In a few weeks, “Dredd” (in 3D!) will be released in the United States (and even sooner in England). The movie got a rousing response at Comic-Con this summer and this writer politely disagrees with our review out of San Diego. It’s a dark, beautifully photographed (by frequent Lars von Trier and Danny Boyle collaborator Anthony Dod Mantle), outrageously violent sci-fi treat that will surprise a lot of people. And of course, anytime a comic book-based movie is worth its salt, talk inevitably turns to a sequel. And writer/producer Alex Garland has stepped up to field questions, hype the movie and discuss where further adventures of “Dredd” may go.
Garland, of course, is the existential novelist-turned-screenwriter who was recruited by Danny Boyle to adapt his own novel “The Beach,” and then became an essential part of Boyle’s creative team, authoring the screenplays to both zombie reconfiguration “28 Days Later” and the outrageously overlooked psychedelic sci-fi movie “Sunshine.” (He also, somewhat less successfully, adapted Kazuo Ishiguro’s cloning drama “Never Let Me Go” for director Mark Romanek.) Garland took to an online Q&A on 2000AD (via Bleeding Cool) to quell the fears of the fans, answer questions, and put as much distance as is humanly possible between his rip-roaring “Dredd” and the humorlessly wishy-washy Sylvester Stallone movie “Judge Dredd” from 1995 (though, it’s kind of the last great optical effects movie, but we digress…)
On the subject of future “Dredd” installments because, Garland took to outlining an imagined trilogy that he admits is more or less an impossibility. “Just to be clear, this is hugely speculative and also unlikely, for any number of reasons…” Garland began on the message board. “There are some variables which would rule me out [of any sequel] immediately.” We’re guessing those variables include pay and the contentious way that the movie crossed the finish line, with rumors of editing room battles between Garland and director Pete Travis, something that had to rub at least some of the producers the wrong way.
Garland then went into a heavily geeky and, to us anyway, indecipherable ramble about what characters from the comic book (created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra in the pages of British sci-fi anthology “2000 AD”) could be seen in future “Dredd” films – including the Dark Judges, a quartet of otherworldly killers that would up the next film’s budget considerably (in a bizarre “Batman” crossover, The Joker became a Dark Judge in a bid for immortality) and Satanus, an outer space alien who believes himself to be Satan. This comic book was apparently really, really weird. He also says that he would spend time in the Cursed Earth – the bleached out, desolate wasteland that surrounds the film's chief setting of MegaCity One, a super city that stretches from Boston to Washington, D.C.
One of his comments suggests that the Dark Judges was a part of the original “Dredd” script or that he’d already written a preliminary second feature involving them. “If my film-trilogy daydream was to play out, I would completely rewrite my original script for the Dark Judges – because it was junk – and start again,” he said. One of the things that’s so admirable about “Dredd” is how contained and claustrophobic it is. It doesn’t overstretch its boundaries (or its budget) by trying to do crazy, outrageous stuff. It instead has a single location and a mentality that brings to mind John Carpenter’s “Assault on Precinct 13” or this year’s brilliant Indonesian ass-kicker “The Raid.”
By the end of the chat, though, Garland is thinking of a different direction for the series altogether. “But by the way, just so it has been said, I actually think that maybe the best way forward for ‘Dredd’ is television,” Garland proclaimed. “American TV has completely rewritten the rule book where filmed drama is concerned. ‘Game Of Thrones’/’The Wire’/’Breaking Bad’… An equivalent version of Dredd would be fucking great.” We agree – that would be fucking great! It would be a chance to delve into all the dense mythology of the “Judge Dredd” universe but maintaining some level of grounded reality.
And speaking of fucking great – you can preview all 22 tracks on the accompanying “Dredd” soundtrack album, composed by Scottish composer Paul Leonard-Morgan (he also did the score for last year’s cheeky pharmaceutical thriller “Limitless”), via Comic Book Movie. The score is really, really awesome – kind of what a “TRON: Legacy” soundtrack would have sounded like if Kasabian had done the music instead of Daft Punk. There’s something raw and identifiably English about it and it fits perfectly with the universe Travis and Garland created. Give it a listen!
"Dredd" will play the Toronto International Film Festival before opening in America on September 21st.