THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!
Judge Dredd (1995)
Directed by Danny Cannon
“Looking back…Dredd might have been ahead of its time.”
Judge Dredd could be one of the dumbest movies ever. I can’t think of anything dumber (ok, I can but let’s stick to the subject). It is the Movie Centipede. At the head are the visuals and tone of Blade Runner. In the middle rests the costuming of Batman and Robin. The ass consists of Stallone and his cheesy one-liners, eating up his own shit. Dredd wanted so, so badly to be the best sci-fi action movie of all time yet it became perhaps one of Stallone’s more forgettable outings, and one of his biggest bombs. Looking back, however, Dredd might have been ahead of its time. Visually it really pushed technology, and there’s some fine action sequences, catch phrases and a big ass robot to boot. Yeah, so it could have probably provided thicker social commentary, but leave that to smarter films. As is, Dredd adds up to an damn entertaining movie. Terrible, yes, but that’s just the time and place.
During that summer of 1995, the over-the-top organism of bullets, muscles, and witty retorts was the shit. It seemed like every summer a new blockbuster starring Stallone or Schwarzenegger came out until things got ridiculous and the genre had to be put down like a cat with four broken legs. Audiences weren’t buying the human action figure. I understand. I get it. Perhaps if Stallone (who reportedly controlled the movie and made hella demands) had made some minor adjustments, this could have been his next franchise. It could have been his Blade Runner, the sci-fi action extravaganza of the 1990s.
But it wasn’t. On the surface, Judge Dredd is a bad movie. The plot is lame, the acting is stiff, and the costumes are perhaps some of the worst ever put in a major film. As soon as the Judges made their first appearance on set, someone should have had the balls to speak the truth. Looking back though, the movie has everything. It's got the dystopian world in Mega City where anarchy reigns. It's got blood, shoot outs. It's got robots. It's got flying cars. It's even got inbred Hillbillies. In the hands of any other actor minus Arnold, Judge Dredd would have been unwatchable. Instead, Stallone sells it, keeping a straight face while repeating lines about the law every three second and sporting a pair of giant shoulder pads with plastic gold glued to them. He is this movie and never lets the goofiness get in the way of some serious ass kicking. This is Stallone at his peak.
What’s even more impressive is that Stallone grew about six inches during the making of this movie. Sure, some actors put on weight, others wear wigs, others attach fake noses. Not Stallone. Apparently, he really, really worked on stretching in order to be six inches taller than everyone on set. It’s hilarious. Watch for his boots, which are thicker than what Frankenstein’s Monster sports.
Along with Stallone, villain Armand Assante makes Judge Dredd worthy. He’s equally as good because the guy knows how to play it crazy. Here, he plays Rico, Stallone’s test tube brother from another mother who’s bent on rewriting the law. Rico makes it his mission to destroy everything and frames Dredd by killing government officials while wearing his football helmet and pads. Actually, none of that matters because he’s the bad guy, which he’s perfect at. I’m a little surprised he never got more roles than he did.
I hate to end on a negative note, but Judge Dredd perhaps is remembered best as a buddy comedy of sorts. How could anyone forget the chemistry between Stallone and Rob Schneider? Sure, maybe they’re not exactly Riggs and Murtough or Reggie Hammond and Jack Cates or Tango and Cash, but they at least have some...memorable moments. No, Schneider truly is the weak link here. He’s the Jar Jar of Judge Dredd. I’m sure this was supposed to be the movie that launched him into becoming a comedy legend. In Schneider’s defense, his lines are terrible and his character is worthless. I’ve never seen a thinner character in a major film. He’s listed in the credits as “Comic Relief.” It’s funny that his most memorable line was an unscripted one, where he imitates Stallone and his "law" without fear. Maybe the 2012 incarnation starring Karl Urban won’t repeat that mistake. Or they might cast Rosie O’Donnell instead.