Dredd theatrical poster
|Written by|| Alex Garland|
Judge Dredd by:
|Directed by||Pete Travis|
|Produced by||Alex Garland|
|Music by||Paul Leonard-Morgan|
|Cinematography by||Anthony Dod Mantle|
|Editing by||Mark Eckersley|
|Distributed by||Entertainment Film Distributors|
|Release Date||September 21, 2012|
|Run time||95 mins.|
Dredd (also known as Dredd 3D) is a 2012 science fiction action film directed by Pete Travis and written and produced by Alex Garland. It is based on the 2000 AD comic strip Judge Dredd and its eponymous character created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra. Karl Urban stars as Judge Dredd, a law enforcer given the power of judge, jury and executioner in a vast, dystopian metropolis called Mega City One that lies in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Dredd and his inexperienced partner, Judge Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), are forced to bring order to a 200-story mega block of flats and deal with its drug lord, Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) and her army of thugs. Contrary to popular belief, Dredd is not a superhero film.
Garland began writing the script in 2006, although the development of a new Judge Dredd film adaptation, unrelated to the 1995 film Judge Dredd, was not announced until December 2008. Produced by British studio DNA Films, Dredd began principal photography, using 3D cameras throughout, in November 2010. Filming took place on practical sets and locations in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Critics were generally positive about the film's visual effects, casting and action, while criticism focused on a perceived lack of the satirical elements that are found in the source comic and on excessive violence. Despite the positive critical response, the film lost money at the box office. Dredd saw greater success following its home release, and has since been recognized as a cult film. The theatrical gross made a sequel unlikely, but home media sales and fan efforts endorsed by 2000 AD's publisher Rebellion have maintained the possibility of a second film.
The future United States is a dystopic irradiated wasteland known as the Cursed Earth. On the east coast lies Mega City One, a violent, 450-mile metropolis stretching from Boston to Washington, D.C with 800 million residents and 17,000 crimes reported daily. There, an addictive new drug called "Slo-Mo" has been introduced, which slows the user's perception of time to 1% of normal. The only force for order are the Judges, who act as judge, jury and executioner. Judge Dredd is tasked by the Chief Judge with evaluating new recruit Cassandra Anderson, a powerful psychic who failed the aptitude tests to be a Judge.
In Peach Trees, a 200-story high mega block tenemant, drug lord Madeline Madrigal, also known as "Ma-Ma", executes three rogue drug dealers by having them skinned, infused with Slo-Mo and thrown down the atrium from the top floor. Dredd and Anderson are sent in to investigate and learn of a drug den, which they raid. They arrest a thug named Kay, whom Anderson's mind probe reveals to be the one who carried out the drug dealers' execution. Dredd decides to take him in for questioning. In response, Ma-Ma's forces seize the tower's security control room and seal the building, using its blast shields under the pretense of a security test, preventing the Judges from leaving or summoning help.
Ma-Ma orders Dredd and Anderson killed, forcing the Judges to fight their way through dozens of armed thugs. Arriving at the 76th floor, the Judges are assaulted by Ma-Ma and her men with Vulcan cannons that rip through the walls, killing numerous residents. The Judges breach an outer wall and are able to call for backup. Meanwhile, Ma-Ma sends her henchman Caleb to confirm the Judges' deaths. When they meet, Dredd throws Caleb off the tower in full view of Ma-Ma. Dredd suspects Ma-Ma is desperate to keep Kay quiet and beats him for information. Anderson intervenes and uses her psychic abilities to read Kay's mind, learning that Peach Trees is the center of Slo-Mo production and distribution. Anderson suggests they hide while awaiting assistance but Dredd insists they move up the tower and pursue Ma-Ma. Judges Volt and Guthrie respond to Dredd's call, but Ma-Ma's computer expert denies them entry by persuading them the call is part of the security drill. A pair of armed teens confront Dredd and Anderson, allowing Kay to disarm and overpower Anderson. Kay then escapes with her as hostage, and takes her to Ma-Ma's base on the top floor.
