This edit is the fanedit that won me to the genre! It does an amazing job of rescuing a bland movie, and bringing it closer to the 2012 "Dredd," which -- on a tiny budget -- nailed it.
The 1994 Stallone "Judge Dredd" movie was, to say the least, a massive misfire. It ditched a lot of the core mythos that made the Dreddverse interesting. It tried to lighten the mood using Rob Schneider. And it ended up with a generic, not-very-good and not-very-bad future cop movie, barely memorable at that. This, despite a massive budget. It got nowhere, irritating fans but too bland to attract other audiences, despite the star power of Stallone.
The universe of Dredd is a mixture of grimdark and plain old strange: it is a dystopian urban future with 90% unemployment, tower blocks of up to 100,000 people each, mega-cities of up of to 800 million each, school subjects like Unemployment ("what are you going to do, when you have nothing to do?"), profound alienation, celebrity culture and TV as the main influencers, and society held together by a police state of Judges. The Judges come to power (in the former US, at least) through a coup d'etat by the Justice Department, in a world ending in nuclear war; they are empowered to execute on the spot; are inflexible and zero-tolerance, this including jailing people for unlicensed gold fish, littering and suicide ("self-homicide"), and reading anything from the 20th century, such as celeb news on the "Dallas" TV show and the Dredd/ 2000AD comics; there are no juries, no appeals, no lawyers, no apologies. Judges make up around half of the employed, may not marry or have kids, and live (in the later stories) in chapter houses or precincts, a sort of monastic knighthood imposing The Law. There is no free speech, the Mayor is a figurehead, there is an official ban on pre-Judge history, ongoing purges of mutants and aliens by the state; pro-democracy protesters are massacred or lobotimised. A lot of crime is extremely brutal and most of it is completely pointless "("I was bored") or a revolt against the misery.
Within this grimdark world, though, a lot of the stories are satirical, humorous or philosophical: is the system fascist? is the system a model we should emulate? is democracy workable? why does society love a man whose hobby is to grow the biggest nose in history and have his own TV show? In one story, where a gang smashes cleaning robots and takes over the job of mopping floors: "I'm ... I'm working! Actually working!" Dredd, the titular character, is The Law, literally: the most incorruptible cop, inflexible, without a personal life; he does not even have a face (well, its never shown, ever, he is always helmeted); he's a clone of one of the founding Judges, literally bred for The Law. He is, though, reflective: in a notable arc, he begins to doubt whether it is correct to crush the pro-democracy people, and pushes for a democratic referendum (most people, in the end, don't bother to vote, having no interest in the issues, and of the voters, most want the Judges); in another story, he sentences the mopping gang to 10 years hard labour ("Thank you, Dredd! I don;t care what people say, you do have a heart!")
And then ... we have the Stallone "Judge Dredd": Dredd is now an odd cop, a Dirty Harry outlier rather than the exemplar in a world where Dirty Harry would be seen as a bit soft on crime; his sentencing of crime in the movie is emotional and nuts e.g. blowing up a car for a parking offence, rather than jailing the perp for defying The Law; there is, bizarrely, a free press that calls out the Judges and gets Dredd fired; we have juries and lawyers, which undermines the entire premise of the Dreddverse and the rationale for the Judge system; laws are bent as personal favours and through trade-offs, as at Dredd's sentencing; Dredd is an arrogant blowhard, rather than a humorless cypher; there is romance in the ranks, as with Dredd and Hershey; we see Dredd's face every possible chance; and we have Schneider all over the place. There is no sense of the larger social context: if you were not a fan, you would probably not know that this is a society held together by terror and TV, a harsh dictatorship in a decaying city, leaving with the impression that its a recognisable future, albeit one where cops are a bit more militarised than today, and have cool flying bikes. And here, Dredd-gets-the-girl-with-a-smooch-and-visits-her-apartment replaces the reality that Dredd-and-Hershey-live-in-barracks-and-would-get-sent-to-a-gulag-on-Titan-for-smooching.
This edit helps set things right, with a proper introduction, no wisecracking (or smiling,, or even hinting at a smile) on the part of Dredd, as little Schneider as possible, the Dredd/ Hershey romance gone, and loads of tweaks and edits that change the mood, the narrative, the characterisation, and remove the most jarring inconsistencies with the lore ... and a film you can watch and enjoy, not just as a fan of Dredd.
