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New movie 'Dredd 3D' begs question: 'How violent is too violent?'

Published: Monday, Aug. 3 2015 4:53 a.m. MDT

Lena Headey stars as 'Ma-Ma' in DREDD 3D. (Photo credit: Joe Alblas, Joe Alblas) Lena Headey stars as 'Ma-Ma' in DREDD 3D. (Photo credit: Joe Alblas, Joe Alblas)

The film “Dredd 3D” blasts into theaters Friday with excessive amounts of violent carnage — so much, in fact, that it’s causing some critics to question the wisdom of packing so much violence into a single movie.

Based on a British comic-book character and set in a crime-ridden future, the new film is a re-make of 1995’s “Judge Dredd” starring Sylvester Stallone. In the recent Hollywood.com article “How Violent Is Too Violent?” movie critic Brian Salisbury compared the two “Dredd” movies and concluded the new version “has seriously amped things up in the violence department. … The '90s version of the film was nowhere near as brutal as the remake, (which) goes so far as to explode a man’s head with a flare in slow motion.”

Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) and Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) in DREDD 3D.  (Photo credit: Joe Alblas, Joe Alblas) Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) and Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) in DREDD 3D. (Photo credit: Joe Alblas, Joe Alblas)

Salisbury subsequently ruminated, “The thing about discussing the appropriateness of the violence in films is that it always borders uncomfortably on censorship. The merits of a film’s usage — or rather over-usage — of death and destruction should be concluded in regards to whether it takes the viewer out of the story.”

In reviewing “Dredd 3D” Deadspin’s Tim Grierson wrote, “‘Dredd’ (doesn't) strive to be thoughtful; it just wants to kill lots of people in the bloodiest ways possible. It's a movie that's Not Good For You; your kids shouldn't see it … and since the filmmakers make it pretty clear from the beginning how bloody and merciless the proceedings are going to be, you're never quite sure what violent horrors you'll witness.”

Karl Urban stars as Judge Dredd in Karl Urban stars as Judge Dredd in "DREDD 3D." (Photo credit: Joe Alblas, Joe Alblas)

Reporting for Variety, Geoff Berkshire described “Dredd 3D” as “grim, gritty and ultra-violent.”

“Relentless carnage,” Berkshire continued, “bombards the viewer from all sides, even more so in (3D). Heads are smashed, bullets rip through body parts and one larynx is memorably destroyed.”

“Dredd 3D” is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America “for strong bloody violence, language, drug use and some sexual content.”

J.G. Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at jaskar@desnews.com or 801-236-6051.

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