Future Shock: The Story of 2000AD Review
Let's talk about comic books. I have never been a big comic person, I mean I like the Marvel movies, I like Batman the Animated Series so I guess I like adjacent comic things. It has always seemed like a big commitment; there are countless Superman, Captain America and Spider-Man stories and I have neither time or money to pick them all up. I do make the odd purchase from time to time, mainly the weirder stuff from Vertigo, like Sandman, Animal Man, Shade the Changing Man, Hellblazer and Swamp Thing. However, I never realised that all these books had a common link, British-based comic book 2000AD, and that they produced talents like Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison and Alan Moore and unleashed them on the world. Now Paul Goodwin presents a documentary that explores the history of this infamous, influential and controversial comic distributed on Blu-ray by Arrow Video.
Future Shocks: The Story of 2000AD is just that, it is a story of the comic 2000AD. It starts right at the beginning of the inception of the comic and ties it very heavily to the 70s punk scene in Britain and its overtly anti-authoritarian left leaning politics. It covers the major stages and talents in the comic’s past; how writers Alan Moore, Grant Morison and Neil Gaiman began writing short stories; how artists Bryan Boland and Dave Gibbons felt working for the magazine. It covers major characters like Judge Dredd and Halo Jones and the mass exodus to DC and their imprint Vertigo.
This documentary is highly comprehensive though it never really gets bogged down in all the details. It feels breezy and light picking up on the important parts of the history of the comic and implying other things so further research can occur. Filmmaker Paul Goodwin uses excellent cutaways to keep things interesting. Motion comics by Jim Hinson, stock footage and other editing technics are used to find an efficient way of telling the story of 2000AD and it is a master class in documentary construction. This is all backed up by a brilliantly moody and twisted score by Justin Greaves of Crippled Black Phoenix.
However, what makes or breaks a documentary are the talking heads, the people you are interviewing, and thankfully, thanks to the nature of 2000AD and those who worked on it, you can breathe a sigh of relief as Future Shock is full of memorable personalities and creative giants. Standouts include Pat Mills who seems like a volatile eccentric beast of a man, judging by the way he talks about himself and how others talk about him as well. Dave Gibbons is similarity loud, and both he and Mills have a lot to say about the state of the comic in its political climate and the managers who took it on, for better or worse. There are some quieter spoken people, but they are no less captivating .Neil Gaiman has become one of the biggest writers in the 20th and 21st Century and to see him interact with comics is a revelation. Grant Morrison the man behind the utterly bizarre Animal Man run and Arkham Asylum similarly is enigmatic and engaging.
This is a meticulously crafted documentary packed full of interesting people recounting fascinating stories about an influential comic. It is something that any fan of comics or 2000AD should watch and be satisfied with.
The disc is well made, without any obvious faults in the audio or the visuals. The menus are clear, easy to navigate with a great holding video of motion comics that I had to watch a couple of times because it was just too engrossing. Finally, the subtitles are legible for those who need to use them. However, this is standard fare for Arrow Video who have been producing high-quality discs of niche films for a while.
The Blu-ray is presented in either a 16:9 or 1.78:1 aspect ratio dependant on the footage being used, stock footage from the time or the interviews of the creative and management team behind 2000AD. The 1080p presentation of the film really makes the colours and lines of the comics that are used as cutaway sections sing. On to the sound options, there are two audio options a 2.0 Stereo track and a 5.1 DTS audio track, both of which sound crystal clear.
Technically Future Shock: The Story of 2000AD is a solid release, that holds no issue in the audio or visual department.
Arrow have always had good extras on their discs, they have also had tons of extras on their releases and Future Shock is no exception. The film itself runs just under two hours, while the total run time of all the extras run in excess of three hundred and forty-six minutes. So that amount of content alone makes the disc well worth the £20 price tag if you are getting something with seven hours worth of watching time.
The disc contains the extended interviews of contributors some of which are in the theatrical film, which gives you a little longer with the larger-than-life personalities of Pat Mills and Dave Gibbons. There are also helpful backgrounds on all of 2000AD's mainstay characters, many of which I hadn't heard of until watching this movie, like Strontium Dog, Bad Company and Rogue Trooper.
The extras probably shouldn't be considered extras in the traditional sense. Rather it is just more of the documentary that you bought. It's more stories, more characters and more time with one of the most influential pieces of science fiction media ever produced.
Future Shocks: The Story of 2000AD got me back into comics. My interest had wained somewhat, I followed a few stories and even then I only picked up one or two books a year. Now that I have seen this my interest has been rekindled. Each one of the contributors, whether they be management, artist or writer brings their own spark of energy to the documentary making it an incredibly engaging watch. With seven hours worth of interviews and background, there is plenty to get your teeth stuck into on this disc, then to Amazon to track down the very best of Dredd, Halo Jones and other stories written by the good people at 2000AD.