DAY 26: BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT
So, today’s movie needs to be one which you were really looking forward to for whatever reason, and then, when you finally got to see it… pfffft. Your hopes and expectations all fell as flat as a pancake, as the movie turned out to be a load of old bum-leavings.
About a million years ago, when I was a boy, I bought a comic each and every week called 2000AD. And I loved it. I mean, properly LOVED it. The flagship strip in this publication was - and still is - Judge Dredd. The titular lead character (his name, a play on that of novelty UK ska/reggae artist Judge Dread - who himself lifted the moniker from a Prince Buster tune) was a “Judge”, a one-tier law enforcement agent with the authority to arrest, charge, try and sentence perpetrators of crime on the spot - including issuing the death sentence, a sentence dealt out frequently - operating in the early 22nd century in Mega City One, a post-apocalyptic overpopulated dystopian conurbation stretching from Boston to Washington DC. A grim, violent piece, it nevertheless managed to mine some gallows humour from the ultra-right wing dispensing of justice, especially as doled out by our perpetually helmeted Dirty Harry-style anti-hero (of course, Harry Callaghan was constantly railing against the system. Not so Joe Dredd; he WAS the f*cking system).
There were many different colourful characters within the pages of 2000AD but Dredd was by far the favourite and was always the one most ripe for a possible movie adaptation somewhere down the line. And so it was that in 1994 promising British director Danny Cannon was attached to direct Judge Dredd - the next Sylvester Stallone movie. Anyway, the movie was released in 1995 and, despite our reservations about Sylvester Stallone, my 2000AD-loving friend and I queued up, got our tickets and sat eagerly awaiting the cinematic debut of one of our comic-strip heroes, a movie which, hopefully, would herald the arrival of other 2000AD strips to the big screen: The A.B.C. Warriors maybe, or Nemesis the Warlock, or my personal favourite, Strontium Dog. Now that Joe Dredd had made it to the big screen, the possibilities for the future were giddying.
Well, Judge Dredd was pretty-much a travesty, top-to-bottom. Cannon, it appeared, was simply hired to be Stallone’s bitch, and despite the thing looking the part (the art department deserve some props for that film, you know) Stallone seemed determined to kick any in-place mythology straight in the bin if he didn’t fancy it: Dredd never takes his helmet off, because the law is faceless, or something; Stallone takes his helmet off. Judges don’t have relations with one another; Dredd develops a love interest with comic strip regular Judge Hershey. Thuggish recurring anti-hero Fergee is reduced to comic relief, major MAJOR Dredd arch-enemies The Angel Gang are reduced to one-scene throwaways and a robot looking A LOT like Hammerstein from The A.B.C. Warriors is introduced for no good reason whatsoever. When the movie was over, my friend and I walked in silence for awhile, before he confessed to me that the only reason he didn’t walk out of the movie was out of courtesy to me, at which point I confessed that I didn’t walk out only out of courtesy to him. If only one of us had said, “This is sh!t, isn’t it?” twenty minutes or so into this debacle, we could’ve saved ourselves a good bit of cinematic heartbreak.
So that’s my nomination for today. Up against Sly and co in the dice throw go Return to Oz (Murch, 1985) from my wife and Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (Lucas, 1999) from my son, a movie which figures pretty f*cking high on the “disappointed” scale for me too.
EDIT Wife wins again although, in many ways, nobody won this one, and nobody was ever going to either with such an abhorrent trio of films. Still, Return to Oz it is. Not looking forward to this at all.