Changes That I Think Could Fix “Bad” Movies:
Quite often a movie comes out that is just bad. It loses itself completely or it’s a confusing mess. Unfortunately, Sylvester Stallone’s Judge Dredd was one of those movies. Before I start I want to say that I am in no way a director or writer. I’m just a nerd who thinks he can fix “bad” movies.
Recently, I found myself wanting for some nostalgia. So, I hunted down my copy of Judge Dredd. I popped it back into the old DVD player, made some popcorn and sat back to relax while basking in the glow of mid-90s sci-fi/action. I was genuinely excited for the first 15 minutes.
Unfortunately, the opening bit in the block war ends and the movie goes progressively sideways from there. I don’t want to say “downhill” because it’s not necessarily bad, but it goes against what Judge Dredd should stand for. After his false imprisonment, Dredd murders several Judges who are genuinely just trying to uphold the law. They have absolutely no clue that Justice Griffin worked to frame Dredd. There was indisputable DNA evidence in his trial to convict him. All they know is that a dangerous, escaped felon is running around Mega City One and has possibly just murdered the Council of Judges. During the big hovercycle chase scene, he calls one of the officers “scumbag” and then causes a bike to crash into a building destroying an entire floor (and depending on it’s construction, causing a possible building collapse). If Dredd wasn’t a murderer before, he sure as hell is now.
After the movie was over, I came to the same conclusion I do each time I watch it. If they had made it into a trilogy it would’ve been a lot better. As well, one of the big nerd complaints is that Dredd, who never removes his helmet in the comics, has to take his helmet off early in the movie because it’s got Sly Stallone underneath it. So, separated by movie, here’s how I feel it all could’ve worked out as a Trilogy.
Movie 1: Dredd
That’s right, they’ve just made what I’ve always said should be the first movie in a Judge Dredd trilogy. Simply take the block war from the first 15 minutes of “Judge Dredd” and expand it out to an entire film. It gives you plenty of time to understand the universe and it’s concepts and subtleties. As well you understand the character of Judge Dredd and what motivates him. Have Dredd have a partner in his best friend Judge Rico and they’re both reviewing Anderson. Over the course of the movie you leave a thread or two to nag at Dredd to make him question the system, but not the law. This was done quite well with the 4 mercenary Judges he had to face.
Several points in the movie, when Dredd and Rico get split up, you give Rico similar moments as Dredd but instead of letting the innocent go, he judges them stating that, in a place like this, it’s only a matter of time till they become guilty. Near the end of the movie, have Dredd catch Rico in the act and be forced to lethally Judge him.
Alternatively, you could’ve had Rico and Dredd working together stopping those guys in the van at the beginning of Dredd and then have Rico show up as the head of the 4 mercenary Judges later in the movie. The conversation that Dredd has with the main Judge wouldn’t even have to change much. They would just have to add a line after the bit about betraying the Law with a demand of how it was so easy to betray his friend.
At the end of the movie when Dredd confronts MaMa, you have her make a statement about how she, herself is just working for someone higher up the chain but she’s more scared of revealing her “benefactor” and would rather die. Dredd judges her and drops her out the window and Anderson passes her review. During the mid-credits you have a scene of the “mysterious benefactor” standing over Rico’s body talking about how useful he could be down the line and how lucky they were that Dredd missed his mark this time as the camera pans over the life support equipment keeping him alive.
Movie 2: The Fall of Dredd
This movie takes place several years after the first one. You have Dredd has been working cases with Anderson and put in a few lines about how he’s had difficulty trusting others since Rico. Even show that he keeps a picture of Rico on his Lawmaster. Just like in the original “Judge Dredd” also cut to scenes of the reporter starting to look too deeply into the Hall of Justice. During this, you show that Rico’s been kept held in Aspen Penal Colony and have his “escape”. When Rico reaches Mega City One, he retrieves his held package and it contains a replica of Dredd’s badge and uniform as well as target information. After Dredd and Anderson have done a few missions together, she trusts him. Then you have Rico assasinate the reporter and Dredd’s arrest and immediate tribunal. After his conviction at the tribunal, he’s stripped of his uniform and the helmet is taken away finally revealing Dredd’s face after 2 movies. The movie ends with Dredd’s shuttle getting shot down on it’s way to Aspen and the reveal that the “mysterious benefactor” is the Chief Justice who tried Dredd. Your mid-credits scene is Dredd waking up in the Angel clan’s home and him giving an exclamation of dismay.
Movie 3: Dredd Redemption
As the title suggests the third movie brings it all to a close. Act 1 is Dredd coming to grips with being on the cursed earth, dealing with (and possibly allying with) some of the savages and mutants who live there, and finding his way back to Mega City One. Meanwhile Anderson has been trying to step up and fill Dredd’s shoes while Judges are getting killed in guerilla and terrorist attacks around the city. At the end of Act 1, Dredd returns to Mega City One shortly after Anderson uncovers evidence that he was innocent but is refused by the Council of Judges.
Act 2 has Dredd reuniting with Anderson and Judge Griffin revealing Project Janus and his plan of the millions of easily controlled Judges it could produce. Meanwhile, Dredd and Anderson infiltrate the Hall of Judges in order to confront the council. At the end of Act 2, they get there just in time for Rico to murder the council (except for Griffin) when they reject Janus, Dredd to see that Rico’s still alive, and for Griffin to frame the act on Dredd and Anderson while they escape.
Act 3 can play out pretty much how it did in the original Judge Dredd. Rico betrays Griffin, Dredd finds Janus, and Rico and Dredd have a final showdown. This time, however we actually get to see Dredd and Anderson fight their way through an army of unfinished clones. One of my bigger disappointments in the original is that Rico activated the clones and then they really didn’t do anything except look gross and creepy. The movie ends with Dredd recommending Anderson to lead the new Council of Judges while he prefers to resume his job as a Street Judge.
So, there. With only minor changes to the whole thing we’ve successfully stretched out Judge Dredd to a complete and well thought out trilogy. Not only is it a complete character arc for Dredd, but it shows a possible glimmer of hope for the future of Mega City One in the restructuring of the Hall of Justice by the more compassionate Judge Anderson.