Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Is Dredd Now Over Rated?

Is a passionate fan base giving the cult hit too much credit? David Craig presents his view.

Last year I had the pleasure of finally seeing Dredd, the 2012 adaptation of the classic character created by publisher 2000AD. The movie pleasantly surprised me, my low expectations defied with a movie that showed a good understanding for the characters, and great respect for the source material. It was also greatly refreshing to see a studio take a risk in making an R-Rated comic book movie based on a character without a particularly large fan-base - even if the risk perhaps didn't entirely pay off. Yes, as expected by many members of the press, Dredd failed to find a large audience while in theatres and ended its worldwide box office run with just $41 million of its $45 million budget made back.

Some were ready to declare the film an outright failure, however through good word of mouth a fan base for the film steadily grew, and strong home video sales have now given the film a 'cult hit' status. While a sequel is still a long way off, the vocal and passionate fan base is bringing it closer to reality than many could have expected, and at the forefront of that fan base has been the Facebook page "Make a DREDD Sequel." In just a year and a half the page has raised more awareness for the movie and its potential sequel than arguably any other outlet. The page has even teamed up with Judge Dredd publisher 2000AD on occasion moving it from fan appreciation page to legitimate petition. Now, just shy of 100,000 likes, the page is stronger than ever - however over the last few months I have found myself in a strange place. I'm starting to feel the movement behind the movie is so strong now that I'm growing apathy towards it.

Let me elaborate. One of the many Dredd-promoting activities carried out by the "Make a DREDD Sequel" Facebook page is the vigorous promotion of any fan-poll in which Dredd is entered. Granted they've had a few losses here and there, but generally as soon as the page sets its mind on ensuring a win for Dredd, it succeeds. Some Dredd fans would say that this is a good thing, that it is another step in producing a sequel for the movie but I would disagree. The reason why is because I feel the page is taking the fun out of these polls on many occasions.

For example, in March the Movie/TV department of online shopping giant Amazon held a March Movie Madness competition in which movies were grouped in brackets for customers to pick their favourite. Dredd was one of the movies included, and with support from the page went on to beat genuine cinematic landmarks such as the Godfather series, the Lord of the Rings series and Pulp Fiction. Again, some may say that this is great news for the movie and for the cause, but I'm starting to feel that the movie is now being over-rated.

Don't hate me! I like Dredd, I really do. It was a fun action movie, with a nice amount of character development. But let's be real. The character development, while present, wasn't groundbreaking and the plot was light at best. Dredd was very much a movie about the action, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that - in my opinion at least - it shouldn't be challenging such greats as Pulp Fiction and the Godfather I and II.

A repeat performance appears to be happening right now in a poll run by the website Zimbio, who are running a similar contest only this time to find the best comic-book movie of all time. Once again the page have been telling their fans to vote Dredd and once again it appears to be working. Dredd's first contender was 300 which arguably was never going to be a huge threat. However in round two, Dredd moved onto one of the biggest names in comic book movies: Iron Man. But it appears the might of Robert Downey Jr. and the Avengers universe combined cannot topple the passion of the Dredd sequel Facebook page with Iron Man currently losing 60:40.

This could be perceived as a fanboy moaning about how Iron Man is cooler than Dredd, but that really isn't my intention. All I'm saying is that if I - someone who doesn't pledge allegiance to any particular comic book publisher - had to choose between these two movies, I would have to say Iron Man was the better of the two. While Karl Urban and Robert Downey Jr. both put in great performances, Iron Man has a far more substantial plot than Dredd which suffers from a very basic story which can be summed up by "Dredd has to kill all the criminals." Speaking as an aspiring screenwriter, Iron Man is simply the better-written movie, and I feel like its being beaten unfairly by a movie that doesn't entirely deserve all the acclaim its recieving.

It seems likely that Dredd will get to the semi-finals at least, as in round three its only possible contenders are 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man or Thor: The Dark World - two comic book movies with a rather lukewarm reception. But should it get to the finals? Should it win? Other likely bets for the final consist of The Dark Knight, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and the 1989 Batman movie. These are all worthy winners above Dredd again, because they have something to offer except action, and if Dredd beats these movies then I fear my apathetic attitude towards the movie will only grow.

I don't want to dislike Dredd. It's a good movie. But it's a very basic movie too. I hope we see a sequel to Dredd as much as the next fan, but our desire for a sequel should not result in Dredd being elevated to a point where it can do no wrong, because it is simply undeserving of such acclaim.

Ultimately, whether or not Dredd wins these polls is hugely insignificant when placed in the scope of the wider world and the unfortunate events currently taking place. However as a fan of storytelling, I can't help but feel distressed when I see movies that are written so well be shafted for a movie that at its core is a very basic action film. I'll reiterate again, that I do like Dredd, but I feel my patience for it is wearing thin from the sheer power it seems to hold in our comic-book movie community.


This was an opinion piece. Please share your opinions on Dredd in the comments, on our Facebook page, or by tweeting us!


I can see why you think Dredd is overrated considering what you've mentioned about it.
Personally, I had a different reaction to you - I don't see Dredd as an action movie, even though it's got action in it. I thought the story was based on a strong character narrative, the dialogue was tight and revealing of the characters.
And again, my opinion - I preferred it over Iron Man as it was innovative, whereas Iron Man was fun yet seemed like a standard format.
I think the same reason these polls are doing well is also due to the same reason Dredd failed at the box office - advertising. Of course these things aren't definitive proof about the overall comparative worth of a movie, but the point is, if I enjoyed Dredd, and I want to give it more attention on the off chance that others will discover it, is that such a bad thing?

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