The reboot/adaptation of the long-running Judge Dredd is fast approaching its release date. It’s three more weeks to wait for Dredd here in the states and only a week if you happen to be in the UK (how come those bastards get everything early!?). As is part of the game, the top crew are doing their usual marketing rounds to promote the film. Alex Garland took this opportunity to jump into the 2000AD Online forum and let fans bombard him with their questions and concerns.
Being that he’s a big fan of the source material, Garland had quite a bit to say about the upcoming feature and many other subjects. For the full (fairly long) interview you can check out 2000adonline.com. For the Dredd-centered information, just look below.
The following is composed of what I thought to be the relevant bits, mixed up a bit to keep them in some sort of categorical order. Enjoy.
What Garland had to say about adapting Judge Dredd for the big screen:
Honestly, adapting Dredd as a character was not hard. He is so well defined by the comics. There was no research. I wasn’t looking to reinvent him. And when I got stuff wrong, Wagner was at hand to put it right.
As for the tone, I did the same thing I always do, since I first started writing. Which is basically to approach genre as if it is real. For me, Dredd is in a continuum with 28 Days Later, not least because they were both filmed by the same guy.
I tried not to leave anything out about Dredd’s character, except I suppose that I imagined him a younger Dredd, pre the Cursed Earth walk (though that’s a loose imagining, and doesn’t stand up to much cross examination). In terms of the city and the world, I was very content to avoid the overt comedy and overt satire – because I’m crap at it. I’m sure it can be done, but I’m definitely the wrong person for the job. I’m more comfortable with dry comedy and implicit satire.
About the proliferation of violent content in the film and whether that was an issue:
…there was a rumour many months ago about the violence needing to be toned down. That particular rumour was not true. All the financiers and distributors had read the script, and knew exactly what they were getting into.
About first getting involved in the film:
I started working on Dredd because Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich at DNA were smart enough to realise they could get the rights. They then asked if I wanted to be involved, and I made it clear that if I wasn’t involved we would never speak again.
And about being in involved in a sequel:
There are some variables which would rule me out immediately.
But if he DID manage to get onboard, what he’d like to do with the dark judges:
I think I’d try to make them really scary. Not play them for laughs. Just make them totally malevolent and lethal. And use practical effects where possible, except for Fire, which would be an on-set nightmare.
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. And I’d make them deeply fucking weird and spooky, and sort of philosophical. And if everyone hates that idea, relax, because it’ll never happen.
How he would approach a second film:
My tonal approach to a sequel would be the same. But I’d definitely want to open out the story much more, within Mega City One, but also into the Cursed Earth. And I would want to continue to exploring the character of Dredd.
If there is a sequel, I’m imagining spending about half the movie in the Cursed Earth, and I would try to come up with some new faces as well as some old ones.
I quite like the idea of Satanus. But much more mutated.
But by the way, just so it has been said, I actually think that maybe the best way forward for Dredd is television. 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. Imagine the epics…
And finally, about characters he might like to throw into future movies:
If I was involved in a second movie, it would be about origins and subversion, and Chopper would feature. In fact, I think Chopper would start and end the story. Apart from him, my rough plan involves Fargo, Giant, Angel Gang, and a version of Satanus. For a trilogy, add Cal and the dark judges. And Anderson would be in all three. But… just to be clear, this is hugely speculative and also unlikely, for any number of reasons.
Dredd will be coming to our Western theaters on September 21st, and from the sound of what Garland has to say, might be worth taking a look at.