5 Reasons You Should Be Psyched About “Dredd 2”
Who is Judge Dredd?
The year 2012 saw the beginnings of a resurgence in science fiction film reboots and remakes. We’re caught in the trend now and there’s no end in sight (kudos to whoever can guess how soon we get another Total Recall remake). It’s a good thing in some respects, though, as films that didn’t pan out the first time around are getting a second chance.
Take Judge Dredd, a 1995 Stallone vehicle that left the franchise untouchable (in a bad way) for two decades. It had the look, but it didn’t come close to nailing the nuances and that’s why this sci-fi blunder exists. Lucky for us, Judge Dredd would get another chance. But, before we get there, let’s take a quick step back and explain where Dredd really began.
Judge Dredd is a science fiction story that first began in the pages of the British magazine 2000 AD, back in 1977. The whole concept was to create a character that would satirize the square-jawed, uncompromising American action hero. Through British eyes, this American archetype existed under the guise of freedom and righteousness when, in reality, this character really operated as a fascist agent, forcing others to adhere to his own morality as judge, jury and executioner.
What is Dredd 2?
As 2012 saw a resurgence in sci-fi reboots, Judge Dredd also got a second chance. Enter the movie Dredd. It was a film reboot that provided a new vision of Mega City One and reintroduced everyone’s favorite fascist anti-hero: Judge Dredd.
The film wasn’t a success, at least initially. It only made $41 million at the box office and considering it had a $45 million budget, studios would count that as a pretty big failure. However, Dredd has since gained quite the cult following and for good reason: It’s one heck of an action flick! If Dredd had performed badly and those who saw it didn’t like it, you could consider this “end of story”. It just so happens that some dedicated fans loved the film so much that they decided to start a petition for a Dredd sequel, which has since been signed by over 100,000 people. Though not a lot of people saw the movie initially, the movie was doing well in DVD sales and word of mouth started spreading about this diamond in the rough.
Well, apparently the internet is a pretty important tool these days and when there’s a groundswell of support growing for a film, studios can’t afford to ignore it. We saw a similar thing with Veronica Mars on kickstarter (that’s how the Veronica Mars movie came about, by the way) and recent comments from Judge Dredd himself, Karl Urban, confirm that the main people involved are dedicated to making a sequel happen and are working on it as we speak.
Here’s Karl Urban thanking those involved with the petition:
Below are 5 Reasons You Should Be Psyched About Dredd 2. Now, I realize that Dredd 2 is still just considered a possibility, but given how much we already know, I’m inclined to think its a foregone conclusion at this point. If you’re not all that familiar with the character or haven’t even bothered to see the movies, rest assured, I’ll make a believer out of you yet!
1. Dredd (2012)
The first thing to understanding why you need to care about Dredd 2 is to understand what was so great about the first one. To begin with, it perfectly represented what the comics did. I talked a little bit earlier about how Judge Dredd initially began as a way to mock traditional American action heroes. But what started out as a brilliant deconstruction of America’s beloved archetype, then evolved into a great examination of western society in general. See, Dredd operates in Mega City One, a city gone to hell. And where the story really turns it all on its head is that, not only does Dredd himself seem reprehensible with his totalitarian rule, but the people of Mega City One are even more reprehensible – committing heinous crimes left and right. This concept is what was so great about the comic and Dredd understood that and used it well.
Dredd didn’t just “get” it’s source material, it enriched it. The difficult thing about bringing comic book worlds to life in the movies is that they are different mediums. Comic books are a wonder of visual storytelling. So are movies. But, the thing is, there’s certain things you can do in comics that you can’t do in movies, and vice versa. Dredd challenged that notion by introducing “Slo-Mo”, a drug that slows everything down for the user, into the movie. By implementing this device into the movie, it allowed itself to embrace a comic booky stillness and artistry with its scenes. The result is a beautiful film to look at and it’s well directed by Pete Travis. In fact, the entire production, makeup and set design teams knocked it out of the park on this one. If there’s a movie out there that greatly represents the world of comic books, Dredd is chief among them.
2. Karl Urban
Perhaps the greatest achievement of the Dredd franchise was the casting of Karl Urban. A reader of the comics when he was teenager, Urban was excited to play the character and had a lot of input in how Judge Dredd would be brought to life. It’s not enough that Urban is a dedicated actor and fan of the series, but the man was born to play the part. The grimace, the stature, the growling voice and dictation – Urban had it all! He not only encompassed everything that we thought the character could be, but he made it all his own.
This is Dredd when he realized he could put his gun down as tax deductible. Happy fella’!
3. Alex Garland
The outstanding production and pitch-perfect casting aside, Dredd wouldn’t have been possible without the brilliant mind of science fiction screenwriter Alex Garland. We’re talking about the same guy who wrote Sunshine (2007) and the modern sci-fi/horror masterpiece 28 Days Later (2002). If there was a writer talented enough to write compelling science fiction for the screen, it was this guy. That’s why you’ll be happy to know Alex Garland is one of the main people involved in bringing Dredd 2 into the fold. With Garland and Urban returning, it’s hard to fathom how a sequel won’t kick major butt!
Drug lord “Ma-Ma” takes a hit of Slo-Mo.
4. The fans
There’s many ways to measure a movie’s success. Studios often measure success in terms of ticket sales (Transformers anyone?). Some people measure the success of a film based on its critical acclaim. But perhaps there’s no better way to measure the success of a film than by its fans. Films that continue to endure aren’t ones that are merely well received, but ones which strike a chord with a dedicated fanbase (Star Wars, Star Trek and even Twilight). That’s what makes these things persist through time; the very notion that people can’t get enough of whatever it is they’re into.
Dredd has one such fanbase. It’s why the petition was a success in bringing recognition to the fact that people really do like this movie, despite its underachievement at the box office. The fact that Dredd was such a major, unexpected success on DVD lends itself further to the distinguished class of being a “cult classic”. These are the fandoms that not only endure, but support their beloved franchises for years to come.
Now, wouldn’t you like to be a part of that?
5. The legacy
The goal of Judge Dredd was to push the uncompromising ideologies of the American action hero as far as they could go and we ended up with the most relentless, intimidating figure comics may have ever seen. Out of all the uncompromising “heroes” in existence, Judge Dredd is by far the most extreme.
Dredd’s uncompromising, to a fault actually. But that’s the great thing about the character and why you start questioning your own sanity a bit because you begin to like him. And that’s because as rigid as he is, he’s also the only incorruptible person in that entirely corrupt city. The laws he strictly adheres to are sometimes damaging and the punishments he hands down can be ridiculously harsh, but they also are the only thing providing order to the screwed up world of Mega City One. As terrible as it is to have single agents handing down judgements and punishments without any due process, they’re also the only form of order in a world filled with chaos and violence.
Like Mega City One in the comics, Dredd presents the world as a terrible place with few people who are actually “innocent”. This then raises the question of whether or not this city is even worth saving and, consequently enough, that maybe they deserve to be punished. You might find your views beginning to change as you start to see that Judge Dredd is maybe even necessary and, in turn, it makes us question our own world. For instance, how much freedom are we willing to sacrifice for security? Sure, our world is nothing like the police state of Mega City One. You’d probably think “who would want to live there?” Well, in a world that corrupt, it’s not surprising that the few innocent people left in the world would. Regardless of your stance on the issue, it’s hard to deny that without the Judges, Mega City One would be far worse off.
For all these reasons, Judge Dredd behooves us to ponder these questions that hopefully we never have to provide a real world answer to.