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.