Dredd (also known as Dredd 3D) is a 2012 science fiction action film directed by Pete Travis and written and produced by Alex Garland in association with Lionsgate. It is based on the 2000 AD comic strip Judge Dredd and its eponymous character created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra.
The film is the second attempt at translating Judge Dredd to the big screen, the first being the 1995 movie starring Sylvester Stallone. Dredd was released on 21 September 2012 in 3-D and 2D at selected cinemas. 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.
In the future, sometime most likely around 2080 to 2100 judging by computer dates, most of the United States of America is an irradiated Wasteland known as the Cursed Earth due to a nuclear holocaust with the east meg military. On its East Coast, running 438 miles from Boston to Washington DC, lies Mega-City One – a vast, violent metropolis of over 800 million inhabitants, where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the police force called “The Judges” who possess the combined powers of judge, jury and instant executioner. Known and feared throughout the city, the incorruptible Judge Dredd is the ultimate law enforcer.
Following a heinous triple-homicide in a slum neighborhood few judges dare to enter, Dredd is challenged with ridding the city of its latest scourge – a dangerous, reality-altering drug epidemic that has users of "Slo-Mo" experiencing reality at one percent of its normal speed. Dredd teams up with his inexperienced partner, psychic rookie Judge Anderson to invade a corrupt Mega Block of flats called "Peach Trees" and take down its resident drug lord, Ma-Ma. After they arrest one of Ma-Ma's closest enforcers, the ruthless Ma-Ma hijacks the building's control panel on the top floor and locks down the complex, waging a dirty, vicious war against the judges and anyone who helps them, proving that she will stop at nothing to protect her empire. As the body count rises and no way out, the tough-as-nails judges must overcome the odds and battle their way to the penthouse against the army of thugs Ma-Ma has at her disposal.
During a routine day on the job, Dredd is assigned to train and evaluate Cassandra Anderson, a rookie Judge with powerful psychic abilities due to a genetic mutation. A heinous triple homicide calls them to a neighbourhood where fellow Judges rarely dare to venture – Peachtree Block, a 200 story vertical slum controlled by prostitute turned drug lord Ma-Ma and her ruthless clan , known for excessive violence. After some research, the Judges discover that the people who were killed were competing drug dealers who were skinned alive and (after being hit with a dose of Slo-Mo to prolong their suffering) thrown down the atrium as a warning to the rest of Peach Trees. After a conversation with the block paramedic, TJ, the Judges go to a drug den and kill several armed assailants, arresting the rest of the drug dealers.
Anderson is arresting an enforcer named Kay and uses her psychic powers read his mind. At this point she realizes that Kay tortured and murdered the three victims. Dredd decides to take Kay for questioning, and when Ma-Ma realizes he will reveal their whole operation, overtakes the compound's control centre, locking the building down and sealing all exits. Ma-Ma proceeds to wage a dirty, vicious assault against the Judges that proves she will stop at nothing to protect her narcotic empire. When Ma-Ma places a large bounty on the heads of both Judge Dredd and rookie Judge Anderson for anyone who takes them to her dead or alive, the two must confront the odds and engage in a relentless battle for their survival. Anderson reads Kay's mind again and she learns that Ma-Ma is using Peachtree Block to make the drug Slo-Mo, which is quickly gaining control of the city.
Dredd works his way towards Ma-Ma, killing or incapacitating anyone who seeks to stop him, making an announcement over the PA system that he is the law, not Ma-Ma, and anyone obstructing his duty will be treated as an accessory to Ma-Ma's crimes. At one point, Dredd kills twelve people by burning them alive with an incindiary grenade from his Lawgiver. When Ma-Ma finally realises that the Judges are getting dangerously close to her penthouse, she calls in corrupt Judges Lex, Alvarez, Chan and Kaplan. The four enter the building and "relieve" a group of Judges outside who where intending to enter the compound after receiving an emergency 10.24 radio broadcast from the two judges trapped inside. When Dredd encounters Chan and becomes suspicious that he does not ask about Anderson's status, Chan realises his cover is blown and the two engage in intense hand-to-hand combat. Dredd shoots Chan in the foot with his own Lawgiver pistol strapped to his thigh before proceeding to belt him in the throat multiple times with the stock of the gun, severely crushing Chan's windpipe and leaving him to quickly suffocate to death.
