Judge Dredd has been around the comic book scene for a long time, having first appeared in the second edition of 2000 AD back in 1977, but despite his fame and longevity, he’s never really made it stick in movie form. Though Sly Stallone’s effort back in 1995 was entertaining enough, it was far from being true to the original concept of devastating brutality, but in 2012’s Dredd we’ve got something a with a whole lot more vicious action that works very well on Blu-ray, especially in 3D.
The story is brilliantly simple, which definitely works in the film’s favour. Dredd gets a new partner for the day as psychic Judge-in-training, Cassandra Anderson, tags along with the legendary executioner to put her through her paces and decide if she makes it on to the force. Things take a turn for the worst almost instantly when they investigate a triple homicide in one of Mega-City One’s super-sized housing structures only to get trapped inside by the city’s drug lord, the scar-faced Madeline “Ma-Ma” Madrigal, who’s hell bent on shooting the ever loving shiny helmets out of them in a bid to keep her drugs empire under wraps.
However, while the storyline for the film sets things up well enough, the dialogue, acting and direction occasionally let’s Dredd down as lines can come across as being a bit cheesy and over-acted, and there are a few scenes that are too contrived to work well, which we’re going to have to blame director, Pete Travis, for. The worst of the less impressive parts of the movie has got to be the moment when three judges split up down 3 different corridors, timing it clumsily to separate at exactly the same time, which even lamer than it sounds.
That aside, the casting is pretty tight with Star Trek: Into Darkness‘ Karl Urban taking on the title role effectively. He doesn’t quite pull off all of the lines as well as Sylvester Stallone did, but he definitely looks the part and becomes more engaging as the movie progresses. He’s added to by relative newcomer, Olivia Whirlby, who does a very good job as his sidekick for the day, and Lena Headey makes for a strong antagonist as Ma-Ma.
A massive compensation for the detractions is the all-out action of the film, which is pretty much relentless from start to finish. If you’re even marginally squeamish Dredd is far from the Blu-ray of choice for you, because it’s got more blood and gore than most horror flicks, but if you like your comic strip adaptations on the brutal side of the spectrum then it’s well worth a watch just for this.
This is backed up by some amazing visuals and special effects that help to make the setting in a dis topical future all the more believable. There’s a fair bit of cool cinematography to take in, ranging from the tripped-out portrayal of users on the city’s drug of choice, slo-mo, to the excellence of the shoot outs that are some of the best we’ve seen in a while. It’s not quite faultless – the self healing Judge Dredd scene is pretty unconvincing – but on the whole the film’s cinematographer, Anthony Dodd Mantle, has done some very cool things to make the film come alive visually.
Another big positive for the film is it’s music, which has been scored by BAFTA-winning British composer Paul Leonard-Morgan (Limitless). The Dredd Soundtrack is as full force as the action scenes and the two compliment each other well, with the music acting as as a great build up in the intensity of the movie. It’s a brilliant instrumental rock ensemble score that’s worth listening to all by itself.
The Dredd Blu-ray was released a little while ago in January 2013 and for anyone that missed it at the cinema it’s worth a watch for its cast, cinematography and unhinged action. The film ends with the possibility of a sequel, but it doesn’t look like it’s on the cards at the moment with it’s poor performance at the cinema. DVD and Blu-ray sales have helped to boost the potential, but it’s got a fair way to go before it becomes a viable option.
Dredd Blu-ray review: 3.4/5