Saturday 2 November 2013


There isn't an awful lot to say about this film. It's a really good siege movie. It's about as true to the comics as I think you might ever want to get. It's probably about as true to the comics as you could get on $45 million. It isn't going to be one of those films that sits with you for the rest of your life, for some people it will, but for most people you will watch it and move on with your life. You won't forget about it, but there is a good chance it isn't going to blow your mind. It is a good film about crime, violence and drugs in a fascist state.

It's gritty, and it's dark, and there are a lot of things about it that make it very easy to watch. It's incredibly violent. I will say that. If you don't really go in for the good old ultra-violence, there are probably other movies you could watch, and they probably have Tom Cruise in them. That being said, the violence kind of plays a roll, and it always has in Judge Dredd stories, because it is about extremes, and the violence illustrates a point. The idea being that by 2099 humans have become a sort of social extremophile. We basically live in a world where fascism and crime have expanded to a point where there really isn't anything else in between. So, the extreme violence, and the extreme drugs, and the extreme fascism, and the extreme crime are all part of the driving concept, and Judge Dredd is pretty concept heavy as a franchise.

This film does this thing that is interesting, and I think it is important for a potential series of films. What it does is it gets you rooting for these incredibly unreasonable arseholes. The protagonists are the most ridiculous, self righteous,  hyper-branded ultra-fascists you are ever likely to see, and you're kind of on their side, but only because the other choice is ultra-violent psychopathic, mass murdering drug dealers who get involved in things like torture. The thing that is important about this, and I say this from my experience with the comics, is that later you are going to have to deal with these protagonists in situations in which barracking for them is less clear cut, and in fact sometimes you just won't be able to at all.

The comics themselves have a lot of time to really explore the Judges' alignments and affiliation. They really test your moral barometer. There are times when you totally agree with Judge Dredd, dispenser o' the most righteous justice, and then there are times when you just don't see eye-to-eye with Judge Dredd, super nazi of the near future. It's fun stuff. I especially enjoyed it as an embittered, juvenile, neo-righteous social-bemoaner. It was one of many hobbies I had as a teenager that contributed to a general air of smug ignorance.

For the most part they've stopped making science fiction films like this. That I'm aware of anyway. It's brutal and pretty much everyone is a dick. I mean, nearly everyone that you get to know for more than a few seconds is flawed to the point of being nearly devoid of anything that we might generally recognise as humanity. It reminds me of the original RoboCop for all the right reasons, and to a lesser extent A Scanner Darkly, which has a very similar theme (think about it). 

There was this whole vintage of science fiction, of which Judge Dredd is a part, that was about fascism and the extent to which law enforcement will go and the escalating quantity and severity of crimes, and we just don't really seem that concerned about it anymore. Not to the same extent anyway. Maybe it was the whole wind up of the cold war, and everyone was just looking for something else to give them that 'perpetual state of fear' fix. Maybe when terrorism gets harder to sell we'll get back to the whole rapid social decay thing. You know, who knows? 

Anyway, that's where Dredd is at, and I think that if the violence isn't going to grieve you too much you should watch it. Oh, actually I will also say that I think the art department did a fantastic job. They really managed to find a balance between the infrastructure maelstrom that you'll find in the comics and the world that we actually live in where governments don't really do the whole useful infrastructure thing.

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