REVIEW: Dredd 3D (2012, Pete Travis / K. Urban, O. Thirlby)

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

  • Original Release: 2012
  • Director:  Pete Travis (Endgame etc.)
  • Starring: Karl Urban (Doom, Red, Priest etc.), Olivia Thirlby (Being Flynn)
  • Running Time: 95min
  • Rated: R
  • Reviewed format: Blu-Ray (3D)
  • Budget: $50,000,000
  • Gross: $13,401,683 (USA, 26 October 2012)
  • Buy DREDD 3D as Blu-Ray+DVD disc from


Dredd 3D is based on Judge Dredd comics. As I'm not too familiar with original comics, I won't be drawing comparison on how well this movie succeeds to adapt their spirit, but rather rate and review this movie as a stand-alone film. The future America is one big wasteland and within is located one cradle of violence, "Mega-City", ranging from Boston to Washington DC. When criminals are bursting out and violence is reigning, it's time to call "judges" to take a hold of situation! Judges are the future police, law enforcement of the toughest kind.

I ended up watching this movie as my brother had bought it and suggested that we'd finally try a movie with my "3D-television", that would be designed and made for 3D. Those movies have been quite rarely made and released so far, of which some include Piranha 3D, Saw 3D, and Conan 3D. Saw's 3D adaptation was a big disappointment. Not so because of the 3D technology, but because the plot and movie stunk. Therefore I did not have high expectations for another movie made for 3D technology, especially since it was a recreation of an old classic, "Judge Dredd", starring none else than Sylvester Stallone. Not that the old one was actually one of Stallone's best movies, but at least it had it's share of good laughs and action.

This day we had few beers and some sauna, and after that it was time for the new "Dredd". So we threw the movie into Samsung's Blu-Ray -drive and turned 3D mode on. The 3D -glasses of LG's HD-TV were quite comfortable. And after all, I had used them a few times previously.  I wasn't in the mood for very complex movie anyway, and Dredd handled the job of quite brainless action-piece rather fine.


Dredd is a simple movie by it's plot. Nothing too fancy about it. In short. Judge Dredd ends up investigating case about a new drug called "Slo-Mo". Tracks lead to a 200-level slum tower called "Peach Trees", where suspected drug-lord Madeline Madrigal alias "Ma-Ma" produces the drug and leads his gang. Ma-Ma executes mercilessly rogue drug dealers skinning them pale and infusing the with Slo-Mo, then throwing them down from the top-floor to the bottom level of the tower.

A rookie law enforcement officer called Cassandra Anderson is ordered to help Dredd with the mission in Peach Trees, which forms sort of rookie-veteran controversy between Dredd and Anderson, as Anderson keeps freezing in tough situations and messes things up time to time. This works okay, but doesn't add anything too incredible to the movie's plot. We also learn that rookie Anderson possesses helpful skills after all, as she can read and enter into peoples mind to find about their thoughts. She's some sort of a psychic.

While investigating Peach Trees slum tower Dredd and Anderson find a guy named Kay, who is revealed by Anderson's mind-reading skills to be one of the men carrying out rogue drug dealers executions for Ma-Ma. Kay is arrested and when Judges try to get him out of the tower, Ma-Ma becomes aware of their plans and decides to seal every door and window of the tower by using the towers blast shields under the pretence of a security test to prevent Judges from getting out of "her slum". She then enforces every slum citizen, mostly thugs and scum, to chase down and kill the Judges.

And this is the time when Dredd 3D takes it's pace and never really slows down. Dredd and Anderson are out to get Ma-Ma through his several thugs and bodyguards since they have no way out really either. Later in the movie they will face corrupt Judges bribed by Ma-Ma, and their arrested hostage Kay breaks free disarming rookie Anderson, but when trying to shoot Anderson with her pistol, the gun is triggered with DNA scanner that does not recognise Kay as the owner of the weapon and blows his hand off. That's one of the more memorable events in the movie.


Dredd's approach to action is perhaps bit more old-school and low-budget style and camera angles than in many other newer action movies. There isn't many of those highly detailed isometric CGI (computer generated imaginary) views in the movie, but rather many cheaper looking close-shots and close quarters fighting scenes. This works quite well for Dredd, which creates it's atmosphere by hectic fight scenes and quite brutal violence. Plot could had been expanded a little more tough, since the movie is now just a brainless action film taking place within one location only (Peach Trees tower) that repeats the samey looking themes and rooms as it's shooting place for the scenes. Nevertheless, it's action is quite enough entertaining for that one drunken Saturday evening with your friends.

If you're looking for a movie with intelligent plot that builds up the tension as the movies goes on, forget Dredd. Dredd's tension comes from it's action, not from the plot. I actually felt like plot was quite meaningless in the movie, and just an excuse for some action scenes. Character backgrounds and controversy between Dredd and Ma-Ma, or relationship between Anderson and Dredd could had been built up with more time and care. Now it feels a bit too much like characters are thrown into middle of action without really building up their backgrounds. But, action itself can hold it's own. I give Dredd that much.

3D technology was taken into consideration quite nicely, and several scenes of the movie were obviously made with the technology in mind. While in most scenes 3D visuals were easily recognisable, there were many of the scenes where they really stood out nicely. All the "slow-motion" sequences with 3D technology looked great, like breaking glass in slow-motion and such. Dredd mixed nicely bit more old-school style closeup shots rather than isometric, with fine usage of 3D visuals.

Acting in the movie was decent but nothing too memorable. Karl Urban, also known of Doom (the movie), plays Dredd, well, averagely. He does his job of filling up the actor's shoes for the main character but never really stands out. And since he's wearing the mask all the time, there's no much emotion to be seen of him at any point anyway. He's a bit like Stallone in Dredd, but just not as funny, though he comes close in toughness. Olivia Thirlby also does decent job as rookie Cassandra Anderson with psychic skills, and looks quite pretty too. Little complaint goes for Lena Headey as Ma-Ma. She isn't close as tough main anti-hero that this movie would had needed. She looks more like an "emo-girl" than a tough drug lord and remains totally unmemorable.


Overall, Dredd 3D is quite average action movie. Plot doesn't give much joy, but doesn't really stink either. It's just there so that we can have a bit of action. Action? Well action sequences are enjoyable and violent, driving force of this movie. 3D technology is used well and scenes that take most out of the technology are enjoyable to watch even in home theater with your own 3D television. Nothing too spectacular, but enjoyable addition to Dredd nevertheless. Actors remain bit faceless throughout the movie but do decent job, except forgettable Headey as Ma-Ma. As negative thing there's not enough emphasize on character backgrounds and relationships. The movie feels a bit like one very long action sequence (no plot diversity, but is it bad?). Also bit more rough/dark comedy would had been nice addition in my opinion. One more thing that I didn't discuss yet is that the movie is a bit short, only 95minutes, but then again what would you expect from a bit thin plot?

A modern era action-movie which nods slightly towards more old-school action films in terms of filming-style and adds some scenes designed for 3D era on top of that. Dredd is fun to watch once if you don't set your hopes too high, and bit of a brainless violent action in this futuristic slum-shooter is enough to satisfy your adrenaline needs for an evening. Don't expect too memorable one-liners and scenes though.

The Good

  • Brutal action and violence
  • Filming style fits well
  • 3D visuals are nice when used

The Bad

  • Too thin plot and it's build-up
  • Headey as Ma-Ma
  • A bit short
  • Bit repetitive scenes and locations (Peach Trees)

5 Bullets out of 10

("about average, enjoyable for what it is")
Buy DREDD 3D as Blu-Ray+DVD disc from

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