Ed Gets Past 3rd Base With 4K Blu-ray
Dredd is a fantastic film; laser focused, true to the spirit of the comic book character, and filled with ratcheting tension and killer hard-R action set pieces. That it resembles The Raid in structure and didn’t light the box office on fire are incidental to how truly awesome the film itself is.
It’s great news, then, that it’s getting the 4K Blu-ray treatment from Lionsgate. Rumors are swirling as I type that Karl Urban, the titular (and definitive… Sorry, Sly) Dredd, may be returning to voice the character in an adult-skewing animated television show exploring Mega-City One. I would absolutely welcome that since this property has so much sci-fi action gold to mine. And since this film garnered fan and critical acclaim but no financial breakthrough, an animated series sounds like a perfectly wonderful way to keep this property in front of people’s eyeballs. The re-release of this film on 4K is another!
Shot and designed for a 3D experience, this release actually includes a 3D Blu-ray disc, though the 4K disc does not support 3D. There was a visual intention behind the design of this film that really keeps it memorable, with or without 3D. A new drug called Slo-Mo is circulating through Mega-City One and its users experience reality in a slowed down state that is visualized here with stunning clarity and color. What could have been a gimmick becomes a central plot device and a trademark visual of the film. The experience of falling off of a skyscraper on Slo-Mo, for instance, feels like eternity for the poor schmuck doing the falling. And director Pete Travis and cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle (heck, even composer Paul Leonard-Morgan) take every opportunity to make this Slo-Mo storyline pop, ripple, and explode. While this film takes place almost entirely in the slum-like Peach Trees mega tower, making it a dreary and dark affair, the film nevertheless becomes an enjoyable title to experience on 4K due to this visual flair.
Taking place over a single day, writer Alex Garland drafts a clean and entertaining adventure for Dredd which also humorously insinuates this is “just another day” for The Law. Informing his trainee, the psychic new recruit Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), that Judges are only able to respond to roughly 6% of the sprawling mega city’s crimes, Dredd and Anderson simply answer a call to the nearest triple homicide, and soon find themselves trapped in the tower of the dreaded gangster Ma-Ma (Lena Heady crushing it as a scarred drug lord) with no way to escape except to kill ’em all. In this apocalyptic future, Judges act as jury and executioner, barely containing the chaos of mega cities surrounded by scorched wastelands. Dredd is a kind of embodiment of the oppressive state, while at the same time being the uncontested hero of the story. There’s a wonderful balance struck of thrilling entertainment and square-jawed (and frown-faced) triumph of The Man. The satire elements are sprinkled just liberally enough through this otherwise kickass action movie that it all feels just right. One almost feels that Dredd’s singular and unwavering devotion to the law is the key to holding this tenuous society from teetering right off the brink. Yet here in 2017 (and even written into this “day in the life” story) we experience a corrupt and broken system of law all the time, and we’re reminded that it’s a dangerous thing indeed for anyone to have the power of judge, jury, and executioner.
So much of the impetus for Dredd to keep being adapted and readapted for current mediums is the brilliant foundation the original character was built on in the pages of British comics 2000 A.D. Creators John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra have simply created an iconic and enduring character that, while maybe not hugely mainstream in the United States, nevertheless remains compelling and relevant. Famously never depicted without wearing his signature helmet, Dredd is always The Law. This trope was abandoned in Stallone’s Judge Dredd, much to fans’ dismay. And while this critic finds a lot to like in the high profile failure of that project, 2012’s Dredd nails Wagner and Ezquerra’s character far more squarely than 1995’s adaptation. The world Dredd traverses is also a major ingredient to the endurance of the character. We’re obsessed with post apocalyptic societies and the Mega-Cities built atop the earth’s scorched remains feel like a distinct and unique element of this particular apocalypse. A billion stories could be told (and have been told over the years) about the goings on in Mega-City One. Which is another reason the “day in the life” approach of this film works so wonderfully. Had Dredd taken off financially, there clearly would have been many more stories to tell in the chaotic mega city, and this fan would have loved to see what else Travis and Garland might have had up their sleeves.
Succeeding as an action movie, a comic book adaptation, a tonally tricky science fiction narrative, and a visually compelling live action adaptation, Dredd’s only true failing was its disappointing box office. This 4K release reissues a killer film onto a new market which may be exclusively populated by pre-existing fans and collectors, but certainly does showcase a film that all involved can be proud of. While not the most visually dynamic of the expansive 3 total films I’ve experienced in 4K UHD so far, Dredd does make its case for inclusion in this niche format.
Disc 1–4K Ultra HD
- “Mega-City Masters: 35 Years Of Judge Dredd” Featurette
- “Day Of Chaos: The Visual Effects of Dredd 3D” Featurette
- “Dredd” and “Dredd’s Gear” Featurettes
Disc 2 — Blu-ray (Includes 2D and 3D Presentations)
- “The 3rd Dimension” Featurette
- “Welcome To Peach Trees” Featurette
- DREDD Motion Comic Prequel
- Theatrical Trailer
And I’m Out.
Dredd is now available on 4K UHD from Lionsgate Home Entertainment