For all the bad rap that remakes and sequels get, ‘Dredd 3D’ proves that some material deserves a second chance and that not all potential comic book movie franchise foundations must be all set-up and origin story. Writer Alex Garland and director Pete Travis’s re-take was enough for us to forget the terrible ‘90s adaptation of ‘Judge Dredd’ starring Sylvester Stallone, and it gave us something to hope for with regards to a smaller, tighter action series than Hollywood aims for these days.
Unfortunately, the new movie’s box office isn’t that spectacular, though perhaps that won’t keep a follow up from happening. Surely the audience for this gratuitously violent and smartly mindless effort will show up down the road, probably when ‘Dredd’ hits Blu-ray and the sugary, drug-induced slo mo scenes explode vibrantly on their HD television. And they when don’t have to pay a 3D surcharge for a property they’re unsure of.
Let’s say ‘Dredd’ is ultimately served justice and allowed a sequel. As perfect as the film is in a simplistically entertaining way, there is certainly room for some improvement. Faithful Judge Dredd fans who missed the satirical political edge here will want that to come into play, especially if a second installment opens the action up beyond the single location structure we have with this one. But can it go there without so much detail that any Brit-centric commentary would disengage American audiences? It will be a challenge.
Regardless of the depth that could be injected into the unapologetically shallow film, here are five major Judge Dredd storylines that could serve well for a bigger yet still bloody ‘Dredd’ sequel:
If ‘Dredd’ is this series’ ‘Batman Begins’ then ‘Dredd 2’ must be its ‘Dark Knight’ and dish up the character’s most well-known nemesis. Judge Death hails from another dimension where the judges are undead creatures wiping out all living humans, because man is filled with sin and therefore all are criminals. It’s a familiar sci-fi theme and the sequel could follow the villain through his plans to wipe out Mega-City One with nuclear weapons. It’d also be interesting to see Olivia Thirlby possessed by this zombie judge when Death’s spirit takes her body over after being defeated by Dredd.
If there’s one thing the old ‘Judge Dredd’ movie has over the new is its tackling of an actual storyline from the comics, that of Dredd’s “clone twin,” Rico, and the hero’s origin as having been created for the purpose of being a judge. The previous adaptation actually kind of involved the split in morality for such individuals produced to be emotionless figures on the line of the law. But this would be a chance to further show the Stallone movie up in other areas while also taking on some backstory for the hero, who we learn nothing about in this initial installment.
%22Mutants in Mega-City One%22
This plot, following Dredd’s attempt to end mutant apartheid, could easily be seen as a knockoff of the movie ‘District 9,’ but the story is more aimed at the concept of detention centers such as the prison at Guantanamo Bay. The sequel doesn’t actually need to follow the exact details of this storyline, though, so long as there is some dealing with the mutant population of this world as being allegorical for the vilification of Muslims. There are so many little mentions about mutants in ‘Dredd’ given that Anderson is one who doesn’t resemble the majority of them, and she is still looked at with great prejudice simply for being of this marginalized section of society. Discriminated population groups will always be a fertile ground for properties like this.
Of course, they could also just go with literal terrorists and attempt possibly the most political of ‘Judge Dredd’ storylines, which could also be relevant to the democratic uprisings in the Middle East. The part where the terrorist group Total War tries to blow up the Statue of Liberty is great for the movies, as even the Stallone movie displayed an understanding of our interest in iconic, familiar landmarks in futuristic settings, especially if they symbolically represent something pertaining to the theme of the story. The teenage romance could be an accessible angle for younger moviegoers while the background issue of peaceful protesters evolving into violent terrorists provides a timely intellectual basis.
Who are we kidding? The best thing to do for the property for both fun and financial success, and even relevance to real-world current events, is to go back to the very first major ‘Judge Dredd’ storyline for a good old robot uprising. Never mind that robopocalypses are already being done elsewhere. They’ve always been done everywhere. Machines turning on their masters will always be a popular plot. And with ‘Dredd’ already seeming like a ‘RoboCop’ remake (negating the one actually being made) as much as a ‘Judge Dredd’ reboot, the idea seems appropriate. Yes, this is a must; they have to introduce “Call-Me-Kenneth” and “Walter the Wobot.”