The Judge Dredd Films – Part 1 of 2: Judge Dredd (1995)
Yet Producer Edward R Pressman, writers William Wisher Jr and Steven E de Souza obviously thought they could do a better job. So hiring Danny Cannon as director and Sylvester Stallone as star they made….
It’s sort of funny how this film starts. A title sequence that shows us the covers of some classic issues of 2000AD and Judge Dredd Megazine. Why’s that funny? Maybe it’s because the following film completely SHITS all over them. And uses whatever’s leftover to wipe it’s ass with.
It’s the late 21st Century. The majority of the planet is an irradiated wasteland known as “The Cursed Earth”. What’s left of “civilised” society live in sprawling walled off “Mega Cities”. Dystopian metropolis’ that are home to hundreds of millions of people. Crime is rampant.
That’s where The Judges come in. Created to replace the Police – they are Judge, Jury and Executioner all rolled in to one. Justice is swift, merciless and dispensed instantly on the streets.
The most feared and respected is Judge Joseph Dredd. In Mega City One he is the most legendary law enforcer.
Former Judge turned hardened criminal Rico has escaped from prison. Working for the corrupt Judge Griffin who wants to gain control. Rico’s orders are to cause chaos on the streets. To do that effectively they need Dredd out of the way.
So they frame him for the murder of a journalist known to be critical of his methods. Dredd is found guilty and stripped of his rank. Only avoiding the death sentence thanks to his tireless and dedicated service over the years.
He’s sentenced to life in the Aspen penal colony but when the aircraft carrying him there is shot down from the skies of the Cursed Earth – he must get back to Mega City One to stop Rico. He must also expose the conspiracy and prove his innocence. His only help is Herman “Fergie” Ferguson, a former criminal who Dredd himself had arrested.
Dredd is about to get more than he bargained for. During the course of his adventure he’ll find out all about his own origin and his troubling link to Rico.
Never before have I seen a film get it’s subject matter so WOEFULLY WRONG!!! This is more than a simply shitty adaptation – it’s a fucking insult!
Director Danny Cannon claimed to be a huge fan of the original comics but there is no evidence in this film to back up his claim. It’s like this movie was made by someone who HATES the comics. It’s so bad it’s like they fucked it up on purpose!
It’s great to see Max Von Sydow in anything but his character Chief Justice Fargo shouldn’t be in the film! His career ended DECADES before Dredd’s started in the comics so his inclusion here is utterly baffling. I suppose seeing him carry a gun the size of a small child has some novelty value… but still.
Then there is the utterly discombobulating decision to include Hammerstein from ABC Warriors. Yeah – OK that strip was in 2000AD but it’s not in the same universe as Judge Dredd.
The film only gets TWO things right. The Angel Family and the look of Mega City One (nice futuristic production design on that). Yet it’s only in a “stopped clock gives the right time twice a day” way.
Other than that – it is a COLOSSAL failure in every other way conceivable. The action scenes aren’t exciting, the funny scenes aren’t funny – and the huge budget and (mostly) excellent cast are utterly wasted.
Armand Assante is Rico. He’s so bad it’s almost worth seeing the movie for. It’s surprising we can understand his dialogue with all the scenery he’s chewing. It’s obvious he’s having fun with it but sadly he doesn’t let us in on the joke. It’s embarrassing to watch. There’s less ham on a fuckin’ pig farm!
Jurgen Prochnow and Joan Chen do nothing but stand around looking shifty and Diane Lane has the most thankless role in the entire film as Judge Hershey. She looks genuinely distressed at the thought of being in this piece of shit.
The biting and satirical humour of the comic is completely absent. Instead we have Rob Schneider providing the “humour” as Dredd’s “comedy” sidekick. You want toilet humour and trouser pissing jokes? You got it! NO! YOU CAN’T HAVE A RAZOR BLADE AND A NOOSE!!! NOW STOP ASKING!!!
Of course there’s the main man himself. Sylvester Stallone as Judge Dredd. Now. I LOVE Stallone. I really do. He’s one of my favourite actors and I’ve grown up watching his movies – but he couldn’t be any more wrong for this if he tried (and at times I wonder if he did).
Hearing him say the classic Dredd line “I AM THE LAW” is just tragic.
Dredd ain’t supposed to be played by a movie star. He’s famous in the comics for never having shown his face. The helmet doesn’t come off at all. 40 years of publishing history and we still don’t know what he looks like under that monolithic visor. There’s a good reason for that. He’s supposed to be the embodiment of faceless justice.
Yet you can’t have a guy like Stallone in a film and not show his face can you? No. After the first action scene the helmet comes off and we rarely see him wearing it again throughout the majority of the film’s run time. It’s not Judge Dredd! It’s just Stallone running around shooting things whilst wearing a dirty shirt! I can readily imagine hardened 2000AD fans actually wanting to throw their own excrement at the cinema screen!
I wouldn’t have minded it so much if it was taken from him against his will when he’s sentenced to prison. Maybe even revealing a big gnarly scar across his face and we find out THAT is why he always refused to take off the mask! I could’ve lived with that!
Yet having him remove it himself willingly?!? That is a sin for which this movie just cannot be forgiven.
I mean – for fuck’s sake… he’s not even wearing it on the cover of the blu ray!
Other things bug me too. Every cheesy cliche’ you can think of is horrendously abused. Lightning striking when startling revelations are made… the flying machine that engineers cannot repair despite their expertise and technical skill – but Dredd gets it to work by simply punching the console? Really? That gag was about a hundred years too old when they made this piece of shit 22 years ago!
And another thing! When Dredd and Fergie get back to Mega City One they’re being chased right? Chased by special elite troopers wearing black armour who are specially put together for the purpose of tracking down rogue Judges.
Judge Dredd kills them. Shoots them, causes their flying motorbikes to explode, and sends one of the poor bastards plummeting to their instant death.
ISN’T HE KILLING HIS FORMER COLLEAGUES?!?! THEY’RE JUDGES TOO!!! THEY AREN’T BAD GUYS AT ALL!!! HE’S TRYING TO PROVE HIS INNOCENCE BUT MURDERING OTHER JUDGES WHILST FUCKING DOING IT!!!
THEY’RE ONLY DOING THEIR JOB!!!!
I have ALWAYS had a problem with that! And I’ve NEVER seen anyone else point that out in a review of this film, EVER!!!
The costumes designed by Gianni Versaci (WTF?!?) look painfully unsuitable to wear whilst practising law enforcement and make those who wear them look like giant walking action figures. Arnold Schwarzenegger looked more convincing as Turbo Man at the end of Jingle All The Way!
Judge Dredd is one of the worst films I have ever seen and is an utter embarrassment to all involved.
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