This summer has delivered some proper comic book adaptations. Starting off with a frankly fabulous Avengers Assemble that rewrote the book on superhero ensemble movies.
Then came the reboot of Spider man who although wasn’t a patch on Avengers, it was still a very well put together construct and certainly as good as any of Sam Raimi’s takes on Spidey.
Next up was Nolan’s concluding Dark Knight movie which set the bar for heavyweight, serious superhero film making. A beautifully staged superhero opera, no holds barred, even the 3 hours didn’t phase.
And then at the end of the summer came Dredd. Perhaps the movie with the least expectation, probably due to the appalling Stallone version and the perceived international lack of appetite for the niche British comic book icon. Certainly in the shadow of the big boys in 2012.
For Brit comic book readers of a certain age, 2000 AD and Judge Dredd was essential reading and supplemented the Marvel and DC universe ably. Dredd was the iconic star of the show and his savage brand of justice suited the times – a kind of Dirty Harry in the future – judge, jury and executioner, all rolled into one. And I loved him. The character was relentlessly unmerciful and the stories were incredibly violent. The future world where Dredd lived was not a nice place to be and he simply reflected his world. I’m a connoisseur of the artists who drew him (don’t get me started) and the style influenced a lot of my early art.
The Stallone movie version of Judge Dredd was OK, but it arrived in a time of other average interpretations of comic book characters. So when the remake was announced it was kind of low-key. When I hear about a remake it’s always…OK, what’s the story, and why?
But do you know what? They’ve gone and secretly made a no compromise version of Dredd that I thought was impossible. The comics were genuinely so violent that any movie that tried to stay faithful would be delivering some pretty awful scenes. And yes, they’ve done that. The dark heart of Dredd and the city he judges is faithfully recreated in the 2012 movie, with Karl Urban (Bones in the recent Star Trek reboot) playing a stony faced Dredd – and full marks for this, not taking his helmet off once. Outstanding.
I suspect that only Dredd and 2000 AD aficionados will appreciate this movie, but boy, how they will. If they made any money from this, there’s plenty of Dredd content to use – The Cursed Earth or my favourite, the Judge Death story arc.
Anyway, here’s a few fanboy images to get your juices going – I thought it would be useful to compare the comic book Dredd with the movie version. They’ve done a cracking job.