Can ‘Dredd’ Remove the Dread from its Comic/TV Adaptation?April 11, 2018
Any discussion of Judge Dredd needs to cover the highs, of which there have been many. After all, we’ve had the 2012 movie, and the incredibly daring (perhaps foolishly so!) Burger Wars, which did everything possible to take on and offend pretty much every major fast food retailer and processed food provider.
The same discussion, though, needs to account for the low periods that have occurred, such as the removal of Burger Wars due to mounting legal issues, as well as the utter farce that has occurred on most (not all) occasions when Dredd has tried to have success either as a TV show or as a movie. The Sylvester Stallone outing was perhaps the most ridiculous example, and it is no surprise that some fans have been left dreading the Netflix series, Judge Dredd: Mega City One.
Comic book fans were largely left raving after Karl Urban’s outing of Dredd in the box office flop but 2012 cult hit, Dredd. In fact, so taken were we by the film that we took part in the #DayofDredd by urging our readers to make sure they petitioned 2000AD to make a new film happen. Sadly, the cause has so far failed, and instead the realm of Netflix beckons, with the proposed release of Judge Dredd: Mega City One looking to take the judge, jury, and executioner from the big screen back into the limelight.
Netflix has had its fair share of successes, but it has also been seen by some as a graveyard for straight to Netflix movies, with the notable exception of Annihilation featuring Natalie Portman (who has previously helped V for Vendetta reach the heights as an excellent graphic novel adaptation). There is another complication for the proposed series too, as Karl Urban is not confirmed to be part of the show. This means that one of the few actors who have proved they have the gravitas required to play the incredibly complex character of Dredd might not be in the picture, potentially ruining any chance the show has of being a true success.
Perhaps the most worrying aspect of the proposed project is that it may fail to respect the potential of a hard-headed judge in a post-apocalyptic world and the fact that he is arguably the ultimate example of a flawed hero who revels in the role of being an anti-hero.
Some adaptations or sequels are made simply to cash in on an idea and end up seeing fans let down due to such a large focus being on the money-making and appealing to a wider audience. This seemed to be the case with the awful remake of Ghost in the Shell, where accusations of whitewashing and a failure to respect the original ideas made the film a flop. Such was the failure of this film that if you look at much of the merchandising opportunities relating to the movie, they seem to have resisted the chance to be updated. The Ghost in the Shell progressive-jackpot slot games available, for instance, for markets like Canada, actually use the characters of the original rather than from the Hollywood renewal, proving that the attempt to create a wider appeal didn’t do enough to win over the original fans.
Failure isn’t always inevitable though; it’s interesting to note that Netflix has won praise from Trekkies for the recent Star Trek: Discovery, which didn’t try to make the series easy-viewing for a wider audience, and we should remember that The Walking Dead TV adaptation managed to stay true enough to the comic books to show the true gore and horror required.
With this in mind, while it might not be what fans instinctively want, it seems wise to give Judge Dredd: Mega City One a chance.