Judge Dredd (1995)

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Released 9-Feb-2000

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Menu Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-Canyon
Featurette
Theatrical Trailer-2.35:1, 16x9 Enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0
Biographies-Cast
Trailer-Mortal Kombat: Annihilation; Spawn
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 92:04 (Case: 96)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Danny Cannon
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Sylvester Stallone
Armand Assante
Diane Lane
Rob Schneider
Joan Chen
Jurgen Prochnow
Max Von Sydow
Case Brackley-Trans-No Lip
RPI $34.95 Music Alan Silvestri


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    With just one look at the credits, the viewer can discover exactly why this film is the travesty that it is. The story is written by Michael De Luca and William Wisher, the monsters responsible for the travesty that is Robocop 3, a crime against humanity that these two boneheads should be executed for. In case anyone is hoping that the aforementioned insult is simply a low point in their careers, screenplay writers William Wisher and Steven E. de Souza insert a real doozy of a plot hole exactly six minutes and forty seconds into the film. As Judge Dredd (Sylvester Stallone) is ordering rioting citizens to surrender, they begin firing upon him. The Judge then explains to his concerned fellow Judges that he is a hundred meters out of the effective range of the weapons they are firing. I'd hate to tell you this, guys, but when bullets are aided by gravity, their effective range is limited to the first solid object they hit. And every schoolboy knows that ever firearm sold today has an effective range much further than two hundred meters! This is quickly followed by a demonstration of the standard Judge's firearm and its ability to change the type of ammunition it fires by spoken command. This is a similar plot device to the use of the telephones in The Matrix - Deus Ex Machina at its very worst.

    For those of you out there who want a plot, the vague approximation in this film is something like this: in the twenty-first century, the population of the Earth is divided into Mega-Cities. The United States of America consists of three such Mega-Cities, with nothing between them but a massive desert known as the Cursed Earth. Essentially, each of these Mega-Cities contains such a huge population that crime is spiralling out of control, and as a result, a new police force has been created that dispenses justice on the fly. This police force, known simply as the Judges, are basically the police force, court system, and government of Mega-City One, and Judge Dredd (Sylvester Stallone) is the most feared amongst them. As he explains to Judge Hershey (Diane Lane), he has only had one friend in his rather lonely life, and he judged them. Said "friend", Rico (Armand Assante) is like Dredd in that he was the result of a top-secret project in genetic engineering known as the Janus Project. Most of the Judges that were spawned from this project were killed because they were born with serious mental defects that caused them to be the exact opposite of what was intended: harsh, violent super-criminals. Judge Dredd was spared because he was the only exception to this rule, which leaves us wondering why Rico was merely confined to prison. In any case, Rico begins a campaign of revenge against Dredd by framing him for murder and having him cast out into the Cursed Earth.

    I've never read the comic book upon which this film is based, so I cannot comment on its authenticity. However, I will say that in literary terms, this film leaves quite a lot to be desired in terms of quality. The concept of Judge Dredd lends itself to so many great ideas that it makes this execution all the more disappointing. If there is a saving grace, it is Armand Assante's performance as Rico. Max Von Sydow makes an appearance as Chief Judge Fargo, and helps to lend some actual acting talent to the film, but his awesome presence is otherwise utterly wasted.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Well, the film itself might be a bit of a stinker, but the video transfer most certainly is not. To tell you the absolute truth, this is honestly one of the best transfers I have ever seen, and it has a level of detail that films of much more recent vintage would kill for. The film is presented at the aspect ratio of 2.35:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement. The transfer is razor sharp from start to finish, even in scenes that were shot under extremely low-lit conditions such as Dredd's conversation with Fargo after his fight with a family of Cursed Earth cannibals. Shadow detail is exemplary in such scenes as this, although the overall brightness level leaves a little to be desired. Low level noise was completely absent from the presentation, another pleasant surprise. The colours are surprisingly vibrant, with rich and pleasant rendering at all times. The last twenty minutes of the film are especially well-rendered, which is especially commendable given how much movement and variation there is from frame to frame.

