Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD (Blu-ray)

Starring Pat Mills, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison

Directed by Paul Goodwin

Distributed by Severin Films


Despite being an avid comic book collector in my youth, I won’t even begin to pretend to be any sort of expert on the field. Even back then, my interests veered toward horror & sci-fi titles, anything esoteric, with little consideration for the mainstream offerings. It was less about being a contrarian than simply a feeling of being overwhelmed; by then, in the mid-90s, top sellers like “X-Men” and “Spider-Man” had a seemingly endless number of issues, spin-offs, one-offs, etc. Getting up to speed, frankly, would’ve been exhausting. Point being, my focus was a bit myopic. “2000 AD” is a title that was on my radar, mainly because I’d often spy a sweet cover or two while browsing, but it was never on my purchase list. Judge Dredd always seemed like a badass character but my introduction to him came via Sly Stallone’s much-maligned 1995 box office bomb. What I didn’t now was that the influence on “2000 AD” could be seen in so many places, within other comic books and feature films. The style and tone set forth by creative mastermind Pat Mills and his staff of alternative pioneers shaped a generation of comic books to come, all of which is acutely detailed in Future Shock! The Story of 2000 AD (2014).

As told via an array of interviews from the top talent behind “2000 AD” and those it inspired, this documentary begins with the state of in England during the ‘70s, which was in turmoil. Comic books had gotten boring and stale, with few innovators to capture the zeitgeist of conflict and rebellion. Enter Pat Mills, who helped usher in a ripper of a title, “Action!”, that would eventually be banned for its frank depictions of violence. Undeterred, Mills continued to pursue his dreams of creating a comic that championed the violence and subversion he felt was lacking, which eventually led to the creation of “2000 AD”. Mills, along with writers such as Grant Morrison and Neil Gaiman discuss every step of the process that brought their vision to life. The creation of Judge Dredd, employing women and making a greater effort to write for them with titles like “Halo Jones”, the genius and unpredictability of Alan Moore, failed attempts to work with Hollywood, losing creative control, operating under DC, stagnation, rebirth, influence, and legacy.

This is an exhaustive documentary, covering nearly all the history behind “2000 AD”, which is both appreciable and laborious. Things kick off with a punk-rock explosion, with Mills and his cohorts tearing into the archaic establishment and scorching the comic book scene with their vivid portrayals of the brutality and sexuality readers were craving. This momentum isn’t kept up, though, and there is a clear drop-off in excitement as the film passes the halfway point. Maybe this was my reaction as a non-fan, as I have no personal connection to many of these creatives and their characters. But I also got a bit turned off by the hubris emanating from a few of the interviewees. I understand “2000 AD” was influential in its depictions of sci-fi and dystopian futures, but some of the parallels being drawn between what their comics had done and what others did in the feature film world seemed tenuous. Although I will concede RoboCop (1987) does share many similarities with Judge Dredd. Mills and his contemporaries did indeed start a comic revolution; how much of an effect it had on every facet of entertainment can be debated.

There aren’t a lot of pointed anecdotes included, either. The story of “2000 AD” is told in mostly broad strokes – understandable given the wealth of information to cover – but there is an awful lot of back-patting and redundant information being spewed out. One of the film’s highlights comes during the section covering their rebirth, when Mills and his “antiquated” ways were out and new editor David Bishop sent out a company-wide directive explaining how things were going to go from there on out. Mills is clearly still chuffed by Bishop’s handling of the reins, though it sounds like a change was needed at that time if the company was to be seen as innovative once more.

Serious aficionados of “2000 AD”, and perhaps comic books in general, should find the rise of this alternative brigade fascinating, while the casuals among viewers will likely appreciate the story but find themselves missing a deeper connection without knowing the material intimately.

Although this documentary covers a lengthy period of time, the bulk of the feature is comprised of contemporary interviews, shot using high-quality cameras, and as a result the 1.78:1 1080p image is clearly proficient. The picture is clean and well lit, with each interviewee perfectly framed and seated in an ideal location. Aside from some archival footage shown during the opening, this is the look of the entire film. No complaints.

In terms of audio, expect a similarly simple result out of the English LPCM 2.0 stereo track. This is a documentary filled with talking heads and little more. All of their words come through clean and clear with no problems. Segues between each segment are done with abrasive punk/metal blaring through the speakers, providing an audible jolt to an otherwise benign soundtrack.

The bonus features are plentiful and exhaustive here. “Extended Sequences” include “2000 AD vs. The U.S.A.”, “Dredd 2012 – True in Spirit”, “Judge Dredd Extended Sequence”, and “Cheap Entertainment – The Appeal of Comics”.

A number of “Production Extras” are included, featuring “Art Blast – Jock & Henry Flint”, “Blooper Reel”, “Pat Mills Visits Kings Reach Tower”, “Soundtrack – Behind-the-Scenes”, Festival Teaser Trailer”, and “U.K. Release Trailer”.

“Behind the Strips” goes into greater detail on a handful of titles, with “Bad Company – Peter Milligan”, “Future Shocks”, “Rogue Troops – Dave Gibbons & Cam Kennedy”, “Slaine – Pat Mills”, and “Strontium Dog – Carlos Ezquerra”.

Finally, there are “Extended Interviews” with Grant Morrison, Karen Berger, Pat Mills, Neil Gaiman, and Dave Gibbons.

Special Features:

Extended Sequences:

  • 2000AD vs the USA
  • Dredd 2012 – True In Spirit
  • Judge Dredd Extended sequence
  • Cheap Entertainment – The appeal of comics
  • Behind the Strips
  • Bad Company – Peter Milligan
  • Future Shocks
  • Rogue Trooper – Dave Gibbons & Cam Kennedy
  • Slaine – Pat Mills
  • Strontium Dog – Carlos Ezquerra

Production Extras:

  • Art Blast – Jock & Henry Flint
  • Blooper Reel
  • Pat Mills Visits Kings Reach Tower
  • Soundtrack – Behind the Scenes

Extended Interviews:

  • Grant Morrison
  • Karen Berger
  • Pat Mills
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Dave Gibbons

Promotional Materials:

  • UK Release Trailer
  • Festival Teaser Trailer

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Anthony Arrigo

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