Action Movie Fanatix Review: Judge Dredd

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In The Future… One Man Is Judge, Jury And Executioner!

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Armand Assante, Diane Lane, Rob Schneider, Joan Chen, Jurgen Prochnow, Max Von Sydow, Balthazar Getty

Director: Danny Cannon

1995  |  96 Minutes  |  Rated R

“You’re under arrest.  Throw down your weapons and prepare to be judged.” – Judge Dredd

With the release of Karl Urban’s Dredd last year I thought I should go back and re-watch Sylvester Stallone’s Judge Dredd.  And then I didn’t.  Now I finally got around to it.  It has been quite some time since I have seen it but I remember really enjoying it.  My memory of the film doesn’t exactly mesh with what popular opinion says about it either.

In 2139 Judges act as the supreme authority of both the police force and the justice system.  Judge Dredd (Sylvester Stallone) is the most feared of all the Judges.  When a former Judge, Rico (Armand Assante) escapes containment, he hatches a sinister plot to overthrow the entire legal system.  Dredd is framed and must fight his way back through the Cursed Earth to save Megacity I.

OK, there might be a little nostalgia riding on this one but I still frickin’ love Judge Dredd.  There is a great cheesy, futuristic look to Megacity I.  I love the robot at the beginning that says “Eat recycled food.  It’s good for the environment and OK for you.”  The special effects mostly stand up to today’s standards and it is pretty dang bloody.

I love when action actors take an absolutely ridiculous role and play it completely straight as if it isn’t completely off the wall insane.  That is exactly what Sly does here.  “I am the law!”  No winking at the camera.  No jokes.  Just a badass dude wearing a ridiculous uniform complete with giant gold shoulder pads driving the craziest looking motorcycle you’ve ever seen sentencing people to prison for minor offenses.

Rob Schneider’s role here is hardly a minor offense though.  He is as annoying as he ever is.  His character serves little purpose in the story.  Somebody decided that Stallone needed some comic relief and threw him into the story.  I’ll have to go back and check but Adam Sandler must have been a producer on this somewhere.

Armand Assante does an excellent job as the way over the top bad guy, Judge Rico.  It is believable that he could have been cloned from Stallone and he certainly has the demeanor and persona to be a menacing opponent for Dredd.

There are tons of great action scenes here too.  Right from the start when Dredd rolls up in his Lawmaster (motorcycle) and starts laying bad guys to waste with his Lawgiver 2 (gun) you know this is going to be a cheesy, bloody good time.

The final fight could have been a little better had it been longer and more action packed.  It is unfortunate because the build between these two super-heavyweights in Dredd and Rico should have been a big blowout.  As it was the finale fell a little short of its potential.

I’m not sure how closely it follows any comic book storylines and I really don’t care.  I can understand if fan boys want to be a little put off by it if it didn’t follow closely enough but as a non-Judge-Dredd-comic-book-fan I just plain don’t care.

Plus The Cure recorded a song called Dredd Song just for this sound track.  It doesn’t play until the credits but it is a great song and really feels like it comes out of left field when you hit the credits.

I don’t care what you say.  If you hadn’t read the Judge Dredd comics and hadn’t seen the superior Dredd and had absolutely nothing better to do then Judge Dredd is a great movie.  That’s right, I said Great.  Suck it.

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