Pete Travis’ ultra-violet comic book adaptation Dredd just might be one of the most overlooked films of 2012. Dredd is a bloody good time and one of the most entertaining 3D releases of the year. Karl Urban’s version of the character previously played by Sylvester Stallone is leaps and bounds better, with a certain cold and heartless aspect that helps push the bad-ass persona even more. What’s even better is Travis’ ability to keep things both dark and fun. The set design and characters are nasty, yet the techno-based score and the constant shootouts make Dredd a mostly brainless B-movie that gets the job done.
Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is one of the best Judges in a futuristic wasteland known as Mega-City One. What is a Judge you ask? They’re basically the judge, jury and executioner of any given case, handing out justice by way of pistol whenever they see fit. Dredd’s the law and he doesn’t let anyone get by on his watch. Not today and not tomorrow.
A normal day for him consists of wasting ten or fifteen drugged out fools, but on this particular day he’s paired up with a rookie by the name of Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) and they’re assignment leads them to the Peachtrees apartment complex where the criminal boss of the underworld known as Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) rests.
Once the two Judges enter they soon realize that they won’t be exiting the structure without a fight that’s going to end the lives of many thugs.
Director Pete Travis fills Dredd to the very top with a certain visual flair that we just don’t see enough of these days. Dredd has its moments where it feels cold and almost generic, but it quickly bounces back with the excellent use of 3D photography that helps enhance the overall value of the film.
See, there’s a drug in the film used by the bad guys called SLO-MO and it does just that; it slows down the person’s reflexes to a sluggish state of mind and Travis translates that flawlessly in 3D by using lots of ramped up and slow-motion techniques.
What this does is it gives the film’s action sequences a little bit of creativity. Now you can see Dredd unload a clip onto a batch of gang members in brilliant fashion. Bullets can be seen slowly entering the victim’s cheek and then exiting on the other side of their head, with lots of blood and brain-matter to follow. It’s honestly the best use of the 3D gimmick in a long time.
Travis completely understands the non-serious of the film and he keeps the tempo going instead of bogging down Dredd with lots of emotional character beats or too much chatter. Dredd is not a dense film, but it’s a thrilling B-movie ride that’ll fill you right up.
I can’t believe genre fans turned away on this one, because it’s essentially the exact movie we’ve been crying for. It’s a hard R that isn’t afraid to get silly and yet maintain a gritty core.
Karl Urban spits out one-liners faster than he can think and Lena Headey becomes the queen of filth and scum. The only real wildcard is Olivia Thirlby and even she proves to be a worthy addition to the film.
Dredd isn’t quite Punisher: War Zone, but it should serve fine as the proper comic book adaptation for the character.
The 1080p video transfer is ugly and beaten down, much like it was intended. The visuals of the film are far from pretty. There’s a dark tinge to the entire transfer that gives everything an unattractive and worn-out vibe, but the textures are still striking and the detail never lets up.
I will warn you that the film loses its effect when viewed in 2D, especially if you’ve already seen it in 3D. Everything about this film was made for the extra dimension and some of the action sequences look really flat and uninteresting in 2D. The 3D transfer holds up extremely well and maintains depth with very little cross-chatter. The SLO-MO scenes are demo-material in 3D.
The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track thuds and bumps like no other. The techno-fused score makes the quieter build-up scenes all the better and the action has no problem expressing itself across the channels. This is a gun-heavy flick and Lionsgate has proven their worth with this frequently-loud and always on-the-ball track. You’ll also be glad to know that dialogue (although an afterthought) is crisp and clean.
Here’s a list of bonus content found on the disc:
- 2D & 3D versions of the film
- Mega-City Masters: 35 Years of Judge Dredd (HD)
- Day of Chaos: The Visual Effects of Dredd (HD)
- Dredd Feature (HD)
- Dredd’s Gear (HD)
- The 3rd Dimension (HD)
- Welcome to Peachtrees (HD)
- Dredd Motion Comic Prequel (HD)
- Theatrical Trailer (HD)
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
Dredd is an absolute must-see. Occasionally it does have its dull moments, but that’s mostly not a problem thanks to Karl Urban’s complete dedication to the character and director Pete Travis’ visual ability to give us action fans something we haven’t quite seen before. Story-wise Dredd is far from original and it actually shares a lot of moments with The Raid: Redemption, even though both films were in production at the same time.
It’s your basic storm-the-castle story, but Travis and Urban add their own unique twist on it with the inclusion of Dredd; one of the most bad-ass characters ever to grace the pages of a comic book and now a silver screen. Dredd is violent, occasionally funny and always entertaining.