Posted by : Wendy B Friday, 20 December 2013

Within the span of a week, two trusted friends and one acquaintance teetering on the edge of Trusted Geekery Advisor Status have, unsolicitededly recommended Dredd. Just out of the blue, Dredd comes up in conversation, and then when I ask about it, they start fangirling. Clearly, this was something I needed to see. Clearly, based on their reaction and based on my knowledge of our similar tastes, this is a movie that could very well earn itself a place beside movies like Pitch Black, Starship Troopers, The Losers and The Big Hit. Yes I said The Big Hit and if you want to fight me on that, then buckle up, bitch.

So when TMN OnDemand presented us the opportunity, we took it.

I’ve seen the original Judge Dredd movie, and though I don’t remember much about it, there was enough lingering in my head to make me expect the worst. Bad CGI. Cheesy one-liners. Gratuitous violence. There is definitely a lot of the latter, though I have to point out how clearly defined it is that the violence against the innocent bystanders is never the result of the judge’s actions (hear that Man of Steel?).

Special effects? Not an issue, though I did get a little concerned about the creative slow motion sequences that resulted from use of the drug, “slo-mo.” They are very pretty and artsy, even when the gratuitous violence is included, and we had a giggle over Bugs Bunny in the ether, but it isn’t an over used effect. Oh and the scenes are contextual (i.e. they specifically occur when the drug is in play), so there is no real cause to bitch about bullet time rip-offs over a decade after The Matrix.

I love that there is no preamble in this movie. There is no time wasted on anything and especially not on cheesy one-liners or grandiose speeches. If you have the shot, then you take it.

But the absolute best thing about this movie is the women. As with most of the movies I mentioned above (fine, we’ll not mention The Big Hit here), women play no small part and they are not merely sexified token objects and/or plot devices. I have no problem with female sexuality or with female characters as love interests. The problem is when that is all they are in a film and worse, when they are treated as lesser beings and are victimized in order to motivate the male characters into action. Sure I’d love to see more than just a token woman in movies like these and no, I don’t want to see it all turned upside down with a Girl Expendables movie starring all these ladies plus Tricia Helfer:
Okay I do want this, but that’s beside the point.

Dredd’s partner is a young woman named Anderson, a psychic. She’s green and nervous and Dredd is a by-the-books judge who does not suffer incompetence. And then there is Ma-Ma, a prostitute turned crime lord, played by Lena Headey with perfectly subdued evilness. Pretty sure there is nothing I have seen her in that I have not loved her in, but I think I like her most as a “mother.”  From mother of destiny, to mother of gold, to this mother of hell. In Dredd, she gets to truly unleash her inner fuck and it is just delicious to listen to and watch.

There are so many tropes that could have been used for these two characters, and the movie occasionally lets you assume it’s going to go down those beaten paths, but, unlike Joss Whedon’s brand of feminism, Dredd doesn’t make a big deal out of it by shoving our pre-conceived notions in our face. There are moments of sexualisation in Dredd, but the moments are contextual and not at all overdone, and there were never moments of victimization. Both women handle their shit, not because of or in spite of their boobs and vaginas. In this movie, the women. Are. Equals.

I’m sad that I didn’t get to see Karl Urban’s intense eyebrows at all during the film. I will just assume that the judge helmet was modelled after them and be satisfied with his intense frown instead. I hear there was much fan chatter demanding a sequel and I’m totally down with that, assuming it does not cut into Urban’s time on Almost Human.

WHAT IS THIS?

This is my mindspill. Mostly about comics, books, video games, movies of the science fiction and fantasy leanings. Sometimes recipes and parenting stuff will sneak in, along with a real world rant or two.

I also write about geek culture at Women Write About Comics, and I review genre fiction at The BiblioSanctum.

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