Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Dreddful Film

There's a new Judge Dredd movie coming out, complete with trailer. Forget the Sly Stallone vehicle from the nineties. This at least looks like it's trying to be the real deal.

Dredd stories can be found primarily in the weekly comic 2000AD. I used to read 2000AD all the time when I was younger. On the magazine shelf, between the Beano and the Dandy, any child could pick up it up. It was filled with bleak, dystopian stories of war torn futures, violent epics and sordid tales. Adults were completely unaware of the fact that their child had just acquired the comic book equivalent of a movie marked 15 and over, or even eighteen. Adult themes, gore, and even the odd bit of nudity were the rewards for bypassing your parent's rules of decency. Everybody was none the wiser.

While the movie isn't going to win any oscars or anything like that, I'm quietly optimistic about the depiction of Dredd this time. It looks like they got the tone somewhat right. I just hope they don't try to make us sympathise with Dredd, or give him some weepy back story like the Stallone film from the nineties. Dredd is an asshole, who follows the extreme laws of this extreme future to the letter. He'd blow your head off for a parking ticket if it was written in the law book!

In the comics, Mega City 1 and it's inhabitants played as much of a part as Judge Dredd. This seems to be present in the new film also, going by the trailer. People are mercilessly thrown in prison ( or worse ) due to the fascistic regime that Dredd and the judges peddled in a city of 60 million plus. There was a subtle kind of satire going on. Judge Dredd is basically a fascist. This was a lot of fun.

There was one story I remember which stood out, though I'm pretty vague on all the details. It was basically the story of a man who had a really bad day, where Murphy's Law had kicked into action, and anything that could go wrong, did go wrong. He ends up encountering Judge Dredd, who arrests him for what would today be considered a minor offense, and he is given 10 years in jail. Like Starship Troopers, Judge Dredd was never overt in its critique of fascism. It was much more subtle than that. And, like in Verhoeven's film, you could just enjoy the ride, following the characters who probably wouldn't even know the meaning of a 'conscientious objector', or would punch them in the face if they encountered one of them.

Verhoeven would probably be the perfect fit to direct a Judge Dredd film. He always manages to find the right balance between satire, ultra violence and action, such as in Robocop or Total Recall. A man can dream. It looks as though the makers of this film have got it at least partially right this time though.

Now, if I were to give them any bit of advice, I would say just make sure it's ultra violent, that Dredd doesn't remove his mask, don't make him sympathetic ( if anything he is an anti-hero ) and remember that there is this undercurrent of satire throughout which ought to be subtle in nature.

And please don't make him sound or look like Sylvester Stallone.

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