The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Judge Dredd (1995)

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It's crazy to think this came out almost 15 years ago. I was never very familiar with the comic, and just found out by looking it up on Wikipedia that it's not a Dark Horse publication like I always thought, but rather an independent UK publication that has been running since 1977, and it was in a comic book entitled 2000 AD, not Judge Dredd. I never really read it, not because I was a Big Publication snob-- I read some Valiant titles like Turok and Magnus: Robot Fighter-- but because I just never saw it around a lot for purchase. When I saw the movie in 1995, there was no Wikipedia to go to get all this info, so I just went in blind.

Judge Dredd takes place in the 22nd century (I think), in a place called Mega City 1, where order is kept through a law enforcement system where patrolling officers are cop, judge, jury, and in some cases executioner, all rolled into one. Sly Stallone plays Judge Dredd, one of the best, who is framed for murder by Rico, played by Armand Assante. Now he must prove his innocence, in a world where guilt is already decided, and mistakes in the system are never considered.

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I'm not going to try and discuss whether or not Judge Dredd was in any way faithful to the comic, because I don't know enough about it to say. As far as the movie went, it represented a place in time, where action was big and violent, but had an element of the cartoonish in it. I don't really know how to place it with a film like, say The Dark Knight. I imagine if it were made today, with our modern movie making technology, and with someone like Vin Diesel cast as Dredd, it would probably be as much of a flop as this one was. The best way to describe it is it was pretty much like every other Sly Stallone action film coming out at that time, which one: isn't what you want when you're adapting a comic book; but two: you can see in Sly's imdb bio that 1995 was that time when the wave crested and his popularity was waning. Had it starred Arnold, which was the original plan, it probably would've fared better, and not been any better a movie.

In trying to draw an analogy, I thought of someone making a Captain America movie in 1995 starring Arnold Schwarzenegger that played out like Commando. I realize that's not a proper analogy, though, because the thought of that sounds awesome, no? This was Demolition Man only not as much fun because we'd seen it before. According to imdb, the director, Danny Cannon, who is himself a Brit, said it was impossible to work with Stallone, and he constantly had to change things to Sly's liking. Now you can kind of see where the movie went bad. The thing too was in 1995, we were tiring of these kinds of films, and though we were tired of Stallone before we were tired of Arnold, as I said above, the wave was still cresting, and the lack of success of this film relative to its budget was a sign of a bigger sea change to come.

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I don't want to come off as bashing Stallone here, because Rambo 2008 was amazing, as was his stuff from the 80s and early 90s. In making the fuss he made, he was doing what he thought was right, because it had worked only two years before with Demolition Man. I'm curious to see what The Expendables is like, just based on how good Rambo 2008 was. I will say, after seeing The Dark Knight, if I had a choice between the cartoonish violence of the 80s and 90s, and the deranged Saw-like violence of something like that, I'll take the 80s and 90s any day. A villain that gives people and was given a Bloody Smile just doesn't appeal to me. Hans Gruber on the other hand is the man.

All of us I'm sure were assigned 1984 at some time during our middle school or high school days-- or both. It's interesting the way we and the Brits look at that book. We just take for granted we have a democracy, coming from that background, and also not having the Nazi threat directly on our shore, and as such, a book like that only influences our thinking so much. That's not such a good thing, though. How often do we forfeit various rights because we're told it's for our own safety. How long did it take for the drinking age to go back up to 21? If you tried to pull that in Europe the people would lose their minds. Now, we've not only submitted to a higher drinking age, but in order to buy beer we have to be even older before we can purchase without showing proof our age with a valid form of ID. Here we were railing against a universal ID system, but on a lot of levels we already have it, because being without our IDs means we aren't granted a number of legal rights we're due by virtue of our age. And all of this is done in the name of our protection, or for our own good.

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I considered omitting this next paragraph because it would mean admitting that I haven't seen Shutter Island yet, ie, I suck as a human being; but I figured it would be good to shame myself into getting around to it. In my defense, I was going to go last Friday, but the movie theater had no power. Anyway, what I'm getting at, if you haven't already guessed, is one of my all time favorite actors, Max von Sydow, is in this. Though it didn't happen, I would've loved a scene where Max played chess against Stallone as Death.

Okay final thoughts. In 1995, this sucked, but now, fifteen years later, it's a fun time, so if you haven't seen it, you may enjoy it. It may have failed as a solid comic book movie, but I'm not sure how much that matters anymore. At the very least, you can still say, in your best Sly Stallone voice: "I am tha' law!"

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113492/

2 comments:

  1. Well, JUDGE DREDD does also feature Diane Lane so it's a not a total loss.

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  2. And you notice Stallone made sure the rule that Judges don't hook up didn't apply to him and her.

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