2000AD readers generally agree that the 2012 Dredd 3D movie was a fantastic adaptation of all the best features of the comic strip. It has achieved a certain cult status but unless the campaign to make a sequel succeeds then we are unlikely to see any more of Karl Urban as the iconic character. However thanks to this illustrated script book by Alex Garland and Jock we can learn a bit more about the behind the scenes work that went into the film.
Jock actually started producing art for how he thought a new film should look before he was contacted by the film-makers who had seen his work and invited him to work on storyboards and on character designs and other visuals for the production team. And his images are collected here in all their glory.
There are some interesting differences between the draft script and what we finally saw on screen. In Dredd's first action sequence he deliberately shoots through the body of an innocent bystander to bring down a perp. Although the bystander's wound is not life threatening I presume this was dropped so as not to make Dredd seem too unsympathetic. Ma-Ma is also depicted as a much older character than the Lena Headey version. Similarly the Clan Techie is shown wearing elaborate electronic goggles rather than the more subtle bionic eyes we saw in the movie. There is more background about the clan member Japhet and his wife whose apartment Dredd and Anderson seek shelter in. This looks to have been dropped for time reasons and instead Anderson's psychic flashes and a simple family picture tell us all we need to know.
The biggest change is the final showdown between Dredd and Ma-Ma which here is a more physical one on one fight without the detail of the bomb linked to her heartbeat. Like all the other big changes the version we finally saw makes much more sense and works better for a film, but it's intriguing to see how some of this stuff changed on its journey to the screen. The other thing this book tells me is quite how much work goes into making a film. It's no wonder we see all those hundreds of names listed in the end credits. Some of the effort that goes into even minor features that will only be glimpsed for a few seconds boggles the imagination.
It's a lovely package and Jock's illustrations are always great to look at. I have the paperback version which is currently about £25 on Amazon. The limited edition hardback is sold out but copies are presumably still out there for silly money. If you have not already picked up a copy then this may be a good one to add to the Christmas list, although you might be hard pressed to choose between this and the upcoming Daily Star Dredd collection. Recommended. Four stars.