[Screen It]


(2012) (Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby) (R)

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Sci-Fi/Action: A post-apocalyptic cop, who can act as judge, jury and executioner, finds himself trapped in a locked down skyscraper as he and his rookie partner try to take down a drug lord who's dealing a mind-altering drug.
In a post-apocalyptic world, more than 800 million live in Mega-City One, a vast metropolis that stretches from what was once Washington, D.C. to Boston. It's a dangerous place, made worse by the introduction of a new addictive drug known as "Slo-Mo" that alters the user's perception of time. The purveyor of that is Madeline Madrigal, a.k.a. Ma-Ma (LENA HEADEY), and when she infuses three men with the drug and has their skinned bodies tossed from the 200 story slum tower where she runs her business, Judge Dredd (KARL URBAN) heads to the scene to investigate.

Dredd is just one of many law enforcers who simultaneously play out the roles of a combination of cop, judge, jury and executioner and he brings along rookie Judge Anderson (OLIVIA THIRLBY) who he's been asked to evaluate for full duty. Using her psychic powers, they arrest one of Ma-Ma's henchmen, Kay (WOOD HARRIS), but then finds themselves facing a death order from the drug lord. Ending up trapped in the sealed high-rise, the two must fight their way through various armed goons as they try to get to and stop Ma-Ma.

OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
Our reviewing policy for films that aren't shown to critics before they open is that we'll only provide a few paragraphs about the film's artistic merits.

"Judge Dredd" is not one of Sylvester Stallone's finer works. In fact, for most everyone born after the 1980s, the 1995 film -- where Sly played a futuristic cop/judge/jury/executioner character all rolled into one -- probably isn't even anywhere in their collective cognitive radar. And unless they're into British comics, it's also unlikely they know of that film's origins in "2000 AD," or the character headlining the later "Judge Dredd Megazine" or appearing in several Blighty newspaper comic strips.

Undeterred by that and swept up in the apparent industry-wide need to remake everything that already exists, director Pete Travis brings the character back to the big screen in the more simply titled "Dredd." This time around, Karl Urban takes over the title role, but you'd never know it's the same guy who played Dr. McCoy in the "Star Trek" reboot since he wears a helmet (that only reveals his near-permanent scowl) and talks like an angry Clint Eastwood character for most of the film's 95-minute runtime.

While that's in keeping with the original comic character, it robs the movie version of much any other personality and turns him into something akin to a first-person shooter video game creation. And that's basically what we have here as Urban and Olivia Thirlby find themselves trapped in a high-rise and most fight and shoot through a barrage of bad guys while moving from floor to floor trying to get to the lead villain (Lena Headey, not playing it big enough to be convincing in the role).

If you enjoy watching others play such video games and revel in the related carnage (presented in super slow motion and 3D here to showcase the injuries and related blood and gore), you might like what's offered. If you don't, you'll want to serve as your own cinematic judge, jury and executioner and put this film out of your misery. For what it is, I found it to be just an okay, shoot 'em up diversion for adults. It rates as a 5 out of 10.

Reviewed September 21, 2012 / Posted September 21, 2012

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