What The Film?! – Judge Dredd

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What The Film?! is a weekly column exclusive to Under The Gun Review that brings to light the plot holes Hollywood hoped you’d never notice. Written by comedy writer Dane Sager, this column shows no mercy to films that try and pull the proverbial wool over our eyes.

If you know a film with major plot holes that you feel needs to be exposed, tell us! Email utgjames@gmail.com with the subject “What The Film” and we’ll try to get your suggestion featured on the site.

This Week’s Movie: 1995’s Judge Dredd

Hey, is everyone excited about this friday’s release of Dredd, the second movie adaptation of the British comic 2000AD? I’ve never read the comic, but I think Dredd looks like a lot of fun. It currently (as of September 16) holds a 90% at Rotten Tomatoes. Literally 75% points higher than the prior movie adaptation, the 1995 action vehicle that fits into the weirdly specific genre of “Sylvester Stallone science fiction movie where he fights crime in future MegaCity and has Rob Schnieder as comic relief”, a genre that contains only one other movie; 1993’s Demolition Man. Now since I have never read 2000AD, I can only critique this movie on how it stands up as a movie. So if you’re a big fan of the comic and disappointed in the movie, there may be points that line up in our complaints, but who knows? I probably find faults in things that you find awesome.

So please keep your arms and snarky comments inside the vehicle till the end of the ride.

In this future, humanity has been isolated to massive cities, having pollution and wars make anything left outside of these cities unsurvivable (a plot point that is also in 2012’s Total Recall remake, a movie that lifts every scene it has from other sci/fi movies). The remaining cities become so filled with crime that the entire judicial system gets streamlined into a police force that can dish out punishment how they see fit. They are called “Street Judges”, able to sentence people to death if the crime is severe enough.

Because giving people power and no consequences always goes so well for everyone.

The movie opens with MegaCity1 in a massive class warfare, it looks as if Midgar was placed in Call of Duty instead of Final Fantasy. We’re introduced to Judge Dredd as he enters the war zone, his hands on his hips, the war around him paying absolutely no attention to the walking action figure that has just arrived. Once he murders every single person killing each other (to protect them from killing each other, I guess?) he declares the area “Pacified” and leaves.

We’re then introduced to Rico, a former judge who went crazy with power and started killing innocents who’s now in prison for life. The warden of the prison visits him and gives him a gun for no reason and is promptly and expectedly killed by Rico. He then escapes by killing everyone in the prison, pretending that he’s dead, waiting for more people to show up to the scene of the crime, and then killing everyone else again.

After escaping the prison, Rico goes to a pawn shop where he discovers a gigantic warrior robot that we’re told were made illegal years ago, unless they’ve been de-activated. Rico kills the pawnshop owner and re-activates the robot by connecting the one singular wire that was cut. Guns have more safety features than this warrior robot.

I’m like 80% positive this robot showed up in 2011’s Real Steel

Dredd is then arrested for murder, not because he’s killed so very very many people, but because Rico framed him by killing a reporter and his wife while wearing a DREDD badge. He is taken to court where the badge is described as “irrefutable evidence” because people in the future are kind of retarded apparently.

“A horse killed him. I’m 100% sure. You can’t fake that sort of thing.”

As the trial continues, this “irrefutable evidence” gets backed up with new evidence explaining that the bullets fired from Rico’s gun are coded specifically to Dredd’s DNA, meaning that Dredd could be the only one to have fired the gun. Dredd is sentenced to death, but Judge Fargo gives him life in prison, knowing the truth of who really killed the reporter. He chose to not share this information and send Dredd to jail, a decision that causes Fargo to retire and be exiled into the pollution filled wasteland. Yeah, retirement in the future is awful, not the Florida filled trailer parks us Michiganders dream of.

I’m required by law to make video game, Limp Bizkit, or Nicolas Cage references in each column. This week is clearly Limp Bizkit references

Dredd ends up meeting with Rob Schnieder on the plane out to future prison, who Dredd actually arrested earlier that day for being the only person to not die in the warfare earlier. They don’t have much time to play catch up as the plane is shot down by random bandits who take the survivors hostage. The bandits, known as “the legendary Angel Family”, immediately recognize Judge Dredd for absolutely no reason because no one has even seen him with his helmet off.

This character makes me legitimately uncomfortable to look at. I have trypophobia so this is just awful. I accidentally paused it on this guy and almost threw up. Don’t even Google it.

Dredd expectedly escapes his bounds and kills every bandit except for one, who almost kills Dredd, but is saved last minute when he is then saved by Fargo. Fargo is immediately killed by another bandit, who Dredd immediately kills because in the future murder is a turn based game.

Through some of the most painful exposition in 1990s action cinema, Fargo tells Dredd that he and Rico were cloned from the best DNA the Street Judges could find, making Dredd the perfect Judge and for no reason makes Rico the perfect Criminal (a plot point that shows up in Metal Gear Solid). Since Rico has Dredd’s DNA, he was able to frame him for the murder. “Don’t die” Dredd says calmly, almost annoyed as Fargo disrespect’s his friend’s wishes (and dies).

Dredd doesn’t like it when people do the opposite of what he wants. If Fargo didn’t die, he probably would have killed him himself.

At this time, Rico goes out and manages to murder over a hundred different Street Judges, causing the Council Judges to consider opening Janus, the cloning project that they closed down due to the ability to make really evil Judges. The current Head Judge ends up killing the entire council after letting him re-open Janus (a word that every single person in the entire movie manages to pronounce wrong), revealing that he’s behind the whole plan; freeing Rico, framing Dredd, and exiling Fargo!

Dredd breaks into the city to stop Rico and the Head Judge’s plan, something he literally has no idea is going on. The police find out he’s back in the city, which causes a massive manhunt/chase sequence where Dredd kills several cops. These weren’t bad guy henchmen, they were literally cops who were doing their job trying to protect the city from a violent criminal who has broken out of future jail and returned to MegaCity1.

Stallone killing innocent people to further his own agenda was also in the movie Demolition Man. Similar to how Stallone has a total boner for beheading people in his more recent movies.

At the cloning facility, Rico decides to put his own DNA in the cloning machine, rather than the original DNA which was in it (which being the DNA that he was cloned from, was the exact same DNA). Head Judge tries to interfere, because that switch that meant absolutely nothing wasn’t a part of his plan. Rico kills him just before Dredd arrives, where the cloning lab starts exploding for absolutely no reason at all. Dredd expectedly kills Rico, where he falls to death.

But what of the horseman? Wasn’t he the real killer?

The movie ends with the police force forgiving him for murdering a few of them and giving him his old job back with open arms. The biggest issue with the movie’s plot is that Head Judge Griffin’s plan is never really explained. He chose to do all these awful things to re-open the cloning facility, but it’s never told why. Or why Rico wanted to have clones as well. No part of the movie really illustrated why the people involved set up this elaborate plan of murder, exile, cloning, Rob Schnieder, and bandits. You can break down any story to its core by figuring out what each character wants and in this movie you have no idea what the villains want. I don’t even know if that counts as a story at that point.

This is where a normal 1990s action movie would have some hard rock song go over the credits. This movie chose The Cure.

Dane isn’t too prone to yelling “I AM THE LAW” at random, but when he does, wouldn’t you like to know? You can follow him on Tumblr and Twitter!

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