The ultra-violent comic book cop delivers the goods in 3D - but how does he hold up in 2D?
Avoiding each and every mistake the 1995 Sylvester Stallone flick made, this $48m take on British comic book icon Judge Dredd is an absolute blast.
Similar in plot to The Raid, Dredd 3D finds its titular hero (Karl Urban) and newcomer Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) trapped inside a 200-storey tower block controlled by the resident drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). What unfolds is an action-packed, stripped-down take on the character that serves as both the perfect introduction for newcomers and a smart and faithful adaptation for long-time fans.
Picture: Dredd 3D is one of the first Blu-rays that we've encountered that absolutely demands to be watched in 3D – and not simply because the stereoscopic effects are so impressive.
Shot using the latest generations of the RED and Phantom 3D camera systems, plus kit made specifically for this movie, Dredd 3D is a triumph of stereoscopic filmmaking. Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle paints the screen with memorable 3D images unlike anything you've ever seen – packed full of detail and eye-searing colours. Naturally, it's the drug sequences that impress the most, but throughout the movie the 3D is used to give the central Peach Trees tower block an even greater sense of scale.
As its title makes clear, Dredd 3D is a film that was made to be seen in the 3D format – and nothing about the MVC 2.40:1 1080p encode featured on this Blu-ray will do anything to persuade you otherwise.
Which brings us to this release's 2D AVC presentation derived from the MVC encode. While it retains the colour saturation and detail of its 3D sibling, there are obvious issues with excessive noise that simply aren't present in that version. This lack of consistency from shot-to-shot can be quite distracting and is difficult to explain.
From what we can gather, every version in every region seems to be affected in the same way, so it must be an issue with the source material and not simply a fault with the encode on this UK platter.
Picture rating: 4/5
Audio: There aren't many soundtracks that pack as much of a punch as Dredd 3D's DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix. In fact, it packs so much power, and such ridiculously deep room-rattling bass, that this is one disc that really won't go down very well with your neighbours (unless, of course, you invite them around to watch it with you).
While the sheer energy it unleashes on your system is the first thing that impresses about Dredd 3D's soundtrack, there are other elements that will leave a huge smile on your face. As the film progresses and your ears adjust to the terrifying decibel-levels they're being subjected to, you quickly start to notice the quality of the steerage and directionality in the soundfield.
Rarely does a scene go by where you don't feel entirely wrapped up in the onscreen action. Steel shutters roll down beside you and bullets whip past your head. A standout sequence is when Ma-Ma whips out her big guns in Chapter 7. As Dredd runs for cover, the heavy artillery rips across the soundstage with tremendous precision, and every crunching impact will have you looking for bullet holes in the walls of your viewing room.
So why haven't we given it full marks for audio? Well, it's all down to jealousy. US distributor Lionsgate has released the movie on Region A Blu-ray with a DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix 'optimised for Neo:X 11.1'. In the UK we're not so lucky, and can only imagine what that would have done to Dredd 3D's already impressive audio.
Audio rating: 4.5/5
Extras: We know the film didn't exactly set the box office alight, but Entertainment in Video should be sentenced to a five-year stretch in an Iso-Cube for the lack of effort it has put into producing bonus features for this Blu-ray release.
Anybody expecting a comprehensive audio commentary or Making of… documentary will be disappointed by the roster of six featurettes and nine interviews (total running time: 41 minutes) gathered together here. And to make matters worse, not only do the majority of the individual featurettes and interviews last less than three minutes each, there's also a shocking amount of repetition across them (the interviews were clearly used to source the talking heads material for the featurettes).
Given that the film is based on one of the most iconic British comic book characters of the past 35 years, would it have been too much to ask the UK distributor to at least produce a documentary about the character's comic book origins and his evolution over the decades?
Extras rating: 1.5/5
We say: A must-have for 3D fans – but the 2D image isn't perfect and the extra features are criminal
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