Director: Danny Cannon
Runtime: 96 minutes
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Armand Assante, Rob Schneider, Max Von Sydow, Diane Lane, et al…
Plot (taken from IMDb): In a dystopian future, Joseph Dredd, the most famous Judge (a police officer with instant field judiciary powers), is convicted for a crime he didn’t commit and must face his murderous counterpart.
I’ll admit to not knowing much about Judge Dredd, but I do know one thing: he never takes off his helmet. Stallone’s infamous incarnation of Judge Dredd spends more time with his helmet off than he does with it on. And just like whether his helmet is on or off, Judge Dredd is a very inconsistent film.
The plot is good enough, with Dredd (Stallone) being convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, getting banished from his homeland that is falling apart with thanks to the ridiculous amount crime going on in the streets. Dredd would never break a law (he is the law), so of course there had to be something dodgy behind the whole thing. I won’t say what happens in the film, because I want people to watch it.
Judge Dredd is rubbish, but there is plenty in the film to suggest that it could’ve been otherwise. The performances, while incredibly cheesy, work for the film, and Stallone is as good as ever, commanding the screen with his presence and size. Well, I say the performances are good, but Judge Dredd carries with it a relic of the 90s movie – the comedy sidekick. Rob Schneider fulfills this role (of course he does) here, adding literally nothing of any merit to the film. Filmmakers in the 1990s seemed to have a thing for the comedy sidekick, thinking that audiences would lose their interest in the spectacle without forcing haphazardly spliced in comedy down their throats.
Despite the film coming out before the CGI boom, Judge Dredd manages to throw in some hilariously bad CGI. The practical effects and sets are actually brilliant, with comparisons to films like Mad Max and even Blade Runner plentiful. The quality sets and practical effects are let down badly by the terrible CGI, with the two clashing like green text on top of a red background, bleh.
Sadly, though, the brilliant sets and practical effects are wasted on lacklustre set-pieces and fights. The action is tame, despite its 15 rating. I wanted it to be more violent than it was, and I wanted the set-pieces and fights to at the very least be exciting. Judge Dredd does get dull; it feels long despite its relatively short runtime.
Despite all the films flaws however, it was an oddly enjoyable experience. The dialogue can get pretty hilariously bad, and so help me but I quite enjoyed Stallone’s Dredd, helmet or no helmet. Max Von Sydow is always guaranteed to improve a film, despite most of what he has been in being of a slightly questionable quality. Judge Dredd is a curio of a film. It was made before the Superhero filled world we find ourselves in nowadays, and it does feel antiquated, but it’s a laugh.
Dull set-pieces, terrible CGI and Rob Schneider aside, I actually enjoyed Judge Dredd more than I thought I would. It did feel like it was dragging at only 96 minutes, but Stallone carries the film well enough (as well as the excellent sets and practical effects). It’s terrible, yes, but I’m glad I watched it, and you would be too.