posted by @HeyItsKamo
Listen up, civilian: I fucking love Judge Dredd. I am a life-long fan of the comic series, and a big reason for that is this film. Despite its poor reviews (“poor” is probably not strong enough of a word here), I still enjoy this movie as much as I did when I first saw it at age eight. Critics call it “self-destructive, unoriginal, dreadful, flat, and uninspiring,” but this movie wasn’t made for those people; this isn’t Rear Window, this isn’t for film snobs.
This is the universes favorite lawman brought to life! This is the same guy, who in one issue of the comic book, gleefully watched a couple of scumbags get eaten by a giant mutant plant. Unoriginal my ass.
This movie does a lot of things right in respect to the comic book and setting a tone for the world that Judge Dredd is set in: a “modern city” in the year 2139. The opening scene shows the scale of the main setting in the film, Mega-City One- outside the gigantic metal walls that protect the city is nothing but a cracked and barren desert, while inside the viewer is shown the vast, but at the same time extremely crowded cityscape. The population is a staggering 65-million, which brings up a lot of questions: how do these people get clean air and water? What about shelter? Food? Overcrowding is a serious problem here, and shit has really gotten out of hand.
The future-day Mecca is located in what used to be New York City, so the Statue of Liberty can be seen hanging out in the middle of a small square, but when the camera pans out on the giant statue, we see that it is completely dwarfed by monstrous CGI buildings.
I really love the way the setting was brought in here, it’s kind of like if Dune collided with The Fifth Element: barren wasteland surrounds a gigantic city of the future, set with flying cars and skyscraper-sized advertisements. One the one hand you have a civilization at the peak of its technological prowess, but on the other you have a desolate, unforgiving, and depleted landscape.
Right off the bat, this movie kind of threw me for a loop. One of the more bizarre parts of this flick (and there are a lot to choose from) is the beginning scroll screen/opening crawl that is narrated by James Earl Jones. It’s not strange that they decided to go with a text crawl to set the tone of the movie and supply some back-story, or even that they hired one of the best known voice actors in the business to record the monologue- it’s just weird that it’s the only part of the movie James Earl Jones is in. That’s it. He’s not a character featured in the film, he doesn’t voice a robot or anything like that… he doesn’t even wrap the movie with another voice-over.
“In the third millennium, the world changed. Climate. Nations. All were in upheaval… the Earth transformed into a poisonous scorched desert, known as “the Cursed Earth”. Millions of people crowded into a few mega cities where roving bands of street savages created violence the justice system could not control. Law as we know it collapsed. From the decay rose a new order. A society ruled by a new elite force… a force with the power to dispense both justice and punishment… they were the police, jury and executioner all in one.” -James Earl Jones (just before he got a huge check)
The Computer-generated Imagery in Judge Dredd isn’t awful for 1995, although we’re also talking about the same year films like Toy Story, Jumanji, Waterworld, Casper, and Apollo 13 were released, so… they maybe could have done better by comparison. The buildings/city and flying cars look cool enough, and there’s not a ton of noticeably bad CGI, so it has that going for it I guess.
I also have to applaud the great job done of showing chaos in the streets and overall lunacy that the citizens of this future city display. Riots, or “block wars”, in the film show how unruly the public is in this futuristic world, and this does a fine job of telling the viewer that there’s a reason there need to be “judges” that can fucking kill you without a second thought.
The first glimpse of said judges is when a pair respond to a block war in Heavenly Haven, the slum part of town newly released convict Herman “Fergee” Ferguson (played by Rob Schneider – ugh… he’s literally in cargo shorts the whole fucking time) is living in. Ferguson is a main character in this flick, a hacker/jailbird that is forced to pair up with Dredd later on in the movie.
The uniforms look cool, but it’s not until they call for back-up that we get a good look at how it was meant to be worn. Riding his bike through gun fire, choas and flames comes Judge Dredd (played by Sylvester Stallone, as if you didn’t know already), and he looks bad as fuck.
“I am… the LAW!” he announces to all the scumbags as he stands in the middle of the fucking street and taunts everyone shooting at him despite being a sitting duck for crossfire. I have to admit, he looks JUST LIKE DREDD; Seeing Stallone as our favorite judge is by far the best part of the movie. Whoever did the costume design on this one should have won something for their hard work. From the golden eagle shoulder pads, complete with huge golden chain attached to an even bigger golden badge on the judges chest, it looks so over the top (also a Stallone film) and stays true to the comic. The black helmet with red trim, topped off with the dark visor… it’s spot on. Even the knee pads and boots are perfectly over-sized!
