Dredd (2012) Analysis
Eric Li

Cultural Studies
Dredd is set in a dystopian, irradiated wasteland. The action takes place in Mega-City One, a violent metropolis with eight hundred million residents and seventeen thousand crimes reported daily. This is referencing the tendency of certain areas to have higher crime rates in an extreme form. By generalizing the entire area as crime-related, the film is essentially advocating the fact that by living in an area of crime, one succumbs to crime and eventually all or most of the residents become criminals. This in fact is the case; when Ma-Ma is unable to defeat Judge Dredd, she outsources to the residents of the building, which in fact in almost every apartment the husband or male figure pulls out a gun and complies to Ma-Ma’s command. There is also a darker part of this which speaks to poverty and it’s correlation with crime. Mega-City One is habited by those suffering from poverty and unable to afford safe shelter. As a result of their poverty, they commit crimes in order to sustain themselves. On the face of it, the film merely portrays an impoverished area rife with criminal activity in which Dredd is sent to rid it of the central problem, Ma-Ma’s drug enterprise. However, by showing the correlation between poverty and crime it can either be thought of as supporting this negative reality or advocating change towards it. Another cultural issue raised in this movie is demographic coalition, in which the residents of the area gather together to fight Dredd. Dredd is the law, the residents of the building are criminals; as a result they all share a common interest of getting rid of the law. This speaks to yet another cultural reference, the opposition of government. The film is rife with pop-culture references but also addresses important ongoing cultural issues in the world today.

Feminist Film Theory (Opposing)
Dredd opposes the feminist film theory by showing women to be strong and intelligent (and in this movie violent), opposite of what the feminist film theory suggests. One of the two protagonists, Cassandra, is a powerful psychic who failed to pass the aptitude tests to be a Judge. She can be argued to be the main character of the film, for Dredd basically just shoots stuff. Dredd is the action backbone of the film, while Cassandra is the emotional and intellectual backbone of the film. Casting a female character for this role is obviously speaking to feminism. The antagonist of the film is Madeline Madrigal, otherwise known as Ma-Ma, who is a violent drug lord. Females are usually stereotyped as passive and yielding. Not Ma-Ma. In the beginning of the film, she has three rogue drug dealers killed by skinning them alive and throwing them off a building to fall to their deaths. Her extreme violence is not an appealing characteristic, but still speaks to gender equality, that women can be as strong, or smart, or in this case violent as men are. Ma-Ma is also the only female villain. She has at her disposal a small army of men for her drug operation. This in fact goes a step further than gender equality, attacking the notion of androcentrism, in other words male supremacy, by putting the female figure in control of the “family,” in this case a drug enterprise.

Catharsis (Opposing)
Dredd is a slasher film. This essentially means that it is filled with gory, bloody action involving the mindless massacre of hundreds of people. In a typical cathartic moment, such as when a character dies or is injured or hurt in some form, the cinematic technique would be to switch to or push into a close up, showing all the emotions of the character as they bleed out (for example). There would typically be overwhelming orchestral or acoustic music non-diegetic music that further adds emotion. Perhaps the camera would show close ups of holding hands with another character, or a wide shot of one character falling to the ground in anguish as his friend or lover dies. In Dredd, this is not the case. There is brutal violence everywhere, and not once is there sad music with close ups on faces. What it does have though, is a scene in which Ma-Ma uses a minigun to demolish an entire floor of the building. The bullets tear through the apartments, ripping the residents to shreds. In fact, the film shows an indifference to violence with no regard for human life.