Dredd (2012)

dredd-movie_poster

Dredd takes 1950s noire themes and explodes them into a 21st century action film wrapped around a 1980s concept, but does so successfully and produces a thoughtful action film with a subtle but revelatory character study which makes it both fit together as a realistic drama and uphold the standards of its comic book origins.

The film takes place in a 24th century dystopian sprawl that is what remains of the USA. 800 million people live in Mega-City One, where over 17,000 crimes are committed daily. To keep up with the decay, police and courts have been combined into one forces: the Judges. Roughly analogous to medieval knights, these warriors roam the city and find criminals and administer punishment on the spot, including death. One detail that most fail to notice about this film is that in the poorest areas of Mega-City, just about every person is on welfare. In the Peachtrees Tower where most of the action takes place, 96% of the residents are on welfare. This gives Dredd a realistic take on dystopia, which is that it is a dystopia-utopia where good intentions and expanding humanity have led to an unstable situation.

Karl Urban creates from Judge Dredd the most believable film version yet, restraining verbal expression to the minimum but using pauses and body language to convey more nuanced reactions. Dredd follows the Judge as he takes a new colleague, Anderson, into a futuristic equivalent of the apocalyptic Section 8 housing in American cities today in pursuit of evil drug dealers who are terrorizing the helpless residents. This part of the plot feels like a 1980s holdover and my guess is that most of the people who took exception to this movie did so as a reaction to this aspect of the plot. However, the drug angle takes no greater significance in the plot than to introduce wealthy bad guys with infinite men to spare so that Dredd and friends have someone to fight that will result in a high body count which will disturb no one because of zero sympathy for the dead. The movie adds a 21st century comic book feel by incorporating technological and metaphysical aspects to the plot, expanding it from a pure adrenaline action flick to more of a science fiction hybrid, in a slightly less nuanced version of what Aliens and Terminator did, which is to create a realistic situation in which technology fails and bravery must prevail, and thus bring out some depth to the characters. Urban’s Dredd grimaces and gruffly commands his way through the movie but increasingly reveals the complex mentation required for someone to dedicate his life to thankless fighting of evil with certainty of ultimate death, giving us the most believable Dredd yet.

While not all of this film will appeal to those who find comic books one-dimensional, the filmmakers did their best to rein in those impulses while still delivering enough violence and terror to give this movie the impact it needs to be convincing. Eschewing the approach of the 1990s Stallone Dredd, Urban’s Dredd exists in a world that is more noire than superhero: dark hopeless human existence in which the Judges are more pathological authoritarians than happy heroes, and humanity is revealed as the mewling parasite that it seems to be. In the end, the film is both entertaining and compelling, giving this character fullness in an energetic retelling of a tale as much concerned with order versus chaos as the old Westerns and King Arthur era stories that surely inspired the creation of this one as much as its futuristic dystopian setting.

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31 thoughts on “Dredd (2012)”

  1. Deafhaven ist Besten says:

    Not the typical sci-fi film in terms of tone and style, but I ate it up like the sci-fi geek I am. Karl Urban is simply hardcore. I think they did an excellent job at how this film was presented. The gore and killing may at times seem absurd (how many splattered heads can you get in one movie?) but I guiltily enjoyed every single moment.

    check out this link for a great epiphany:

    http://40.media.tumblr.com/302405cfc14a618c08420c6da156a731/tumblr_nhlekvi7rW1u5yg4lo1_1280.jpg

  2. Anthony says:

    Ha ha, holy shit, I mentioned this in the Doom review’s comments, and here comes the review! You must be on a Karl Urban binge. He’s the only good thing about those new Star Trek abominations.

  3. Disremember says:

    Great review…
    In the great tradition of Siskel n Ebert

    ” two thumbs up the arse of the unbelievers… ! “

  4. Darksour says:

    Good review. Loved this film.

  5. peter says:

    I used to love this site.

    It brought bands to my attention with which I was not familiar that formed part of the genre that I love – death metal.

    When did it become pretentious drivel (see the stupid article about the ice cream truck) and a movie review site?

    I think this site has lost direction. It seems dead set on some form of satanic theme (what about bands like cannibal corpse and agaloch) whilst ignoring the other great death metal bands that exist and any nonsense vaguely associated with that theme.

    What has happened to the useful and inciteful articles on death metal bands? or is there nothing left to say? If there is nothing left to say on the real topic, close the posts, leave the old posts there and move on.

    These facile pseudo intellectual posts are without any redeeming features and are not even relevant to the original purpose of the site.

    1. peter says:

      Review the bands that are B level from the early nineties instead. Lots of lost gems, even a review of the bands that were forgotten for a reason would be better than any of the shite that’s been reviewed lately. Re-visit once great bands or even speed metal records of the mid 80s, even nwobhm would be most useful.

    2. I think this site has lost direction.

      We have no shortage of people with lots of criticisms, who offer nothing.

      We have no shortage of people willing to write an article or two, then launch their own blog/podcast/forum which then fades out within a year.

      We do have a shortage of people who could pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel.

      1. Ara says:

        One of the most common criticisms used on this site is that the best art communicates one idea uncluttered by needless branches into progressive territory that only serves to obscure its theme. While I’m entertained by the left field articles and movie reviews and such, maybe this advice could be considered to deliver a more cohesive message.

        1. The more general idea is that everything in a piece of art must relate to some idea, and it cannot be constructed the other way which is by throwing in a lot of elements and then trying to knit them together.

