Time: 96 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence and Offensive Language
Sylvester Stallone as Judge Dredd
Armand Assante as Rico Dredd
Rob Schneider as Fergee
Diane Lane as Judge Hershey
Jürgen Prochnow as Judge Griffin
Max von Sydow as Chief Justice Fargo
Director: Danny Cannon
In a dystopic future, where urban areas have grown into Mega-Cities that cover entire coastal regions, the justice system has evolved to a single person invested with the power of police, judge, jury and executioner: the Judge. Among the Judges of Mega-City One, Judge Joseph Dredd (Sylvester Stallone) is one of the best, and a particular favorite of the Head of the Council, Chief Justice Fargo (Max von Sydow). But there are evil forces at work in the Justice Department: block riots and the escape of Rico (Armand Assante), a homicidal maniac, are only steps in a plan that ultimately lead to the sentencing of Dredd for a murder he did not commit. And Dredd must discover the secrets of his own past and survive to stop the evildoers.
Before the underrated 2012 film there was an attempt at making a Judge Dredd movie in the 1990s. The end product wasn’t very good. It is however an incredibly entertaining movie, it was cheesy from the over the top acting, to the cliché dialogue, it’s an enjoyable movie for how silly it is. But I really wouldn’t call it a Judge Dredd movie.
Judge Dredd feels like a typical sci-fi, dystopian action movie from the 1990s. The first 10 minutes felt somewhat like a Judge Dredd film but any of those elements is gone after that point. The Sci-Fi world that we are introduced to has been made a million times over, so it just feels rather generic and not very unique. On top of that, for a lot of the movie we aren’t even exploring that world, we are just going from random location to random location, and these locations aren’t really intersting. So to recap, the sci-fi world isn’t that unique and we are stuck in locations that are even less interesting. As for the plot, I’m not a Judge Dredd fan really but I don’t think this plot was right for Dredd. Dredd being falsely accused of murder and going from one place to another to further the plot really doesn’t feel like a story for him, it’s more of a plot for another Stallone character. This movie is also very goofy. The dialogue is very cheesy and over the top. Seriously, count how many times Stallone is talking about ‘The Law’, often in an over the top way, or asks people “How do you plead?” before responding to their replies with “I knew you’d say that”. In that sense it is very fun to watch, because of how silly it is. I was entertained throughout, there wasn’t a dull moment when viewing this as a silly Stallone flick (except for when Rob Schneider was on screen).
Sylvester Stallone is trying to play Judge Dredd and the character is barely Judge Dredd. It feels like the whole movie was trying to be a Stallone movie, just him with the name of Judge Dredd. If you want any proof, Stallone barely wears the mask, (and Stallone himself insisted having it on all the time but to no avail). The cheesy dialogue doesn’t help much, as I said Dredd in this movie comes across like a Sylvester Stallone character rather than actually Judge Dredd. Despite all that, he is very entertaining. Armand Assante is the villain and he is incredibly over the top. He’s not that great as a villain but he is entertaining and is super into his role, so I do appreciate it. Supporting actors like Max von Sydow are fine. In terms of bad acting, we’ve got the comedic relief by none other but Rob Schneider. Yes, that Rob Schneider. Honestly while the role was written to be an annoying comic relief, any actors could play that role and be passable in the role. Schneider however turns a mildly annoying role into an insufferable role. He just had no reason to exist, he wasn’t funny, nor did he serve to really help Dredd or the other characters. He was completely useless, and it made me wonder why Dredd kept bringing him along with him.
The action is typical over the top 80s/90s sci-fi action. It doesn’t feel particularly gritty (something that the new movie thankfully changed), it is entertaining however. I might even say that for the most part the action is done well. There is a space bike chase with some obvious green screen, then again this is typical for this type of movie in the 90s. The costumes are over the top and honestly kind of cheap. Even when Stallone is in the helmet, he just looks silly, and it’s not Sylvester Stallone, it’s the helmet surprisingly.
Judge Dredd is not a very good movie, it’s silly, it’s cheesy and its completely over the top. However it is endlessly entertaining for those same reasons, intentional or not. It’s a guilty pleasure for me, however it isn’t the movie that Judge Dredd deserves. If you want an entertaining and silly Stallone flick, you’ll like this movie. But if you would prefer a proper Judge Dredd movie I highly recommend the 2012 film with Karl Urban.