Released at the tail end of a summer packed with blockbuster comic book movies with massive budgets and expectations, and coming several months after the debut of a much-praised Indonesian action film it was subsequently accused of ripping off, Dredd did not have a chance in hell of making anything other than a faint peep in theaters, even though it was filmed in the ever-popular 3D.
Despite mixed reactions to early stills from the film and tales of post-production battles over the final cut between director Pete Travis and writer Alex GarlandDredd premiered to a rapturous reception at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con and the positive buzz began building. That buzz ultimately failed to translate to ticket sales as the film grossed $6.3 million on its opening weekend to finish in sixth place. The R rating, over-the-top violence, and the toxicity left over from the 1995 attempt at making a Judge Dredd movie with a mostly unmasked Sylvester Stallone in the lead and excruciating comic relief from the never welcome Rob Schneider killed any chance for Dredd to spawn a new franchise fronted by the iconic unsmiling dispenser of ruthless justice.
That is a damn shame because Dredd turned out to be one of the few genuine cinematic surprises of last year, and today it makes its home video debut on 3D Blu-ray and DVD. To mark this momentous occasion we have the amazing 3D Blu-ray cover art as well as four brief but cool clips from the film for your viewing pleasure.
You can check out the cover art and videos here below.
As you may have noticed, the cover art for the Blu-ray (which is also the DVD cover) is the exact same art used for the theatrical release poster, and it is one of the astounding movie posters of 2012. No Photoshop trickery, no giant floating heads, just Judge Dredd, that insurmountable man of the law of the crime-infested Mega City One, standing tall amidst a city erupted in flames and chaos, ready to do battle without a second thought. The word “awesome” was created for things like this.
Karl Urban, no stranger to starring in movies based on beloved geek properties (his past credits include the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the rebooted Star Trek and its upcoming sequel, and the guilty pleasure video game monster mash Doom) is the latest actor to take on the role of the comic book lawman who never takes off his trademark helmet and was created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra for a strip that premiered in 1977 in the second issue of the popular British comic anthology 2000 A.D.
Unlike Stallone in the 1995 version Urban stays true to the Dredd the fans know and love and never removes his helmet once during the movie, instead using a gravelly “screw with me and pay the price” voice that feels more appropriate for the character than for the Batman played by Christian Bale and the intense physicality of an irate bull who just saw red. Olivia Thirlby (Juno) backs him up admirably as the rookie Judge Anderson, a psychic whose mutant powers come in handy when she and Dredd are trapped inside a tower block teeming with killers and thugs out for their blood at the behest of the psychotic drug lord Ma-Ma, played by Lena Headey of 300 and Game of Thrones fame.
Fans and supporters of The Raid: Redemption sniffed that Dredd ripped off its plot even though the latter movie had been written years before the former had even been conceived, and went into production before The Raid did. Although I have not seen The Raid yet I think I can safely say that Dredd kicks its teeth down its throat and out its ass without caring a lick for its Miranda rights.
For those of us longtime fans of the Judge Dredd comics who hoped and prayed the Stallone movie would not be the only time the character came to life on the big screen this flick is a gift from the gods. It is a straight up hard-charging blast of pure action cinema that does not waste a single minute of its running time and features some of the best 3D sequences since the format made its comeback years ago. Urban owns the role of Dredd forever as far as I am concerned and Thirlby is a far more interesting character than you might think; her “interrogation” of a hostile suspect is one of the movie’s best moments. Without spoiling too much I will say that Dredd features the most visually poetic death of a villain in an action movie since Alan Rickman did a high fall from Nakatomi Plaza in the original Die Hard.
Dredd will be available in stores tomorrow, January 8, 2013. If you love great comic book adaptations and hardcore action flicks that deliver on each of their promises then you owe it to yourself to see this movie.