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Copernicus is a fan of DREDD at TIFF MIDNIGHT MADNESS!!


Judge Dredd is a supercop from the future who is a judge, jury, and executioner with a computer controlled hand-cannon that dispenses justice instantaneously to bad people.  If that sounds like a product of the 70s vigilante / extreme cop fantasy (see DIRTY HARRY, DEATHWISH, etc.), it is: Dredd was of course adapted from a comic that started in 1976.  It also sounds like a film that might have starred Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime.  Allegedly, there nearly was such a film, but the role went to Stallone in a 1995 adaptation that was pretty much an unmitigated disaster.


But erase all those bad memories.  DREDD 3D is a new adaptation from the source material.  It feels true to the character (I read the comics way back in the 80s), yet freshened up for this decade.  It is a pretty rare gem --- a balls-out action spectacle, a drug tip movie, and a hard-R comic book adaptation.  And it blew the pants off the Midnight Madness crowd on the first night of the Toronto Film Festival.


Karl Urban stars as Judge Dredd, a kind of proto-ROBOCOP.  He always wears a helmet and his Judge outfit, he’s ever-logical, brutal but fair, and he has no time for silly things like girls.  Hell no, he’s too busy blasting the heads off of punks with extreme firepower.


But what happens when he has to take on a new recruit, Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) who’s a failure at her Judge’s exams, refuses to wear a helmet, and seems a little too compassionate to be a Judge?  Conflict!  In her defense, she’s also a foxy psychic.  When she touches you, she can see inside your brain.


The duo head to investigate a multiple homicide at the Peach Trees, a 200-story slum tower, run by drug kingpin Ma-Ma (Lena Headey).  But before long they are trapped inside with thousands of residents incited to kill them.  Since they can’t escape, they are forced to fight their way all the way up to the “boss level.”  If it sounds exactly like THE RAID, it is, although DREDD was written first, and by Alex Garland of 28 DAYS LATER fame.


Adding a little spice, and visual flair, to the proceedings is a drug called slo-mo.  Take it and you experience reality at about a thousandth of its normal speed.  This gives us a chance to savor the hyper-violence in all its beautiful, time-resolved glory.  It is like MATRIX bullet-time++, and it provides some stunning cinematography, a trippy vibe, and some inventive action beats.  Even wanted to see a bullet tear through someone’s head in slow motion?  See the waves of impact on someone’s body after a good smashing?  See the effects of an encounter with the ground after a 200 story fall?  Oh yes, slo-mo delivers!  After the screening, director Pete Travis mentioned that he picked Oscar-winning cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle for his ability to shoot those sequences, and specifically his work on ANTICHRIST.  I love that we live in an era when  we can bring the full force of millions of CPU hours of computational power, Oscar-winning brainpower, and dozens of CG artists to get exactly the right kind of slow motion head explosion.


A beautiful orgy of violence is really the selling point for DREDD.  The plot is pretty simple.  The acting is fine, but Karl Urban does the whole thing in the Bale Batman voice, and never takes his hat off.  I hadn’t seen Olivia Thirlby since she was practically a kid in JUNO, but she was certainly up to the task.  Lena Headey chews the scenery as deliciously as she does in GAME OF THRONES.  And it is fun to see a half-crazed woman as the villain.  Helena Bonham Carter must have been booked up.


I have no idea how a film like DREDD 3D got made.  While movie geeks might be aware of it because of the positive word of mouth, and comic fans have been reading the character for years, the average moviegoer just thinks of that Sylvester Stallone stinkbomb.  And being hard-R, it isn’t even made for the teen set.  There is a long tradition of violent R-rated action movies, but often they come from Asia, and were made on a tiny budget.  While DREDD was shot in South Africa, it has name actors, amazing effects, and looks like it cost a ton, even if it didn’t.  


I don’t want to think about it too deeply, I’m just glad that a movie like DREDD can get made.  It is a perfect midnight film.




Andy Howell  aka Copernicus

Email or follow me on Twitter



Readers Talkback
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  • Sept. 12, 2012, 6:52 p.m. CST

    Loved it

    by Jesse

    Caught it at a preview screening I won on here, and thought it was great. Plus, Karl Urban came out and said "It's judgement time" in his Dredd voice. Awesome.

