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Topics - von Boom

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Film & TV / Foundation on Apple TV
« on: 25 September, 2021, 06:05:28 PM »
I've watched the first episode.

The good:
Cast is very good and it is well acted.
It is gorgeous to look at. Apple clearly expects everyone to have a 4K+ television.

The bad:
If you're expecting a faithful adaptation, forget it.
Very little of Asimov's story or style is included. Where Asimov got straight to the heart of the story this is ponderously slow-building. At some points it's downright boring.

The ugly:
I couldn't help but think of Game of Thrones while watching this. Not because of the story but rather there seems to be an underlying current of casual cruelty that feels completely out of place. It shows in the actions of the Emperor and by the inclusion of all too real acts of violence for the sake of modernising the story to capture the average viewer unfamiliar with the story, Asimov, or scifi.

If it was just the good and the bad I would say this could end up being very watchable in the end. However, the ugly, if it continues, may be too much for me to stomach and I'll end up abandoning this after the second or maybe third episode.

Film & TV / 2000AD Radio Adaptations
« on: 12 February, 2021, 06:29:23 PM »

General / Judge Dredd: "Too brutal, too fascistic, too British"
« on: 18 July, 2020, 05:57:29 PM »
"Too brutal, too fascistic, too British: will Hollywood ever get Judge Dredd right?"

Requires registration to read. But:

Down the steps Rob Schneider tumbled, hitting the floor so loudly that the sound made Sylvester Stallone wince.

Schneider, the hottest young talent in comedy, was coming from six years on Saturday Night Live, and had just reported for duty on Stallone’s new blockbuster. Shooting at Shepperton Studios in Surrey in the autumn of 1994, his very first scene involved negotiating a not-especially-parlous flight of stairs. Tripping, the 32-year-old landed on his chin.
Stallone, at the bottom of the steps and wielding a replica Lawgiver MK1 voice-activated smart-gun, was first to respond. “Cut,” he shouted, and then leaned over the prone Schneider. “You okay?” he asked. Schneider could only mumble in response.

Aged 48, Stallone was in his twilight as an action hero. Always stoic on set, at Shepperton he was even more downbeat than usual. Even before Schneider’s fateful plunge, he may very well have concluded his $90 million new project was cursed.

Judge Dredd was released 25 years ago. It barely recouped its budget and was derided by critics. But the cruel reviews paled in comparison to the hatred from Dredd fans. The best known of 2000AD’s menagerie of freaks, weirdos and reprobates, Dredd is a brutally unsentimental lawman. He was partly inspired by Clint Eastwood’sDirty Harry and by a De La Salle monk who taught 2000AD founder Pat Mills in Ipswich.
Mills, his writing partner John Wagner and the Spanish artist Carlos Ezquerra had created the character in 1976. Dredd was intended partly as a satire of police fascism, with which Ezquerra was only too familiar having grown up in Franco’s Spain.

 As “judge, jury and executioners”, Dredd and his fellow judges are the instruments of a police state running on all dystopian cylinders. This didn’t prevent 2000AD’s Wagner quipping that Dredd looked like a “space pirate” when shown Ezquerra’s initial design. But his misgivings proved wide of the mark. Dredd quickly became an icon.

Stallone, however, wasn’t particularly interested in a wry commentary on crypto-fascism in post-war Europe. Having secured the Dredd role ahead of Arnold Schwarzenegger, he was appalled to discover the script entirely lacking in humour.  He also didn’t understand why he was required to obscure his features behind Dredd’s helmet for the entire film. That Dredd in the comics never, ever removes his headgear struck Stallone as completely irrelevant. Nobody was going to pay to see Sly Stallone hide behind a visor for 90 minutes. The face-guard would have to go.

2000 AD fans were aghast. In 1995, Dredd sans helmet was like Hugh Grant without his curly quiff or the Spice Girls minus Geri Halliwell – simply unthinkable. Dredd diehards sat there in their cinema seats, jaws propped open. They were stunned, too, at Stallone’s insistence that the film introduce “humour and humanity” to Judge Dredd. A humorous, humane Judge Dredd was tantamount to an episode of Friends directed by David Fincher. The world simply didn’t need it.

