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Why Judge Dredd was Dreadful – Review of Judge Dredd (1995)

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Rated: R

1 hr 36 min

By: Staff Writer Nathaniel Brayton

If you thought that pun was bad, it pales in comparison to Judge Dredd. I am the judge, jury, and executioner and I sentence Judge Dredd to life without chance of parole.

If you would rather listen to a review about Judge Dredd check out The Perfect T.E.N. Podcast, where we talk about Judge Dredd and Total Recall. Just click this link to listen -> Riding The Italian Stallion 

In the future, the law is dealt on site. These cops have the full authority to sentence you as they see fit. The most strict ‘Judge’, which is what they call the cops, is Judge Dredd, played by Stallone. He will throw the book at you after he beats you to a pulp with it. However, if you can believe it, he’s not a very emotional man and has little sympathy for others. This makes his common sense and practicality fly out the window most of the time. After his introduction, Dredd is framed for murder by his ex-friend Rico, who he had to judge himself. To save Dredd from a death sentence, the Chief Judge decides to step down in order to enact the one wish he gets for retiring. That wish is to go lenient on Dredd. *Spoilers* Throughout the movie you learn of the origins of Dredd and find out that he is a synthetic being designed to be the perfect judge and that Rico was the flawed version.

The key word with this movie is potential and that’s never a fun word to throw around. Because when a movie has potential, you are left feeling more disappointed of what could have been. Honestly, I was very interested in the story; the only thing that that was missing was the execution. I thought the fact that politics and social climate of the world were interesting but there just wasn’t enough of it. This movie has a similar run time of an animated children’s movie so they didn’t have much time to explore the world or develop the characters. After the chief judge steps down, he is forced to go on this walkabout outside the cities walls into the unforgiving desert. None of that was explained well at all. Some history might have been nice. At the beginning of the film the two main bad characters, Rico and Judge Griffen are set up to be very complex. Their purpose is not to be evil necessarily but to make an extreme change to the system in place. But by the end of the film they are completely one dimensional. This just goes to show that true storytelling is in the exploration of the world that the film lives in and relationships between the characters, which is why Dredd falls short.

Time to talk Stallone. The fact is simple that I am not fond of his acting and while he may be an action star, films need someone who they can understand and take seriously. Not to mention, he only talks in one-liners. Your lead has to be appealing for the audience. Honestly, you can’t understand half of what he is saying. But that’s okay for an action star right because it’s not really about the dialogue? Wrong, every time that it was scripted to be serious, it came off as ridiculous. There is scene where he is talking about the isolation a judge must face after years on the force. This is one of the better written parts of the film but comes off in a way where the audience laughs. And it’s not just Stallone in this movie with weird speech. Rico also has some type of accent going on and when Stallone and Rico get into a yelling match, you can’t make out a single word. This is great giff to illustrate.

O yeah, Rob Schneider is in the film. He was supposed to be the comic relief but in a film that is already laughable, he came across as just annoying. I don’t know who made the decision that Rob Schneider and Stallone would make great on-screen partners, but boy were they wrong. It would have been okay to just write his character out.

There were a few good things about this film though that save it from being unwatchable. Diane Lane who plays Judge Hershey and Max von Sydow who plays the Chief Judge are by leaps and bounds the best actors in the film. You could tell that just by talent they were better and that they were actually immersed into their roles. In other words, they were believable characters. Also, the special effects at times (especially on the robot) were really good. And the costumes that the judges wore were very stylized and pretty awesome.

Overall, Judge Dredd just falls short. With the right amount of time and effort spent fleshing everything out, it would have been an amazing film. Well, that is if it had a better lead actor. I can’t really recommend this movie to anybody so it gets a

5.5 out of 10

“Eat recycled food. It’s good for the environment and okay for you.”

On the bright side they are taking this comic book character and are trying to make a better movie, simply titled Dredd. Take a look at the trailer and tell us what you think. Can the new Dredd movie be worse than the original?

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