BLOG Better Off Dredd

The weekly stories in 2000AD have been going through a truly great run for several years now and the current epic, “Day Of Chaos”, could turn out to be the greatest Dredd story ever told. I’ve blogged about the “Day Of Chaos” before here and to be honest I’m so impressed with this on-going story that I find it hard to not rave about it every week. Never has my weekly wait for the next prog seemed so long. The story looks set to become the longest running story in Dredd history and for long term fans this story is gripping, harrowing and, as writer John Wagner himself said, a huge game changer.

Over the last 40 weeks we’ve seen Dredd ’s beloved city reduced to a chaotic battleground. As I said in my earlier blog back in April, “The focus has been a systematic crippling of Justice Department and the city. We’ve seen terrorist attacks involving gas and missiles on both citizenry and the Justice Department’s infrastructure. We’ve seen enemy agents trying to sneak biological weapons into the city, assassination of key figures, sleeper agents causing civil unrest and rioting citizens turning against the law.”

Here we are two months later and the destruction hasn’t let up, it’s only gotten worse and there’s still no end in sight. It really is truly epic story telling by one of the best in the business.

The other big thing in the world of Judge Dredd is the movie due out in September.

The film, from Lionsgate, is directed by Pete Travis from a script by Alex Garland. Karl Urban stars as Dredd and Olivia Thirlby as Anderson, with the main baddy played by the excellent Lena Headey. First announced way back in 2008, the Judge Dredd reboot had many fans worried at first. Echoes of the appalling 1995 Stallone film still rang in many minds. And as images and info from the film leaked onto the web, these fears didn’t abate. First a supposed script appeared online, and some of those who read it weren’t very impressed. Next we had several low quality images. A very dark and grainy Karl Urban as Dredd photo , some contemporary-looking vehicles and a very odd-looking Lawmaster bike. Later there were rumblings of problems in the editing suite with news that director Pete Travis had been thrown out and replaced by writer/producer Alex Garland. The two later released a statement about an “unorthodox collaboration ” agreed upon before production began and saying that Travis was still very much involved in the film

Across the net people judged the film on these very limited, very out-of-context images and event: “the helmet’s too big”, “the bike looks crap”, “contemporary vehicles are wrong”, etc. The director and writer arguing must mean it’s rubbish… Of course not everyone was so disparaging with most fans adopting a wait and see attitude. A feature in Empire ’s September issue brought some better quality images and they were mostly well-received. Soon people started clamouring for a trailer. “We need to see a trailer” seemed to be the amusing thing to say when anything about Dredd was reported or talked about.

In recent weeks the advertising for the film seems to have stepped up a gear and we’ve had official promotional stuff released and it’s all been very, very good. We got a dark and moody official poster at the start of this month along with several images of the film itself and after a 10 second teaser a few days back, we got the official trailer yesterday. And what a glorious trailer it is.

I was looking forward to the film anyway. But this trailer has made me more confident that the makers have really done a great job of bringing Judge Dredd and Mega City One to life on the screen. Karl Urban’s gravelly Dirty Harry -like growl is perfect for the voice. It may be a little reminiscent of Christian Bale’s Batman , but the Urban’s understated delivery of Dredd ’s “I am the Law!” catchphrase is spot on.

Sure, there are some changes from the comic book version of Dredd . The uniform is more riot cop than Mega City Judge. Mega City One itself is not the huge, crazy sprawling megalopolis that fans of the comic will know and love. But the changes aren’t too jarring and this is a film adaptation after all. Film adaptations are always going to be a bit different. This was never going to be exactly the Dredd fans of the comic read about every week and that’s okay. What might work on the page sometimes doesn’t work in the real world and in the main this trailer makes me think they’ve got it all pretty spot on.

I only have two issues… I’m not keen on the Lawmaster bikes. The riders seem to sit very oddly on the bike and the bike is a far cry from the huge beast we know and love from the comics. After seeing the huge chunky wheels on the Batpod in The Dark Knight I really thought they might be able to pull of the iconic vehicle.

My second niggle is 3D. But that’s just my general dislike of 3D. I’m sure there will be 2D showings when the film comes out in September so I’ll just go to one of those. As to the bike: hell, it’s only a bike. And a bike is not going to ruin the whole film.

Like I said at the top, I think now is a great time to be a fan of Dredd . I can’t remember the last time I was so impatient to get my hands on each new 2000AD or when I was so excited to see a film. Dredd is out on 7 September in the UK and I, for one, can’t wait.

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