DREDD 3D - Comic Con First Impression - Mania.com

DREDD 3D - Comic Con First Impression

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DREDD 3D - Comic Con First Impression

Not a review

By Robert T. Trate     July 18, 2012
Source: Mania.com

At Comic Con last week, Lionsgate did a very ballsy thing. They had a special advanced screening of DREDD 3D. Now to show a clip, trailer, or even an extended scene is one thing. To show a whole movie with press and Comic Con attendees is another. These people will report on what they saw to everyone and anyone who will listen. Mania was fortunate enough to get invited and witness the next incarnation of Judge Dredd on the big screen. 
To start with, I have to say I have never read a Judge Dredd comic in my life. I had seen trades of Dredd for years but never had any interest in picking one up. In 1995 I went in to the cinema to see Sylvester Stallone play the comic book hero. 


After the film was over I still had no desire to pick up a Judge Dredd comic. It sounds weird to say this now, but the film was a product of its time. Clearly, the makers of the original Judge Dredd film were following the Batman Forever (1995) trend of gritty, violent stories, wrapped in cartoon bumble gum. It was the implosion of an era that started in 1989 with Tim Burton’s Batman. Thankfully, we have moved on for the better. 


Which brings us to DREDD 3D. I didn’t know what to expect besides the fact that Karl Urban was stepping into the Judge Dredd role. The action, what they were revealing in the teaser trailer, looked pretty straight forward. Yet, I had no idea what the story was about. Which may have been the biggest surprise of all. In the original film (sorry for the comparison) Judge Dredd uncovers a plot that could change the very world he has sworn to protect. If Dredd fails, the world will burn, which usually seems to be the case in all comic book movies. Even the most recent Spider-Man film had the hero stopping the Lizard from turning all of New York into Lizard people. This isn’t that kind of story. 



This was a smaller story. It was completely refreshing and the best thing I have seen to a straight forward single issue of a comic. Dredd has to evaluate a rookie, Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), for her final exam. She has already failed the written tests by three points. Dredd’s superiors believe that her special talents are needed in the field. Dredd and his rookie are to investigate men that fell to their deaths. Was it murder? Was it a suicide? Was it gang related? Think of it as Training Day (2001) without the over acting by Denzel Washington mixed with Die Hard (1988). Everything goes wrong and it is up to Dredd and Anderson to bring order to the chaos. 


The villains here aren’t super humans or cyborgs determined to rule the world. Lena Heady (300) steals much of the show as the drug lord determined to keep her product moving. Her cut throat part is usually reserved for actors of the Steve Buscemi persuasion. Here it is unnerving and unpredictable starting with the fact that she is a woman. 


Now, DREDD 3D was, in fact, shot in 3D. This is where the comic book aspect of Judge Dredd really shines through. Instead of gimmicks and tricks like The Amazing Spier-Man, each violent act, drug induced state, and action scene feel and look like a comic. So much so that certain scenes are smaller on screen all to give you the illusion bullets are literally popping right off the screen.




As I stated above this is a first impression of DREDD 3D. I don’t feel as if I have the full Judge Dredd comic knowledge to make a fair full review. What I saw was gritty, raw, and refreshing. I don’t need my movie comic book heroes to save the world every time. Studios, however, want the giant sweeping epic. What I got was a good story that wasn’t over the top nor plagued by comic relief. Yes, Rob Schneider, I am looking at you.


I stopped at the 2000 AD (publishers of the comic) booth at Comic Con and asked the all important question, “Where do I start with Judge Dredd?” A question I had no desire to ask in 1995. The answer was quick and simple, “The Day the Law Died” by John Wagner. A copy of which was promptly stuck in my had by a extremely helpful British gentlemen.  

As impressions go, it was a good one. Will DREDD 3D break records and beat The Avengers at the box office? No. What it will do is give fans of the comic their hero back on the big screen and introduce him to a whole generation of new ones. 

