Documentary

Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD (2014)

Comments Off on Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD (2014) 12 October 2017

futureshockBLU

Blu-ray Distributed By: Severin Film

Initial Release: September 21, 2014

Blu-ray Release: May 30, 2017

Director: Paul Goodwin

Rating: UnRated

Reviewed By James M. Dubs

I’ll watch anything…including Future Shock! The Story of 2000Ad.

As I sit here, contemplating on what to write, I glance across my desk and see my 7-year-old son playing on our Nintendo Switch. He’s playing Lego City Undercover. It’s a favorite of ours. Although I feel a little guilty for shoving the time-waster under his nose, it affords me time to write this review.

When he tires of the game, he will move onto his other favorite past-time; writing and drawing his comic book. Yes, at 7 he’s already written many comic book stories. We keep a stack of them in an arts basket at home. Many of them tell the story of the superhero Zouberman who gains strength from power crystals. Zouberman uses his power for good against the evils of villains like Big-Fist, Zayniac, The Witch, or Beep-Boop (an evil robot). His drawings are incredibly crude, but his imagination and ideas have zero limits.

“Zero limits” is a phrase I would also use to describe the men (and later women) of 2000AD. They too had no limits; breaking rules, blowing minds, and pissing off a lot of people in the process. They were the punk rock of comics and Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD is their story, finally being told to the mainstream masses.

Film Rating: ★★★★☆

In the late 70s, when Action! Comics became the target of a movement to control moral decency in Britain, it didn’t take long for the comic to get shut down. Pat Mills, who was working on Action!, pivoted and gave birth to 2000AD. Like other great science fiction, 2000AD could mask their hard edge, ultra-violent, satirical stories behind alien analogies and other topics technically not of this world.

The “establishment” wasn’t stupid and knew exactly what Mills was up to but had a harder time banning a science fiction comic. As Mills recalls with a bit of glee, a writer from The Guardian called Mills to interview him about an issue in which an alien race of “Volgans” assassinates Margaret Thatcher. The reporter pressed Mills to admit that Volgans were actually Russians. Mills never admits to the claim even though the similarities are painfully obvious.

Of course, what Mills was really doing was offering a big “fuck you” to his enemies and critics while entertaining the young male readership in the process. It was a way for the writers to be topical, relevant, and vent their political viewpoints in a creative and constructive way. If there hadn’t been a force against these guys, it’s likely that 2000AD wouldn’t have been so hellbent on being dangerous and rebellious.

When the writers and artists weren’t fighting the “establishment” outside of their walls, they were fighting the one within. One section of the film describes how incredibly shitty they were treated. The stories and art were not considered valuable. Many of the veteran artists tell stories of original art being used as rain mats. If that weren’t insulting enough, many writers couldn’t cash their checks unless they signed away all rights to their characters and stories.

One of those characters was Judge Dredd. I’ll admit, (much to the chagrin, shock, and horror of ardent comic book readers) prior to this documentary my knowledge of 2000AD was non-existent. Like many, many American’s, if it weren’t for the character of Judge Dredd, I would have zero cultural connection to 2000AD or this documentary. If not for the 2012’s Dreddstarring Karl Urban, or even 1995’s Judge Dredd, starring Sylvester Stallone, I’d venture to guess this to be true for most American’s.

The film does its due diligence in covering their most popular character. But Dredd isn’t their only property (duh!). But it begs the question, why has 2000AD, and characters like Dredd or Halo Jones, failed to breakthrough into more “mainstream” American consciousness like Spider-Man or Batman?

As Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD further explores, 2000AD and the writers that came from their ranks, have had more impact and significance on American comics than you might realize. But how much influence? Well, I don’t want to spoil the entire documentary for you.

The strength of Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD is in its ability to toe the line between appealing to comic book aficionados and the layman (myself). Fans will surely recognize the entire cast and enjoy their brash stories and unedited opinions of the brand and each other. For non-comic viewers, there is a broader story being told through the narrative. The filmmakers do a great job of introducing the genesis of the comic, guiding us through its more tumultuous times, and delivering us to its most current incarnation and cultural impact.

