For years, the first Judge Dredd movie had been my only reference point for the character. Upon discovering this, a knowledgeable friend suggested I check out the comics. He enticed me to do so by saying that on the comic page, the character was like a British forerunner to Robocop. Years later, upon finally getting my hands on a trade paperback that included the legendary “The Cursed Earth,” story arc, I found his summation to be correct. Judge Dredd was very much a dark satire filled with brutal action. I then realized that a proper Judge Dredd film should be just like Paul Verhoven’s Robocop. The first trailer for Dredd seems to promise just that, sans the satire.
The trailer offers nothing that genre fans won’t readily recognize. The first half is all set-up and atmospherics. The future looks impenetrably congested. Megacity 1 stretches out as far as the eye can see. It looks like an endless futuristic high-rise housing project. While the vistas are very familiar, director Pete Travis’s sense of style certainly isn’t. He and cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle have created the most attractive dystopian future I’ve seen in a while, if that makes any sense. They also make heavy use of slow motion, and I do mean heavy. In this case, the story actually calls for it, at least according to the synopsis on the film’s Facebook page:
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.
The second half of the trailer plays like a sci-fi rendition of Gareth Evans The Raid: Redemption. It’s the second film so far this year to do so, the other being David Ayer’s upcoming End of Watch. Karl Urban seems to be playing the title role as a caricature of Dirty Harry, which is exactly as it should be. The curious thing is that the film seems to playing everything deadly straight. There isn’t a hint of satire to be found. That isn’t neccessarily a bad thing, but it could mean the difference between a good Judge Dredd film and a truly great one. Either prospect is highly preferable to the debacle that was released in 1995. The trailer for Dredd shows promise, and as of this moment I am firmly on board.