By Jamie Hill
The future is dark - the future is Dredd.
And it is bleak. Violent. And it will leave you completely breathless.
I'm talking about Dredd 3D which was released at the weekend.
The film is based on the character Judge Dredd from the British comic 2000AD. I, personally, love Judge Dredd and as a subscriber to 2000Ad was praying that this film would finally do the character justice after that travesty of a Sylvester Stallone film 17 years ago. The Sly Stallone film was a huge wasted opportunity and did two things that Dredd fans will never forgive. Dredd took his helmet off and they saddled him with a comedy sidekick in the form of Rob Schneider.
Luckily for Dredd purists, there are no helmet-taking-off antics in this one and if Rob Schneider showed his face it would only be for a few seconds before he got his face blown off.
Did I mention that this new version of Dredd is violent?
For people who don't know, Judge Dredd is a lawman of the future in a post apocalyptic America where huge mega-cities have emerged and crime and chaos reign. Thing are so out of control that the policing is left to the judges who act as judge, jury and executioner.
With 800 million people living in these mega-cities, huge mega-blocks have been built that tower over everything with hundreds of thousands of people housed within.
This isn't a shiny, glossy version of the future but a dirty, gritty one.
Judge Dredd is played by Karl Urban. You might remember him as Eomer from Lord of the Rings and Bones from Star Trek. But you won't recognise him here as he never gets to take his helmet off.
Dredd is perfect. Every line is spoken with gruff expediency. You believe that this man is 'the law'. It's an unshakeable, larger than life, unemotional part to play and Urban carries it off with aplomb.
The emotional heart of the film belongs to actress Olivia Thirlby. She plays rookie judge Cassandra Anderson, a psi (or psychic) who is hugely popular in the comics. It is through her eyes that we get to see the inhumanity on display and how each decision has consequences.
After the mega-budget Sly Stallone failure, you can understand why Hollywood didn't want to chuck too much money at this one. But I believe that this lack of budget helped writer Alex Garland (The Beach, 28 Days Later) concentrate his story to the budget constraints. Making it all the better to see Dredd at his best. You don't see much of Dredd's world in this film just one massive mega-block where the judge and the rookie go to cover a routine murder and end up getting stuck in a battle for survival with gang leader Ma-Ma (played excellently by Game of Thrones' Lena Headey).
Ma-Ma is the drug kingpin dishing out the new designer drug Slo-mo which slows things down to only one per cent of normal speed for the user. This gives the film's creators ample opportunity to use spectacular slowed down 3D effects. You will see bullets rip through flesh and brain matter getting spattered everywhere in delicious slow motion.
You've got to see this film in 3D. It is what 3D was made for and it works impressively well.
As you can tell, I loved it. It filled all my fanboy needs as well as being a damn good, violent film at the same time.
My hope is that this film is a success as the source material is so rich that there are endless stories that can be adapted for the screen. There's a whole world to explore out there.
By keeping it small but visceral this time I'm hoping that Hollywood will see the opportunities out there and greenlight even more Dredd films.
And whilst they're at it they could greenlight other 2000AD thrills like 'Rogue Trooper', 'Nicolai Dante', 'Sinister Dexter' and 'Kingdom'.