The Dredd reboot may already be released overseas, but North American audiences still have a few days left to wait. In anticipation of the film's opening, a new video has been released, which gives new insight into the arsenal and armor of Mega-City One's Judges.
Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) will absolutely hog the spotlight as the grim embodiment of capital punishment, but there are sure to be plenty of science fiction and action fans who find just as much to love about the gear, the gun, and the motorcycle.
Rather than recreating exactly what was seen in the comic, in real life - as the 1995 Sylvester Stallone film adaptation did - the focus is on the greater believability. Where the previous film captured the look and feel of the character fairly well, the plot and forces at work soon escalated far beyond a single man's duty as enforcer of law and order. Judge Dredd creator John Wagner has been quite kind about that project's shortcomings, but places most of his optimism for the reboot in its plot being concerned, first and foremost, with "the essential job of judging."
So instead of making fans happy by dressing Dredd in a flashy, gold-plated set of shoulder pads and patent leather, the minds at work here are more intent on the outfit and equipment making sense. From the very first images released it was clear that director Peter Travis' adaptation would take place in a world where almost nothing could be polished to a shine, let alone an active Judge's badge and pauldrons. Functionality over form may not always be the best choice in the genre of science fiction, but there's no denying that Karl Urban's gruff, grimy Dredd is more intimidating in action than Stallone's spit-polished version.
It's this commitment to realism that is behind almost all aspects of Dredd's costume and equipment. No space-aged laser blaster for Judge Dredd, only a compact 9mm pistol designed to function as it would in real life (or close to it). It may not be the most impressive version of the 'Lawgiver,' but there's no denying that it fits the overall look and feel. The same can be said for the body armor and 'Lawmaster' motorcycles, which make it blatantly clear that the man in the suit, not the suit itself, are what criminals are going to be intimidated by.
That design philosophy and internally-consistent logic speaks as much to the costume design as it does to the main antagonists in the film: producers and dealers of the drug referred to as 'Slow-Mo.' The hallucinogen allows the brain to perceive the world at just 1% of its actual speed, and lies at the center of the crime ring that both Dredd and Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) are sent to disrupt.
It would be easy to write off the drug's effects as merely an opportunity to produce some truly incredible visual effects shots (which it certainly does), but the fact that writer Alex Garland has come up with a drug that would grant residents of the filthy, decaying world of Mega-City One a chance to experience something beautiful makes sense - though ranted, the exploration into the drug-induced experience is unlikely to go particularly deep. However, from what Garland has been saying about the possible direction for sequels, there's plenty more ideas to pick up where this film leaves off.
While most of the strength of Dredd lies in its choreography, attitude, and commitment to delivering something that fans will at least respect, there's no question that this attention to detail is a good way of setting the film up for success.But even if the film only manages to be a pulpy, niche action movie, star Karl Urban will be more than happy.
How do you feel about the new look as opposed to that of the comics? Is the darker, more grounded tone something that will get at the real attitude of the source material, or is it just not Judge Dredd without golden eagle shoulder pads?
Dredd releases in theaters on September 21, 2012.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
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