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Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Retro Review: Judge Dredd (1995)

Judge Dredd
1995
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Diane Lane, Rob Schneider, Armand Assante, Max Von Sydow
Genre: Science Fiction Action
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $113 million

Plot: In a dysfunctional future, Joseph Dredd, the most famous judge (a police officer with instant field judiciary powers) is convicted of a crime he did not commit and must face his murderous counterpart





'Almost Dredd-Ful Demolition Man Wannabe, Minus 10'

Sylvester Stallone's 1995 offering Judge Dredd turns out to be a disappointing and lacklustre affair that despite some action set-pieces, pretty much everything else- from the sub to below-par performances, the material and the decision to incorporate a plucky sidekick, who turns out to be irritating and an unnecessity hindered this movie. In fact, sitting through it, I couldn't help but feel this is almost a carbon copy of Demolition Man. Or make that a stripped down, third-rate version of Demolition Man and taking away the fun, satirical nature and the feel-good factor that film had, with a bit of the Robocop law enforcement theme thrown in. 

Lets see: Sylvester Stallone as the law enforcer, check. Attractive female sidekicks in Sandra Bullock in Demolition Man and Diane Lane as Judge Hershey in Judge Dredd, check. Special effects, check. Crime-plagued dystopian future, check. 

Judge Joseph Dredd is a law enforcer, elite officer and toughest lawman with his brother, Rico on the opposite side of the law. He is a criminal who escapes from prison and embarks on a reign of chaos, by framing Dredd for the murder of a journalist. The plot reeks of unoriginal and taints the integrity of the Judge Dredd character.

The original Judge Dredd of the British comics magazine, 2000 AD was a lot more nitty-gritty in tone, whilst Judge Dredd is more of a parody that is so much unlike Demolition Man. 

Visually, it looks like a combination of The Fifth Element spliced with Demolition Man and Total Recall. The Versace designer- made Judges outfits, complete with gold trimmed helmets, shoulder pads and codpieces, which was replicated in Joel Schumacher's bizarre Batman sequels of 1995 and 1997, seems a little excessive. The action was very few and far between and most of it was unsatisfying to watch. The Judge Hershey fight with an Asian chick tried to replicate Sandra Bullock's martial arts beat down on the villains of Demolition Man, but really it was weak. 

After his cameo in Demolition Man, comedian Rob Schneider stars alongside as Sly Stallone's Judge Dredd and he made the film even more annoying. What should have been a leading one-man show turns out to be an inexplicable buddy movie that verges on a light-hearted farce, which Judge Dredd was and is never about in the first place. His presence partly took away from the film's enjoyment. As for the main star, Stallone, this is not only one of his worst performances, but one of the worst characters he has portrayed, as Dredd remains utterly one-note and one dimensional. In addition to Dredd being a watered down version of the original comic, his turn didn't allude to a sense of mystery. The problem with Stallone's version is he is not humanised, thus bordering on emotionless. And he took off his helmet, which mystified and irritated long-time fans of the Judge Dread comics and yet with a much gutsier and ramped up script, Judge Dredd would have a lot more balls. Instead, it becomes more like a blander version of a Saturday morning cartoon and has none of Demolition Man's self-referential humour and irony by poking fun at the law. It just takes itself too seriously and yet even with Rob Schneider, he feels out of place. It was rumoured that Goodfellas' Joe Pesci passed on the role that eventually went to Schneider. Diane Lane did what she could, but again, compared to Sandra Bullock in Demolition Man, she is the weaker of the two action heroines. 

Armand Assante as the villain hams it up, but his role could have been easily played by someone else and thus, he was completely unmemorable as far as I was concerned and his turn made me cringe and was painful to watch. 

A star vehicle for Stallone, following on from the entertaining Cliffhanger, Demolition Man and equally bland, The Specialist, he hit a wall with Judge Dredd. It's particularly notable for having made less money in contrast to the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers film, with the latter at over $13 million and the former at over $12 million. 





Final Verdict:

This is one of Sylvester Stallone's weakest and poor movie showings and for director, Danny Cannon and screenwriters, William Wisher and Steven E. DeSouza, they never manage to bring out that mean streak and edge. For DeSouza, following on from the much-maligned Streetfighter live-action film, based on the video game series, once again, he didn't deliver. 


There wasn't much in the sense of anything in this movie: the characterisations, especially are certainly telling, and I didn't really get a sense of who they really are. & by taking away the action sequences and impressive looking visual effects and costume designs, the rest of Judge Dredd is just a complete bore that with the film edited down to an R with most of the excessive violence edited out, much to its detriment. 


There was a Sly Stallone movie that is every bit as similar to Judge Dredd, it was Demolition Man - and that one is way more over-the-top, in a good way, entertaining and fun. 1995's Dredd, on the other hand, was not. It should have been entertaining, but it is not. Plus, as far as comic book based movies go, whilst it isn't the worst of the worst, this is still certainly almost close to the top of the flops. 



Overall:



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