Dredd 3-D

September 24, 2012

In bullet points (see what I did there?):

  • Wow, that’s a holy cow all kinds of ultraviolent movie.  And a little bit rapey.  And so violent.  We played a game on the drive home, trying to figure out what they could have taken out to push the film to PG-13, and we realized NOTHING.  Every single scene was rated R.  Weirdly enough, it’s kinda part of the world building.  How bad is this world?  REALLY BAD.
  • Acknowledging some problematic scenes, which I’ll discuss in a bit, I want to point out how beautifully structured this movie is.  Really well put together from a story/pacing standpoint.  Prolog + three acts, and 90% of it takes place in one location, which I thought was a little bit genius.  The movie sets up strict parameters and then goes wild — without breaking those parameters.  It tells a classic cat & mouse/cop & robber story, in parallel with Anderson’s initiation/coming of age story, and it all fits together neatly.  Nicely done.
  • The main character is actually Judge Anderson, and that’s awesome.
  • The movie had a cohesive anime-inspired style, which worked well, I think.  The image of bulky badass Dredd and tiny Anderson with the tousled blond hair  and pink lips is pure anime.
  • It also did some interesting things with the 3-D (yes, I saw the 3-D because that was the only choice) — shots down long corridors and up elevator shafts that gave those scenes an immense depth, and really gave me the feeling of being a rat in a maze.  I can actually recommend the 3-D just for that.
  • The problem with having a psychic main character is that to make just about any plot work, that character, eventually, has to not see what’s coming.  And your audience will spend twenty seconds thinking, How the hell did the psychic character get jumped?
  • A couple of problematic bits are keeping me from whole-heartedly recommending what turned out to be surprisingly well-made movie.  *SPOILERS START HERE*  I really wish we could have gotten through the whole thing without the graphic rape threats against Judge Anderson.  I mean, I wasn’t surprised there were graphic threats of rape — and that’s the problem.  It shouldn’t have been there precisely because it’s such an obvious trope.  It would have been nice, to get to the end of the movie and think, “Wow, they didn’t actually go there!  How creative and refreshing that is!”  Instead of, “Wow, I knew they were gonna do the rape threat thing, but that was pretty damned graphic.”  And I really wish the threats hadn’t come from the Scary Black Man ™.  He was the character standing in that spot in the plot when the time for the trope came along, but there’s way too much cultural baggage hanging on that dynamic for those scenes to be anything problematic.  And really, this bit didn’t do anything else that the rest of the movie wasn’t already doing, in terms of showing how grim and violent this world is and how dire a situation they’re in. *END SPOILER*
  • It turns out Karl Urban can emote just fine without his really great eyes.  But he must have had a personal trainer just for his frown.

6 Responses to “Dredd 3-D”

  1. WanabePBWriter Says:

    Sounds good, think it’s box office could be heald back by the Stalone version of a few years ago.

    Castle tonight.

    I saw Cabin in the woods last weekend, I think I know why they have the button. They manifest and destroy the creatures every year; I mean what is the care and feeding for a captive Pinhead?

  2. Joe Says:

    castle tonite!!!

    really enjoyed Dredd, didn’t get the 3D , but our trailers stalled and we all got rain checks without the main feature having a problem.

    It was really well done, and I love that they didn’t once take his helmet off.

  3. James Gardner Says:

    Judge Dredd/2000AD has had a cult following for many years here in the U.K. One of the big disappointments of the Stallone version for fans was that he took off his helmet, something Judge Dredd never does, Stallone the Hollywood star was bigger than the character. Dredd 3-D has gone down really well here.

  4. Craig Ranapia Says:

    When it comes to problematic “cultural baggage”, the fact the film was entirely produced in South Africa throws some whole other curve balls. I wonder how South African audiences react to the sequence where a white woman casually mows down hundreds of civilians — men, women and children who, deliberately or not, are not all played by white actors. And an ex-pat South African friend of mine had this rather pointed observation: “Oh, the Chief Judge is not only black but a woman. It really is science fiction.” Ouch.

  5. carriev Says:

    Craig: thanks for the comments. That’s also one of the things I wondered about “District 9,” how much baggage was I missing that would mean more in South Africa.

  6. Craig Ranapia Says:

    The thing that makes ‘Dredd’, both this movie and the comics, a little more complicated that a simple exercise in ‘fascinating fascism’ ( copyright – Sontag) is that they’re both self-aware and subversive of the enormously problematic tropes that come with the genre.

    I think the use of graphic rape threats against Anderson are an interesting example.

    Kay doesn’t just smack talk her; he knows she’s a telepath and is trying (literally) to get into her head and intimidate her. Even when she’s telepathically interrogating him, his first instinct is to try and turn it into some rape fantasy where he’s in control. Which strikes me as a pretty nice metaphor for how rape culture works. And Anderson just isn’t going to stay on that script.

    It’s also interesting how, when Anderson is captured, Ma-Ma tells the gang (and the audience?) that we’re not going to get any torture porn today. And nobody is going to contradict the woman in this room.

    It’s got nothing to do with any feminist solidarity on Ma-Ma’s part — after all, she is going to kill Anderson, but her plan to make it look like a drug bust gone bad doesn’t work if there’s any signs of torture or assault. But I still think it’s interesting that was explicitly ruled out.

    I agree with you, it’s still massively problematic. The intersections of rape culture and genre media always are, and always will be. I’d just argue ‘Dredd’ managed (or at least made an effort) to complicate things. IMHO and YMMV, of course.


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