America has become a crumbling wasteland, and spanning the distance from Boston to Washington lies Mega City One, where violent criminals cause chaos, and Judges—who act as judge, jury, and executioner—fight to keep order and peace. Judge Dredd is one of the best, and is assigned a rookie named Anderson who is deemed a mutant for her psychic abilities. They are forced to work together and stay alive when district “Peach Tree” goes under lockdown by request from Mama, a feared crime lord and the one responsible for the reality-altering drug called “Slo-Mo.”
The movie has a few things going for it:
There are two wonderful strong female characters
Lena Headey (also as Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones) makes a wonderful villain as Mama. You’ll just love to hate her. She is both ruthless and powerful, and everyone fears her.
Olivia Thirlby (Juno) plays rookie Anderson, a psychic mutant. Though she starts off timid and hesitant, she grows throughout the story—as most good characters do—becoming determined and fiercer throughout her trials, and proving that she has what it takes to be a Judge.
The slow-motion effects were a cool added feature
I know what you’re thinking: Really? Slow-motion effects? Seen that like a billion times… but listen up! Usually, I’m not a fan of watching movies in 3D since it seems gimmicky, but it worked for this movie. The effects were used to emphasize the use of Slo-Mo, and what I liked about it was the artistic presentation of it: water slowly parted into drops, and glass shattered into pieces, then shards that sparkled as they floated to you, giving off an array of colours that brought beauty to the scene regardless of the violence it was paired with.
Now, even though I mentioned a few good points about the movie, it was ultimately a letdown:
The slow-motion effects were overdone
As I said, the effects were beautiful, but over time it became too much, making scenes feel so over-the-top that it felt boring to watch and I just wanted it to end. It only seemed to be a ploy by the filmmakers to make the film run longer.
There’s unnerving violence against women
As I said, Anderson and Mama are both strong, and some of the male characters try to gain dominance over them through very violent means.
Mama used to be a prostitute. When she was no longer deemed useful to her pimp, he slashed her face to destroy her beauty. There was a mug shot of her before the scars and it showed off her long hair too, which can be read as symbolizing her femininity. One can argue her pimp was trying to destroy it.
As for Anderson, Dredd’s captive tries to scare her by mentioning how the gang used to have a girl her age, then raped and destroyed her. When Anderson goes “inside” his mind to get answers about the homicide, the captive figures out he can project his fantasies on her, and the scene suggests he imposes sexual acts on her.
This movie didn’t have a compelling storyline
It didn’t even seem to have any storyline at all. This fact alone made the movie lose a lot of points for me. You didn’t learn much about the characters, and Dredd’s development stayed flat-lined throughout the whole movie. I just didn’t feel too invested in it.
My recommendation: don’t have high expectations going into theatres. Better yet, keep your money and wait for it to come out on DVD if you still have the desire to watch it.