Despite how bleak the current affairs of humanity are, it is always fun to pontificate how worse those who come after us will have it. The same struggles we face now amplified by 100 combined with the worries the future can bring. One comic took a darkly humorous look at current society in a future setting and made a satirical critique that remembered to back up its unique world with great action and entertaining stories. That comic series was 2000 AD’s acclaimed franchise Judge Dredd. In 1995, that comic book was given a Hollywood adaptation to make it into an action blockbuster, bearing the main character’s name, Judge Dredd.
Society is in a bad place in the year 2139, with most of humanity huddled together in massive metropolises known as Mega-Cities. Unshakable Judges dispense law and justice however they see fit. Most notable of which is Judge Dredd, the profile street judge who has no qualms with the current justice system he serves. Until he is framed for a crime, he did not commit. Judge Dredd is banished into the desolate Cursed earth. Coming face-to-face with cannibalistic mutants, the scum of post-catastrophe earth, and even with his brother, in a dastardly scheme to bring down the order of Mega-City One.
Stallone is an obvious choice for the embodiment of Judge Dredd, the chiselled action star looking like he stepped off the comic pages. It would not make sense for the film to keep the star in the dehumanising helmet for so long. It does go against the fiction, but it does help the film uniquely distance itself from the comics somewhat. He is accompanied by Rob Schneider, as a wisecracking point-of-reference to the audience. He is a computer hacker and after being apprehended by Dredd ends up being his sidekick through the Cursed Earth. The calibre and matching do not end here, with the likes of Max Von Sydow as Chief Judge Fargo, who sees Dredd like a son, in more ways than one. Armand Assante plays Dredd’s clone brother, Rico, the two do work well together, and it’s clear that Stallone and Assante do bear a resemblance.
Miniatures and C.G.I. come together to bring the inventive architecture of the comics to life. I have heard this film compared to Blade Runner, but it has more in common with Robocop, much like the original comics it is based on. The recreation of the distinctive traditional Block Wars manages to illuminate both points. Although this 1995 adaptation does not skimp with its ideas, By turning the Skiing heaven of Aspen into a depressing penal colony. Concluding in a climactic showdown in the Statue of Liberty, standing tall surrounded by the ever-engulfing Mega-City One.
While making some slight alterations to the comic’s detailed lore, Judge Dredd still retains the spirit of its inspiration. Bringing it to new heights as the inspired post-apocalyptic world gains an extra dimension now on celluloid. Stallone more than brings the iconic character to life in this new medium and is not alone with the cast all working to deliver an action slash mystery plot that never fails to entertain. All in all, I would highly recommend Judge Dredd, but then you knew I would say that.
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