Film critics have begun to judge Dredd 3D, a new take on the popular comic book character (view trailer below) that hits theaters today — and the verdict is surprisingly positive, given the scathing reviews and relatively meager box office elicited by 1995's Judge Dredd, starring Sylvester Stallone. While Sly's version claims a paltry 15 percent of positive reviews on aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, Dredd 3D's approval rating currently sits at a strong 77 percent. With Dredd 3D, starring Karl Urban, has Hollywood actually managed to produce a remake that surpasses the original?

Finally, Hollywood has done justice to Judge Dredd: This is the "grim and gritty and violent" take on Judge Dredd that comic-book fans have been waiting for, says Edward Douglas at The difference between Judge Dredd and Dredd 3D? The team behind Dredd 3D "really understood the comics and what works about them, which begins and ends with getting an actor like Karl Urban to deliver just the right amount of scowl" as a character "whose brand of justice bypasses the normal judicial system."
"Review: Dredd 3D"

Stallone's Judge Dredd was bad — but it's still better than Dredd 3D: "Say what you will about Sylvester Stallone's kitschy" performance in 1995's Judge Dredd, says Roger Moore at the Detroit Free Press, at least Stallone "wore the helmet" — in Dredd 3D, "the helmet wears Karl." It may be more faithful to the comic-book source material to keep Judge Dredd locked into a face-obscuring mask, but authenticity comes at a price: The headgear "closes off his performance and masks his charisma." Stallone's foray into the world of Judge Dredd was flawed, but at least it had personality; this "mega-violent satire" only manages to be "mega-boring."
"As Judge Dredd, Karl Urban is all helmet, no charisma"

Dredd 3D is fine — but it came far too late: "I myself felt like I'd seen too much of Dredd before," says Glenn Kenny at MSN Movies. Dredd 3D is "a far grittier and more capable rendering" of the character than "the really disastrous Sylvester Stallone-starring mangling of the comic" — but its collection of "post-modern sci-fi cliches" feels dated after the 17 years of science-fiction that has been released in Judge Dredd's wake. It's not "a bad movie version of Judge Dredd," but considering the leaps and bounds by which the genre has grown, it's simply "too little too late."
"Dredd 3D: Critic's review"

Consensus: Dredd 3D isn't a perfect film — especially for moviegoers who are attached to seeing facial expressions — but this grim, gritty remake surpasses the original.