WARNING! THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS!
As a comic book fan I grew up on Marvel, swept away by Chris Claremont's truly stunning run on the X-Men that led all the way up to issue 200 and of course, I took my weekly thrills from the often dark and violent pages of that British Giant 2000AD.
Dredd was never my favourite strip in the mag but I did love him. The fanatic with a gun and a badge who always follows the law and never gets it wrong. The figure head for the street Judges that always spells danger when you see him because no-one is innocent, everyone has something to hide from the Governing body which rules with an iron fist.
The first Judge Dredd was a vehicle for Sly and it stank! There were parts of it that surprised me and at the time I was delighted to see the Angel Gang and convinced myself that perhaps those small pieces of joy were enough, of course they were not. It was a diabolical movie from start to finish and spat in the face of every Dredd fan, writer, and artist and wiped its arse on those beloved pages.
You get the point that I thought it was shit yeah? Good.
Here comes 2012 and we had a new Dredd film in the offing. It was packaged as a 3D action movie that was faithful to the original comic book legend and a stark and bravely realised world. I was excited. I rushed to the cinema and then later picked it up on Blu-Ray. I watched said Blu-Ray on my nice big t.v this week and me and my good mate watched the credits roll and waited for the main menu and then came the, 'I have some issues.' (see what I did there?)
We had the same issues it turns out and speaking with other guys I know they have the same issues as well, so I figured I'm not alone in saying that it was a really good film, but not the all conquering hero we were told that it was and the beast many other fans have claimed it is.
First off let me say I think Dredd 3D is a great film, well shot, with great technical and visual excellence. I thought everyone that stared was pretty much perfect. I loved Karl Urban as Dredd, Olivia Thirlby as Anderson and Lena Headey's 'MaMa' was pitched perfectly. They were backed up by a great cast and no-one put a foot wrong. The Block looks brilliant, the uniforms are brilliant, the guns, the effects, the action and the graffiti that is smootherd all over the walls is, of course, brilliant.
All these things lead me to tell you I loved this film, but it was not a 'perfect Dredd' with the strip 'realised to its fullist'. That was never going to happen, no matter what, but some of the decisions made did bug me. Let me hit you up.
We have the Judges, they are the Law, they are the ones that deliver all justice, they keep the peace and they control the population. Yes, I remember there being counsellors and local political figures, but make no mistake, The JUDGES rule Mega City One. Now I didn't like the statistical breakdown of crime at the beginning. Judges respond to 6% of all crime reported. Nope. No, No, No. In New York in the nineties they implemented 'Zero Tolerance', a policy that stated that every call must be followed up, no matter what. Now this led to a sweeling in the police ranks of course, this also resulted in a vast amount of cases being closed because they chased everything and even though they were called in to ask the neighbour to give the guy his cat back, they'd knock, find he was on drugs, enter, find a weapon, trace the weapon to a murder victim and that case would be attended to.
The following up of wide scale crime can be implemented in reality, all you need is a large police force and a database. This is something that should have been in place for the film. The idea that committing crime will see you do time, almost certainly, at some point. The judges and their cameras are everywhere, they are the fucking secret police but they have the power to Execute you on the spot! They close cases as fast as they open them and if you do something serious there is a very good chance you will risk the wrong end of the gun.
Obviously not all criminals are caught but for me the film didn't convey the power, force or consistency of the Judges and their Grip on the populous of Mega City One.
Secondly, and this is a biggy; the dirty Judges that turn up half way through make no sense! To be a Judge you have to be a Zealot of the worst fucking kind. The law man must believe without question and if he finds himself doubting? If he or she feels that they are losing their faith then they take 'The Long Walk.' Armed with a rifle they head out into the Cursed Earth to deliver Justice there until it claims their life.
To sign up to be a Judge means to be indoctrinated from an incredibly young age, to be brought up to believe that if the law breaks down then the citizens will all die. The LAW protects people and Mega City One from becoming more of a hell than it already is. For the first film this should have been put across properly. It should have been the line that Judges are the ultimate line in defence of the citizen from the citizen.They are untouchable! Unbreakable! Uncorruptable!
Obviously 2000AD have had many mad, corrupt, power crazed or even 'fluffier' Judges in the past, but this comic has been running for a long time and they are not the norm.A dirty Judge is a rare, rare thing and so should have been saved for the second film.
So what would they have done with all that extra running time that the dirty Judges took up? Kill all the hundreds of 'MaMa's gang members that were gathered and read to kill Anderson but seemed to disapear in the final reel. It would have been a standard fight but they could have upped the action, brought Dredd some hand to hand and got the damn trunchen out! Those padded knuckleduster gloves, the years of training and put a different gun in Dredd's hands! Something that went 'BOOM!'
This would have corrected the final and biggest flaw; no-one seemed to know or care who Judge Dredd was! The dirty Judges were the only ones that really name checked him and gave him props! Where was the terror of his victims, the rep of the most dangerous man In Mega City One? Criminals didn't tremble or worry, they dived towards him and the gravity of his name was not conveyed properly at all. HE IS THE LAW! The ultimate Judge! Genetically engineered to be the bad ass that he is! He is the Terminator, The Equaliser, The Expendables and Dirty Harry all in one!
They missed the point.
The film is called Dredd...but he was treated as just another Judge for the most part.
The end was good, Loved it in fact though I did miss the extra gang members and thought it was perhaps too easy an assault on the final base, but fuck it, I can live with that.
I really loved this film, it felt good to watch it and even after questioning all of these points and agreeing that opportunities were missed and that it suffered from trying to make the Judges more human by Corrupting some of them I still loved it.
The niggles didn't detract from my enjoyment and love of the movie, which tells you more about the film than all the moaning waffle above probably.
DREDD 3D 8/10.