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Movie Features

Judge Dredd : The Movie  

A Special Feature

First of all it must be asked, why a special feature on this Movie ?

Well Judge Dredd and its parent magazine 2000AD have been a staple of my reading material for the last 20 years and have been instrumental in helping shape my interests in movies and music. So for that reason the fate of this movie was important to me. But not justm for this reason is the movie featured here, Judge Dredd shows how tampering with something for the wrong reasons can turn an already accepted succesful format into something altogether different.

Now at this point you are probably thinking, oh no comic book reader, but remember some of the most stylish and exciting movies of the last few years have been either based on comic books or done in the style of comic books. The Matrix is probably the closest you can get to putting a comic book on the screen and doing it correctly.

Another reason is Robocop, by blatantly zeroxing the Dredd template had proved just how popular an ultraviolent movie with a sick sense of humour could be. So Judge Dredd if it had stuck to its own rules could have proved extremely succesful as well.

At this point it might be an idea to give a bit more detail on why Judge Dredd's format is so good. Dredd is based in Mega City One, a future city based on New York but taken to extreme. Now this alone should give a director enough material to make an amzing movie with, look what Ridley Scott with the cityscape in Blade Runner. Mega City One is a megalopolis on a vast scale, think Metropolis but falling to pieces and even more complex and scary and you'll begin to get an idea to as the idea of it. Is this not enough alone to base the movie on? Hell ever Woody Allen movie is based in New York and he has never run out of material.

Dredd is everything most movies wish for, snappy dialogue, great special effects, crime and great characters. Dredd is also a parody of the world we live in today with many of the things we do and see taken to absurd exremes, such as the Fatties with weight contests as a spoof of beauty pageants. That is only one tiny facet of the rich tapestry woven into the city.

Now onto the character of Judge Dredd, the toughest lawman you will ever see, Dirt Harry x 10. Judge, Jury & Executioner. His sole reason for existence is to uphold the law. In fact he has never removed his helmet in the magazine ever, a fact that you may say is strange but helps to reinforce the fact that being a person does not matter to him, the law is what is important.

It all sounds a bit heavy so far doesn't it, but it is the supporting characters in Dredd that provide all the light and shade that a movie could require. Dredd has some of the weirdest, funniest, scariest, characters you could imagine.

This is the first thing the movie got wrong, by using Dredds clone brother as the main villain. Could they not have chosen a more colourful villain than him? What about Judge Death who has destroyed his own world and declared all life is crime?


OK so now you have probably been getting a wee bit of the picture of what they could have done and one of the things they could have done better, so what will we move on to now.

Ah, I know, Sylvester Stallone. Before this Movie was filmed he talked a very good pitch for this Movie, yes he had read all the comics and had immersed himself in it and could see just how great a movie it could be, then why for Gruds sake did he botch it up?

Reason one the helmet came off, now why is this important, well as stated earlier Dredd is total law and his personality do not matter, it is a simple restatement of what is important = THE LAW. Oh ok you might say but he is a major Hollywood star so therewould be no way he wouldn't take the helmet off.

Errm , why not? Could that not have been a unique selling point for the movie. You could have just imagined people talking, "you have to see that Stallone movie, he never reveals his face the entire movie!", ie it gets people interested in going to see it for a unique reason, something most movies would kill for.

Not to completely slag off his acting in the movie, for the first ten minutes he played Dredd exactly as should have been done, but after that it is almost as if, oh I've had enough of this, time to start acting like I normally do. And considering the quality of some of the Movies he has been in before was this the best idea(Stop or My Mom will Shoot springs to mind, if anyone wants to do a review of that go right ahead, as I cant bear to watch that), is not the point of being an actor to play a role, not be yourself?

Secondly one of the things that was so badly wrong with the Movie was the dialogue, surely a movie should gave great dialogue. Doesn't everyone have their favourite line of dialogue from a movie. Hell Reservoir Dog has dozens of lines that everybody still remembers and how many years ago did that come out? Does Dredd have any in this movie, I for one can't remember any.

Well I AM THE LAW I suppose, but not for it being one of the best tag lines ever, that should have been spat out with a huge amount of venom, but was instead announced more along the lines of I AM THE LAUURGH ! Sorry but that didnt exactly cut the mustard.

This leads on succintly to what else was wrong with Judge Dredd - Danny Cannon.

This leads on succintly to what else was wrong with Judge Dredd - Danny Cannon, now to be honest I don't regard Cannon as a bad director, there are directors much worse than him. What was at fault here was Cannon's inexperience, just off of Young Americans, which was a tiny project compared with Judge Dredd he lobbied hard to get the gig on this one.

But Cannon was a fan and this was probably one of the reasons he fought so hard for the gig. Did he put to the back of his mind that wait a minute this film is huge and is much more complex than I have ever attempted, am I at the stage in my career that I can cope with this? I think because of his enthusiasm for the comics made him kepp going whereas if there was no previous attachment that he would not have pursued it.

Because of his relative inexperience things went badly wrong on the Movie, Cannon was not able to the extent that he needed to for a project as complicated as this. First thing he was not able to control was Stallone, yes he managed for the first ten minutes but as said earlier it is almost as if Stallone took over at this point and changed the movie entirely. A more experienced director may have been used to dealing with a star such as Stallone but Cannon wasn't confident enough in doing it.

Another thing that Cannon was not able to get right were the effects. Yes some of the effects were brilliant. The first ten minutes again. Oh if they had been able to expand on those first few scenes in the same way. But after that they were quite often either shambolic or cheap looking. To illustrate that I take the War Droid which so obviously looked like it was pushed on on a trolley, not like the great humanoid robot it should have been.

It also looked like many things were either cut or dropped during production, ie Mean Machine was not used nearly as much as he could have been, one of the only highlights in the movie. Also the jet bike scene, did they not watch Return Of The Jedi many years ago?

Jedi was over 12 years old by the time they made Dredd, so then why was this scene not as well made as Jedi, surely after 12 years things have moved on enough so this scene could have been made more realistic instead of so obviously having been shot in front of a blue screen.

I guess at this point this is nearly all I have to say about Judge Dredd at the moment, but because I feel so vehemently about what they did to Dredd and how they nearly messed it up for the comics as well I may return to this section again soon............

Tall Guy


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