Some early thoughts on the new Dredd movie

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Just thought I’d take the opportunity to give a few of my thoughts on the Dredd movie in light of the new stuff we’ve seen this week.

Obviously I have no inside information on the movie whatsoever. I’ve only seen the pics you guys have though I have read the script that got leaked so do know the feel and scope of the story they are telling. Dont worry though, no real spoilers below.

Firstly anybody expecting to see the comic up there on the screen is going to be pissed. Now as an opening line that sounds damning but look at the most popular and successful comic book movie of all time, The Dark Knight. Yes it’s recognisably Batman but it’s not the Batman of the comics. Trust me, my one tattoo is the bat symbol, I’m a Bat-Nerd. What they did for that movie, and especially Batman Begins, was take the comic character and put a more real world spin on it which appears to be the template they are using for Dredd. The costume has, as we’ve seen, gone way more riot police which while not as iconic a look as the real costume is slightly more believable as something a future cop would wear day to day and wont look stupid when Dredd runs in it. That said they’ve still managed to incorporate the eagle on the shoulder as shown in the pic above which is a nice touch and you’d still look at it and go “Yeah… thats Dredd”.

There’s been a lot of talk of the helmet looking too big, but its been pointed out the reason it normally looks ok in the comics is that there Dredd has shoulder pads Joan Collins in her prime would be ashamed to wear. I agree some of the pics have looked slightly bobble-head-ish but in the footage it looks a lot better. Something to wait and see on the trailer I’d think.

The fantastical elements of the city also seem to have been toned down in order to make it bleaker, more oppressive and threatening. There has been a bit of a kick off (check the comments here) about what we have seen of the city and especially the vehicle being chased but again it’s all about the tone. Yeah, it would be cool to see a futuristic Ian Gibson bubble car with huge wheels like in the comics but if the options were “awesome looking Sci fi vehicle” or “more money to make a badass chase scene” I’ll take the chase scene. Also I think there’s been a design choice to ground the movie a bit more and make it all dirtier looking which means no hover cars…. tho I’m still hoping for a cgi Manta somewhere in the background.

Also, can I just add a note to the whole “I’ve seen a leaked pic, it looks shit” thing. I’m one of those movie nerds who watches ALL the extras on a dvd. I also have dozens of the big “Making of” books they do for films and know that flicking though those it all looks a bit crap and silly, even the big budget movies like Spider-Man. You seen pics of the basketball player stood around in the rubber suit from the first Alien? Its about how its shot. It’s all about the cinematography. The guy doing it on Dredd is Anthony Dod Mantle…. he’s got an Oscar for doing it. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Secondly the movie is fairly low key with regards it’s scope. Not to say it’s going to be quiet or boring in any way but apart from an opening action scene which shows us some of the greater world of Dredd such as the city and the bike, the film does all take place in the one location. Now that might seem restrictive but remember this location is a CITY BLOCK so basically its no smaller than the playing field in Escape from New York. I’ve seen lots of people who have read the script throw around the “Its Batman in Die Hard” comparison to this movie but I dont think that really applies as Die Hard takes place in an office block. Dredd takes place in a vertical, enclosed city. Batman in Escape from New York is much closer. And you know what? Escape from New York is FUCKING AWESOME!

It’s very Dredd-centric. Again to compare it to the new Batman franchise, like Batman Begins they aren’t putting any big name villains in the first film. Not to say Ra’s Al Ghul was a weak foe, but unlike the Joker he wasn’t going to steal all the focus away from the hero. This Dredd movie is all about Dredd and introducing him to a movie audience who only know the Stallone film. The sequel (which we’d BETTER get) will give us a villain to get excited for and one is seeded in the script. Also the plot isolates Dredd which negates the “Why doesn’t he just call for backup” question. Will future movies show Dredd leading a squad of badass Judges? Hopefully but for now let’s make it all about him. Well, him and Anderson but while she is very well realised in the script and is FAR from being a damsel in distress she is there primarily as a gateway and to give Dredd a reason to vocalise occasionally.

Re-reading the above it does seem like I’m basically saying “Dont expect too much” which isn’t really the case at all. If they manage to put the script up on screen we are going to get a brutal, funny (in the way Dredd often dryly is), action packed movie which will totally kick start a successful franchise for the character. Yes there will be a hardcore group of fans pissed that its not “their” Dredd up there but hopefully there will be a hell of a lot more who just want to see a cool action movie and find it a gateway into the comics. Again, this movie could be Batman Begins for Dredd.

I’m still excited for this movie. Nothing I’m seeing is changing that and the fact they dont seem to be wimping out and are making this movie at least a 15 certificate is all kinds of encouraging. My optimism may eventually prove to be misplaced but I’m pretty confident that we’re gonna get a cool film out of this.

Roll on September.

  • RMc

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