I could only watch half the film. I say that; it was actually my other half who said, “I can’t watch any more of this,” and after some resistance (only a little bit), I agreed. One could say I can’t write a proper review of only half a film, to which I would respond…
A. I don’t write for ‘Total Film’ or rottentomatoes.com.
B.I think I watched enough of the film to get the feel of it.
And C. This piece is about ‘Dredd,’ but it is also about a wider issue which it has brought up in my head. To whit…
Why so damned dark?!
My personal reading of ‘Judge Dredd’ in the comic ‘2000AD’ mainly occurred in the 1980s, so references mainly relate to story arcs and themes around this era. I therefore apologise in advance to anyone who might say, “Well actually, the Dredd of the comics of 2013 is very close to that of the recent film” and suchlike, but I can only write about what I know – so here I am, writing about what I know.
As I said, I (and my other half) could only watch half the film. In truth, I think we only got that far out of curiosity and my personal nostalgic love of the Dredd of the (1980s) comics. We normally don’t watch 18 certificate films, due to not wanting to bring “those kind of vibes” into the house, but Jo conceded on this occasion when I said, “But it’s Dredd!” Dredd-love (on my part) took us 45 minutes. We were too sickened to go further.
I don’t want to go deeply into the plot of the film – for that, you can watch it yourself or Google it – suffice it to say that ‘Dredd’ is more realistic than the Stallone offering. Contained within the first half of the film are such delights as blood-spattered slo-mo gun battles, drug-use, eye-gouging, flaying, domestic violence and rape. Lovely. Yes, I suppose in a ‘real’ Mega City One, such things would no doubt take place in plentiful supply, but… that’s not Dredd! Not as I remember him. Not as I remember Mega City One. Yes, there was the ultra-violence, the grim urbanity, the drugs/narcs, etc… but where is the irony, the surreal, the sci-fi glamour, the HUMOUR? You’ve taken all this away from me, oh rebooters of Dredd! You’ve taken the variety that spiced up the darkness and left only bitterness, a lingering nausea and regret! (regret at spending 45 minutes corrupting my childhood memories)
(and did I mention this darkness was peppered with f-bomb expletives? Not a ‘crud’ in sight…)
But as I mentioned, this piece is not just about ‘Dredd’. It is also about the Dark Knight. And ‘gritty realism’. And darkness in movies in general.
Gritty realism has its place. It is important to tell stories about ‘real life’ – of course it is – but there seem to be fewer and fewer places to escape from this. It seems we want our heroes to be more human, our portrayals of the future to be closer to present (grim) reality… but where does that leave metaphor? Are we no longer able to watch a film that is pure fantasy, pure fiction, pure story – and to perceive the symbolism of reality without having it thrust in our faces? Can we no longer appreciate the subtle, the ironic, the joyfully surreal?
Here are some things I want to see in the next Dredd reboot…
[ click on pic to expand ]