Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Dredd-fully good time

My brother and I just saw the new Judge Dredd movie, Dredd 3-D.

I shall preface this review with a reason why I'm suddenly reviewing movies on a GW-fan-Hobby Blog. You see, without Judge Dredd and his 2,000 A.D. cohorts and cast members, the Warhammer 40,000 universe wouldn't be quite the same. Way back in the mid-'80's, around the time the GW designers were sculpting the 1st Space Marines, GW had the licence to make Judge Dredd miniatures as well as publish the Judge Dredd RPG. The early 40K universe presented in Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader was a mish-mash of influencing sci-fi genres: Dune, Aliens, Starship Troopers, and probably many others, but the strongest influence on the worlds of the Imperium, those places your marines are dying each week to protect, is undoubtedly Judge Dredd.

GW's Judge Dredd RPG

The world of Judge Dredd is basicly a dying wasteland with vast cities of humanity stacked and sprawled across hundreds of miles dotting the continents. Resources have been plundered and squandered long ago, or destroyed in the post atomic hell-scapes of the earth. Most citizens don't venture far from the blocks that they live and work in. The population so dense and numerous the Judges, the law enforcers of the Mega-Cities, are too few to deal with all of them. They are empowered to act as Judge, Jury and executioners for immediate and on the spot dispensation of justice. They are the law.

Jes Goodwin design sketch of an Adeptus Arbite
The worlds of the Imperium are either on the way, or already are, dying wastelands with vast hive cities of humanity dotting the continents. Stacked (more so than sprawled) across the continents, spewing forth pollutants and chemical waste as they pump their world dry of whatever resource of value that they can find and use. Most citizens don't venture far from the blocks that they live and work in. The population is so dense and numerous the Judges of the Adeptus Arbites, the law enforcers of the Hive worlds, are too few to deal with all of them. They are empowered to act as Judge, Jury and executioners for immediate and on the spot dispensation of justice in the name of the Holy Emperor on Terra. They are the law.

Not too much difference huh? The judges of both worlds see their worlds as a ceaseless cess-pool of crime. They see the Law as an ultimate, unwavering line that is unforgivable to step over. Extreme black and white: no gray. No sympathy or compassion for those that they dispense justice too. After all, you chose to commit that crime perp, now here's your sentence!

Yes, that is a Space Marine.
So back in 1987 the earliest blister packs of the new Warhammer 40,000 recycled some of these old Judge Dredd models, particularly the various perps, as "Space Pirates". Some packs had a few generic aliens from GW's Dr.Who miniature line tossed in as well (one of my models says 'Timelord' on the base tag, which I have used as an Astropath). I have quite a number of these that I gathered over the years, and they don't look very 40K-like much at all. Not to mention that most of these models didn't really have supporting rules in the Rogue Trader book, so much as they had a supporting role in filling up the gaps in the blister racks of the day. So awkward was this early launch of 40K, that the two brands even shared a product, Citi-Block, which had floor plans to use in recreating table-top blockwars. This background element rarely finds it's way onto the warzones of the 41st millennium, but make no doubt, the underhive is a warzone. The Necromunda game (and it's predecessor Confrontation) both dealt with gang warfare in the Underhives with the Judges/Enforcers of the Adeptus Arbites as a constant threat to the survival of the gang.

Fast forward 25 years later to today, and we find that only the look of the Arbites has (albeit slightly)changed (not so much for Dredd) except now they have cyber-mastiffs and 40k specific gear. As I read through The Book of Judgment for the Dark Heresy game I kept thinking about Judge Dredd and how far, and yet not so much, that GW has evolved the judges of their worlds. And literally today as I was watching this movie, I was thinking: "This is my next Dark Heresy campaign: Judges cleaning up the underhive!"

The top row were released for 40K 2nd ed, the bottom row were released for Confrontation.

Which, onto the review, is what we got with Dredd 3-D: Judges cleaning up the underhive. In Mega-Citi 1, whole City blocks rise up to the smoggy heavens in vast skyscrapers.This was poorly presented in the mid-'90s Judge Dredd movie but perfectly presented here in Dredd 3-D. Especially the gangs and how they fight for control over the various levels of a given block. Dredd and Anderson find themselves looking into a triple homicide but stick their noses in a bit too far, upsetting a very powerful crime lord, who will stop at nothing to protect her operations. To say too much more might give away too much, but I will say that I left feeling like I just read a classic Judge Dredd story. Dredd is never seen with his helmet off. Which is usually the case in the comics as well. The snear, the attitude, the unwavering persuit to serve justice to those he has targeted -all these things- are perfectly presented here. The awesomeness of the 'Lawgiver', which thankfully is improved here vs. the comics, makes for some great entertainment as well. And it left me wanting to play a game where I could control a judge, and clean out a hive spire of the filth that inhabits it.

Awesome grenade options: another thing GW swiped from Dredd.
Go see it, Unless you dislike blood. Cause I think as far as recent action movies go, maybe only Hobo with a Shotgun had more blood and guts than this does...


Da Masta Cheef said...

Screech & I were talking about going to see it last night. We didn't realize it was already in theaters!

Dan O. said...

There’s an awesome-looking style to it that makes the action kick that much more ass, but in terms of action, I felt like they were missing something. Still, it’s a whole lot of fun. Nice review.

neverness said...

Much appreciated Dan O, and I agree about the style. It's definitely a different vibe. I wished we had a few more short scenes of Dredd rounding up Perps in the begining, maybe something that would lead to the chase, or even a little short after the credits. I'm just hoping we get another one, and it follows this formula of awesomeness.

Screech and Cheef, did you see it yet?