Long before the current era of Marvel and DC blockbusters dominating the box office, there was another time, a much darker time for comic book to film adaptations. That time was known as the 1990s, which played host to some of the most hated comic to screen efforts in history. Just to name a few, the ’90s saw the release of Steel (starring Shaquille O’Neal), a deeply flawed take on Spawn, the Joel Schumacher-directed camp-fest Batman & Robin, and the post-Brandon Lee sequel The Crow: City of Angels.
Even with all those other contenders in the running, perhaps the most trashed comic-based film from the decade is 1995’s Judge Dredd, starring Sylvester Stallone in the title role. Directed by Danny Cannon (Gotham), Sly’s take on Dredd was ravaged by critics and rejected by fans, with most diehards being disappointed in just how much the character and his backstory had been altered on his journey to the screen. The fact that Adam Sandler cohort Rob Schneider was around to play the comic relief didn’t help matters.
Thankfully, Judge Dredd’s movie legacy was saved by 2012’s Dredd, starring Karl Urban. Directed by Pete Travis (Vantage Point) and written by Alex Garland (Ex Machina), Dredd took the character back to his roots, crafting a screen adaptation largely faithful to the source material. A take no prisoners, shoot ’em up action flick, Dredd effectively supplanted the bad memories left behind by Stallone’s 1995 effort in the minds of formerly saddened Judge Dredd fans. Critics loved the film too, but sadly, that didn’t translate to the box office. Dredd earned only $35 million worldwide on a budget of $50 million, tripping a possible new franchise up at the starting gate.
That all said, one wonders how Stallone’s Dredd might have turned out, had the Dredd (2012) creative team been in control of the project. Would it have been redeemed? A new fan trailer by Screen Geek offers a glimpse at what that scenario might have led too, by presenting Judge Dredd (1995) in the serious style of Dredd (2012). Check it out in full above.
The first thing fans are likely to notice in the re-cut Judge Dredd trailer is the fact that no shots of Stallone without his helmet are included. At the time of the film’s 1995 release, comic readers were vocally annoyed about Stallone spending so much of the running time with his face uncovered, as Judge Dredd never removes his helmet in the comics. That was of course corrected in Dredd (2012), as Urban’s face was never seen.
In the end though, it would take a lot more than that change to make Judge Dredd a satisfactory take on the character. Still, it’s fun to imagine what might have been, especially if Stallone had brought his ultra-violent Rambo mindset to his turn as Dredd.