Netflix Pick of the Week: Judge Dredd
By. John Magee
This week I’d like to take us back to a time before comic book movies had the pedigree they have today, let’s go back to 1995. Here we will find the movie Judge Dredd, based on the comic of the same name, starring Sylvester Stallone and Rob Schneider.
Judge Dredd takes place in the dystopian future of 2080, where after a catastrophic world disaster America is broken up into Mega-Cities where crime is rampant. Because of this law enforcement now consists of “Street Judges” who are judge, jury, and executioner. The thing that makes this dystopian future so interesting is that there is no totalitarian ruling class, no evil cabal of trying to exert their rule over the unsuspecting public. Instead there are just people trying to solve extreme problems with admittedly extreme measures.
While Judge Dredd deals with some interesting issues it is at heart a cheesy action movie of from the mid 90’s and because of this the movie has some serious over the top acting from both Stallone and the movie’s main villain Rico, play by Armand Assante. Yet for every over the top delivery of one of Dredd’s two catchphrases, yes he has two separate catchphrases and they’re both amazing, there is a moment of some heartfelt emotion.
The plot of the movie is pretty simple once it’s all laid out but is told in pieces all throughout the movie so we piece together what has really happened over time. The council of Judges, the leaders of the law enforcement of this world, knew that street judges had a considerable amount of power and there would always be questions of whether or not people should trusted with that power. So the council decided to try and create the perfect judges, ones who could be absolutely trusted with that power so they took DNA samples from each council member and created two babies they then planned to mold into the perfect judges.
These two babies grew up to be Judge Dredd and Rico and while Dredd became the ultimate by the book Judge, Rico however grew a different view of law and came to the conclusion that “The innocent only exist until they inevitably become the perpetrators, the difference between guilt and innocence is just a matter of timing.”.
Since Rico turned out to be a well spoken psychopath the council ended up covering up all existence of Rico and all the people he killed to prevent the reputation of the already weakened justice system from being destroyed. However not all judges on the council felt that Rico was out of line and so one of the council judges, Judge Griffin, started secretly working with Rico to restart the cloning program and create a new batch of adult judges to enforce the will of the council.
This ultimately leads to a final showdown between Dredd and Rico where the two fight and have a heart-to-heart moment about why the two of them are even fighting when they both want order. Rob Schneider is also in this movie and does surprisingly well, his jokes hit around 70 percent of the time and there are actually a few moments where he acts quite well. Obviously Schneider brings many of his usual annoying tropes to the movie, such as constantly yelling while some other more capable characters do things and just angrily saying things to other characters but they are far enough apart to not ruin any of the scenes he is in.
The soundtrack of the movie is a strange combination wonderful and strange. It’s wonderful because the song is pretty amazing and has a great swell and gives the entire movie a sense of grandeur and intensity. It’s strange because it seems like the entire soundtrack to the movie is just one song, and even then just the one part of that song. They play the same swelling note at least three times yet it never feels repetitive. All of these things put together make a fantastic movie that is equal parts fun to enjoy and fun to laugh at.