It’s only two days after Christmas but we’ve got an extra-special gift in from our friends out at Lionsgate, as they sent over a copy of the Blu-ray release of “Dredd” for us to review today, though it won’t be out until January 8. And if you didn’t like the first Dredd, rest assured that the second Dredd will be much, much better.
“Dredd” takes us to Mega-City One, one of only a handful of human residences following a major apocalypse. Getting large numbers of people–though much fewer than the world had previously–into a space designed for a whole lot fewer people means that crime is downright likely. Competition for resources, and the baser urges of the human nature, have left a combination ripe for disaster. Thus, the administrating forces of Mega-City One created the Judges, law enforcement platforms with absolute power over law and order at every stage from arrest to jurisprudence to sentencing, up to and including, on a regular basis, death. But crime is still big business in Mega-City One, as evidenced by Ma-Ma, who’s out to gain control of the trade of Slo-Mo, one of the most popular narcotics in Mega-City One. But the best judge Mega-City One has ever known, the titular Dredd, is out to bring Ma-Ma’s empire down at any cost.
Some might have misgivings about Dredd, being as the memory of “Judge Dredd” featuring Sylvester Stallone is likely still fresh. And while “Judge Dredd” really wasn’t terrible–it was a little heavier on the action and the zany than some might have preferred–“Dredd” is a much more potent package. Though I have to admit, a little too much of this might be spiffy visuals and a little too little of proper storytelling. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that it’s said to be the first part of a trilogy–origins will come in the second followed by a real doozy of a capper in Judge Death and the Dark Judges–but thankfully, there’s enough in the way of explosions, action sequences, and sheer nifty to keep most anyone reasonably satisfied.
I’m not exactly happy with Karl Urban trying to do what sounds like the “Batman” voice made popular by Christian Bale in the “Dark Knight” series. But there’s no denying that they really put a lot into this. The visuals are indeed spiffy, and will be absolutely breathtaking depending on the state of your hardware. The better a home theater rig you have, the more downright amazing this is going to be. Disturbingly large quantities of this movie will be in slow-motion, and the visual result is going to be downright amazing. I can’t shake the feeling that this will end up a video game.
As is the case with many Blu-ray releases, there will be plenty of special features, including full 7.1 channel surround for those who can take advantage of it, and your choice of English or Spanish subtitles. Additionally, there are several behind the scenes featurettes–including one about Dredd’s hardware–as well as a motion comic prequel, a theatrical trailer, and trailers for “The Last Stand”, “Alex Cross”, “The Cold Light of Day”, “Tarantino XX Collection”, “The Expendables 2″, “The Men Who Built America”, and a promo for Epix.
“Dredd” is a little disappointing, and a little thin on material, but with enough action to be well worthwhile. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes, and as a first step, it’s a good quality one.