Based on the Judge Dredd comic book character created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra, Dredd was first made into a movie starring Sylvester Stallone in 1995, and quickly crashed and burned at the box office. While the new Dredd didn’t exactly set box office records during its initial theatrical run, it has since become a cult classic, with fans applauding the films unapologetic adherence to the source material–Dredd (Karl Urban) is a baddie through and through who never takes his helmet off.
Urban’s Dredd is judge, jury, and executioner in Mega City One, a blighted urban conglomeration of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and other east coast cities in the not so distant future. Judge has been assigned a rookie partner named Anderson (Olivia Thirlby). Though she failed the judge training system, Anderson possesses a special ability to read minds.
The new partners are assigned the biggest, baddest block around — the Peach Trees. The massive high rise is occupied by thousands of tenants, and controlled by the vicious drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Heady). When one of Ma-Ma’s top lieutenants is captured during a murder investigation, she tells her men to find Dredd and Anderson, giving them Strickland instructions, “shoot to kill,” before they reach her at the top of the building. In many ways, the storyline is similar to The Raid. However, it’s a fun concept, and it works well, and the execution is just different enough to feel fresh.
With a basic premise set, Dredd is free to go into full-on action mode. Not for young children, Dredd conjures up some of the most imaginative kills I’ve ever seen. If it’s really possible for death to have a ‘gleefully grotesque’ quality, Dredd has managed that feat. The film moves along at a nice brisk pace, and despite the violence, offers up some genuinely funny moments.
Karl Urban’s monosyllabic delivery is a constant source of humor, and Lena Heady’s Ma-Ma is nonchalantly wicked in the best way! Also watch for Wood Harris (“The Wire”) as Kay, a nasty criminal under Dredd and Anderson’s jurisdiction. It’s a shame that lackluster box office numbers might prevent a Dredd sequel. While it’s not for kids, I appreciated the fact that it stayed closer to the origins of the comic, and Karl Urban makes for an impressive lead character.
Presented in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio, Dredd looks excellent in 4K. Clarity, detail, and depth are all top-notch. One look at the judges’ helmets and you’ll see battle scratches, dirt, and nicks. The color palette has been dialed up a notch; appropriately vivid without ever being overwhelming. Blacks are deep and inky. The image is clean and clear throughout.
Even though this film is six years old, the included Dolby Atmos track puts you right in the middle of the action. Panning effects are strong as bullets whiz by from speaker to speaker. Bass has some nice heft, giving explosions some extra pop. Delivered through the center channel, dialogue is clean, clear, and concise.
English, English SDH, and Spanish subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Mega-City Masters: 35 Years of Judge Dredd (HD, 14:37) A solid overview of the franchise, including interviews with co-creators John Wagner and Carlos Ezsquerra, artist Brian Bolland, 2000AD‘s Matt Smith, among others. There’s no mention of the Stallone film.
- Day of Chaos: The Visual Effects of Dredd (HD, 15:21) This look at the cool VFX in the film includes interviews with Neil Miller, Visual Effects Art Director and Jon Thum, Visual Effects Supervisor.
- Dredd Featurette (HD, 1:53) Really just a fancy trailer.
- Dread’s Gear (HD, 2:31) A brief look at costumes and props.
- The 3rd Dimension (HD, 2:00) Brief comments from Producer Andrew MacDonald, Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle and Lead Stereographer Vincent E. Toto.
- Welcome to Peachtrees (HD, 2:33) A look at the “megablock” where most of the film takes place.
- Dredd Motion Comic Prequel (HD, 2:57) Some background on the supervillain Madeline and the slo-mo drug.
- Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:30)
- Blu-ray of the film.
- Digital HD/Ultraviolet.
Movie title: Dredd (2012)
Director(s): Pete Travis
Actor(s): Karl Urban , Lena Headey , Olivia Thirlby , Wood Harris, Warrick Grier, Porteus Xandau
Genre: Action, Sci-fi, Thriller, Comic Book, Crime