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SENSE OF DREDD?
I went to see Dredd 3D way back in July but it has been unofficially embargoed until around its UK release. It has been out in the UK since last Friday and it hits the US this week. It has taken a long tome to bring Dredd back to the big screen since the Sly Stallone Judge Dredd, which was  released way back in 1995. Dredd 3D is a very different beast though: apparently it is the most expensive British independent film made to date with an estimated budget of $45m and guided by comics aficionado novelist Alex Garland (The Beach, 28 Days Later), it couldn’t be further away from a bloated Hollywood studio picture if it tried. Karl Urban plays the eponymous hero/ anti-hero, who is given a new rookie partner female Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) to pass a final test on the mean streets of Mega City One, to see if she’s up to scratch. So Dredd and Anderson get embroiled in the shenanigans that are taking place in the drug-fuelled tower block controlled by former prostitute Ma-Ma (Lena (Game of Thrones) Headey). Dredd 3D is one of the most violent films released to a nominal mainstream audience and it certainly warrants its 18 certificate over here, as the viewer is unlikely to see this much viscera in any other wide release movie. It is refreshing that the take here is so different to Stallone’s Dredd, as the production team have utilised the South Africa settings, where it was shot, to fantastic effect, creating a Mega City One that has the feel of a contemporary metropolis taken to its ultimate conclusion and its brief running time means that you are introduced to Dredd’s world, he goes in and does his thing and they wrap up proceedings. Urban does look good as Dredd and the filmmakers have done a great job bringing the world of the Judges to life. But it is unremittingly nihilistic, the 3D doesn’t always work and Thirlby’s Anderson doesn’t have enough to do to gain the empathy of the audience, as Dredd is simply a force of nature and so impossible to empathise with. For all of its flaws, and its similarities to The Raid, it is heartening to see that Dredd 3D has hit the very top of the UK box office and there are positive noises that there will be a sequel. Garland and his fellow filmmakers have certainly wiped the bad taste of Sylvester Stallone from the mouths and minds of filmgoers and hopefully they will have their opportunity to correct some of the problems in a followup. If you’re a comics fan or a Dredd and 2000AD fan, then you need to see Dredd 3D.

THRILL POWER IN HERTFORDSHIRE
Because I promised one of the organisers of the Unicom event up in Hertfordshire, here’s some info on what they’re doing:

Saturday 24th April, 6pm
ARCHITECTS OF THRILL-POWER! – THE LEGENDS OF 2000AD
Since its launch in 1977, 2000AD – “The Galaxy’s Greatest Comic” – has been at the forefront of British Comics and remains a shining light in an increasingly barren landscape. Arriving perfectly in time with the popular re-emergence of Science Fiction and bearing a punky, anti-authoritative tone, 2000AD thoroughly invigorated Boys comics, introducing a collection of classic characters. For a vast array of 2000AD’s artists and writers, the comic was vital springboard to international recognition and success. UniComics is proud to present a panel discussion with three of 2000AD’s most iconic and renowned creative stars from its formative years – founder, debut editor and writer PAT MILLS (Slaine, Charley’s War), artist DAVE GIBBONS (Rogue Trooper, Watchmen), and artist KEVIN O’NEILL (Nemesis The Warlock, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) – who discuss the early development of the title as well as their own specific and greatly-admired contributions. Hosted by Danny Graydon. Tickets are priced £10

Sunday 25th April, 6pm
WEEKLY BRITISH SPIRIT – SIXTY YEARS OF THE EAGLE & DAN DARE
On April 14th, 1950, a new Boys comic called The Eagle vigorously introduced some wonder in to the drudgery of post-war Britain, and, with its star strip Dan Dare: Pilot of The Future, showcased a profoundly alluring fantasy of a strong and vital Britain in then far-flung 1997 that boldly led the way in the exploration of outer space. One of the most successful comics in British history, at its height, The Eagle remarkably sold just under a million copies a week. In celebration of the 60th anniversary of both this landmark, much-beloved title and its highly-memorable flagship character, UniComics presents a panel discussion to explore what is considered to be one of the high watermarks of British Comics history. The panel includes PAT MILLS (Founder of 2000AD), NICK JONES (Founding editor of Titan Book’s Dan Dare library), DR.WILL BROOKER (Kingston University) and GARY ERSKINE (Artist, Virgin Comcs’ Dan Dare). Hosted by Danny Graydon. Tickets are priced £10

Saturday 24th April, 8pm.
SCREENING: WATCHMEN – THE DIRECTOR’S CUT
In an alternate 1985 where superheroes exist – and are outlawed – the world stands on the very brink of nuclear conflict. When a former colleague is murdered, an active vigilante named Rorschach begins a sprawling investigation which soon uncovers a threat that could completely change the course of history. Long deemed “unfilmable” – notably by WATCHMEN writer Alan Moore himself – 300 Director Zack Snyder’s adaptation of Moore’s and Dave Gibbon’s revolutionary and award-winning graphic novel won considerable acclaim for its thoroughly impressive loyalty to the source material. The director’s cut of the film adds a further twenty-three minutes to the story, bringing it ever closer to the graphic novel. For this special UniComics screening, the film will be introduced by WATCHMEN artist DAVE GIBBONS. (US, 2009, 186 Minutes)

BOOKING & INFORMATION:
Telephone: 01707 281127
E-mail: uharts@herts.ac.uk
Website: www.herts.ac.uk/artsandgalleries
Box Office Opening Hours: Monday to Friday, 9.00 am – 4.00 pm

www.unicomics.co.uk

Sounds like an interesting run of talks and events…