The film isn’t perfect. There are a few key people absent from the story. Most notably is the absence of Mark Millar (Kick-Ass, Kingsman: The Secret Service) and Alan Moore (Watchmen, Halo Jones, Batman: The Killing Joke). Moore is especially missed as someone who could have filled in some large historical holes, but his colleagues, Neil Gaiman chief among them, do well enough closing the gaps.

It’s a very entertaining documentary about a small, and mostly unexplored, corner of our entertainment history. It’s not rated and, unfortunately for my 7-year-old, it’s not appropriate for younger audiences due to very strong language. When he’s a bit older he will get my strong recommendation to check this one out.

Video & Audio Rating: ★★★★☆

Based on the screenshots here, you should get a very good sense of the clarity, color, and detail from Severin Films release of Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD. Most of the film is a series of talking head interviews inter cut with stock photos, comic cells, and the most amazing animated sequences. The animated opening title sequence, with its heavy drumbeat and hard metal guitar riff, Should get anyone’s heart pumping and foot stomping. The English 2.0 stereo mix is simple and serviceable during interviews, but really pumps when the music kicks in.

Extras Rating: ★★★★☆

  • EXTENDED SEQUENCES
    • 2000AD vs the USA
    • Dredd 2012 – True In Spirit
    • Judge Dredd Extended sequence
    • Cheap Entertainment – The appeal of comics
  • BEHIND THE STRIPS
    • Bad Company – Peter Milligan
    • Future Shocks
    • Rogue Trooper – Dave Gibbons & Cam Kennedy
    • Slaine – Pat Mills
    • Strontium Dog – Carlos Ezquerra
  • PRODUCTION EXTRAS
    • Art Blast – Jock & Henry Flint
    • Blooper Reel
    • Pat Mills Visits Kings Reach Tower
    • Soundtrack – Behind the Scenes
    • Festival Teaser Trailer
    • UK Release Trailer
  • EXTENDED INTERVIEWS
    • Grant Morrison
    • Karen Berger
    • Pat Mills
    • Neil Gaiman
    • Dave Gibbons

I’ve detailed the disc’s extras above. I’m not going to waste time telling you about all of them. I’ve only barely scratched the surface of the goodies myself. But let me tell you, there are A LOT of goodies! I have managed to watch a few of the extended interviews and they are just as interesting as the main narrative. It’s clear the filmmakers had a hell of a job trying to cut down so much information into a serviceable film. Unlike many releases that have “behind the scenes” electronic press kits that do nothing more than regurgitate the plot points, the additional bits served up in Severin Films release act as true supplements to further enhance the overall experience.

If I have one minor gripe it is the lack of an audio commentary track from the filmmakers. It’s a very small gripe, but I would love to have more more input from the people behind the film.

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Shows like AMCs The Walking Dead have helped in breaking down walls between general entertainment and adult themed comic book stories. Adults take comics much more seriously today than our parents ever did. This bodes well for my 7-year-old who may one day want to work in the industry.

Of course, ardent comic book readers have been taking these stories seriously for some time. And Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD also takes it seriously and gives those behind the magazine a vehicle to educate the rest of us. 2000AD fans will probably be insulted that I didn’t know about the magazine prior to this film. The film makes an airtight case that we wouldn’t have the darker, more contemporary versions of Batman without 2000AD. Or may never have seen books like Watchmen. Considering that, I can see their point of view. As an ignorant comic collector, Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD gives viewers like me a deeper appreciation of the work and impact of the magazine.

Author

- who has written 67 posts on UnRated Film Review Magazine | Movie Reviews, Interviews.

James Dubs is a father and husband who loves his family first and movies a close second. He believes every movie is worth watching once and, as a film fan and critic, believes that even the worst movies offer something in return. His mission is to watch anything and report without pretension. Follow James Dubs on Twitter and send him suggestions on movies you would like reviewed - popular, obscure, independent, etc. He'll watch anything for you.

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