The problem is that my own outlook on the world often seems to clash with that of the filmmakers I love, ie: I generally view women to be people, and the creators of the films I watch give every impression of disagreeing with this viewpoint. Of course, I could try watching nothing but feminist documentaries and serious real-life dramas about women overcoming personal tragedies, but quite frankly those kinds of movies don't fulfill my needs vis-a-vis mutant zombie hordes, improbable leather body-armour, and soundtracks that sound like twelve-ton steel girders being banged together by Skrillex. Sadly, if I want to sit down and watch some ridiculous bullshit about a bunch of murderous idiots rappelling down the ruins of a post-apocalyptic megacity, then I generally have to put up with the only female characters in the movie either being Lara Croft clones, or a roomful of strippers who get gunned down in the second act.
95% Rotten Tomatoes rating and the presence of Cersei Lannister as the primary villain (!!!), however, were enough for me to give it a try. And you know what? This is an ideal girl-nerd action movie. It has all the exploding-head violence you'd expect from a movie about a capital punishment-obsessed cop battling drug-dealers in a futuristic towerblock, but none of the sexism you'd expect from, well, any film with that premise. Lena Headey is sneeringly excellent in her somewhat typecast role as a villainess perched at the top of the criminal food-chain, ordering her lackeys to rain death upon any commoners who get in her way. Dredd's rookie sidekick (Olivia Thirlby) may be young and inexperienced but she's also competent and professional, and actually gets more screentime and character development than Dredd himself.
Judge Dredd has more in common with the emotionless killing-machines of '80s action movies than with the wrong-place-wrong-time John McClanes you see in most modern blockbusters. I'm kinda hoping this movie is successful enough for a sequel, actually, since the director has already stated that he'd like to explore the idea of Dredd as a fascist. Judge Dredd is in the unique position of being an adult comicbook antihero who hasn't been neutered or simplified by his film adaptation, filling a role that's almost a parody of the kind of right-wing American cop characters who glorify the idea of hyper-violent law enforcement. In some ways, Dredd 3D reminded me more of sophisticated films like Blade Runner and A Scanner Darkly than it did of more thematically similar movies like Demolition Man. The vision for Mega City One was founded in the real world rather than looking like the type of cartoonish, larger-than-life post-apocalyptic settings where most leather-clad antiheroes seem to reside. The aesthetic was solidly reminiscent of inncer-city towerblocks in the real world, neglected and graffiti-spattered, with charmless breezeblock slums sporting ironically chirpy names like "Peach Trees".
The full Dredd soundtrack is available to stream online, and I'd highly recommend it for any and all criminal ventures out into your friendly neighbourhood post-apocalyptic megacity. Also available is the equally excellent but rather more '80s-influenced Drokk: Music Inspired By Mega City One, by Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow of Portishead.
Interview with Alex Garland, the writer and producer of Dredd. Having read this, I can really see how the film turned out so well and so faithful to the comics.
Previously on Hello, Tailor: Dressing for the Apocalypse, and Movie Costumes I Have Loved: Doomsday.