Directed by Danny Cannon
Expectations: Really low. I remember this being pretty awful.
On the general scale:
On the B-movie scale:
In the Third Millennium, the world changed. Climate. Nations. All were in upheaval… The Earth transformed into a poisonous scorched desert, known as “The Cursed Earth.” Millions of people crowded into a few Mega Cities where roving bands of street savages created violence the justice system could not control. Law as we know it collapsed. From the decay rose a new order. A society ruled by a new elite force… a force with the power to dispense both justice and punishment… They were the police, jury and executioner all in one. …They were the Judges.
You pumped? Seriously, this movie has so much going for it. Of course, there’s one of my all-time favorite action stars, Sylvester Stallone, cranking out all kinds of awesome crooked mouth yells. It also has dope robots, a cyborg who’s a member of a hillbilly desert cannibal family, and massive explosions. And let’s not forget about the kick-ass, flying future cycles, the cloning (and the incredible half-cloned, skinless dudes!) and Jurgen Prochnow’s German accent. And the villain’s name is Rico! C’mon! Judge Dredd is a perfect big-budget B-Movie. I know this isn’t a position many will agree with or defend, but I can’t help it if I like this kind of dumb stuff, can I?
Visually, Judge Dredd is a very nice looking dumb film. The judge costumes could definitely use some work, but everything else looks suitably futuristic in a mid-’90s kind of way. The filmmakers chose to go full-force into the sci-fi aspect of the story, bringing Mega-City One to the screen as something of a marriage between the future noir of Blade Runner and the future whimsy of Back to the Future: The Ride. Outside the city is the desert wasteland called the Cursed Earth, which looks as awesome as it sounds. They also tease us with just a hint of an Aspen Penal Colony, but they couldn’t possibly have sandwiched a dope future prison scene into this movie. There’s only so much awesome that one movie can contain.
The FX are a mix of practical and early CG, and they look extremely convincing. This originally came out at a time when I had become snobbish about “shitty modern movies” so I disregarded it at the time, and only begrudgingly watched it with crossed arms and a scowl. Now — obviously — things have changed and I can appreciate the awesome FX and explosions on display throughout Judge Dredd. They clearly spent a good amount of money making this movie look like a broken-down future, and it looks great. The future chase through the skies of Mega-City One was a highlight, but my favorite FX bits were the makeup work on the hillbilly cyborg. His metal skeletal system shows through tears in his skin, and cybernetic implants run all down his spine. He looks seamless and incredible, and if he were in a movie that was better received there’s no doubt he’d make all kinds of “Top 10 Cyborgs” and “The Best Hillbilly Cannibals in Film” lists throughout the blogosphere.
What more can I say, I thoroughly enjoyed Judge Dredd. I say that as a huge fan of Stallone and B-Movies, and as one that initially hated the film upon its original release. I know nothing of the comic character, so I have no inborn nerd bias against whatever the film did or didn’t do right. All I can do is call it like I see it, and as I see it Judge Dredd is one hell of a big-budget B-Movie. Give it another shot.
Tomorrow make sure you come back for my review of the 2012 film, Dredd! Can it stack up to Stallone’s awesome crooked mouth yells? I’ll be the judge of that!