If there’s any one element that defines the Judge Dredd comic series published by British sci-fi magazine 2000AD, it’s violence. Brutal, over-the-top, wanton violence. Though the titular Judge is a law man, he’s also a satire of the modern American fondness for guns and their myriad uses (and by “myriad” we mean “murderous”), so it’s nice to see that the first clip officially made public from the upcoming Dredd features the Judge busting into an apartment and shooting up the place.
As we predicted when the film’s first trailer hit the ‘net last month, that drug that serves as Dredd’s key MacGuffin also gives the filmmakers a convenient canonical excuse to fill the movie’s action scenes with superfluous (if totally awesome) slow-motion effects. “We didn’t realize how much we’d appreciate that until an action flick offered some kind of explanation as to why its stars could drop in and out of bullet time at will, but it is quite thoughtful,” we wrote.
More importantly than the “why” behind the clip’s slowed time effects is how well the movie’s creative team has utilized the trope. While nothing in this short excerpt is terribly groundbreaking — The Matrix was doing things far more impressive way back in 1999 — it does serve to give the film a stylistic boost, and it’s hard to argue that the images on display here are anything but aesthetically enticing. If the movie’s action scenes all feature this kind of physics-defying visual effects work it should automatically qualify as a solid action flick for those who need little else from a movie than people being killed in increasingly creative fashion.
That said, we’d also like to offer the filmmakers propers for keeping Karl Urban in the helmet the entire time. A key complaint leveled against the 1995 Judge Dredd film starring Sylvester Stallone is that the people who made it felt that Stallone’s face was key to the possible success of the movie, and thus he wears the face-obscuring helmet as little as possible. Though that plan makes sense from the point of view of an investor who wants to ensure that the movie makes tons of cash at the box office, it flies in the face of the comic book source material in which Dredd has only been seen sans helmet once or twice in the 35 years since the character’s creation. We genuinely like Karl Urban, and objectively speaking he’s a handsome man, but it should come as great news to fans of the comic hoping for a faithful adaptation that everything we’ve seen of the film to date features Urban’s macho mug obscured entirely by that oversized head protector.
It’s entirely possible that the media we’ve been offered so far has been cherry picked to fool us all into thinking that the movie strictly adheres to established canon, and that the final movie will see Urban’s naked face popping up every few minutes, but until we hear that that’s the case, we’re offering propers to the creative team behind this flick. Now let’s just hope that the movie can entertain those whose discerning tastes demand a bit more than “flashy shoot ‘em up” from their theater-going experience.