Dredd Blu-Ray Review; Dredd 3-D, while flawed, is a vast improvement over Stallone’s clunker…
I wrote awhile back how Sylvester Stallone’s Judge Dredd was one of the worst comic book movies ever made.
It missed everything that made the character great; dark satire, absurdist violence and the cardinal rule; Dredd doesn’t take his helmet off!
After it’s release fanboys of the 2000 A.D. comic book series Judge Dredd had written off any hope of a faithful adaptation of the character.
So it was with mixed anticipation that 2012’s Dredd arrived. And while it’s no masterpiece it does help erase the stink of the Stallone abomination.
Karl Urban makes a convincing Judge Dredd. Urban had even more of a challenge than Tom Hardy did as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. Hardy at least could emote with his eyes. But Urban is stuck inside an unforgiving helmet, with only his body language and bottom jaw to work with. He pulls it off, and nails the caricature; a mix of Mad Max and Dirty Harry.
The screenplay by Alex Garland (28 Days Later) skips an origin story but gives us a prologue explaining the gist of Dredd’s world: in the future courts are abandoned due to the high crime rate and cops are now called Judges, with the power to dispense final verdicts upon arrest.
The plot revolves around Dredd evaluating rookie Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) in the field. She’s a powerful psychic, but has failed earlier evals. The Judge is less than pleased with this assignment.
They investigate a triple homicide in Peachtrees, a giant tenement. They discover a vicious baddie in Ma Madrigal. She’s played by Game of Thrones actress Lena Headley, with the same evil bitchiness she brings to her role of Cerci Lannister.
The bulk of the movie takes place in Peachtrees, and this is one of the film’s weaker aspects. We’re too closed off from off the vast expanse of the Judge Dredd universe. Much of Mega-City One and the wasteland of the Cursed Earth remain unexplored.
What is shown of the city is impassable as the future NYC it’s supposed to be. Much of the movie was shot in Johannesburg, South Africa, and if you’ve ever seen District 9 you’ll notice the surroundings immediately.
But the action is compelling as are the artfully arranged violent visuals. While too CGI’ish at times, they have a great comic book luridness. Director Pete Travis and cinematographer Anthony Todd Mantle give the movie a unique texture.
The movie was shot in 3-D and it certainly informs the visuals, even on a 2-D screen. And the use of time-lapse and slo-mo is novel and stylish. And Dredd’s costume is perfect. And aside from a shadowy shot, his helmet is ALWAYS on. Good call.
The script is serviceable, but I would’ve enjoyed a bit more of the full-fledged satire of the comic; and while this film has hints at it, it never fully commits. But Thirlby and Urban make a good pair, with her helping to humanize the ultimate hard-ass.
Dredd succeeds at making the character viable again. However any hope of an expanded universe in a sequel seems shaky given its poor box office.
There are also several cool special features on the disc:
Mega City Masters 35 years of Judge Dredd : is an enjoyable retrospective of the history of the comic book character.
Day of Chaos chronicles the effects work and mentions 2 cameras invented especially for the movie, inspiring its unique look.
There’s also featurettes evolving the 3-D process, the use of locations and a motion comic preview.
Final verdict? If you’re a hardcore fan of the comic you’ll find it a serviceable adaptation, but will be longing for more. For the uninitiated, if you’re a fan of violent dystopian movies you’ll find Dredd entertaining if somewhat lightweight.
If you’d like to own the Dredd Blu-ray I’ll have the Amazon link below as well as several collections of Judge Dredd comic series.
Dredd, a Lionsgate Release