Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Diane Lane, Armand Assante, Max Von Sydow, Joan Chen, Balthazar Getty, Ewen Bremner, Jurgen Prochnow, Scott Wilson
Directed By: Danny Cannon
Plot: In a dystopian future, the law is in the hands of an elite force known as the Judges. Judge Dredd (Stallone) is a well-known veteran, who ends up being framed for murder. He must fight to restore his good name, and enact justice on the man who framed him.
What Works: For a film made in 1995, it actually looks pretty good. A lot off the visual effects are still practical, which is part of why they still look so good. The costume design is about what you’d expect for a 90’s film set in a dystopian future. Considering I saw this film 22 years after its initial release, I’ll give it points for holding up visually. Also, having seen this film after seeing the newer Dredd remake, this has more of a comic book vibe to it. I have absolutely no idea if this film is closer to the comic book source material, I’m just commenting on how the film looks like a comic book. Also, this film has a rather incredible score. The score is way better than this film deserves.
What Doesn’t Work: Armand Assante has this silly voice. I’m sure that’s why we stopped giving him film roles. One day, someone pointed out that he sounds like a cartoon character and we stopped casting him. He’s supposed to be the main villain, but he sounds like Dr. Evil. The acting, across the board is awful. Even Diane Lane, who is normally a fantastic actress does a shit job here. This is typical Stallone too, he’s just in his droll action mode. And then there’s Rob Schneider, who is as shitty as possible in this. All the way down the chain to the small bit parts, everyone in this film is terrible. It literally broke my heart to see Herschel (Scott Wilson) from The Walking Dead in this film, doing such terrible work. As far as the plot goes (again, I have not read the comics), it is a basic “innocent cop framed” movie. You know how it’s going to turn out.
Final Word: I assumed this film was total crap, because that’s what I’d heard. I was somewhat surprised, because the film looks and sounds great, a whopping 22 years later. I commend the filmmakers for putting real love into how the film was shot, because it visually holds the test of time. However, the acting in this film is atrocious at times, and marginal at best. The plot is standard and offers nothing cool or new. While the newer remake was certainly more stylistically violent, this one gets points for looking more like a comic book movie. Not everything needs a super dark reboot, and in some aspects I’d actually prefer this original to the remake. But then we come back around to the acting.
Final Grade: C-