Friday, December 4, 2009

Rewrites: Judge Dredd

Hello and welcome to Rewrites, a new blog series in which I give my take on bad movies that I consider wasted potential, and tell you how I would have done them differently. Or I might just take something that's already good and make it better, or at least different, or just expand on existing franchises, whatever just pops into my head. Why? Well, sometimes I just like to hear myself talk.

To start off this series, I'm gonna go with a movie I already love, I just wish it was a genuinely good movie and not just a guilty pleasure: Judge Dredd

What to Keep: First off, the casting of the title character was absolutely perfect. Sylvester Stallone is Judge Joseph Dredd. I honestly cannot picture anyone else in the role. I've never actually read the 2000 AD comics myself, but based on the research I've done, the character is actually supposed to be a loud, over-the-top caricature. I means just look at him:

Who else but stallone could pull of a character that looks like that and still be badass? Well, maybe Jason Statham if you must recast.

Another thing that was fine was the costume & set design. Well, for the most part, but we'll get to that is a minute.

What to Change: First let's find a new director, and man is this a no-brainer: Paul Verhoeven. It could not be more perfect. Judge Dredd would clearly work best as a kind of Starship Troopers/RoboCop style dark political satire, So who better than the man who directed both of those movies? He could make it not only entertaining as hell, but socially relevant at the same time.

Now let's recast. No disrespect to Max von Sydow, but I have a hard time picture Sly Stallone growing into a Swedish Shakespearean. Sure, the movie danced around the idea the Dredd was Fargo's clone by never actually calling him a clone, but still, lets keep this within the realm of possibility, shall we? My personal vote goes to Ian McShane. Seriously, how glorious would that be?

For Judge Hershey, I guess I'll go with Lena Headey, make her a household name before 300. If you made the movie now instead of in 1995 however, I'd totally get Eliza Dushku. Yeah sorry, Whedon nerd. And for the part of Fergee, we'll get Martin Lawrence, in order to make the character even more annoying and unfunny. PSYCHE, I jest of course, let's hire Brad Pitt. You'll see why in a minute (think 12 Monkeys Brad Pitt). Most other major characters from the original movie won't be appearing in my version, so onto the plot.

The plot for the original movie was loosely based on a story arc from the comics called "The Day the Law Died!". And as with most adaptions, the solution is more adherence to the source material. This means Rico is completely removed from the equation and Judge Cal takes his place as the new Big Bad. Armand Assante could take that role too I guess, but for some reason I keep picturing James Woods in the role (or since Cal is based on the roman emperor Caligula, cast Caligula himself: Malcolm McDowell). Cal is a member of the Council of Five, and like Judge Griffin in the film, desires to dethrone Chief Judge Fargo and rule Mega City One. Unlike Griffin but very much like Rico however, he is completely bat-shit insane. So there's room aplenty for hilarious scenery chewing.

Like in the comic books, Judge Dredd is one of several clones of Fargo, a fact that is public knowledge. Fargo is currently experiencing doubts about the Judge system, wondering if justice is world the price of freedom. He voices these doubts to Dredd, who barely even understands what he means. The law is all he knows.

Judge Cal then makes his move. He assassinates Fargo, frames Dredd for it, and assumes the office of Chief Judge. He then appoints his pet goldfish as Deputy Chief, why not? He begins a reign of terror, brainwashing all the Judges and executing anyone who speaks against him.

Dredd manages to escape imprisonment with Hershey's help and, now a wanted fugitive, goes underground. He finds a large group of impoverished citizens would fled Cal's tyranny, living in Undercity, led by street thief Fergee, who'd been arrested by Dredd more than a few times. Dredd tries to organize a citizens revolt against Cal, but finds that they all think of him as just as much of a dictator as Cal, seeing little difference between the Judges' police state and outright enslavement.

Dredd And Hershey recruit what Judges they can, including council member Judge Griffin who escaped being brainwashed, gather was citizens are willing to follow them, and launch an assault on the Grand Hall of Justice. However, the are ambushed by the Kleggs, alien mercenaries hired by Cal. The survivors escape back to Undercity, spirits broken. In order to win back the peoples confidence, Dredd and Hershey start taking out Klegg patrols guerrilla style, slowly frustrating Cal's regime. Cal grows increasing insane, and is tormented by nightmares of Dredd, causing him to tighten his grip on the city, executing innocents on whims, sealing of the city, and outlawing everything that could bring joy, burning luxury items in the street.

Eventually life is made completely intolerable for the people of Mega City One, and the rally behind Dredd, though more out of hatred for Cal that actually trust in Dredd. Panicking, Cal sentences the entire population to death, activating a Doomsday measure that floods the entire city in poisonous gas within hours. Dredd and his army attack, finally defeat at kill Cal, and shut off the gas, but not before it's killed a good tenth of the city.

Judge Dredd is offered the vacant seat of Chief Judge, but refuses, as the death of Fargo and the citizens mistrust of him have led him to reconsider his entire belief system. He finally understands what Fargo was trying to say, but is too devoted to the law to actually consider quitting. He elects Griffin as the new Chief Judge and elects to take the Long Walk in order to reaffirm his faith in law and order.

But we're not done there. We're gonna make this sucker a trilogy, baby. We can follow it up with Judge Dredd 2: Dark Judgement, in which Dredd comes out of retirement to save Mega City One from Judge Death and the Dark Judges. And for the grand finale, Judge Dredd 3: Apocalypse War, based on, of course, the Apocalpyse War storyline, in which Mega City One wages nuclear war against their Soviet counterpart, East Meg One. And as the main villain Sov Judge Orlock, we could cast...wait for it...Dolph Lundgren! Yes, it's Rocky vs. Drago once again, only with really big guns! Just tell me you don't want to see that!

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