When Dredd came out back in 2012 it didn’t really catch my interest. I’m not super familiar with the character outside of the Stallone flick so there wasn’t a lot to pull me in. A couple friends tried to convince me, but I passed on the film the while it was in theaters and just figured I’d catch it on home video. The film finally made it’s way to Blu-ray and still I never got around to seeing it. I planned to eventually, but the timing just never worked out. Now that the film is out on 4K UHD Blu-ray I decided to finally give it a go and man oh man am I bummed that I didn’t catch this one in theaters! I’m late to the party, I know, but Dredd is all kinds of awesome!
Judge Dredd, played to perfection by Karl Urban, is taking new recruit Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) out for a test run to see if she’s cut out for the job. Dredd isn’t too confident in Anderson and with good reason. Anderson wasn’t able to pass the aptitude test that is required of new judges, but Chief Judge (Rakie Ayola) sees something special within Anderson — mainly her psychic abilities — so Dredd has no choice but to give her a chance.
Dredd and Anderson get their first assignment — investigate the murder of three men who were skinned alive and tossed down nearly 200 flights at Peach Trees, a slum tower located within Mega City One. When the arrive on the scene they discover the men were just skinned and tossed to their death but they were also drugged with a new addictive drug called SLO-MO — named so because it lowers your perception 1% of normal once you take a hit. This means that not only were these men brutally killed, but in their mind the death was delayed. Dredd and Anderson are informed that the responsible party is a woman named Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), a vicious drug dealer that rules Peach Trees and distributes SLO-MO throughout the city.
Dredd and Anderson decide they’re going to raid the place but once Ma-Ma finds out she puts Peach Trees on lockdown and orders the people living in Peach Trees to kill Dredd and Anderson in exchange for protection. With no way in and no way out, it’s Dredd and Anderson against 200 floors of death. And we’re just getting started.
The film is very similar to The Raid, taking that same video game approach. Dredd and Anderson begin on the first floor — level one — and have to move them way up until they reach the boss — Ma-Ma up at the top level. I love this concept because it’s basically a lean action movie with all the fat trimmed off. And it’s violent, so violent. It’s basically an 80’s action movie released in 2012. That’s pretty rad.
Dredd also has a killer visual style thanks in part to director Pete Travis and DP Anthony Dod Mantle. The film features a ton of slow-motion shots, but they all play into the story. There aren’t any slow motion shots that I worked in just to look cool and I can appreciate that. It blows my mind that these two could create such a striking visual flare that feels so tight and synced considering this was their first (and thus far only) time working together. I’m not as familiar with Travis, but I’ve seen Vantage Point which also had a very unique look to it and used the camera in interesting ways to be a part of the story, so my guess is he has a particular style he likes. Dod Mantle, well his work needs no introduction. The fact that this two where able to come together and blend their talents to create something this impressive on their first try deserves all the kudos.
The film looks incredible on 4K. I obviously can’t compare it to past releases, but I can tell you this thing looks incredible. Visually the film is stunning and full of detail making it the perfect film to be enjoyed in 4K. This is a crisp, clear piece of beauty.
The 4K Blu-ray also comes with a slew of special features which I believe are all ported over from the Blu-ray release, but are still pretty cool. There’s a rad motion comic that serves as a sort of prequel to the movie as it gives the backstory on SLO-MO and the rise of Ma-Ma — which is also touched on throughout the film. For someone like me who doesn’t know a lot about Judge Dredd there is a pretty cool, though fairly short, history on the character called Mega-City Masters: 35 Years of Judge Dredd. It’s a cool little intro to the character that tries to get your caught up to speed in a short period of time. There’s also a pretty in-depth look at the special features of the film called Day of Chaos: The Visual Effects of Dredd. This is a fascinating watch given that the film relies so much on special effects and visual style.
It’s worth noting that the 4K release comes with a 3D version of the film if you’re into that. I’m not big into 3D so I haven’t checked that out, but I imagine fans of 3D will find it to be enjoyable.
I dropped the ball when it came to Dredd. I was a fool and I made a mistake, I admit that and take full responsibility. But now I’ve seen Dredd, I’ve experienced it in 4K and I know first-hand all the glory it contains within it’s 96-minute runtime. It’s a wonderful movie and it looks phenomenal in 4K. You should probably own it.
Dredd is now available on 4K UHD Blu-ray from Lionsgate.
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