Sylvester Stallone, Diane Lane, Armand Assante, Jurgen Prochnow, Rob
Director: Danny Cannon
Format: NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
Language: English (DTS-HD High Res Audio), French (Dolby Digital
5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Number of discs: 1
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Hollywood Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: September 18, 2012
Run Time: 96 minutes
may be shocking and I’m not sure my family will ever live down the shame,
but I need to say it:
I kind of dig Judge Dredd.
I say that will full knowledge that it’s not a very good movie, that it
violates the beloved 2000 A.D. character in numerous ways, and that
its box office failure in 1995 probably preserved civilization as we know
it. But every time it pops up on cable, some small part of me goes “ooh!” I
won’t justify that feeling, but neither will I deny that it exists: an
indefensible guilty pleasure that I must now be called upon to defend.
First, the big boners. Sylvester Stallone takes his helmet off early in the
proceedings, which should never be forgiven ever ever ever. (Credit the new
film for getting it right while letting Karl Urban show us just how much
Awesome you can exude with your mouth alone.) The attitude that created such
a gaffe – “audiences want to see the star’s face and fuck whatever the real
fans think” – led to further chunks of corporate-dictated idiocy, from Rob
Schneider’s ill-conceived sidekick to the imbecilic cloning plot which took
Dredd further from his roots. The action never dazzles us, while the
villain (Armand Assante) sticks to a typical I-want-to-rule-the-world
boilerplate. In most ways, the film is a big-budget misfire: the kind of
overblown Hollywood product created by people who look upon the material
solely as a means of separating our money from our wallets.
And yet . . .
Somewhere in the middle of all that, signs of the terrific source material
come shining through. Helmet gaffe notwithstanding, Stallone actually makes
a credible Dredd, with his implacable jaw and draconian adherence to the
letter of the law. The art direction and costume design credibly evoke the
towering future city the Judges call home, as do little touches throughout
the screenplay (like a riot at the corners of Abbott and Costello). Many of
the supplemental villains evoke the comics far more readily than the main
one does, particularly the Angel gang with whom Dredd tangles during a
sojourn outside the city walls.
To that, director Danny Cannon brings a decent sense of big-budget action,
with workable set pieces and a reliable pacing that renders the proceedings
more than watchable. The studio production that robbed the film of much of
its soul also ensures a certain competence in the technical department,
leaving it vaguely enjoyable in a Saturday-afternoon-on-the-Superstation
kind of way.
That hardly constitutes a ringing endorsement, and I cannot in good
conscience recommend this film in any sense of the term. But it doesn’t
deserve the gobbling turkey condemnations heaped upon it in the past sixteen
years, and if it can’t stay true to the title character, it at least
delivers a little modest popcorn fun to those willing to lower their sights.
Some small part of me really enjoys it for reasons I cannot fully
comprehend, and I suspect that a few folks out there might feel the same
way. That doesn’t mean you have to rush out and buy it . . . only that its
grimy joys might sneak up on you if you give them half a chance.
THE DISC: For a quickie release designed to cash in on the new movie,
the image and sound quality are surprisingly good. There’s a bit of grain in
the video, but the colors are nice and sharp, and the HD justifies any
potential upgrade. That’s a good thing, because the extra features consist
only of the trailer and a badly dated behind-the-scenes special from the
film’s 1995 release.
WORTH IT? Only if you can forgive the film its shortcomings, which a
lot of people can’t. Fans – and I’m sure that some exist – will appreciate
the comparatively high picture quality for a very modest sticker price.
RECOMMENDATION: Judge Dredd won’t top anyone’s must-see list,
but – like the film itself – the Blu-ray is better than you might expect.
- Rob Vaux