Judge Dredd Creator Talks Reboot vs. Stallone Film

Published 3 years ago by , Updated January 20th, 2012 at 7:13 am,

Judge Dredd Creator John Wagner Judge Dredd Creator Talks Reboot vs. Stallone Film

The Judge Dredd reboot film Dredd has a big question mark hanging over it. With news of behind-the-scenes troubles, a modest budget, and a cast of actors who are hardly household names (though their star meters are rising), this film is far from being a guaranteed hit – let alone a worthwhile attempt to correct the mistakes of the 1995 Judge Dredd film starring Sylvester Stallone.

Adding to the concern over Dredd is the fact that we haven’t seen any sort of footage yet - even though the film has been in post-production for months now. The few things we have seen include storyboards and a few set pics - but honestly, they don’t do much to tell us about the tone, style, or overall quality of Dredd. Considering what the intentions are with this film, being able to get a sense of how it compares to its predecessor – or how it relates to the source material – is really everything.

Judge Dredd creator John Wagner stepped out for a rare interview with Hero Complex recently, and had a few points of praise for the reboot, as well as some reserved criticism of the Stallone film, and how this new version differs from the ’90s version.

Starting with how Wagner views the original film:

JW: 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 Pat Mills story and didn’t belong in Dredd, but it looked good. If the plot had revolved around characters like them the film would have been more successful.

Regarding some of the more promising things Wagner sees in the reboot:

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 cast Banner Judge Dredd Creator Talks Reboot vs. Stallone Film

Dredd cast: Urban, Heady and Thirlby

For those unfamiliar with the plot, characters and casting of Dredd:

DREDD takes us to the wild streets of Mega City One, the lone oasis of quasi-civilization on Cursed Earth. Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is the most feared of elite Street Judges, with the power to enforce the law, sentence offenders and execute them on the spot – if necessary. Dredd’s latest challenge is Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), the matriarch of a gang that sells a reality-altering drug known as SLO-MO to the residents of Mega City One. With the help of a young trainee (Olivia Thirlby), Dredd must venture into some of the city’s worst places to dispense his ruthless brand of justice.

It’s encouraging to hear the creator of the character praising this new approach to putting Judge Dredd on the big screen. However, I think it’s safe to say that most of us won’t be swayed until we see some actual footage that proves director Pete Travis (Vantage Point) has captured the dark and gritty tone of the early 2000 A.D. comics – that Karl Urban is convincingly badass as Dredd – and that the approach of having a protagonist whose face we never see, and who has no love interest to speak of, is one that works as well in a movie as it has on the page.

Dredd will be in theaters on September 21, 2012.

Source: Hero Complex

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  1. and that the approach of having a protagonist whose face we never see, and who has no love interest to speak of, is one that works as well in a movie as it has on the page.

    Did Snake Plisken or Dirty Harry have love interests in their original and best initial outings? They had a few broads who either tagged along or got blown-up but not anyone that mattered, at least Dredd has a proper female Judge partner who’s an actual character to play-off rather than be a potential shag that never happens and is superfluous to the story.

    • i’d add V for Vendetta to that list… In fact V wud be my only example… ;-)

  2. Please stop repeating this ‘dark and gritty’ canard. Did you actually read any 2000AD comics? Dredd was not successful because it was dark and gritty. It was successful because the comic had a tongue-in-cheek British humor to it. Dredd was actually a caricature of an over-zealous cop. He would sentence a kid to jail for spitting gum on the sidewalk. And his refusal to remove his helmet- even in the shower- was a jab at how officious he was. Of course, if you didn’t grow up reading the comics- like most Hollywood writers- you wouldn’t realize this, and would see only the superficial stuff- the megacity, the guns, etc. Seeing that the Hollywood geniuses have changed Dredd’s costume doesn’t inspire confidence that they get what the character is about. Once those morons try to ‘improve’ on something already successful the results are never good.

    • Eh, this is not a ‘Hollywood’ film, it’s an Indie; a British company (DNA), South African crew backed by Indian money.

