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Should You “Dredd” the New Judge?

September 21, 2012

Did LionsGate learn nothing from the colossal failure of Conan the Barbarian? Last year, the studio took an ’80s comic-book-based movie nobody remembered fondly and remade it with a much less bankable lead… and the results were barbarous. Now they’ve done it again with Judge Dredd—retitled Dredd 3D. Only instead of Jason Momoa stepping in for Arnold Schwarzenegger, it’s Karl Urban renewing Sylvester Stallone’s old role. And believe it or not, it’s even worse than the original.

Karl Urban… who’s that, you say? Why, he was in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot. But you know what no one’s ever said? “Hey, let’s go see that new Karl Urban movie!” (He played Bones in Trek, not exactly a starmaking role; there’s a reason DeForest Kelley never got his own spinoff.) The sole reason he seems to have been cast as Dredd is that when you cover the upper half of his face with a silly-looking helmet, he kinda resembles Hugh Jackman. He’s less successful trying to cover his New Zealand accent with a gruff monotone stolen from The Dark Knight himself, Christian Bale.

In a dystopian future—is there any other kind in sci-fi movies?—Dredd is a judge, jury and executioner who runs afoul of a street gang led by the fearsome Mama (Momoa’s fellow Game of Thrones veteran Lena Headey). The fact that her name is pronounced “Maw-Maw” made me giggle and think of Raising Hope‘s Cloris Leachman, who’s considerably scarier. She’s pushing a drug called Slo-Mo that makes everything seem like it’s moving at an infinitesimal fraction of reality. Somebody must’ve slipped some Slo-Mo in my Coke Zero, because the 95-minute Dredd felt like an eternity.

Dredd’s teamed up with a young psychic played by Olivia Thirlby, who deserves better than to be encased in an unflattering blond fringe and a black metal suit. If Thirlby were really a psychic, she could’ve predicted what a bomb Dredd would turn out to be and gone running in the other direction.

Somehow this movie picked up good buzz coming out of Comic Con and currently stands at a 77% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I don’t know what those critics were smoking, but as for me, it’s Judgment time: Dredd 3D sucks.

Are you Dredd-ing another lame ’80s-movie remake? What’s next—Short Circuit Rewired? Breakin’ 2.0: Electric BoogalooIt’s always darkest before Red Dawn!

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