Here is Part 2 of my look at the movie Dredd.
Wood Harris pays Kay, one of Ma-Ma’s lieutenants who is arrested early on in a drug den that Dredd and Anderson raid. It’s his arrest that leads to Ma-Ma locking down Peach Trees and sending her gang out after Dredd and Anderson. I liked Harris’ performance here. He plays a man with little or no conscience who enjoys what he does. Throughout most of the movie he has Anderson pushing him around and on the occasions when Dredd leaves them he tries to unsettle the rookie Judge. Kay is kind of the opposite to Dredd in what he stands for.
Ma-Ma is played chillingly by the amazing Lena Heady. The more I’ve seen of Headey the more I’m liking her as an actress. As Ma-Ma she shows her range as Ma-Ma is a very disturbed, vicious character who has no morals and no conscience. She is a junkie who seems to be constantly on the edge of not only sanity but of staying alive. The fact that she aggressively controls a gang like she does is testament to the person she is. I got the impression from this character that she is not only smart and ruthless but also someone that is neither happy nor concerned that what she is doing causes as much harm as it does. All this we get from Headey, she pulls a stunning performance out for this movie that is disturbing to watch.
Visually Dredd is stunning. This is the first film where I found the 3D didn’t bother me. It was there and added to the cinematic experience well but it’s not something that the film depends on. I’ve lost count of the times that I have watched this movie on DVD and Blu-Ray and it still looks as beautiful as it did in the cinema. The word beautiful can be a little misleading, I use it in the sense that Mega City 1 looks horrid, but in a visually stunning way. It looks like a third world city. The streets are full of rubbish and graffiti, the vehicles look like they are only just operating. Buildings look old and like they have no one maintaining them. Basically everything you would expect to see in a third world city. Even Dredd looks like he’s been on the streets a long time. His uniform is worn and tired looking. His helmet especially looks like its well worn. Peach Trees, where the majority of the movie takes place looks dull and uninspiring. Few people look like they are flourishing in this world, it looks very desolate.
The soundtrack matches this feeling of desolation. The score which was composed by Paul Leonard-Morgan feels dirty and made me feel like there was a heart beating in my ear throughout the movie. Picking up just at the most tense moments and dropping off to let the viewer breath for a moment. I actually liked the soundtrack so much that I brought it and listen to it frequently.
Director Peter Travis and all of the production team and the writers and everyone behind the scenes have worked hard to make this a very believable movie. The storyline is something that is just a little more extreme then the everyday events that a Judge in this world has to deal with, which I preferred seeing than if it was a Judge Dredd saves the world storyline. The settings look amazing and very authentic. This world is not the same as the comic book but I think its a very realistic evolution from comic to screen, a lot of thought has been put into making that evolution. The judges uniforms are a good example. In the comic they are skin tight with a belt, the helmet and big shoulder pads. In the movie the uniforms are more tactical; heavy, dark leather with more subtle shoulder pads. The helmets are almost the same but the weapons look more realistic. They take a normal pistol and modify it. Any action movie fan knows what a pistol looks like and these are different but look similar enough that its recognisable.
Overall Dredd is in my top five favourite movies of all time, and not just for the fact that it is a film that has a lot of skill and heart in it but also because this world that Dredd is set in, I can see it becoming a reality. This is well directed, well acted and has a lot of heart and belief by those that got it to the big screen.
Yes I want to see a sequel.