Saturday, January 7, 2017

Now That Everybody Loves Comic Book Movies, Let’s Watch Sylvester Stallone in Judge Dredd

I find it curious that Sylvester Stallone never made any fantasy movies, though I suppose it can be argued that all of his movies are variations of the same gun-fetish Wild West fantasy, but all of his movies are grounded in reality and mostly in the current decade.  It’s a stylistic choice, at the top of his career he could had the pick of any script he wanted, and he never wanted to fight aliens, or go back in time, or solve the Riddle of Steel.
To date there are two exceptions where Stallone dabbled in science fiction, three if we count Death Race 2000 (1975), Demolition Man (1993) and Judge Dredd (1995).  The first film adaptation of the 2000 AD comic had great production design and created a stunning vision of Mega City One reminiscent of Blade Runner (1982), Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) and The Fifth Element. (1997).  However the judge uniforms were inexplicably created by international superstar designer Gianni Versace (though to be fair, he did keep the codpiece), and the movie suffered from a lack of direction, an over-reaching plot and of course, the casting of Sylvester Stallone, who kept the helmet on for less than 10 minutes of screen time.
Co-star Rob Schneider returned from Demolition Man (1993) to add an unnecessary comic element, and after a quick introduction the movie abandons those glorious Mega City One sets as Judge Dredd is framed for murder by Armand Assante and banished to the desert wasteland of Cursed Earth.  It allowed for more opportunities to show off Stallone’s physique, (hidden under all that leather of the judge’s uniform) as the movie devolved into a by the numbers action film.
However there’s an excellent cast including Diane Lane as Judge Hershey, Jürgen Prochnow from Das Boot (1981), Duke Leto Atreides in Dune (1984) and Beverly Hills Cop II (1987), and film legend Max Von Sydow from The Seventh Seal (1957), Liet-Kynes in Dune (1984, unlike Sly he enjoyed those sci-fi roles) and Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon (1980).
Also watch out for a very young Giancarlo Esposito, you know, Gustavo Fring from Los Pollos Hermanos, as one of the thugs during Block Wars and Mitchell Ryan, who you may remember as Kyle Riker (Riker’s dad) from Star Trek: The Next Generation (1989, The Icarus Factor) as one of those pesky investigative reporters who gets too close to the truth. 
Holding an impressive 18% on Rotten Tomatoes, Judge Dredd did not do well at the box office, though there was a far superior reboot in  2012.  Stallone never returned to the genre, though he has a part (cameo?) in the to date unreleased Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017).  Maybe it was a way to differentiate himself from Arnold, his greatest rival, who was made his name playing killer robots and barbarians.  I can’t believe I’m writing this but it can be argued that Arnold had a greater range as he was able to convincingly cross genres; playing sci-fi and contemporary action movies with equal success and range.  It’s a crazy world we live in, kids.  Maybe Sly needs to run for governor next.


my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).