Remember that early report a few weeks ago about New Zealand-born-actor Karl Urban (Star Trek, Pathfinder, The Chronicles of Riddick, The Lord of the Rings) becoming the new Judge Dredd? Well, it's now confirmed. According to Empire Online, Urban has been tapped to essay the steel-jawed, helmet-wearing, hard-core dispenser of justice in a dystopian far future. Producers Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich confirmed Urban's casting at a Q&A session.

Here's an excerpt from my original piece about the Judge Dredd character's comic book background:
For those not in the know (or the now), Judge Dredd first appeared more than 30 years ago in the pages of 2000 AD, a British-based, science-fiction oriented weekly comic book anthology. Credit for Judge Dredd belongs to writer/editor Pat Mills, writer John Wagner, and artist Carlos Ezquerra. In a dystopian future, uniformed Street Judges patrol Mega-City-One, dispensing on-the-spot justice, acting as police, judge, jury, and executioner. Dredd rides a cannon-powered, computer-equipped motorcycle, the "Lawmaster" (as opposed to the Lawnmaster, a completely different vehicle used for landscaping), a DNA-coded handgun called, appropriately enough, the "Lawgiver," a pliability inducing baton, and, most iconic of all, a helmet that covers his face with the exception of his mouth and jaw.


Even better, at least for diehard Judge Dredd fans? Unlike the first attempt to bring Dredd to the big screen with Sylvester Stallone fifteen years ago, Urban won't remove the helmet during the entire running time. That's right, Urban will have to depend on his exposed lower jaw, mouth, head, and body movements to convey Dredd's inner life (assuming he has one.

Here's more from Empire:
"The main thing about Dredd is that it's a fantastic comic that was completely messed up 20 years ago," said Macdonald. "Our idea is to make a very hard, R-rated, gritty, realistic movie of Dredd in Megacity, so we've got to get the tone right. He's not going to take off his helmet. His bike is going to feel real. He's going to hit people and it's going to feel real."
In my early report, I expressed doubts about a new Judge Dredd flick going this route. It might be true to the long-running comic-book series, but not everything that works on a printed or digital page will (or should) work on the big or small screen. That specific departure from the Judge Dredd character angered fans fifteen years. I consider Urban an above-average actor, capable of dramatic range, but keeping the helmet on might be asking too much of him, not too mention non-fans or casual Judge Dredd fans.

Pete Travis (Endgame, Vantage Point, Omagh) has been tapped to take on directing duties. Empire didn't mention a start date for principal photography (or a release date), only that shooting will occur in Johannesburg, South Africa, so stay tuned for additional information.

So what do you think of the news? Is Urban a good match for the Judge Dredd character? What do you think of Urban keeping the helmet on the entire time? A good decision or a bad one? And will you see a new Judge Dredd film theatrically regardless of whether you see Urban's face or just the lower half?