Mega City One doesn't seem like a very nice place to be. There is all sort of nutters squatting in a huge block in the middle of an irradiated wasteland, and there are only the Judges to keep the peace.
That is all you really need to know to get into Dredd and they lay that premise out in the first ten seconds of the film as you fly around the city. I admit, I've not read a lot of Judge Dredd, there weren't that many trades, or places where I could buy 2000 AD products when I was growing up, but I'll pick the magazine up every once in awhile now and take a peek at what is going on in the comics on the other side of the ocean. Lots of great creators have cut their teeth on that book, and I've read some of their works from 2000 AD, and it gives me a lot of hope for myself and writing some good tales someday.
The moment I came home I likened Dredd to Crank. They have a very similar structure in story and have one modus operandi, to entertain. I warn you now, if you want something that will expand your brain and show the secrets of humanity and the world, Dredd isn't for you. If you want to watch an entertaining action/sci-fi flick than you should probably go out and sit your ass down in one of the seats and watch this movie, I've read that they didn't have that great of an opening weekend.
Okay, let's talk casting. Karl Urban, I don't have any idea who this guy is. He's probably been in some ensemble something that I've seen somewhere, but I don't really remember him, and you don't really see his face. I gotta tell you though, you don't need to see his face, his chin acts enough for a thousand people, he does a pretty frackin' good job of making his chin into an Ezquera one, a true Dredd chin. As far as the acting side of things goes, for someone that delivers a hell of a lot of one-liners (in classic action movie tradition) he manages to bring some depth and emotion to the character through his interactions with Olivia Thirlby. Don't know who the heck Olivia is, but she was wonderful in this movie as well (I think she may be a Lannister on Game Of Thrones). Olivia is our POV character and a rookie Judge (Anderson) on her initial training run, which Dredd gets to mentor and pass of fail her on. The relationship between the Judge of steel (Dredd) and Anderson is quite interesting, it gets to the heart of what Dredd is all about (LAW), and shows that this tank of a man actually has some emotion built into him, and a sense of justice that can include some room for human error. The villains are a horrid bunch of Dredd villains, drug dealers, skin flayers, and they pull of their performances without going too far over the top, allowing their characters to breathe and the horror of their actions to show what is going on.
I've heard people complain about the slo-mo scenes. They're fine. They actually add to the horror of it all, and the horror is nasty. One warning, if you're squeamish you probably shouldn't be going to see this film, the film is pretty damn crazy in the gore department. Prepare yourself.
In all honesty, this movie is pitch perfect in the action/horror/sci-fi genre. It delivers on every level. The story is great, but not too much too handle. The acting isn't grand, but it doesn't suck. Let me just put it this way, Dredd revels in genre, it gets right into what makes the genre good and takes a bath in it. IF you like this type of movie, you should go a see this film. IF you liked Die Hard, Crank, Attack The Block, Predator, the original Robocop and the like, get your ass to this movie and park it in a seat. Because I want to see a sequel.