Director(s): Pete Travis
Cast: Karl Urban, Lena Headey, Olivia Thirlby
Run Time: 95 minutes
Theatrical Release: 09/21/2012
MPAA Rating: R
MPAA Explanation: for strong bloody violence, language, drug use and some sexual content
Common Sense Says: Extreme violence, drugs in intense comic book tale.
Common Sense Rates It:
Parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dredd 3D is based on the futuristic comic book hero Judge Dredd, who was also the subject of a 1995 Sylvester Stallone movie. The new movie is full of extreme sci-fi/fantasy violence, with thousands of bullets fired, gallons of blood spilled, and hundreds of casualties, including victims splattered and burned (and it's all even more intense in 3-D). Language is almost as strong, with many uses of "f--k," as well as a few other words. Sex comes up in a kind of fantasy "psychic" sequence in which a character briefly imagines oral sex being performed on him (nothing graphic shown). Though real drugs/alcohol don't appear, the entire plot is about the manufacture and distribution of a fictitious, illegal street drug called "Slo-Mo." Viewers see drug trip scenes and teens trying it. Overall, this is fairly intense for a popcorn movie and is best for mature older teens and up.
- Families can talk about the movie's extreme violence, gore, and blood. How necessary was it to the story? How does it compare to what you might see in a horror movie? Which has more impact?
- How do the actions of law enforcement characters differ from those of the villains? Why is one set of characters right and the other wrong? What is the movie saying about the powers of the law?
- As a superhero and/or comic book hero, is Judge Dredd a role model? How does he compare to other comic book heroes you've seen (Batman, Spider-Man, Iron Man, etc.)?
- What does Anderson learn over the course of the movie? Is she a positive female role model?
What's the story?
In the future, Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) works as law enforcer in Mega-City One; his job has been simplified, allowing him to kill anyone who's actually guilty. He's assigned to test out a new rookie judge, Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), to see whether she has what it takes. On their first day, they enter a 200-story high rise to investigate a triple homicide. They find a possible killer (Wood Harris) and decide to take him in for questioning. But the evil drug queen called "Ma-Ma" (Lena Headey) who runs the entire building shuts it down, preventing any escape, and then orders the occupants to kill the two judges. Will our heroes survive long enough to complete their mission?
Is it any good?
Both DREDD 3D and the earlier The Raid: Redemption are set in a high rise with the bad guy at the top, where every floor is more dangerous than the one before it. Fortunately, the two movies are different enough -- and enjoyable enough -- that they can exist side by side. Based on the popular comic book, Dredd 3D is extremely violent but minimalist at the same time. No subplots, romances, or comic sidekicks get in the way of the pure action. Even Urban, as Dredd, speaks only when necessary and only in an emotionless murmur.Director Pete Travis uses space well and also incorporates an awesome production design, such as a skateboard ramp that hangs off the side of the building several hundred feet up. The "Slo-Mo" drug trip sequences in particular are quite dazzling. Thankfully, even these flashier elements are all employed solely for the purpose of underlining and enhancing the action. Overall, Dredd 3D isn't as rich or as deep as The Dark Knight Rises or The Avengers, but it's good, solid comic book fun.
The Good Stuff
Messages: Dredd learns that his black-and-white rulebook doesn't necessarily apply when he's assigned to test out a new rookie; she doesn't officially pass, but she behaves above and beyond in other ways. On the other hand, the way that criminal behavior is dealt with in this futuristic world may raise questions about how far the power of the law should extend.
Role Models: Dredd doesn't grow or change much over the course of the film, and his brand of heroism includes killing. But he is brave and heroic. Anderson, the rookie, is an example of a courageous and strong female character; she's not there for romance, but to complete a challenging journey of her own.
What to watch out for
Violence Extreme sci-fi/fantasy violence, with gallons of blood spilled, hundreds of casualties, and thousands of bullets fired (some in detailed slow motion). Characters are smashed by cars, burned alive, and thrown from great heights, splattering on the ground. Other characters are beaten, pummeled, and bloodied; a neck is broken violently. In a few extremely quick flashback shots, characters are skinned alive. Two teens pick up guns to try to kill Dredd; he stuns them before they can cross that line.
Sex: In a kind of fantasy sequence, a woman with psychic powers enters a man's mind; he imagines her performing oral sex on him, but the entire thing is brief and is suggested rather than shown. Other very brief, suggestive, but not graphic, erotic images appear in his thoughts. The lead villain is said to have once been a "hooker" and a "prostitute."
Language: Language isn't constant but contains many uses of "f--k," as well as a few uses of "s--t," "motherf---er," "ass," "goddamn" and "bitch." The heroes mostly refrain from using bad language.
Consumerism: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs & smoking: The main villain manufactures and sells a (fictitious) illegal street drug called "Slo-Mo," which slows down the user's experiences. Slowed-down "drug trip" scenes are shown throughout the movie. Some teens are seen using the drug. No real-life drugs or alcohol are shown.