Thursday, June 21, 2012

America to Once Again Miss the Point of Judge Dredd

I'm fond of saying that the 1995 Stallone vehicle Judge Dredd is proof that Americans are idiots, because it completely fails to grasp that the British comic it was adapting was a parody of American action films. From the looks of it, this new version hasn't learned that lesson either.

It always disappointed me that the first Judge Dredd movie never quite worked out. The comics were an over-the-top ultraviolent satire of the inherently fascist nature of vigilante cop films popularized by American cinema. The whole premise was basically "what if Harry Callahan was actually legally authorized to pull all that violation-of-human-rights shit he did?". Sylvester Stallone himself was known for making the very kind've movie Judge Dredd was designed to make fun of, Cobra being to best example ("This is where the law stops, and I start"). If they had handed directing over to someone like Paul Verhoeven, a master of incorporating satirical subtext to seemingly straightforward action films (Robocop, Starship Troopers), the film could've been one of Stallone's best remembered roles, a smart, introspective parody of his career up to that point. Oh well...

So the fact that the chief tonal problem with that adaptation seemingly remains unaddressed in this new version really bugs me. Admittedly the new costume looks good. It may lake of lost of the flair of the comic (I really miss the giant eagle shoulder piece), but at least it action looks like something a cop would wear, as opposed to that spandex getup they put Sly in. But the design of everything else is so bland and standard looking like every other generic Blade Runner clone, and the overall tone is WAY to serious. It just once again feels like they've taken the comic completely at face value. Man, everyone in the UK must LOVE watching their clever joke go repeatedly over American audience's heads.

P.S. This actually reminds me, I keep meaning to do a Lunatic Fringe on the original Judge Dredd to talk about this very problem. I should get on that, maybe have it ready in time for this thing to come out.

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