Friday, June 06, 2003


A Video Review of "Judge Dredd"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Judge Dredd is a superhero for a new generation. Created in the British punk movement that created other such superheroes as Miracleman and Tank Girl he is police, jury and executioner for a world mad with crime and mayhem that needs to be tamed by like violence. He is an ultraviolent hero in an ultraviolent cyberpunk world – this ain’t your parents’ Superman or Batman.

The special effects are amazing, on par with most top of the line SPX flicks of the time. Had more people seen this gem in the theatres more people would have raved. The visuals are superior. From the matte paintings of Mega-City One to the details of the Judge uniforms great care has been executed to bring the world of Judge Dredd to life.

Casting however could have used more thought. While Stallone is indisputedly Judge Dredd, Rob Schneider is his usual annoying self, Armand Assante is unforgivably over the top and Barbara Hersey and Max Von Sydow walk through their roles.

Judge Dredd does something I’ve always loved about the old movie serials but hated about recent superhero movies. After a couple paragraphs of introduction the movie starts. Here’s the world situation, here’s the hero, let’s go. No long rehashing of the origin and motivation just let’s start the story. I love this. More action, less backstory.

The first twenty minutes of this film are pure Dredd straight out of the 2000 A.D. comic book he was created for, it’s perfect and no true fanboy can complain. Sylvester Stallone’s portrayal as an unfeeling invincible justice machine who gets the job done at any cost is dead on. I could watch these twenty minutes over and over again. Absolutely perfect.

After the perfect opening however the story veers into new territory, exploring aspects of the character never before revealed, basically deconstructing Dredd for the new viewer. It’s sometimes horrid for the faithful fan but a necessary evil for a major motion picture. Fans will just have to overlook things like Dredd’s first name and seeing him without his helmet. This deconstruction tactic is also correct though. Here is everything we know, here is the status quo, but now to show you what a real hero we have here… we break everything and make the hero survive, struggle to get what he once was back.

The movie Judge Dredd is all about evolution is this sense. Dredd goes on Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey. It’s beautiful to see him broken and win his Judgeship and reputation back. This proves him a hero. The tougher the villain and more impossible the predicament – the more heroic the superhero.

Some portions of this review have been published previously at
Comic Widows
and Project: Popcorn

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