Stallone also brought in Schneider, to play outlaw Herman “Fergee” Ferguson (known as “King of the Big Smelly” in the comics). And he hired Terminator screenwriter William Wisher to write some gags for Dredd, in order to offset the apocalyptic gloom suffusing Steven de Souza’s original script. “I had to make the film funny,” said Wisher. “Without that, it would be horrifying.”

Schneider had been Stallone’s second choice after Joe Pesci, who mystifyingly passed on the offer to play the “King of the Big Smelly” in this 22nd-century dystopia. But Sly didn’t have much time to dwell on that; he was already locked in a struggle with Judge Dredd’s young director, Danny Cannon, over the production’s tone.  In theory it should all have been relatively straightforward. The storyline, after all, wasn’t especially complicated. Judge Dredd and criminal hacker Fergee are thrown together after Dredd is framed for a murder he didn’t commit.

The costumes for the film were designed by GIanni Versace CREDIT: Film Stills

They’re on their way to a penal colony when their transport is shot down by a family of mutant cannibals (one portrayed by future Trainspotting star Ewen Bremner). Having disposed of the cannibal “Angel” clan, it’s back to Mega-City One, where the unlikely duo, working with Diane Lane’s Judge Hershey, must prevent the Judge’s evil twin Rico Dredd staging a coup. It’s convoluted – but not that convoluted.

The problem was largely one of style. Unlike Stallone, raised in Hell’s Kitchen and Washington DC, 26-year-old director Cannon from Luton, had grown up on 2000AD. His first feature, 1993’s the Young Americans, was a thriller built around the unlikely triple-threat of Harvey Keitel, Keith Allen and Viggo Mortensen.  With Dredd Cannon wanted to honour the title character and his take-no-prisoners catchphrase “I am the Law”. Arriving at Shepperton, Stallone was therefore surprised and unsettled to discover that the director planned a film much darker than the one he envisaged.

There were further complications. Gianni Versace had been hired to design the judge outfits. Shockingly, he turned out not to be especially steeped in cult British comics; his costumes, with their huge codpieces, struck the wrong tone (unless Cannon wanted to make Carry On Mega-City One).

Lane, as Dredd’s sidekick Judge Hershey, meanwhile flat-out refused to go nude, as called for in the script. “I had this phobia that they were going to get my [bum] onscreen at the same time as Sylvester Stallone’s,” she later. “I’m like Judge Bone and he’s got these cinderblocks for glutes. I cannot be on camera the same time as him.”

Issues were also arising with the soundtrack. The plan had been for the angsty rockers of the moment, the Manic Street Preachers, to write a song for the film, Judge Yr’self. But then their guitarist Richey Edwards vanished – his whereabouts a mystery to this day – and so that was scrapped too. (The track would see daylight years later, the 2000AD connection long forgotten.)

What else could go wrong, Stallone may have wondered? And then Schneider arrived on set and fell down the stars. When Dredd finally whips off his helmet 20 minutes in, the frustration is scrawled across the actor’s features.

He was no doubt aware that the screenplay had ended up at an unsatisfying halfway-house. The gags are dead on arrival. “Emotions… there ought to be a law against them,” says Dredd early on. And that’s as quippy as it gets. Nor does it capture the essence of Dredd. It’s simply too soft at the edges – a flaw that the hyper-violent 2012 reboot Dredd, written by Alex Garland and starring Karl Urban, was careful not to repeat.
“The big problem was the solid oak script,” says Dredd co-creator and 2000AD founder Pat Mills. “In my opinion it was the clunky script that killed it.”

He also takes issue with alterations to Dredd’s iconic costume.  “I personally regard Ezquerra’s design as sacrosanct. That applies to the latest film, too [Urban’s 2012 Dredd]. But the shiny, glitzy look is particularly off-putting on the first movie.”

Hollywood would take another pass with Dredd with the 2012 film. However, if anything that project was too mindful of the lessons of the Stallone movie, so that all trace of fun is mercilessly expunged. It is grim to a fault and lacks the undertow of bleak satire that runs through the comics.

It is, moreover, an oddly “small” affair. With a comparatively modest budget of around $30 million, the action is largely confined to a dystopian slum-block presided over by the deranged Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). Headey is fantastic as a sort of punk-rock Cersei Lannister, and Urban seems more attuned than Stallone to the Dredd character.  “He is supposed to be the faceless representative of the law, and I think that is part of his enigma,” he said at the time. “You wouldn’t get to the end of a Sergio Leone Western and go, “God, I didn’t even know the character’s name!” It’s irrelevant.”

