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Posts Tagged ‘2000 AD’

Heather over at Man I Love Films has published a list of her “TOP TEN FAVORITE POST-APOCALYPTIC MOVIES” I started replying but soon realised it was just a list of other movies that I would recommend, so I decided to post my own alternate list instead. As an alternate list I have avoided all the films heather chose, The Mad Max Trilogy, 28 Days Later, 12 Monkeys, Children of Men would all have made my list. Escape From New York may have made the list and Reign of Fire would have been worthy of an honourable mention. As anyone who listens to Wittertainment (if you don’t know what Wittertainment is google it) knows, Post Apocalyptic is an oxymoron as there is no “post apocalypse”, after an apocalypse there is nothing! So putting that cheery prospect aside we will continue to use the term Post Apocalyptic as it is the accepted name of this sub genre.

Planet of the Apes (1968) Everyone knows all about Planet of the Apes, most people have seen at least one of the movies and many know the twist at the end, but go back and watch it again and remind yourself just how great it is.

Death Race 2000 (1975) I saw this movie when I was very young, too young! I loved it at the time but didn’t really get it. Following a financial crisis and a military coup United States has become a fascist police state. The most popular sport is the Annual Transcontinental Road Race, a race where drivers score points for killing pedestrians as they race from coast to coast. The acting is terrible and the production cheep, but it has aged surprisingly thanks to a simple subtext that makes it an effective political satire.

Dawn of the Dead (1978) Heather favours the 2004 remake that I must admit I like but the original is my all time favourite Zombie movie. At its heart it is a clever satire and allegory of modern consumer society but forgetting that its just a great horror movie.

Hardware (1990) Written and directed by Richard Stanley and based on a short (7-page) comic strip called SHOK published in 2000 AD by Steve MacManus and Kevin O’Neill. Set in a dystopian world ravaged by war, the population is living of the scraps of the dead and decaying civilisation. A soldier retuning home for the Christmas cease-fire, gives the head of a long destroyed robot to his sculptor girlfriend, before long it begins to reassembles itself the body count begins to rise. There is an inherent honesty in the low budget simplicity of the movie that is as sumptuous in its grime and bleakness as it is in its sense of desperation.

Delicatessen (1991) Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s feature début is set in a strange retro post apocalyptic France. A bizarre little film about a butcher and landlord who finds an interesting and cannibalistic way of feeding his customers. Like so many films of the genre, it is about a fight for survival, but in this case its on a smaller and more intimate scale.

The Matrix (1999) One of Heaters honourable mentions but deserving a place on my list as a hugely influential film and one of the best films of the 90’s. A lot of The Matrix is set within “The Matrix” so it is easy to forget the real world scenes onboard the Nebuchadnezzar. Like The terminator movies the glossy Sci-Fi is enhanced by the grim reality of the dystopian future. 

Doomsday (2008) Doomsday is a bit of a mess of a movie but it such a good fun mess it really doesn’t matter. Made up of multiple set pieces including shootouts, car chases and sword fights (inspired by movies as varied as Escape from New York, Aliens, Mad Max 2 & 3 and Gladiator) the final result is a little disjointed but each element is extremely well made. At the heart of the story and holing it all together is Rhona Mitra in her best role to date as a sort of female Snake Plissken. Think of it as a more polished and high quality take on a Enzo G. Castellari style movie. It actually gets better each time I watch it. 

The Road (2009) Post Apocalyptic movies are often gung-ho survival of the fittest stories in the new world order, The Road is very different. A melancholic and chilling story of a world dying with a whimper told through a grim and gritty story of a farther and sons fight to survive. It sounds depressing but it strangely isn’t.

Stake Land (2010) Thanks to a certain franchise of sparkly, vegetarian, teenage vampires the genre has taken a bit of a beating in recent years, Stake Land redresses the balance with the style, brutality and themes of a zombie film except with vampires. Like many great genre movies it is enhanced by a strong subtext, reflecting the time it was made, the tone of the movie is bleak but with a small but vital glimmer of hope, in other words a reflection of the world today.

Perfect Sense (2011) Like the road Perfect Sense tells a story of society going out with a whimper and not a bang. Starting with taste, people start losing their senses. Concentrating on a chef and a scientist (Ewan McGregor and Eva Green) who fall in love as the epidemic unfolds it could have been soppy, disjointed and depressing, it isn’t.

Here are a few more movies that are set in Post Apocalyptic future that are worth a look: Monsters, Zombieland, The Hunger Games, The Book of Eli, A Boy and His Dog, Night of the Comet. And don’t forget The Terminator and Terminator 2, set in the present day but featuring characters who have travelled back in time from a post apocalypse future. There are also a lot of films set in a dystopian future that probably don’t fit the Post Apocalyptic tag, they include: Metropolis, Brazil, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Rollerball, Eraserhead, The City of Lost Children.

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Dredd 3D V Judge Dredd “I’ll Be the Judge of that”

Judge Dredd first appeared in the British science fiction comic book 2000 AD in 1977. In 1995 he made his first screen appearance in the movie Judge Dredd starring Sylvester Stallone. This was the first mistake, in casting a megastar Dredd spent most of the movie without his helmet, Dredd’s face has never been seen in the comic book. They could have got away with this given a great script, unfortunately they didn’t have one. The story wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t very Dredd and it played things too funny and camp. Again they may have gotten away with this, but Rob Schneider as a sidekick was the movies final proverbial nail. Diane Lane, Armand Assante and Max von Sydow provide good support but this is a drop in the ocean in comparison to all the films problems. So how does this new version compare? Surprisingly well.

Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is assigned to train and evaluate Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), a rookie judge who may not be cut out for the job but is being given a chance because of her unprecedented psychic abilities. The pair attend a triple homicide at “Peach Trees” a 200-story slum tower block (essentially a small town/city within a single tower block) controlled by ruthless drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). When they become trapped in the building the judges suddenly have more to contend with than just the assessment as they have to fight for survival.

The beauty and dare I say it the brilliance of the movie is its simplicity. Sylvester Stallone’s Judge Dredd went through an epic story with a large but ultimately uncharacteristic character arc. The development of the character as portrayed by Karl Urban is tiny and only exists as a reaction to Anderson whose character is constantly developing and evolving throughout the movie. Judge Dredd had a budget of around $90million (around $135million adjusted for inflation) the new movie was made for a more modest $45 million. With financial constraints come artistic solutions. Dredd does this by confining the plot to a single tower block, think more The Raid (2011) than Die Hard (1988), and like these two movies it is set over a single day (and night). As a day in the life tale, the events are more significant to Anderson than to Dredd who is portrayed as an established character. The casting is good, with Karl Urban (or at least his chin) making a convincing Dredd. Olivia Thirlby and Lena Headey are also good. The rest of the cast is as disposable and insignificant as you would expect in a movie like this. Written by Alex Garland who is a self-confessed fan of the comic book and has ideas in place for a trilogy based on existing 2000 AD Dredd stories. As well as a striking look the production and costume design make for a more believable movie universe that the first film. Only enough information about the city and the judges is explained for the plot to make sense leaving the viewer wanting to know more.

It has its problems, the 3D is jus as pointless as you would expect it to be. The film is really well shot with artistic style and flair, but the 3D hampers rather than improves this. Looking down the 200-story tower block does not give the same sense of acrophobia that we got from the Burj Khalifa scenes in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. The “Slo-Mo” drug and the effect it causes are overused within the plot without the appeal of it as a recreational narcotic been explored. The action scenes are well choreographed and films but lack originality or finesse.

So back to the original question, how does it compare to the 1995 version? It is better in every way. Knowing just how seriously to take itself and focussing on being fun not funny it isn’t a classic but it is an enjoyable movie full of good ideas and with an unexpected visual flair. I don’t expect everyone to like it, I actually know a lot of people who will hate it. I would recommended it to any fan of action movies or comic book movies but they may be better served waiting for the DVD where they don’t have to suffer the 3D. You’re probably thinking “I knew you’d say that!”

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“No flesh shall be spared” – Mark 13

I have made no secret of my love of B movies. There is something more honest about a low budget movie that came into existence as much for the love of the art form as the bottom line. One of my favourites is the cyberpunk horror Hardware. Set mainly within an apartment and involving a killer robot, it is a kind of a cross between the claustrophobia of Alien and themes of The Terminator.

Written and directed by Richard Stanley, it is based on a short (7-page) comic strip called SHOK published in 2000 AD by Steve MacManus and Kevin O’Neill. My understanding is that the film didn’t originally credit the sauce material. It reminds me of the quote from Quiz Show (1994) where Mark Van Doren (Paul Scofield) says: “Cheating on a quiz show? That’s sort of like plagiarizing a comic strip”. Comic books are now treated with the respect they deserve like any other form of art or literature and the writers are now rightly credited. That probably makes it both the first and the best 2000AD adaptation, the others being Tank Girl (1995) and Judge Dredd (1995).

Set in what is often described as a post-apocalyptic world (listeners to Wittertainment will know that post-apocalyptic is an oxymoron). The dystopian world they live in is ravaged by war and the population is living of the scraps of the dead and decaying civilisation. The movie starts with Nomad (Carl McCoy from the Gothic Rock band, Fields of the Nephilim) finding a robotic hand, then the rest of the parts that make the robot in desert wasteland. It ends up in the hands of Moses Baxter (Dylan McDermott), a soldier retuning home for the Christmas cease-fire, who gives the head to his sculptor girlfriend, Jill Berkowski (Stacey Travis). As the robot an prototype “M.A.R.K. 13” war robot, reassembles itself the body count begins to rise.

The plot is a little thin and predicable but the movie really works thanks to its perfect pacing, a constant sense of dread and claustrophobia and the fantastic production design. The apartment building and the brief glimpses of the city with its crimson sky, are filled with detail giving a realistic looking community in the fading and decaying world. The music is a perfect fit for the movie, they even manage to squeeze in Ace of Spades by Motorhead introduced by Lemmy, you will need to see the film to see how they do that! Also listen out for the radio DJ, Angry Bob (Iggy Pop) that appears throughout the movie, most notably for his closing line. The whole film is as sumptuous in its grime and bleakness as it is in its sense of desperation. The killer robot effects are achieved without the benefit of CGI and are all the better for it. As a low budget cyberpunk horror it is as violent and gory as you would expect, it is therefore not for everyone, people tend to love it or hate it, as you may have guessed, I love it.

Writer/Director Richard Stanley did it all again two years later with the Dust Devil that is equal parts supernatural thriller, slasher movie and western, set mainly in the Namibian desert. More about that another day.

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