• Future Shock! The Story Of 2000 A.D.



    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: May 30th, 2017.
    Director: Paul Goodwin
    Cast: Dan Abnett, Geoff Barrow, Emma Beeby, Pat Mills, Brian Bolland
    Year: 2016
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Paul Goodwin’s examination of Britain’s (in)famous weekly comic book anthology 2000 A.D. is an overdue examination not only of the periodical’s history but also of its fairly massive influence what comic books would soon become on the other side of the Atlantic. It all started when publisher IPC asked writer/editor to come up with a title that could cash in on the science fiction craze that was sweeping through theaters in the mid-seventies. Mills was game, and 2000 A.D. was born, complete with an alien host named Tharg on board to provide intros and tell short stories.

    Against the odds, the title was a hit. Infused with a punk rock spirit of sorts and not afraid to wag its four color finger at the establishment, 2000 A.D. not only started to find a sizeable audience, but it also started to attract an interesting array of talent. Of course, the book is best known as the birthplace of Judge Dredd, the iconic lawman who appeared early in the book’s history thanks to the efforts of John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra. While it’s impossible to talk about 2000 A.D. without talking about Dredd, the documentary is careful not to spend too much time or put too much emphasis on the character (whose legacy could easily fill a documentary of its own). This proves to be the right move, as it allows Future Shock! to also cover notable characters like Strontium Dog, Bad Company, Slaine, Rogue Trooper and others.

    The bulk of the movie’s running time is made up of interviews with those who worked on the comic over the years. Mills often dominates things, which makes sense given that he helped start it all and remains involved with it to this day, but also on hand are some genuinely legendary creators like Neil Gaiman, Alan Grant, John Wagner, Grant Morrison, Dave Gibbons, Geoff Barrow, Bryan Talbot, D’Isreali, Kevin O’Neill, Brian Bolland, Carlos Ezquerra, Gary Erskine, Andy Diggle, Alex Garland, Jock, Cam Kennedy and quite a few others. There’s also discussion towards the latter half of the documentary how the book started off as a bit of a boy’s club but eventually started bringing on equally talented female creators like Emma Beeby and Leah Moore. Anthrax’s Scott Ian shows up here too, to talk about how obviously Judge Dredd was a bit deal to that band in the eighties when they wrote a song about him (I Am The Law off of the Among The Living album).

    Interestingly enough, the film goes into a fair bit of detail about how 2000 A.D. almost wound up being a training ground of sorts for D.C./Vertigo in the eighties and into the nineties, starting when they convinced Alan Moore to cross the pond and write Swamp Thing. Editor Karen Berger is on camera to talk about how 2000 A.D. influenced their line and how they wound up getting writers like Gaiman to do Sandman, Milligan to do Shade The Changing Man and Morrison to do The Invisibles. This gets away from the core of 2000 A.D.’s history a bit but it’s an important part of their past and a really strong way to point out to some who may not be familiar with the book just how wide reaching its influence was at one point in time. There’s also a good bit of discussion here about how the book influenced creator’s rights and getting proper credit not just in the initial run, but in the inevitable reprints of the publication’s massive back catalogue as well.

    Along the way we get a feel for the personalities of the creators and learn the stories of how they came to be involved with the book, their thoughts on some of the work that they churned out at a fairly ridiculous pace and how they feel about the experience looking back on things. There’s talk here of how at one point the book was being looked at by new publisher Fleetway more as a breeding ground for movie ideas than a proper comic book and we definitely get the impression that things weren’t always super rosey, but overall, at least amongst some of the participants, there’s a definite sense of camaraderie and accomplishment that comes through here – and rightly so.

    The interviews are complemented nicely by plenty of behind the scenes photos and loads of awesome artwork taken from scores of different 2000 A.D. stories. It’s well edited, moves at a quick pace and consistently interesting from start to finish. All in all, this is really well done – definitely worth a watch.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Severin presents Future Shock on a 50GB Blu-ray disc in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.78.1 widescreen. The feature makes quite a bit of use of various archival clips and photographs, some of which are a bit worse for wear. The newly shot footage, however, is as crisp, clean and colorful as you could hope for. No problems here. You can’t make the various sources that the clips were culled from look better than they are and the actual documentary footage is just fine.

    The English language LPCM Stereo track sounds just fine. There’s good left/right channel separation here, mainly with some occasional effects and the score, while the dialogue – the main focus of the feature – stays clean, clear and easily discernible. No problems with any hiss or distortion to note and the levels are nicely balanced. Optional English subtitles are provided.

    The bulk of the extra are separated into four sections, starting with the Extended Sequences area. In here we find a fifteen minute piece called ‘2000 A.D. vs The U.S.A.’ which delves a bit deeper into the series’ influence on the modern day American comic book landscape. Also on hand is ‘Dredd 2012 - True In Spirit’ at thirteen minutes and ‘Judge Dredd Extended Sequence’ at fourteen minutes, two segments that lend further insight into the comics’ longest running and most recognizable character and the efforts to bring him to the big screen. The last piece in this section is ‘Cheap Entertainment - The Appeal Of Comics,’ a nine minute bit that, as the title implies, lets some of the interviewees from the feature talk about the low cost entertainment comics have provided over the years.

    In the Behind The Strips section we get to look a bit more at the characters that have long populated the pages of 2000 A.D., starting with a three minute bit with Peter Milligan talking about his long running ‘Bad Company’ strip. From there, we get eight minutes on the iconic ‘Future Shocks’ shorts that have run in the magazine over the years, a seven and a half minute interview about the origins and longevity of ‘Rogue Trooper’ thanks to creators Dave Gibbons and Cam Kennedy, eleven minutes on the books infamous ‘Slaine’ with writer Pat Mills and last but not least, five minutes on ‘Strontium Dog’ and is merry cast of mutant cohorts with co-creator/artist Carlos Ezquerra.

    The Production Extras section starts off with a four minute ‘Art Blast’ piece where we get a better look at the contributions of pencillers Jock and Henry Flint, alongside a two minute blooper reel, the documentary’s original UK release trailer and a festival teaser trailer. There’s also a six minute piece called ‘Pat Mills Visits Kings Reach Tower’ (now the South Bank Tower but in the seventies it was portrayed as home to Tharg!) and four minutes of info that takes us behind the scenes of the documentary’s soundtrack.

    Last but not least, in the Extended Interviews section we get just that – extended versions of the interviews that make up such a big part of the feature’s running time. In here we get a wopping thirty-four minutes with the always eccentric Grant Morrison, thirty-five minutes with one time Vertigo editor Karen Berger, more than eighty-seven minutes of unedited insight from the fountain of 2000 A.D. knowledge that is Pat Mills, just short of eighteen minutes with Neil Gaiman and not to be outdone, almost forty-nine minutes with Dave Gibbons. Lots of interesting stuff in here if you couldn’t get enough of it from the main attraction.

    Menus and chapter selection are also included.

    The Final Word:

    Future Shock! The Story of 2000 A.D. will appeal first and foremost to comic book fans but even if you don’t fall into that crowd, if you’ve got even a passing interesting in pop culture in general you’ll probably get quite a bit out of this. While the focus is on the creators more than their creations, there’s a wealth of behind the scenes info here and the end result is both engaging and entertaining. Severin’s Blu-ray release is top notch. It looks and sounds great and it’s loaded with extras. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!























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