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December 22, 2009

Film Fatale: Judge Dredd

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Written by: The Movie Lady
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Disclaimer: For structure’s sake spoilers are placed throughout the entire article.

judge_dredd_movie_posterJudge Dredd was released in 1995 as a box office failure. Based on a strip in the British comic 2000 AD, the film was adapted to appeal to a wider audience but was ultimately unsuccessful. I remember really liking this film but I realized I hadn’t seen it for quite some time and it’s a little different from how I remember it being. For one, I realize how bad the acting and the look of the film really is. And secondly, I like it for different reasons than when I watched it as a kid and just thought Dredd was cool. For instance, the opening is pretty bad ass. The text scrolls up the screen as seen in Star Wars, and Star Wars actor James Earl Jones even recites the lines, “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.” That sounds like the awesome makings for a movie to me. It leaves a lot of things to be desired but still has pleasing elements that are kind of cool. In that way it’s very much like a made for tv movie you watch on a day when you have nothing to do and you don’t regret watching it afterwards. Stallone puts it perfectly recounting his experience with this film- “It just wasn’t balls to the wall…What I learned out of that experience was that we shouldn’t have tried to make it Hamlet; it’s more Hamlet and Eggs.

The movie tries to be deep, and sometimes succeeds, but other times fails miserably. Sometimes the jokes are witty while others are awful. The opening of the film is awesome with the James Earl Jones bit but it also opens with shots of different covers of the comic. Then you see a birds eye view of a comic with someone flipping through the pages. I like that idea of seeing the exact comic that you love, thus building the anticipation until you get the see the film adaptation. The wardrobe and set designs are sub par quite a bit of the time (again like a made for tv movie). For example, in the beginning of the movie a guard takes off his helmet and it looks like a shitty plastic toy. Something interesting to note here is that Judge Dredd’s armour costume was designed by the infamous Gianni Versace. Now that’s one fashionable judge. Rob Schneider plays the comic relief and it’s the same thing with him. Maybe he hadn’t fully developed his craft yet this early in his career and that’s why a lot of his jokes are hit or miss. At one point he hides in a sort of moving vending machine that goes around saying “Recycled food, is good for the environment, and ok for you.”

This film is pretty violent, not in a gory way like nowadays but in a brutal way. The crime is so rampant the judges are trained by a simulator as a young rookie states when seeing live action for the first time, “Just like in the — simululator! Right down to the cross fire!” In this movie people are gunned down, gutted, have bombs blown up in their face, and one guy even gets shot through the throat disabling him from turning on a voice activated alarm.

q265278_1dreddStallone’s entrance into the movie is pretty bad ass. Diane Lane and the rookie call for back up and Stallone arrives on his Law Master (basically a hovering motorcycle). Trumpets are blaring and Dredd kicks the crap out of criminals with his ultra sick gun– The Law Giver 2. If someone tries to use his gun it will zap the user if their DNA doesn’t match. It’s also voice activated, and repeats back to you the weapon you selected. So when Stallone says “Grenade.” the gun repeats “Grenade” before launching one. Other weapons used are awesome such as Rapid Fire, Armored Piercing, and my personal favorite, Double Whammy. Two baddies for the price of one! There’s a cool scene with one baddie where Dredd is rattling off the codes the perpetrator has violated and the related sentences. The last is “1st degree murder… of a street judge.” The baddie says “Let me guess, life?” and attacks Dredd who shoots him down and says “Death. Courts Adjourned.” Good or bad, it’s still pretty awesome.

Dredd can be human and have feelings, but he develops this in time which is the main theme of the movie. In the beginning he does things like convict Rob Schneider for hiding in the poop vending machine to save his own life. He tells Schneider “You could have gone out the window.” “Forty floors? It would have been suicide!” “Maybe… but it’s legal.” That joke is cheesy, but cheesy in a funny way. Then there are jokes like Stallone telling Schneider (in reference to his gun) “You have to cock it.” “You didn’t say anything about cocking,” which are lame. If you’re hungry and nothing better’s around, try some of this only slightly moldy cheese. It won’t disappoint.


The Movie Lady



  1. I’ve never seen this movie nor have I ever read a DD comic…but you’re right: His helmet looks like the kind that would accompany a cheap costume from Party City.

  2. infinite speech

    This movie was okay and if it’s on tv and I have time I’ll sit and watch it but it is cheesy. When Schneider repeats the “I am the Law” bit in his Dredd impersonation that cracks me up every time. I actually hadn’t read much Dredd before I saw the movie so after watching it I picked up a few copies. I was quickly shown how much better the book was than the movie.

  3. infinite speech

    Oh and I remember a lot of people protesting the fact that Sly takes off his helmet and that Dredd would never do this. It became a bit of an issue but for everything else thats goofy in that movie the removal of the helmet is the least of the issues lol

  4. billy

    I never saw this movie. The pics of those costumes aren’t helping either. lol

  5. Lol I loved this movie. “I AM THE LAW!!” I still have my issue of Judge Dredd vs Batman. Sooo cool.

  6. Dan

    As a Brit, and pretty much a life long fan of Dredd in comics form, I flat out HATED this movie, it’s not just the helmet thing, it gets EVERYTHING wrong. They tried to make it into Hamlet, but that’s never been what Dredd is about, it should’ve been a kick-ass sci-fi police procedural, The French Connection with Stookie Glanders… Still, there’s hope that they’ll do a better job of the next one…

  7. […] won’t be.” Judging by the other films that were released in the same era (Tank Girl, The Mask, Judge Dread), this dedication to creative control is probably what eventually sank the project. As of 2002 […]

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