  3. I really hope they pull this off. Dredd is such a cool character and the futuristic world is awesome too. I have a feeling this will be about as popular as 2010′s ‘Predators’ which (even though I really liked that movie) fell shy of its overall potential. I think the small budget really hurts sci fi films like these; which is a shame because I would rather see a really big budget movie about Dredd (or Predators) than a big budget Avatar 2 or another Transformer movie or another Pirates of the Caribbean, or Chronicles of Narnia, etc. Oh well though, I’m still crossing my fingers that Dredd will be good despite all it has going against it.

  4. what hurt the 95 version the most was putting rob schnieders’ comic relief character in it. it was an annoying distraction that underminded the seriousness of stallones’ dredd. no knock on rob, though.

    • Oh that’s right! I had sort of blocked the movie out of my head but yes, the Stallone movie most definitely did NOT need comic relief. Dare I say it needed to be “darker and grittier” (as cliche as that sounds now a days :P )

      I also agree with Wagner. I thought Stallone did an admirable job representing Dredd (was a near perfect match for the character visually even) but it was the script that ultimately failed him.

      I also don’t know what world you live in Kofi but Urban is a tried and proven star already. He might not have played the lead role in any highly successful movies but the secondary roles he has done were all great.

      • Stallone may have had the chin and the voice to play Judge Dredd, but he was far too short (Dredd should be at least 6ft tall), far too expensive (an obscene $15m), and far too egomaniacal- Dolph Lundgren should have played Dredd, he had the chin, the voice, the height, he would’ve cost a fraction of Stallone’s salary, he wouldn’t have seized control of the movie, and he would have kept the helmet and Judge armour on for most of the film…

        • Sad to say, Stallone can act the sox off Lundgren, but the movie was dire, most miscast cast ever…and plotline was mediocre…If only Eastwood was still in his late 30′s early 40′s he’d be THE Dredd

        • Is that your only complaint, he was too short? Of all the things, height is the easiest to fake through the camera. Plus you are never gonna find the “prefect” match.

          • I think I stated more concerns than just Stallone’s height, which is important if you’re playing Dredd, who is about six-foot-plus, and Sly is only about 5 ft 9 in! And Sly is only a marginally better actor than Dolph Lundgren, but playing Dredd doesn’t mean you have to be Shakespearian trained, it’s a pretty monotone role…

            • Actually Carlos Ezquerra -original Dredd artist/creator- said when he first conceived of Dredd visually, that he wasn’t tall or hugely muscular -he was lean- but that he was just the best at what he did and this is what made him Dredd. This makes sense.

              Dredd does need to project authority, a tough street-wise intelligence and be able to speak ‘clearly’ and succinctly so the citizens know who’s in-charge, both Stallone and Lundgren are incapable of those traits. Stallone particulalry is only good when playing ordinary bums or losers who are either on the run or down on their luck. Urban is far more capable than either of them in this respect, physically he’s leaner and not overly-built by steroids.

        • He also couldn’t speak properly.

  5. Wow, Syfy has really stepped up their game.

  6. Why does the helmet look so very odd?

  7. for a movie that was made 95,it was very good. and the new director talks bulls..t,if he never watched the first dredd how can he say,that it wasn´t good!

    • Yes he did watch the first Dread. Read the article again.

    • Can you read the article properly before commenting.

    • Please read the article again with a little more comprehension. The only person that seems to be talking bs now is you. Sorry but it’s true. Here, let me point the things you should of noticed out.

      1st) he did watch the first Dredd.
      2nd) this isnt the director of the new film “Dredd” talking. It is the CREATOR of the character Judge Dredd (co-creator to be precise). You know, like Stan Lee for Marvel? Same thing.

      So, having picked up on those 2 things you would no doubt understand that he isn’t talking bs and that his say on the matter is the most important, since he actually created Judge Dredd. He didn’t like the ’95 version not because it was cheap or something like that, but because it wasnt Dredd. It was never true to the real Judge Dredd story, and that is a fact. I myself enjoyed it many times because I was young and there was no other Dredd film out there, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s crap. That was just my fandom being so big I wanted to see past the flaws of the film.

