Blu-ray Review: Judge Dredd

There are seemingly two types of Sylvester Stallone films: his franchises and his failures. He’s been able to turn Rocky Balboa, John Rambo and Barney Ross into franchise characters and films that have given him a resume of being a fairly bankable star for a while. Unfortunately, whenever he goes outside of his signature franchises he always has to go back to making yet another sequel to keep up his A-list status. However it got to the point that even Stallone would find himself direct to video for a spell and it was because of films that underperformed like Judge Dredd.

Based off the comic book character of the same name, Stallone stars as the titular judge in a post apocalyptic world. When Earth becomes cursed humanity moves into gigantic mega cities. When the criminal justice system collapsed a rash decision gets made: police officers were to be judge, jury and sometimes executioner to keep the peace. Judge Dredd (Stallone) is the most feared amongst the populace of Mega City One, his mentor (Max Von Sydow) being one who wants him to impart his knowledge upon the next generation. And when a man from his past (Armand Assante) frames him for a crime he didn’t commit it’s up to Dredd, a criminal (Rob Schneider) and a judge who believes him (Diane Lane) to find out the truth and save the city from forces conspiring to make it a dictatorship.

Judge Dredd was a comic book property long before a film and this was back in the era before the great Marvel explosion made them more than just a niche genre to be applied to a grander one. Thus this is a generic action film that takes the trappings of the comic book and adapts them to the Stallone action film model. This isn’t really a comic book film as it is an action film that takes the basic outline of a comic book and adapts it for its own needs. Unfortunately by this point Stallone stopped really being capable of knowing his limits. Why?

Because the film tries to be too much like Hamlet as opposed to being a fairly simple story.

One can see why Stallone would star in a film like this, which has an immense amount of franchise potential, but unfortunately all he does is star in the film. If it had been Stallone the occasionally brilliant director, or Stallone the Oscar winning screenwriter, behind the film it could’ve turned out a bit more cohesive. Stallone as a creative force would’ve done this film more justice than just his talents on the screen. As it is he sort of sleepwalks through a generic action film that’s only real highlight is Armand Assante chewing scenery as much as he can for the fun of it.

With a rebooted take on the character coming up shortly in Dredd in the end of what appears to be the golden age of comic book films, Judge Dredd is a reminder of what the genre used to look like.

The original DVD’s special feature, a generic making of piece, is included.

If you loved Judge Dredd enough to want to see it in the best possible a/v, this is your Blu-Ray. Otherwise there isn’t anything new beyond that.

Hollywood Pictures Home Entertainment presents Judge Dredd. Directed by Danny Cannon. Written by William Wisher Jr. and Stephen E. de Souza based on “Judge Dredd” by John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra. Starring Sylvester Stallone, Diane Lane, Armand Assante, Jurgen Prochnow, Rob Schneider, Max Von Sydow. Running time: 96 minutes. Rated R. Released: September 18, 2012. Available at

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