While Dredd works his way towards Ma-Ma, she calls in the corrupt Judges Lex, Kaplan, Chan and Alvarez. The four relieve Volt and Guthrie from duty and are allowed into the building. Dredd encounters Chan and is suspicious that he does not ask about Anderson's status. Seeing his cover blown, Chan attacks Dredd, who kills him. Meanwhile, Kay tries to execute Anderson with her own weapon, but the pistol's DNA scanner does not recognize him and explodes, taking his arm off before Anderson kills him. She escapes and later encounters Kaplan, whom she promptly kills after reading her mind. Elsewhere, Dredd kills Alvarez but runs out of ammunition, and is shot by Lex in the abdomen. Lex moves in to execute Dredd, but Dredd stalls him long enough for Anderson to arrive and kill Lex. Anderson and Dredd obtain the code to Ma-Ma's apartment from her computer expert and confront her. Ma-Ma tells Dredd that in the case of her death, a device on her wrist will detonate explosives on the top floors, destroying the building. Dredd reasons that the detonator's signal will not reach the explosives from the ground floor, so he forces Ma-Ma to inhale Slo-Mo and throws her down the atrium to her death.
In the aftermath, Anderson accepts that she has failed her evaluation by getting disarmed, and leaves. The Chief Judge asks Dredd about Anderson's performance; he responds that she has passed.
Cast and charactersEdit
- Karl Urban as Judge Dredd
- Olivia Thirlby as Judge Cassandra Anderson
- Langley Kirkwood as Judge Lex
- Edwin Perry as Judge Alvarez
- Karl Thaning as Judge Chan
- Michele Levin as Judge Kaplan
- Lena Headey as Madeline Madrigal
- Wood Harris as Kay
- Warrick Grier as Caleb
- Domhnall Gleeson as Clan Techie
Development of the film was announced on 20 December 2008, although writer Alex Garland had begun working on the script in 2006. British studio DNA Films produced the film, and partnered with sales agency IM Global to sell the worldwide distribution rights. By May 2010, this partnership saw IM Global and its owner Reliance Big Pictures agree to co-finance the 3-D project with a $45 million production budget, and a schedule to begin filming in Johannesburg, South Africa in late 2010. Pete Travis was named as the film's director and Garland, Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich would produce it. Duncan Jones had previously been offered the role of director. In a 2010 interview, Jones said that his vision for the film was unconventional—describing it as weird, dark, and funny—and it did not mesh well with Garland's script. In September 2010, it was reported that the film would be titled Dredd. Pre-production commenced on 23 August 2010 at Cape Town Film Studios in Cape Town, South Africa. During the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International in July, Urban confirmed that he had been offered the role of Judge Dredd and on 18 August 2010 it was reported that Urban officially had the role. In September 2010, it was announced that Thirlby would play Dredd's telepathic rookie Cassandra Anderson. In the same month during the Toronto International Film Festival, the film attracted $30 million in worldwide pre-sales to distributors in 90% of theatrical markets. The sales included a $7 million deal with British distributor Entertainment Film Distributors. On 2 November 2010, Lions Gate Entertainment secured the North American distribution rights to Dredd. Headey joined the cast as drug-dealer Ma-Ma in January 2011. Judge Dredd creator John Wagner acted as a consultant on the film. In 2012 he confirmed that it was a new adaptation of the comic material and was not a remake of the 1995 adaptation Judge Dredd, which starred Sylvester Stallone.
Paul Leonard-Morgan wrote the film's industrial music score, which has been acclaimed. Leonard-Morgan created music to suit the film's futuristic setting. He experimented with band-based music, but decided it sounded over-produced and too safe. He turned to electronic music and used 1980s-style synthesisers and modern sound modules to create various combinations and applied distortion and other effects to the result. Leonard-Morgan said, "I was looking to create a timeless score which couldn't be placed in any particular era. So it's ended up being a cross between a modern dance track and evocative soundscapes." For scenes conveying the effect of the Slo-Mo narcotic, he composed new music with real instruments and then slowed the songs down by thousands of percent to match the visuals, such that one second of his composed score could last 10 minutes. He then added additional real-time score to the slowed track. An unofficially altered Justin Bieber song served as inspiration for the Slo-Mo theme. Garland said that Portishead instrumentalist Geoff Barrow "sent me a link to a Justin Bieber song slowed down 800 times and it became this stunning trippy choral music." Morgan then recreated the effect based on the modified track, which was used in the finished film. The film used Bieber's music as a temporary placeholder during editing before the score was finalized.
