Judge Dredd
Dir: Danny Cannon
Star: Sylvester Stallone, Armand Assante, Rob Schneider, Jurgen Prochnow
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 1995
Format: DVD R2

In the Third Millenium, the world changed. Climate. Nations. All were in upheaval. The Earth transformed into a poisonous scorched desert, known as "The Cursed Earth".

Millions of people crowded into a few Mega-Cities where roving bands of street savages created violence the justice system could not control.

Law as we know it collapsed.

From the decay rose a new order. A society ruled by a new elite force........A force with the power to dispense both justice and punishment.........They were the Police, Jury and executioner all in one.

They were......The Judges

In the future and overpopulated dystopian society of Mega-City 1, crime is escalating and "block- wars" are becoming an epidemic. Amidst the disorder and carnage there is one name that strikes fear into the hearts of the lawless.......Judge Dredd. Judge Dredd's ( Sylvester Stallone) unswerving and ruthless dedication to justice and the law has made him a legend among his peers and a symbol for justice and the most formididable of the future lawmen.

When Dredd is framed for murder, due to corruption within the Justice Department he is sentenced to life imprisonment. Dredd is forced to survive the ravages of "The Cursed Earth" and return to Mega-City 1 in an attempt to find and judge the true perpetrator(s) and to clear his name. Along the way Dredd enlists the help of friend and colleague Judge Hershey (Diane Lane) and small time criminal/ computer hacker Fergie (Rob Schneider) (whom Dredd had just given a 5 year prison sentence to). As Dredd get's closer to the source of corruption and to the truth he discovers at the centre of the conspiracy Judge Rico (Armand Assante) . Rico is a former rogue Judge who was once Dredd's best friend but when he succumbed to homicidal tendencies 9 years earlier Dredd was forced to judge him and sentenced him to death.

How do you make a mockery of a comic book character whose persona is virtually carved in stone?.... play around with some original stories from the comic, add a big budget, allow Gianni Versace to design the robes of Justice bearing very little resemblence to the established designs, throw in a few big name actors and finally allow an unheard of director to mix it together and unleash it on the screen. That is basically what you have with Judge Dredd and although the film may well have one or two good points they are unfortunately out weighed by the bad leaving quite a few dissappointed comic fans.

Judge Dredd first blasted his lawful and totalitarian way onto the pages of British Sci-Fi comic "2000AD" in March 1977 and was created by Pat Mills, John Wagner and their artist friend Carlos Esquerra. The basic story is that after an atomic holocaust the millions of survivors are sardined into several titanic "Mega-Cities" which are enormous walled cities, which protect them from the ravages of the barren, desolate, scorched world beyond them. As populations grow within the cities so does crime and in order to combat crime swiftly the Judges are created and given power to run the cities. The Judges are genetically selected for their important role and rule the Mega-Cities with an iron fist. The most feared and admired is Judge Dredd, the mean, ruthless, tough, ultra violent and granite jawed cop is seen as the greatest of all the Judges. Dredd has always been portrayed as almost inhuman in the comics, never seeing his face and suggesting that he lives for his work as a Judge, and has two emotional states which are mean and mad.

Sylvester Stallone is synonymous with "action" movies and has made some superb films but to be honest, this is not one of them. In fact I think it would be fair to say that Judge Dredd is a folly and is Stallone's very own Last Action Hero which was of course Arnold Schwarzenegger's "turkey" of a movie. The idea is good and the established comic is certainly a cult phenonemenon but this is not the film to adequately flesh out the comic. I have no doubt that a lot of people will have seen this movie having never read a single issue of 2000AD and thought that it was good, but with this character it is like having read the book and seeing chapter's missing or ignored on screen and replaced with some non-descript way of making more money for the studio.

The film starts well and the breathtaking opening photography is reminiscent of Blade Runner in it's grandeur, scale and style. After a rather small scale "block war" featuring a cameo by James Remar as a block warlord and a cool shootout the film peters out somewhat leaving the viewer sat there thinking "what happened, where's the rest of the movie?". The film descends into some abysmal plot territory and it is evident that they have tried to cram in some facets of the comic amidst a dire and irrelevant storyline. The direction by Danny Cannon is on the whole pretty awful but there are a few good set pieces but due to style of filming I would have to suggest that they were the influence of either Sylvester Stallone or Andrew Vajna (The 13th Warrior & First Blood) the film's executive producer as they have infinately more experience with this genre. The flying "Lawmaster" chase bears a lot of resemblence to the speeder bike chase through the forests of Endor in Return of The Jedi , but isn't quite as effective. It leaves you thinking that it was merely added to the film in order to spend the special effects budget as it serves very little purpose to the story and when compared to Return of The Jedi or even the rest of the film it is generally an inferior sequence no matter how impressive some of the effects are.

Good to see that they tackled the unenviable task of bringing "Mean Machine Angel" to life on screen, which looks damned good and is well played by Chris Adamson (Razor Blade Smile) although it is a pity that you don't get to see more of him. Dredd however you see more of than you should because he actually takes off his helmet! Dredd has never taken off his helmet and yet within 15 minutes of the film starting, there he is taking off the helmet to reveal Sylvester Stallone wearing some icy blue contact lenses. Physically Stallone is perhaps a little short to play Dredd but he is in good shape for a man his age. He fills his uniform well but as the Judge's are supposed to be a breed of genetically selected individuals you kind of expect that they will all be a minimum height of 6 foot. Stallone has done better and he has done worse but I should warn you that the way that he drawls out "I am the law!" and "I knew you'd say that! " do have a tendency to make you cringe at the awfulness of it. Diane Lane provides a great female lead performance as Judge Hershey and handles the action very well for a newcomer as well as looking good in her "garb of Justice" she also has an excellent chick fight with Joan Chen. Armand Assante is most effective as the psychotically deranged former Judge Rico and provides a quite electifying performance.

The scenes strain to accomodate the special effects and their frequent saving grace is one or two jokes or circumstantial humour provided by Rob Schneider but the whole "buddy, buddy" thing between him and Stallone doesn't really work in this context. Dredd, doesn't need a side kick!! Other notable performances are by Jurgen Prochnow (Das Boot) as Judge Griffin and the excellent Max Von Sydow as Chief Justice Fargo who capably provide some more believable performances, but the star of the film has to be the ABC Warrior.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Picture 2.35:1 Good quality, sharp image
Audio 5.1 Dolby Digital Rampant and explosive soundtrack
Features Animated Photo Gallery.
"Stallone's Law: The making of Judge Dredd" Presented by Sylvester Stallone.
Cast & Director Filmographies
Original Theatrical Trailer
Verdict Not a bad disc. Nice presentation of the film, the documentary is good but other than that there is a general lack of exciting extra's.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home