Judge Dredd Creator Discusses Dredd
01.22.12 by BJSprecher
Notwithstanding a false rumor about director Pete Travis (Vantage Point, Endgame) getting fired from Danny Boyle's (Slumdog Millionaire) DNA Films-produced Judge Dredd adaptation while the movie is in post-production, it's been pretty quiet on the Dredd front for several months now. Title star Karl Urban pleased the die-hard fans of the British comic book character back in September when he said that Dredd should be "mysterious and enigmatic" and that he "would just puke" if he went to a movie about the character in which Dredd took off his Judge's helmet — a not-so-veiled dig at the 1995 movie starring Sylvester Stallone — but you would have to go back to July, when Dredd's full costume was revealed, to find any relevant news about the movie. Well, good news, "Dredd Heads," the L.A. Times recently interviewed prolific comic book writer John Wagner and the co-creator (with artist Carlos Ezquerra) of Judge Dredd not only discussed his most famous co-creation, but also found a few nice things to say about Stallone's dreadful movie version and offered a few details about the plot of the new movie.
While many comic book characters are often dismissed as being two-dimensional, Wagner told the Times that Dredd was originally intended to be that way and actually "needs" to remain that way to a certain extent to stay true to the character's core personality.
Originally he was a very two-dimensional character, a vehicle for extreme behavior in an extreme society, more of a robot than a man. Today he’s more rounded, more human, a man capable of introspection, of questioning his own beliefs. I still wouldn’t call him a totally three-dimensional character — he would lose something if he was. He needs that robotic aspect to his personality. But he’s a man who could say: 'Yeah, I got that wrong. I made a mistake. I’m sorry.'
Wagner has never had a lot of good things to say about the first Judge Dredd movie — back in January 2010 he admitted that he "hated" the plot and said that the movie ended up being a "Hollywood cliché mill, a dynastic power struggle that had little connection with the character" — but he tempered his comments about it to the Times somewhat, instead focusing on the bits he did like.
My views haven’t changed, though apart from my initial viewing I haven’t seen the film since it came out. They told the wrong story — it didn’t have that much to do with Dredd the character as we know him. I don’t think Stallone was a bad Dredd, though it would have been better and lent him more cred if he hadn’t revealed his face. He was just Dredd in the wrong story. I envy their budget, though. Some of the CGI was very good, and the re-creations of the Angel Gang and the robot. The robot actually came from a [2000 A.D. editor] Pat Mills story and didn’t belong in [Judge] Dredd, but it looked good. If the plot had revolved around characters like them the film would have been more successful.
As far as the new movie goes, Wagner said that Dredd will avoid many of the mistakes made in the 1995 movie, from the plot to how Judge Dredd will be portrayed.
The plot is about Dredd and his world. It’s impossible to cover every aspect of the character and his city — perhaps that was one of the failings of the first film; they tried to do too much and ended up with not a lot. Dredd homes in on the essential job of judging — instant justice in a violent future city. I like the actors, they’re well cast and they handled their parts well. Olivia Thirlby is perfect as Anderson, the young psi judge. She gives the character a touching vulnerability. Karl Urban will not remove his helmet and will not kiss his costar.
Dredd was written by Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Sunshine). Lena Heady (300) also stars.