Meanwhile, Kay (one of the gangs members), who previously took Anderson hostage, confronts her and insults her before he tries to execute her with her Lawgiver, but the pistol's DNA scanner doesn't recognize him and activates a self destruct sequence causing it to detonates in his hand, blowing his forearm off. Anderson then performs a powerful, most likely fatal roundhouse kick to his temple, rendering him either dead or unconscious as a result. Anderson quickly escapes and leaves Kay to bleed out, before encountering Judge Kaplan, whom she promptly shoots dead after reading her mind and discovering her objective was to kill her. Elsewhere, Dredd kills Alvarez by firing a Hi-Ex (high explosive) round into his head, which immediately detonates. Dredd realises this was his last round, so he remains in cover behind a brick separator wall. Lex then fires several armour piercing bullets through the wall, one of them passing through Dredd's abdomen. Lex moves in to execute Dredd, but Dredd manages to stall him long enough for Anderson to get a clear shot on him from behind, killing him instantly.
Anderson and Dredd obtain the code to Ma-Ma's Penthouse from her personal hacker. They use this to get through the security door and confront her for the first time. Ma-Ma tells Dredd that in the case of her death, a device on her wrist will detonate explosives on the top floors, crushing the rest of the building and killing everyone. Dredd reasons that the detonator's signal will be too weak to reach the explosives from the ground floor and so he forces Ma-Ma to inhale Slo-Mo and throws her down the atrium. She falls hundreds of metres before face planting the cement pavement below, killing her instantly and deactivating the device on her wrist. Dredd and Anderson, both shot, leave down the elevator to the front entrance.
In the aftermath, as the two judges exit the compound, Anderson accepts that she failed her evaluation by previouslly becoming forcfully disarmed whilst being held captive, and walks away, giving her badge to Dredd. The Chief Judge then asks Dredd about Anderson's performance; he responds that she was a pass. At the end of the movie however, we see Anderson walking out of the Judge headquarters, holding her gear and riding off in a motorcycle, showing that she is still a Judge.
- Karl Urban - Judge Dredd
- Olivia Thirlby - Cassandra Anderson
- Lena Headey - Ma-Ma
- Wood Harris - Kay
- Warrick Grier - Caleb
- Domnhall Gleeson - Clan Techie
- Langley Kirkwood - Judge Lex
- Edwin Perry - Judge Alvarez
- Karl Thaning - Judge Chan
- Michele Levin - Judge Kaplan
- Daniel Hadebe - Judge Volt
- Rakie Ayola - Chief Judge
- Junior Singo - Amos
- Luke Tyler - Freel
- Jason Cope - Zwirner
- Joe Vaz - Big Joe
There were three treatments that Alex Garland wrote before settling for the present story. The first treatment involved the Dark Judges and was about the encounter between Dredd and a rival judge by the name of Judge Death. However, Garland abandoned it after a year's work and 16 drafts on the story admitting that he couldn't crack much on that storyline and feeling it would be a bit much for audiences to be introduced to the world of Judge Dredd. The second treatment is related to the Dredd and Cursed Earth storyline based on the Origins comic strip but was abandoned for the similar reason, as Garland liked the idea but felt that it would serve better as a sequel. The third treatment was an adaptation of the pro-democracy terrorists attacking the judges storyline but Garland felt that story and his ideas towards it were too grandiose in nature but stated that treatment would also have been a sequel, the third part of a trilogy, if there would be one. The final script that he wrote was based one of the punchier short stories in the vein of cop movies such as Die Hard or Training Day. John Wagner described the script as correcting the mistake in the Stallone-starred version that was being too sweeping.
The movie was filmed entirely in South Africa in 3D with stunning slow motion photography sequences, the film returns the celebrated character to the dark, visceral incarnation from John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra's revered comic strip. The filmmakers decided that Dredd should appear lean and fast like a boxer rather than bulky like "someone who spends hours sort of steroiding himself up." His Judge uniform was altered from the comic version; an extruded eagle statuette was removed from his shoulder pad to emphasise the outfit's functionality and give it a sense of realism. Garland said: "If you did a very faithful adaptation of the uniform you'd have someone who if he got stabbed in the stomach he’d be in big trouble. Dredd is out there on the frontline so he needed protection." Remaining faithful to the comic, Dredd's face, except for his mouth, is never shown and his helmet is not removed throughout the film. Urban said: "He is supposed to be the faceless representative of the law and I think that is part of his enigma ... You wouldn't get to the end of a Sergio Leone Western and go, 'God, I didn't even know the character's name!' It's irrelevant."
