Saturday, March 30, 2013

Judge Dredd Movies: A return trip to Resyk?

Just when you think you've done away with the Law, it threatens a comeback. The Box-Office failure of Dredd last year is a matter of historical record, and despite really healthy UK BluRay sales (it topped the charts quite emphatically on the day of release), for now it seem that its main problem was not the dedication of its small but significant fanbase, or the large budget, but possibly a bungled promotional effort. Maybe. What I do know is that the 'Dredd Deserved Better' meme is still with us (recent typical comment on Ain't It Cool News' boards: "Drok (sic) anyone that didn't see Dredd in 3D in the theater. You never get to complain about anything ever again. It's now my prerequisite question if I catch any of you bitching about movies. Did you see Dredd in 3D at the theater? No? Well then you can just fuck off because you are part of the problem. They made a perfect movie that is everything you have ever asked for and you didn't show up.")

 All is not lost, however. Executive Producer Adi Shankar confirmed recently on Reddit that he is planning a small scale short along the lines of the well-received Punisher short Dirty Laundry. The fact that Shankar named Dirty Laundry and that said short starred the most recent cinematic Punisher Thomas Jane has a lot of Dredd fanboys (myself among them) hoping that we might see Karl Urban in the helmet once more. But it's a long road, and nothing's certain - well, apart from this version probably not being in 3D (Shankar wasn't mad about '3D' even being in the title). There's also a precedent from before Dirty Laundry: Batman fans made convention favourite Batman : Dead End on a modest location and budget, and recently Morgue linked to a Wonder Woman short made by an aspiring action film director, but the difference here is of course who's behind the story and who has the rights. With a sequel being reliably out of contention, a ten-minute mini budget Dredd on YouTube might be the best we get, and a decent hope for any interest in the movie outside of video shops and the torrents. I hope it get made, and I really hope it will feature at least Urban once more - but I'm expecting this to be small, and hoping for some wit this time. And no Dark Judges, because... just no. There's over thirty years of one-shot Dredd stories that could make fun shorts, and no end of talented writers who know the character, plus fans who'd lap this up. Bring it on.

And in the mean-time of course, next month sees the online release of Judge Minty, a new trailer for which is hosted on, and while it's not strictly Dedd's story, it is a Dredd adaptation, and a classic, too. From the looks of it it should be well worth waiting for.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Busman’s Holiday Reading

Three weeks now without an iPod. It changes a man, especially one who is accustomed to listening to stuff on the bus. As threatened, I’ve been reading books instead, waiting for the day when an iPod will once again be mine (date undisclosed), and I’ve actually been enjoying it! Chiefest of my accomplishments is the tackling and sometimes finishing off of books I’d started ages ago and never finished or, in some cases, been gifted but never started. For shame. Here’s the tally so far:

Popcorn by Ben Elton
[A birthday present in 1997 from my future sister-in-law. Never started - sorry]
Well this I didn’t like. Really didn’t like. Preachy (it’s Ben and his big righteous hammer so where are all those them nails then?) and unlikeable characters - and those are the two main issue I had with what is otherwise a pretty tense and interesting story. Mind you, they are big issues to me. Oh it’s a spoof? Yeah, I still hated it. The violent excesses of Tarantinos movies are beyond parody, really, and to shoehorn an argument about violent cultures inspiring violent people through the medium of another obvious Tarantino pastiche? Spare me. Moving right along...

The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene
[A birthday present in 2000 from an old Uni friend. Started but stalled ¾ through]
Brilliant. A devastating and penetrating account of one's loss of faith and the consequential moral torpor that follows as a Catholic police officer of impeccable and otherwise unremarkable scruples slowly loses everything on the Ivory Coast for so very little. Greene gets under the skin of his fallen protagonist more than any author I’ve read (although Maurice Gee’s Plumb comes close, I think), and I was quite affected by this. Not one I’ll return to in a hurry, but a rewarding read.

