1. Mean Machine Angel and Hammerstein
These two are grouped together simply because they frepresent the same thing – gleeful, unrestrained fangasm.
Fan-favourite head-butting cyborg redneck Mean Machine Angel and analogue for the ABC Warriors’ grizzled war-dog Hammerstein look damn good on the big screen. Recognisably adapted from their comic-book counterparts, they’re given credible new life in Danny Cannon’s cyberpunk folly.
Sure, Mean Machine is now a religious zealot/cannibal and Hammerstein a grunting imbecile, but they look absolutely stunning. Both characters are a tribute to the production team and the dying lights of an era where depicting a giant killer robot meant actually having to build one, and creating a scarred cyborg killer meant gluing all sorts of garbage to a guy’s face.
2. Action movie paint by numbers
The early-to-mid Nineties really was the last great age of the action movie. Everything tried and tested over the prior two decades was entered into the big book of cliche until filmmakers were able to do everything by rote, every scene, character or event dictated by complex action movie algorithms on some mega-computer.
Study that scene above, the flying bike chase scene and it’s almost shot for the shot the same flying bike chase scene as Star Wars: Episode VI – Return Of The Jedi. Cliché abounds in great saccharine abundance, while Dredd and his evil clone brother Rico face off, Diane Lane’s Judge Hershey and Rico’s lady side-kick have a secondary tussle (“That’s Judge Bitch,” being a highlight of their verbal sparring), and Rico’s plummeting to his death, absolving our hero of any moral black spots in the audiences’ collective mind at least by having the responsibility of ending his life kindly taken from him by gravity.
3. Versace uniforms
Not since Joel Schumacher’s alluring vaseline lens soft-porn parody Batman & Robin have we had so many shots of people’s armoured buttocks or fetishised sequences of costumes coming on and off. It’s getting all steamy in here just thinking about it.
While in Schumacher’s case that was entirely down to [reason to be placed here when someone finds out], with Judge Dredd it was a celebration of the fantastically fascistic, Gestapo chic of Gianni Versace’s costume design. Sure, there’s rather a lot of emphasis placed on Stallone’s armoured crotch, but there’s also those gorgeous dress tunics that the Judges swan about the Hall of Justice is, the sandy grey utilitarian Judge-Warden armour and the all enclosed totalitarian glamour of the SJS, the Judge-Hunters.
The latter especially is one of the few things in 1995’s Judge Dredd that should have been incorporated into the source material. Controversial? Maybe.
4. Quotable dialogue
There’s a breathtaking economy of dialogue to Judge Dredd; no word wasted, it’s like a dystopian future where small talk is punishable by death and characters communicated only in contrived Nineties action movie patter, an endless dizzying ballet of feed lines and punchlines.
Sylvester Stallone mumbles something: Rob Schneider babbles some sort of peevish, Ross-from-Friends excuse: Sylvester Stallone delivers the killing put-down like a man spitting Lego: Rob Schneider delivers his rubber-faced (over-)reaction: something EXPLODES.
5. Armand Assante
Once a paragon of playing gangsters in TV movies – very much the James Gandolfini of his day – I defy anyone to find a performance in Armand Assante’s entire catalogue that’s as fantastically good value for money as his ludicrous turn in Judge Dredd.
Seemingly the only person involved in the film to realise ahead of time that it was an absurd piece of deadpan style over substance – Baz Luhrmann’s Blade Runner from an alternate universe – while respected Hollywood heavyweights like Diane Lane and Max Von Sydow turn in typically powerful turns – all ultimately adding to the weight of the farce – Assante seems to be trying to burst all his blood vessels with such force that his bobbling eyes shoot straight from his head and knock Stallone out cold.
Absolutely mesmerising display of scenery gobbling, it’s a wonder anything was left standing. I’d hate to see Assante’s toilet – it’s probably all clogged with plaster board and balsa wood.