Hollywood is infamous for making sequels that nobody asked for. Legally Blonde 2? Grown Ups 2? Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties? Our reward for suffering through the original movie is being kicked in the metaphorical junk a second time?
What makes this even more unfair is there are tons of worthy films that have never seen a sequel come to fruition. True Lies. The Incredibles. And most recently, Dredd.
I’m a big fan of Dredd, the 2012 film based on the Judge Dredd stories from the U.K.’s long-running 2000 AD comics anthology series. Written by Alex Garland (28 Days Later), it stars Karl Urban as the titular lawman of the future, a guy with the power to apprehend, sentence and execute criminals on the spot.
After the cheesefest that was 1995’s Judge Dredd with Sylvester Stallone, Dredd was a breath of fresh air. It’s not a complex movie – it chronicles one day in the life of Dredd, his rookie partner Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) and a drug lord named Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) who wants them dead – but that’s part of its charm. It’s a tightly focused, visually arresting, extremely violent (yet occasionally grimly funny) movie.
A film follow-up to Dredd is looking less and less likely, but 2000 AD has published a sequel in comic book form, called Dredd: Underbelly. It sold out immediately upon release early this year, but was just reissued with a cool new cover by comic book artist Jock, who did concept design for the Dredd movie.
I like the idea of comics being used as sequels, prequels or the connecting tissue between movies or TV shows. Everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier has expanded its on-screen universe through comics.
But I don’t like Dredd: Underbelly.
OK, that’s not quite fair. It’s a perfectly fine comic, with fantastic art from Henry Flint that looks at familiar faces and places in the Judge Dredd universe through the movie’s specific visual lens.
But while it also tells a straightforward story – mutants from outside Mega-City One are being used as expendable slave labour to manufacture a dangerous new drug called Psycho – it shows that the magic of Dredd, the movie, was in the interplay between Urban and Thirlby, and in the movie’s weirdly alluring vision of the sprawling slums of the future.
Dredd: Underbelly feels like a tease, taking us ever so briefly back into Dredd’s universe, but without the same sizzle. It could be that the people behind 2000 AD hope Dredd: Underbelly will serve as a way to get fans of the film interested in the comics, and that’s great. But it’s no replacement for a proper cinematic sequel.
There’s still some hope for a Dredd sequel film – an official petition can be found at www.2000adonline.com/dreddsequel, closing in on 100,000 signatures – but it could just as easily go the same way as True Lies, The Incredibles and the rest.
Meantime, Paranormal Activity 17 is certainly in the works somewhere. There ought to be a law against that. With punishment carried out by Judge Dredd himself.
NERD ALERTS - FIVE GEEKY THINGS I'M INTO THIS WEEK
I don’t buy a lot of Blu-rays – after many years, I’ve finally realized I hardly ever rewatch movies that I own – but I might have to break that rule for this week’s home video release of Gravity, because I’m hoping it will be stuffed with behind-the-scenes features about how the movie’s incredible zero-G sequences were shot. If it’s not... well there’s always Sandra Bullock in her ginch.
Sometimes called Game of Thrones with a Nordic bent, the second season of History’s Vikings debuts this week. Problem is, I haven’t seen Season One (although my mom raves about it), so I’m going to have to find time to rectify that before Thursday’s premiere.
Liam Neeson told me last year that he’d do Taken 3 only if “nobody gets f---ing taken,” which remains one of my favourite interview quotes ever. I like Neeson as an action hero, and I have a thing for thrillers set on airplanes (Flightplan, Red Eye, Air Force One), so this looks right up my alley. It’s out in theatres this week.
Two of my favourite PC games of all time are 2000’s Deus Ex and 1998’s Thief: The Dark Project. It so happens that both properties now belong to game development studio Eidos Montreal, and since they did a fantastic job with 2011’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution, I’m stoked to see their reboot of Thief, out this week on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Windows PC.
Once upon a time I said Fred Armisen was the weakest link on Saturday Night Live. Then I started watching Portlandia, and now I want him and Carrie Brownstein to adopt me. Their quirky, amazing sketch comedy show kicks off its fourth season on IFC this week. I don’t even know if I get IFC. Do you? Can I come over?