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DREDD
3D Blu-ray Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Wood Harris, Lena Headey
Director: Pete Travis
Audio: DTS HD 7.1, Dolby Digital 2.0
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: LionsGate
Features: See Review
Length: 96 Minutes
Release Date: January 8, 2013

Judgment time!”

Film ****

Dredd is a rarity on quite a few levels. It’s a badass movie from beginning to end, yet executed very artfully. It’s a comic book movie reboot that actually deserved to get made, and it contains perhaps some of the most brilliant use of 3D one is ever likely to see. This seldom mixture of qualities has resulted in what for me is one of the best comic book movies to ever hit the screen!

For one thing, it’s simply great to see that a hard R-rated comic book movie can still get made, since so many movies in this genre are aimed at the younger crowd. Dredd, though, is more along the lines of The Punisher and Blade in that in order to make a proper cinematic interpretation and stay true to the comic origins, you have to go full throttle in terms of brutality…since that’s what exists on the page in the Dredd universe.

And credit the filmmakers and the studio for not choosing to sweeten this material for the younger crowd. Dredd is as true a cinematic interpretation of a comic book universe as you’ll ever find, and it ain’t pretty one bit. A lot of the credit must go to screenwriter Alex Garland, who’s ventured to dark worlds many times before in the scripts he wrote for director Danny Boyle (among them 28 Days Later and Sunshine).

The setting is that of a Post-Apocalyptic Earth. Endless, high-scale wars have transformed the planet into a wasteland. What remains are a few number of “Mega-cities”, most of which are hugely overpopulated with crime. But law enforcement has also evolved, as basic street cops are now Judges, given the power to be judge, jury and executioner.

The most feared judge in Mega City One is Dredd (Karl Urban), a no-nonsense enforcer of the law equipped with a sidearm containing multiple forms of firepower. His latest assignment consists of taking a rookie judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) out for a field test. It isn’t long until they are called in to investigate a triple homicide in a slum district known as Peach Trees.

The three murders were delivered by the hands of Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) a former hooker who’s now become the top manufacturer and distributor of a drug known as “slo-mo”, which enables the user to experience life at a fraction of its normal speed. She has established her own deadly empire in the Peach Trees district, which is essentially a 200 story high-rise. Once she becomes aware that two judges are in her district, she immediately puts the building on lockdown and demands that they be killed.

From this point on, it’s nothing but a fast, furious and visually engaging fight to the death as Dredd and Anderson make their way up the high-rise, level by level, to put an end on Ma-Ma’s reign of fear. Along the way, we get a good number of action scenes, each of which end with Dredd dispensing justice via the multiple types of ammo from his “lawgiver”, which is the type of gun that would make Dirty Harry insanely jealous. It’s nothing but beautiful, blood-soaked mayhem, and Urban (better known to the masses as the new Bones McCoy), is a bit of menacing brilliance in the title role.

But let’s get into what really makes this movie soar, and that’s the 3D. The film was shot with a 3D camera system known as Phantom Flex, which displays the 3D in a super rich fashion, especially in numerous slow motion sequences to accompany the effect of the “slo-mo” drug. In particular, a scene where Dredd busts open a door on a group of slo-mo users and takes them out one by one ranks as one of the all time greatest moments in 3D history, as far as I’m concerned.

Also, prepared to be visually dazzled by a scene involving a person being thrown through some glass, which I can best describe as a piece of brutal, visual heaven!

The film is light on character development, but because it’s so tightly paced, has an engaging enough plot (a rarity in action movies) and plenty of in-your-face action to spare, the movie doesn’t suffer one bit as a result. There is actually enough established in the characters for you to root for before the meat of the story kicks in. Plus, we do get something of a uniquely sinister villain in Lena Headey’s portrayal of Ma-Ma.

In short, Dredd is everything a movie adaptation of a comic book should be. It’s true to the dark and grim aspects of the lead character and futuristic setting, the action is raw and in your face, and the visuals are nothing short of outstanding. And this is a rare case of a movie that you should ONLY experience in 3D!

Oh, and in case you’re wondering why I haven’t brought up 1995’s Judge Dredd with Sylvester Stallone…well, that movie doesn’t exist to me now that we officially have the real deal!

Video ****

First off, I’m most happy that this marks my first ever Blu-ray 3D review because after seeing this movie theatrically, I told myself I was going to get a 3D TV before this came to Blu-ray. Thankfully, Christmas was really good for me and here we are!

At the same time, I was also somewhat skeptic about how the disc would turn out since both 3D and 2D versions are included on the same disc. I feared that so much capacity being taken up on one disc would result in a not so thrilling 3D presentation on a movie that really deserves one. But those fears were shot down the minute the title came on screen, as LionsGate has done a pretty fantastic job and given the movie the very outstanding 3D look that made it rock in theaters! The aforementioned slo mo sequences are where this presentation shines tremendously, but outside of that the strength of the 3D is in the separation of background, foreground and midground…which itself is pretty awesome to gaze at. Overall, this is a 3D presentation that any and all admirers of the format absolutely must check out!

Audio ****

No surprise here, as LionsGate always saddles their action releases with a slam bang 7.1 DTS HD mix that always astounds the ears! And this is one movie that has got something to work with, sound-wise, from beginning to end. The balance between dialogue, music and frequent gunfire blasts couldn’t be more flawless. And trust me when I say that surround sound will be alive and well throughout the entire proceeding!

Features ***

Included is a really cool featurette titled “Mega-City Masters: 35 Years of Judge Dredd”, which explores how the character came to be created on the page. Next up are several additional featurettes including “Day of Chaos: The Visual Effects of Dredd 3D” and numerous promo featurettes including “Dredd”, “Dredd’s Gear”, “The 3rd Dimension” and “Welcome to Peach Trees”. Lastly, there’s a brief but most intriguing Motion Comic Prequel to the movie and a Theatrical Trailer.

This disc also comes equipped with a Digital Copy edition of the movie, as well as an UltraViolet version to stream or download.

Summary:

Dredd is a one of a kind blending of hardcore action and visual filmmaking. And as far as 3D is concerned, it’s one of the absolute best movies to ever get the treatment. If you’ve just converted to Blu-ray 3D as I have, then this is an absolute MUST BUY!

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