Dredd, the latest film incarnation of the 2000 AD comic Judge Dredd is awesome. In one hour 36 minutes (how many times can you clock a film at just over an hour and a half these days) this lean sci fi actioner sets up the story and characters in the first 10 to 15 minutes then traps the story in a single location with one aim and a do or die attitude. With a tight script and a true to what I knew of the comics (which isn’t saying much) the film reminded me of District 9, the South African sci fi film from 2009. A lot. I thought it was because it was shot in South Africa, but I dug a little deeper and discovered that one of its co-producers was supervising producer on District 9. It’s a small film world in South Africa. Dredd is a British production directed by Pete Travis, whose last movie was Endgame, a dramatization of the last days of Apartheid in South Africa. A very small world. The film is written and produced by Alex Garland, author of The Beach, screenwriter of 28 Days Later and Never Let Me Go. The pedigree shows.
I haven’t read any of the 2000 AD comics, but I do know that the character of Judge Dredd, an American lawman of the future, was created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra in 1977 and became a British comic institution. You don’t have to have read the comics to enjoy the movie, but you can be guaranteed that the creators were happy with it. According to John Wagner, “I have read the script (by Alex Garland) and seen Jock’s visuals. While I can’t go into detail about the content I can say that it’s high-octane, edge of the seat stuff, and gives a far truer representation of Dredd than the first movie. I hated that plot. It was Dredd pressed through the Hollywood cliché mill, a dynastic power struggle that had little connection with the character we know from the comic.”*
I think that is all we have to say on the Sylvester Stallone 1995 film.
Karl Urban does a brilliant job as Dredd, all with a helmet that covers most of his face. Lena Headey is a great bad guy, and the world building is astounding. Give the new Dredd a go. It is ten times better than the bloated, over long mishmash that was The Dark Knight Rises. It is not one for kids, too much blood and guts, but it is one for the sci fi/comic book fan.
*Hanly, Gavin (19 January 2010). “John Wagner on Dredd” 2000 AD Review.