Karl Urban will don metallic gold shoulder pads, heavy armor, and a red-lined helmet – complete with identity-hiding visors – to play the one-man judge/jury/executioner force that is Judge Dredd in the upcoming comic book flick, Dredd.

Variety is reporting that Lionsgate has picked up U.S. distribution rights to the new cinematic take on the titular futuristic officer. The $45 million Dredd will be shot with 3D cameras (don’t worry, James Cameron, no post-production conversion) and begins filming in Cape Town, South Africa next week.

The Judge Dredd comic book is a dark, neo-Noir action tale set in the futuristic world of Mega City One, the “long oasis of quasi-civilization” on Cursed (re: post-apocalyptic) Earth. Order is maintained by officers that have the power to not only enforce the law, but also sentence criminals and (if need be) execute them on the spot. Dredd is the most powerful of these “street judges” and defends the citizens of Mega City One against an array of dangerous deviants – though, unlike a lot of other comic book heroes, he actually ages through the course of his adventures.

Dredd was created back in 1977 and has been featured in the British sci-fi magazine 2000 AD ever since. The character was brought to life on the big screen once before, in the form of Sylvester Stallone (see below). The 1995 Judge Dredd is not exactly considered an example of high caliber cinema but, we can’t lie, it’s a guilty pleasure – if only for the scenes where Stallone says the word “law.”

Sylvester Stallone as Judge Dredd.

Alex Garland – the scriber behind 28 Days Later and this year’s Never Let Me Go – penned the script for Dredd, which is expected to be much grittier in tone and atmosphere than the (unintentionally?) campy Stallone version. If nothing else, at least the Judge won’t be partnered with Rob Schneider this time around.

The Judge Dredd character is very much a morally ambiguous protagonist who lacks the mainstream appeal of a good ol’ boy like Peter Parker, and this new Dredd movie is far from being the most anticipated 3D comic book flick on the horizon. If Garland and director Peter Travis do the man justice then they could have a solid cult hit on their hands. An early sign of promise: The Judge WILL be keeping his helmet on at all times, as detailed by the original graphic novels.

Dredd is expected to reach theaters by 2012.

Source: Variety