Dredd (2012) | 4K Blu-ray Review

Ripped from the pages of 2000 AD comes a dark gritty take on a dystopian, drug-fueled future. 2012’s Dredd finds Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby take on the roles of Judges Dredd and Anderson. Finding themselves out-gunned, out-manned and unable to call for help, the two Judges must enforce the law as they look to take down the leader and drug kingpin of the Ma-ma gang in the a megastructure housing thousands of individuals, many of whom are innocent, but many of others who will do anything to stay on the good side of the most violent gang in the city.

If after checking out the review, you decide to pick it up, you can find it here*: Amazon

Tech Specs:

Format(s):UltraHD/4K Blu-ray (BD-66)
Blu-ray/3D Blu-ray (BD-50)
Digital Copy
Released By:Lionsgate
Release Date:June 6th, 2017
Video Format / Codec:4K: H.265 (HEVC)
Upscaled 4K, 2160/24p 
(3280 x 2160 at 23.976 frames/sec, progressive)

Full HD, 1080/24p 
(1920 x 1080 at 23.976 frames/sec, progressive)
Digital Intermediate (DI):2K from digital RAW
High-Dynamic Range (HDR):HDR10
Aspect Ratio:2.39:1
Audio Format(s):English (4K): Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
English (BR): DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (optimized for Neo:X 11.1)

Additional audio tracks also available in English, Spanish, French
Subtitles:English, English SDH, Spanish
Packaging:Dual disc case with slipcover*

* Slipcover may only be available on initial pressing
Region Coding:4K: Region-free
BR: Region A

Video Review:

Focusing first on the 4K disc, the video quality of Dredd is often masked by the dystopian, drug-fueled environment that plays home to its plot. While shot digitally there is a heavy layer of grain added to the footage. While folks who dislike grain  may find this distracting, it serves to enhance the dark, rough and gritty world presented in the film. Looking through the grain, the team at Lionsgate did a great job upscaling the 2K DI to bring finer details to life. 

For colors, the 4K version sports an HDR10 enhanced color palette. While much of the scenes are dark and gray, the vibrant colors of the hallucinogenic scenes presented through the eyes of the drug users, really come to life. The specular highlights give a shimmer and surreal pop to each of these scenes. Interestingly, I will note that during a couple of explosion scenes where one would expect blindly bright lights and detailed flames,, there was definitely a loss of detail in the colors of the flames themselves. I also did not find the flames overly bright, which was notable given how punchy most other HDR movies get with their bright explosions.While many of the effects in this movie were CGI, I am not sure if this is due to the resulting upscale, or in the render. I will say that unless you are actively looking for these details, it is unlikely to impact your viewing experience.

The blu-ray disc on its own is good, but I would say definitely suffers from issues more related to color and black levels than a lack of detail. Side by side with the 4K disc, the blu-ray is much brighter. Shadow levels appear much more gray and washed out by comparison, and the overall colors, especially during the drug fueled views are much less vibrant. Having seen the 1080p version of this film prior to the 4K, this was true as part of the initial assessment, and was only solidified when compared to the much more engaging 4K version.

Note: While there is a 3D version found on the disc (which is barely advertised on the packaging), we generally do not focus on the 3D version due to a lack of equipment to properly review such content.

Video Score (4K): 4.5 / 5

Video Score (BR): 3.9 / 5

Audio Review:

Both the 4K and the standard BR boast stand out audio tracks. The 4K disc comes with an amped up Dolby Atmos track that really compliments the movie well. The sound of bullets whizzing around your head and usage of the overhead channels to appropriately reflect the sound of the action taking place inside the cavernous atrium of the megastructure. A stand out scene to highlight the quality of this track takes place half way through the movie, where Dredd and Anderson are caught in a barrage of gunfire from 3 Gatling guns firing incendiary tracers rounds. The amount of bullets rushing around the room as the two Judges make their way through the surrounding hallways is impressive. Upon escape by jumping down to an outside terrace of the building is highlighted but the sound of crackling of fire, and ambient yelling coming from the rear height channels.

The Blu-ray track, while not in Atmos, is a strong 7.1 mix via an DTS-HD MA track that has been optimized for DTS’ Neo:X upmixer. The upmix is just shy of the true Atmos, but I would imagine not many could discern the difference.

The bass of both tracks is punchy and present. While it digs fairly deep at a couple of points in the movie, I found it to be appropriate to boost the experience but not so strong that it is distracting to the viewing experience. I think the track will please both bass-heads and not, alike. I do feel like there were a couple of explosions in the film which should have hit harder and deeper, but overall I was pleased.

Audio Score (4K): 4.4 / 5

Audio Score (BR): 4.2 / 5

Special Features and Packaging:

The special features are spread across both discs in this package with a couple being found on the 4K disc and the rest found on the Blu-ray, but none are actually in 4K. The features include a couple of 15-minute featurettes (one focusing on the history of Dredd in the comics, and the other on the VFX, including the use of Phantom cameras for the slo-mo scenes). The rest of the features include a couple of brief (by brief I mean a couple of minutes) featurettes and the trailer. What’s notably missing is any sort of commentary track. On the whole the features are underwhelming in their quality and depth, but for fans, it was nice they were included.

For packaging, the original pressing did come with a slipcover that matches the same art that’s on the case. Later pressings (including my version) did not come with the slipcover.

Features Score: 3.5 / 5


OK, so you either own the blu-ray or are considering buying this movie for the first time. Which do you get/keep?

For me, given the darkness of this movie and the inclusion of the hallucinogen infused scenes, there is a strong argument to picking up the 4K/BR package. Not only do you get the better color presentation of the 4K HDR version of the film, but if you are equipped, you also get to see the movie in 3D which I can imagine just shines on a few scenes in this film. Given the current pricing of this release, it’s worth the extra bucks for a much improved 4K version and still getting the blu-ray.

Now if you are not 4K ready, but plan to be, I would still recommend picking this up. If you are planning on never going to 4K (then aside from us not being able to be friends…kidding) then you will be happy with the blu-ray, but it does have its faults when it comes to color.

Buy/Upgrade Recommendation: Yes.

Editor’s Note: The Universum Film release in Germany received Dolby Vision grading, however only comes with a 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio track. Based on the reviews of the release, the Lionsgate version is the better buy.

If after checking out the review, you decide to pick it up, you can find it here*: Amazon

Summary and Overall Scores:

Lionsgate has put together a solid package in this release. The 4K version, in my opinion, is the way to watch this film, due mostly to the strong usage of HDR to support the dark gritty feel and an Atmos track which squeaks out a win over the blu-ray track (but the latter is still a good one). Special features and packaging are OK, but certainly will not be memorable.

Experience Score**: 4.1 / 5 

** Release score does not take into account the quality of the film itself, just the technical presentation, packaging and included features.

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