Ever have one of those days at work where it’s one irate person after another and your jaw clenches tighter and tighter while your eyes get crazier with fantasies of standing on your desk and screaming, “SCREW YOU ALL!!!!!” before smashing your monitor?
But, you don’t/can’t follow through on that fantasy because you have rent and stuff? So, you angrily eat Triscuits and mutter for the rest of the day?
I had a day like that on Monday.
Turned out it was the perfect state of mind for seeing Dredd (in Regular D, because my old eyes can’t take 3D. And I’m cheap). I wasn’t quite sure what to expect or how I’d react, which shows a stunning faith on my part; I usually don’t go to the movies unless I’m damn sure to enjoy it (or it’s free). And, not having a lot of familiarity with the comic AND seeing Stallone’s Judge Dredd in the theaters in 1995, this one had a lot going against it.
There was, however, one aspect very much in Dredd’s favor: Karl Urban. Everything he does is perfect.
Even his guest role on Xena: Warrior Princess where his hair was like that:
Karl Urban got me in the door, but I wound up legitimately enjoying the hell out of Dredd. It reminded me of RoboCop, only without the anti-corporatism and quest for identity. So, all the action and ultra-violence and realistic looking future stuff and none of the depth.
There were several choices made with Dredd that were surprising and made me really happy:
1. It’s not an origin story. Judge Dredd is already established as the most fearsome, righteous judge in Mega-City One.
2. It’s a day-in-the-life case rather than a super villain.
3. It’s sort of claustrophobic, frequently in tight quarters and with minimal sweeping shots of Mega-City One.
4. The future of Dredd looks plausible, like the future we’ll probably really get. Our existing landscape of buildings greatly expanded and peppered with megastructures housing as many as 75,000 people tower over them while criminals still drive Volkswagon vans from the 1980s.
5. Karl Urban wore the helmet the entire time. That bit of mouth is all we see of him.
Also, Lena Headey is scary.
Her character, Ma-Ma, is incredibly violent, ruthless, and unforgiving and is incredibly calm about it. She makes Cersei Lannister seem like a rather sweet and pleasant woman you’d want to have tea with.
Dredd isn’t a deep movie by any means, but it’s super fun and super gross in spots (just like RoboCop). There is a humor there, too – a very subtle, dry, British humor. In the end, I was really surprised at how much I liked it. Just the thing to lift up a crappy day.