classic, or a mess, you decide
You better hope Dredd doesn't pull you over some dark night for a broken taillight. Because this motorcycle cop dispenses justice with a strong degree of finality.
Based on the British comic-book character, Judge Dredd is a tough man in a bleak future - policing 800 million souls jammed into a crime-saturated urban jungle that extends from Boston to Washington.
In Dredd 3D, Dredd is played with grim conviction by Karl Urban (The Bourne Supremacy). At least, the credits maintain that it's Urban. Since he wears a helmet with tinted visor in every scene, you never see his face.
Dredd doesn't have a broad emotional palette - he sees the world in black and red. But Urban must do all his acting with his lips, which for most of the film are turned down in revulsion so that he resembles a cutthroat trout. And all his lines are delivered in a scratchy monotone.
This may be the best 2-D performance in a 3-D film to date.
In this ultraviolent outing - still a considerable upgrade over Sylvester Stallone's goofy Judge Dredd in 1995 - Urban is teamed with a probationary rookie (Olivia Thirlby) who has psychic powers. At least, she has them when they're convenient for the plot.
She gets a baptism by firepower when Dredd takes her into a skyscraper slum ruled over by the evil Ma-Ma (Game of Thrones' Lena Headey). With her ugly facial scar and feral manner, Ma-Ma is like the world's scariest alley cat.
The movie consists of one long battle as Dredd tries to shut down the manufacture of Ma-Ma's addictive new drug, Slo-Mo. (Although why anyone in this hellhole would want time to move slower is beyond me.)
There isn't much plot or scenery or even cast for that matter. But Dredd 3D plays far bigger than it should. For sci-fi action fans, it's an instant classic.
For everyone else, it's a dark, bloody mess.
Contact David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @daveondemand_tv.