Nothing says Comic-Con like an orgy of violence, which is perhaps why Lionsgate debuted the upcoming action film "Dredd" at the annual event at midnight on Thursday.
"You can say many things about this movie, but tame is not a word you’ll see associated with it," wrote Quint (real name: Eric Vespe) in his review for Ain't It Cool News. "In terms of gore, they swing for the fences. [...] If you’ve ever wanted to see what a bullet going through a dude’s jaw looked like in slow motion, then by God 'Dredd's' the movie for you!"
Based on the popular '80s comic from 2000 AD, "Dredd" focuses on the title law enforcer (played by Karl Urban, who apparently never takes off Dredd's famed helmet) and his new partner (Olivia Thirlby) as they try to stop a drug kingpin (Lena Headey) in a dystopian future where police officers are judge, jury and executioner. Directed by Pete Travis, "Dredd" takes place in an apartment complex, not unlike the acclaimed Indonesian action film "The Raid: Redemption." Fortunately for "Dredd," that similarity doesn't appear to be a dealbreaker.
"As for criticisms that it resembles 'The Raid: Redemption,'" wrote Luke Y. Thompson for Deadline.com. "Some cinephiles will still say that (similar building, both very violent films), but it's different enough to merit assessment on its own terms."
This is the second time Hollywood has adapted the Judge Dredd character for the big screen. In 1995, Sylvester Stallone starred in "Judge Dredd," a universally reviled film that didn't really get to the heart of the character or its subversive satire. (As Thompson notes, Dredd was created as a "parody" of American action heroes like Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson.) The new version of "Dredd" doesn't hit those satirical beats either -- at least according to ScreenRant's Jordan Hoffman.
"I've got to give 'Dredd' some credit for its fundamental delight in being fascist," Hoffman wrote in his review. "It makes 'Dirty Harry' look like '12 Angry Men.' Unlike 'Starship Troopers,' the satirical winks, while existent, are few and far between. 'Dredd' takes it on faith that you’ll know that this is, you know, a bad way for a criminal justice system to behave, then lets you see what a body smashing into concrete from 200 stories above looks like in extreme slow motion."
At Indiewire's blog The Playlist, Todd Gilchrist agrees:
What Zack Snyder’s 'Dawn of the Dead' is to George Romero's original, Pete Travis' film is to, no, not Danny Cannon's 1995 film 'Judge Dredd,' but Paul Verhoeven’s 'Robocop.' In both cases, gifted visual stylists took fertile, socially-conscious subject matter, pared out the cultural commentary, and left behind an engaging, if empty, cinematic experience.
"Dredd" is in theaters on Sept. 28. Expect an R-rating.
For more on "Dredd," check out the Twitter reviews below.