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Directed by: Pete Travis
Starring: Carl Urban, Lena Headey

No Dredd 3D did not make it into my top 10 of 2012 list. Does that mean it’s a bad movie? Not by a long shot. There are those movies that are just plain fun.

The Movie

Dredd 3D tells the story of a post-apocalyptic United States with only one giant city remaining surrounded by massive walls. The name of the city: Mega City. The only thing standing between the crime threatening to overtake the city and the good people are the Judges, cops that have complete control of how criminals are handled. They are literally judge, jury, and if necessary executioner. Judge Dredd has been given  the menial task of testing a rookie to determine if she is eligible to become a full-fledged judge.   She failed her written tests but Dredd’s bosses want to give her another chance because she is special. I won’t reveal what’s special about her as it was not revealed in the ads either. Suffice it to say that she completely changes Dredd’s job.

He and his new partner take a call to a giant 200 hundred story all inclusive building where two people have been gruesomely murdered. The ads made the set up feel a lot like another film Called The Raid Redemption ( a fantastic film by the way). The truth is that some elements are similar but the movies are thematically completely different. Within this building are drug addicts hooked on a drug called slo-mo. The drug makes the brain see things moving at 1% normal speed. The drugged out scenes are the true sweet spot for the 3-D. At one point a character is relaxing in the tub at the beginning of the film and enjoying the effects of the drug as she splashes in the water. We in turn enjoy it because the look and effect is completely beautiful.

One might expect Urban to do his best Stallone but he’s actually channeling more Dirty Harry in this version of Dredd. There’s really nothing goofy about this film at all unless you happen to find the uniforms somewhat comical. Dredd 3-D is unapologetically brutal and bloody and gratuitous. This is grindhouse scifi in 3-D and we love it. Lena Headey is wonderfully drugged out, violent, and insane; almost unrecognizable compared to her other genre roles in The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Game of Thrones.

Dredd 3D is exhilarating, shocking and shockingly beautiful. The film absolutely pulls no punches and there will be a scene or two that may truly knock you out of your comfy theater seat. There are a few flaws, mostly in the lack of character development. Well, there almost is no character development. Headey’s character gets a rap sheet sort of development but it too is pretty damn shocking in the way it’s shot. Dredd gets a little purposeful mystery added to his character. Was this done in hopes of developing him more in a future film? This flaw is so outweighed by the roller coaster feel of the film and the unabashed story that it just doesn’t matter. This may be one of the most truly unadulterated stories to hit theaters this year and for that reason alone it deserves recognition. The film is low budget, but every dollar is on screen and used with precision. I joked with a friend that there must have been six production company names listed at the beginning of the film. There is one interesting section at the end of the film that’s riddled with digital noise, not film grain, actual digital noise. It looks like camcorder footage shot in too low of light. As a low budget filmmaker myself I loved seeing it but in the end I wonder why it was kept in the film. A director commentary on the eventual blu-ray should be interesting.


The video

The 3D experience of this movie was the best of 2012 without a doubt and overall the home version does as good a job as possible at representing that experience. It’ll never be the same or as good until we can all have theater sized screens in our homes. With that said the general viewing of the movie will feel a bit different than you’d normally expect from a 3D film. The slo-mo shots are stunning and of course are the 3D show pieces but there are some more subtle shots too that offer great depth by using the #D cameras and CGI. This film feels midling in budget so some instances of CGI don’t work but overall the movie looks jsut as it did in the theater which all you can really hope for.


The Audio

This film features a 7.1 master audio track that sounds fantastic. The film feels alive from begining to end with great ambient sounds and booming base. Action scenes and slo-mo scenes again are the audio show stoppers but its great to see an action film get solid surround treatment even in quieter scenes. Dialogue is clean throughout the film which is saying a lot when you consider Urban’s gravely low line delivery.


The Packaging and Bonus Features

The multidisc set comes packaged in a standard blu-ray amaray case with a slipcover featuring typical somewhat uninspired character art that we’ve seen over and over again with these sorts of films. Army of Darkness should have been the last time we saw this kind of artwork.

There are a handful of featurettes that are completely lackluster. They all feel like marketing pieces rather than in depth behind the scenes presentations. This film deserved more attention to the film-making process and what we have here is just a huge let down.

Perhaps the coolest bonus feature is the motion comic which gives background on the drug and villian featured in this film. It’s a fun one time watch.


The Review
The Movie 8.5/10
The Video 9/10
The Audio 9.5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 4/10
Overall (Not an average) 8/10