Judge Dredd (1995)


“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.

… They were the Judges.”

Finally I found a bad film. Now the opening words don’t make it sound too bad however it is plain to see, even from the outset, that this film is trying too hard. Our opening quote is displayed on screen, but is also read out by a dude that sounds like Darth Vader after he has taken his inhaler. I know this is a comic-book film and so a certain level of flamboyance is expected but CUMMON! Unfortunately they have tried to mix in a good amount of comedy with the grit which has just led to the whole film feeling a bit pantomime. The humour isn’t really funny, it just seems fake, as does pretty much everything in this film – you can almost SEE the Styrofoam and chipboard!

I know this is an older film, and I know that the slightly OTT films were in fashion in the 1990’s but still! Diehard with a Vengeance was released the same year and John McClane (with no armour and no incredibly big guns) managed to be an awful lot more bad-ass than Judge Dredd! If we argue that the two cannot be compared as Judge Dredd is far more sci-fi then fine! Terminator was sci-fi and that was made in 1984, THEY managed to mix sci-fi, futurism and grit successfully, so why can’t Judge Dredd?

Judge Dredd is to Dredd (2012) what Batman and Robin (1997) or if I am being cruel Batman (1966) is to the Dark Knight. It is trying to be bad-ass and yet failing. The impracticality of the costumes is hilarious – if I saw a policeman coming towards me wearing a cape and shoulder pads I’m not sure I would be that scared if I am honest. Now a run-down, sensibly dressed policeman, half covered in blood and wielding a very-real looking gun walking towards me?  That would make me fill my pants.

Batman (1966)
Batman (1966)
Batman and Robin (1997)
Batman and Robin (1997)
The Dark Knight
Judge Dredd (1995)
Judge Dredd (1995)
Dredd (2012)
Dredd (2012)

Everything in this film is built to look bad-ass. The cities, the guns, the vehicles? All built like tanks! Yet the guns barely hurt anyone and their super powered motorbikes travel at the same speed as a human running*.  Judge Dredd himself is not all that kick-ass – his gun does most of the work for him and his primary job is to wander around talking out of the side of his mouth in a deep, rather fake voice.

This said, I can’t criticise too much**. As bad as Judge Dredd is, this synthetic, trying-too-hard pantomime issue is a flaw that most 1990’s comic book films share; Captain America (1990) for instance or all the batman films – they all have a similar visual style and I’m sure some people love it, I’m just not one of them. Comic books can get away with things films cant***.

Aside from the graphic style being awful and the acting being even worse, the plot is really dull. There is far too much bad character development for Dredd  and the amount of times I paused it, did something else for 10 minutes and then thought ‘crap, I’m only 20 minutes in, I better watch some more else I’ll never get it done!’ suggests that perhaps this is not the most captivating film in the world…

BUT! I’m sure some people love it and for that reason I am now going to try and think of some positive things to say about it … I really like the food vending droid, it is sponsored by Coors beer and its slogan goes as follows: “eat recycled food for a happier healthier life. Be kind and peaceful to each other. Eat Recycled food. Recycled food: it’s good for the environment and ok for you.”

Seeing Stalone is a spandex gymnast suit is also pretty amusing. Also – Judge Dredd has a first name!! Joseph *sniggers*

I like the city design. The characters may be crap, but the city is quite cool. It reminds me very much of the ‘Sprawl’ from Neuromancer by William Gibson. It’s busy, grimy and filled with neon, advertising and signs – the sort of place you can really imagine crime syndicates lurking, with bars, florescent hookers and hallucinogenic drugs. The bits of the city that you do see in-between the main stuff are pretty cool, they have a fantastic atmosphere and put the rest of the film to shame****


So, to round up: I don’t like this film. It is taxing to watch and as obviously fake as Pamela Anderson’s boobs – and probably far less exciting to most male viewers too. If you want to watch this, don’t. Go and watch Dredd (2012) instead as it actually does the comics some justice.

Crime: Being a terrible excuse for an action film. Punishment: Bad Review.

*Seriously! At the beginning there is a riot and Judge Dredd’s bike is travelling the same speed as some fleeing citizens. Now I know congestion in cities is a real problem but still…

** I mean, I can… but…

*** Like KAPOW bubbles.

**** Oh, wait, I was supposed to be being positive wasn’t I?


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