2000 AD aficionados can rest easy - Judge Dredd's latest cinematic outing is brutally true to its comic book source and a vast improvement on Sylvester Stallone's universally loathed 1995 interpretation.
Last night, fans at San Diego's Comic Con were treated to a preview screening of the Alex Garland-scripted, Pete Travis-directed Dredd and breathed a collective sigh of relief as a lean, mean Dredd laid violent waste to scum in a gritty, grubby Mega-City One. And kept his helmet on throughout.
Despite rumours of rifts during production, Garland and Travis have created a horribly gorgeous vision of dystopian future where monolithic housing towers are run by criminal gangs - and policing is undertaken by judge/jury/execution officers, Judges. Cue Dredd (Karl Urban) a no-nonsense hardass who's got a psychic rookie, Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), tagging along for his shift.
Called out to tower block Peach Trees to investigate some splattered body parts, Dredd and Anderson find themselves trapped in a Raid-esque running battle, fighting their way up - one run-down filthy floor at a time - to gang leader Ma-Ma (Lena Headey).
Urban certainly has the downturned mouth and super-cool, gravelly delivery to pull off Dredd's nonchalance but he's aided by Garland's smart, fast script, a relentless flow of Rorschach Test blood sprays from bone-shattering brutality, eye-poppingly beautiful 3D visuals and peppy banter with Thirlby.
The body count is high, the humour grim and the violence stylishly graphic and reminiscent of Sin City (scenes involving a drug called Slo-Mo are visually intoxicating).
And that famous headgear stays resolutely on. Perhaps ready for Dredd 2? According to Garland there are two other Dredd adventures he's ready to write - based on this fast and hard outing, audiences may well be wanting more of the law...
Dredd opens in the UK on 7 September 2012.
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