Judge Dredd (1995)

Genres - Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Sci-Fi Action, Superhero Film  |   Release Date - Jun 30, 1995 (USA)  |   Run Time - 91 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Karl Williams

There are a few good examples in the past two decades of how to turn a successful comic book series into a feature film. Superman (1978) and The X-Men (2000) are among them. Sadly, this vehicle for action star Sylvester Stallone will never be considered one of those shining specimens. A sly, cynical, and ultra-violent anti-hero of a future British dystopia, the Judge Dredd character of pulp fiction fame is cruel, vindictive, and bloodthirsty, a symbol of law run amok, without the tempering factor of thought or morality. In this feature film version from director Danny Cannon, Dredd has been watered down and made "sympathetic" for star Stallone, completely eradicating the meaning and irony of the source material. What's left is a cop in love, framed for wrongdoing against a loud, violent, and shallow backdrop bereft of meaning. Stallone's Dredd gets emotionally hurt, where his newsprint predecessor would have simply shot everyone involved and gone about his job. There are a few touches of the British comic book's wicked satire here. Dredd suggests that his sidekick should have jumped from a 40-story window rather than remain five minutes in the presence of criminals; one character has a dial in his forehead to control the level of his violent urges. Such highlights are too few and far between to salvage the film. Judge Dredd is a soulless project adrift in special effects, in which it was deemed necessary by someone in a position of authority to inject Rob Schneider into a comic role, letting the audience know in no uncertain terms that the filmmakers just didn't get it.