First Trailer for ‘The Draid.’ Sorry, ‘Dredd.’

Posted on June 21, 2012 by Ben

by Ben Bussey

The new cinematic incarnation of Judge Dredd, simply titled Dredd to avoid any confusion with the crappy 90s Stallone version, has – by the standard of modern geek properties, at least - been shrouded in mystery. It recieved its R-rating from the MPAA months ago, yet nothing has been seen thus far other than the odd still and the poster pictured left. Then yesterday, up came a teeny-weeny sneak peek (more or less the last ten seconds of the trailer below), and now we have the first full length version, courtesy of Attack of the Show. And while it certainly looks promising, it also looks strangely familiar…

Quoth the official synopsis: “The future America is an irradiated waste land. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies Mega City One- a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the urban cops called “Judges” who possess the combined powers of judge, jury and instant executioner. Known and feared throughout the city, Dredd (Karl Urban) is the ultimate Judge, challenged with ridding the city of its latest scourge – a dangerous drug epidemic that has users of “Slo-Mo” experiencing reality at a fraction of its normal speed.

During a routine day on the job, Dredd is assigned to train and evaluate Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), a rookie with powerful psychic abilities thanks to a genetic mutation. A heinous crime calls them to a neighborhood where fellow Judges rarely dare to venture- a 200 story vertical slum controlled by prostitute turned drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) and her ruthless clan. When they capture one of the clan’s inner circle, Ma-Ma overtakes the compound’s control center and wages a dirty, vicious war against the Judges that proves she will stop at nothing to protect her empire. With the body count climbing and no way out, Dredd and Anderson must confront the odds and engage in the relentless battle for their survival.”

So basically… it’s a sci-fi version of The Raid. And from about the 1.04 min mark (edit: more like 1.21 in this new approved version from Machinima – damn Lionsgate are being diligent on non-official copies of this one) , it doesn’t just sound the same, it looks the same.

Now, I’m not crying plagirism. This movie has been in production for a good long time, so I’m sure this is another of those Kill List/Serbian Film things – simply an unfortunate coincidence. But I will say this might shed some light on why we’ve seen and heard so little of Dredd to date; while the conceptual similarities may well be an accident, no doubt all concerned are well aware of them now. And given that Gareth Evans’s film is – box office be damned – the greatest piece of action filmmaking in many a year, this leaves Dredd with quite a lot to live up to. Living down the Stallone movie was never going to be too great a challenge, but living up to both The Raid and the expectations of 2000AD readers could be a wee bit trickier.

Having said that, on this evidence Dredd doesn’t look bad at all. Having never really followed the comics I couldn’t say how close it is to the source material, and Karl Urban’s growl sounds a bit forced (not Bale Batman bad, thankfully), but this still looks like a potentially good bit of futuristic dystopian fun. The fact that Alex (28 Days Later/Sunshine) Garland is on writing duties would suggest it’ll be suitably brutal, a feeling given weight by the MPAA rating citing ‘strong bloody violence, language, drug use and some sexual content.’ All bases covered, then…

Dredd hits UK cinemas on 7th September, then the US on the 21st.

Oh, and he’s NOT Judge Judy & Executioner!