Judge Dredd arrived on Blu-ray for the first time on September 18th. This is perfect timing with Dredd 3D blasting it's way into theaters this past weekend. Danny Cannon directs this classic action fest that stars Sylvester Stallone, Armand Assante, Rob Schneider, Jürgen Prochnow, Max von Sydow, and Diane Lane. I have yet to see Dredd, but from everything I've seen so far, Judge Dredd is a better representation of the comics, but that is part of its downfall too.
The screenplay was penned by John Wagner and the story takes place in a future where "One Man Is Judge, Jury and Executioner!" Stallone plays Judge Dredd, one of the most-feared all-powerful "Judges" that act with the supreme authority of both the police force and legal system. Dredd is framed for murder after a former judge (Assante) hatches a plot to overthrow the government. He must fight not only to clear his name, but also save the day.
Sadly, this film did not fair too well at the box office. This was the period where Stallone's career started going down hill with a series of flops, and Judge Dredd was one of them. I happened to enjoy it as a teen and a fan of over-the-top action films. The action sequences and special effects is what make this film stand out. The gigantic practical sets combined with decent visual effects (for the time) helped to make this film look even better on Blu-ray.
The colors are another reason why I like this film. The colors, especially the blues, pop off of the screen. The 1080p digital transfer looks wonderful with the colors. Blade Runner has left a lasting impression on set designers working in science fiction, because the look and feel of the futuristic society are eerily familiar. When I said that this film does a better job of representing the comic book, I meant it. The costuming, weaponry, and bike look as if they were plucked from the pages of the books. I love the Judges helmets and the uniforms look epic, and I like them better than the ones used in Dredd 3D.
The cast is pretty solid, aside from the addition of Rob Schneider. I wish that Cannon had decided to make the movie more action based, and less comedic. I love having some funny moments in a movie, but Schneider chewed up every scene he was in. Stallone was nominated for a Razzie that year, but lost out to Pauly Shore for Jury Duty. Needless to say that the script was far from good. There are some cast members that helped to elevate the overall film. Assante is an amazing actor, and his screen presence is overpowering. Max von Sydow (The Exorcist, Minority Report) is great as Chief Justice Fargo. Prochnow (Das Boot) is another fabulous actor that added a touch of acting talent to the film.
Alan Silvestri's score is rousing and adds to the tension of the action sequences. It sounds fantastic on Blu-ray. The sound and picture are wonderful on the whole for this Blu-ray. The special features actually exceeded my expectations from an older film getting a release. Here are the special features:
- Stallone's Law: The Making of Judge Dredd: This 20 minute feature was not included on Disney's 1998 DVD. I liked it because it was hosted by Stallone, and includes on-set interviews with the cast, director and effects people. Overall this is a nice informative piece.
- Theatrical Trailer: I love the opening voice narration by James Earl Jones.
- Sneak Peaks: All of the rerelease discs include trailers for new films. This one has a Frankenweenie trailer and one for the new shows on ABC TV. It also has trailers for Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Avengers, Castle: Season 4.
Judge Dredd is actually more representative of the comics in my opinion, but unfortunately has too comedic of a tone. If you can overlook the over-acting and Rob Schneider, you will be able to enjoy this action classic.
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