Review: Judge Dredd (1995)


Directed by: Danny Cannon | 91 minutes | action, crime, science fiction | Actors: Sylvester Stallone, Armand Assante, Rob Schneider, Jurgen Prochnow, Max von Sydow, Diane Lane, Joan Chen, Joanna Miles, Ian Dury, Christopher Adamson, Ewen Bremner, Balthazar Getty, Maurice Roëves

The movie “Judge Dredd” is based on the cartoon character of the same name. The originally British comic is extremely popular, especially in America. And as often happens with successful series, a film is made of it. Similarly with Judge Dredd. Sadly, the movie version of the cartoon character is just a shadow of the original comic book character. Where did it go wrong?

First of all with the casting. An actor of Stallone’s caliber is supposed to lure people to the cinemas. In the 90’s, Stallone was still at its peak and his name attracted many fans to the halls. In order not to disappoint the audience, the character of the cartoon character Judge Dredd had to be tinkered with. Dredd’s face is never seen in the comics, it cannot be in the film. Stallone is precisely the crowd puller of the print and his face must be visible.

A second point is Judge Dredd’s so-called deepening of character. Pat Mills and John Wagner, the creators of the famous cartoon character, envisioned an extremely violent policeman who was experiencing bizarre adventures. In particular, the strange secondary characters and extremely strange situations played the leading role in the cartoons. Dredd is a one-dimensional figure who has gained such popularity mainly due to his explicitly exaggerated violence and his mysterious appearance. When the British cult character first appeared in the English magazine 2000AD in 1977, the character was a breath of fresh air among the American comic book characters. The anarchic, no-nonsense vibe of the comics stood out among the more serious American superheroes. The American debuting director Cannon faced the difficult task of transforming the simple character into an appealing protagonist. A movie is a completely different medium from a comic, so adaptations to the character were inevitable.

Stallone is not exactly a strong actor now, but with a one-dimensional personality like Dredd he must be able to handle it. Unfortunately, the script fails him. To make the film attractive to the widest possible audience, comedian Rob Schneider has been recruited to provide a comic relief. Bad one-liners and a lame, annoying sidekick in the form of Schneider take all the panache out of Stallone’s role. Armand Assante makes a lot of sense in his role as a bad guy. The rest of the cast tries to make the best of it, but unfortunately to no avail. Not much can be done with the clichéd dialogues and the lame script. Talented actors like Max Von Sydow and Diane Lane are nice to watch, but the roles in this flop have not done their resume any good.

Most of the budget went to the special effects and sets. The Judges’ beautiful costumes were designed by Jean Paul Gaultier. That produces some beautiful scenes, just like the passages with the ABC robot that has been impressively brought to life. The bombastic soundtrack is the best aspect of the movie. The compositions are compelling and atmospheric. Unfortunately, these bright spots are overshadowed by the anti-climax and the horrible, misplaced sentimental scenes.

The roots of the comics are denied and the film immediately loses the interest of the real Dredd fans. As an average action movie, not much remains of the film. The chaotic editing and the action scenes that are too short get all the fun out of the print.

If the comic version of Judge Dredd would see the film, he would have immediately given the film’s makers the death penalty.

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