REVIEW: DREDD

CAST
Karl Urban (Star Trek)
Olivia Thirlby (Juno)
Wood Harris (Remember The Titans)
Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Domhall Gleeson (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
The future United States is a dystopic irradiated wasteland known as the Cursed Earth. On the east coast lies Mega-City One, a violent metropolis with 800 million residents and 17,000 crimes reported daily. The only force for order are the Judges, who act as judge, jury and executioner. Judge Dredd is tasked by the Chief Judge with evaluating new recruit Cassandra Anderson, a powerful psychic who failed the aptitude tests to be a Judge.
In Peach Trees, a 200-storey slum tower block, drug lord Madeline Madrigal, also known as “Ma-Ma”, executes three rogue drug dealers by having them skinned alive, infused with Slo-Mo (an addictive new drug which reduces the user’s perception of time to 1% of normal) and thrown down the atrium from the top floor. Dredd and Anderson are sent in to investigate and learn of a drug den, which they raid. They arrest a thug named Kay, whom Anderson’s mind probe reveals to be the one who carried out the drug dealers’ executions. Dredd decides to take him in for questioning. In response, Ma-Ma’s forces seize the tower’s security control room and seal the building, using its blast shields under the pretence of a security test, preventing the Judges from leaving or summoning help.
Ma-Ma orders Dredd and Anderson killed, forcing the Judges to fight their way through dozens of armed thugs. Arriving at the 76th floor, the Judges are assaulted by Ma-Ma and her men with Vulcan cannons that rip through the walls, killing numerous residents. The Judges breach an outer wall and call for backup. Meanwhile, Ma-Ma sends her henchman Caleb to search for the Judges. When they meet, Dredd throws Caleb off the tower in full view of Ma-Ma.
Dredd suspects Ma-Ma is desperate to keep Kay quiet and beats him for information. Anderson reads Kay’s mind and learns that Peach Trees is the centre of Slo-Mo production and distribution. Anderson suggests they hide while awaiting assistance but Dredd insists they move up the tower and pursue Ma-Ma. Judges Volt and Guthrie respond to Dredd’s call, but Ma-Ma’s computer expert denies them entry by persuading them the security system is malfunctioning. A pair of armed teens confront Dredd and Anderson, allowing Kay to disarm and overpower Anderson. Kay then escapes with her as hostage, and takes her to Ma-Ma’s base on the top floor. While Dredd works his way towards Ma-Ma, she calls in the corrupt Judges Lex, Kaplan, Chan and Alvarez. The four relieve Volt and Guthrie from duty and are allowed into the building. Dredd encounters Chan and is suspicious that he does not ask about Anderson’s status. Seeing his cover blown, Chan attacks Dredd, but is killed. Meanwhile, Kay tries to execute Anderson with her own weapon, but the pistol’s DNA scanner does not recognise him and explodes, taking his arm off. She escapes and later encounters Kaplan, whom she promptly kills after reading Kaplan’s mind. Elsewhere, Dredd kills Alvarez but runs out of ammunition, and is shot by Lex in the abdomen. Lex moves in to execute Dredd, but Dredd stalls him long enough for Anderson to arrive and kill Lex.
Anderson and Dredd obtain the code to Ma-Ma’s apartment from her computer expert and confront her. Ma-Ma tells Dredd that, in the case of her death, a device on her wrist will detonate explosives on the top floors, destroying the building. Dredd reasons that the detonator’s signal will not reach the explosives from the ground floor, so he forces Ma-Ma to inhale Slo-Mo and throws her down the atrium to her death. In the aftermath, Anderson accepts that she has failed her evaluation by getting disarmed, and leaves. The Chief Judge asks Dredd about Anderson’s performance; he responds that she has passed.
Dredd is a good action movie that sticks closely to the source material which makes a nice change for a comic book movie.  You don’t need to have read the comics to understand what’s going on. Also a nice change to mention is that the film goes straight into the plot, there is no hour and a half origin plot followed by 30 min of action. It’s balls to the wall straight to the point.
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REVIEW: JUDGE DREDD (1995)

