Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 8/24/98
1995 (1998) - Cinergi
(Hollywood Pictures/Buena Vista)
review by Bill Hunt,
editor of The Digital Bits
Yet another post-apocalyptic nightmare world, where lawlessness
abounds. Some interesting production design and a few moments of
humor. Some cool casting too. Taken for what it is, it's enjoyable
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Very good widescreen picture (but not 16x9), tremendous Dolby
Digital 5.1 audio, but only a trailer as an extra.
Overall Rating: C+
If you really liked the movie, are a fan of the Judge
Dredd comics, or you really dig Stallone's steroid films,
then by all means buy it. Otherwise, at this price... think twice.
96 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), single-sided, Amaray
keep case packaging, theatrical trailer, film-themed menus, scene
access (17 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1), French (DD 2.0),
Sylvester Stallone packs his pectorals into the gold-plated,
armored uniform of a Judge, dealing out justice in a future
metropolis gone bad. That about sums up Judge
Dredd. OK, I admit, there's more to the story. Stallone
plays the title character, a thick, emotionless lawman of the
future. His job - to patrol the streets of a mega-city of the Third
Millennium (it's even called Mega City), and act as policeman, judge
and jury. When crimes are witnessed, Judge Dredd hands down the
appropriate punishment and carries it out right on the spot. Dredd
is the envy of his fellow judges - a seasoned veteran that everyone
looks up to. His also the right-hand man of his proud mentor, and
the city's highest official, Judge Fargo (Max Von Sydow).
But all is not right in Mega City. A conspiracy is brewing to
overthrow the council of Judges, led by one of the council members,
Judge Griffin (Jurgen Prochnow). And he's enlisted the help of Rico
(Armand Assante), one of the worst criminals ever to walk "The
Cursed Earth" (yes, that's what they call it). Rico has been in
prison for years, put there by Dredd himself. The two were once
friends, and now are mortal enemies. Not to worry though - Dredd's
got the benefit of Stallone's brawn, plus the help of a fellow Judge
(Diane Lane) and a wise-cracking felon (Rob Schneider). You can
guess how it all turns out.
Now, I'm not a fan of, or even familiar with, the Judge
Dredd comics (upon which this film is based), so I can't
testify as to how faithful it is to that lore. But I can say that
Judge Dredd the film, if taken
for nothing more than it is, is more or less entertaining. I mean,
hey - any film with Jurgen Prochnow can't be all bad, right? The
production design, while absolutely unoriginal (think Blade
Runner meets The Fifth Element,
and you'll know what to expect), is still rather nifty. Mega City is
appropriately vertical, dense and cool. Dredd's weapon, a gun that
has voice-selectable ammo for every occasion, would be great to have
on a dark and scary night. And that war robot Rico walks around with
is darned menacing. The performances are adequate, but are entirely
two-dimensional - appropriate, I suppose, to a film based on a comic
book. Armand Assante is particularly good as Rico, and Rob Schneider
is occasionally very funny. And I got a good laugh over the
recycling robot's monotone mantra: "Eat recycled food... it's
good for the environment, and OK for you."
On the other hand, the script is filled with cliches, inane
one-liners, and is overall pretty flimsy. Let's face it, the
sky-cycle chase is right out of Return of
the Jedi. Some of the in-jokes really bomb. I mean, come
on... Abbott and Costello Lane? And most of the great acting talent
in this movie is overshadowed by larger-than-life comic book
As for disc quality, it's a really mixed bag. The letterboxed
widescreen picture is really very good overall, but it's not 16x9,
and there's no pan & scan version provided. The audio is what
really stands out - well mixed Dolby Digital 5.1, with thunderous
bass, and some very cool use of the surround channels. It's really
fun to listen to. Unfortunately, 5.1 audio is only provided in
English (there's a 2.0 French soundtrack), and there are no
subtitles on the disc at all, other than English Close Captioning.
All that's provided in the way of extras is a theatrical trailer.
Rather lame for the price. Oh, I forgot - there's also the typical "If
you like this film, try..." section found on Buena Vista DVDs.
Again, lame. Let me say it clearly - Buena Vista really needs to
shape up when it comes to putting features on their DVDs.
In the end, I had the same reaction to Judge
Dredd that I had to Men In
Black - it was sort of fun while it lasted, but
completely forgettable when it was over. If you like the comic
books, liked the film, or just dig this kind of film in general,
don't hesitate to buy it. It does really put your stereo system
through its paces. On the other hand, I can't really recommend this
DVD to everyone, given the premium price Buena Vista charges.
There's little value to be found here. Oh well.