I'm a 2000AD fan and totally despised Stallone's attempt. Mega City is a dystopia, and Judges are outnumbered, so how would you portray the world? The gritty, grotty dystopia portrayed in this film fits the bill perfectly as the gaudy shiny happy things that make other SF totally fail in my opinion, and makes them look, quite frankly, terrible. The film provides a perfect setting of Mega City One. Sure there could be a few more notions of 'future' put in, but that's just a matter of budget and in reality don't add anything meaningful to a film other than opportunities for product placement.
Yes, there are some things I would have made better. Dredd's bike could be a bit more of a monster - some hybrid of a Harley Davidson and the Batman Tumbler batbike minus the ridiculous gold trimmings in the comic would have been much more awesome than the Japanese tin that was used in the film. The lawgiver also didn't look mean enough to dish out Dredd law. That said, the crappy eagle and chain on the judge's uniform being removed and his general look to a more practical flak jacket, is actually worthwhile - even in the comic it looks unrealistic, unwieldy and crap. Similarly with the battle scarred helmet and dusty uniform just adds to how Judges are fighting a never ending battle - so I think 2012 Dredd makes him look better, more realistic and more potent as a result.
My view is that a lot of the aspects of the comic were well placed, and well thought out too, from the chopper posters, to the portrayal of fatties and so forth. The story didn't really lend itself to telling the story of Mega City, so only parting shots were shown to allow the viewers to concentrate on what's happening in the block. Tony Smith's view that Garland has pared down Dredd to any commando tough cop is ridiculous. What is Dredd other than the epitome of exactly that? The one liners were delivered, without being made into the climax of a ridiculous set piece as are cliches epitomised by Bond. Dredd delivers one liners in the dry, laconic and as a matter of fact manner we know and love, and that portrays his personality better as a result. The ending of the film is also typical Dredd: to paraphrase not to ruin it 'just another day in the office, ma'am' - short, sharp, succinct and 100% pure unadulterated Dredd.
Anderson's portrayal is admirable too. A slightly more fragile judge with a different take on the law than Dredd is apparent, and quite frankly great even though somewhat different (better IMO) than the comic. From the visit into the mind to the 'wait' sequence, she develops in the film from a fragile no-hoper to a deliciously mean mind fucker, and in the process begins to overrule Dredd 'He's a victim, not a perp'. Naturally Dredd mostly gets his way (third option: attack) that any other Judge wouldn't logically choose and only Dredd would, could and does.
As a big fan of Drive, the artistic breaks shown in the slo-mo sequences were brilliant to give the viewer a totally unexpected, beautiful and welcome break from the relentlessness of the film. The director kept it tight and sweet without any lingering, yet in the process the artistic violence makes John Woo's best look like Bambi. The story is deeper than a simple take the block, but the fact it is so tight and doesn't linger too long in back stories that will only confuse non-Dredd readers leaves it open to make Dredd the franchise that he deserves. That said, the story is complete, with plenty of points of views to keep it interesting. Garland has made a story that isn't Garland-esque and generally slow and boring, but genuine and relentless.
Again, I disagree with Tony Smith - this film has not been made for the mass market at all. You have to like violence and gore. You have to appreciate Dredd is a cornier toon than Dirty Harry. You have to appreciate beautiful cinematography and you have to be able to think outside of the comic and into an original perception of Dredd's world if your a fan. But I think it's all done so brilliantly, it's actually in my view, an even more gritty and realistic view of Dredd's world than the comic.
Lastly Karl Urban's intimate knowledge having grown up himself reading Dredd does give the character the treatment he deserves. In fact, as an actor he's got into Dredd's carcass so well this is an award-winning performance - you don't really need to say more than that. He never takes the helmet off apart from the aforementioned shadow shot where he's putting it on. The chin, the voice, the grimace and Dredd's single minded 'Justice' and dryness is all perfect.
So no, Tony, I totally disagree with your critique. Justice has finally been done on film to the ultimate law giver. It's gritty, relentless, beautiful and makes absolutely bugger all attempt to appease itself to the mass market by fully embracing the violence and gore deserving an 18. It is so unexpectedly good and so astonishingly exceeding my expectations it really is fantastic.
Lets hope something similar will be done to my personal favourite 2000AD character: Rogue Trooper.