Blu-ray Review: DREDD [3D Blu-ray + Digital Copy + UltraViolet]

Dredd BD cover art finalGenre: Sci-fi| Action | Thriller

Director: Pete Travis

Writer:John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra (characters), Alex Garland (screenplay)

Cast: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey

MPAA Rating: R

Run Time: 95 minutes

Adapted by Alex Garland from John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra’s legendary comic book and filmed in stunning 3-D, Dredd, explodes onto 3-D Blu-ray Disc (includes 3-D and standard version of the film plus Digital Copy and UV), DVD (includes Digital Copy and UV), Digital Download, On Demand and Pay-Per-View January 8 from Lionsgate Home Entertainment. Mixing pulse-pounding action with mesmerizing visual effects sequences, the post-apocalyptic thriller hailed by audiences and critics alike stars Karl Urban (Star Trek), Olivia Thirlby (Juno) and Lena Headey (HBO’s “Game Of Thrones”). The hugely anticipated sci-fi thriller directed by Pete Travis (Vantage Point) takes place in a futuristic America.

The future America is an irradiated wasteland. On its east coast, running from Boston to Washington D.C., lies Mega City One – a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the urban cops called “Judges” who possess the combined powers of judge, jury and instant executioner. Known and feared throughout the city, Dredd (Urban) is the ultimate Judge, challenged with ridding the city of its latest scourge, a dangerous drug called “Slo-Mo,” and the sadistic crime boss Ma-Ma (Headey) who is using it to take over the city.


I am so sorry I missed seeing this movie in the theater. I saw the trailer for it in 3D and it was beautiful. In Blu-ray it is similarly beautiful, just in a smaller way. It’s the kind of Blu-ray that makes me want to rush out and get a 3D TV and 3D Blu-ray player. Because the Blu-ray is gorgeous, but the 3D would really add to the experience. I am addicted to the look of this movie.

Let me step back for a minute. Dredd is based on a comic book series, and it knows it. The storyline is basically a chase, not unlike a lot of action movies. But this one is cohesive and immersive. It’s set primarily in one building, a giant building that houses basically an entire city, and that allows the atmosphere to remain consistent, and really draws you in.

Not that it’s any place you’d like to live. This “futuristic America” is a dystopian one. They don’t pull any punches. But I was mesmerized by Judge Dredd (I’m sure partly because I kept thinking “why would Karl Urban take a role where you can only see his mouth?”), and mesmerized by the color. You never get a bright and sunny feel from this movie; rather you get quite the opposite. And yet it is absolutely awash with color. Battery acid yellow-green, bright oranges and reds, so vivid that one can only assume they hit the “vibrancy” button over and over again. It looks like the best pure pigment comic colors ever.

That Judge Dredd’s look has none of that vibrancy is in its own way absolutely perfect. Had he been given that kind of color it would have reduced his character to, ironically, a cartoonish one, instead of the stolid humorless drama-free character that he is. The color is part one of the beauty of this movie.

Part two comes from the Slo-Mo effect. Slo-Mo is a new drug that is involved in the story line, and the effect is to make the user feel like everything is in slow motion. But the way they show it in this movie makes you want to get in line to get some, as soon as possible. They explain in the accompanying featurettes that a camera was created for these scenes, and shoots at a new frame rate. Remember that regular frame rate is 24 per second; “HFR” (high frame rate), like in the Hobbit 3D version, is 48 frames per second. This new camera shoots at more than 3000 (yes, three thousand) frames per second, far beyond what any camera has done before. The result it that everything looks beautiful, particularly liquids. Bath water, for instance. Blood, in particular.

Because those Slo-Mo scenes are often some of the more violent ones, and it makes the violence look beautiful in its way. It is surreal and hypnotic. I’m not necessarily a fan of ultra-violent movies unless they feature excellent effects; if not, my eyes glaze over after a very short while. This new take not only kept me from losing interest but kept my eyes glued to the screen. And I mean really horrific, watch-the-guy’s-cheek-get-blown-off violence. I was spellbound.