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 6:52 p.m. CST

    First. Yay.

    by Bill C.

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 6:53 p.m. CST


    by Bill C.

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 6:54 p.m. CST


    by drompter

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 6:54 p.m. CST

    Red shirt

    by Jesse

    Well done.

  • It basically seems to be a lean, mean, (mostly) straightforward action film that just happens to have hot women in it (Lena Headey, sure, but I think I'm coming around to Olivia Thirlby). Not seeing a problem here, at least not yet...

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 7:04 p.m. CST

    But is the film scientificallly accurate?

    by Logan_1973

    Judging from the ARGO thread, that's really all that matters.

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 7:08 p.m. CST

    Just got back from seeing it


    And as a Dredd fan for 35 years I can say "HOLY SHIT" film is fucking awesome. Half way through the film I forgot that Urban was under the helmet as he was Dredd, unflinching, remorseless, face shooting Dredd. I was a bit worried about anderson but she was fantastic, the way they showed her abilities was great. I will see this again next week without a doubt. My film of the year closely followed by Avengers.

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 7:36 p.m. CST

    Topped UK BO

    by Majereuk

    OK, it was a bad week overall, but Dredd topped it anyway. Saw it on the day it came out with a friend who is also a longtime Dredd reader, and we loved it. Here's part of why- the little details of Dredd's world are all there without being shoved in your face. You'll see the belly-wheel lying next to a dead fatty, but no-one points it out or goes on about it. You'll see graffiti tags for Chopper and Kenny Who? There are Sternhammer, O'Neal and Equezza blocks. There's a Lawmaster bike with a sentry mode. And of course- the helmet stays on.

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 7:42 p.m. CST


    by Psycho_Kenshin

    Hell yeah, can't wait for this flick. Though Stallone's Dredd film is godly.

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 7:44 p.m. CST

    Stallone's Dredd is a great movie

    by Chemicals

    Why does this movie always get bagged on? It was terrible for the Dredd character but as a piece of sci-fi popcorn it was great. Assante was perfect, his robot was an amazing puppet effect, the production design was great, and the hick family who kidnaps Dredd is also great. It's a very entertaining movie, and the last film where Diane Lane still looked young and hot instead of old and drunk.

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 7:48 p.m. CST


    by Psycho_Kenshin

    I'm with yo chem, that movie rules way way too hard. Put it on a double bill with TimeCop, have ourselves a party. That said, Judge Dredd is my favorite comic, and this one nailing the character and including Anderson, with hard-R violence, ohhh yes I am pumped. Hope they can make a sequel with the Dark Judges too.

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 8:08 p.m. CST

    Best Geek Movie of the Year.

    by TommyGavinsEgo

    Okay, tied with Avengers. Dark Knight Rises in at a close second (the more distance I get from that film - only seen it once - the more it doesn't stand up as well as its predecessors) Prometheus doesn't count. It is to Alien as Phantom Menace is to Star Wars.

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 8:20 p.m. CST



    Yes loved those little details and the fact they were just "there". Also the tech was the same, there, servicable and not pointed out or dwelled on.

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 9:08 p.m. CST

    Dead on Dredd

    by JOEUMAN

    It's the best adaptation of a comic-character to the screen I've seen. Garland & Urban nail Dredd, from the sardonic wit and intimidation down to the pauses and nuances. Along with violence there's two great character studies of both Anderson and Dredd with some implicit satire, if you go for that sort of thing. This is John Wagner's & Carlos Ezquerra's Dredd adapted properly.

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 9:29 p.m. CST

    The Raid, ripped off The Horde!

    by trevor

    Does anyone else remeber that french flick? anyways it would be cool if they used the geoff barrow and ben salisbury drokk: music inspired by mega-city one album or anthrax, i am the law song

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 11:38 p.m. CST

    by chicgoods

    welcome to our website(the website from subject)

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 11:39 p.m. CST

    by chicgoods


  • Sept. 12, 2012, 11:39 p.m. CST

    by chicgoods


  • Sept. 13, 2012, 12:03 a.m. CST

    Hi chicgoods582!

    by DickBallsworth

    Welcome to me fucking you in the mouth with a shotgun.