The song "Going in for the Kill" by La Roux was used in the film's trailers.
In August 2012, the viral advertising site "Dredd Report" was launched, satirizing the Drudge Report. The site featured a video condemning the use of Slo-Mo, and links to news about the film. A tie-in comic book called "Ma-Ma: Top of the World" was published; its plot serves as a prequel to the film's narrative and follows Ma-Ma's life as a prostitute, controlled by her possessive pimp. Ma-Ma forms a relationship with Eric — the creator of Slo-Mo. Her pimp kills Eric for interfering with his business, Ma-Ma castrates him with her teeth in retaliation and Ma-Ma takes over the Slo-Mo operation. The comic details how she went from a cowardly prostitute to a drug kingpin, how she took charge of her dismal existance and survived a bloody encounter with her pimp, which left her scarred and mentally unstable. The comic was written by Judge Dredd Megazine editor Matt Smith, drawn by 2000 AD artist Henry Flint and was released on 5 September 2012. An exclusive film poster featuring artwork by Jock was released by Mondo to promote the film's appearance at the 2012 Fantastic Fest in September 2012. Dredd's marketing campaign won a Golden Trailer Award for Best Thriller TV Spot for the trailer "Big Addicted", and received nominations for: Best Action TV Spot, Most Original TV Spot, Best Graphics in a TV Spot, Best Music TV Spot, and Best Action Poster and Most Original Poster for the Dredd motion poster. Reports indicate that Lionsgate contributed $25 million to advertising & print costs.
Although some very creative marketing tactics were utilized, the film suffered from poor advertising and failed at the box office, although it has since become a cult film.
ReactionEditThe film received positive reviews from critics. It garnered a 78% approval rating from 146 critics, with an average rating of 6.5 out of 10, on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, which said, "Fueled by bombastic violence and impressive special effects, rooted in self-satire and deadpan humor, Dredd is a rare example of a remake that actually works." Metacritic provides a score of 59 out of 100 which indicates "mixed or average" reviews—18 of the sampled critics gave the film a positive review, 7 mixed, and the remaining 4 negative. CinemaScore polls reported that the average grade moviegoers gave the film was a "B" on a scale of A+ to F.
At its premiere screening at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International, Dredd received positive reviews. IGN awarded the film eight out of ten and said, "Dredd is a character study, primarily, one fuelled by violence and action, and we can't think of a better way to re-introduce this character to cinema audiences." IndieWire said, "As Dredd, Urban either has a better character to play than [Sylvester Stallone] did, or simply has a better grasp on what makes him tick, but the actor continues to distinguish himself as a versatile performer who turns mimicry into emotional meaning." Empire's Chris Hewitt scored the film three out of five stars, and said it gets the lead character "absolutely, incontrovertibly right" and that Urban's Dredd is "a deadpan delight—he doesn't grow as a person and he doesn't crack wise ... the movie generates its few laughs from his sheer intractability". Hewitt also called Thirlby's Anderson engaging and wrote that the film is "a solid, occasionally excellent take on [Judge Dredd], with Urban's chin particularly impressive." Variety's Geoff Berkshire said the film is "Grim, gritty and ultra-violent", called Dredd a "badass of few words", and wrote that Urban "does a fine job embodying the more mythic qualities of Dredd as an upright law enforcer no lowlife would want to confront." He also praised Thirlby for carrying the film's emotional story and said, "one of the film's true thrills comes in watching Thirlby effortlessly balance the conflict between a Judge's merciless duties and a psychic's compassionate understanding."
