Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Preview Post - JUDGE DREDD

Ladies and gentlemen, another podcast will soon be upon us, and this time we'll will be taking a look at a film featuring the fiercest lawman of all, Judge Dredd!

Created by writer John Wager (A History of Violence), artist Carlos Ezquerra, and editor Pat Mills, Judge Dredd first appeared in the second issue of the British magazine 2000 AD, published in 1977. The series is set in Mega-City One, one of several massive cities which are ruled by the authoritarian Justice Department. To keep law and order (or rather, what law and order can be maintained), the streets of Mega-City One are policed by the Street Judges, who act not only as officers of the law, but as judges as well, able to deliver instantaneous sentencing on the spot, including death when the need arises. The most feared and legendary of these Street Judges is Judge Joseph Dredd, a clone of the first ever Chief Judge, Eustace Fargo.  Humourless and utterly dedicated to upholding the law, Dredd’s cases range from dealing with the most common and petty of felonies (which usually have extreme consequences for the lawbreaker) to engaging in epic quests, such as crossing the Cursed Earth – the wasteland of what used to be most of the United States -  in order to deliver medical aid to Mega City Two.

The strip is highly subversive and satiric in nature (think Robocop and John Carpenter’s Escape From New York in terms of tone), exploring and poking fun at concepts such as the police state and authoritarian rule, as well as Western/American  cultural values and ideals. In a rarity for most comics, the strip is roughly set in “real time”, allowing Dredd and his universe to grow and change over the years. Within the strip, Dredd himself is now an old man, though still capable of carrying out the job before him.

In 1995, an American film adaptation of the character was produced. While the film draws from a variety of different Dredd storylines, the film (loosely) draws much of its story from two early Dredd tales. The first story is the single issue “The Return of Rico”, in which Dredd is confronted with the return of his “brother,” a fellow clone of Judge Fargo named Rico that Dredd had to arrest years earlier for corruption and murder. The second storyline is that of “The Day the Law Died,” a multi-issue epic which begins with Dredd being framed for murder and stripped of his status as Judge. Breaking out, Dredd make his way back into Mega-City One in order to prove his innocence, and ends up leading a guerrilla army of Street Judges against the Justice Department, which has overtaken and brainwashed by the mad Judge Cal, a character modeled after the supposedly crazed Roman Emperor Caligula.

The screenplay for the film is the work of two famous action film writers, William Wisher Jr. and Steven E. de Souza. Wisher co-wrote a little film some of you may have heard of called Terminator 2: Judgement Day...

Steven E. de Souza most famously wrote the screenplay to the action classic Die Hard. However, de Souza has also worked as a director, most notably the (in)famous 1994 cult “classic” Street Fighter...

The film is directed by Danny Cannon, who has spent most of his career since Judge Dredd working in television on series such as C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation, which he was once a producer of as well. Prior to jumping into television but after Judge Dredd, Cannon directed the horror sequel I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, released in 1998...

As for the character of Dredd himself, since the failure of the 1995 film, numerous attempts have been made to relaunch the character back onto the big screen. These efforts will finally pay off later this year when Dredd is released, with genre star Karl Urban taking on the title role in place of Sylvester Stallone. While no trailer has yet been released, here is a still of Urban in the role:

However, for those looking for a fix of Judge Dredd now, they need only turn their attention to the audio production company Big Finish, who have released various Judge Dredd audio dramas over the years, with Toby Longworth in the title role. These plays come highly recommended, and can be purchased over at Big Finish’s website either as a download or on CD.

But stay tuned later this week when we turn our attention to the film that many of you (vaguely) remember, Judge Dredd!

1 comment:

  1. Director Danny Cannon also helmed the little seen, but very good, neo-noir PHOENIX. Just FYI.