Judge Dredd

No, he isn't.
Director: Danny Cannon (1995)
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Armand Assante, Rob Schneider
Find it: IMDB

With the reportedly not-bad Karl Urban chinned Dredd imminent, Sly Stallone's infamous 1995 adaptation no longer stings quite so much. It's still a stinky hunk of dystopian dung, but like Batman & Robin in the wake of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, it feels a little more harmless now. Danny Cannon's Judge Dredd makes perhaps the biggest mistake a comic book movie can - it makes the thing less about the character and more a star vehicle. In this case, the star is Sylvester Stallone and the vehicle is a Lawmaster with a pissy seat.

Despite having the body and chin for the job, Stallone couldn't be more wrong for the role of Judge Joseph Dredd. He spends a total of ten minutes wearing the (fibreglass) helmet. Comic book Dredd has spent nearly 40 years wearing it, and we've still not seen his face. Not that it really matters in this case. Stallone in the helmet looks like Sylvester Stallone in a helmet. We all know what Sylvester Stallone looks like. 

In the year 2139, what remains of the world has been split up into 'Mega Cities', which are ruled by fascistic "Judges" - tough guys with the authoritah to arrest or execute criminals on the spot. Judge, Jury and Executioner as it were. Judge Dredd (Stallone) is the very best of the Judges. He establishes his dominance by saying things like "I am the law", which is fine, and "I knew you were gonna say that," which is not fine. Judge Dredd has more catchphrases than Little Britain, none of which are in any way amusing. As mumbled by Stallone, he sounds more like Marion Cobretti in a stupid fibreglass helmet than Judge Dredd.

As if the bastardisation of Dredd himself wasn't enough, Rob Schneider and Diane Lane are on hand as comic relief and love interest, respectively. Lane does okay as Judge Hershey (although someone a little stronger might have been better, such as Sigourney Weaver) but there's no excusing Rob Schneider. I'm a massive Rob Schneider apologist (I actually love his Big Stan) but his pissing all over the back seat of Judge Dredd's (flying) bike is indefensible. 

Armand Assante does better as clone brother Rico Dredd (who doesn't look like Dredd or Fargo, the man they are both clones of) but isn't given much to work with. It's standard villain fare, and the finale is more than a little reminiscent of Stallone's own Demolition Man. Despite the silliness, some of the characters do actually look the part - particularly the Angel Gang (one of whom is Hershel from off've The Walking Dead) and ABC Warriors' Hammerstein. The Angel Gang sequence is actually pretty good, even if it is disappointing that they don't eat Schneider. Hammerstein looks good but lacks any personality whatsoever. Which is a pretty accurate summary of the rest of the film, actually. Mega City One looks great; exactly as I'd imagined it reading the comics. It's very Blade Runner influenced, but that's no bad thing. Likewise, the opening bit is a lot of fun and a solid introduction to the character. Unfortunately, it's all spoiled as soon as Judge Dredd takes off the helmet.

Judge Dredd is an awful film, a missed opportunity and terrible waste of the character. Thankfully, this year's reboot looks to undo at least some of that hurt. With that in mind, maybe we can enjoy Judge Dredd on another level or two, like Batman & Robin or Daredevil. Ironically enjoyable? I knew you were gonna say that.


  1. What a terrible movie. In this instance, a remake is welcomed. Great review.

  2. Demolition Cop = Demolition Man?

    Judge Dredd is so bad I couldn't watch all of it - it was making me sad for Sly, and that's a feeling nobody needs. Here's a challenge for you though - try watching Avenging Angelo. You will be crying like a baby for someone to switch it out for Dredd.

  3. OOPS. Corrected, thanks :-)
    I'll give Avenging Angelo a go. Not heard of that one

  4. Stallone said recently in an interview that he aims to purchase all the rights to Avenging Angelo so he can remove it from the face of the earth forever. He described it as the most embarrassing film making experience of his life. Those are some strong words... So, enjoy! My favourite part is the farting intruder and Stallone's speech about squirrels with swollen bellies. Please post a review when you're done.