I honestly think that Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger have some kind of bet going on. It’s not a consistent thing, but every now and then, one of them will make a movie and the other will make a similar one. Case in point, Arnold does Kindergarten Cop and Stallone responds with Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Arnold does Red Heat and Stallone counters with Tango & Cash. With today’s movie, Stallone actually made the first attempt in the bet on who can make the worst movie based on a comic book. Of course, we all know that Arnold won that bet with Batman & Robin but let’s focus on Stallone’s movie, Judge Dredd.
The plot: Herman “Fergie” Ferguson has just been paroled from prison but when he arrives in the area of Mega City 1 that he is supposed to live in, he finds the place engulfed in a block war, and his apartment is full of armed men that begin shooting out into the crowd. A pair of judges arrive on scene and, after assessing the scene, call in for backup. Backup arrives in the form of Judge Dredd and, after offering the criminals a chance to surrender, proceeds to enter the building along with Judge Hershey and her rookie partner. They manage to end the block war, but the rookie is killed during the fight. As the cleanup proceeds, Dredd finds Fergie hiding inside a service droid and sentences him to 5 years in prison. As Dredd is assigned to teach classes at the academy, Rico, a former Judge, manages to break out of the Aspen Penal Colony that he was held prisoner in. Rico heads to a pawn shop where he stashed his gun and uniform, and kills the owner, then reactivates a combat droid, turning it into his personal bodyguard. Rico then impersonates Dredd and kills a journalist that had been critical of Dredd, causing Dredd to be arrested for his murder. At the hearing, Dredd is found guilty based on DNA evidence, but as a result of his mentor, and Chief Justice of the tribunal, Judge Fargo stepping down, Dredd is sentenced to life imprisonment as opposed to death. Judge Griffin succeeds Fargo as Chief Justice, but it is revealed that he was behind Rico’s escape and he asks Rico to begin causing chaos in the city. On the shuttle to Aspen, Dredd happens to be sitting next to Fergie, who begins mocking Dredd’s plight. As a prisoner attempts to kill Dredd, the shuttle comes under fire by a group of cannibals called The Angel Gang and crashes in the desert. Dredd and Fergie are taken captive by The Angel Gang but Dredd manages to escape from his ropes and begins fighting the gang. During the course of the fight, a squad of Judges arrive to kill Dredd but Dredd manages to kill most of the Judges and the Angel Gang. One Judge gets the drop on Dredd, but he is killed by Judge Fargo, who winds up being stabbed by the last member of the Angel Gang, prompting Dredd to kill him. Back in Mega City 1, Judge Hershey is getting help examining a picture from Dredd’s locker and they find out that everything in the picture is fake except for the baby. Meanwhile, As he is dying, Fargo explains to Dredd about the Janus project, a genetic engineering experiment designed to create the perfect judge. The council created two clones, Dredd and Rico, giving them fake memories of childhood. Hearing this, Dredd realizes that Rico was the one that framed him, since they share the same DNA, and Fargo concludes that Judge Griffin is behind it all as an attempt to reactivate the Janus Project. Back at Mega City 1, Rico begins slaughtering Judges in the city, prompting Griffin to have the council unlock the Janus files. but when the council changes their mind, Griffin has Rico kill them. Dredd arrives but Rico escapes and Griffin shoots himself in the arm, telling the arriving Judges that Dredd killed the council. Dredd and Fergie escape and make their way to Dredd’s apartment, where they meet up with Judge Hershey. At the Janus Project, Rico has the central computer trash the old genetic sample and uses his own DNA to begin cloning new Judges. Griffin tries to stop him but Rico has his robot rip his limbs off. Dredd and Hershey figure out where Janus is and head to the Statue of Liberty but when they encounter the robot, Fergie is shot and Hershey is grabbed by the throat, forcing Dredd to drop his weapon or Rico will have her killed. Rico shows Dredd the growing clones and explains his plan for the clones but Dredd refuses to join him. Rico orders his robot to kill Dredd, but Hershey manages to climb on the robots back and short circuit it. Rico orders the central computer to hatch the clones prematurely but the clones are unable to function. Dredd and Rico proceed to battle on the top of the Statue of Liberty and Dredd eventually throws Rico from the statue. As Dredd and Hershey leave the Statue of Liberty, they are met by the remaining Judges, who explain that the Central Computer had released all of the files on the Janus Project, thereby clearing Dredd’s name. They ask Dredd to be the new Chief Justice, but he refuses, claiming to be a street Judge and after donning his armor, heads back out into the city.
Judge Dredd was viewed pretty negatively by the critics, holding an 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus was that the film attempted to be both a violent action flick and a parody of one but failed to find a balance between the two. The movie would be a flop at the domestic box office, only earning over $34 million, but the it practically made twice that overseas as the worldwide total was more than $113.5. Sylvester Stallone was nominated for a Razzie for Worst Actor but lost to Pauly Shore.
This was such a disappointment of a movie. I mean, when I heard Stallone was cast, I had some decent expectations for it because his somewhat one-dimensional acting style would really work in this role, but that was not to be. I did think Armand Assante and Diane Lane did a good job in their roles while Rob Schneider was his usual annoying self. The plot was ok but the story really did have a hard time deciding on how serious, or funny, it wanted to be which didn’t make the movie any better. There were some decent action scenes but to be honest, I thought the best fight in the movie was between Diane Lane and Joan Chen (Hershey and Ilsa respectively). It can be a bit entertaining at times but on the whole, this is just a disappointment.
Rating: 2 out of 5