Set in the near future, Police are no longer required. The future has changed. Not only do we have flying cars and a world of sci-fi, but the law enforcers are now known as street Judges. Judges have the power to trial criminals on-site and carry out a sentence to any individual on the spot. Their code is simply to honour the law at all costs. The most well-known Judge among the streets is Joseph Dredd (Sylvester Stallone).
It’s pretty evident from the start of this film that Joseph Dredd is a Judge who brings fear to many bad guys. We witness his capabilities as a Judge as he takes down some criminals during the opening of the film. Joseph is also a man of a few words and generally keeps to himself, taking action against criminals when necessary. Joseph doesn’t have any real friends and isn’t in a current relationship. He also has a dark past which he generally keeps as a secret from others.
But things change dramatically for Joseph Dredd when he is framed for a murder which he didn’t commit. The murder investigation goes to trial and Dredd is found guilty and sentenced to prison. Can Dredd prove his innocence? And can Dredd find the person behind this setup and save the city?
When I first saw this film on VHS I had no idea who Judge Dredd was. I am well aware now, but at time the characters were unknown to me, and I feel many movie lovers who first saw the film in cinema may have been the same.
The Sci-Fi future world of Judge Dredd is something exciting, but sadly it is incredibly familiar. The world is exceptionally similar to films such as Blade Runner and Total Recall. A few years after this release, the world would be introduced to “The Fifth Element”, which again has a similar futuristic world to this film.
The characters in Judge Dredd are generally disappointing, not due to the performances, but mostly due to poorly written dialogue. Judge Dredd is usually a quiet character, and Sylvester Stallone’s performance here is a positive one from me. The actor has changed his appearance, including the colour of his eyes to transform himself for the role. The one-liners he delivers however are definitely more of a Stallone delivery.
Joining Sylvester Stallone in this film is also Judge Hershey (Diane Lane) and funny man Fergie (Rob Schneider). Both actors once again are trying, but the lines that get delivered throughout Judge Dredd just make me cringe. Fergie (Rob Schneider) as the so-called comic relief for the film is merely annoying, and his one-liners never seem to land any laughter from me even during my recent rewatch. The film’s villain is also weak and consistently makes threats by yelling and carrying on. It’s all cheesy and sadly, forgettable.
The visuals for 1995 were positive but rewatching this film on DVD; the effects no longer hold up during the action sequences. In one scene in particular where Sylvester Stallone and Rob Schneider are having a flying motorbike chase it’s obvious the two are being filmed with a green screen, and again it’s laughable.
The biggest aspect I love the most from Jude Dredd (1995) is simply the soundtrack of this film, which is simply gold to me. It is truly the one element I love the most walking away from this film.
Overall, Judge Dredd falls into the film category of “it’s so bad it’s good”. While the action star himself Sylvester Stallone is trying to give a new type of performance in the superhero world, it’s not quite impressive. What hurts the film more so are the side characters who have consistently poor dialogue which make me cringe each time I hear them. The film’s plot is a basic one with a rushed third act and finale. The film’s soundtrack is easily the greatest highpoint of this film. The world wasn’t ready for a Judge Dredd film in 1995, and it genuinely left many like myself feeling somewhat disappointed and only a little pleased.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden