Friday Flicks: Will Dredd 3D Redeem Its Dreadful Predecessor?

TIME breaks down which films to see and which to avoid this weekend.

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Dredd 3D

Tagline: Judgment is coming.

Danny Cannon’s disastrous 1995 version of Judge Dredd, starring Sylvester Stallone (who pretty much lost the entire fanbase by ditching the character’s iconic helmet early on) didn’t exactly set the bar high. “The movie, by the end, practically seems intent on destroying itself,” noted Entertainment Weekly. Meaning that even if this version, helmed by Vantage Point director Pete Travis, is a travesty (or perhaps Travis-ty?) it will still be an improvement.

Stallone is replaced in the title role by New Zealander Karl Urban, probably best known for appearing in two parts of The Lord of the Rings trilogy as well as playing “Bones” in the recent Star Trek reboot. This time, the movie veers toward buddy-cop territory, with Dredd forced to team up with ever-so-slightly unhinged rookie partner Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby). The two get trapped in Peach Trees, a 200-storey megablock in Mega-City One, facing their nemesis Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) and her minions, who peddle a new drug called Slo-mo. Dredd and Anderson will need to take Ma-Ma down, get the heck out of dodge and make the streets safe again.

For those of you who keep abreast of foreign cinema, the plot might sound rather similar to Gareth Evans’ recent Indonesian action flick, The Raid, which wowed audiences and critics alike with its high-octane approach to action sequences. Take it as read that every single reviewer worth their salt will mention the Welsh director’s movie — but you shouldn’t let it put you off from seeing Dredd 3D.

“Travis shows unexpected muscle, delivering Dredd’s wham-bam rampages, and it’s properly stylish all round … it’s really quite good,” concludes the Daily Telegraph. And Time Out London is similarly impressed with the director: “Travis makes the most of limited resources: the industrial backdrops are stunning, the action scenes sizzle and the eye-of-the-addict Slo-Mo sequences are sickeningly beautiful.” Rounding out the surprisingly positive notices, Empire points out that, “This is an honorable attempt at giving an iconic character the adaptation he deserved. Just don’t double-bill it with The Raid.” We wouldn’t dare.

MORE: TIME’s Review of the 1995 Version of Dredd

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2 comments
Michael Wellman
Michael Wellman

I think it's interesting how these aren't really reviews of movies so much as reviews of reviews of movies.