HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Starring: Karl Urban, Lena Headey, Olivia Thurlby
Directed by: Peter Travis
Written by: John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Main Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HD MA (NEO:X matrixed for 11.1)
Runtime: 95 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: January 8th, 2013
HTS Overall Score:86
“Dredd”, one of Britain’s most famous anti-hero comics, takes a rise to the silver screen once more. “Judge Dredd”, the schlocky, cheese fest starring Sylvester Stallone almost killed the idea of their every being another Judge Dredd movie in my lifetime. Filled with a hodge-podge of dystopian ideas and the typical light hearted comic book fare of the day, it never truly took the source material very seriously and paid for it as a result in the box office. Now I have a confession to make, I actually had a blast watching the old “Judge Dredd” back in the day and still revisit it from time to time as a guilty pleasure. As a Judge Dredd film it was woefully inadequate, but as a fun Stallone movie I had no beef with it (well, besides the fact that Rob Schneider was ever let near the casting room). Now, director Peter Travis, has been given a meager 50 million dollar budget and given us a WILDLY more accurate representation of the source material.
“Dredd” is set in a dystopian future, where the world is a post-apocalyptic nightmare of chaos. The world as we know it was destroyed by nuclear war and a new world of mega cities (spanning hundreds upon hundreds of miles) have been built upon the wreckage of the old. As a result chaos ensues, the world is held together with silly string and human desperation, crime is rampant; In Mega City one alone there are 17,000 violent crimes a day. Ruled by a fascist government, law and order is doled out via “judges”, men and women in law enforcement, who are specially trained to not only be the arresting officer, but to judge, jury and if necessary, executioner based upon their discretion, the most famous and most unrelenting judge being the infamous “Judge Dredd” (Karl Urban).
“Dredd” begins with him being given a new recruit to field test in order for her to gain her badge as a judge. Failing the test several times, initiate Anderson (Thirlby) is still selected to get her judge’s badge based on the fact that she has a genetic mutation giving her incredible psychic abilities. Dredd isn’t too pleased, but the higher ups see the possibilities of having a psychic judge on their side. Giving her no mercy, or leniency Dredd and Anderson are pulled into investigate a murder in one of the poorest districts (huge skyscrapers holding 100’s of thousands of people) in town, the Peachtrees. A cruel drug lord named Ma-Ma, has taken up residence there is using the Peachtrees as a manufacturing base for a new drug named “Slo-mo” which slows the takers perception of time passing down to 1% of normal. Literally skinning alive and tossing some completion off the balcony is the inciting incident for our little showdown. Dredd and Anderson investigate the crime scene and bust a couple of lackeys in the process. However, there’s only one problem, one of the lackeys happens to know that Ma-Ma is using the Peachtrees as her base of operations and if interrogated could bring a lot of unwanted attention to her. Overriding the system, Ma-Ma locks the judges into the giant skyscraper and puts out a hit notice on the two judges (or one judge and one rookie to be precise). As a result Dredd and Anderson have to fight their way to Ma-Ma and finish this once and for all if they want to escape with their lives.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=10413[/img]Due to the budget constraints we won’t see some huge post-apocalyptic epic, or even some of the more interesting places in the Judge Dredd universe, but director Peter Travis does an excellent job with the money he’s been given, and gives us a mix of Judge Dredd and “The Raid” all in one. Being that it’s set in a cramped skyscraper we really only see a few different set areas, but the sheer viscerality and non-stop feel of the movie keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat and never bored. One thing, that as a comic book nerd, annoyed me was that they still tried to humanize Dredd to a certain amount, not nearly as much as Stallone’s portrayal, but it was still there. Judge Dredd was originally conceived as a true anti-hero, a monstrous weapon that was used by a fascist government to keep the people in line. Meant as a true satire, and not as someone who is meant to be admired in any way, shape, or form. The humor was black, and the action was non-stop. While they have kept VERY true to the source material in this outing, it almost came across as cheesy in the bleak settings, to see those little hints of compassion or mercy that he doled out, albeit sparingly. Dredd himself was played amazingly well by Urban. The mask never comes off during the entire movie and we have to see all of Dredd’s thought processes played out through Urban’s use of mouth and lower facial expressions. Thirlby is excellent as the rookie judge, unsure of herself and whether or not she had what it takes to be judge, jury and executioner.