          I agree it would be great to have such articles. However, they’d be redundant and would require time and effort to write them that at present are not available.

          1. Ara says:

            I’m not referring to that style applied to any single article here but to deathmetal.org as a piece of art as a whole. On the front page there are 2 of I believe ten articles focused on death metal. This isn’t a detriment to myself personally but I could see why that would irk certain readers. Finding elements of metal across film and homicidal fantasy and focusing on them over metal itself hints at the compositional error discussed in your latter description of writing techniques.

            1. I’m not referring to that style applied to any single article here but to deathmetal.org as a piece of art as a whole.

              This site isn’t a piece of art; it’s a news/reviews site.

              Finding elements of metal across film and homicidal fantasy and focusing on them over metal itself hints at the compositional error discussed in your latter description of writing techniques.

              Not really an accurate analogy, don’t you think? Certain films are picked, as opposed to all films, and some films will have overlap of theme.

              1. Ara says:

                Anything composed with the intent of audience consumption is a piece of art. You are trying to communicate something here, aren’t you?

                1. Anything composed with the intent of audience consumption is a piece of art.

                  I don’t agree here at all. There may be a skill to assembling it, but many things communicate without being art, including grocery lists.

                  1. Ara says:

                    That’s not the same kind of communication though. That’s a list of non-interpretive things. This site could be an interpretation of communications of things but it has a clear message to be consumed which goes beyond a list of non-interpretive ideas.

                    1. Ara says:

                      You know I’m a bit disappointed you don’t consider this site to be art. Clearly there are countless hours put into this place and although arguments get silly at times, the content and passion put into the material seems to stem from a dire need to express. If it’s not art, you might as well say simply “sucks” or “rules” under each topic and move on.

                    2. You know I’m a bit disappointed you don’t consider this site to be art. Clearly there are countless hours put into this place and although arguments get silly at times, the content and passion put into the material seems to stem from a dire need to express. If it’s not art, you might as well say simply “sucks” or “rules” under each topic and move on.

                      I don’t agree. This site is not art; it’s about art (death metal being a form of art). It is written artfully, but it does not define its own topic so much as choose from what is available. Art would be like the fiction I write; some might argue the Eugenics Van piece is art, and there are certainly elements of that, although I see it more as a thinly-disguised polemic against people turning the information superhighway into the information stuporbyway as YouTube commenters and many highly critical but neurotic online voices about metal do. I view this site as no different than the radio show: an attempt to nurture a genre by holding up examples of the good and (where necessary) batting down the bad, and then offering collected advice to musicians such as yourselves such that it might benefit the individual, band, fans and genre alike.

                      A genre is like a society: it is an organic collection of people creating art around the topics of similar ideas. It sounds similar because it expresses similar notions. When it is healthiest, it is joined by causal idea; when it is sickest, it is joined by appearance only (effects of causes long forgotten).

                      It would be — I think; your mileage may vary — presumptuous of me to declare the site art. Its topic is art but it is commentary. This does not mean it is less committed to truth, but that its topic is not of its own devising but extant in the world. For it to be art, it would have to express the ideas of death metal in a different form, and I would argue that much of my writing has done this. But not here.

                    3. Ara says:

                      That’s fair. If the first person perspective intrigued you you should review the Maniac remake. I love the first and of course this one is modern and not grimy like the original but it still has a very unique perspective and succeeds on its own merits.

  6. Robert says:

    I love this movie! All the actors were great in it!

  7. Jim Nelson says:

    five bags of popcorn and five bags of soda

  8. LostInTheANUS says:

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  9. sexy ladyboy redditor says:

    I have a thing for taciturn men who don’t reveal their face. Judge Dredd, the Master Chief, Batman… God just thinking about them is making my little pink butthole pulsate with delight! Are there any alpha hessians out there who wants to wear my limited edition Master Chief helmet and then force my fragile-yet-svelt body into submission before delivering their man milk inside me? PM me on reddit if your interested!! :))))

    1. Richard Head says:

      The worst thing about visiting DMU is not the weird odd movie review, but the /b/ level wannabe trolls and faggots.

      1. We have some excellent trolls, and some who are just learning.

        1. Richard Head says:

          But my main issue is with the faggots. My pastor says I should stay away from anything that might fire up my desire to choke down a swollen pair of testes and you allowing people to post shit like the comments above is not helping me.

      2. sexy ladyboy redditor says:

        You’re definitely one of the alphas Richard. I can tell by the way you assert your dominance over weaker commentators (like myself) with your penetrating insults!! ;))))

        1. Richard Head says:

          Don’t awaken the demons in me, nancyboy!

          *fapfapfap*

        2. Lord Mosher says:

          Sorry lady boy, Richard is not the alpha here. It is me!
          .
          I’m sure he’d agree, after all he’s a well rounded sensitive feller.
          We usually do not address each other because of mutual respect.

          Tiny Midget on the other hand, is the master of this domain.

  10. Flying Kites says:

    Yo! Von Stevens!

    Any articles on American militarism or traditional warriors?

  11. Rupert Pupkin says:

    Soeaking of recent dystopian sci-fi action movies, how about a review of Elysium and its blatantly communist attack against social hierarchy? It does have some accurate anti-corporate points but it also says that group privilege inevitably leads to corruption and the ruin of everyone outside.

    1. Ara says:

      Doesn’t it?

      1. Richard Head says:

        Sure seems so, historically speaking.

        It’s also the only reason any culture was established, ever, anywhere.

        All things are like the cherry blossom, no?

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