Dredd DVD review: Urban renewal

Seconds later, she shot him in the nuts.

Release Date: 14 January 2013
2012 | 18 | 95 minutes | £19.99 (DVD)/£24.99 (Blu-ray 3D)
Distributor: Entertainment In Video
Director: Pete Travis
Cast: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey

Karl Urban is one of the most underrated actors of our generation. He’s quietly starred in some killer genre franchises (Star Trek, The Lord Of The Rings) and been the best thing about some of them (Doom, Riddick). Each of his performances is distinct and personal. His heartfelt Dr McCoy, for example, interprets rather than channels DeForest Kelley, and it’s light-years from his turn as Mega-City One’s taciturn, unstoppable lawman.

Dredd pairs a grungy ambience with a no-frills plot. Two street Judges – the elite police of a dystopian future America, in case you’ve somehow dodged 2000 AD for 35 years – respond to a murder in a tower block, get locked inside and are hunted by the gang who rule it. The only way out is to fight their way to the boss and take her down.

The rust-and-misery setting flicks a V sign at the high-tech slickness of Sylvester Stallone’s 1995 swing at the franchise; but for the absurdly powerful weapons and psychic powers this could be a bad day in any contemporary housing project. Even the uniforms are as minimal and Kevlar-like as they can be while still acknowledging the source material. The dirty straightforwardness of it all pulls off the near-impossible, somehow balancing fanboy nods to the comic with the conventions of a mainstream cops-against-the-odds buddy drama.

It’s a pacey, visceral experience, with a MacGuffin about a drug that slows perception providing an excuse for brutal slow-mo shots of bullets tearing into flesh. And of course Urban is superb, keeping true to the comic character with an always-in-place helmet and making Dredd’s catchphrase “I am the law!” sound like a declaration of war. For Grud’s sake, give this guy an Oscar.


With the Blu-ray you can choose to watch in either 3D or 2D. There are six short featurettes (all under four minutes). “Dredd: The Original” and “Slow-mo” are self-explanatory; “Welcome To Peach Trees” concerns Mega-City One; “The 3rd Dimension” is all about shooting in 3D. “Dredd’s Gear” covers the costume and weapons, while “Dredd” is about the movie character and repeats a lot of soundbites from the other featurettes. There are nine interviews with cast and crew (totalling 27 minutes) – director Pete Travis contributes just 48 seconds! Sadly, there’s no commentary track.

Dave Bradley twitter.com/SFXDaveB

See where Dredd placed in our Top 25 SF & Fantasy Films Of 2012.
For an alternate perspective, read our Dredd review from the theatrical release.
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