Judge Dredd's first trip to the big screen back in '95 is a silly film for a lot of reasons, but the main reason it failed to turn into a franchise is because of how far it strayed from its comic roots. Its box office rejection was hardly a case of fanboy revolt, however. Audiences at large didn't care how close it was to the comics, the problem was the comics simply have a more interesting story, characters and tone to them. The movie, however, essentially turned Sylvester Stallone's version of Judge Dredd and the people surrounding him into shiny, wacky Future Cops. It's no surprise, then, that John Wagner, the writer-creator of the comics, thought the original film was a lame, Hollywood-ized version of the real Judge Dredd. It is a relief, then, that Wagner is giving the new film his blessing.
Directed by Pete Travis (Vantage Point), written by Alex Gardland (Sunshine, 28 Days Later), and starring Karl Urban (Star Trek) as the titular character, this new film, with the truncated title of just Dredd, is looking to get back to the comics roots. Wagner explained in a recent interview with the LA Times exactly how it'll go about doing that:
GB: The new film looks like a very different beast than the 1995 one — no Rob Schneider appearance this time around. Tell us three specific things about the project that make you optimistic.
JW: The plot is about Dredd and his world. It’s impossible to cover every aspect of the character and his city – perhaps that was one of the failings of the first film; they tried to do too much and ended up with not a lot. “Dredd” homes in on the essential job of judging – instant justice in a violent future city. I like the actors, they’re well cast and they handled their parts well. Olivia Thirlby is perfect as Anderson, the young psi judge. She gives the character a touching vulnerability. Karl Urban will not remove his helmet and will not kiss his costar.
Simple and to the point, we like it. Now if only he'd revealed that Rob Schneider's "Ferfee" actually has a cameo in Dredd, but is shot in the face in the first five minutes. But hey, a permahelmet Dredd, no forced love connection, and a career judge, jury and executioner is enough to get us excited for when the film hits on September 21st.