Preamble: I know, I know. What’s the point in re-hashing a bad movie and figuring out how it could have been better? Because I love movies so much, I like to consider not just why I don’t like a movie but how it could have been better. So here goes:

1. Voice Over Info Dump: Do we need to know the information given about this ‘Mega City?’ If you’re thinking about doing a Voice Over Info Dump ask: couldn’t we reveal the information easily through action later? And if not, is it necessary information to better reveal our characters?

2. The Morning ‘Suit Up’ scene and Chase Scene in the very beginning are unexciting and gives us no real information about Dredd. If you wanted to spruce up these two scenes, why not include something interesting about Dredd’s apartment? Something that shows us who he is ‘off duty.’ And in the chase scene, we’re given the first dose of our ‘Slo Mo’ drug camera effect. This is unnecessary because we’ll see it plenty of times later. We learn nothing about Dredd’s approach to what he does.

3. We are unsure if Judges are even human. It would have helped to show early on how other Judges behave–if Dredd is different in any way. When Dredd is at the Police Station and sees the Psychic Recruit Cassandra Anderson we do see him interact with the officer, but is she a ‘Judge?’ Are we to think that Judges are cyborgs without personalities, affect, cares, goals?

4. When Dredd and Anderson enter the Peach Trees why is the Medic on duty telling them information on Ma Ma? This de-powers the Judges and misses the chance to have Anderson show that as a ‘newbie’ she’s studied up on the current ‘word on the street.’ But no, we’re denied a character building opportunity.

5. The Medic says Ma Ma “feminized a guy with her teeth.” Would anyone say that? Do they expect that the audience wouldn’t know what ‘castrated’ or ’emasculated’ meant?

6. Urban was allowed to, or maybe even told to frown the entire movie? It makes his mouth look like a sad fish. The ‘Dredd Scowl’ of the comics does not translate to a real face. And why does Urban walk like the Terminator? This movie aches for energy and no one is given the chance.

7. When Dredd and Anderson find the skinned bodies that had fallen in the courtyard they pile up postulation after postulation: Uh, they lived on the 39th Level so they were thrown off the 39th Level. And it was a ‘turf war’ and the people who did it are still on the 39th Level. Uh. That was easy to figure out.

8. Anderson’s proposed plan of how to proceed: “Find ’em and hit ’em hard.” Great plan. Uh, how does this distinguish her from Dredd? Or from any other Judge? We are given no character in either of our ‘main heroes.’

9. Anderson says she won’t wear her helmet “because it disrupts [her] psychic abilities.” I see. Well how about she USE her psychic abilities?! Maybe she could ‘look into the room’ before they enter or she could ‘feel’ where the perpetrators are. Nope.

10. This also brings me to a missed opportunity: What are the benefits of Anderson’s Pychic Powers versus someone on the drug Slo Mo? Or what about Dredd’s helmet? We had the option of showing how Technology, ‘Magic’, and Drugs That Slow Time would stack up against each other in a gun fight.

11. On The Good Side: In the Computer Room where the Robot Eye Guy is, they are playing the theme song to “The Snuff Box.” The main line you’ll hear is: “You thought it was gold but it was bronze!” This is a very funny choice because the show “Snuff Box” is about two men who are employed as Executioners. Ha! We get a glimpse that the creators wanted to have fun, but unfortunately we don’t get a lot of fun. Even when they come back to the Computer Room, the same song is playing! Couldn’t they have thought up another fun tongue in cheek song to play?

12. Lena Headey’s portrayal of Ma-Ma (the drug kingpin) lacks creativity and energy. I was quite surprised to find out that Ma-Ma was played by Headey because I have found her acting in Game of Thrones to be good (albeit low energy and affect). The character of Ma-Ma is a very uninteresting character–what drives her? What distinguishes her from anyone else? I feel that there are actors and actresses who feel that to play a ‘drug addict’ you must be vapid, low energy, and dreamy. This is a strange view I feel because most of the drug-addicted people I’ve met are very interesting, engaging, high energy, and creative.

13. This really feels like a very bad rip off of Raid: Redemption (which is an excellent action film by the way).

14. People usually don’t run into clouds of toxic yellow gas. Maybe the action director could have figured out how to show that the gas exploded around the bad guys and they didn’t have a choice about breathing . Oh well. This is a small consideration in a movie that fails at every other scene.

15. “Concentrate the fire!” Ma-Ma screams over the sound of three mini-guns. Right. By the way movie writers: an audience will always appreciate creativity and ingenuity in a villain more than pure brute ‘power.’ An audience wants to be surprised and challenged by the minds of ‘bigger than life’ characters, not simply see people who have access to big guns shoot them into concrete walls.

16. Dredd and Anderson jump out of a hole in the wall and it just so happens to open onto a skate board patio. We are shown the exterior of the building immediately after and we see that most exterior walls open to a vast vertical drop–it was lucky that they didn’t fall to their deaths in the middle of the movie I guess!

17. The only evidence we have that the writers acknowledge Dredd’s function as a critique of ‘patriotism’ (his character always has been about anti-establishment sentiment) is when he is standing in front of a stylized US flag and is saying “sound like overkill to you?” Its heavy handed but its good to see some effort from the writers.

18. This film devolves into a “Princess in the Tower” story.

19. When Dredd is talking to the Double Cross Judge in the hall, why does the Bad Guy lift his Comm Link arm to call his Bad Buddies rather than his gun? If he had, he would have been able to shoot Dredd!

20. When the Double Cross Judge Woman says she’s going to go after Anderson she says….get ready for it….:
“I see her, I shoot her. She sees me, she hesitates, I shoot her.”
Thank you.

21. The dialogue continues to impress. A Double Cross Judge says to Dredd:
“This city is a meat grinder. People go in one end, meat comes out the other.”
Oh. Okay.
“We just turn the handle.”
Oh. Okay. How does a meat grinder work again?

22. Dredd confronts Ma-Ma in a top-floor ‘Throne Room’ type set that looks a bit like a dingy stage from a high school production. And the big plan that Ma-Ma has in store? She makes a signal and a crowd of her body guards jump out into the open to get gunned down. Okay. Are the writers as smart as Ma-Ma or did they just write her to be as wooden as Dredd? Or did they run out of money to do a good scene?

23. This will take some explaining.
Ma-Ma’s wrist bomb will only blow up if her heart stops.
Therefore there is no risk of the bomb blowing up unless Ma-Ma shoots herself or throws herself off a balcony.
Dredd’s workday is basically over. Good job Dredd.
Well, he shoots her for no reason. Not critically, though and it looks like she’ll survive. Whew.
And waitaminute! How did he shoot her in the Throne Room and in the next shot she’s now in a bedroom lying on a bed?
Well, Dredd then decides to throw her off a balcony. Sure there is a risk that her wrist bomb will still be able to signal the explosives from the ground floor, but why not risk it?

24. Dredd probably thought he was cool when he gave Ma-Ma Slo Mo before throwing her off the balcony. Its too bad that Dredd didn’t know that we’ve seen that already happen in like the first ten minutes of the movie so he was actually not that creative at all. Poor Dredd.

25. Why does Lena Headey (Ma-Ma) decide to not show any emotion at all as she falls to her Slo Mo death? This is the biggest cop-out of the movie: put some decision into it! The writers, the director, the actress all some how allowed the main villain to have a death scene with zero affect? Not ecstasy, fear, anger, wonder?

 

So. To summarize, Dredd is a pretty bad movie and I am interested to hear any reasons why folks feel it is a good one.

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