(Second viewing, On TV, January 2018) I saw Judge Dredd in theatres back in 1995, accompanied by a good friend who had already seen the movie and was looking forward to my “wow” reaction at the cityscape revealed early in the film. My reaction to it then is pretty much my reaction to it now—the first half of the film has some worthwhile world building before disintegrating in a forgettable Sylvester Stallone action film—and very little of the movie has anything to do with the original Judge Dredd comic book. (But that’s why we got Dredd in 2012.) Another viewing twenty years later highlights the clumsiness of the adaptation attempt—the film isn’t smart enough to execute the satirical vision of the Dredd comic book, so it comes across as silly most of the time. Still, there is some effort here in trying to create a future (as dark and nonsensical as it can be) and it’s that effort that sustains the film during its first act, and then again at the beginning of its third. Otherwise, though, don’t hope for much. Stallone is his humourless self here (not contributing in the slightest in the film’s satirical potential), while Armand Assante does his best as a featureless antagonist and Rob Schneider is intentionally annoying as a sidekick. Diane Lane and Joan Chen aren’t too bad, though, but that’s a relative assessment when the plot has so little use for them beyond the obvious. We now know that the production of the film was troubled by an ongoing argument between Stallone and director Danny Cannon, each of them pulling in a different direction. The result, sadly, is still with us—worth a look for some of the production values, but definitely not as a cohesive science-fiction film and even less so as a Dredd adaptation.
(On TV, December 2016) I probably shouldn’t have watched Fatal Attraction a few days before Unfaithful, because the comparison isn’t kind to this film (even despite them sharing the same director). In some ways, this gender-flipped story of adultery does uphold some old-fashioned morals of deception and revenge. Alas, it does so at length, never settling for a quick cut when a long sustained shot will do. Diane Lane is rather good as the married woman deciding to indulge in a bit of adultery, and the casting of the two male actors is amusing: Choosing a side of Olivier Martinez over a main course of Richard Gere is the kind of thing that underscores the wish fulfillment of Hollywood movies. There is, as is usual for erotic thrillers, a bit of heat in the initial couplings … although this quickly cools down once the erotic part is done and the thriller part begins. By the time the husband character semi-accidentally kills the adulterer, the plot has simultaneously started and ended at once: the rest of the movie is guilty thumb-twiddling until the end. It doesn’t make for a satisfying film—there’s little to offset the unintentional hilarity of some sequences. It’s also far too long for its thin plot, but so it goes. There may be a clash between Unfaithful’s aspirations as an infidelity drama, and the way it veers into a murder thriller in its third act—the finale kills the questions left by its first act, which itself is far too slow for a thriller. No matter what or why, Unfaithful doesn’t make much of a case for itself—it’s not that bad a choice if you really, really like either or all of the three leads, but it doesn’t quite cohere into something satisfying.