11 Reasons 'Dredd' Fans Are Crazy Devoted to 'Dredd'

The movie has taken over our Comic Book Movie Bracket Battle, and if you haven't seen it, here's what you're missing.

Karl Urban won fans over as Judge Dredd
Karl Urban won fans over as Judge Dredd
(Lionsgate)

On Monday morning, after nearly three weeks of voting, Zimbio's Comic Book Movie Bracket Battle will come to an end, and either Dredd or The Dark Knight will have won it all.

As we've learned with our annual TV Couples bracket, these things often come down to the fan base most willing to consistently mobilize and vote for their favorites. And boy does Dredd have some hardcore fans. Every round, they've come out in droves to help the movie tackle much bigger properties, and so far they've been victorious across the board.

So why are they so hardcore? Well, let's tick off a few of the many reasons Dredd fans don't just love the movie, they proselytize it. (By the way if you haven't seen Dredd, it's streaming now on Netflix.)

1. It's David in a World of Goliaths

Part of the reason we wanted to focus on comic book movies in our new bracket battle is because there are more of them than ever. And every single one of them tries to be bigger and awesomer than the last to the point that it's all just kind of numbing. But not Dredd.

Here's a movie that shrinks its world down to one building and follows two characters as they try to survive a gauntlet of violence that manages to be both gritty and surreal. And all those other comic book adaptations? One of critics' most common problems with them is bloat. But Dredd delivers a slim, fast-paced plot in 1 hour, 35 minutes without being laughably simplistic.

  • X-Men: DOFP

    11 Reasons 'Dredd'

    2 hrs, 11 min

    Budget: $200M

  • Man of Steel

    11 Reasons 'Dredd'

    2 hrs, 23 min

    Budget: $225M

  • The Dark Knight Rises

    11 Reasons 'Dredd'

    2 hrs, 45 min

    Budget: $250M

  • Dredd

    11 Reasons 'Dredd'

    1 hr, 35 min

    Budget: $45M

2. Karl Urban as Judge Dredd

New Zealand actor Karl Urban hasn't received nearly as much recognition as he deserves. As Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, he's largely been overshadowed by Star Trek's bigger stars, and his show, Almost Human, didn't turn out to be the vehicle that could carry him to the mainstream.

Fortunately he's still got Dredd. Urban handily carries the movie, scowl firmly in place as he delivers justice to Mega-City One's most hardened criminals. And his involvement with the film didn't end when filming wrapped. He's been the movie's biggest booster the whole time. When critics initially rolled their eyes at the thought of another Judge Dredd movie, it was Urban who assured them that it was a "badass" movie with "leather motorbike suits and body armor and hard-core, gritty, pull-no punches" action. And he continues to be the loudest voice clamoring for a Dredd sequel.

3. Lena Headey as Ma-Ma

As Cersei Lannister, Lena Headey has won over Game of Thrones fans, but Dredd finds her playing a different kind of villain. As Ma-Ma, Headey's face is scarred and her hair is sheered off in uneven jags. It's as ugly as we're likely to see her onscreen, and she's still sort of weirdly hot in this punk rock way. Ma-Ma runs all the criminal activity in the Peach Tree Block tower, which is basically like a big apartment complex you never have to leave, complete with shops, restaurants, services, utilities, and whatever else you need. She's basically the block tower's overlord and she's totally ruthless.

11 Reasons 'Dredd'
Lionsgate

4. Dredd Doesn't Have Any Super Powers

Unless you count stubbornness and a penchant for violence as super powers. The Judge's lack of powers helps keep the story grounded, especially since the movie goes out of its way to show him as human. When Judge Dredd finds himself injured about three-quarters of the way through the movie, he doesn't shrug it off like the Terminator. He sits there and patches himself up, and it looks like it really hurts.

5. But His Trainee Does

As Cassandra Anderson, Olivia Thirlby plays a psychic Judge in training, one who uses her powers of mind reading and mind control to solve crimes and capture criminals. Judge Anderson is a key character from the comics who's long had her own title, and her inclusion hints at some of the crazier elements of the Dredd universe — robots, aliens, psychics — that we'll hopefully see if they ever get around to making a sequel.

Olivia Thirlby as Judge Anderson.
Olivia Thirlby as Judge Anderson.
(Lionsgate)

6. Slo-Mo Makes Brutality Beautiful

The movie's plot is driven by a new street drug called Slo-Mo, which makes the user experience the world in slow motion. Sounds fun, right? It's especially fun if you happen to be a filmmaker experimenting with beautiful abstract violence. The movie sometimes shifts to the perspective of someone experiencing the effects of Slo-Mo, and every time it does, the shots look gorgeous. Producer and screenwriter Alex Garland told Bloody-Disgusting.com that he worked with the movie's visual effects team after being inspired by slow motion shots in nature documentaries. He asked: "Can you make violence into something which is purely aesthetic? Can it be so abstract that it becomes genuinely beautifully? Not kind of ballet beautiful but really aesthetically beautiful even if someone is having their cheek blown out or their head crushing into concrete.”

7. It's So Much Better Than That OTHER Dredd Movie

When Sylvester Stallone starred in Judge Dredd in 1995 it was roundly panned by critics, and it hasn't improved with age. It was so bad, in fact, that everyone involved with Dredd had a hard time convincing audiences to go see their movie because the Stallone film had left such a terrible, and lasting, impression.

Sylvester Stallone in 'Judge Dredd.'
Sylvester Stallone in 'Judge Dredd.'
Buena Vista

8. There's Not a Hint of Camp or Irony

As Marvel knows, the key to any good comic book adaptation is tone. While a slightly campy tone might work for Thor, though, the filmmakers behind Dredd knew they had to keep their movie as dark and gritty as the comics that inspired it. So while Dredd may sometimes go over-the-top with its slow motion shots of crushing violence, it never indulges in knowing irony and never attempts to lighten the mood with anything but gallows humor. That approach rang true with fans, keeping the movie from ever entering cornball territory.

9. Karl Urban's Emotional Range

Karl Urban displays a full emotional range as Judge Dredd.
Karl Urban displays a full emotional range as Judge Dredd.
(Lionsgate)

10. It Doesn't Bother with Exposition or World Building

In a time when every comic book movie seems to be aiming for a franchise, adaptations are frequently bogged down by origin stories, expository backstory, and often unnecessary world building. Dredd trims the fat, dropping us right into the heart of Mega-City One with barely any explanation of where we are or how we got here. Characters are revealed through action. The world is revealed through action. And backstory? Who needs it?

11. The Helmet Stays On

In the 2000 AD comic books, Judge Dredd is known for never removing his iconic helmet. So when Sylvester Stallone spent half the movie with his helmet off in Judge Dredd, fans were disappointed to say the least. For his part, Urban says he was always a fan of the comic, so it was never even a question for him. He just assumed he'd be shooting the whole movie under the helmet. Urban explained: "He is supposed to be the faceless representative of the law and I think that is part of his enigma ... You wouldn't get to the end of a Sergio Leone Western and go, 'God, I didn't even know the character's name!' It's irrelevant."

Karl Urban's helmet stays on through 'Dredd.'
Karl Urban's helmet stays on through 'Dredd.'
Lionsgate

Do You Want a Sequel?

If you've already seen Dredd and you want to see more, you're not alone. The "Make a Dredd Sequel" facebook page is devoted to getting another Dredd movie made. If you want to help, you can add your name to the petition for a sequel here.

I write about movies for Zimbio.com, which means I spend way too much time thinking about the geekiest possible ways to approach the cineplex. I'm also hopelessly addicted to audio books. Follow me: Google
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