Summary: The future America is an irradiated wasteland — a vast, ultraviolet world where criminals control the mean city streets. Ultimate law enforcers like Dredd (Karl Urban) and his new partner, Anderson (Olivia Thirby), are Judges — the only force battling for justice. Dispatched by the central authority, the Judges’ target is Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) a ruthless boss bent on expanding her criminal empire through sales of Slo-Mo, a dangerous reality-altering drug. With Dress calling the shots, the two Judges declare full-scale war on crime in this unrelenting and brutal, three-dimensional thrill ride.
Movie Review: I never saw the original take on Dredd with Sylvester Stallone, and all I can recall is him screaming “I am the law!” in commercials, so I came into Dredd with not much idea of what to expect. After 15-20 minutes establishing the basics of the plot (we’re in the future, cities are huge, crime is bad, and judges enforce all aspects of the law including punishment) the rest of the film is set inside a single massive skyscraper. Sealed off from the rest of the world, it becomes a cat and mouse hunt as Dredd and Anderson are trying to take down Ma-Ma and her drug production system.
Despite what should be a good setting for it, you never get that feeling that our protagonists are truly trapped and have everyone closing in on them. Perhaps they want to make it clear how massive the skyscraper is and not make it feel so enclosed, but it winds up sucking out most of the nervousness from the film. With only 96 minutes, including credits, there isn’t much time to establish deep background on any of the characters.
Dredd is a perfectly fine film, but given that they seem to have a lot of source material to work from, I wish the film was longer to establish more backstory and texture to the situation, instead of trying to fit an action film into a universe that really goes unexplored.
Technical Review: Dredd was shot on Redcode RAW, but for 3D which means it is likely 2.5K resolution as a 2D source. Some shots are nice and clear with decent detail while many seem to exhibit significant sensor noise. Much of the film is in dark, shadowy areas and many of these are noisier than the brighter shots. I don’t think there is much there where the UHD transfer is at fault, it is just the state of the original elements.
HDR is used through the film, with lots of gunfire and neon signs. With many of the explosions, it seems that the process they are using for HDR (which I assume might be semi-automated) is causing them to be too bright and have significant clipping. Use of WCG is limited, if present at all, by the choice in look for the film.
The soundtrack is good for an action film but Atmos channels are not used as extensively as they could be. Vocals are easy to understand, but with an action film taking place in an enclosed space, the soundtrack could have been that much better.
Special Features: Six featurettes and a theatrical trailer