Judge Dredd (1995)

judge dredd

“I am the law!”

The Scoop: 1995 R, directed by Danny Cannon and starring Sylvester Stallone, Armand Assante, and Rob Schneider

Tagline: In the future, one man is the law.

Summary Capsule: The future of law enforcement has gone downhill since Robocop’s days

Justin’s rating: Memo to Stallone: stop doing futuristic cop movies already!

Justin’s review: There’s nothing like starting a movie with: comic book covers! And lots of them! It’s been done before (Tank Girl, Mallrats), but never with such nerve-deadening “I’m browsing through my brother’s graphic novel collection” style as with the opening minutes of Judge Dredd. The movie is already dull and uninspired before it starts. Then you have James Earl Jones reading painful exposition that includes the words “Mega Cities” and “The Cursed Earth”. Leaping Laser Lichens, this film is gonna hurt.

If you need to picture it in your mind, Judge Dredd is the future as told by the heavy metal music industry, all big and clunky and plastic-y. Harley Davidson sponsors the vehicle design. It’s a bad, bad time (the future never seems like a promising place in the movies), where Sly Stallone is so hard up for jobs that he’s taken to wearing the shiny equivalent of a Halloween costume straight from Wal-Mart and going around blasting the last shreds of his decency into oblivion.

Look, I know this movie is based on the Judge Dredd comics and all, but it’s plain silly to have this futuristic police force that’s the “judge, jury and executioner” all in one. For one thing, none of these guys (Stallone included) look like they could have passed a remedial police exam, never mind years of law school that would enable them to render justice with a fair hand. No, they have big guns instead. Dredd spends half this movie talking to his gun, since it was designed to sell more toys or something by vocal input. I’m really glad that the officer assigned to protect and serve me has a policy of “quip and shoot first, ask those nosy questions later.”

There seems to be about one police officer for every ten thousand citizens in this city, so it goes without saying they get their butt kicked time and again. Dredd proves himself the wise “judge” by killing all his suspects and arresting an innocent bystander in a shootout. Way to go, gun-boy. You’re ever-so-wise. Maybe he should’ve been trained as a mall cop or something first.

Stallone struts and mumbles around in this movie, relying on some faint hope that we the public still yearn for moving monoliths in the action/adventure arena. Yet somehow, perhaps in this movie’s spectacular failure at the box office, the public is no longer impressed with stance and hackneyed remarks. Just see if Dredd’s opening line: “I AM… DA LAW!” gives you goosebumps of excitement, or goosebumps of sinking dread that your next two hours will be a complete waste of time. Maybe this type of film would’ve worked in 1983 or something, but big guns, crotch armor (seriously, check it out) and completely mindless violence doesn’t do anything for anyone any longer.

And I haven’t even MENTIONED the presence of Rob Schneider yet. I’m still repressing. He’s supposed to be the comedic sidekick, the kind that only really amuse eight-year olds, the kind that only really say three things: “AHHHH!”, “You’re dangerous to be around, what with the guns and violence and all!”, and “Don’t leave me behind! My life is so pathetic, you’re the only action I have!” Dredd is required by movie rules to drag his lackey around the whole flick, because he knows that the doofus will save his life precisely once. It’s like an obnoxious Get Out Of Jail Free card.

I can’t sum up the badness adequately, but it seemed like every time Stallone talked (“Emotions… there ought to be a law against them”) I had a voodoo doll pin shoved somewhere in my gut. Anyway, I’m done. Check out the rest of my spit-laced notes in the Intermission! section.

Yep, Versace crotch armor
Yep, Versace crotch armor


  • Director Danny Cannon was so disheartened over his constant creative disputes with Sylvester Stallone that he swore he would never again work with another big-name actor. He also claimed that the final version was completely different from the script, due to the changes Stallone demanded.
  • In the opening credits it tells us that the Judge Dredd armor costume was designed by Gianni Versace. Um, who’s this guy and why did he get a paycheck for making a ridiculous outfit?
  • How come the Judge armor doesn’t really protect much more than the shoulderpads and crotch? Do criminals of the future aim for your privates that often?
  • Do the Judges hand out speeding tickets too? What do they do, shoot your tires out if you go five over the limit?
  • Ah, the “rookie killed on his first day on the job” cliché
  • Aspen is a penal colony… woohoo! Snowboarding convicts!
  • The bikes are called “Lawmasters”… does that work on your thighs too?
  • Good to know that rednecks are still keepin’ it real in the future… sheesh
  • The “flying bike” scenes features three seconds where Dredd is a computer generated image. This is the part where he swoops low over a crowd of punks.
  • The Lawgiver tags each bullet with the DNA of the operator where the skin makes contact with the handle. In some scenes the operator of the firearm is wearing a glove making contact impossible.
  • Furthermore, if contact is all that is needed for DNA sampling why does Rico need to be penetrated by 5 needles to withdraw blood needed for the creation of the new clones.

Groovy Quotes

Judge Dredd: Emotions… there ought to be a law against them.

Judge Dredd: I am the law!

Warden Miller: So tell me Rico, what is the meaning of life?
Rico: It ends.

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • Demolition Man
  • Blade Runner
  • Robocop


  1. •How come the Judge armor doesn’t really protect much more than the shoulderpads and crotch? Do criminals of the future aim for your privates that often?

    I wouldn’t be surprised.

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