All of which would clearly be better in 3D, if I had the player and TV. But don’t be discouraged from getting this Blu-ray if you’re like me and haven’t yet upgraded, because even in 2D it is a visual feast. Super-close-ups also give a totally different look to the movie, and absolutely give it a comics feel. The people who worked on this production really worked together, you can just feel it. Direction, acting, set design, CG work, sound, lighting, music, editing, all come together to create an excellent package, a cohesive end product.

Though the visuals kept me locked in, the storyline wasn’t bad, though it was generally predictable. I was totally unfamiliar with Dredd before this movie, and have been told that I was lucky to have been spared the Stallone version from 1995. I’ve read the synopsis of that movie, however, and if it helps at all, this story is an entirely different one. I’ve also been told that this movie is quite authentic to the feel of the original comics. One of the featurettes in fact gives the history of the comics, which began in the U.K.

The sound, like the picture, is crispy clear, and the dynamics are broad. Just have the volume control in hand if you just put the baby down,  but don’t worry, there aren’t too many make-you-jump shocking volume jumps.

Picky things: One – For some reason, this disc takes a long time to load. It could be because both the 3D and standard versions are on the same disc. Not that big a problem. Two – Sometimes you see the red/blue of the 3D effect, but it’s rare, and again, not a big problem. Three – Karl Urban, whom I adore, is from New Zealand. The very first dialogue is a voiceover by Mr. Urban, whose first word is “America” but he pronounces it “Ameriker.” Really? They didn’t want to maybe get another take on that? And finally, four – even with the ultra-sharp focus and excellent depth work, every now and then a shot can look grainy. It could be that it only happens in the 2D version.

Now for the special features:
* “Mega-City Masters”: 35 Years of Judge Dredd” featurette – the history of the comic
* “Day of Chaos: The Visual Effects of Dredd 3D” featurette – excellent discussion of the special cameras and camerawork, as well as the CG work and its incorporation. Please note that when they talk about “stereo” they are talking about 3D.
* “Dredd” featurette – kind of a standard featurette, includes mostly clips from the first two featurettes
* “Dredd’s Gear” featurette – not bad, a little shorter than I would like
* “The 3rd Dimension” featurette – a great deal of this is in the second featurette
* “Welcome to Peachtrees” featurette – some of this is in the first featurette
* Dredd Motion Comic Prequel – kinda cool, a nice addition

Street Date: January 8, 2013
Price: $39.99 Blu-ray / $29.95 DVD
Title Copyright: Dredd © Rena Films (PTY) Ltd. and Peach Tree Films Ltd. Artwork & Supplementary Materials © 2012 Lions Gate Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Rating: R for strong bloody violence, language, drug use and some sexual content
Run Time: 95 minutes
Type: Theatrical Release
Genre: Action; Science Fiction; Thriller
Blu-ray Closed Captioned: English SDH
DVD Closed Captioned: English
Subtitles: English and Spanish
Blu-ray Format: 1080P High Definition 16×9 Widescreen (2.40:1)
DVD Format: 16×9 Widescreen (2.40:1)
Blu-ray Audio Status: 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Optimized for 11.1 Neo X, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and English 2.0 Dolby Digital
DVD Audio Status: English and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

I can’t stop looking at this movie. I have it running again as I write, like usual, but this time it is slowing me down exponentially, because I just keep staring at it. If you’re a color hound like I apparently am, that alone will be enough to grab you and keep you seated. It’s no feel-good movie, but it’s a great movie, and it keeps getting better with every rewatch.

I give Dredd [3D Blu-ray + Digital Copy + UltraViolet] Five Out of Five Stars.



Dredd [3D Blu-ray + Digital Copy + UltraViolet] is available from Amazon; here’s the link:


Erin Willard
Written by Erin Willard

Erin is the Editor In Chief and West Coast Correspondent for