Blu-Ray Review: Dredd 3D

'Ultra-violent in an aesthetically beautiful way ... A visceral return to R-rated sci-fi.'

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

Why didn’t Dredd 3D do well? It was well reviewed, including twice on CraveOnline, by both myself and Bibbs. Was it just too obscure a comic book to overcome a lack of name recognition? Perhaps, but there’s Hellboy. Did the failure of Sylvester Stallone’s 1995 Judge Dredd sour audiences on the character for good? Honestly, nobody I talked to outside of film circles even knew there’d been another Judge Dredd movie. Was it that director Pete Travis walked off the film? That was curious but I don’t imagine Travis’s Vantage Point following was enough to sink the entire production. Did the September release incorrectly create a perception that it was not a quality film?

We may never know why audiences didn’t discover Dredd 3D, and the Blu-ray doesn’t provide any answers, but we still recommend it. This is a fine introduction to the character for film audiences and a fine standalone Judge Dredd adventure for fans. Dredd (Karl Urban) has to evaluate a rookie, Anderson (Olivia Thirlby). On a routine call to a Mega-City One high rise, Dredd and Anderson get caught in a 200-stories tall battle with the drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Heady). So it’s Die Hard times five. Okay, not quite, but my math teachers promised me I’d use it one day.

Read either of our reviews for more detail about how Dredd kicks ass. It’s a lean scenario, and in its simplicity gives the characters a chance to show what makes them endure for 35 years of comic books. It’s ultra-violent in an aesthetically beautiful way, and also a visceral return to R-rated sci-fi in case anyone remembers what that used to be.

Dredd 3D was one of the good 3D movies in theaters, but I don’t have a 3D television set. The 2D Blu-ray looks fantastic, with all the gritty detail I wanted to see in Mega-City One. The slow motion sequences look like barely moving oil paintings, but mainly you just see all the detail in the costume and set designs, which are plentiful. The saturated color scheme makes many shots appear grainy, like the way Tony Scott shot his last batch of movies. It’s an interesting look. Who wouldn’t want to see Tony Scott’s Judge Dredd? Interestingly, footage in the bonus features looks clearer, so this aesthetic might have been a post-production effect.

The bonus features are light. Travis himself appears in one soundbite in a two-minute featurette that was probably produced by an EPK crew on the set. A 15-minute featurette on the comic books is a basic introduction for people who only know Dredd from the movies. Comic book fans probably know all this history, but it’s nice to see some of the panel artwork reproduced in HD, and it features interviews with artists like Mark Millar, Jock and Dredd creators John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra (subtitled, even though he’s speaking English). 

Another 15-minute featurette on the visual effects is pretty standard, and is careful to talk around Travis. You get to see side-by-side comparisons of camera footage and CGI additions, and they cover a few key sequences. This segment also includes a major spoiler so don’t watch it before you’ve seen the movie.

More short features summarize the sets and costumes of Dredd 3D and the 3D featurette uses some of the same soundbites as the visual effects featurette. A motion comic prequel is cool and the artwork looks great in HD, but it’s just what we already know about Ma-Ma from the movie. There is no audio commentary, not even with writer/producer Alex Garland.

Maybe people will finally discover Dredd 3D on DVD or Blu-ray, but that won’t help us get a sequel. Or maybe it will. Buy lots and lots of Dredd Blu-rays, folks. We want Karl Urban back in the helmet so we don't have to wait another 17 years for the next Judge Dredd reboot! 

Read Fred Topel's original review of Dredd 3D.

Read William Bibbiani's review of Judge Dredd (1995) and Dredd 3D.

Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.