And yet it’s all so crushingly po-faced, that anarchic 2000AD spirit desperately missed. As with the 1995 Dredd, it was also a troubled production, with tensions between writer Garland and director Pete Travis. Urban has said that he turned to Garland for direction on set; it later emerged that Garland, rather than Travis, had edited the film.

“It was a pretty crude experience, for a bunch of reasons,” Garland would say. “At the end of it, I didn’t want to go back. I love Dredd, by which I mean I love the character, but I’m not in any hurry to do that again.”
This new Dredd was, in any event, every bit as big a flop as its Stallone predecessor, earning just $41 million. It was a reminder of the challenge of adapting British comics – which tend to be more riotous and subversive than their American counterparts. Other underwhelming examples include Lori Petty’s movie version of Jamie Hewlett’s Tank Girl (also 1995) while repeated attempts to bring 2000AD’s Rogue Trooper to the screen have come unstuck (Duncan Jones is the latest to take it on).

In that context, perhaps it’s a surprise that Stallone’s Judge Dredd is as good as it is. The plot, to its credit, drills deep into 2000AD lore as Dredd discovers he is the result of a plot to create a super-soldier in a lab and that he has a secret brother named Rico (Armand Assante).

Rico, who appears in slightly different form in the comics (he is cloned from Dredd rather than being his twin), is now trying to kill Dredd and take over Mega-City One in cahoots with Jürgen Prochnow’s Judge Griffin. And Max von Sydow is a reliably reassuring presence as Dredd’s mentor, Chief Justice Fargo.  It also boasted fantastic production values, with Mega-City One created in painstaking detail at Shepperton. Among the many flourishes were futuristic taxis designed by Land Rover, in an early and audacious example of product placement. Most impressive of all was the huge ABC Warrior robot that Rico acquires as a bodyguard.  A triumph of practical effects, the ABC Warrior was designed by Chris Cunningham (who also did the make-up for “Mean Machine” Angel). Just 24 he was later to give PTSD to a generation of ravers by directing the Come to Daddy and Windowlicker videos for the Aphex Twin. However, his first love was big scary movie monsters – a passion he channelled into Judge Dredd. “I was obsessed,” Cunningham later said, “to the point where I could have told you who worked as the gaffer on those films.”

His hulking ABC killbot was undoubtedly one of his great triumphs – whenever it’s on screen, Judge Dredd is 50 per cent more watchable. It was quite a showcase for Cunningham, who was hired on the strength of Judge Dredd to work with Stanley Kubrick on AI, a film the latter didn’t see to completion.

“The SFX were pretty cool and I don’t think we cut the film people enough slack there,” says Pat Mills. “I was invited to the set and that was a thrill – walking around Mega-City One! I could kick myself I didn’t take photos, but it may have been forbidden anyway. I watched a scene with Stallone being filmed. That seemed okay, although I wasn’t jumping up and down with excitement.”

Mills, who is shortly to launch “creator-owned” comic Spacewarp, also praises the production for fairly rewarding the creators of 2000AD.

“This probably doesn’t matter to most consumers, but yet it should. All of us on 2000AD, writers and artists… who developed Dredd got a good financial deal on the movie. The publishers at that time, Egmont, went out of their way to be fair to us. They treated us with great respect, and that needs acknowledging.”

Mills may not have been aware of it at the time, but Stallone and Cannon were arguing over almost every detail. Stallone felt he knew how to make an action comedy – he’d succeeded opposite Sandra Bullock and Wesley Snipes in Demolition Man, two years earlier – and wasn’t minded to defer to a kid on his first major studio feature.

“This is a big thing to bite off the first time out,” Stallone would say ahead of its release. “It’s a matter of experience, that’s all.” He was clear in his own mind, though, that he was giving the director the appropriate space.

”You have to bite the bullet sometimes,” he said. ”You see the film going in a certain direction that you don’t like, but you can’t sit there and completely impose yourself.”

