Susan Granger’s review of “Dredd 3D” (Lionsgate)
On a bleak, futuristic Earth that’s been wasted by wars and divided into overcrowded urban centers known as Mega-Cities, order is maintained by a fascistic, all-powerful law-enforcement force known as Judges.
Mythical Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is the helmeted lawman is charge of Mega-City One, which encompasses the territory between Boston and Washington, D.C. When he is told to train and evaluate mutant rookie Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), he discovers that she possesses the genetic ability to read minds. That’s why she doesn’t wear a helmet like his. Her being psychic comes in handy when they respond to a violent, triple-homicide call and encounter scar-faced Ma-Ma (Lena Headley), a former prostitute-turned-drug empress, who dispenses Slo-Mo, a potent, aptly-named narcotic that allows users to experience reality at a fraction of its normal speed. When they arrest their perp, Kay (Wood Harris), Judges Dredd and Cassandra discover they’re locked into a massive, 200-story vertical tenement called Peach Trees – on orders from Ma-Ma.
Based on the cult comic strip by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra, it’s monosyllabically scripted by Alex Garland (“28 Days Later”) and repetitively directed by Pete Travis. Primarily action-propelled with grim, digitally-enhanced carnage, the only emotional conflict surfaces when empathetic Cassandra Anderson is forced to confront her judicial duty. Filmed by British cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle (“Slumdog Millionaire”) in South Africa, this dud bears little if any resemblance to Danny Cannon’s 1995 cartoon-like version, which starred Sylvester Stallone in the title role.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Dredd 3D” is a dreadful, dystopian 3, filled with graphic, gory, gruesome violence – and little else.