    MPEG artefacts are happily absent from the presentation. The only things in this film that come close to constituting MPEG artefacts are deliberate artistic shots involving computer generated binocular's-eye-view shots. Film-to-video artefacts were also more or less completely absent, although there were occasions when opportunities for aliasing were almost, but not quite taken. Film artefacts were also left out of this transfer, with not a single scratch or hair in sight. There is some flickering of the picture during the credits, but this is so mild that it really doesn't begin to matter. The only visible thing in this film that would begin to qualify as an artefact would be the tell-tale differences in colour saturation between the backgrounds and the actors during the metropolis chase scenes.

(Addendum March 27, 2000: A moderate amount of aliasing can be seen at 79:13, as Rico begins ranting about Dredd's accusations of betraying the law. This is certainly the only noticeable aliasing in the whole picture, and it's a terrible pity to have to deny the transfer reference status for it. Such is life in digital.)

    No subtitles are included with this DVD, which is a pity given that a lot of the mumbling and grunting that Sylvester Stallone calls speech could really do with subtitles for purposes of clarity. Granted, this film is nothing like Rocky III, but the combination of Stallone's accent with that of Armand Assante makes for a rather straining sort of listening experience.

Audio

    This is a film that simply begs for a Dolby Digital 5.1 transfer, and Roadshow Home Entertainment were gracious enough to provide it. The audio is only presented in English, with a choice between Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround encoding. A few more choices, particularly Italian, would have been vastly preferred because of how much more interesting they might have been. In any case, I listened to both of the present audio tracks, although I took more time with the Dolby Digital 5.1 track because it was a much more pleasant listening experience. Dialogue was as clear and easy to understand as could be expected, although Stallone seems better than his usual self with regards to dialogue in this instance. It isn't as though the dialogue is of any particular intelligence, anyway. It is good to see that Village have stopped using the MPEG audio tracks, and that their audio selection menus are finally accurate to what is present on the disc. Audio sync was not a problem on my players, although the standard warning about the use of Roadshow Home Entertainment discs with Pioneer players still applies.

    The music in the film was comprised of an assortment of songs by contemporary artists and some orchestrations by William Ross, whose name will probably escape my memory once I am finished with this review. Unlike most films of this recent vintage, a lot of the contemporary selections were made by real artists with some substance such as The Cure, The The, and Cocteau Twins. Overall, this is one set of film music that does little to take a place in the listener's memory, although the orchestral music certainly supports the film well. It just doesn't have anything that makes it truly remarkable, much like the rest of the film (as opposed to the transfer).

    The surround channels were very aggressively used to bring the feel of the decaying metropolis and its violence into the room. This is a very enveloping soundtrack, with all the effects and ambient sounds coming from the appropriate ends. The rear channels had a moderate tendency to lose their distinction from the rest of the soundtrack, but they helped the sound along in spite of this. The subwoofer was given quite a lot of work to do, particularly in the sequences that involved the use of the giant robots. The floor was constantly vibrating from the subwoofer's rumbles, but it was well integrated into the mix.

Extras

    Although I wouldn't say that the extras are of great quantity, their quality is a lot better than I would normally expect. A Dolby Digital Canyon trailer is included just for our general amusement.

Menu

    The menu is themed around the movie, and 16x9 enhanced with Dolby Digital 2.1 audio. It is much easier to navigate than other Roadshow Home Entertainment menus, such as Wild Things.

Cast Biographies

    Biographies of Sylvester Stallone, Armand Assante, and Diane Lane are provided. They are fairly interesting, although they are also somewhat hard to read because of their layout.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, with 16x9 enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. It is surprisingly free of artefacts, and appears to be in just as good a shape as the film itself.

Film Recommendations

    This menu option takes the viewer to a sub-menu with the theatrical posters for Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and Spawn. Selecting them gives the viewer a theatrical trailer for the corresponding film. Another area where Warner Brothers have had one of their ideas taken from them and done much better. Both of these theatrical trailers are presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     There's no contest here - Region 4 is the version to go for.

Summary

    Judge Dredd is a brainless summer movie, highlighted by bad choices in actors and a poorly written story. Leave the brain at the door and you should be fine.

    The video quality is so sharp you could perform surgery with it, and, apart from a minor problem with the titles and credits, is of reference quality.

    The audio quality is an immersive experience, and is reference quality all the way.

    The extras may be somewhat limited, but their quality is not.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Wednesday, February 09, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersPanasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Sharp CP-303A Back Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer

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