One of the big questions facing moviegoers in 2012 is whether sci-fi or superhero films will have the best run – in terms of fan reception and box office profits. The Avengers has certainly set a high bar, having already banked over a billion dollars for the superhero genre, with Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises poised to do big business as well.
However, sci-fi still has to show its big guns: Lockout and Battleship were both underwhelming films – but today we have new posters and images for the big two in the genre, this year: Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and Rian Johnson’s Looper. Smack-dab in the middle of this superheroes vs. sci-fi contest sits Dredd, a reboot of the movie franchise centering around futuristic comic book antihero, Judge Dredd.
The plot of Dredd has always seemed simple – much simpler, in fact, than the plot of the slightly-overblown 1995 film starring Sylvester Stallone. Basically, Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) finds out some bad guys are doing bad things in his city, kills them, and never takes off his helmet. Just like the comic books.
However, the new synopsis for the film (via the Dredd Facebook Page) paints a slightly more complex picture :
The future America is an irradiated waste land. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies Mega City One- a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the urban cops called “Judges” who possess the combined powers of judge, jury and instant executioner. Known and feared throughout the city, Dredd (Karl Urban) is the ultimate Judge, challenged with ridding the city of its latest scourge – a dangerous drug epidemic that has users of “Slo-Mo” experiencing reality at a fraction of its normal speed.
During a routine day on the job, Dredd is assigned to train and evaluate Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), a rookie with powerful psychic abilities thanks to a genetic mutation. A heinous crime calls them to a neighborhood where fellow Judges rarely dare to venture – a 200 story vertical slum controlled by prostitute-turned-drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) and her ruthless clan. When they capture one of the clan’s inner circle, Ma-Ma overtakes the compound’s control center and wages a dirty, vicious war against the Judges that proves she will stop at nothing to protect her empire. With the body count climbing and no way out, Dredd and Anderson must confront the odds and engage in the relentless battle for their survival.
The endlessly inventive mind of writer Alex Garland and director Pete Travis bring DREDD to life as a futuristic neo-noir action film. Filmed in 3D with stunning slow motion photography sequences, the film returns the celebrated character to the dark, visceral incarnation from John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra’s revered comic strip.
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From that synopsis it seems we are going to be getting something akin to the 2012 cult-hit Indonesian film The Raid: Redemption - which is also about a team of cops trying to scale a building full of criminals in order to capture one big baddie. Having given The Raid a 5-star review, it’s hard to imagine that Dredd will measure up. Don’t get me wrong – as a longtime fan of Judge Dredd comics, I want this reboot to be a success.
However, prior news about behind the scenes troubles and a lean budget do raise questions as to whether or not the film will be good. The cast members are all talented (seeing Headey face-off against Urban will be especially electric), but director Pete Travis hasn’t exactly been known to knock them at of the park (see: Vantage Point).
We’ll know if the movie was worth the fresh start when Dredd hits theaters on September 21, 2012.