The motorcycle Stallone comes out on looks just like the Mark IV Lawmaster from the comic series, although the tires aren’t even close to being the right size. It was a sensory overload seeing Dredd for the first time- from the costume to the motorcycle, it brought back a ton of nostalgic feelings from my childhood; it gave me a serious case of the chubbs.
So Dredd’s finally on the scene and he has a pretty good exchange with the lady judge that called for backup earlier on. Dredd: “What are you doing?” Lady Judge: *crouching behind a car* “Waiting for backup!” Dredd: *pulls out a fucking huge gun* “…it’s here.”
So then Dredd predictably goes absolutely ape shit and fucking kills everyone. No, really; I don’t think you understand. The number of people he kills in this movie and the amount of property damage he does is nonsensical. It’s almost cliche, like a cop movie where the chief of police yells at his top detective for destroying twenty cars all to rescue a kitten from a tree- but in this case it’s straight up destruction and murder. His gun is brutal and seems to have a never ending supply of bullets. His weapon, a big ass pistol looking thing, has a bunch of different settings (this is the future): rapid fire, armor piercing, double whammy (two streams of bullets shoot out, which reminded me of Contra for some reason), a grenade launcher… all of which he uses with gratis.
There are a million corny lines in this movie, and this whole scene is chock full of them. Some of my favorites include, “This room has been pacified” after he kills like 20 bad guys, “You’re under arrest. Throw down your weapons and prepare to be judged” is another good one, but my personal favorite is: Dredd: “You’ve been convicted of killing a street judge.” Criminal: *reaches for the gun tucked in his waist* “Let me guess: life?” Dredd: *SHOOTS HIM IN THE FUCKING FACE* “…DEATH.”
I’d like to stop right here and say that no one else could have played this role as good as Stallone did. The new flick has Karl Urban (Star Trek, Red, The Lord of the Rings) playing Dredd, which isn’t a bad choice- frankly, I can’t wait to see it and I’m sure he’ll do a great job. But Stallone… he was such a perfect choice because he’s almost like a living cartoon in his own right. He overexaggertates and enunciates all of his words, it looks so cartoonish and perfect, almost like… a comic book character.
One of my favorite scenes in this film: Dredd shoots a gernade at a dudes car because after he gets pulled over and it’s discovered that he has three previous DWIs and is driving on a suspended license, he starts to mouth off to our judge. After realizing he’s talking to Judge Dredd, his tone changes but it’s already too late. The encounter goes something like… Dredd: “How do you plead?” Asshole: “Not guilty!” Dredd: “I knew you’d say that…” *car gets blown the fuck up*
This leads me in to my next point: everyone is fucking terrified of Judge Dredd. I love that this movie constantly acknowledges this point because it’s one of my favorite parts in the comic book. Panel after panel, bad guys flip the fuck out when they realize Dredd is on the scene. But again, it can’t be all good…
One thing in this movie I didn’t much care for was Rob Schneider. It’s not that I don’t like him or his acting (he’s typecast and it’s not his fault), it’s just that his character should have been cut out completely or at least replaced by an attractive female part. He’s little more than comic relief, not adding much to the story and almost ruining some scenes with his bullshit (again, not his fault- they wrote his character to be an annoying schmuck); a female part would have at least been nice to look at. But I was thinking… if the movie was made today, that character would definitely be played by Shia LeBeouf. Shia LeBeouf is Rob Schneider if Rob Schneider was given serious, leading roles.
Stallone in a futuristic setting is one of my favorite types of movies: first we had Demolition Man (also with Schneider), then came Judge Dredd. I think that this movie was entertaining even if the viewer wasn’t familiar with the comic series. I was disappointed that they showed Dredd’s face, but when you pay an actor as much as they gave Stallone for this picture, he has to get some face time.
Overall, this movie was worth at least a one-time viewing. If your a fan of the comic series, there are a lot of things in this film that stay true… but there are just as many things they fucked up. Personally, it was just great being able to see this character brought to life and I’ll gladly go see the next installment in the series.
Alright, maggots: court is adjourned.