“Dredd” is not a wildly intelligent film on paper, it has a simple storyline, but I give props to Peter Travis for his execution, excuse the pun, of the source material. The movie is bleak, dark and almost depressing with barely a hint of hope, but he gives us a wild tour-de-force action movie that pretty much doesn’t let up until the credits role.
Rated R for strong bloody violence, language, drug use and some sexual content
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=10414[/img]“Dredd” was a very unique feeling movie in the theater and still holds true to that unique feeling on home video as well. For a 3D film there was a LOT less gimmicky camerawork to annoy me, e.g. things spinning wildly AT the camera where the viewer will see it and go “yup THAT was filmed just for 3D” etc. Instead it was used to create an extra sense of Depth and a surprisingly wild amount of visual close ups for a 3D movie. Now let me state up front that “Dredd” was filmed on the famous RED 3D cameras and was given a myriad of deviating picture quality between scenes. Some would be filled with digital noise, others would be great and even more would be absolutely jaw dropping. Facial close ups were stunning, every hair and skin imperfection could be made out on the grungy villains and every nick and mar of Dredd’s helmet was there for us to see. Other scenes would be covered in video noise, obscuring detail left and right. I can’t say that this is a fault of the disc since it was every bit as uneven noisy in those scenes during my theatrical viewing. Being that this movie was shot in doors using digital cameras, IN THE DARK, a lot of noise is to be expected. The color palette is drained of most colors for the most part, creating a bleak and miserable looking environment, contrasted by scenes of almost cartoon like violence, especially the drug’s “slo-mo” scenes, where certain primary colors would be wildly saturated to create an almost dream like effect. Intentionally unique “Dredd” is an excellent representation of it’s theatrical experience and that’s really all we can ask for.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=10415[/img]While the film may have been filmed on a meager shoestring budget, but the audio track is definitely top notch and up there with the best. This is the second title that Lionsgate has done that is encoded in DTS-HD MA 7.1, but it optimized for 11.1 playback (not to say that most of us are even CAPABLE do playing back 11.1, but it’s nice to see the option there). From the first moment we hear Dredd’s motorcycle roaring through the city streets, I knew we were in for a treat. Sounds pan across all channels with ease and suck you into the center of the dystopian society. Dynamic range is off the charts, from the Dredd’s guttural whispers to the thunderous gunplay, “Dredd” careens across all layers of the spectrum. Surround use is amazing, bullets whiz from every direction, pieces of the wall crash to the ground on all sides and the roaring of vehicles shift from all directions. LFE is absolutely off the charts, and I don’t mean that it’s that thundering mid bass that pounds your walls, but there is an AMAZING amount of very low bass, just pulsing in the background. An elevator shifting floors rumbles the walls so deep that hairs started rising on the backs of my arms, and of course the gun and fist fights shook the walls to foundations. Voices are crisp and clear, even with such a strong dynamic range, locked right in the center channel as desired. A jaw dropping audio track deserves to be praised and “Dredd” most definitely made me pick my jaw off the floor more than once.
• Mega-City Masters: 35 Years of Judge Dredd
• Day of Chaos: The Visual Effects of "Dredd"
• "Dredd" Featurette
• Dredd's Gear
• The 3rd Dimension
• Welcome to Peachtrees
• "Dredd" Motion Comic Prequel
• Theatrical Trailer
• Other Titles from Lionsgate
Underperforming at the box office, “Dredd” has gained a cult following among the online community. Wildly over the top action, mixed with a comic book adaptation that actually STICKS to the source usually doesn’t do too well at the box, but garners much loved praise among the fans. As with “The Watchmen” Dredd is destined to be a cult hit that those who enjoy dark action should check out without hesitation. The shooting style is beautiful and ugly all at the same time and the audio is off the charts. I don’t hesitate to recommend this to those of you who like non-stop action. Be warned the violence can be a bit over the top for a typical action movie, but the execution is flawless. Definitely give it a watch
Buy Dredd on Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It