written by Seth
Wasn’t “Dredd (3D)” awesome?
But what if it wasn’t?
I remember going to the Stallone film in 1995 with one of my mates. I SO wanted to like that film. The prosthetics were fantastic , Mean Machine looked great, The ABC war robot was awesome – just like it should look (though not clear what it was doing there), the costumes were a little too glossy, a bit too shiny, and the bikes a bit iffy, but it wasn’t a million miles away from the look of the strip, it was recognisable – you have to accept some changes; but as soon as Sly’ opened his gob, the film crash and burned. It turned into a generic Stallone film (the price you have to pay for having a big star attached I guess) the dialogue was execrable, Rob Schneider was just plain annoying, and I understand that in translation to another medium certain things have to be changed, or modified, but we shouldn’t have to suffer significant changes to the behaviour of the lead character (Dredd kissing Hershey?). Quite frankly; it was rubbish, but you have to ask yourself did either interpretation, matter? Did they hurt the strip itself?
We’ve been lucky this time around, “Dredd 3D” did fans of Old Stoney Face proud( sorry to labour a point), but even if it was a re run of the pile of dreck that was the 1995 film, would it really matter? A bigger budget may have meant greater compromise (1995 film again)but I think they had the balance right. Even if I hadn’t enjoyed it, even if it was pants, so long as it didn’t affect the comic, does it matter that much? We still have all the comics that came before, the movie hasn’t changed that has already been printed, my 2000ads and Megazines are in the attic, quite safe (to paraphrase a famous writer – whose identity I am embarrassed to admit I can’t remember) I’m a bit of a snob, though I can’t help but get excited about a TV or cinema adaptation of one of my favourite characters, I don’ t like sharing them, particularly if you get the following from non fans depending on its success:
- Oh there’s that comic that based on that cruddy film
- Oh look, they’ve made a comic of that (insert big named star here) film.
There have been a slew of comic adaptations since “Blade” was such a success, for every “300”, Scott Pilgrim or Dark Knight, there is a “Green Lantern”. “Watchmen” was a flawed film (my mate Rich has a theory that it should have been a mini series) but they made a good fist of it but if you don’t like it, ignore it, don’t watch it, go back to the book. The book hasn’t changed, the movie – is an interpretation, it won’t affect that which has been printed, nor should it affect that which will be printed.
Comics can be influenced by the other media- I read recently that Jimmy Olsen started out as a radio character Marvel try to shift what happens in the comics, to what is happening in the movies (see Spidey’s web shooters, Nick Fury (616 version – though I guess he has just followed the Avengers Assemble in using being modelled on Samuel L) , perhaps to make the character more familiar to curious audiences. Many big names, such as the big Marvel stars are no longer comic characters – they are multi media properties, which happen to have originated in comics. Dredd isn’t as well known as Spidey’, Cap’, Shell head, or the two big ponies sitting in the DC stable, Bats and the Big Blue Boy Scout, but his future is now heavily influenced by what it says on the accountant’s spreadsheet.
Dredd 3D wasn’t a big success in the cinema (which for all us snobs out there means that it’ll be a much cooler cult film), but there are the video games, there are the controversial (at least on this forum) IDW comics, and so on and so forth. The multimedia machine is pumping this stuff out, perhaps not at the rate that Rebellion want, but it is coming, and his profile is the highest it has been for the best part of 20 years. Nothing is going to happen significantly to Dredd now, there is too much money riding on him, the rule now is “no change, just the illusion of change” (cheers Stan). You can argue that the different iterations of the character can exist independently, but you only have so much “wriggle room” for what you can do with the character. I find that quite sad, but Rebellion, and Fleetway and IPC before them, are in the business to make money – not for some artistic vision. This isn’t about comics anymore, or Dredd himself, it’s about capitalising on intellectual property, making as much money from the character as possible, and one of the best ways of doing that is in a movie.
Batboy survived two awful films, and bounced back; Supes’ recovered from 2 rotten sequels, Dredd suffered a poorly written interpretation, but even if they hadn’t, we’ve still got the comics, we can still read the Apocalypse War, Judge Child, Necropolis – they haven’t changed, they still mean something and I’m pleased that they made such a good movie. It begs the question, who does the film adaptation serve? The fans don’t really need them, it’s all about making as much money from an intellectual property as a possible. I get excited about them, but ultimately, it don’t matter, there is always some good stuff in print – and if that means that only a few of us a clued in on it, then we are the lucky ones.