THE LAW DONE PROPERLY

One one occasion, back when I was but a small boy, my mother allowed me to take some pocket money and hit up the newsagent’s at the Big Shops and get me a comic book.

By age 8, I was already a firm, and lifelong, fan of a number of comic book characters: Iron Man, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Green Lantern, The Flash (yeah, the last 10 years have been pretty frigging good…). Suicide Squad, Doom Patrol, Swamp Thing, and Batman lay in my future. Etrigan, the Defenders, Guardians of the Galaxy (the originals, damn it), the Uncanny X-Men: all still to come. Sandman, Hellblazer, The Crow, Shade the Changing Man: many years hence.

And then there was the pulpy, multi-coloured, wild and woolly piece of British insanity I picked out and took home with me. Ye Gods. I’d never seen anything like it. Lurid, helter-skelter madness oozing out of every page. I was smitten. I was entranced. I was in another world.

My Mum read three pages, and threw it in the bin.

2000AD. Oh, what a joy. What a frabjous, incendiary, utterly British slice of lunacy. I’ve been a lover ever since.

To whit: Judge Dredd. The signature character. Not necessarily the best, but the most 2000AD of all the characters presented over the many years of the comics’ run. To date, there have been 2 filmic treatments: a ludicrous, and rightly derided, Sylvester Stallone thudder in 1995, that manages to include all the necessary ingredients and get them all hopelessly wrong; and a 2012 starrer for the chronically-limited Karl Urban that was long on the ultra-violence, and short on everything else that makes the character special.

Which makes the fan film Judge Minty all the more extraordinary. Fan films are a special kind of rabbit hole: produced with all the love and care in the world, many of them are victims of the lack of resources, knowledge, and (at times) talent that reinforce all the negative stereotypes that abound when we see the words “fan production”.

Not this. It has a few moments where the ambition outstrips the production, but it is a superb Judge story, and far better than the two mega-budget films that proceed it. It’s superb.

 

And if that’s not enough, the same production team has just released a new film. Search/Destroy features one of my all time favourite characters, and worlds: Johnny Alpha, the Strontium Dog. I’ve been waiting for an SD movie for as long as I waited for all the Marvel and DC films and TV that are currently overwhelming the Universe. If there is to be a new wave of comic book movies, let the Judge Minty crew lead the way. I want more.

I’m in love.

 

 

 

PREDATORS…

…is actually 2/3 of a really good monster movie, much to my surprise: genuinely creepy, and with a good build-up of suspense, not to mention a movie-stealing performance of much fun by Laurence Fishburne, and a performance from Topher Grace that suggests he’s finally ready to hold a big-screen audience. I went along with my ever-eager Teen Twosome, expecting to be there only because I was having a night out with my boys, and found myself actually having a whale of a time.

Yes, it’s a pity it runs out of ideas and resorts to big lashings of dumb to get the job done, but until it does, it’s better than all bar the original movie in the franchise. Not that that’s saying much, but, still, get it out when it hits the DVD stores and pair it with Arnie’s Big Boy Gunfest first version for a fun boy’s night in.

A CONGREGATION OF CANTLETS

1. I’m sick, Connor is sick, we go to the doctor’s for a checkup. It’s sniffles and running noses all round, so it’s bound to be just a cold, but Connor’s got a chesty cough and I need the sick note for work, so we find our nearest medical centre and make an appointment.

This is our first visit to a doctor in Mandurah, so Connor receives The Talk before we go. Once there we’re called up; enter the doctor’s room, and the doctor, who is the kind that keeps a big plastic tub of his jelly beans on his desk, turns to Connor first. After the usual “What’s your name? And how old are you?” pleasantries, and assurances that no needles will be utilized (Connor’s current doctor fear); he asks Connor what’s wrong with him.

“I have Spine Flu!” is my son’s cheery reply.

He earns three jelly beans for that one.

