Dredd, aka Judge Dredd 3D, is mere weeks away from starting principal photography in South Africa and the star, Karl Urban, has been talking about the film (presumably while out doing the promotional rounds for the Bruce Willis action-flick, Red).
One of the main topics of conversation: how Dredd will compare to (and differ from) Sylvester Stallone’s failed 1995 film.
Urban spoke briefly with Empire about Dredd and while he was hesitant to discuss the finer points of the film, he does appear to have a lot of enthusiasm for the project.
The actor says that the 3D movie will stay true to creator John Wagner’s source material, 2000 AD, but it will also have something new to offer:
“I’m hesitant to define it before it’s actually been made. Alex Garland has done a fantastic job of writing a script that’s faithful to the world Wagner created, yet completely fresh in its execution.”
The star also has his own opinions on why the 1995 adaptation starring Sylvester Stallone failed to capture the essence of the original comic book:
“I think somewhere along the line Stallone’s film was a missed opportunity. As soon as he took his helmet off the enigma was blown. Our film is going to be darker in tone, and we’ve got the benefit of modern filmmaking and technology to help us.”
To call the Stallone film a “missed opportunity” is something of a compliment. While Judge Dredd wasn’t a total disaster (there’s some good set design, and the Versace-designed costumes are pretty cool), it featured a diluted version of the character – and failed to portray the satirical tone of the comic since Stallone’s Dredd was geared towards a younger audience.
Of course, the removal of Dredd’s iconic helmet was also a major issue. Dredd is a mythical character and curiosity about what is beneath the helmet helps to propel fan interest. To see what is “under the hood” destroys the mystique, that’s why casting a non-A-list actor is the only way to go.
In a way, the best big screen incarnation of Dredd so far has been 1987’s RoboCop. Paul Verhoeven took a lot of elements of the Dredd character, as well as his Mega City environment, and brought it to the screen in hard R-rated fashion. The satire, the violence, and ruthlessness of the lead character delivered a film that was more like Dredd than Danny Cannon’s lacklustre effort.
Urban appears to understand the importance of Dredd’s helmet and will be leaving his face covered for the duration of the film’s running time – but don’t expect he’ll merely rely on his tough-guy jawline for two hours:
“You’re taught as an actor that if you take away the eyes you have to think about what you’re left with – there’s the voice; there’s body language. How a character does what he does speaks volumes. So those are the tools I will have to employ.”
It’ll be interesting to see if this new incarnation does capture the tone of Wagner’s work, and if the low(ish) $45 million budgeted 3D film will still be visually impressive – and have the scope of a $100 million + production. Early news seems to indicate yes. Producers have chosen a solid actor who can bring Dredd’ physicality to the screen and by shooting in South Africa (like District 9) director Pete Travis should get more bang for his buck, as well as some impressive vistas.
Dredd is set to lens in ten weeks, so it won’t be long before we get our first glimpse as to what the future has in store.
Keep reading Screen Rant for more news on Dredd (or Dredd 3D) as we get it.