ANDY FISH is a comic book artist

Saturday, January 12, 2013

DREDD (2012)

Karl Urban is under there somewhere.
For me one of the most anticipated films of 2012 was DREDD, this version of the classic English comic book character was rumored to be true to the source material. The previous screen version of 2000AD's futuristic lawman had starred Sylvester Stallone who did the unimaginable and took off the Dredd helmet about fifteen minutes into the movie.

In the comics Dredd is never seen without his helmet. The comic has been one of my favorites since before I could even read it. In the days when it was not readily available in the states there was an article Ina comics publication I the early 80s that described the amazing parody of American life in the future that Dredd was all about. Yes, it was extremely violent, but the stories were so absurd the idea of someone's head exploding was somehow acceptable.

And that's where this new film version of Dredd goes wrong. In the comics and in Stallone's version, Judge Dredd's world is colorful and ridiculous, commericialism has taken over everyday life but Dredd is something of a living legend among both fellow judges and common citizens. His reputation is fearsome enough that perps surrender at the very mention of his name. dredd is the ultimate lawman.

The perfect soldier battling a near impossible fight in a world that often makes no sense. Like Joe Friday guest starring on an episode of Laugh In he's often the straight man to the Munich around him. None of this translates into the modern film. Karl Urban is a fine actor, but as has been stated elsewhere Stallone wore the helmet but in this version the helmet wears Urban.

Stallone Was The Law
He lacks the presence or threat of Stallone and the movie is played completely straight, which overlooks the very basis of the comic itself. I lost faith about five minutes in when the perps on the run in a drug induced stupor fired ak47s and F-bombs at Dredd in a high speed pursuit. The script rivals a Tarantino one for use of the F Word and sometimes that can be a cruch for lazy screenwriting to show us dumb viewers we are not watching a kiddie film.

In the comics "drokk" substitutes for our favorite swear word and I longed for any character to use it. Dredd and his rookie charge PSI psychic Anderson respond to a multiple homicde in a mega block run by crime boss Ma Ma who was originally written as an elderly old lady (which would have been brilliant), but instead is played by a super modelish character with the obligatory Hollywood ugly scar-- a scar that emphasizes a characters features rather than disfigure them. Worse, the fil see,s to glorify both drug use and excessive gun violence.

A staunch defender of the second amendment, I love a good old fashioned shoot em up as much as the next fella, (Die Hard, Taken and Last Man Standing come to mind), but this movie seems to revel on gore. The movie premiered in the fall and did poor box office, I assumed it was just a case of not finding the right audience, but the reality is they missed the whole point of the Dredd character and gave us a pretty bleak pretty awful movie that deserved to fail.

I'm sorry guys, I wanted to like it.  Next time hire a writer who understands the character.

I'm available.