Cannon may not have seen it exactly that way. He bristled at Stallone’s control-freak tendencies and his obsession with minutiae. As with Dredd himself, Stallone really did believe he was the law. “It’s tough. In the comic book he has green boots, Sly wanted green boots. Talking him out of that one took weeks,” says Cannon. Their collaboration was like “putting your head down and slamming [into] a brick wall”.

Watched today, Judge Dredd certainly passes the time. And the ABC Warrior is a breathtaking example of the art of practical effects that, by the mid-1990s, was being supplanted by CGI.

But its tone is all over the place. Are we supposed to cheer Dredd’s fascistic policing? In the age of Black Lives Matter, it’s impossible to do that. Or was the film, as with the comics, presenting a wry parody of state-backed extremism? It’s hard to tell.  “Judge Dredd’s a fascist pig,” veteran set designer Peter Young lamented to the LA Times when it visited Shepperton in 1994. “It’s all kill, kill, kill, explode, explode, explode… One longs for crinolines again.”

Off Topic / Love and chocolate in the time of Covid-19
« on: 15 May, 2020, 07:04:38 PM »
I know it's been a shit time for many people out there and it's all too easy to dwell on the negatives, but we should also highlight some of the good things that have happened during this terrible period of our lives. I'll go first:

My uncle, who was very good to me growing up, was in dire need of open-heart surgery but had to wait because of this virus. Fortunately, the surgeons were able to clear a spot for him and he underwent quintuple bypass surgery. After many hours and a cardiac event (heart attack) on the table, he pulled through.

Originally scheduled for 5 weeks of in hospital recuperation he was sent home after two days. The good news is he's responding well and on the mend. The doctors did an amazing job under very difficult circumstances. My family is very relieved and very grateful.

Film & TV / Worzel Gummidge Specials
« on: 10 December, 2019, 06:02:07 PM »

Film & TV / Alien Franchise Reboot
« on: 23 August, 2019, 08:08:41 PM »
This news makes me feel like a bowl of petunias.


The Alien franchise is in a mess. Despite being some of the best science fiction horror films of all-time and featuring an all-time iconic movie monster, the series’ mythology has disappeared up its own arse. The rot arguably began way back in 1992’s Alien 3, with each subsequent film getting a little worse. Then came Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, which threw in a load of confusing and portentous pseudo-philosophy into the creature’s origin story. Audiences were nonplussed, resulting in Covenant flopping and the franchise being on ice ever since.

Now, Disney having purchased the Alien IP as part of their merger with Fox, plans to perform an Alien resurrection. We’re hearing from our sources – the same ones who revealed that an Aladdin sequel was happening, which was confirmed this week – that they’re poised to reboot several high profile franchises that they acquired in the Fox deal, with Alien being the biggest.


Film & TV / Star Trek: Lower Decks
« on: 25 October, 2018, 08:20:45 PM »
Rick and Morty writer/producer Mike McMahan is going to produce a new animated comedy set in the Star Trek universe.


Film & TV / Good Omens Series
« on: 09 October, 2018, 11:17:42 PM »
I can't find any thread about this, but it's set to premiere on Amazon Prime next year. A trailer was released at the New York Comic Con.

Very excited to see this one.

Film & TV / Bill and Ted Face the Music
« on: 09 May, 2018, 03:42:30 PM »
It looks as if it's finally going to happen. A third Bill and Ted film!


General / Happy New Year
« on: 01 January, 2018, 12:18:26 AM »
Hope 2018 is a great one for all you squaxx. :)

Film & TV / Detectorists
« on: 04 December, 2017, 08:16:39 PM »
Is no one else watching the latest series?

Film & TV / Stargate
« on: 19 July, 2017, 05:25:06 PM »
Expect an announcement regarding either a new Stargate film or series tomorrow at SDCC:


Film & TV / Gods and Secrets (2016)
« on: 21 April, 2016, 05:14:07 PM »

Film & TV / The Man In The High Castle
« on: 23 November, 2015, 04:21:19 PM »
The complete series is on Amazon Prime.

I've watched the first episode and it is quiet intriguing. While like all Dick adaptations there are many differences and changes, but the overall tone of the show does manage to capture the feel of the book. So far I like it and will watch the entire series.

Film & TV / Star Trek returning to television. Sort of.
« on: 02 November, 2015, 04:43:43 PM »
It seems a new Star Trek series has been given the go ahead for début in January 2017. Unfortunately it's on CBS' VoD service.


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