Karl Urban is Judge Dredd

Rumors have been circling, but now Empire Online reports that it is official, Karl Urban will play the title role in the new “Judge Dredd” movie. The film will begin shooting soon in Johannesburg, South Africa, with Pete Travis (“Vantage Point”) at the controls.

Producer Andrew Macdonald told a Movie-Con Q&A panel

The main thing about Dredd is that it’s a fantastic comic that was completely messed up 20 years ago. . . 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.

The realistic part of me knows how bad the 1995 Stallone vehicle was (come on, Rob Schneider was his sidekick!), but it holds a special place in my heart, and I look back at it with inexplicable fondness. Each of the three (yes, three) times I saw it in the theater are associated with pleasant memories (one relates to my father, another involves a girl, not that you care about the personal details of my youth).

Urban has acquitted himself admirably in a number of big-budget action movies, and the role seems right up his alley. And if they actually do what Macdonald says, this has the potential to be a badass comic book movie.