Judge Dredd, 4.5 Stars out of 5.
I am the movie law! Judge Dredd opens with a text crawl narrated by none other than James Earl Jones, followed by Fergee (Rob Schnieder) being released back into a deplorable society after serving a prison sentence for hacking. When he arrives in his new living quarters, he’s greeted by a firing squad who partake in a riot, and results in him hiding a food recycler that perfectly showcases how stretched resources are in this society. To deal with the riots, street judges, which are cops, judges, juries, and when they decide, executioner, and it is here we meet our lead: Judge Joe Dredd (Sylvester Stallone), along with other judges Hershey (Diane Lane) and a few others, who wait for backup that comes in the form of Dredd. Long story short, he stops the riot, and even figures out that Fergee hid in the food recycling machine, sentencing him to jail right there, despite explanations that he wasn’t hacking the machine. What follows is Dredd being forced by Chief Justice Fargo (Max Von Sydow) to train cadets two days a week, and after a frame-up, Judge Dredd is sentenced to prison, where he reunites with Fergee on the transport, and escapes when a group of wackos living outside the mega city shoot it down, and what follows after that is them working together to get back to Mega City 1. It’s short and sweet at less than a hundred minutes, and is clear from beginning to end what’s going on and why Dredd does what he does. He’s developed as a hardcore follower of the law who realizes that the man made law he’s enforcing may not be perfect, as emphasized by Fergee, the eyes and ears of the audience, which helps me transition into my next point: the social commentary. This is obviously a commentary on crime and the criminal justice system, which is timely when you recall the crimewave of the early 1990s, which may have been an influence on this movie. They do a really good job at being subtle on that and focusing on Dredd and Fergee’s journey home. My only complaint would have to be the dated visual effects that give the Star Wars Prequel CGI a run for their money. There were a few obviously fake green-screens and there was a certain level of fakeness I couldn’t get out of my head with the CGI. Otherwise, everything there enforced the dystopia and the message of what happens when government overreaches. Alan Silvestri soundtrack conveys the appropriate emotions, and feels appropriate in the dystopian setting, though a little more techno would have helped. Judge Dredd, the character and the movie, lack a sense of humor, but it’s ok for the tone, and there are a few laugh-worthy lines here and there, with surprisingly clean language for an R-rated movie. The themes and occasional blood may be the reason for it, but that’s just me, because like the legal system in this movie, the MPAA is difficult to understand.