DREDD Has To Overcome Comparisons To Stallone's Version & THE RAID: REDEMPTION
Screenwriter Alex Garland and Judge Dredd creator chat with Empire about the challenges that the new Dredd faces, like making people realize that it's not a remake to Sylvester Stallone's version. Click the jump to check it out.
Empire sat down with Dredd screenwriter Alex Garland and John Wagner, the creator of Judge Dredd. It's a fantastic interview, a must read for any fan of Dredd.
One of the topics that I found to be most interesting is that Judge Dredd is one of the few comic book Characters that actually ages. When Wagner is asked if an ending has been written for Dredd, he replies no. He believes the character will live on past his own life. At this point Alex Garland steps in and pleads with Wagner, saying that he is the only person that should have the say on Dredd's fate. Which I think we all can agree on. By the end of this brief discussion Wagner teases that perhaps he'll write the script for it and leave it in his will.
The reason I bring this up is that Dredd does age, so at some point in our lifetime we will most likely see the final chapter in his story arc. That is something that you can't say for most popular comic book characters.
Is Judge Dredd as well-known in the US as it is in the UK? Is it irritating that half the internet coverage of the film is calling it a Stallone remake?
John Wagner: (Growls) Yes, that is irritating, because it’s not a remake: it’s a proper-make. I’d say maybe 30 per cent of American comic fans are aware of 2000 AD. That’s a guess, but it certainly hasn’t got the kind of profile it has over here. It’s growing though. They’re starting to put out a lot of compilations and 2000AD albums and Dredd face flannels. They’re starting to sell fairly well.
Will that be the mission at Comic-Con: to sell the film as a more authentic version of Dredd?
Alex Garland: I’ve never been to Comic-Con, but I’m certainly aware from this side of the Atlantic that it’s a very important part of film marketing now, even when the films are not directly linked to a comic. We are connected to a comic, so it must surely be a good way of raising the profile of the film.
Wagner: I think we’re fighting the first movie to some extent. This one is so different. The link is really just the name and uniform, and that’s it. The first film really had nothing to do with Judge Dredd, whereas this one is all Dredd.
Alex, why did you choose to tell this particular story? It doesn’t appear to be based on any particular story from the comics: were there any touchstones?
Garland: It was quite a protracted process really. The first crack I had at the script was Judge Death. That didn’t work out, essentially because it’s very hard to tell that story, which is a sort of riff on the whole Judge system, without having previously set that system up. It presupposed too much knowledge on the part of the viewer, and it’s also deeply surreal and extreme in a lot of ways. So that first script just taught us that we needed to be more grounded and focused. There were others we considered, like Origins and the Pro-Democracy Terrorists [America], but instead of going for one of those really big, well-known stories, what I ended up doing was basing it on the kind of stories that John would do not as the big, long epics, but more like the day-in-the-life, shorter strips, which are basically about Dredd just as a cop in this dystopian city. It took a fair bit of getting to that point. I started writing Dredd when we were in post-production on Sunshine and pre-production on 28 Weeks Later. I finished the first draft on the set of 28 Weeks Later.
It’s a very toned-down uniform from the comics, and even from the previous film; there’s no eagle on his shoulder, for example.
Garland: Yeah, it was about functionality, which also has to do with the approach we were taking to the film. Again, another thing John and I talked about in our first conversation was that we always wanted to give a sense of reality. We wanted to shoot in a real tower block and then embellish it with CGI later. We wanted to a believable extension of our own world, as opposed to a more Fifth Element flight of fantasy. In terms of the look and aesthetic of the film, one of the most important people would have to be the DoP Anthony Dod Mantle. I also really want to namecheck Jon Thum, who ran the VFX with Michael Elson. What those guys did was fundamental.
John, were you OK with all that? Did you have issues with anything?
Wagner: I had some reservations about it, but by the time it was all wrapped up I was pretty convinced that it all worked fine. I like the look of it now. It was a slight worry at the beginning, but I think it works really well. Practically, as Alex explained, the uniform Dredd wears in the comics just wouldn’t work in actual fact! Even the bike... They found in the first film that the bikes wouldn’t actually steer because the tyres are so wide. So you expect adaptation. You don’t expect everything to be exactly as it is in the comic, and I think they’ve done a pretty nice job.
Garland: Can I namecheck something else though? There’s another Judge Dredd film being made at the moment called Judge Minty. It’s a fan film, but it’s highly impressive, and in that film, which you can see clips of and a kind of trailer they’ve cut on YouTube, they’ve taken a very faithful approach to Dredd’s uniform, and the bike, and Mega City One. It’s much more CG-heavy than our film, but it does show that there’s another way of doing it that works. I think it was just because we wanted a big emphasis on realism that we had to make those changes. You could follow the Minty approach to its natural conclusion, and I think it would be completely consistent and would also work. It’s a bit like all the different artists that have drawn Dredd over the years, whether it be Mike McMahon or Carlos Ezquerra or Jock or whoever. They all bring something different in terms of the aesthetic; there’s room for lots of variety.
The Raid has arrived in the last couple of months and Dredd is suddenly attracting a lot of comparisons to that, even though you were obviously already in production two years ago. Is that a problem for you?
Garland: I guess it’s just unfortunate timing, and we’ll see if it ends up mattering. At least what we’ve done though won’t take away from the incredible achievements of that film. One thing that one can be aware of, having worked on a film with a very similar narrative, is that they’ve done something pretty extraordinary considering their resources. They’ve done something pretty extraordinary anyway! So all power to them.
Click Here To Read The Full Interview
The future America is an irradiated waste land. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies Mega City One- a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the urban cops called “Judges” who possess the combined powers of judge, jury and instant executioner. Known and feared throughout the city, Dredd (Karl Urban) is the ultimate Judge, challenged with ridding the city of its latest scourge – a dangerous drug epidemic that has users of “Slo-Mo” experiencing reality at a fraction of its normal speed.
During a routine day on the job, Dredd is assigned to train and evaluate Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), a rookie with powerful psychic abilities thanks to a genetic mutation. A heinous crime calls them to a neighborhood where fellow Judges rarely dare to venture- a 200 story vertical slum controlled by prostitute turned drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) and her ruthless clan. When they capture one of the clan’s inner circle, Ma-Ma overtakes the compound’s control center and wages a dirty, vicious war against the Judges that proves she will stop at nothing to protect her empire. With the body count climbing and no way out, Dredd and Anderson must confront the odds and engage in the relentless battle for their survival.
The film opens in 3D September 21st.
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