Why Judge Minty is a Good Comic Adaptation – SPOILERS (quite big ones) film embeded.

MintyJudge Minty is a Judge Dredd ‘fan film’ from director Steven Sterlacchini, co-written with Michael Carroll. Cinematography and special effects by Steve Green and props by Daniel Carey-George.

The character Judge Minty was created by John Wagner and Mike McMahon; the story featured in Prog 147 (issue 147) of 2000AD , a British anthology comic and was credited to John Howard, a pseudonym of John Wagner. This story is famous for introducing the Long Walk, a form of retirement for Judges past their prime, they leave Mega City One to take law to the lawless in the Cursed Earth, a wasteland outside the city’s walls.

The first seven minutes of the film represent the comic strip, there are differences  in the film but the themes explored in the strip contribute to the core of the film. The rest of the film follows what happens to Judge Minty in the first week or so outside the city, this is from the imagination of Steve Sterlacchini, Michael Carroll and realised by the skills of Steve Green and Daniel Carey-George.

Watch the film first if you haven’t seen it as there are big spoilers below, the film is embedded here to add space before any spoilers can be seen. Remember you can go full screen, I recommend you do.

I did a similar article about the (Dredd 2012) film Written and Produced by Alex Garland starring Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby and Lena Headey. You can read that article here, anything I say here that seems to contradict that article isn’t a mistake. Judge Dredd is such a flexible setting that many stories can be good adaptations and yet be very, very different.

I’m looking at topics here, not particularly in the order of the film’s plot.

The VO

Judge Minty is voiced by Edmund Dehn. the actor portraying the title character,  but most of the other voices for this film are VO provided by a team of artists put together by Jared Butler.

There are numerous bits of radio chatter and advert jingles throughout the film. Many of these refer to actual occurrences in the comic. There is one that mentions the Night Club where Judge Death makes an appearance for example. The voices on the tannoy announcements and the Cursed Earth Crazies are also from this team. They help to give the film a real US feel, that is where it is set after all.

The VO is outstanding and there is more on this below.

Judges

Judges are the law. It really is as simple as that but of course the popular phrase ‘Judge, Jury and Executioner’ is also pretty accurate. Over the years there have been crimes with a death penalty and there have been times when there have been almost no crimes carrying that penalty. However what is constant is that death is a realistic possibility for almost any crime right up to arrest.

Minty, played by Edmund Dehn, has his doubts about the way the Judges deal with the citizens. However during the bust of the gang’s operation, you’ll note only one Judge was dispatched, Minty grimly executes all the perps with clear skill and efficiency. Only when one of the perps is all but finished off does Minty give any quarter. Of course this is his failing.

This scene is different to the comic version. In the comic Dredd is with Minty, assessing his ability as a Street Judge. Dredd’s part was reduced so that focus was more on Minty. The themes and the characterisation is however faithful to the original. The change from the source material is intentional to divert the audience from thinking ‘this is about Dredd’.

I’ve seen some criticism online that Dredd isn’t forceful enough. Well he doesn’t need to be forceful. In one scene he is calling in medevac for someone, his first line however was as forceful as required when he is speaking to other Judges off-screen when he says ‘Get these vultures out of my crime-scene!’ In the other scene he is telling an experienced Judge the hard truth, offering him a position in the Academy of Law because Minty has experience that Cadets could gain from. So Dredd is protecting the interests of the Justice Department, perfectly in character. Dredd is portrayed by 2000AD artist Greg Staples and voiced by Jarred Butler.

AndersonGIFThere are plenty of other Judges seen in several clips before we meet Judge Minty including Judge Anderson, played by Integra Fairbrook, in a Justice Department advert. There are also scenes of Judges tackling a number of crimes, including the spraying of Riot Foam. It is well worth rewatching these scenes in the Judge Minty extended audio pt 1 &

The Long Walk ceremony originally had only two Judges but was reshot due to the increased amount of uniforms available. This scene shows that even Judges beyond their days on the streets are still valued.

Then with Minty in the Cursed Earth we see Minty using his head. He is out gunned, out numbered. He has evidence to show that the gang has already killed Judges. So he doesn’t take them head on. This is good Judging, using sound tactics and looking for an advantage.

The City

What a great start to the film. Remember this film was already well into production before Dredd 3D. So any similarity with the drone approach and CCTV footage is coincidental.

What a lovely skyline. You may recognise the Grand Hall of Justice is similar to the one from the 1995 Stallone movie. It very much looks like the city from the comics, has a great feel to it.

The main action is more or less down at City Bottom. Crime there is less hidden as PSU often has poor access and Judges don’t go down there very often. The film makes it clear that we are at City Bottom with the establishing shots showing our attention being drawn down past the mega-blocks.

There is more of the city in the extended audio video I put a link to above and yet more detail, including some of the adverts and signs from the city scenes in Judge Minty extended audio pt 2. The city really does evoke the comic, where in many was it is the true main character in the story.

The Citizens

We see a nice array of citizens in those early establishing scenes, again you can take closer looks in those two links above to get a better view. Quite a lot of work has gone in to making the citizens look like they belong in Mega-City One – lots of nice pads on show.

There is a marvelous Chopper skysurfing scene that you can’t have missed but have you spotted the graffiti from his scrawling competitor?

The Cursed Earth & The Cursed Earth Crazies

A great look and feel to the Cursed Earth. The palette used by Steve Green and the wind-swept dusty air. The ruins of an old world, ‘Vote Bob Booth’ poster left over from before the devastating war between the Government of USA and the Judges.

We have great nods to the past such as the crashed Land Raider, not the same one Dredd used in the epic story ‘The Cursed Earth’, he lost that in two parts and this one has both parts of the vehicle. Up to the viewer to consider whether it is an earlier or later version (I’d guess a later one because in the Cursed Earth story they are clearly proud of their new toy). I was really thrilled to see this when I first watched the film

The colour palette used really makes the place seem so inhospitable. Again there is another video giving some great shots of the Cursed Earth, and Mega-City One, in the Judge Minty VFX video.

A marvelous mob of miscreants and misfits! Mutants, Radlanders & Perps. They all could so easily be from the pages of 2000AD. Aquila is a great lead villain with his brevity of dialogue. They fit the setting well, you’ll see their like in stories such as Cursed Earth, The Judge Child in fact there are crazies like these in almost any story set in the Cursed Earth.

The Gila Munja

If the Land Raider made me happy the inclusion of these bad-boys made me ecstatic. They aren’t the original version from the comics, however several related species have been seen in the comics under the same name. It is assumed there are either sub-species or that different tribe groups have slightly different mutations but are considered one species over all.

The way the mutant assassins are used in this story is brilliant. They know the power of the Mega-Cities and they would recognise a Judge. So Minty calling a truce is very much believable.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s