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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

FUTURE SHOCK! THE STORY OF 2000AD -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle

The thing about "talking heads" documentaries is that you really have to be interested in the subject for it to work.  Although I'm a lifelong fan of older comics (the Bronze Age is pretty much my cut-off point), I never saw an issue of "2000AD" and so must depend on a compelling story and presentation for the documentary FUTURE SHOCK! THE STORY OF 2000AD (Severin Films, 2014) to be of any interest to me. 

Unfortunately, I found it to be bland at best.  One talking head after another take turns expounding on various aspects of the comic's history ranging from drawing and writing concerns, which I found somewhat diverting, to business and technical stuff that tends to veer into snooze territory.

These interview segments are augmented, rather sparsely, by snatches of artwork from the comic itself as well as clips of various movie projects inspired by it.  While this may suffice for viewers who are longtime "2000AD" readers, others will likely find themselves wishing for a more dynamic presentation. 

The comic itself, we learn, is a weekly sci-fi anthology created in the late 70s and featuring groundbreaking artwork and stories that challenge the social and political norms of its British audience with such characters as Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper, Strontium Dog, Halo Jones, and the ABC Warriors.  Management and staff have changed over the years amidst much internal strife which we hear about at length, mainly from outspoken co-creator Pat Mills. 

Mills, in fact, is the film's key figure and whether you find him fascinating or insufferable will be a major factor in your reaction to FUTURE SHOCK!  He is, if anything, passionate about his baby--to hear him and his colleagues tell it, "2000AD" was the genesis of almost every major fad and/or movement in both sci-fi comics and films from the 70s onward. 

To an extent this is hardly deniable, as we're shown how the comic's main character, Judge Dredd, was a virtual blueprint for ROBOCOP, and the way Richard Stanley's cult classic HARDWARE seems to have "borrowed" much of its plot from one of their stories. 

Mills waxes especially resentful when recounting how the comic eventually became a jumping off point for British artists and writers hoping to get on at the big American companies such as DC and Marvel. And some of the talent we hear from definitely regard this as a dream come true, even though some claim eventual disenchantment. 

This leads to the usual chest-swelling by Mills and others about British superiority in comics, movies, and pretty much everything else, which I found off-putting--these guys don't realize how full of themselves they sound when complaining about how full of themselves Americans can be.

Also a bit heavy-handed are the nods toward social justice, of which they fancy themselves anti-establishment crusaders, and the inevitable charges by aspiring female comics artists that "2000AD" is a "boys' club." Which, quite understandably, it is.

The documentary picks up some steam in the second half when we learn about a new "Judge Dredd" movie with Karl Urban which seems poised to wipe away the memory of the earlier Sylvester Stallone travesty. 

Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Brian Bolland and Mike McMahon are among those chiming in during interview segments, as well as members of such heavy metal bands as Anthrax who have been influenced by the comic over the years. 

The Blu-ray from Severin Films is in 1080p full HD resolution with English 2.0 sound and subtitles.  Bonus features consist of:

2000AD vs the USA
Dredd 2012 – True In Spirit
Judge Dredd Extended sequence
Cheap Entertainment – The appeal of comics

Bad Company – Peter Milligan
Future Shocks
Rogue Trooper – Dave Gibbons & Cam Kennedy
Slaine – Pat Mills
Strontium Dog – Carlos Ezquerra

Art Blast – Jock & Henry Flint
Blooper Reel
Pat Mills Visits Kings Reach Tower
Soundtrack – Behind the Scenes
Festival Teaser Trailer
UK Release Trailer

Grant Morrison
Karen Berger
Pat Mills
Neil Gaiman
Dave Gibbons

Without the bonus supplements, we learn surprisingly little about what actually makes "2000AD" such a great comic save for passing glimpses of artwork and dialogue, and much about the behind-the-scenes business and personal conflicts.  This will be of interest to the comic's most ardent fans, but for me, watching FUTURE SHOCK! THE STORY OF 2000AD was a little like attending a lecture that I knew I'd be graded on later. 

Buy it at Severin Films

Release date: May 30, 2017


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