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It's unfortunate that "Judge Dredd" wasn't accepted by mainstream viewers or
even received a cult following. I found it to be very entertaining. I
don't see too many movies based on comic book superheroes that I honestly
enjoyed. "X Men" for example went on too long, moved very slowly and took
itself too seriously. "Judge Dredd" is a fast-paced sci-fi-action thrill
ride that delivers from start to finish and has help in the comic relief
department by Rob Schneider. Sylvester Stallone overacts throughout, but
that's part of the fun. Watching him scream out "I AM THE LAW!!" makes you
want to scream it out along with him, which is what I do whenever I view
this movie. There are many quotable lines, which I enjoy reciting. "Judge
Dredd" is not a deeply intelligent, insightful film. But it makes a great
popcorn flick! This upbeat, funny, nonstop entertainment is a real treat
for me to watch over and over again.
My score: 8 (out of 10)
Judge Dredd is based on one of the most popular characters from the
UK's 2000 AD comics. It is set in the 22nd Century, when most of the
Earth has been turned into a desolate wasteland known as the "Cursed
Earth" and most humans live in highly concentrated cities, walled off
from the rest of the world. Society is fairly anarchic, except there
for a class of humans, known as "judges", who act as cop, judge, jury
and executioner all rolled into one. Sylvester Stallone is the titular
judge. He's notorious among the other judges, the general citizenry and
the other judges for upholding the law in a harsh way. The film
primarily tells the story arc from the comics known as "The Return of
Rico", and concerns a plot to get Dredd into trouble while overthrowing
what's left of the existing "order".
This is a great action/sci-fi film with a tone reminiscent of Demolition Man (1993), Total Recall (1990), The Fifth Element (1997), Blade Runner (1982) and similar films. If you like Stallone, gloomy futuristic production design and/or intense action films, Judge Dredd should be a rewarding experience for you, as long as you're not a purist who is coming to the film by way of an intricate familiarity with the 2000 AD comics.
The source material caused a slight problem for me, too, but not because I'm a purist. Rather, Judge Dredd suffers a bit from a flaw that plagues many films based on comic books--writers Michael De Luca, William Wisher Jr. and Steven E. de Souza had an extensive, pre-existent mythology (as is necessary when creating a complete, new world) on which to build their work, and they tried to incorporate a bit too much of it. Because of this, we're introduced to a large cast of characters fulfilling functions that we're not familiar with (in the details, at least), and we're regularly faced with new lingo, new cultural concepts, new technology, and so on, often with just a couple lines of dialogue. If you want to understand the details, you really have to pay close attention. But on the other hand, the general arc of the story is relatively simple, and you don't have to know every detail to enjoy it.
Given the disposition that Stallone has as Judge Dredd in the film, he may as well have walked out of Kurt Wimmer's film Equilibrium (2002). Dredd initially goes about his business almost robotically; he only cares about enforcing the law. When he's recruited by a higher-up, Chief Justice Fargo (Max von Sydow), to teach ethics (which is quite an ironic idea when you see Dredd's behavior in the opening scene), he tells the students that being a judge basically means giving up one's life to the law. He says that one cannot have friends, for example--never mind that other judges, like Judge Hershey (Diane Lane) try to have social lives outside of work. Dredd later tells Hershey that he did have a friend at one point, but he had to judge him. Sending a friend to prison or killing him (we're not told exactly how Dredd judged him, although we find out later) isn't exactly the best way to encourage a healthy social life.
So the subtext of the story, and Dredd's character arc, becomes that through a number of hardships, he finally learns something about ethics for himself--just in time to deal with a potentially shattering bit of information about his personal identity. He ends up accompanied by a man, Herman Ferguson (Rob Schneider, in a role meant primarily as comic relief, although more generously, he's an ironic emotional facilitator), whom he had just judged harshly, even though Ferguson wasn't really doing anything wrong on his first day out of prison. Together they have to go to a figurative hell (The Cursed Earth) to deal with figurative "demons" (a famed band of rogue cannibals who live in the tough environment) and back again to reach their fulfillment.