  8. LOl i remember being all excited about the original Dredd with Stallone only to realize how bad that movie was when I got into my teens. But to me the soundtrack and the suits were bad ass on that movie and stallone was good in that role. “I am the laaawww”

  9. Another Cliff Note remake, like all remakes it’ll go from point A to Z in 90minutes or less just so hollywood can show off their special effects.
    Remakes aren’t taken serious enough so just make a sequel to the original that way the director will actually put effort into it instead of a shobby rush job.

  10. I didn’t mind the first film except for Rob Schneider’s character. However, I never read the source material, so I had nothing to compare it too. The concept of these characters is so fantastic and interesting that I’m glad we get to see another incarnation of this character.

  11. “i knew you were gonna say that…”

    • Because it isn’t him. Check the badge, it’s whoever is playing Judge Lex.

  12. I watched the old 95 movie tonight. They got so much right in terms of sets, actors (eg:Max Von Sydow), The Angel Gang (Mainly Mean Machine Angel), vehicles etc.. Even the storyline was outta the comics. They had some of the tongue in cheek stuff spot on. It’s a shame that so many little things let it down (Rob Schneider).

    Ultimately I don’t think it’s a terribly bad film, in fact it is a guilty pleasure of mine. It was very campy, but then so was every other comic book movie back then. I think the main reason it didn’t do well wasn’t because it was a bad movie (There is far worse), it’s the fact that American’s didn’t have a clue who Judge Dredd was. I mean most British people wouldn’t know who he is either. Dredd has a relatively cult following. He is very niche. Dredd simply never had and probably never will have the profile of Superman, Batman, Spider-man etc…

    But those characters have mainly got that profile by pandering to children though dumbed down cartoons, toys and merchandise. You simply can’t be a big player unless you do. Dreddy will never be seen on six year old’s lunch boxes, that’s just the nature of the character. Hopefully Dredd will be a really great movie but i’m not expecting it to rival TDKR let alone Green Lantern or the previous Fantastic four movies.

    • Completely agreed with you on all counts, but “even the storyline was outta the comics”…. ??? Dredd was a blue-eyed clone? They went there? I’ve never read the comics but that doesn’t seem right. I dunno. My main problem with it is that it tried to do too much but ultimately didn’t do enough (the clones never attacked or did anything, the film was obviously edited by the studio to a nonsensical climax, Schneider was only semi-funny), but other than that it’s severely rewatchable. I even think the storyline to Minority Report ripped off Dredd (cop accused by the very system he championed). I didn’t even mind Stallone’s height or his pronunciation of “LUUUUUUUHHHHHH!”.

      • I’m by no means an expert on Dredd, but in the comics Joe Dredd was cloned from the Chief Justice’s DNA and had a cloned brother called Rico. I think there are several stories about it including one detailing some of Dredd’s youth.

        Of course I don’t think it started out this way, but the back story kind of evolved as the comic did.

  13. I would love to see a Dredd vs Batman movie.
    Where’s hollywood on that. Why not make more comic cross overs into movies. Terminator Robocop, Terminator vs Predator……OMG I would love to see a PredatorTerminator lol.
    Batman vs Predator, Batman vs Aliens, Hulk vs Wolverine. I’d be 1st in line to see those.

    • I’ve got the Batman Vs Judge Dredd graphic novel “Judgement on gotham”, have you read that? It’s one of my faves. Simon Bisley’s art is fantastic and it’s cool seeing the Scarecrow and Judge Death team up together.

      Dredd really shows what a facist B*st*rd he is in that book. It’s great fun.

      • Yes i love that one!
        Dredd arrests Batman, ties Batman to a chair & BAM! Batman rips free & punches the crap out of Dredd lol, it was so awesome.
        The artwork amazing too. I missed the other Dredd Batman book though.
        Why can’t hollywood make that a movie.

  14. I’m hoping a “District 9″ style film will revitalise this as a fanchise myself. Point – picture does not show Urban in Dredd costume.