Special thanks to Lionsgate for hooking up Mania with a pass to see the film. Kudos to the Lionsgate employee that sat next to me with his brother-in-law who told me his swag bag story. Classic! My final bit of thanks goes out to Karl Urban: Not only did I really enjoy your performance but that was the first time ever I sat close to the star of a movie that I was actually watching (I was right in front of him).


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SarcasticCaveman 7/18/2012 12:38:52 AM

 Sounds good...I might have to check it out.

DaForce1 7/18/2012 12:39:42 AM

 I'm a pretty big fan of Dredd, and I was mostly disappointed by the Stallone version. Yes, the Janus Project story was probably the easiest story to present to audiences that still weren't used to comic book movies telling a story that wasn't over-the-top, but at the same time they tried to cram too much in and at the same time alter some things to make it a Hollywood film. 

Looking forward to this version since I've heard nothing but good things, even if the story is a bit reminiscent of the recent Asian movie The Raid: Redemption. 

SmokingFrog77 7/18/2012 5:03:38 AM

Fark yeah, can't wait!

jedibanner 7/18/2012 6:20:54 AM

Well, will look into this, obviously in great 2D.

lusiphur 7/18/2012 6:52:48 AM

 I'm torn on this.  Not whether to see the movie or not.  That is a huge yes.  But I usually reserve my money for 3D for big movies (Avengers, Amazing Spider-Man, etc).  But everything I've read or seen about this screams for me to see it in 3D.  Maybe I'll do the morning matinee and pay a couple of extra dollars for the 3D.  Still under $10, which is within my tight budget.  Can't wait to see it.

DarthoftheDead 7/18/2012 8:12:45 AM

 I AM THE LAW!!!!!!

Jakedamus 7/18/2012 3:11:47 PM

Honestly I don't know how you can call yourself a comic book reader if you haven't read 2000AD.

Have you heard of:

Alan Moore? Garnt Morrison? Mark Miller? Alan Grant?

Artists such as Brian Bolland? Dave Gibbons? Frank Quietly?

Where do you think these guys started? Ill tell you 2000AD.

In the 1980s DC and Marvel comics were subpar they were extended soap operas; the only comic with any merit for a long time was 2000AD until Marvel and DC worked it out and brought these guys in. They then set about changing the face of those comics.

Saying you haven't read Judge Dredd makes me question the legitamacy of anyone who believes they are quilified to comment on the comic book genre.


thezillaman 7/18/2012 8:23:44 PM

o.k i had high hopes for this one and it sounds real good, so im glad to read this as im looking forward to watching the new dredd and yes in 3D why not.

RobertTrate 7/19/2012 2:10:20 AM

Sorry Jakedamus, no one ever put a copy in my hand. I didn't know where to start with Dredd.

Alan Moore: Watchmen, League of Extradinary Gentlemen

Grant Morrison: Batman 

Mark Miller: Red Son, Kick Ass, Wanted, Secret Agent, Supercrooks

Dave Gibbons: Watchmen, Secret Agent, Star Wars

Frank Queitly: All Star Superman, Batman and Robin

I sought out Y The Last Man, The Walking Dead, eXiles, Planetary and Preacher all on my own. 

Having never read a Dredd comic is the reason why I didn't give you a review. 

Betenoire 7/19/2012 2:35:25 AM

I don't think one should ever have to have even seen a comic book before to be able to review a film based off one. Once a property switches mediums it is going to have to find support in that new medium or it will fail. Look at the sales numbers of most comics- even the hottest comic is going to fail when turned into a movie, TV show, radio drama or ballet if the only people who go see it are the same (limited) fans who shell out for the comic monthly (or whenever).

You switch mediums you are going to be judged (no pun intended) by what you bring to the table for what you are. I'm not going to sit through hours upon hours researching a character I may not know anything about before going to see a movie because if the movie can't tell me all I should know for its story it failed, not me. Basically I'm saying that yeah, it is as OK to do a review about a movie based on a comic character you aren't familiar with as it would be to write a review about a movie set in ancient Chin without geting a doctorate in Chinese History. Stuff stands on it own or it doesn't, it isn't up to the audience to fill in pieces the film makers didn't or couldn't for whatever reason.

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