Like many recent sci-fi stories set in the future, Judge Dredd has a pessimistic view of where technology and social conventions are leading humans. As the story has it, at one point, we had built massive, relatively unstoppable robot warriors, and one of the highlights of the film is when the villain finds one and puts it back into service. It's as much fun to watch the gadgetry as it is to watch the action sequences, and the computer generated "landscapes" throughout the film are spellbinding, with their sly jabs at various changes and similarities to present locations and cultures. The whole concept of the judges and their hierarchical structure is fascinating, even if some apparent inconsistencies (such as why judges are not summarily dealt with in the same manner that other citizens are) are never explained in the film.
The performances are good, even if a few actors barely get enough screen time (like Lane and Joan Chen, who plays semi-villain Ilsa), and the premise is captivating. It's too bad this film gets unduly knocked by purists and those misguidedly looking for detail realism in the genre. Judge Dredd is severely underrated on IMDb. It deserves a first look or a second chance.
This film, and its generally poor reception is a good example of what
happens when huge marketing mistakes are made. Take a look at the cover
of the DVD package: "Stallone: Judge Dredd". The film should have been
titled "Judge Dredd" - even in the packaging - and the emphasis for the
marketing of this film should have been less Stallone, more content. On
the flip-side, when the most consistent complaint you can find among
IMDb psychofants is "HE TOOK OFF HIS HELMET!", you really have to
wonder if the film is quite as bad as so many believe.
Eagle Comics 2000 AD character Judge Dredd was one of the most original, entertaining and intelligently written and interestingly drawn sci-fi comics of recent times. With story arcs varying from 2 pages worth of panels to 4 or 5 episodes, and sometimes multi-threaded plots, this violent, political and tough cyberpunk version of Dirty Harry set some pretty high standards for adult comic authorship both in its native UK and in the USA, once the imports started flowing in. It freely traversed from film noir to flat-out wild sci-fi action to nihilistic hard justice, and did so with style and originality rarely seen in the comic medium. Hence, although I like Stallone in this film, it's not only misleading but a little insulting to call this 'a Stallone film'. The producers had very big shoes to fill, and though I am in the minority here, I believe they did well.
The production team chose a story arc which I was never very fond of, but one of the more do-able ones to be sure. Any Dredd-based film would necessitate a huge special effects budget, and most of them, even with the best special effects available, would likely be nearly impossible to pull off and might look ridiculous. To their credit, the Return of Rico story arc was rightfully recognized as good film material - it involves more emotional content than the usual Dredd fare, and actually required fewer outrageous special effects, than, say, the many Judge Death arcs might have.
Dredd is a "street judge" - and the judges are the closest thing to a government in a post-apocalyptic future where nuclear war has concentrated all of the world's population into mega-cities - hotbeds of crime and chaos, surrounded by mutagenic wastelands called The Cursed Earth. Dredd is the best of the best, a very tough cop who knows method, theory, and has an incorrigible sense of ethics and dedication to the law. Dredd is also mentor to an entire generation of judges, including the brilliant Hershey (Lane). Rico, Dredd's former best friend, and a psychotic murderer escapes from a high security prison with some help from a fascistic leader of the judges who is bent on securing power and a new world order with himself in charge. Soon, Dredd is framed for murder and exiled to the wastelands, and judges start to die all over the city. About midway through the film, Dredd learns the truth of his relationship to Rico and begins to figure out the sinister plot. Of course, there is only one thing for him to do - return to Megalopolis to stop the conspiracy before it plays out.
The film features good performances by a really nice cast. Armand Assante brings the character of Rico to life better than the comic book ever did. Diane Lane, Jurgen Prochnow and Max Von Sydow are always good, and though I had my doubts to begin with, Stallone pulls off Dredd very well. While some folks complain about Rob Schneider's irritating behavior, I found that his goofy character took a little of the edge off of Stallone's depressive performance of the most stoic law enforcement officer on planet earth. This is not one of Joan Chen's better roles. If you're a big Chen fan, you might think twice about seeing this.
