When Dredd (Stallone) lifted his helmet from his grizzled head, there was a collective roar of dismay that still echoes through the web to this day.
So when Dredd 3D came out and Karl Urban donned the armour of the Judge; it went without saying; that helmet was staying put.
So to commit an act of gross heresy lets pit Judge Vs Judge and see who is left standing. So to kill what little credibility I have, I will state for the record, I loved Judge Dredd. The garishness and the ultra-violence of it worked.
Like many of the comic book movies that came out in the 90’s it was more than a little camp, with its big shiny pauldrons and gold chains everywhere. Again this seemed to work. Yet as much as I enjoyed the original, Stallone overshadowed Dredd.
This is where Dredd 3D differed.
Dredd 3D was an excellent case of allowing the comic book character to bludgeon its way through to the forefront. I wasn’t watching a Karl Urban film; I was watching Dredd in all his moody, scowly glory. This was highlighted very nicely by the somewhat oversized helmet, which dwarfs Urban’s features almost entirely.
Both films have featured a strong buddy cop trope, although thankfully the new Dredd film is minus Rob Schneider. Thank the Law for small mercies. Olivia Thirlby was§ a much better choice, playing Anderson as the badass, pixie cute physic/ rookie Judge.
Dredd was also a great example of how amazing 3D can look. The slow-mo scenes were moments of beauty amid the grim and grisly locales of Mega City 1.
Lena Headey plays an brilliant baddie, but then we knew that from Game of Thrones. Here she takes if even further as the sadistic and genocidal Ma-Ma. Sporting a haircut that looks like it was achieved with a pair of rusty shears, a host of tattoos and a hideous, disfiguring scar.
Ma-Ma is the sadistic slumlord who declares war on Dredd and his rookie partner, when what should have been a routine triple murder investigation turns ugly.
So while it is a cop-out to say that both films have a lot going for them, it’s true. Dredd 3D lets you get a real feel for the unwavering servant of the law, that is Dredd. Where as Judge Dredd was and will always be a Stallone action film.
The difference between the two films can be summed up in just how they use the iconic line “I am the Law.” Stallone uses it in a petulant way, “I can’t break the Law, I am the Law.” Urban uses it in a more understated way (for Dredd), he uses it to denounce Ma-Ma who has claimed the tower has her own and inspire the downtrodden. He is a kinder, gentler Judge, well, unless you happen to be a criminal.
So Judge Dredd kicks ass, for the 90’s, but both Stallone and the garish costume consume Dredd. Dredd 3D however is the opposite. Dredd is the star, and he is as brutal and unwavering as we could expect.