Judge Dredd creator John Wagner has returned from a visit to the Cape Town set of the upcoming film adaptation, Dredd, and shared, via his Facebook page, a number of interesting details about the production.
"The film occupies all four giant buildings at the new Cape Town Studios," he reports, "Sets looked great – grim! … What I saw… was very Mega-City. South Africa’s got something of Mega-City about it in any case. On the morning I was supposed to do an interview with a reporter from Time Magazine I got a text from the studio: ‘Time reporter has been mugged – interview is cancelled.’…"
Wagner also discusses the scope of the picture, one that he admits he had problems with in the beginning.
"[Screenwriter] Alex Garland and I have had our disagreements," he says, "but he has usually had a convincing argument for doing things his way. On the main issue, concentrating the plot on a slice of life rather than trying to convey the whole sweep of Dredd and Mega-City life, I now see that he’s right. It was one of the flaws of the first movie, they tried to do too much… Plenty of attention’s been given to the script already and of course everything at the moment is a little fluid, so where rewriting has to be done it gets done."
As for the cast, Wagner has nothing but tremendous praise.
"Very pleased with what I saw of Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby," he writes, "Both excellent in their roles and work well as a team…. I just had a brief conversation with Karl, he’s much too hard at work to spare a lot of time. There was one shot where the camera focused in on his face, a reaction to Anderson, and I swear Carlos could have drawn that scowl… Karl, when he’s acting (and even when he’s not!), IS Judge Dredd….Karl’s got many voices and he certainly gets the gruffness and authority in Dredd’s. Pete’s pretty clued up on Dredd, as are many of the crew, being old-time 2000AD readers. I was surprised by how many had an in depth knowledge of and love for the character. That was very gratifying."
Other, more specific details, go into the set and costume choices.
"[T]he uniform doesn’t look like a muscle suit," he adds, "It is very believable…. The uniform was still fairly paramilitary … but it works for me… Only got to see a partial shell of a lawmaster, so can’t really comment, but did handle a lawgiver. Looked good… I saw them setting up a lot of stuff for SFX but didn’t get to see the final result. While in the FX dept a huge explosion went off – practically jumped out of my skin. Max the tech trying to figure out how to explode a lawgiver without killing the actor using it!"
Ultimately, Wagner’s thoughts should serve to exited fans of Dredd and the "2000 A.D." comics.
"[The] entire crew [is] really dedicated and determined to produce a damned good movie," he says, "Sadly I had to leave before I could see them shooting any ultra-vi. Extremely impressed by the 3-D – apart from the demo at Universal Studios in LA, my memories were of the feeble efforts I saw as a youth. This is a real quantum leap from that, really adds depth. This is going to be good."
Dredd is shooting now and will hit theaters in both 2D and 3D.