2. I’ve written the beginning of the novel. I’ve written the end. I’ve written 80 000 words of the middle. It’s just the remaining 20 000 words of holes that I’m having trouble with. Between work, overtime, the house, my family and my own natural inclinations I just can’t get it together to make a concerted effort at finishing it off. It’s enough to prove that I’ll never be successfully serious (or vice versa) as a novelist. I’d be less worried if I was any good at my job. Meanwhile, those whose career arcs roughly parallel my own sail into book deals with Orbit, Harper Collins and the like…

3. My third period of mentorship for the AHWA is drawing to a close, and third time is likely to be the last. Much as I enjoy it, I’m unsatisfied by my efforts this time round—disruptions have been plentiful, and I don’t feel like I’ve given my mentees value for money. I do what I can, but am beginning to think that what I can do isn’t enough any more. It’s time to take stock of what I want to do, and what I need to do, and put one before the other.

4. I’d be able to get medication if I could translate all this ennui into full-blown depression, but it seems like too much hard work.

5. Every time I think I should just chuck it all in and become a professional poker player I go online and some bugger beats me with something like a 7-3 off suit.

6. We finally get around to watching the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. It’s enjoyable, for the most part, although I’m of the opinion that it starts fantastically well and then gets more and more ordinary as it progresses. Late that night, Lyn and I lie in bed together and dissect the movie, and I’m struck by an experience I’ve not had to such an extent since Independence Day—that of thoroughly enjoying a movie whilst watching it but then discussing it afterwards to the point of considering it a failure. It’s a strange experience, to persuade oneself of an opposing viewpoint after the direct experience. We are agreed, however, that Keanu Reeves has found his niche over the last decade or so. As Lyn said, after the Matrix movies, Constantine, and the terminally tedious A Scanner Darkly, she can’t think of another actor as suited to effectively playing characters so utterly removed from even the most basic of human emotions.

7. No such trouble earlier in the day, when we watched Igor with the kids—that one stayed ordinary all the way through…

8. If Captain Beefheart, Captain Sensible, and the Captain from Captain & Tennille were all on the same ship, how would they decide who got to steer?

HOW TO LOSE FANS AND IRRITATE MOVIE GOERS

So Lyn and I got out to see a flick today. And because we’re Simon Pegg fans, not to mention Jeff Bridges fans, the choice was obvious.

My word, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People is a disappointing movie. There came a point, somewhere towards the inevitable turning-the-plot-for-home moment, when I actually thought “God, I remember when Simon Pegg was funny.” I know this movie is based on a biography. I know that what I was watching was, by and large, supposed to be based on real events. But gawd all bloody mighty, did it have to be so obvious? So thuddingly unoriginal? When I know the outcome of each scene, each character arc, each subplot, before the setup of each damn thing even gets underway…… and it was billed as a comedy, it was promoted as a comedy, it said ‘funny’ on the posters…. It isn’t. It just really, really isn’t.

Simon Pegg and Jeff Bridges are both excellent actors, but watching this movie, you wouldn’t know it. Okay, so Bridges paid his rent in Iron Man. I wasn’t expecting Shakespeare. And okay, Pegg did a director mate a favour and plodded his way through the utterly second rate Run, Fatboy Run. But what’s their excuse for this one? Add Kirsten Dunst, who extends her ouvre as an actress of no special interest whatsoever, and the whole thing felt like what my mother used to call a Tuesday Movie– Tuesday afternoons, half-price for pensioners, beats being at home but not by much.

In all honesty, I got more laughs from the trailer for Four Holidays, And that’s a Vince Vaughan movie……

JUST DIE, ALREADY

Some months ago, when it came out on DVD, we rented and watched Rocky Balboa. Whilst it’ll never be regarded as great cinema, it was at least a fitting end to the franchise, emphasising the ‘little tailor’ aspect of Balboa’s character and making allowances for time, age, and a certain amount of nostalgia, not only in Stallone’s portrayal of Rocky, but in the central message that, whilst age may weary a man, it can give him the wisdom to accept that the battles most worth winning are those closest to the heart. Amidst the formula there was warmth, and dignity, and even a little grace. Not great cinema, no, but as the credits rolled, there was no small satisfaction in the journey’s end.

Tonight, we watched John Rambo, the latest and last of the Rambo series of movies.

John Rambo is shit.