Just in time for the new reboot Dredd 3D, the 1995 adaptation of the British sci-fi comic book series, Judge Dredd, hits Blu-ray for the first time. Judge Dredd stars Sylvester Stallone in the title role and Armand Assante as his arch nemesis, Rico. The film suffers from cheap looking sets and costumes, as well as lazy storytelling. One of its only saving graces is a funny performance by Rob Schneider as an ex-con who quickly gets into more trouble. The rest of the film is a mess of sci-fi and comic book movie cliches that have been done to death (and much better) in tons of other films.
There's no doubt Stallone has made some real turkeys in his career. Judge Dredd may not be his worst, but I find it one of his most puzzling. Simply put, he does not fit the role at all. One thing about the character of Judge Dredd is that he is supposed to be unemotional. He only knows the law, and that is the only thing he follows. Stallone was not able to turn off the emotion in his voice, in his eyes (which are never seen in the print version), or in his overall demeanor for this film. So when another character asks him if he feels anything, it's hard to believe him when he says no. Still, it might have all worked better if the film was not so cheesy.
Perhaps Stallone was bitten by the sci-fi bug, having appeared in the far superior Demolition Man two years earlier. The plots of the two films even have some similarities. In both, Stallone plays a cop wrongly convicted of a crime who is forced to take on an escaped con whose goal is controlling the city. Unlike Demolition Man's peaceful San Angeles, Judge Dredd's Megacity is a violent, overcrowded cesspool. It is so overcrowded that there is no time for lengthy trials of the many criminals that plague the city. The “judges” have the power to arrest, try, and convict someone on the spot. It's an environment Judge Dredd thrives in. He wants nothing more in life than to uphold the law.