As the pitch for the fanedit says: "No romance, no learning, no friendship, and less Rob Schneider."
Hey thanks for the thoughtful review Dingo. I really enjoyed reading that and your summation of what makes Dredd tick is dead on. "a world where Dirty Harry would be seen as a bit soft on crime" :-D
This is my first TM2YC edit and I know its one of his older ones but I was very curious to see what he had done with this as the original is still a guilty pleasure of mine even with its goofiness. It goes without saying Dredd 2012 is far more in keeping with the source material but TM2YC has done a great job here of cutting away the chaff that doesnt fit the Dredd tone.
I really liked the info reel at the start about Danny Cannon and the new comic scrolling intro. The extensive cut list did mean I noticed a few cuts here and there where the audio faded a little quicker than normal where the score got in the way but considering how much is cut I would imagine thats pretty unavoidable and it didn't detract from the experience at all. The only other thing that stoodout a little that I was watching a fanedit rather than a studio pic was seeing Danny Cannons directorial credit and no-one elses but given the title of the edit hardly a criticism either. Most importantly it sets out to make Dredd 95 more like its source material and it acheives that in spades. 2000AD Comic fans no longer need to Dread watching the 95 version.
Really enjoyed this edit. I'm a casual fan of the character. I thought the recent film, while fun, had zero plot, not enough of the goofy 2000AD charm and it just felt really small. The Stallone film was generic (though no more generic than the new one) and suffered from an overabundance of comic relief and misjudged romance, but its production values and artistic scope eclipse the new film completely. As much as Judge Dredd was ruined by comic relief, Dredd was ruined by the need to be dark and gritty. I was hoping for a middle ground, and this film seems to be it.
Schnieder is still there and still has lame one-liners here and there, but he's more of an annoyance now than a film-ruiner. The film still has some goofy magic thanks to the ABC warrior, some scenery chomping by Armand Assante and the OTT sets, but it feels less like a kids' film and more like a light action movie. The editing is top notch and for the most part I couldn't remember what had been removed. The plot is still daft, but it still makes sense. The removal of the romance, while I wanted it gone, doesn't really work for me. Hershey's emotions in the final shots don't match. She goes from "That's it? You're just gonna leave without a goodbye?" to putting Dredd's helmet on and smiling like a giddy schoolgirl. The kiss is a much-needed bridge between those two things, I think, because otherwise she's just having some sort of nervous breakdown. Maybe you could remove the "You're just gonna leave without a goodbye?" stuff, so she's just happy? I'm not sure. It's a small point, though.
I can't remember what the original opening credits were, but I'm not sure the 2000AD covers work for me. I'd probably just prefer titles over black. The covers are a bit much for me. I don't like to be reminded that I'm watching an adaptation; I just like the film to try to suck me in on its own merits. Personal preference, I guess. A couple of the covers were a bit low res when they zoomed in, if I remember rightly, too. Also, while I appreciate the Danny Cannon backstory - it is really interesting - I'd rather not have to sit through it if I want to watch the film again. I would've preferred if that was just in a text file with the video.
Despite these negatives, I really enjoyed the edit. The film inevitably feels a little short now, but it's much more exciting and I felt I could enjoy the genuinely impressive film-making going on without being bored or annoyed by additional nonsense. This film rightly has a lot of detractors, but the special effects work is outstanding and it has a great visual style. Stallone, too, gives a terrific performance. (Well, maybe not terrific, but he's born for the part, I think.) The editor's done a good job saving this film. I'd even rate this fan edit over the Karl Urban Dredd for its scope, effects work and goofiness. It's not turned it into a classic or anything, but it has made it a lot more enjoyable.
Judge Dredd minus Rob Schneider's bad humor. Now his lines have been cut down so he's mostly there to help out Dredd a bit and piss him off, which works very well. He's a lot more like his character in Demolition Man, annoying in just the right amounts for the character to work. The romance bit at the end is also cut and a few other gags. Basically, if you hated everything about Judge Dredd, this will not fix the movie for you. If you enjoyed it but felt there was too much Schneider and bad humor, this will do the trick for you.
This was the first fanedit I've seen and it was fantastic! I've never seen the original version and while I could tell there was some stuff missing, the serious tone that was established from the first scene never really let up (which is what I think our faneditor set out to do). I also particularly enjoyed the explanation at the beginning of the rationale behind the edit and I really hope that Danny Cannon has seen this edit for himself!