High octane sci-fi action movie with all-out, guns-blazing, bone-crushing, explosives-laden action. Based on the popular comic book character JUDGE DREDD.
The future America is an irradiated wasteland. On its East Coast lies Mega City One - a vast violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the urban cops called "Judges" who possess the combined powers of judge jury and instant executioner. The ultimate Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is tasked with ridding the city of its latest scourge -a dangerous drug and the sadistic prostitute turned drug pusher who is using it to take over the city.
Though few moviegoers queued up to see it, Pete Travis's Dredd is, like its titular hero, a tough, effective piece of action machinery with a single purpose: to fill the screen with as much eye-popping visual mayhem as possible. Based on the iconic British comic series Judge Dredd, which was previously adapted as the 1995 Sylvester Stallone vehicle of the same name, Dredd hews closer to its source material in its depiction of a postapocalyptic world reduced to anarchy and the police force known as the Judges, who try, convict, and execute criminals in one fell swoop. Karl Urban (Star Trek, The Lord of the Rings) is terrifically effective as Dredd, a monosyllabic force of nature dispatched to halt the manufacture of an addictive and disorienting narcotic called "Slo-Mo" by the vicious drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). With judge-in-training Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) in tow, Dredd works his way up Ma-Ma's 200-story tower stronghold, facing off against her minions as well as corrupt Judges in a barrage of elaborately violent action set pieces. Much of what sets Dredd apart from other comic book and science fiction-action features--the obsessive, brutal focus of its protagonist and the relentlessly bleak environment of the film's setting, Mega City-One--may also be off-putting for viewers who appreciate some grey areas or levity in their entertainment (though that's not to say that Dredd doesn't have its own flinty sense of humor).
But Travis's approach should appeal to both fans of the original comic as well as those who favor a vision of the future on the darkly dystopian side, à la Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop and John Carpenter's Escape from New York. Karl Urban acquits himself well to Dredd's steely single-mindedness, expressing an unyielding sense of righteousness in a helmet that obscures nearly all of his features; Thirlby and Headey are also fine as strong, forthright female characters on either side of Dredd's moral compass. The single-disc Blu-ray includes both the standard and 3-D versions of the film, with the latter option avoiding some of the vertigo-inducing effects of digital 3-D while also offering the best showcase for the extraordinary "Slo Mo" sequences. Extras include a solid, introductory featurette on the history of the Dredd character via interviews with, among others, its creators John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra, and an overview of the picture's visual effects and 3-D process with cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle. A brief motion comic outlines the back story for Ma-Ma, while the remainder of the supplements are devoted to electronic press kit coverage of the set design and Dredd's array of equipment, among others. A digital copy and UltraViolet stream/download round out the disc. --Paul Gaita