Judge Dredd

Not the People’s Court

This movie is based on a British comic-book that started before a lot of you were born, so I’m sick of hearing about how it’s so “derivative”. The concepts, look and character have influenced Road Warrior, Bladerunner, RoboCop, and hundreds of other movies. And so, now that they’ve gotten around to the real thing, they make the traditional Hollywood choice when adapting a successful work from another medium – they change it! 

The Dredd of the comics is a futuristic satire of the Dirty Harry style of hero – a largely emotionless and inhuman protagonist who beats the bad guys through superior firepower. The first third of the picture does an excellent job of adapting the series. We’re introduced into the setting through the friendly eyes of comic actor Rob Schneider, who’s just been released from prison back to Megacity One – the most awesome cinematic futuroplis since Metropolis. He soon finds himself in the middle of a firefight, until Dredd judges the bad guys in a humorous, exciting action sequence. Then Stallone takes off the helmet, and… the movie doesn’t exactly fall apart, but it’s not Judge Dredd anymore. It’s more like Dredd/Stallone.

We get a bunch of action, Diane Lane looking gorgeous, Armand Assante looking psycho, Jorgen Prochnow looking old, a nifty robot, a wild future version of the Sawyer family, some good jokes and melodrama… but it’s not the movie it could have been. I understand the realities involved in trying to make movies like this, but I can’t help wondering what would have happened if Stallone had been brave enough to keep his face hidden and play the character as written.

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