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How do you plead?


Judge Dredd
(1995)

The first big screen iteration of the comic book anti-hero hasn't improved any with the passage of time. While the criticisms of its lack of fidelity to the source material are well-earned, it's not even much good at what it tries to be.

The first half is reasonably involving, but once Dredd escapes the Cursed Earth Danny Cannon's film is going strictly through the motions. The Angel family and the ABC Warrior are well-realised, but the spandex outfits of the Judges look cheesy. The production design is sometimes impressive but mostly sub-Blade Runner and has the feel of filmed sets. The plot's the biggest problem, though. Having Dredd framed isn't such a bad idea, but it already means you're not going to get him dispensing much justice and blunts the satire by wiping his face in the system he upholds. Adding a whole character arc to that, including his backstory with the Janus project, brother Rico and flirtation with Judge Hershey (Diane Lane's gorgeous but unconvincing, and her eventual cat fight with Joan Chen is predictable and tiresome) just clutters up and sinks any vestiges of the character present in the opening sections. 

Stallone can't have worn his helmet for more than 10 minutes screen time and, while he occasionally deadpans effectively, once it’s off he's doing standard Stallone action movie shtick. Even worse, he's paired with his very own Scrappy Doo, Rob Schneider. Who starts off merely annoying and becomes progressively more punchable as the film progresses. None of the actors are particularly noteworthy; Max Von Sydow and Jurgen Prochnow phone it in, and Armande Assante is awful; I'm sure I've seen him do decent work in the past, but this is incredibly lazy scenery-chewing. Christopher Walken may look nothing like Stallone, but it's a shame he turned the Rico role down as at least he might have had a bit of fun with it. Which the film as a whole sorely lacks, content to be mostly witless (there's a half decent gag about recycled food early on, but then they recycle it). And the bike chase sequence is really poor.

**


This trailer is worth checking out for Jerry Goldmsith's Dredd theme (which wasn't even in the movie - doh!):



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