54 by Wu Ming
[Loaned to me by a workmate in 2011. Stalled after three pages]
Long and over-stocked to distraction with extraneous characters and historical detail (the writing committee that are Wu Ming clearly had a lot of political history to get off their chests], but once it gets going hugely entertaining and in places quite hilarious. It's also something of a shaggy dog tale, and if its focal point takes a while to find itself, then at least here's some interesting modern history along the way. Cary Grant, Italian communists, American cultural invasion, the birth of the global heroin trade, and the mad adventures of a sentient TV called McGuffin. What’s not to like?

Howling at the Moon by Walter Yetnikoff
[Given to me by a friend in 2012. Kept for a rainy day (Monday past)]
The autobiography of CBS’s wild man president of the 70s and 80s is a hell of a story from a self-confessed prick, really, charting his childhood in Brooklyn through to his mogul status, inevitable fall from glory and beyond. There’s a seam of self-effacing Jewish humour that undercuts a lot of pretty bullish and sometimes downright nasty corporate skulduggery in a rapidly changing entertainment landscape; Yetnikoff’s voice also makes him an appealing character despite his appalling behaviour and he’s smart enough not to paint his story as one of total redemption. And yet, it's an American story, and at the end there's the sense of a classic character arc being played out - albeit one crafted in the telling by its protagonist. The rock star anecdotes are cool, too – Springsteen, James Taylor, Streisand, Billy Joel, Jackson (Michael), Simon (Paul), Jagger, McCartney, Geffen, Motolla – what a cast!

There's more in the list to come: the possibility of some actual Gee, Julius Vogel's Sci-Fi novel, a Charlie Higson outing and some collected Washington Irving. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure I might know where our old iRiver is. Hmm, I wonder...?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Oaken’s Twelve: Where Are We Now?

Time for a quick summary. You may well have imagined, dear reader, that with Bombur, the twelfth member of Thorin Oakenshield’s company now complete, the job was done. Au contraire. You can’t have a Company without a leader, and so this weekend I intend to finish him off. Yes, the Oakenshield and heir of Thrain II is nearly ready for unveiling. He’s no Bombur as conversions go, but I’m pretty happy with him. Group shot to follow, of course.

The question then remains on what I’ll do next. Dain? Bilbo and Gandalf? But then what about Gollum, Elrond, Thranduil, Bard…? Actually, I think I can see a line to stop at, and I’ll likely do it. More projects beckon, time to move on.

Then there’s Balin’s Tomb, my cutaway project which has moved on from the last snaps, but not hugely. I’ll add that to the list. And then I’ll be done with Tolkien for a while I reckon. Come the end of 2013 with a new Hobbit movie released – that’ll be when I tackle some more figures from that world.

In the mean-Time, some long-expected artwork beckons, and on the figure front another near dozen wandering heroes, each one a Lord…

Monday, March 4, 2013


My iPod 2GB. 2009-2013

Goodbye old chum. Together we've traveled on buses and trains, cars and planes, stayed in corporate hotel rooms and trudged through unexpected snow. The stories you told me - audiobooks, horrors, comedy quizzes, classic literature (hey, it wasn't ALL Doctor Who), and the music we shared. The music, eh? Dadrock to the last, you were my final desperate corner of retreat from a world of classic schmooze, pop, techno hip-hop and alt hipsterism; a tiny world in which Zeppelin and Maiden never disappointed, the rare and obscure flourished, and my own personal playlist was just a fumble away. I've dropped you crossing busy streets, broken more earphone cables than I can remember stuffing you into my jacket pocket, lost you, and watched as my offspring probably tried a little too hard to listen to you without earphones (I'm not stupid.) Great times, amigo, great times. And now, just this morning at the bus stop, your top fell off and you up and died. No reboot to factory settings for you this time, nor no PC-enabled defibrilation, not even a final song to play us out. This is the end.

Dammit, now I'll have to read books on the bus again.