Movie Review: Judgement has arrived

by wullersd

 I just watched a flick that I passed on while all the great movies of my teenage years were recycled in a godless manner. Where Total Recall, Conan, and the like rightfully failed, Dredd excels. Pete Travis’s take on Judge Dredd is an example of how to pick the wrong time to release a great movie.

The year’s 1997, I am 13 years old and stunned. Sylvester Stallone’s 1995 interpretation of Judge Dredd just blew my teenage mind and while my friends have moved on and put the next tape into the video recorder, I am still in Mega City. Another film legend had just carved its initials into my young brain.

Fast forward to 2012. After months of waiting, I can’t belive the first reviews of Total Recall. It’s just plain garbage. I was already critical whether Colin Farrell could replace the immortal Schwarzenegger but that does it. The arrogant and untalented Smith offspring had ruined Karate Kid, some idiot urinated on the brilliant 1982 original of Conan, and now that. Even Bryan Cranston attempted to destroy my perception of him by participating in this gang rape of a true classic. I was sure that no film maker out there would really be able to reinterpret the movies I grew up with. So, I passed up on Dredd, disgusted by the idea that Karl Urban would destroy my memory of Judge Joe Dredd.

I was wrong. Even though his face expression under the helmet is just moronic and worthy of a razzie for the worst Angela Merkel impression ever, I should have looked beyond the trailer. The evidence was there. A score of 7/10 on IMDb ( , avid reviews by true friends of the comics and the 1995 movie, and 78% on Rotten Tomatoes ( – but I refused to see it. There was just too much crap out there to recognize the one diamond. And I am not alone with that misjudgment. The movie clearly bombed in the US and only now people start to realize what they missed, DVD/BluRay sales are increasing. The reason for the initial commercial failure is the same as for the fate of the countless innocent victims caught in the crossfire of a legitimate judging: bad timing.

About one year later, I corrected my mistake and I am blown away again. Judge Joe Dredd is a cold blooded enforcer of the law. He is pure rage, held together by his uniform. Enraged by a 6% response rate to emergency calls, at mobsters roaming freely, and at citizens unable or unwilling to stand up for what’s right. Mega City is a hopeless place and Pete Travis and his crew get that just right. The fotography is amazing. It’s dirty, chaotic, and gritty. The fight scenes are uncompromisingly violent and echo the destructive atmosphere perfectly. Dredd’s enemy is the former prostitute turned drug kingpin Ma-Ma. In an attempt to kill them, she locks Dredd and the rookie Anderson in the 200 story block she controls, after they arrest one of her lieutenants. Now Dredd, Anderson, and the thankful viewer have 200 stories ahead of them. All actors and actresses do a good job. Except for Karl Urban.

Karl Urban is no Sylvester Stallone – he’s better. While I laughed at the tiny man in the large uniform in the trailer, especially compared to Stallone’s massive judgeness, I almost choked on my laughter when I saw Mr Urban in action. He’s not playing Judge Dredd, he IS Judge Dredd. If actors are rated based on believability than Karl Urban’s play is flat out perfect.

I am currently visiting my mom’s and watched the movie about 10 feet from where I saw the original more than 15 years ago. My mom checked several times on me to see who I was cheering on. When Dredd emerges from the fog of the aftermath of an epic shelling and throws one of the evil Ma-Ma’s capos off a balcony, I threw my arms in the air and answered: Judge #!%&$ing DREDD!! 9/10.