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Judge Dredd

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Judge Dredd

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Armand Assante
Director: Danny Cannon
Rated: R
RunTime: 96 Minutes
Release Date: June 1995
Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action

*Also starring: Diane Lane, Rob Schneider, Joan Chen, Jurgen Prochnow, Max von Sydow, Joanna Miles, Balthazar Getty

Review by Dragan Antulov
2 stars out of 4

In 1970s skyrocketing crime rates and apparent inability of liberal state to clamp them down created popular sentiment reflected in the films about Dirty Harry and Paul Kersey. That sentiment also found its way towards comic books, and that resulted in the futuristic superhero Judge Dredd, featured in the very popular series published in British magazine 2000 AD. After two decades Judge Dredd, like many other comic book heroes, became adapted to the screen. In 1995 that particular task was given to the young British director Danny Cannon.

The plot is set in the future where the entire planet turned into radioactive wasteland. The surviving humans live in overpopulated megalopolises with skyrocketing crime rates. In order to fight crime, the authorities created Judges - law enforcers authorised to act as judge, jury and executioners and thus bring instant justice to any criminal they apprehend. The best among them is Dredd (played by Sylvester Stallone), favourite of the old Judge Fargo (played by Max von Sydow). One day, however, Dredd is accused of the murder he didn't commit. All the evidence point towards him and he is sentenced to prison. While he plots an escape, hoping to clear his name and bring the real perpetrator the justice, Mega-City One becomes the target of vicious political intrigue.

Fans of the original comic books have all the reasons to be displeased with this film. Fascist overtones of the original were too much for "politically correct" 1990s and the character of Dredd in Disney's screen got his violence toned down and his personality became kinder and gentler, with a sense of humour and comic relief in the form of petty criminal (played by Rob Schneider). The plot of the film is, of course, formulaic and utterly predictable. However, Sylvester Stallone fits this part quite nicely, as well as Armand Assante, who obviously had a lot of fun playing the over-the-top villain. Director Cannon, on the other hand, isn't particularly interested in story and characters - entrusted with huge budget, he probably felt like a kid in the candy store and that reflected in truly stunning visuals and whole series of spectacular and very attractive action scenes. But the best thing about Cannon was his sense of pace - films unfolds very quickly and in 90 minutes we have hardly a time to notice one-dimensionality of the characters, predictability of the plot and some obviously disinterested actors (like Diane Lane in formulaic role of female Judge). As a result, JUDGE DREDD is mostly forgettable, but nevertheless pleasing movie experience.

Copyright 2001 Dragan Antulov

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