The ranks of fan-pleasing comic book movies swells further with Dredd 3D, a modestly-budgeted but surprisingly effective adaptation of 2000 AD’s cult futuristic law enforcer. Wisely ignoring the unloved 1995 blockbuster starring Sylvester Stallone, the producers get back to basics, replacing CGI spectacle and star power with a notably stripped back production, a lean plot (largely confined to a tower block), and more emphasis on violent action – surely the major draw for most fans. The gamble largely works, with the film’s brief 96 minutes offering plenty of down and dirty mayhem.
Karl Urban makes for a fine Judge Dredd, physically imposing, with a suitably growling voice (and yes, his face remains entirely obscured throughout). Director Pete Travis provides plenty of noisy action, but keeps the focus on Dredd and villainess Ma-Ma (Lena Headey, equally good). Though it’s an entertaining ride, it remains rather conventional; there are no outstanding moments or set-pieces that might have helped the film move outside of its rather niche target audience and in to wider cult waters. A braver director might have taken a few more risks to help the film punch above its weight. But no matter; this is a decent effort that deserves a bigger and better sequel.