In Mega City One’s order and chaos, there is only one rule to follow…don’t break the Law!!!
Judge Dredd was created by Writer John Wagner, Artist Carlos Ezquerra and with Editor Patt Mills. The law enforcer first appeared in “2000 AD” No. 2 on March 5, 1977, where the character was based on the comic strip that was published through IPC Magazine in 1977. The company later merged with Fleetway Publications since 1999 after which, in June 2000 was bought by one of Europe’s leading games maker Rebellion Developments. Currently, the series resides with IDW Publishing since 2012.
The film was directed by Pete Travis (Endgame) who won the British Academy Television Award for “Omagh” and with Writer / Producer Alex Garland (28 Days Later) who had meritorious works with Director Danny Boyle’s films. The two collaborated with the help of Production companies left and right seeking enough financial leverage from Reliance Big Pictures and IM Global to get things started while they pick out the cast one at a time.
We could also consider this as a reboot from Sylvester Stallone’s irredeemable film “Judge Dredd” in 1995. In this new take, Alex wrote the script while traversing through different storylines but was actually more inclined to do a shorter one which would focus more on Dredd’s daily routine as a cop doing his job and exercising his duties no holds barred! While the setting is still the same with the Cursed Earth where tall structures of Mega City One rise above its denizens taking into account lives that trudge on their chaotic wasteland!
Anthony Dod Mantle (Just Like Home) as Cinematographer is also given praise seeing how he capitalized on the needed ambiance while incorporating filming and for the drug Slo-Mo being used by the film’s antagonists as a channel for escapism and self-destruction at the same time! The sequencing that Alex and 1999’s BAFTA Winner for Best Visual Effects Jon Thum (The Matrix) used with different angles, colorization and shot framing to extensively capture the aestheticity of this hallucinogen which gave the surrealism which suits best the 3D effects. They shot on location in Johannesburg and Cape Town Studios using RED MX with Multiple and high speed cameras that made the environment looked visceral while injecting VFX animation for the overall layout of the city.
Enter Karl Urban (RED) a rising star at his current standpoint with more lucrative projects coming his way especially with huge success in the box office since the epic “Lord of the Rings” and as part of the new crew of “Star Trek” under J.J. Abrams direction! This guy does not actually need mug shots for his perpetrators! As Judge Joseph Dredd, Karl was perfect for the job, seeing that his acting compliments the character completely he was able to instill the needed emotionless angst, decisiveness, tactically adept and be truly mean looking without the need to be bulky as the comic books imply in order to traverse the Peach Trees, a strong hold for the main antagonist where he needs to survive an 800 m high of a gargantuan building.
It was very well executed on how the Judge with his rookie partner was able to kick start a highway speed chase which lead them into fighting for their own lives. Strategically being able to target specific the thugs while literally crawling up the block as if it was a game going against the “Big Boss” at the end of each level but the only difference is he’s not shooting paint balls nor he has three lives! We also need to introduce the Lawgiver the standard sidearm of a Judge capable of firing different kinds of bullets that will actually lessen body bags at the morgue! It is fingerprint activated and can only be reconfigured by Senior Judges when needed; it also has voice command that allows each projectile used to be specific for the intended situation thus maximizing results and of course the corpses…
While speaking of which, Olivia Thirlby (What Goes Up) serves as mutant psychic extraordinaire known as Judge Cassandra Anderson, an “on the job trainee” who must first impress his supervisor plus survive an ordeal on her first assignment. Her film resume has been quite extensive but with poor performances in the box-office and also with only supporting roles. That is why versatility is mandate in terms of acting at least no one is left behind when it comes to signing up for the job and be “voted” by the movie going public as a true talent. Olivia shines here by not just doing her part to clean up trash and get her hands dirty through surveillance, mind interrogation, counter-intelligence and a little ass kicking!
Her majesty Lena Headey (Whore) plays Ma-Ma short for Madeline Madrigal a former prostitute who killed her pimp in order to take over and control the whole Peach Tree Block. Taking down the other gangs, she was able to capitalize on mass producing the drug that really signifies a trip sensation while slowing down your actual perception and experiences. You won’t know if you’re dead or alive in Ma-Ma’s case, she was sentenced to fly 200 stories high! Lena did well to compensate the needed wickedness in her portrayal as a villain more so as a woman who gets toe-in-toe with a chest thumping cop who would not stop unless everyone who was involved is dead or been brought to justice one way or the other.
The film never lets down when it comes to action! It was finely tuned and paced when it was needed to be coherent and does absolute justice to its adaptation of the comic books. The city was honest and warranted especially coming from a place like Africa where violence was experienced on a daily basis. A flatbed of dry rock stagnates with the people that were destroyed from the previous Atomic Wars of 2070. Fascinating how they were able to survive with a fictionalized setting, where mutants and cult extremists fight for a place literally called hell! Going back to reality, the film could have received better box-office returns with 35 million receipts against its budget of 45 million and if only there was a better marketing involved especially with an R Rating that encompasses fans of the comic book and for those action junkies demographic! While on another aspect, the premise was similar with “The Raid” where a S.W.A.T. Team tries to apprehend a ganglord in a fortress like apartment building!
This was a very unsettling but typical world of the Judges and the producers were able to deliver what kind of person does to be a last resort, it is empirical at best that this is how it is and if there was even the slightest of hope it would have been relayed already and that would end the Judges career which will be anti-climactic. They have one objective, they fight on as they seek and carry out what needs to be done: to Judge, to act as Jury and Execute no questions asked!
10 minutes up, going back to the streets preventing crime!