As a gritty, grimy and very bloody dystopian sci-fi movie, Dredd is a little bit of a weird choice for 3D, which usually accompanies children's films or the kinds of adventures that are supposed to sweep you away to another world, not disturb you to your core. When a movie is very deliberately aiming to be a midnight madness kind of thing, is 3D really going to enhance it?
That's what we aim to figure out with this, the latest installment of our To 3D or not to 3D series. Before you go see Dredd this weekend, look at our point-by-point breakdown of the movie's 3D effects, to figure out whether or not it's worth that extra ticket cost. This isn't a review of the movie itself-- you can go here for that-- but instead an impartial guide to help you make the most of your cash at the movies this weekend.
Is 3D A Fit?
On one level, Dredd doesn't make all that much sense for 3D at all, a gritty action movie with limited CGI effects and an aesthetic that's deliberately trying to echo grindhouse classics from the past-- not at all what you associate with shiny, modern 3D. But then director Pete Travis introduces "slo-mo" and the 3D comes into focus; there are many scenes in the film slowed down to a crawl to emphasize the effects of a drug called Slo-Mo, and the amount of things flying through the air in those moments merit the 3D more than you might expect.
Fit Score: 4/5
Advance Planning and Effort
Shot with the RED digital 3D camera, the same one used for Resident Evil: Retribution, Dredd was clearly planned with 3D in mind from the very start, and you have to imagine that was part of why they included so many elaborate 3D sequences. Josh dinged Resident Evil for using the RED instead of fancier 3D setups, but the RED is a perfectly strong camera, and Travis's decision to shoot in 3D alone is worthy enough to a perfect score here.
P&E Score: 5/5
Beyond The Window
This is the category where we usually get to praise 3D movies set on a giant scale, where the added dimension can make it feel like you're looking through a window into an expansive world beyond-- you know, like with big landscapes or epic battle scenes. But Dredd, aside from a few establishing shots across the bombed-out Mega City One, is located almost entirely in a contained space, and just never has that sense of depth. There are a few moments of impressive depth, largely in scenes when a character is falling from a great height, but Dredd is much more invested in feeling contained, and they rarely take advantage of this really impressive ability of 3D.
Beyond the Window Score: 2/5
Before The Window
The thing people usually think of when they think of 3D-- when objects or people or fireballs fly out of the screen at you-- is what we call "before the window," where everything pops out into your own space a bit. This is where Dredd's 3D is most lacking, and it's not for lack of trying; in the slo-mo scenes there are frequently things like water or blood or even dust flying around in front of the camera, and you'd expect them to feel a little removed from the surface of the screen, but they're not. I'm not sure if this is just a limit of shooting everything practically-- maybe you need CGI water droplets to make them really come at you?-- or Travis wanting to make the 3D not quite so gimmicky, but it feels like a real loss with so many slo-mo scenes just emphasizing what's not coming at you.
Before the Window Score: 1/5
3D glasses aren't all that different from sunglasses (though, please, never try to wear them as if they actually are sunglasses). You put them over your eyes and they make everything darker, which can be a real challenge for a movie that's either not compensating for that, or a projector not set up for 3D properly. Even though a lot of Dredd takes place in the dark-- there's literally a shield above the building blocking out all the sun-- the brightness is never an issue here. Looks like shooting in 3D also helped them avoid the many pitfalls that can come with it.
Brightness Score: 5/5
The Glasses Off Test
This isn't so much a test of whether the 3D is good as how "much" 3D there is-- if you take off your glasses in a scene, the more blur you see, the more the images are likely to pop when you put the glasses back on. Dredd is a gritty movie that, even in the flashy sci-fi scenes, isn't all that interested in going overboard with the 3D. Though there's a subtle blur in pretty much every scene, taking off your glasses will make it clear how different this is from the more extreme 3D films-- the blur is barely a factor, and the 3D barely is too.
Glasses Off Test: 2/5
Bad 3D can induce nausea, whether because the various planes of action don't match up or the simple fact of straining your eyes through 3D glasses makes your head hurt. The 3D in Dredd has so little impact that it's not really a problem, but beware of everything else in the movie-- there's a lot of blood and a lot of intense slo-mo sequences, which may turn your stomach for reasons that have nothing to do with the 3D .
Health Score: 4/5
Final Verdict: From the premise alone you'd have no idea why Dredd would be in 3D-- it's a down-to-the-ground, dirty and bloody action movie with no time for 3D gimmicks. The slo-mo sequences at least make you understand why they wanted to use 3D, but the technology still isn't used nearly as well as it could have been. If 3D is your only option, know that it's not bad enough to actually ruin the movie. But if you've got the 2D option, go for that and save yourself the cash.
Will you see Dredd in 2D or 3D?
For more 3D analysis, visit our To 3D Or Not To 3D archive right here.