Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Judge Dredd (1995)

I think it's pretty widely acknowledged nowadays that Judge Dredd was a bit of a letdown for fans of the character. I still like it more than a lot of people but even I must admit that Dredd spends far too much time not wearing his iconic headwear and there's a bit too much screentime given over to the comic relief AKA Rob Schneider. Anyway, let's start with the good stuff.

Judge Dredd has a great cast, including Sylvester Stallone in the title role. When he first appears onscreen he's fantastic in the title role. Stallone may not be the best actor in the world (though he certainly has his moments) but he's surrounded by a quality cast. There's Diane Lane, Max Von Sydow, Armand Assante, Jurgen Prochnow and the great James Remar (although he's, sadly, not in it for long). There are also small roles for Ian Dury, Ewen Bremner and Scott Wilson. And then there's Rob Schneider.

The plot sees the most infamous peacekeeper in Mega-City One being accused of murder. It's unbelievable but all the evidence clearly points to Dredd as the perpetrator. Dredd is to be sent away for a long time but that doesn't quite go to plan thanks to a big fight on board a vehicle full of prisoners that leads to a crash that leads to Dredd and a hapless criminal named Herman (Rob Schneider) stuck in some waste lands and needing to deal with some bad folks before finding their way back into Mega-City One and clearing Dredd's name. Meanwhile, it turns out that the real villain is someone very close to Dredd with his own warped reason for revenge. Even better, he's played by Armand Assante, in superb eye-rolling form.

Michael De Luca may have managed to come up with the story with William Wisher but it's Wisher and Steven E. de Souza who crafted the final draft of the screenplay and due credit must also, of course, go to the many fine folks who have written stories for Judge Dredd during his long-running stint in the mighty 2000 AD. The story, and the backstory (both that which is revealed and that which is just known to fans of the comic), is solid and the direction from Danny Cannon isn't that bad at all. The film simply starts to fall apart when Judge Dredd stops seeming like Judge Dredd and that happens, as silly as it may sound, when the helmet comes off. And when it stays off for most of the movie. It's not true to the character and it just leaves viewers with a half-decent Sylvester Stallone action movie. There are already plenty of those, thank you very much.

Judge Dredd is fun. It has one or two enjoyable set-pieces (one that involves James Remar, one involving the delightfully demented Angel Family and almost any moments that involve Assante), I don't hate Schneider as much as some people and it's good to see so many big names involved with what is, essectially, pulp fare. It's just not a great JUDGE DREDD movie and that is, ultimately, a big black mark against it.


This Bluray plays  in the USA AND the UK - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Judge-Dredd-Blu-ray-US-Import/dp/B008C0C1Y8/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1348590005&sr=8-8


  1. I like this film, I even like Rob Schneider in it (and would even argue is one of his "better" performances, with "better" standing for "somewhat less annoying"). The problem was, that it was a Dredd film...
    If this had been named "Demolition Man 2", I'd dare to say it would be a lot higher in Stallone's action canon.

    1. Yep, that's exactly it. Hell, part of me still wants a Demolition Man 2 today haha.