Entertainment Weekly's Darren Franich said that the film is a "darkly funny blood-soaked romp" and singled out Urban for his "credibly wry performance using little more than his gravelly, imitation-Eastwood voice—and his chin." The Guardian's Phelim O'Neill scored the film 4 stars out of 5 and praised Urban's performance, saying, "The essence of Dredd is that he is almost an anti-character—he doesn't change or learn—and Urban nails it in an ego-free performance". He also wrote, "In a world of compromised adaptations, Dredd is something of a triumph." The New Statesman's Laura Sneddon noted that Dredd passed the Bechdel test, lacking in sexism or misogyny and positively portraying female characters who are no weaker, more sexualized or shown less than their male counterparts. Sneddon described Anderson as repeatedly shown to have power over men who underestimate her, while Ma-Ma displays more intelligence and sadism than any of her male gang members, and neither woman interacts with the other on the basis of their gender. The Hollywood Reporter's Stephen Dalton wrote that the "dark, ironic, very British humor of the original strip" was largely absent from the film and that "[t]he limited location, computer game-style plot and muted humour" of the film might disappoint some fans of the comic. Dalton also said that Urban's performance, while close to the comic, lacked something. Overall, however, Dalton said, "[p]itched at the right level to please original fans, but still slick and accessible enough to attract new ones, [Dredd] feels like a smart and muscular addition to the sci-fi action genre."
Many US newspaper critics were less taken with the film. Mark Olsen of the Los Angeles Times called it "a clunk-headed action picture" that "simply becomes a monotonous series of bad-guy confrontations." Frank Lovece of Newsday described it as a "soullessly gritty" film, which apart from one believable scene involving Thirlby, is "all tough-guy talk and humorless cynicism". Kyle Smith of the New York Post, who found the police tactics distasteful, wrote, "Justice is supposed to be blind, but in this case I think what the Law really wants is unaccountability" and called Dredd a " thudding, repetitive movie", He also wrote, "It’s not that the movie is in bad taste or cheesy (though it is) but that all of its hyper-violence adds up to nothing". Stephen Whitty of The Star-Ledger called it a "gray and ugly film", said that there was little to draw viewers in, and wrote that apart from the drug-induced slow-motion sequences, the film offers nothing new.
The visual effects and slow-motion sequences induced by Slo-Mo received broad praise. Berkshire said that they are notable and eye-catching with "impressively utilized 3d." Hewitt said the visuals were "genuinely surreal splashes of heightened color that ... don’t outstay their welcome. The film's use of 3D is often excellent (including the credits) and it really comes to life in the Slo-mo scenes". Dalton said the film "constantly impresses on a visual level, with a gritty style more akin to cult hits like District 9 or 28 Days Later than to standard Hollywood comic-book blockbusters." Dalton said, "[Mantle's] first venture into 3D is a blaze of saturated colors, gorgeous high-resolution close-ups and dazzling slow-motion sequences." Dredd won The Art of 3D award at the 2013 Empire Awards, and was nominated for Best British Film and Best Science-fiction/Fantasy.
Judge Dredd creator John Wagner, who had been critical of the 1995 adaptation, gave a positive review of Dredd. He said: "I liked the movie. It was, unlike the first film, a true representation of Judge Dredd ... Karl Urban was a fine Dredd and I'd be more than happy to see him in the follow-up. Olivia Thirlby excelled as Anderson ... The character and storyline are pure Dredd."
Dredd has been recognized as a cult film since its release. Some reviewers drew comparisons between Dredd and The Raid: Redemption, another action film released a few months earlier, noting that similar elements in setting, story, and characters made Dredd appear derivative. However, Dredd had been written and in the works years before The Raid had been concieved, making it more similar to Die Hard rather than The Raid.
Dredd is now thought of as one of the best remakes/reboots of all time by various movie bloggers, reviewers, comic book and action fans.
A sequel is eagerly awaited by fans. Karl Urban has likened the fan letters for this film to th other historically familiar fan write-ins such as the original "Star Trek" serieswhich later generated a third season once fans submitted a humongous letter-writing campaign to the studios. He has also said that the Dredd sequel will probably be about the Origins storyline if it is made. This storyline features Dredd venturing into the Cursed Earth to find his elderly biological father, Judge Fargo. Screenwriter Alex Garland intended for it to be a trilogy where the third installment features pro-Democracy terrorists taking over the Hall of Justice and Dredd having to question his own fascist political beliefs as a result.