Dredd – 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Dredd - Poster #2

Dredd hits stores on June 6th.

In this gritty reboot of the 1995 film, Dredd is an unapologetically violent and entertaining film that lives up to the spirit of the comic. Those looking for a deeper exploration of the character will be highly disappointed, though. However, Judge Dredd never was a character that required a lot of exploration. Screenwriter Alex Garland realizes this and thus wrote a simple narrative that puts the focus on Dredd and Anderson escaping from Peach Trees. Also, this trainer/trainee relationship is fun to watch as the film progresses. Seeing Dredd soften up and Anderson’s maturation is a nice way for these characters to develop.

Although the film shares a similar storyline to The Raid, keep in mind that this film was in development first. Regardless, Dredd and The Raid are tonally two different beasts altogether. As an illustration, The Raid is Muhammad Ali and Dredd is Mike Tyson.

Director Pete Travis goes very, very hard on the violence. He relies mostly on practical effects which reinforce the film’s grounded tone. Yet when Travis does employ CGI then the result is very visceral, especially the “slo-mo” scenes. The conflicts are fun and showcase Dredd and Anderson’s varying skill sets. This allows the film to display their ingenuity instead of giving them an unlimited supply of bullets. That being said, Travis doesn’t exactly pace the film very well. A film with this many slow-motion scenes could never be. In a way, it’s a perfect representation of the character itself: Lumbering yet relentless.

In keeping with the comic, Karl Urban never takes off his helmet in the film. To his credit, Urban is able to convey a world of emotions even with his helmet on. Dredd’s gruff exterior shouldn’t make him engaging but Urban makes him remarkably likable. In addition, Urban embodies the character with his gravelly voice, commanding physicality, and the character’s iconic frown. Olivia Thirlby brings a pint-size badassery to her character. Her portrayal is a nice juxtaposition to Urban’s tough ruthless depiction.

Unfortunately, Lena Headey doesn’t bring much to the table here. She’s more of a MacGuffin than an actual character in the film. Also, she is essentially depicting a more psychotic version of her “Game of Thrones” character. Be that as it may, she chews up the scenery as the villain.

Overall, Dredd is a grounded action experience which relies heavily on the Karl Urban’s crotchety performance to keep things entertaining. Not to mention, the film has a smart combination of action-packed set pieces, slick visuals, entertaining character moments, and an enjoyable (but thin) storyline that exhibits Judge Dredd’s brand of brutal justice.

Movie Rating: 4/5 atoms

Dredd - Karl Urban

Dredd hits 4K Ultra HD with an HDR 2160p transfer and a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. If you’re like me and enjoyed Dredd in 3D then you might feel conflicted over the 4K release of the film. Although you’ll miss the 3D, the 4K version is still equally impressive. Thanks to the HDR, there is a visible improvement in the video. Thankfully, there is an improvement in the black levels. Instead of the milky gray, the darks are deep and inky. Also, the highlights and colors burst off the screen. This is especially true during the “slo-mo” drug scenes where the effects really shine through.

The skin tones look natural and are consistent throughout the film. The details are crystal clear but there is a drawback to this clarity. The CGI looks more computerized now than it does in the regular Blu-ray. This is one of the many drawbacks to re-watching an older film in Ultra HD. Overall, the good far outweigh this minor CG issue. It’s a great release from Lionsgate.

Video Rating: 5/5 atoms

Dredd - Olivia Thirlby
Dredd hits 4K Ultra HD with a Dolby Atmos and Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Master Audio track. The review will reflect Dredd‘s core Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track. The audio presentation really impresses in all facets. The audio utilizes every speaker and immerses you into the film. This is just generic sound effects coming through your speakers to provide ambiance. Everything that comes through the speakers has a purpose and is very specific to the scene. Not to mention that every effect that whizzes past seamlessly and comes through with authority. The vocals are crisp and clear. Notably, Karl Urban’s low voice comes in clearly without bumping up the volume. As for the subwoofer, it rumbles and rocks the entire sound stage. Overall, this is a completely amazing presentation that Lionsgate put together.

Audio Rating: 5/5 atoms

Special Features
Dredd - Lena Headey

Dredd‘s 4K Ultra HD disc contains the following special features:

  • “Mega-City Masters: 35 Years of Judge Dredd” Featurette
  • “Day of Chaos: The Visual Effects of Dredd 3D” Featurette
  • Dredd” Featurette
  • “Dredd’s Gear” Featurette
  • “The 3rd Dimension” Featurette
  • “Welcome to Peachtrees” Featurette
  • Dredd Motion Comic Prequel” Featurette

The bonus features found in the Blu-ray is the same as the previous releases. However, it is funny how “The 3rd Dimension” featurette is included in this set when the 3D disc isn’t. That being said, there are only two featurettes that are worth watching. “Mega-City Masters” provide some backstory to the history of Judge Dredd. The other is the “Day of Chaos” featurette which focuses on the film’s visual effects. Even though there aren’t a lot of visual effects, it’s still fun to see how they shot the “slo-mo” scenes. Unfortunately, everything else is short and isn’t interesting enough to warrant a watch.

Special Features Rating: 2/5 atoms

Overall, Dredd is a successful reboot of the classic British comic book character. It’s visceral, violent, and very entertaining. Let’s just hope that the upcoming television series can live up to the film. The video and audio presentations are both equally amazing. Unfortunately, the special features are still lacking in this release.

Overall Rating: 4/5 atoms

This Blu-ray was reviewed using a retail/advance copy/unit provided by Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

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