  15. Yawn!

    • Massive yawn at your yawn.

  16. I know I’m inviting critisism but will people stop saying that Dredd never took his helmet off. He did. Lots of times, we just never saw his real face. I say real because we saw his FULL scarred face in The Dead Man Tales, you’d see his face and hairstyle in his apartment but always in silhouette and we saw his face numerous times when he’d had it changed to infiltrate crime gangs etc.
    Now to this film. It’s been in production for (it seems) at least two years. No footage, no teaser and like was mentioned in the article, just a few production shots. Not even a decent publicity still (ala the Man of Steel pic with Superman stepping out of a broken bank vault, which was taken before any scenes were even filmed). I don’t actually mind the Stallone version. Dredd was a letdown but the look of MC1, the cursed earth scenes with the Angel gang and the overall tone/design I felt was inline with the comic.
    I want this version however to really do Dredd justice (forgive the pun) because there is a great franchise to be made out of Mega-City 1′s famous lawman. I’m starting to worry though that this might not be it.

    • The helmet is off in the first pages of the script -face in shadow- but then again you’re just being pedantic. When people say “he keeps the helmet on the whole film” they mean “we don’t see his face”.

      • People who know anything about Dredd will know that’s what is meant by “keeps his helmet on the whole film” but I don’t think it’s pedantic to point out two completely different things.
        The whole point of not showing his face in the comics was kept up for a number of reasons the main one being (Judge Dredd the Mega History. Written by Colin M Jarman and Peter Acton. Lennard Publishing)that they didn’t want to have his face altered by the differing styles of the artists who drew those first issues. The vastly different artistic styles caused major headaches for the writers and editors. When the artist Brian Bolland drew a page of Dredd and drew in his face the editors blacked it out and then sent a memo stating that his face may not be shown in future. The easiest way to do that was keep his helmet on.
        Then the mythos arose about what Dredd actually looked like. There were some interesting fanart submittances throughout the ’80′s titled “Dredd’s dark secret #…” where the readers sent in their own ideas about what he looked like including one where under his helmet was a little alien sat at a control console. Brilliant stuff.
        Did you know that when Carlos Eszquerra created him that he intended him to be portrayed as black? While Eszquerra decribed the original synopsis it was Mike McMahon who was credited with creating the actual look and it never occured to him to draw him as such.

        • I know all this, I read 2000AD since the late 70′s.

          • Then Sir, you have excellent taste.

  17. Looking forward to this.

  18. To my thinking Robocop was what Dredd should be like. They had just the right mix of satire with serious drama for that movie.

    • I heard the original Robocop script actually started out as a Judge Dredd movie script, but it ended up getting shelved until it was rewritten as “Robocop”.

      Can anyone tell me if this is true? It would certainly explain how “Robocop” has the exact feel of a Dredd comic. It’s kinda funny how the new “Dredd” movie looks more and more like the first “Robocap” movie the more I see it.

      • Pfffffttt! “Robocap”, damn my stupid fingers. You know what I meant!

      • Yes it’s true. The writers/producers of RoboCop were working at Cinergi with Ed Pressman on a Judge Dredd film, there was some sort of rights or money issue which led to Michael Miner and Ed Neumeier parting company with Pressman. They developed RoboCop separately much to the chagrin of Pressman when he saw how similar to Dredd their film was. It put the development of any Dredd film back about 5 years. One of the producers admitted to Pressman after a RoboCop screening “I’m sorry, it’s Judge Dredd isn’t it?”

  19. stallone did good with judge dredd. it was like watching robocop, the rambo movies, die hard 1,2,3 and the 2 terminator films as well as dirty harry and conan the barbarian all rolled in to one. i would have loved to see schwarzenegger or dolph lundgren or even mel gibson play judge dredd. armand assante was great as stallone’s evil clone brother. he should work with stallone again in a rambo film. or expendables movie

  20. Excellent movie did an incredible job of duplicating the style of the Judge Dredd comics. Good storyline great actors and camera work and effects I would give it 10/10.