All considered, I see Judge Dredd as a under-rated and mis-marketed film, which, through its fast pace, sophisticated sci-fi plot, Excellent special effects and very good cast, took all of the screenable elements of the comic book and made them accessible to an audience a bit wider than its original fan-base. If this review peaks your interest, see it!
Firstly, I am not a reader of the Judge Dredd comic books, so I have nothing to compare Stallone's Judge Dredd to, but honestly, I loved this movie and cannot imagine any other actor playing this role. I've heard people say that Dredd should not remove his helmet, but that did not bother me one bit. The action in the movie ranks along side some of Stallone's best and the movie is entertaining from start to finish. I think that Rico is a good villain, played to perfection by Armand Assante and Diane Lane is superb as Judge Hershey, providing all of the emotion and human qualities that are devoid from Judge Dredd, therefore intensifying the character of Dredd. Fergie is also a good character, played well by Rob Schneider who creates a sense of humour, making the film not just about raw action. Judge Dredd, as a popcorn movie is superb, it was never going to win Oscars, but at the end of the day, that is not the point of the film. It is intended to be pure Stallone-fuelled entertainment and on this level it is a resounding success.
I'll preface this by saying that I have never read the Judge Dredd comic. That being said, I bashed this movie when my friends and I watched first watched it back in 1995 in the theater. I am now throughly eating my words. This thing is amazingly good and entertaining throwaway cheese. There is zero originality here. This is Blade Runner meets Demolition Man meets Texas Chainsaw massacre meets Superman 2 meets Star Wars Trilogy. This movie is almost a replica of Demolition Man but is tons more fun. Stallone, like in Demolition Man, plays a supercop. He's accused of a crime he didn't commit and is punished, like in Demolition Man. There are other parallels along the way. He meets a Texas Chainsaw Massacre family in his exile, with an android member who looks suspiciously like Terry Bradshaw. Armand Assante is really great as the villain, Diane Lane excels in a role that doesn't fit her and Rob Schneider is stunningly endearing as the third wheel in a party of two. Max Von Sydow and Jurgen Prochnow add their talents to give the movie a seasoned flavor. Stallone's intro is pathetic but he excels along the way. The digital effects also work themselves into the story very well. I'm stunned at how good this thing is upon reviewing it.
Two weeks ago, my sister bought a VCR from one of her friends... VHS...
scary enough. For her ten bucks she also got two dozen movies... Judge
was one of them
Since I popped this movie in, I have watched it at the very least two dozen times. I watched it once today, once yesterday, twice the day before that, three times the day before that, twice the day before that... and I have a decent selection of other films to choose from. This movie is addictive. It has this pacing and style that, while not very realistic, and certainly not worthy of an Oscar, it just makes you grin. Every time the Alan Silvestri Dredd theme pops up, I just smile... from the Gianni Versace designed Dredd Armor, to the top-notch special effects, this movie brings together many elements into a 96 minute ride of pure cheese that keeps getting better each time you watch it
The CG can be beautiful at times, even to the point of photorealism, and certainly outdoes the the horrid cartooniness of Blade 2's or X-Men's CG...
You just have to watch it to believe how addictive this damn thing is
In the future the world has been scorched and is uninhabitable. The cities
are overflowing and cramped. Violence and crime has gotten to the stages
that the courts and juries of the past were unable to cope. The Judges were
planned to be police, judge and executioners the ultimate law keepers.
The strictest of these is Judge Dredd. However Dredd's history is revealed
when his long-forgotten genetic twin escapes from captivity and kills high
ranking council members. The DNA evidence points to Dredd and he is
sentenced accordingly. However he escapes with hacker Fergie and returns to
the city to try and stop Rico's plan for his own laws.
It's been a few years since I saw this in the cinema and I thought I'd give it another go. However I had only average memories of it memories that were pretty close to the mark now that I've seen it again. The film starts reasonably well and has a good little bit of humour in it the recycling bot that says `recycle waste for food, it's good for the environment and OK for you!' is my favourite! However any nice touches like this and any debate on the nature of the Judges is quickly lost in a by-the-numbers blockbuster.
