‘SLO-MO’ shots add beauty to new and improved ‘Dredd’

Drugs that slow the world down. Tall man-made structures containing thousands of people. A police force made up of judges who deliver death sentences as judge, jury and executioner, with a squeeze of the finger.

You might recall that Dredd has been on screen before in 1995’s “Judge Dredd.” That film was critically panned and has been deemed one of Sylvester Stallone’s worst films.

I am pleased to say that Karl Urban improves upon Sly’s performance and gives a gravelly grunt performance that works better than Christian Bale’s Batman. Never will you have to listen closely to Urban’s words, because everything is clear and easy to understand. Urban’s performance is one of the standout pieces of this dystopian future.

This is judgment; this is “Dredd.”

The 3-D film adaptation, based on the 1970s British graphic novel, is mindless and simplistic, but quite stunning to behold. This is mainly due to the characters’ use of the drug SLO-MO that slows down moments in time to 1 percent of its regular speed. Every bloody fight scene, under the influence of SLO-MO, can be seen with exquisite color. This too benefits the overall 3-D effect. Oftentimes the blood and sparks fly at the screen, creating a dazzling light show that glitters and glows with red embers and white crystallized power. The 3-D is entertaining enough, but I wouldn’t suggest paying extra for the effect it creates. I’m sure it’s just as incredible to see on a 2-D digital screen.

Other things that shoot off the screen are bullets. The fire power is a consistent visual spectacle on screen, from quick draw gunplay with Dredd behind his gun or the devastating power of a futuristic destructive turret at the hands of “Dredd’s” villain, Ma-Ma.

“Dredd 3D” is a B-movie picture with solid spectacle, gritty action, and simple storytelling. This is no fault of the film or the filmmakers. From the beginning it is obvious that Bmovie style is exactly what they were going for. Director Peter Travis and screenwriter Alex Garland don’t attempt to present social commentary through their film or force examination of a dystopian future with scrutiny. The duo wants audiences to enjoy themselves.

Often enough I enjoyed myself, but for a film barely over one-hour-and-a-half I found myself squirming and trying to stay awake.

“Dredd” is a beautiful film, but not the whole way through. The film becomes overly long, because the plot is video game simple. Traveling up the building searching for Ma-Ma, Dredd must fight his way through levels of violent criminals with the help of his psychic partner Anderson, played by Olivia Thirlby.

The plot is one of the cons of this behemoth of action. The stakes don’t ever seem that high and we don’t know enough about the characters to care what happens to them.

“Dredd” is entertaining, but a too simplistic script makes this film stilted. The action is on par with 1980s action films and the acting is subpar, but the SLOMO effects make for gorgeous shots again and again.

Patrick White

Movie fan Patrick White doesn't spare anyone's feelings when deciding if the latest Hollywood offering is trash or treasure. Catch his reviews on the latest theater and DVD releases in Saturday's paper.

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