'Dredd' Trailer: Five Key Scenes

Karl Urban makes his debut as the helmeted arbiter of justice in the first official trailer for 'Dredd,' in theaters September 21.

He says he's the law — but do you believe him? Longtime "Judge Dredd" fans (heck, anyone old enough to have seen an R-rated movie in the 1990s) have plenty of reasons to be skeptical about "Dredd," the Pete Travis-directed adaptation of the "2000 AD" comic book, judging purely on how the Sylvester Stallone film of 1995 was handled. By all accounts, "Dredd" is not that film. It takes its inspiration from sources much closer to the original text and has a leading man — Karl Urban — who takes his job very seriously.

So did the "Dredd" trailer do it for you? It did it for us ... mostly. Here are five key elements from the "Dredd" trailer that informed our verdict.

Welcome to Mega City One

Gritty, impossibly huge and absolutely the last place on the planet you would ever want to live: that's Mega City One, and from the opening moments of the trailer, all of those points are clearly established. Hooligans run amok fueled by all kinds of illicit drugs, with one in particular gaining new traction: Slo-Mo, a dangerous product that "makes the brain feel as though time is passing at 1 percent of the normal speed." Why anyone would want to be on such a drug in the middle of Mega City One is beyond us, but it's certain to pave the way for some fantastic action, based on the trailer alone.

Big Ma-Ma's House

A hero is only as worthy as his villain, and in the case of "Dredd," the quality of the nemesis won't be a problem. Lena Headey of "Game of Thrones" fame is the bad guy here as Ma-Ma Madrigal, ruling the roost of a drug empire with enough ruthless efficiency to make Queen Cersei Lannister blush. Her scarred visage and crystal-clear goals — "If we play this right, we can take the whole city," she tells her underlings — make her a force to be reckoned with, and Headey seems to be having a ball in the role.

Judge and Be Judged

We'll get to Urban specifically in a second. In the meantime, look at all of the judges! Dredd explains their role in Mega City One thusly: "800 million people living in the ruin of the old world, and only one thing fighting for order in the chaos: the men and women of the Hall of Justice." Though "Dredd" will center mostly on the titular judge and his new trainee Cassandra Anderson (played by a bleach-blond Olivia Thirlby), it's nice to see some attention paid to the greater gaggle of law enforcers.

Fifty Shades of "Raid"

If you thought the plot of "Dredd" seemed a little familiar after watching the trailer, you're not losing it. There are undeniable similarities between this and "The Raid," the incredible Indonesian martial arts film from Gareth Evans that debuted this past spring. Ma-Ma Madrigal has her drug operation holed up in one massive tower that she has full control over, not unlike "The Raid" drug kingpin Tama. Also not unlike Tama, Madrigal commands all the tenants of her building to seek and destroy Dredd and Anderson. So, yes, the similarities are there, but there are more than enough differences in the setting, genre and characters — not to mention the action-dictating Slo-Mo — that we're more than happy to look the other way. (Besides, we'll take another "Raid" movie however we can get it, even if it's called "Dredd.")

Is He the Law?

That's the big question, isn't it? On paper, Karl Urban is a fantastic choice for Judge Dredd. In motion? That might be another story. His Dredd spits out a few too many one-liners for some folks' tastes — "negotiations are over," "the sentence is death," etc. — but he's got the look, the voice and the attitude down by our estimation. Whether or not that all adds up to a fully formed Dredd remains to be seen, but the trailer leaves us cautiously optimistic, if not fully sold, on Urban's performance.

"Dredd" is set to hit theaters on September 21.

What do you think of the "Dredd" trailer? Tell us in the comments below!

Check out everything we've got on "Dredd."

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