Judge Dredd Returns in 3D

by E. "Doc" Smith on September 21, 2012

Judge Dredd is a fictional character whose comic strip in the British science fiction anthology 2000 AD is the magazine’s longest running, having been featured there since its second issue in 1977. Dredd is an American law enforcement officer in a violent city of the future where uniformed Judges combine the powers of police, judge, jury and executioner. Dredd and his fellow Judges are empowered to arrest, sentence, and even execute criminals on the spot. The character was created by writer John Wagner, artist Carlos Ezquerra and Pat Mills. Dredd returns Friday in an all new reboot in 3D.

Dredd is amongst the UK’s best known home-grown comic characters. So great is the character’s name recognition that his name is sometimes invoked over similar issues to those explored by the comic series, such as the police state, authoritarianism, and the rule of law. Dredd was named the Seventh Greatest Comic Character by the British magazine Empire. In 2011, IGN ranked him 35th in the Top 100 Comic Book Heroes.

For those unfamiliar with the plot, characters and casting of Dredd: “DREDD” takes us to the wild streets of Mega City One, the lone oasis of quasi-civilization on Cursed Earth. Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is the most feared of elite Street Judges, with the power to enforce the law, sentence offenders and execute them on the spot – if necessary. Dredd’s latest challenge is Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), the matriarch of a gang that sells a reality-altering drug known as SLO-MO to the residents of Mega City One. With the help of a young trainee (Olivia Thirlby), Dredd must venture into some of the city’s worst places to dispense his ruthless brand of justice.

Screenrant’s Kofi Outlaw interviewed Dredd’s creator John Wagner on his views of the new Dredd film as well as the 1996 version with Sylvester Stallone.

“The Judge Dredd reboot film Dredd has had a few question marks hanging over it. With news of behind-the-scenes troubles, a modest budget, and a cast of actors who are hardly household names (though their star meters are rising), this film is far from being a guaranteed hit – let alone a worthwhile attempt to correct the mistakes of the 1995 Judge Dredd film starring Sylvester Stallone.

Adding to the concern over Dredd is the fact that we haven’t seen any sort of footage yet – even though the film has been in post-production for months now. The few things we have seen include storyboards and a few set pics – but honestly, they don’t do much to tell us about the tone, style, or overall quality of Dredd. Considering what the intentions are with this film, being able to get a sense of how it compares to its predecessor – or how it relates to the source material – is really everything.

Judge Dredd creator John Wagner stepped out for a rare interview with Hero Complex recently, and had a few points of praise for the reboot, as well as some reserved criticism of the Stallone film, and how this new version differs from the ’90s version.

Starting with how Wagner views the original film:

JW: My views haven’t changed, though apart from my initial viewing I haven’t seen the film since it came out. They told the wrong story — it didn’t have that much to do with Dredd the character as we know him. I don’t think Stallone was a bad Dredd, though it would have been better and lent him more cred if he hadn’t revealed his face. He was just Dredd in the wrong story. I envy their budget, though. Some of the CGI was very good, and the re-creations of the Angel Gang and the robot. The robot actually came from a Pat Mills story and didn’t belong in Dredd, but it looked good. If the plot had revolved around characters like them the film would have been more successful.

Regarding some of the more promising things Wagner sees in the reboot:

JW: The plot is about Dredd and his world. It’s impossible to cover every aspect of the character and his city – perhaps that was one of the failings of the first film; they tried to do too much and ended up with not a lot. “Dredd” homes in on the essential job of judging – instant justice in a violent future city. I like the actors, they’re well cast and they handled their parts well. Olivia Thirlby is perfect as Anderson, the young psi judge. She gives the character a touching vulnerability. Karl Urban will not remove his helmet and will not kiss his costar.

It’s encouraging to hear the creator of the character praising this new approach to putting Judge Dredd on the big screen. However, I think it’s safe to say that most of us won’t be swayed until we see some actual footage that proves director Pete Travis (Vantage Point) has captured the dark and gritty tone of the early 2000 A.D. comics – that Karl Urban is convincingly badass as Dredd – and that the approach of having a protagonist whose face we never see, and who has no love interest to speak of, is one that works as well in a movie as it has on the page…”

Dredd will be in theaters on September 21, 2012.

Filed under: Arts & Entertainment