Remake Rumble: Judge Dredd (1995) vs Dredd (2012)

The 411: Hollywood’s second attempt at bringing the British comic book icon to the big screen following the 1995 Sylvetser Stallone clunker, Judge Dredd. This time Karl Urban (Star Trek) puts on the signature helmet and takes to the streets of Mega City One delivering severe justice to lawbreakers under the guiding hand of director Pete Travis (Vantage Point).

Judge Dredd (Sylvester Stallone) vs Judge Dredd (Karl Urban)

I am admittedly not the biggest Judge Dredd fan in the world but even with my cursory knowledge of the character from the very few issues of 2000 AD I have read, I know two things about Dredd: (1) He is not to ever be played for campy laughs (2) He should not take off the helmet. Stallone broke both of those rules with reckless abandon. He wore the helmet for possibly a combined 10 minutes of a 90 minute movie and he played the character for pure camp from the first minute he arrived in the middle of a firefight and stood there with his hands on his hips spouting off penal code violations.
Urban on the other hand plays Dredd straight and the remake is all the better for it. His Judge Dredd is a by the book, stiff, hard ass who metes of justice with minimal need for puns or quips after every shot is fired. And he kept the helmet on throughout the entire movie. Now I understand Stallone has spent a fortune on plastic surgery so he wanted to let his investment shine through but even with only his mouth and chin showing, Urban out acted Stallone by a mile.
Advantage: Dredd ’12

9 thoughts on “Remake Rumble: Judge Dredd (1995) vs Dredd (2012)

  1. I have to disagree with your perspective on Ma-Ma, I think her low mood personality made her out as quite terrifying. She was cold, calculating and ruthless which made her perfect for the role she was cast into. In my opinion it’s better than having a typical shouting/screamy villain who pulls her hair out when she looses or laughs like a madwoman when committing atrocities, to me she felt menacing without overdoing it and didn’t feel clichéd, as result she was more memorable to me.

    Also the way she seemed detached/apathetic whilst committing/ordering acts of violence gave me the impression that she was someone who saw what she did a way of life in a slum like Peach Trees, She was a good example of what a dystopia might do to those who get the worst of it, she hasn’t had much of a life and what little she has had, it mainly involved seeing the worse humanity has to offer: Violence, crime, poverty, abuse (her comic book origin story backs this up pretty well too if you haven’t read it already.) Her inner self is twisted and dried up as a result of things she’s seen and endured, and for me Lena Headey did a brilliant job of getting that feeling across with the way she portrayed Ma-Ma.

    Although she was extremely, sickeningly violent I didn’t get the impression she revelled in the slaughter during the events of the film, (she taunts her pimp with the bloodied smile, but that was personal.) She was far from the stereotypical cackling super villain type that is so overdone in comic book based movies, I personally found her very refreshing, she was my favourite element of the movie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ma-Ma was too understated for a film where they stayed true to the source material when it came to Dredd himself. With Urban playing such a deadpan version of the character I felt that his nemesis needed to have a bit more personality that what Headey brought to the role.


  2. I second the assessment that Lena Headey’s performance as Ma Ma was quite terrifying and provided a very real sense of threat and danger.

    The brief backstories and flashbacks provided in the film, combined with her methodical, brooding, menacing portrayal of the character, provided a view of truly psychotic person (whose emotions are further dulled by drug addiction) with a sole purpose of simply living one more day in complete control of her empire. She has zero morality or compassion towards human beings and regards the hundreds of thousands of residents in Peach Trees as little more than insects, especially as evidenced in wiping out hundreds of them in a particular attempt to kill the two Judges and Kay.

    At the same time, you get the impression that – despite her non-existent sense of morality and her own dulled or dead emotions towards the ordeals in the life she’s lived – she can’t help but secretly welcome the day she meets her maker.

    In real life, criminals such as herself rarely live up to the stereotypical movie baddies overacted by so many. Frankly, if I came across a person like her, she’d share the daylights out of me. Bravo to Ms. Headey for providing a great performance, and obviously also to Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby for their top-notch portrayals of their characters. This was a great film that left the Stallone adaption in the dust, no question.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. While I agree with everything else, Armand Assante was campy and over the top, he didn’t act as if he belonged in the world of Dredd at all…in fact e was made up for the film. It seemed as if every villain in the 90s had to act like the Joker from the 1989 Batman film. Give me Lena Headey any day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have a point about every villain acting like the Burton films version of The Joker. I still am annoyed by Tommy Lee Jones doing a Nicholson as The Joker impression when he played Two-Face.


    1. That doesn’t prove anything. The reason the first one grossed so much money was because there was so much excitement for it, so many fans were clamouring for a Judge Dredd movie since the mid 80’s, if you read the comics you would know this, so that’s a decade of pent up excitement, of course the movie is going to gross a lot. Now take into consideration the fact that it flopped, fans knew this, so everyone was hesitant going to see Dredd, because they thought it was going to be shit like the original one, I remember before the movie came out, fans everywhere were complaining about how shit it looked. So you logic is in fact illogical, I get it, the first Judge Dredd movie is a movie you like, but just because you like it doesn’t change the fact that the movie is renowned as a horrible movie.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.