Movie Editor's Blog

Movie Editor's Blog

New Judge Dredd film “more honest” than Stallone version

There's another Judge Dredd movie in the works, and word on the grapevine is that it's much, much better than the terrible Sylvester Stallone version that blighted cinemas back in 1995. Admittedly that's not difficult.

The new version - simply called 'Dredd 3D' - stars Karl Urban as the uncompromising lawman and this time around he keeps his helmet on throughout the entire film.

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'The Beach' writer Alex Garland penned the script, and it has the blessing of John Wagner, who co-created the character back in the 1970s. This was important to Urban, who told Yahoo! Movies he was a massive fan of the comics.

Helmet hair... Karl Urban as the new Judge Dredd (Copyright: Entertainment Film)

"I really did feel for John [when the original film came out]. I can't imagine what it would be like to be the creator of something and have somebody else take your creation and make it something that was not what you envisaged.

"I felt that our version is honest. It's a simple story, but a real character study. Being a long term fan of Dredd, I was particularly impressed by the manner in which the character was handled."

Dredd-ful... Stallone's Judge Dredd (Copyright: REX)

Beside Dredd's face, another thing missing this time around is the one-liners. Stallone constantly repeated "I knew you'd say that" in the first film, but there's no such nonsense in 'Dredd 3D'.

"The character Alex had written was not based on ego or silly catchphrases or one-liners. Reading the script, it gave just enough information about the character.

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"If you know Judge Dredd, you know that he doesn't remove his helmet. To me that's part of the enigma, that's part of what makes him interesting. You know there's a lot going on underneath there.

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"I always to responded to the fact you never knew if he was the villain or the hero. He could be both. Earlier on he was singular about upholding the law, but over the last 15 years he's developed as a character, we've seen this maturity come into the writing. Not everything in Dredd's world is as it used to be. He questions the system. In Alex's script, by the end of the movie you can just see the tiniest cracks appear in Dredd's world view."

The plot sees Dredd and 2000AD regular Judge Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) forced to enter a vast slum controlled by drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) and full of vicious criminals. They must battle room-by-room to survive.

Watch the trailer below.

If the story seems familiar, maybe you caught acclaimed low-budget action flick 'The Raid' earlier this year, which also saw a team of cops enter a villain-strewn tower block. Urban was aware that some fans were making the comparison.

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"'The Raid' was actually shot after Dredd," he said. "But our post-production was so long - the 3D and the special effects — that our movie comes out afterwards. I haven't seen 'The Raid' so I can't comment on the similarities, but I'd really like to."

Another bizarre sub-plot in Dredd's production were reports that director Pete Travis was not allowed to edit the film, with Garland taking over. They've since released a statement saying they had an "unorthodox collaboration", which is confirmed by Urban, who said he turned to Garland for direction on set, rather than Travis.

Judgement day... Karl Urban as Judge Dredd (Copyright: Entertainment Films)

"We had the benefit of having Alex Garland on set for pretty much the entire shoot. It seemed quite natural that when I had a question about the character I wouldn't turn to the director, I would turn to the guy who wrote it.

"I honestly think Pete welcomed the input."

Hmmm. Whoever made the film, Urban is already confident it'll be a "cult classic" and isn't fussed whether it becomes a franchise. Nonetheless, he's already earmarked a couple of Dredd comics that have sequel potential.

"'Origins' is great. For anyone who hasn't read much Dredd they should get a copy as it pretty much outlines how the world of Dredd got to be the way it was. It's written quite late in the history of the character, so there's a great maturity about the story. I also think 'Necropolis' - which features the dark judges (such as Judge Death) - would make a really great film."

Is Dredd franchise material? Judge (ahem) for yourselves when it's released in the UK on 7 September.