Title: Dredd 3-D (2012)
Director: Pete Travis
Writer: Alex Garland
Cast: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby,
Why does a film like Dredd 3-D fail so harshly at the box office? It has all the necessary ingredients for a good sci-fi/action film; in my book it should have been a moderately successful film, to have it fail so disastrously kind of boggles my film connoisseur mind. The film has good production values, it looks great, Judge Dredd looks and behaves like he should, there’s tons of violence, gore, visual eye candy, the computer generated effects are well achieved...I mean, yeah, it needed to be a bit more ‘spectacular’ I guess we could say, but in the end, even if it isn’t as loud and bombastic as Stallone’s Judge Dredd (1995), I don’t think it should have failed the way it did. Reportedly it’s only made 10 million dollars on a 50 million dollar budget!? Why didn’t this new Dredd movie take off?
Same as Judge Dredd (1995), Dredd 3-D starts out by giving us a quick intro about who Dredd is, and why these judges exist via a quick voiceover. They explain all about the escalating crime scene which has skyrocketed out of control. Chaos and anarchy rule the streets; the judges are a police force with special weapons and armor sent out to eradicate crime; something that they are currently having a difficult time doing. Mega City One is filled with violence and death; it’s like the eternal ghetto. The queen of this ghetto is a drug lord known as Ma-Ma, and Ma-Ma sells this drug called Slo-Mo, which when you take it, makes you see everything shiny and colorful and slows things down to the point where you feel as if you were watching life in slow motion, hence the name. Of course, this drug has to be eradicated and Dredd knows where Ma-Ma lives. It’s up to him and a his newly assigned telepathic rookie to find Ma-Ma and destroy her drug dealing empire.
Does Dredd 3D’s failure at the box office mean that the ‘R’ rated action film is now dead? I really don’t think so. We have seen various ‘R’ rated action films flourish in theaters, a recent example of this would be The Expendables franchise, it’s going strong on it’s second film, and it’s got tons of action and gore. So, I ask again, why did Dredd 3D fail? All I can say is that as the tried and true (and sometimes unpredictable) waters of mass consumption have proven, it is a very rare occasion when the public will go see a film about a character they don’t know much about. Unfortunately, a lot of people are not tuned into Judge Dredd’s comic book origins. To top things off, Judge Dredd starring Sylvester Stallone also failed at the box office. To be honest, I didn’t feel like that film deserved to fail as badly as it did either. What can I say, sometimes the masses just don’t like a character and they never give it a chance to lift off the ground no matter how many times
tries; just look at The Punisher character. They have tried with three
different films already; all three films failed to impress at the box office. So
maybe audiences just don’t like the idea of Dredd, though I don't see why they wouldn't. I mean Judge Dredd isn't all that different from Robocop (1987), a huge box office success that spawned two sequels, a television show, comic books, an animated show, action figures for children and is currently getting the reboot treatment. So I don't know what gives with this film.
In comparison to Sylvester Stallone’s film, this one is smaller in scale, I mean it’s not a low budget flick, but to give you an idea, Stallone’s film had 70 million dollar budget while Dredd 3D had 50. And apparently 70 million in ’94 could buy you a really expensive looking film because in my book Judge Dredd is a massive, sci-fi action epic, I loved that about it, you could see those millions up on the screen, this was when films really looked expensive as opposed to nowadays where everything just looks computer generated. While Judge Dredd concerns itself with Mega City One being taken over by a power hungry mad man, Dredd 3D is simply about Dredd showing a rookie cop what it means to be a Judge. Together they enter Ma-Ma’s domain to try and stop Slo-Mo production. Unfortunately, Ma-Ma resides on the 200th floor of the Peach Trees apartment complex. The film doesn’t go much further then Dredd going up the tower, facing Ma-Ma’s weapons and henchmen. The film does borrow this ‘going up a tower to meet a drug dealer at the top’ premise from The Raid: Redemption (2011), there’s no denying that, but where The Raid made things interesting by giving us a heavy dose of martial arts fighting, Dredd 3D fails in making each floor of the building more interesting. The film can be described as one long shoot out, with lots of bullets whizzing by, and piercing flesh, people hiding in corners…it gets a bit redundant. This simplistic approach towards the film was kind of a let down for me considering that Alex Garland, a writer I commonly rely on for good story and character development wrote the script. It seems like Garland deliberately kept the scope of the story small for budget reasons.
And here’s where I go into the films one negative point: the film needed a bit more showmanship to it. It needed to be more spectacular. Shoot outs will never replace the adrenaline rush of a well orchestrated action sequence. The film opens up with a cool motorcycle chase sequence, reminiscent of the opening sequences for Robocop, but after that there’s not a whole lot of action in my book. The film does give us an over abundance of bullets and blood and that was cool, but it needed a hell of a lot more action because for a movie about cops in a chaotic crime ridden city from the future, this one felt a bit restrained in this department. What it did have a lot of was style, the camera angles were awesome, and the way the effects of Slo-Mo were achieved was visually interesting, especially in 3-D. So this is where the movie excels. Another
was Karl Urban as Dredd, he doesn’t talk much, his basically a walking tank, if
you mess with him you are dead, which is really the way Dredd should be, so the portrayal of the character they got just right. And
for you puritans out there, Urban never takes the helmet off, something Stallone
was guilty off and heavily criticized for. In the end, even with its hiccups,
this was not a bad film, it should have made its money back,
sadly, Dredd 3D is currently dying a quick death at the box office. I have a
feeling that this is going to be one of those movies that audiences will
discover once it hits home video.
Rating: 4 out of 5