Dredd's signature weapon, the "Lawgiver" was developed as a fully operational weapon based on a suppressed 9mm Glock 17 firing system, capable of firing ammunition and being changed from automatic to semi-auto fire. Internal magazine changes were also incorporated into the design. His motorcycle "Lawmaster" was a modified 500cc motorcycle. A large fairing was added over the motorcycle with machine guns, an extended wheel base and the largest functional tyres possible. The vehicle was also operational and Urban insisted on riding it himself rather than relying on Chroma key visual effects. Wagner described the necessity of adaptation from the source material and said that the 1995 film's attempt to directly replicate the comic's motorcycle was unable to steer because the tyres were too large.Garland and VFX supervisor Jon Thum began developing the Slo-Mo concept sequences in 2009 during filming for Never Let Me Go. They experimented with an effect to replicate the visual effects of hallucinogenic drugs to see how long it could be used before it distracted the viewer from the story or action sequence. They continued to develop and modify the effect until the end of post-production, tweaking colours, colour saturation, image framing and camera motion. Slo-Mo scenes also feature a rainbow colour scheme and sparkle highlights to create an unreal and otherworldly effect. The filmmakers experimented with blood bags, prosthetics, shooting real bullets, and compressed air to see the effect of direct body hits in slow motion. In the finished film, compressed air was used to create impact ripples on flesh. Garland said the concept was inspired by nature documentaries that used high-speed photography to capture animals in slow motion. He said, "You see a whale or a shark breach the water ... then you'd stop thinking about the animal and you get transfixed by ... how water droplets connect and touch against each other. Somehow like a real [drug] trip, sort of stepping outside it but staying attached at the same time." He questioned whether the technique could be used with violence to make it purely aesthetic. He said: "Can it be so abstract that it becomes genuinely beautiful? ...really aesthetically beautiful even if someone is having their cheek blown out or their head crushing into concrete." Comic artist Jock provided concept art for the film design.
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.
References to the comicsEdit
- Graffiti inside Peachtree Block contains the names of characters that appear in 2000 AD including Chopper, Judge Minty and Kenny Who?.
- A bobble head of Judge Death appears in the window of the perps car.
- On a computer screen in the Hall of Justice it shows a crime being assigned to Judge Hershey.
- The Fergee memorial statue is mentioned at the start.
- A film poster called Krysler's Mark is seen this is a refernce to Owen Krysler AKA the Judge Child.
- Several Fatties are seen around the city.
- Vending machines selling Umpty candy are seen. They are similar to the one in the 1995 movie that says "eat recycled food...its good for you and its good for the enviroment".
- Judge Anderson mentions that helmets interfere with her psychic abilities, this is a reference to why Psi Judges in the comics don't wear the helmet that most other Judges wear.
- In the minivan that Zwirner was in, there's a leather jacket with "Drokk" written on it, this is a reference to the comics where profanity is illegal and as a result, that substitute swear word was used as a substitute.
Garland said that if the film grossed $50 million then a sequel would be possible. Dredd grossed $41 million. Nonetheless, fans are working hard for a sequel and the filmmakers have argued that it is possible. As a result of strong home video sales and an enthusiastic fan and critical response, a sequel to Dredd is a possibility according to actors Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby. Urban has met with writer-producer Alex Garland and the pair are actively exploring the possibility of a sequel. The film only earned just $36 million at the box office on an estimated budget of $45 million. This had initially derailed any hopes of a sequel. However, the home video sales for Dredd were very strong, selling 650,000 units just in the first week. Urban is keen to return as Judge Dredd and has requested a large fan campaign to try and convince the studio to make another film. In February 2014, Urban confirmed that discussions were taking place between the studio, and Garland.
A sequel is eagerly awaited by fans. Karl Urban, star of the new Star Trek movies, has noted that Star Trek would not have returned for a third season if fans wouldn't have done a letter-writing campaign to the studio. He has also said that the 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. Producer Adi Shankar has expressed doubt on a sequel since all the distributors have to help fund it since Dredd was made independently, but he thanks fans for their hard work and claims to be working to get a second film out.