The action is OK but not great and the film doesn't manage to ever really have a genuine sense of excitement or tension. Director Cannon is much better at style than substance and here he proves that again. The cartoon violence will be OK for teenagers but is too basic and undemanding for many I think. The cityscapes are quite good but a tad OTT. Bladerunner got it pitch perfect all those years ago and every film since has tried to up the ante unnecessarily.
Stallone is a pretty good choice for Dredd because of his strong chin. I didn't care less if he removed his helmet or not, but his constant speaking in catchphrases did annoy me a bit. Oh and I've heard a life time of `law' and `court' puns and kiss-off lines. Schneider is a misjudged comedy sidekick, he isn't used well and just gets in the way. The film would have been better without his `relief' and gone darker. Assante is a strong villain and the council is full of famous faces. Lane has nothing to do as Judge Hershey.
Overall this is a cartoon for teenagers and those just looking for lots of bangs. However, even for that crowd this may prove a little basic I wanted it to be more sophisticated than it was and be darker (but not just violent as it has been misinterpreted as here). Maybe worth a watch with a beer and pizza but the fact that we haven't been treated to a JD2 speaks volumes.
This has got it all, the comic lines, the action, the story a perfect cast
(especially Stallone, whom you could presume modelled for the comic
character of Judge Dredd, Assante who makes a real cool bad guy and
Schneider as the comic sidekick). This really never puts you back an inch,
while you are on the edge of your seat. It is great, although I would have
liked it bloodier (show how they rip Prochnow's arms and legs of and show
how that human is barbecued). While I am at the bad stuff, I feel that the
effects were pretty poor sometimes although that didn't bother me that much
I still enjoyed it. What bothers me that at 93 minutes this film seems
heavily cut, or why does the lab at the end just start exploding and why
didn't I see one clone moving around. That's it, nope, the ending could have
been better, but it is OK.
8 out of 10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Never in the field of human conflict has one man rendered one almost-bearably big dumb action movie (fanboy sacrilege aside - everyone knows it should've been Clint Eastwood, not Rambo, playing Dredd) so completely unwatchable as Rob Schneider in Judge Dredd. Playing the "amusing", "comedy" sidekick, over the course of 96 minutes, Schneider manages to out-annoy the combined powers of Joe Pesci, Willie Scott and Jar-Jar Binks, rendering the hard work put in by Max Von Sydow, Jurgen Prochnow and the rest of the (fairly sturdy) cast so completely redundant. Even when the f*cker gets shot, he continues to "wisecrack" in a "cheeky but lovable" fashion. WHY IS ROB SCHNEIDER? WHAT DOES HE PROVE? WHY DO PEOPLE WATCH HIS MOVIES? WILL HE NEVER DIE?
Judge Dredd and 2000AD represent my childhood inspiration for all
things creative, accumulating in my career in the creative industry (I
still have a full set of early 2000ADs in my studio). So obviously the
film holds very personal emotions for me and as such I have to admit
that I had a negative bias from the start. Anyway enough about me.
The film started and I was very impressed with the visual effects and design. At first I thought Judge Dredd's uniform was way over the top, even more than the comic version. However after remembering the visual style of films like Flash Gordon (1980) I put that down to personal preference.
One of the problems is Sylvester Stallone's Performance. I am not one of Sly's detractors, I have enjoyed his performances in films such as Rocky, First Blood, Paradise Alley, Copland and even Demolition Man. However this performance bares no resemblance to the character of Judge Dredd.
Stallone's character lacks the authority and quiet confidence of Judge Dredd. Sly seems to have replaced these aspects with standing in a tough pose, looking intense and shouting were applicable. Needless to say I did not see the dark and gritty anti hero I was hoping for.
I realise that this is a tall order for any actor and Sly in not helped by the films biggest problem, the atrocious dialogue. Clichés and over dramatic speeches destroy any hope of realism.
My final comment... Judge Dredd's helmet.
This should stay on at all times. I know this seems superficial, but it is representative of certain aspects of Judge Dredd's personality. Firstly Dredd's lack of personal ego, secondly his almost robot like dedication, determination and 'perceived' invulnerability and thirdly Dredd's function as an executioner.
There, I feel a little better now I've got that off my chest. Cheers.
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