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Meet the new Dredd, same as the old Dredd


The new 'Judge Dredd' movie Dredd has all the same problems to solve as the loathed 1995 original...

Stallone and Urban as Dredd

One of the biggest and most inaccurate criticisms of the much-hated 1995 Judge Dredd outing with Sylvester Stallone is that it was faithless to the comic strip. This is almost impossible to accept for anyone who has ever actually picked up 2000AD: visually, Judge Dredd was about the most accurate comics>movies adaptation ever put on screen. Mega-City One was practically the original comic-strip metropolis come to life, and the oversized Lawmaster bikes were also incredibly respectful of the originals in the comic.

As for the sardonic humour of the original strip, Robocop (1987) screenwriters Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner admitted long ago that they sequestered it for the Paul Verhoeven sci-fi thriller. Leaving Dredd very little left to play with, without looking, ironically, like a Robocop wannabe.

One of the main reasons cited for the failure of the Danny Cannon version is this very fidelity - even Stallone has been quoted as saying that the producers should have toned down the very garish garb of the futuristic lawman from the original Carlos Ezquerra designs in the 1970s weekly British comic 2000AD.

And then, today, we get this pic from the set of the Judge Dredd reboot entitled simply Dredd...

Karl Urban as 'Judge Dredd'

Karl Urban's 'Dredd' costume has a more modest shoulder patch than the one Stallone sported in the Cannon outing, but that helmet is at least as wild as the Stallone version...

Sylvester Stallone in 'Judge Dredd' (1995)

Guys, as someone who bought the first ever edition of 2000AD when it came out, and suffered through a subsequent 18 years of rumours about a 'Judge Dredd movie' (which Clint Eastwood was put forward for as ideal casting many times), let me tell you that this character suffers from the same problem that Hollywood has with all 'superhero' types - change the costume too much, and it's not the original character. Don't change it enough and it looks like a cartoon. Cartoons have a different and often exaggerated aesthetic...

Ezquerra's comic-strip Judge Dredd suit

Sometimes the cartoon aesthetic is so exaggerated that there's no choice but to tone it down...

Let's be realistic here...

What the hell do people want from a new Judge Dredd? As originally conceived, he's a larger-than-life, basically fascist caricature, working in a culture of 'zero-tolerance' that many urban audiences (particularly in London and modern America) are likely to respond to in a cathartic way. But he's not a multi-dimensional character. And one thing he certainly is not is subtle, either in appearance or outlook. There is no scope for turning Dredd into the new Batman without making the new DNA Films version considerably less faithful to the spirit and style of the original than the Danny Cannon version.

I'm a fan of Karl Urban as well as Judge Dredd as a character, so I'm certainly looking forward to the new movie, but in one sense you can file it under the 'Spider-Man reboot' heading - "one bad film and it's time to start over". But whether or not you liked or (as most people seemed to) hated Judge Dredd back in 1995, don't be surprised if it ends up looking a lot like the Cannon version. Because Cannon and production designer Nigel Phelps got it about as right as they possibly could have in terms of getting 2000AD's lawman - and his environs - onto the big screen.

Nigel Phelps' recreation of Mega-City One in Judge Dredd (1995)

Mega-City One at night in 'Judge Dredd' (1995)

Ariel pursuit in 'Judge Dredd' (1995)

'Giger's Bazaar' in 'Judge Dredd' (1995)

Prison ship in 'Judge Dredd' (1995)

Mega-City One in 'Judge Dredd' (1995)

The statue of liberty establishes Mega-City One's East Coast location in 'Judge Dredd' (1995)

The Angel family faithfully recreated from the comic strip in 'Judge Dredd' (1995)


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#1 Not really Aaron Davies 2010-11-23 05:47
I think John Wagner (creator of Judge Dredd) put it best about Cannon's film: "it's not the right movie to make". As the rendition of Mega City in the Cannon movie, it is LA 2016 from Blade Runner...not Dredd. Where was the punk influence? The giant buildings as big as a block? Why was the city one tenth the size it was in the comic? Why did the (non) oversized (no matter what the writer states) law masters fly? And on what planet do a pair of clones not only look different from one another, but also totally different from the person they are cloned from? I think that it is safe to say that if the new Dredd movie avoids these pitfalls, it will be better received by fans.
#2 RE: Meet the new Dredd, same as the old Dredd V 2010-11-24 08:10
Blade Runner was 2019, not 2016, just a hiccup, and in the real world, human clones would not be identical. Environmental factors [even down to diet] would alter or affect their appearance and growth. Even in identical twins, fingerprints are different and biometrics can differentiate between the two.
#3 RE: Meet the new Dredd, same as the old Dredd CC Coleman 2010-12-10 14:25
There were too many deviation from the originals storyline and "Bible" including the removal of the helmet. Fans were left short because they knew the story was wrong. People not exposed to the entire 2000AD Universe were lost because the story did not make any sense and the humor fell flat. MC-1's people were not strange enough. Punks, Fatties, Knee Pad Culture, Leapers Clubs, Sugar Addicts, Futsies, Mutants, Strange Robots of all types - music, etc. etc.

The Cursed Earth was caused by a nuclear war not pollution. The Prison was on Titan. Rico was just a regular Street Judge that went bad. The Angel Gang were professional criminals/murders that enjoyed their work too much; not cannibals and would have been much harder to kill. Not enough bike time on the crazy suspended motorways. Not enough shooting. Not enough violence.

Hershey as a love interest? PAH! Hollywood Grade Stupid!

As far as the look and building design of the first film - they got it right (outside of the flying Lawmasters and the Lawgiver Gun).
#4 Judge Dredd Arcca-Daton 2012-01-18 18:05
I actually really liked the 1995 uniform, much better than the Karl Urban one, which has an oversized helmet and not very intimidating shoulder pads. The overall city layout was pretty cool when overlooking the city, but not so good at street level, resembling the too often used dark Bladerunner style of streets. The Lawmaster bike was good, except it didn't need to fly and needed wider wheels, but my biggest problems were first and foremost the removal of the helmet, because no executioner reveals their face, then there's the changes to the origin story that included Fargo, Rico, Griffin and McGruder, the brief and the ultimately poor inclusion of the Angel Gang that seemed more like an afterthought.

I once read that Danny Cannon claimed to have been a 2000AD reader, if that was the case he should have known better. By all means cut out the unrealistic stuff, as fans we understand it can't 100% the same, but he changed it so much it was barely recognisable. I still enjoyed it, but it wasn't the Judge Dredd I know and love from the comic.

Hopefully the new Karl Urban film will have a story that overshadows the poor costume design. I remain open-minded.

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