There’s always hope when making a remake that the movie will be better than the original. That’s the hope for the upcoming remake of the 1995 Sylvester Stallone movie ‘Judge Dredd’ now simply called ‘Dredd.’
Creator John Wagner sat down with the L.A. Times and talked about what he thought of the first movie, what he would change about the comic series and why he’s excited about the new ‘Dredd’ movie starring Karl Urban.
Dredd is one of the most popular comic book characters in the British comics scene. UK based Empire Magazine ranked him seventh in a list of greatest characters in all comics ahead of the Joker and two spots behind Spiderman. Wagner was asked after all this time was there anything he would take back or erase from the comic book series?
JW: Quite a few. When Dredd was created no one imagined it would last so long. The normal practice in British comics at the time was to run a story for 12 to 16 episodes then give it a break, usually permanent. If the story was popular you might think of bringing it back for another series, and another, but nothing was expected to go on and on. So story lines were used that created big problems further along the road. For instance, Dredd’s handheld lie detector. It was practically foolproof, no citizen could get away with lying to him. Fine for a one-off story, but as an ongoing state of affairs it’s hell on the writer and could make for some very short stories – “Did you do it?” – “No” – “You’re lying, the sentence is death” – The End. I’ve been jumping through hoops ever since to get ’round it.
Wagner was asked about his thoughts on the Stallone movie version of his creation and has that opinion changed any in the last 20 years?
JW: My views haven’t changed, though apart from my initial viewing I haven’t seen the film since it came out. They told the wrong story — it didn’t have that much to do with Dredd the character as we know him. I don’t think Stallone was a bad Dredd, though it would have been better and lent him more cred if he hadn’t revealed his face. He was just Dredd in the wrong story. I envy their budget, though. Some of the CGI was very good, and the re-creations of the Angel Gang and the robot. The robot actually came from a Pat Mills story and didn’t belong in Dredd, but it looked good. If the plot had revolved around characters like them the film would have been more successful.
The new version of Judge Dredd seems to be more on par with Wagner’s vision. Here’s why he’s excited about the film:
JW: The plot is about Dredd and his world. It’s impossible to cover every aspect of the character and his city – perhaps that was one of the failings of the first film; they tried to do too much and ended up with not a lot. “Dredd” homes in on the essential job of judging – instant justice in a violent future city. I like the actors, they’re well cast and they handled their parts well. Olivia Thirlby is perfect as Anderson, the young psi judge. She gives the character a touching vulnerability. Karl Urban will not remove his helmet and will not kiss his costar.
Judge Dredd will be celebrating its 35th year this March and after all this time, Wagner continues to relish writing for the series saying, ‘I still enjoy writing Dredd, though with every year that passes new ideas get harder to come up with.”
‘Dredd’ stars Karl Urban (‘Star Trek’, ‘The Chronicles of Riddick’, ‘Priest’), Olivia Thirlby (‘The Darkest Hour’, Domhnall Gleeson (‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pts. 1 & 2’) and Lena Headey (‘Game of Thrones’, ‘300’) and will be in theaters on September 21.