The world of a future is a vast irradiated desert with only the Mega Cities offering any respite from the chaos and death. Within the confines of the Mega Cities, crime is on the rise. To expedite the process of controlling the ever growing number of gangs and other criminals, the Hall of Justice has granted total freedom to deliver judgement to a select few, the Judges.
Judge Dredd is one of the longest running comic strips from the UK. Brutal and intense, the series by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra was also a time capsule of the future as envisioned at the time; a police state in which the streets are over-run with desperate and needy individuals, left behind by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan’s trickle-down politics that protected the rich and deserted the rest. Though it preceded Thatcher’s time in office by a few years, it soon developed into a response to what her political regime came to represent; a jack-booted authoritarian world.
I invented Judge Dredd — BBC News interview with John Wagner ‘This was back in the days of Dirty Harry, and with [Margaret] Thatcher on the rise there was a right-wing current in British politics which helped inspire Judge Dredd. He seemed to capture the mood of the age – he was a hero and a villain. That villainous aspect to Dredd’s character – and the Draconian laws of Mega-City One [the post-apocalyptic metropolis Dredd polices] – really caught the readers’ imagination. Occasionally we’d get letters from children who seemed to be agreeing with his hard-right stance, so we made the strip more political to bring out the fact that we didn’t agree with Dredd.’
[via Coffee Grounds]
The series reigned supreme on the racks from 1977 onward and remains poignant today. Whereas other hyper-violent comics that followed in the 1980’s such as the Punisher focused on the anti-hero, Dredd was unique in that he was an instrument of order in an insane world.
Written by Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Sunshine), the script is faithful to the source material down to the dialog and the feel of the comic book. This is something that the previous Judge Dredd film failed at, but I can’t imagine that Danny Cannon was concerned with such things in his 1995 movie which was more campy than this one.
Ask the average person who Judge Dredd is and they might scream out a Stallone-like drawl, ‘I am the Law!’ as the comic strip received very limited distribution in the US. Karl Urban thankfully redeems the character. His performance is a major component to the film’s success and cult status. The 3D visuals garnered some attention, but I think the movie was marred by the Stallone film’s overshadowing reputation as so many moviegoers expected a sequel to that film with plenty of oddball humor. After the twentieth super-violent death, I wonder if the truth sunk in that this had nothing to do with that popcorn flick.
As a fan of the comic, I was very impressed with the devotion to the source material and the subtle in-jokes such as creator’s names being seen on street signs. I was puzzled buy the inclusion of the signature track from ‘Snuff Box,’ and wonder if I was the only person who noticed that.
Dredd is now streaming on Netflix, so if you are a subscriber and are looking for something new, I highly recommend it. This is an over the top gory gun-fest with some excellent performances and a script that doesn’t stretch the concept to fit a studio demand or insert a quirky new idea. In short, this is the Dredd film fans have been waiting for.
Available from Amazon… and if you are a regular reader at least one of these should be on your shelf.