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 2:24 a.m. CST

    Please America, go see this drokking film.

    by Gabba-UK

    It needs to be supported. The PG-13 is killing off this type of movie. Unless it can be shown that a movie like this can make money soon,they're going to stop making them. I've got friends who are too young to have grown up with the super violent 80's action movies who are totally losing their shit for this movie. All have universally loved it.

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 3:30 a.m. CST

    and looks like it cost a ton, even if it didn’t

    by TinSpider

    Saw this last night and although I thought the film was great and true to the character source, I did see parts where the budget restraints were showing. The Lawmaster bikes look cheap and you must only see 10 fully uniformed judges tops. Also the other Justice Department vehicles were a bit uninspiring. Just crappy every day UPS vans that look like a strong wind would knock them over. They could have got trash carts and modded them to look like transporters and this would have looked better. It felt a bit like a fan film in places - however it is still a million times better than the Stallone effort, even if that did have better art direction.

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 3:37 a.m. CST

    Assault On Precinct Peach Trees – Wow!

    by batfunk

    I saw this on Tuesday night and it kicked ass – big time! Urban nails Dredd perfectly. He sounds like Eastwood and shoots like Robocop. The ultra violence is extreme, but never glorifies it. It just feels dangerous. Unlike most Hollywood film violence, this stops you in your tracks, making you realise that getting shot really isn't good. It feels quite real and shocking in a dirty grim kind of way. See this film before its kind die out. Dredd... fuck yeah!

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 3:59 a.m. CST

    Groundbreaking use of 3D - could be enormous indie movie

    by Horseflesh625

    I wanted to write a review based on the comic, 2000AD angle and came away thinking this could be a huge cult money making movie like Easy Rider.. It's not as good as Easy Rider.. :-) But it is substantially different to a lot of other stuff out at the moment. And I'm saying groundbreaking use of 3D that even has sceptics like me impressed

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 4 a.m. CST

    Another Plant?

    by bill

    The haters and trolls must be having a fit with all the positive reviews. Face facts guys; you were wrong. There's no world wide conspiracy, no bribed reviewers, no alien interference. Dredd is a straight balls-to-the-wall Drokking good action movie. Now go and eat your cheetos and slag off the next film that hasn't even been made yet.

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 4:14 a.m. CST

    by Horseflesh625

    This is not a plant

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 5:57 a.m. CST

    chemicals...I agree

    by Lampers

    I love Stallone's Dredd too. I acknowledge it has many flaws but has a lot of good going for it. But that's a discussion for another time. For right now... ...this new Dredd is FANTASTIC! REALLY enjoyed it and very much hoping it makes the cash to warrant another. This could be a great franchise.

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 6:09 a.m. CST

    Sorta film that has rewatchabilty 9/10

    by RocketFuckingMan

    This is going to get some pain when I get the Bluray, thinking about getting a 3D TV or maybe even a projector for this.

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 6:17 a.m. CST

    @Mr logan_1973

    by albert comin

    People dying and human heads exploding due to impact from high caliber ammunition at high speed? Yup, that's scientifically accurate. Movie has a pass.

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 6:31 a.m. CST

    Dredd is a perfect adaptation

    by the_man_with_two_brains

    more so for people who have been fans since the early days. as a fan who started reading my older brother's cast off comics in the late 70's I couldn't be happier with a pitch perfect adaptation. I was never expecting it to match the visual look of the comics I just wanted them to nail the character and Urban did it with style! He does not have that annoying bale/batman voice, rather a stern and in some places dirty harry delivery, he doesn't feel the need to speak unless absolutely necessary and none of the other judges remove their helmets except Anderson (and the reason for this is explained and obvious) she rarely wears her helmet in the comics anyway. There's even a hint of something more close to beginning when we first meet Anderson that made my spine tingle. This film was written smartly with the prospect of as many sequels as they can squeeze out as the source material is so rich. I agree though that either an apocolypse war sequel or dark judges sequel (shoot them back to back) would make a great trilogy. Then again there's the judge child, cursed earth and on and on. Will be going with my older brother to see it again tonight, can't wait...also I need to spot the belly wheel...