CAST
Sylvester Stallone (Driven)
Armand Assante (American Gangster)
Rob Schneider (The Hot Chick)
Jürgen Prochnow (Ripper)
Max von Sydow (Game of Thrones)
Diane Lane (Man of Steel)
Joanna Miles  (All My Children)
Balthazar Getty (Alias)
Ewen Bremner  (Trainspotting)
Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing)
By the 2080s, much of Earth has become an uninhabitable wasteland. While some humans manage to survive in the barren “Cursed Earth”, the majority of humanity resides in huge Mega-Cities with populations of tens of millions. To combat crime, the traditional justice system has been replaced by a corps of Judges whose role combines those of police officer, judge, jury, and executioner.
In Mega-City One, Joseph Dredd (Sylvester Stallone), one of the most dedicated “Street Judges”, assists rookie Judge Hershey (Diane Lane) in ending a block war. Herman “Fergee” Ferguson (Rob Schneider), a hacker recently released from prison, is caught in the firefight and hides inside a food dispensing robot. Dredd arrests Herman for destruction of property, and sentences him to five years’ imprisonment. Rico (Armand Assante), a former Judge, escapes from prison with the help of Judge Griffin (Jürgen Prochnow). He returns to Mega-City One and reclaims his uniform and “Lawgiver” gun. He also finds and reactivates a decommissioned ABC Warrior combat robot. A news reporter (Mitch Ryan) critical of Dredd is murdered, and he becomes the chief suspect. Dredd is taken to a trial before a tribunal of Council Judges including Griffin and Chief Justice Fargo (Max von Sydow), his mentor. Dredd is found guilty as his DNA is found on the bullets used to kill the reporter (A feature of the Lawgiver is imprinting the user’s DNA on each bullet). To save Dredd, Fargo steps down as Chief Justice and, for his last request, asks the Council to spare Dredd’s life. Dredd is sentenced to life imprisonment while Fargo embarks on his “long walk”, in which a retiring Judge ventures into the wasteland “to bring law to the lawless”. Griffin, who freed Rico to frame Dredd for the murder, becomes Chief Justice and instruct Rico to cause chaos in the city.
Dredd is taken to the Aspen penal colony via airship, where he sits next to Herman. En route, the ship is shot down by the Angel Gang, a family of cannibalistic scavengers. They bring Dredd and Herman back to their cave. A squad of Judges investigate the crashed ship and get to the cave. A battle ensues. Fargo arrives in time to save Dredd’s life, but is mortally wounded by Mean Machine Angel (Chris Adamson). A dying Fargo reveals that Dredd and Rico are the result of the Janus project, an experiment in genetic engineering intended to create the perfect Judge using DNA from Council Judges. Dredd deduces Rico framed him for the reporter’s murder, using their identical DNA. Believing Griffin is trying to reactivate the Janus project, Fargo urges Dredd to stop him. In Mega-City One, Rico terrorize the city and assassinates the Judges. Griffin uses the situation to convince the Council Judges to unlock the Janus files. He plans to create an army of Judges from his DNA. After the Council Judges unlocks the file, Griffin has them killed. Dredd and Herman sneak back into the city and meet with Hershey, who had also discovered the Janus project by herself. They go to the Statue of Liberty where the Janus laboratories are. They encounter the ABC Warrior, which wounds Herman and captures Dredd and Hershey. Rico uses his own DNA as template for the Janus clones, then commands the ABC Warrior to kill Griffin. Herman, despite his wounds, disables the ABC Warrior as Dredd fights Rico, while Hershey fights his assistant. Rico activates his clones prematurely, but they fail to stop Dredd. Dredd pursues Rico to the top of the Statue of Liberty, and a final struggle sends Rico falling to his death.
Central, the city’s controlling supercomputer, has recorded the entire event and broadcasts the information, clearing Dredd’s name. The remaining Judges ask him to become the new Chief Justice, but Dredd refuses and remains a street judge.

Danny Cannon’s Judge Dredd is an entertaining enough sci-fi action flick, but I can’t help wincing whenever I watch it. Cannon claims to be a fan of the original comic strip, which suggests that he didn’t have a great deal of creative control, because plenty of liberties are taken here. I would never have expected the makers of the movie to be 100% faithful to the comic, but some of the changes that were made were superficial and pointless, and that’s what irritates me. For one thing it’s set in the wrong year, the Chief Judge is inexplicably called Chief Justice, Rico is locked up in Aspen rather than Titan, the heroic Chief Judge Griffin is one of the movie’s villains, while in the comic both McGruder and Silver were Chief Judges… and Silver was black!

As a movie it’s okay. The dialogue is pretty awful and the acting is adequate. The action scenes also just-about pass muster, although the hover-bike chase fails to convince, and the climactic punch-up in the Statue of Liberty is a bit of a damp squib. In the end though, it’s all fairly entertaining nonsense. It’s just a shame that when the producers decide to bring Dredd to the big screen, they didn’t have the courage to do it properly – as far as I’m concerned not hiring John Wagner or Alan Grant to work on the script was a crime worthy of life in an Iso-Cube.