Crammed with enough special effects for another Star Wars trilogy and utterly undeveloped beyond its original comic book origins, the reportedly $75 million Judge Dred d is a thunderous, unoriginal futuristic hardware show for teenage boys. Pic [from a screen story by Michael DeLuca and William Wisher] is based on a character [created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra] that first appeared 18 years ago in the British comics magazine 2000 AD.
Mega-City One, built on the former New York City, is a sprawling metropolis whose population of 65 million is threatened by teeming criminality at the street level. Combating the anarchy are elite lawmen known as Judges, who mete out instant justice as they patrol the city on their airborne bikes.
The most feared is the infamous Judge Dredd (Sylvester Stallone), an emotionless authoritarian. It’s all in a day’s work for Dredd until archfiend Rico (Armand Assante) escapes from the high-security Aspen Penal Colony and returns to seek revenge.
Rico gets Dredd convicted of murder and sent up on a life sentence. Dredd manages to escape, along with comic relief Fergie (Rob Schneider), and final half hour charts his assault on the citadel to stop the crazed Rico.
The ruling structure is presented visually as thoroughly totalitarian with Nazi overtones, from the Gianni Versace-designed centurion-like outfits to the German accent of ruling council turncoat Judge Griffin (Jurgen Prochnow).
Young British director Danny Cannon (The Young Americans) has his hands full here just getting all the diverse technical elements up on the screen, so any real style is out of the question.
Like James Remar as the lead criminal, Scott Wilson turns up without credit, as the patriarch of a demented religious cult. An uncredited James Earl Jones intones over the opening scroll-up.