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 7:14 a.m. CST

    Garland and co absolutely nailed it, film of the year for me so far

    by KillaKane

    The Dredd franchaise is at long last back on track, can't wait for the sequel - I just hope Garland is on hand to produce/write.

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 7:21 a.m. CST

    Saw it last night ...

    by Yer_Maw

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 7:22 a.m. CST

    ... and it's fucking superb.

    by Yer_Maw

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 7:54 a.m. CST

    You guys are giving me so much good hopes for this movie.

    by albert comin

    And that's such a great feeling to have.

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 8:02 a.m. CST


    by RocketFuckingMan

    If you like Escape from NY,Robocop,Predator,Terminator, Dirty Harry and District 9 you will love it,simple as that.And in my humble opinion it is a good as any of those.

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 8:34 a.m. CST

    I'm so scared that it'll be a huge let down.

    by TheMachinist

    Only a weeks time will tell.

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 9:02 a.m. CST


    by RocketFuckingMan

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 9:05 a.m. CST


    by RocketFuckingMan

    It's a grade A B-movie.Just don't expect it to look like it has the budget of the Avengers or John Carpenter(better than JC though).Set expectations to medium and prepare to be entertained.

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 9:12 a.m. CST

    Helmet on or off

    by SlyWalker

    who the fuck cares

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 9:20 a.m. CST

    Dredd fans do

    by RocketFuckingMan

    It's like Batman wearing a dress,should never happen.

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 10:30 a.m. CST

    Loved it!

    by Mark

    Saw this on Sunday and loved it. I enjoyed Stallone’s version as a generic peace of entertainment but it didn’t do Dredd Justice (see what I did there). Dredd 3D did it perfectly. I hope this movie makes a ton of money and a two sequels get the green light. I want all off Hollywood to realise a true adult adaptation of a graphic novel done right CAN work!

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 11:06 a.m. CST



    Yes it HAS to be Garland again, he gets what Dredd is all about.

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 11:18 a.m. CST

    slywalker is actually Sylvester Stallone posting as an anonymous talkbacker

    by SergeantStedenko

    "Sly"-walker Get it?

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 11:42 a.m. CST



    That is the only explanation why anyone would like that god-awful film.

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 11:44 a.m. CST

    "DROKK" on the back of the perp's kutte/vest

    by Liquid Meddle

    In the beginning chase seen (back seat of the van)

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 1:12 p.m. CST

    Alex Garland has hinted that Chopper will be in the second movie.

    by BiggusDickus

    If he gives us Supersurf 7 - the classic 'Midnight Surfer' tale - I will probably explode!

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 1:13 p.m. CST

    That's if America ponies up to see this one, of course!

    by BiggusDickus

    C'mon America! See Dredd at the cinema! Then go see it again!

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 1:55 p.m. CST

    sergeantstedenko figured me out..brilliant!

    by SlyWalker

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 2:04 p.m. CST

    i've dated a few foxy psychics

    by smudgewhat

    you do have to be cautious when a biddy can make plates fly around the room with her mind. but they're usually great in bed.


  • Sept. 13, 2012, 3:24 p.m. CST

    un-american graffitti into midnight surfer for the sequel

    by kw

    Marlon Shakespear's tale would show what it is like to grow up in MC1 under the Judges. The cursed earth (2 T (fru) T virus) would be a much bigger tale with more freedom to play around plus you get to see the killdozer. Save the dark Judges for the (hopefully) Third movie. Love to see PJ Maybe too and Sov Judge Orlok but I think that is stretching it to far.

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 8:35 p.m. CST



    The main problem with that guys review is one of his opening lines "The truth is that, while Judge Dredd was all over the place, it was an accurate reflection of the comic – because it is itself all over the place." Judge Dredd might be "all over the place" over multiple stories but when you read one story it could be a comedy or drama etc but its never more than one. Judge Dredd failed for me because it tried to mix multiple characters and stories into 90 mins. The new Dredd works because it is one coherent story. I do agree that the stallone movie nailed the look but that's all it did.