It's no secret that Dredd didn't do too hot at the box office. And that was a shame, too, since it's a lean, stunning, badass action movie that shatters the goofy image of the character and his dystopian world that the Sylvester Stallone Judge Dredd unfortunately gave us over a decade ago. Fortunately, though, the film is thriving on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download.
Dredd was the number one seller when it hit store shelves earlier this month, sparking new buzz that the film's second life on home video might be strong enough to get it the sequel it deserves. But if that's the case, will director Pete Travis come back? We chatted with the British helmer to talk about this and the film in general, so if you're already a fan of Dredd, keep your fingers crossed and read on.
Movies.com: There is something about Dredd that seems destined for cult embrace. Was it designed that way?
Pete Travis: I think when you're making a film you always want to make it for as broad an audience as you can. There will be people who love it because they're fans of the comic, so you want to make it for them. But there are plenty of people who don't know the comic who you want to excite as well. I certainly wasn't an avid reader of the comic as a kid. Alex [Garland] and Karl [Urban] both were. I kind of fell in love with him through making the film.
What we wanted to do was give Dredd a voice and let his character from the original material shine through. Hopefully that appeals to fans of the comic, but it should also appeal to people who just want a kick-ass action movie. You don't need to know anything about him. John Wagner had a great description for him, which could apply to a lot of movie heroes, which is that he was a good guy and a badass and that's an intoxicating combination. You can say that about Dirty Harry or RoboCop. People love those kind of heroes who don't say much but who sort out the world.
Movies.com: It's notable that, for as stylized as it is, there aren't grand scale, over-the-top moments. Was that a creative choice or a logistical one?
Travis: I think Alex tried a couple different ways to write the screenplay with a couple big, epic ideas for Dredd and his world, but they didn't quite work because you needed a pre-knowledge of it. But for this story, you're just thrown into his world. He's a badass cop -- a judge, jury and executioner. He takes a rookie to see if she's up for it and that journey, through her eyes, allows us to see who he is. It's a simple idea and it allows us to not need to explain where he comes from, but to just show it as a day in his life.
What makes the film exciting is Dredd. He's a hero, but he's scary as hell. You're glad he's around, but you don't want to invite him over for dinner. He's a necessity in a world where everything is messed up. And since we see the world through his eyes, except for a few parts where we show Ma-Ma and the effects of slo-mo, he translated Dredd from the comics beautifully while coming up with a wonderful story that let's you understand everything you need to know in a first film.
Movies.com: There's such a profound amount of violence in the film. Were there any moments were you watched it and thought, we need to edit this back a bit?
Travis: The thing about Dredd is that he's hard. The harder you make him, the more people will like him. Alex really wanted to be true to the original source material and there's no compromises in the comic. He lives his life by a simple rule and there's no grey in his world, and violence is a part of that world because it's a kind of postapocalyptic America that's in chaos and this police state exists to control it. We wanted to say something about violence in a "be careful what you wish for" sort of film. Everyone has moments where they're frightened by the violence around them and they'd like Dredd to come and sort it out for them. It's a future where you can sort of touch it.
Movies.com: This Blu-ray is one of the first ever to have an 11.1 audio track. How did you guys approach the sound design and was it done so discretely to push technical boundaries or creative ones?
Travis: Alex [Garland] had a very strong idea, even in the script stage, of how he wanted it to sound. What was a joy about working on this with a guy like Alex is he worked very closely with the sound designers. They created an extraordinary landscape that really captures the richness of the world. The inspiration part of that was Alex and the way he works with him, and it really made the movie sing.
I haven't heard the Blu-ray version yet, but if it captures anything like the life in the theater, it'll be extraordinary. I think the 3D cinematography, especially in the slo-mo sequences, is pretty groundbreaking. That's all down to Anthony Dod Mantle, he's done something with 3D and high-speed cinematography that I've not seen anyone else do. I think that's one of the things that makes it such a visual experience. It just washes over you and even though you're watching people's heads be blown off, it's beautiful.
Movies.com: What projects are attracting you next?
Travis: For me it's always the script. I've got a script I'm writing myself from an original story. It's sort of a cross between Silence of the Lambs and Se7en. It's always the script that drives me. I'm grateful that Alex wrote such an incredible script and let me step into that world.
Movies.com: If there ever is a Dredd 2, do you think you'll return to direct it?
Travis: Who knows what will happen in the future? I just loved making this one. I hope it's successful enough. I know Alex has lots of other stories he wants to tell, and I think Karl is just the epitome of Dredd. I really hope there's an opportunity to tell some more stories together and take him on another journey.
Also, don't forget about our interview with the man Pete Travis readily credits as the driving force behind Dredd, writer and producer Alex Garland.
Follow along on Twitter: @PeterSHall and @Moviesdotcom.