The Art of Rebellion (Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD, 2014)

future_shock_bdFor Americans, the character they probably most recognized from the British comic book series 2000AD is Judge Dredd.  But 2000AD actually had a whole host of characters spawned from its weekly pages.  Almost all of them every bit as violent and over the top as Dredd.  There was Rogue Trooper, the ABC Warriors, Nemesis the Warlock, Bad Company, the Ballad of Halo Jones, D.R. & Quinch and Zenith to name a few.

Back in 1988 or so, I went to Northern Ireland as part of a church mission trip.  I came upon a comic shop there and discovered 2000AD…I came home from the trip with several progs (the term for an issue of 2000AD) and a few books collecting specific characters.  I fell in love with the world of 2000AD…the writers and the artists provided inspiration to my artistic side.

Future Shock! is an entertaining journey through the creation of the comic in 1977 to present day.  Interviews with its staff and creators explore the controversies and successes.  There are may familiar faces for comic book fans (As American companies, especially DC’s Vertigo imprint, poached a lot of their stars).  Included in the film is commentary from Neil Gaiman, Brian Bolland, Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra (the creators of Judge Dredd) and more.  One of the stories discussed is the unfinished the Ballad of Halo Jones.  Written by Alan Moore (with gorgeous art by Ian Gibson), it is a story that verged on being epic.  But Moore was frustrated by his treatment by the magazine and walked away, leaving it unfinished.  Both Leah Moore (daughter of Alan and a writer in her own right) and Neil Gaiman lament that it was never finished.  Moore states she wishes she could have convinced her father to return and finish the tale.

The film explores failures as well, for instance, their ill-fated movie plans.  The only result is the heavily maligned Judge Dredd starring Sylvester Stallone.  It is maligned for good reason, of course.  I do disagree with the idea that choosing Stallone was a bad idea from the start…I mean…LOOK:


But more on the Stallone film at a later date.  There is a pretty rich history behind 2000AD, and it is pretty well covered by this documentary.  Both fun and educational, it makes for an enjoyable watch.  This includes the titles and the transitions with animated art from 2000AD to great effect.  It makes the film feel like it is moving quickly, as well as allow you to appreciate the rich history of artwork.

A Bond By Any Other Name… (Kingsman: The Secret Service, 2015)

kingsman-the-secret-service-posterLike Matthew Vaughn’s previous Mark Millar adaption (Kick Ass), Kingsman: The Secret Service promises to be a bold and irreverent take on it’s genre.  Kick Ass poked fun at super-heroes through excessive violence and profanity.  Kingsman follows through.  It is irreverent, extremely violent at times and full of profanity.

And yet, it seems to be a bit more loving of it’s target.  It is as much homage to the classic spy films of the past.  Colin Firth’s Galahad is older, handsome and stylish.  He seems proper and speaks of manners even in a fist fight.  Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is a rough hooligan lacking a sense of manners.

But when we first meet Eggsy, his father has died, and the promising future is dashed.  His father was a secret agent, a member of the Kingsman organization.  Heartbroken, his mother appeared to have never recovered from that loss.  Eggsy gets in trouble with the police, only to meet Galahad who invites him to join the Kingsman Organization.

Unsurprisingly the other recruits are high society kids.  The film focuses heavily on Eggsy going through each test, and building his friendship with Galahad.  The central villain is a flamboyant tech genius named Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson).  His goal is to wipe out a massive number of the human population to save the world from global warning.  One of his more interesting quirks is that he does not take pleasure or joy in the actual death, but he is certain that it is a worthy end.

The film is comically violent (there are at least two scenes of massive carnage) far more than any Bond film ever managed.  But the film manages to be entertaining.  There is good humor, and the cast has great chemistry together.  I especially liked how the three women are characters, not love interests. One of his competitors, Roxy (Sophie Cookson) is his equal, and he supports her not because he wants to date her, but because they are friends.

Eggsy is a troubled guy, but he is decent, a supportive friend, cares deeply for his mother and baby sister…he has solid qualities that Galahad seeks to steer towards a greater good.

The film is, all in all, quite a bit of fun.  The characters are likable, the cast is solid through and through.  It is an effective action movie, even if some of the beats are somewhat predictable.  The film embraces it’s super-spy inspirations and follows the conventions.  It does it with fun style (Valentine’s henchwoman is pure old school Bond).

While there are moments that seem to relish the crass violence, overall this film is an effective adventure that left me smiling.

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