The perils of law enforcement is a major theme at the box office this week with the release of “Dredd 3D” and “End of Watch.” Although they are two very different types of movies about cops, both are immensely enjoyable in their own ways. That’s why they’re my picks for this week. Also arriving in theaters are “Trouble with the Curve,” “House at the End of the Street,” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”
Much of America in the future has become a wasteland. Stretching from Boston to Washington DC is Mega City One, a sprawling violent metropolis. The only keepers of order are urban cops called Judges who have the power to act as judge, jury, and executioner. Judge Dredd (Karl Urban), the ultimate Judge, is assigned the difficult tasks of eliminating a drug epidemic and evaluating a rookie (Olivia Thirlby) at the same time. Dredd and his new partner are put to the test when an investigation takes them to a 200-story slum controlled by the kingpin Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) and her gang of murderous thugs.
Director: Pete Travis (“Endgame,” “Vantage Point”)
Writer: Alex Garland (“Sunshine,” “28 Days Later”)
Based On: Characters created by Carlos Ezquerra and John Wagner
MY TAKE: “Dredd 3D” is everything Sylvester Stallone’s “Judge Dredd” flick should have been and then some. That’s because it takes a more grounded approach to the Judge Dredd character. Since we now live an era where fan opinion is important, Hollywood is more interested in delivering a core followers what they want, than producing mediocre crap that no one likes. And thank god, because I’m certain that’s why Judge Dredd works better now.
“Dredd 3D” is a dark, dystopian tale that’s one part gory action flick, one part social satire, and one part tense thriller. The violence and the satire are very much an amusing throwback to classic films of the late 80s/early 90s such as “The Running Man,” “Robocop,” and “Total Recall.” Like those movies, thankfully “Dredd 3D” doesn’t take itself too seriously. Dredd has some hilarious one-liners, including a well-placed moment for his catchphrase “I am the law.” Karl Urban’s deadpan delivery and brilliant Stallone-like perpetual grimace just add to the fun.
This movie makes bloodshed look oh so sexy, with its slow motion 3D sequences. The filmmakers use a hilarious winking excuse for this extreme time dilation: crooks in the story are addicted to a drug called SLO-MO which makes seconds seem like minutes. While the trick is enjoyable most of the time, it comes up just a bit more often than I would like.
The most unexpected part of “Dredd 3D” is its badass female villain. In a movie world with very few strong female characters, it’s exciting to see filmmakers go with the bold choice of a female baddie. I love that she’s just as ruthless if not more so than many bad guys I’ve seen recently. Having a dastardly kingpin like Ma-Ma as a foil for Dredd makes you root even harder for him.