Thursday, 4 April 2013


Some time in the future the overpopulated world is overrun with crime (hang on, that's happening now!) so the authorities employ specialists, known as judges, to dish out instant punishment for deeds that warrant immediate elimination or imprisonment.  Judge Dredd is called out to the scene of a multiple murder, accompanied by a psychic rookie, and following an arrest at the monolithic tower block housing 75000 people (sounds like one or two places I know around here) the place goes into shutdown - blast shields that seal the entire building in during event of war.  It's sold to the authorities as a drill, to prevent them from coming out to the scene, but it's actually a homicidal ploy for the gangland boss woman who unofficially runs the place to have chance to have her minions assassinate the interfering duo of judges.
Wisely pretending the 1995 adaptation of the 2000A.D. comic story never existed, Dredd confines much of its action to one building (less of an epic scope than the Sylvester Stallone vehicle), albeit one very big building.  It's a violent mix of science fiction technology/weaponry with high octane action, feeling very adult in nature.  The main character (played nicely by Karl Urban of recent Priest and Star Trek fame) is much more faithful to the source creation than Stallone's version, which will surely be pleasing to fans of the comics.  Most importantly, he never takes off his helmet!  Dredd comes across as a combination of Robocop and Christian Bale's Batman (albeit somewhat more credible), thankfully keeping the temptation for wisecracks in check.  For once, unlike some other contemporary action films, the slow motion (extreme slow motion in this case) is contextually justified, simulating as it does the impact of a drug that's being used and distributed by certain antagonists.  It gives rise to some startling visual effects, which complement the striking shooting techniques employed throughout.

The UK Blu-ray (from Entertainment in Video) grants you a full HD 2D or 3D image, which is stunningly sharp even when surveying the distance of a long corridor; the director's overall compositional approach is commendable.  3D really sucks the viewer into this world, and it's this kind of film that makes investing in 3D equipment worthwhile, rather than some of the crap that has been unleashed on the unsuspecting public in the last couple of years. Some of the interview snippets are worth taking a look at for a change, and you can get a glance at just how bulky the 3D cameras really are in use.  Paul Leonard-Morgan's pounding score is implemented well on the lossless soundtrack, and it goes without saying that the dynamic audio of this film will kick your butt through the wall if you have a decent system.  Demonstrating that the cinema-going public have little in way of sense the film flopped (my theory is the lack of super-star names, which really shows how shallow people are when deciding what to see), but it is surprisingly one of the best movies of the last few years - get it on Blu and show the studios that some of us out here have some taste.

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