Some people consider the original Judge Dredd to be a slice of trashy guilty pleasure pie; greedily and unabashedly tucking in when it pops up on television on account of the fact that Sylvester Stallone plays his law enforcement operator deadpan whilst chuckling on the inside. It doesn’t matter whether Stallone was in on the joke or not, quite frankly, because the first Judge Dredd sucked and acted only as a wasted opportunity to represent the chaotic, imaginative, dystopian world of Mega-City One from the comic book series.
Dredd, on the other hand, achieves the kind of entertaining effect that the original couldn’t muster. Pete Travis’ reboot drops the noun from the title and cooks up an explosive screenplay with a dark comic streak wriggling through its center, offering up some eye-popping special-effects to illuminate the crumbling surroundings of a fallen Planet Earth. Karl Urban’s snarl provides a more compelling presence than Stallone’s grisly gurgle and the remake knows exactly what it’s doing, compared to its predecessor, which was distinctly confused from start to finish.
Whilst both movies pride themselves on portrayal of an overtly ugly setting, the reboot surpasses the original through its gorgeously orchestrated cinematography. Dredd leaves us to marvel at the monstrous surroundings of Mega-City One with silky slow-motion graphics, whereas the dullness of Judge Dredd stirred a desire in critics to get out of their seats and wipe the screen clean (to help break the tedium as well as remove the ugliness).
Dredd might have looked good compared to Stallone’s star vehicle even if it were a distinctly average blockbuster, but in actuality, it’s a pretty decent watch – combining the best tropes of the action B-movie with some terrific special effects.