Before the comic book movie revival of the twenty first century, the nineties didn’t have that many notable comic book movies to brag about. There was the awful “Tank Girl,” and the even worse “Barb Wire.” There was “Spawn,” and “Generation X,” and “Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD,” “STEEL,” and “Batman and Robin.” And like those aforementioned titles, Hollywood adapted these titles completely missing why readers actually flocked to them in the first place. Never content with laying waste to more underground comic books, Hollywood eventually got its hands on Judge Dredd and turned it in to a Hollywood schlock fest that was so desperate for an audience it cast Rob Schneider in a major role.
Rob Schneider was cast in a post apocalyptic science fiction action crime thriller. Someone somewhere thought the guy from “Surf Ninjas” would make a wonderful comic opposite to Sylvester Stallone. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that notion. Intent on annihilating everything of edge and grit from the comic book, this Judge Dredd presented in 1995 was a man of gloss, glimmer, and donned a gaudy costume that made him look like a law enforcement float at the gay pride parade. I don’t know how to be scared of someone wearing a costume that glimmered like rainbow tassels on a glittered bicycle. He donned gold shoulder pads, and even a cod piece. Under the helmet, and apparently seeking a franchise, Sylvester Stallone basically pulled the duty of portraying Judge Dredd, forgetting everything that was likable about the character.
It especially didn’t help that “Judge Dredd” felt redundant since we saw him in the future fighting thugs in a Utopian civilization in the much more entertaining “Demolition Man.” What makes “Judge Dredd” such a bastardization of what was once considered a truly edgy and underground comic is that the writers look for any excuse to remove Judge Dredd’s signature outfit and helmet at every turn. “Judge Dredd” is tailor fitted for Sylvester Stallone as a futuristic action vehicle and potential franchise (and easy pay check for Max Von Sydow–what the hell are you doing in this?!) and makes it apparent by removing every essence of the character and turning the film in to Stallone’s own character.
I’m sorry: his “interpretation” of the character. So the helmet that brought legions of readers to the title is taken away almost immediately to showcase Stallone front and center. “Judge Dredd” feels more like the Adventures of Sly Stallone: Future warrior, and he’s unfortunately paired with the obnoxious Rob Schneider. He takes what’s an already campy and ridiculous adaptation that’s been sapped of the grit and gloom of the original graphic novels and waters it down even further with his “humor” and double takes in response to mutant thugs, and robotic soldiers.
“Judge Dredd” is never quite sure what audience it’s exactly pandering to, and because of that, the plot to the overall film is confused and convoluted, as well as underwhelming, What little action there is is comprised of Stallone and Schneider making one piss poor action team, and a lot of wasted potential to feature a rather gritty and entertaining action film that revolved around a character, rather than an action star. Stallone’s foray in to the comic book movie is never going to be accused of being a masterpiece. The creator of “Judge Dredd” hated it, mostly everyone hated it, Sylvester Stallone never took the material seriously, so in effect, “Judge Dredd” is another mid-nineties comic book flop that disappeared from the public attention and living on only through movie geeks who appreciate irony.