It's a Judgement Call
Judge Armando Acosta (Edward James Olmos) doesn't have many fans as he is beyond strict to the point that some might seem him as unjust. That is certainly how idealistic attorney Paul Madriani (Chris Noth) feels when Acosta throws him in jail for contempt of court. But it is Madriani who Acosta wants when he is first accused of soliciting and then murdering a witness. Reluctantly Madriani agrees to assist in the defence with his former girlfriend Catherine (Lolita Davidovich) becoming lead counsel but things becomes murky when it is discovered that Catherine's brother, a cop, was having an affair with the woman who Acosta is accused of murdering leading to Madriani having to become lead counsel.
There are things I enjoy, courtroom dramas are one and two part TV mini-series are another and the combination of two should be gold. Unfortunately when it comes to "The Judge" or "Steve Martini's The Judge" to give it its full title it left me under whelmed. And the simple reason for this is that there is not enough going on in "The Judge" to warrant 3 hours of your time. As such whilst it features a good cast with the likes of Chris Noth and Edward James Olmos delivering solid performances the actual drama struggles to keep you involved.
So here is the problem with "The Judge" and it is the fact that the storyline is basically tough judge gets set up and has to rely on a lawyer who doesn't like him to get to the truth and find out who is setting up the judge and why. That storyline would be enough to fill a 90 minute movie and so to try and extend this to the 180 minute mark we then have relationship conflicts such as Madriani working with a former girlfriend whilst her brother was dating the victim, and just to add more distraction the brother is a dirty cop. None of it is enough to make "The Judge" feel like a complete movie rather one which someone thought that they could eek out to 180 minutes. It has the knock on effect of making minor things such as Mardian's moustache being off putting to juries more memorable than some of the actual eeked out story.
The saving grace to all this is the casting with Chris Noth bringing to the character of Madriani the charm and charisma which he has instilled many of the roles he has played in various TV series. At the came times Edward James Olmos brings an element of arrogance to the role of Acosta and that is spot on to make him interesting and believable as someone who would antagonize the good hearted Madriani. But the trouble is that whilst the casting is good the actual characters are for the most routine and lack the uniqueness to make them memorable.
What this all boils down to is that "The Judge" ends up over staying its welcome at 3 hours which is a real shame as the basic storyline is okay and the casting is good but it isn't enough to sustain your attention for all of those 180 minutes.