[Editor’s Note: We reviewed Judge Dredd from a recent screening on Showtime in its original unedited theatrical release. Because of the nature of cable television, we are unable to evaluate video or audio quality, though the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 was maintained.]
1993 saw the advent of computer generated (CGI) special effects as a practical alternative to physical effects work, giving rise to 1995’s Judge Dredd.
Directed by Danny Cannon, Sylvester Stallone plays the lead character in a dystopian future where the masses live on top of each other, creating an environment ripe for riots and looting. The police force is judge, jury and executioner and Dredd is there to exact justice. In a coup, a reporter is murdered and Dredd is the prime suspect. Convicted by the system he swore to uphold, he is banished. Supporting Stallone are Diane Lane, Max von Sydow, Jurgen Prochnow, Armand Assante and Rob Schneider.
Based on the graphic novel by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra, Michael de Luca and The Terminator’s William Wisher’s screenplay has all the ingredients for a great action movie. The screenplay is based on a story by Wisher and Steven E. de Suza (Die Hard and Commando).
The practical and computer generated effects really bring the movie to life, but are unable to support flat characters. It felt like elements were missing in some characters, but moments like the comedic effort between Stallone and Schneider and the father – son effort between von Sydow and Stallone really work. Prochnow is fun to watch going from poised composure to full-on-steam in a matter of seconds. Assante is a chameleon-like actor: interesting to watch, but never knowing where he’s going to go next with the character. His eye movements say a lot more about him than his facial expressions do.
Twenty years after the movie’s theatrical release, it was fun to revisit this action-comedy. Compared to Demolition Man, Dredd has a good deal more going for it, specifically because of its level of action. Dredd is a wild, fun ride.