• Dredd 3D

    Released by: Lionsgate
    Released on: January 8, 2013.

    Director: Pete Travis

    Cast: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey

    Year: 2012

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    The Movie:

    It’s hard to believe that Judge Dredd has been a pop culture stable for over thirty five years and the movie industry is just now getting it right, but better late than never and fans of Mega City One’s toughest judge, jury and executioner can be thankful for the efforts of director Pete Travis and company. 2012’s Dredd 3D kicks all kinds of ass.

    The story isn’t complex. Set in the future where the world is made up of Mega Cities containing massive blocks (huge apartment complexes, basically) to deal with the population problem, crime is rampant. To combat this, the government has replaced regular policemen with Judges – highly trained law enforcement operatives who are able to make on the spot calls and dole out punishment according to the law right then and there. The toughest of these is Dredd (Karl Urban), a by the book no-nonsense guy who makes up for his complete lack of humor by being the best at what he does. When he’s assigned to evaluate the merits of a psychic rookie named Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), he lets her choose what case they’ll work on and before you know it they’re on their way to the Peach Trees block to investigate some suspicious deaths.

    Upon their arrival they check out the corpses and soon figure out that they’re related to a drug called Slo-Mo, a narcotic that gives the user a high that slows everything down to a crawl. Manufactured and distributed by a scarred tough gal named Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), the drug is quickly becoming a problem that Dredd wants to eliminate, but Ma-Ma isn’t going to take the Judges’ intrusion lying down, and will defend her base at all costs.

    While this one may borrow a bit from The Raid in that it tells an action intensive story confined more or less to a massive apartment building, the setting works well for character. Part of what made the Stallone version of the character misfire was that the character of Judge Dredd was diluted. Here, Karl Urban delivers a ‘pure’ take on the character that is pretty much completely in keeping with the character’s comic book version – he’s all business. He never looks at the extremely attractive Judge Anderson in inappropriate ways, he never lets a crime go unnoticed (even going so far as to warn an unfortunate vagrant to be gone before he returns lest he be charged with loitering) and he is only too happy to punish those he finds guilty. You get the impression that this guy sleeps with his helmet on and that he lives for one purpose and one purpose only – to dispense the law. Urban’s got the look down and looks great in the costume but also delivers all of his lines with the utmost seriousness, never once breaking character.

    The rest of the cast do well here too. Olivia Thirlby is easy on the eyes, as Anderson should be, but proves herself in the action scenes and is well cast in the role. It’s interesting to watch her character learn from Dredd and Dredd from her as they work together to survive and they show good chemistry together on screen. Lena Headey is great as Ma-Ma and given the chance to just go for it, chewing scenery and really making her character memorable. Her makeup appliances make her stand out but it’s her commitment to character that impresses more than anything else. The supporting cast round things out well, making the quirky cast of bit part players more interesting than in your average action film.

    The movie goes at a fantastic pace, moving along briskly and giving us just enough character development to matter. It’s edited well and despite the obvious use of CGI and some slow motion shots here and there, it looks good. The filmmakers were smart enough to go for a ‘hard R’ rating with the film so it’s plenty violent and all the better for it, while the ‘3D’ scenes are subtle enough that you won’t have a problem watching it in 2D.


    Dredd’s AVC encoded 2.40.1 widescreen 1080p high definition transfer looks great, though keep in mind that it’s almost constantly filtered and that it uses a fair bit of CGI. This tends to give the movie a soft feel but somehow this doesn’t come at the cost of fine detail, which is generally very strong. In short, the movie feels almost illustrated in spots, which suits the comic book origins of the character and works well in the context of the story being told. As far as the authoring goes, there are no obvious compression artifacts or edge enhancement and despite the abundance of post production tinkering, there doesn’t seem to be any smeary noise reduction applied – faces are full of pores and Dredd’s got craggy lines and stubble galore to ogle. Black levels are nice and strong and colors, when used to their fullest, look fantastic – in other spots (outside scenes in Mega City One for example) they look intentionally muted. It’s sort of a weird looking movie, really, but it translates to Blu-ray really, really nicely. A 3-D version is also included for those with compatible hardware.

    Lionsgate offers up audio options in English language DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (optimized for Neo:X 11.1), English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and Spanish language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound with optional subtitles available in English SDH, English and Spanish. The DTS-HD track on this disc is reference quality stuff. Not only do the copious firefights and shoot outs offers loads of directional effects as bullets whizz past you from every direction, but even the few subdued moments in the film offer good ambient noise in the rear channels. Dialogue remains easily discernible and perfectly audible throughout the chaos while the low end is anchored nicely with some deep, heavy bass, but never to the point where it buries anything. There’s loads of depth here, the score sounds excellent and it’s hard to imagine anyone having anything to complain about here. Top marks all around.

    As far as the extras are concerned, there are some very cool featurettes here though most of them are on the shorter side. First up is Mega-City Masters: 35 Years of Judge Dredd, a fifteen minute look at the history of Judge Dredd by way of some fun interviews with the host of talent that has been involved in keeping the comic book incarnation of the character alive for almost four decades strong. We get input from creators John Wagner and Carlos Ezsquerra as well as the series’ most famous artist, Brian Bolland, in addition to input from Mark Miller, Matt Smith and a few others. This really could have gone on for an hour and remained interesting as it really only scratches the surface but it’s a nice tribute to the print form version of the character that inspired the movie.

    Day of Chaos: The Visual Effects of Dredd is also roughly fifteen minutes in length and as the title implies, it covers the effects work showcased in the film. Interview clips with VFX Art Director Neil Miller and VFX Supervisor Jon Thum cover a good bit of ground while some interesting footage shows us how different effects were accomplished for the film’s 3D theatrical run.

    Next up are four shorter featurettes: the Dredd featurette is a two minute promo spot that feels more like an advertisement for the movie than anything else; Dredd’s Gear spends two and a half minutes talking about the costumes seen in the movie with a little bit of time spent examining the props as well; The Third Dimension lets the film’s producer, cinematographer and stereographer wax nostalgic about their work on the picture; Welcome To Peach Trees spends two and a half minutes examining the massive block where the bulk of the picture takes place and how important proper set design was; last but not least the Dredd Motion Comic included on the disc is a quick three minute animated comic book that provides some fun background information on the Ma-Ma character and her involvement with Slo-Mo.

    Aside from that, look for a theatrical trailer for the feature, animated menus and chapters stops. All of the extras are presented in high definition and an Ultra-Violet digital copy of the movie is also included.

    The Final Word:

    Dredd might not be deep but damn if it isn’t fast paced and relentlessly entertaining. If it borrows from The Raid a little bit, so be it, but the filmmakers have done the character justice, no pun intended, and the movie just works. Fast paced, slick and violent as all Hell, Dredd’s a step in the right direction and here’s hoping Lionsgate deems it worthy of a follow up – there’s a lot of life left in the character yet. The Blu-ray release earns top marks for presentation as it looks good and sounds good and if the supplements are on the shorter side, at least they’re generally interesting and informative. A very solid release overall.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Wow, that's awesome that they got this one right. I'll have to check it out.
    1. Nolando's Avatar
      Nolando -
      This one was a good time, I though - MUCH closer to the original comics.