Why you should be excited for ‘Dredd’

Posted: September 8, 2012 by Michael Houle in Comicology - Comic Books, Movies & Television
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‘Dredd 3D,’ Lionsgate Films’ upcoming adaptation of the classic British 2000 AD comic series, looks much truer to the source material than did the 1995 flop ‘Judge Dredd’ starring Sylvester Stallone.  Karl Urban dons the Judge’s helmet this time around, and he’s just one of many reasons you should be pumped for the new film.

The comic series ‘Judge Dredd’ is the longest-running series in the 2000 AD magazine, first appearing in the second issue of that magazine back in 1977.  Set in a futuristic, irradiated and crime-riddled United States, the series follows the titular character Joseph Dredd, a “Judge” for the totalitarian police force headquartered at the Hall of Justice.  A Judge is the ultimate law enforcer, authorized to be judge, jury and—more often than not—executioner to whatever criminal scum crosses his path.

Of the Judges, Dredd is the most feared.  Stallone, and director Danny Cannon, had some trouble portraying that aspect of the character back in 1995.

Karl Urban and director Pete Travis seem to have had more success this time around.  Urban’s Judge Dredd looks to retain the same hardened, no-nonsense gruffness of the comic character.  And just like the comic anti-hero, Urban never takes off his helmet, helping maintain Dredd’s distanced, almost mythic status.  (Stallone did remove his helmet, and “Dredd-heads” never forgave him.)

‘Dredd 3D’ takes place in Mega-City One, a sprawling metropolis stretching from Boston to Washington DC.  Within the city are numerous “city blocks,” towering super-skyscrapers that are hundreds of stories high and house tens of thousands of the Mega-City’s poorest civilians.  In one city block called Peach Trees, a dangerous new drug—Slo-Mo—is being distributed.  Slo-Mo, when inhaled, targets a specific center of the brain that makes the user perceive life at a fraction of the normal speed, resulting in a transcendent, intoxicating high.

The scarred Madeline Madrigal, or “Ma-Ma,” is in charge of all the Slo-Mo in the block.  A former prostitute, Ma-Ma (played by Lena Heady) fought her way to the top of the organized crime rings in Peach Trees.  Now she rules the city block as its uncontested drug lord.

The Hall of Justice takes notice of Peach Trees after a grisly triple homicide, and tasks Judge Dredd with investigating and, if necessary, meting out justice.  He’s saddled with new recruit Judge Cassandra Anderson (played by Olivia Thirlby), who never wears her helmet because it would dampen her impressive psychic abilities.  Her ability to read the minds of the criminals she and Dredd face helps her sympathize with them in a way Dredd cannot—and Anderson in turn becomes the character the audience sympathizes with.

Once the unlikely duo enters Peach Trees, Ma-Ma locks them inside and sends her gangs to take them out—and that’s where the action ramps up in earnest.  Judge Dredd and Judge Anderson must make their way to the top of the city block, take out Ma-Ma, and halt the distribution of Slo-Mo.  By what we’ve seen in the trailers, that won’t be easy.

‘Dredd 3D’ looks like it will earn its R rating.  Mega-City One is a filthy, dangerous slum full of filthy, dangerous criminals, and the film doesn’t look to shy away from portraying this.  Furthermore, the sequences that depict the effects of the hallucinatory Slo-Mo drug promise to be both startlingly beautiful and ultra-violent; splattering blood, cracking bones, flying bullets, smashing glass and more wanton mayhem light up the screen, making inventive use of the one-two punch of the film’s 3D and super-slow motion effects.  See for yourself in the trailers and videos embedded here, and let us know in the comments what you think of the upcoming film!

Dredd 3D’ runs 1 hour 38 minutes and will be distributed in wide release in the US on September, 21st.  The film is currently at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Please note: The comic and motion comic at the following link are for mature readers only.

  1. Flare2691 says:

    Welcome to Comicology, Mike!
    The first trailer for Dredd didn’t excite me much, but this keeps looking better and better. Urban seems to be committed fully to this role, and I don’t think the aforementioned “Dredd-heads” will be disappointed.

    • Michael Houle says:

      I was initially skeptical too, but with the previews and reviews that have been coming out, ‘Dredd 3D’ has me pumped.

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