The long-rumored Judge Dredd reboot is set to start shooting this fall in Johannesburg.

According to the film’s press release, Reliance BIG Pictures will finance the $45 million title, which will be directed by Pete Travis (Vantage Point) for DNA Films – and released in 3D.

Alex Garland (28 Days Later) is writing the Judge Dredd script treatment – and will share production credits with Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich, who have produced films including 28 Days Later28 Weeks Later, and Sunshine.

John Wagner, who shares co-creator credit for the Judge Dredd character (and has a creative consultant position on the new film) offered his thoughts on Dredd’s next installment:

“Alex Garland’s script is faithful to the original concept that made Judge Dredd a favourite bad-ass hero. It’s a high-octane slay ride through the dark underbelly of the vast future city. A fan pleaser. With their track record, I have every faith in Alex Garland, Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich.”

Garland appears to have a solid handle on the tone of the franchise, something lacking in Stallone’s Judge Dredd adaptation:

“I grew up reading Judge Dredd. The incredible writers and artists of 2000 AD were formative influences on me. Andrew, Allon and I have developed this adaptation of Judge Dredd with an emphasis on adrenaline and realism, but with all the scale and spectacle of Mega-City One. We think Pete’s propulsive, edgy style is a perfect match for the project.”

Garland helped revitalize zombie films, so why not Judge Dredd? It’s good to see the franchise being led by a group of filmmakers who are comfortable with getting their hands dirty and uninterested in compromising their vision.

The original Dredd suffered greatly because of compromises in the adaptation process. The film was shooting for a PG-13 rating, and despite ultimately accepting an R rating, it still lacked the heavy tone of the comic-book world (not to mention a worthy adversary for Dredd).

Of course, the most egregious compromise was making the title character go helmetless – simply because Stallone was underneath.

You betrayed the law!

A lesser-known comic-book property like Judge Dredd is at a greater risk for losing sight of itself in the adaptation process, as studios strip out the essentials of what made the character so interesting in the first place – just to market the film to the same comic book audience foaming at the mouth for a new Iron Man. If Dredd is going to be remade, it’s important that the filmmakers are fans of the comic, so it’s reassuring to see Wagner on board as a creative consultant – though, I can’t remember the co-creator having reservations about Stallone’s Dredd at the time either.

No casting details have been announced at this point – but with a Fall start date, an announcement should be en route soon.

What do you think of the direction of the Judge Dredd reboot? Who should step into the helmeted head of Judge Dredd?