Monday, September 10, 2012

The exciting world of Cowboy/Hair puns and yet more Spoiler free Dredd

Last weekend was the official opening weekend of the new Judge Dredd movie - readers of this blog will know ("Yeah, I know, Dave. You've banged on about it enough") that I was lucky enough to be invited to an exclusive screening a week ago in London, but thanks to John Burdis (author of the excellent Cellar of Dredd blog) the evening of Saturday the 8th would see us both clad in our Judge outfits promoting the film for the Empire Cinema in Leicester Square.

This time Tara would be with me as would my friend Paul, neither of whom had seen the film yet. Lunchtime Saturday saw us on the train again and I was absolutely dreading (no pun intended) what was to come - mainly because it was absolutely sweltering (uncomfortably so, in fact) and I found myself loath to be wandering around in sweaty leathers for a whole evening as I'd seriously be running the risk of passing out.

The train journey was unexpectedly made more entertaining by a twitter related pun-off between my friend John Moynes and myself prompted by a crap gag I'd thought of on the way up that I felt had to be unleashed upon the world.

Yes, I'm not sure why either. It just tickled me at the time. Moynes quickly returned with a post..

..and thus Cowboy/Hair War was declared and the salvo began.

"Unless you're the man with no mane" - BLAM - "Or that guy from a Fistful of Straighteners", "Or the fella from High Plaits Drifter", "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Curler Robert Ford" - KABOOM - "The GHD, The Bad and the Ugly", "Bury my Hair at Wounded Knee" - WUMPPHHHH - "Redhead Redemption", "There will be blondes", "Bunanza", "Butch Cassidy and the Skinhead kid". The onslaught continued...

..and then (with the sound of a whistle growing louder) BLAM, an unexpected and blinding assault from Fifth Columnist Tara - who by this stage had suspected what I was busy doing when I asked for her help in thinking of a Western that had "The real" in the title so I could pun on the word "L'oreal"

..and then we arrived at London. Proof therefore of two things - that punning can act as a distraction from tedious long journeys, and secondly that the whole genre of cowboy/hair related puns is a rich vein from which to tap. If you can think of any more, please let me know - there must be some that we hadn't thought of.

Meeting Paul in London we headed to Leicester Square to grab a bite to eat - however, we happened to choose a KFC that had been equipped with the most sensitive fire alarm known to man, which of course chose mid-meal to go off, so were left standing on the streets to finish our meals, having been evacuated. Upon our return inside the alarm went off again, but this time the flames would have had to be lapping around my trainers for me to desert my chicken and chips.

Judge Burdis was already outside the cinema trooping when I there at around 17:45 so I went straight inside the cinema - where we'd been given the warmest disabled toilets in the UK to get changed in - and got into costume. There was a brief moment of panic where I ruined three out of my four contact lenses trying to put them in, and another horrifying moment where I thought I'd left my headband (essential at sweat collection for the Judge helmet - a phrase that sounds way cruder than I'd intended) at home. Still, some fifteen minutes later saw everything done and me out in the hubbub of Leicester Square.

Judges Court and Burdis greet the Brit-Cit movie-goers with the famous
Mega City blend of hospitality and warmth
Luckily there was a bit of a breeze and Steve Green (of Minty fame) was there with bottles of water, so my fears were unfounded. The crowds seemed to enjoy having us there - and a surprising amount of people knew who we were dressed as - and the afternoon and early evening were taken up with having hundreds of photographs taken of us posing with our guns and beating up passers-by (many of them children, I'm ashamed/amused* to say). John was in his element, at one stage picking up a bride from a hen party with a firemans lift, much to her (and her friends) amusement, and rushing inside the cinema with her. I also failed desperately to convince a lovely 76 year old lady (who was desperate to get a photograph with me, although she had no idea who I was supposed to be) that she should go to see Dredd instead of Anna Karenina **.

There was also some amusement when a foreign gentleman asked me who I was supposed to be in very poor English. I tried to explain as best as I could, but he'll now go home convinced he spent a while on Saturday evening in Leicester Square speaking to an oddly dressed man named George Court.

By early evening many of the 2000ad forum members coming to the showing - along with my wife and Paul, now returned from sampling Londons finest ales - were now all present so we all made our way inside The Empire. In advance of the adverts before the movie starting we had the opportunity for some photographs of us sitting in the cinema in full costume and also got the opportunity to have some photographs taken with John and I standing on the stage right in front of the curtains.

Judges Court and Burdis laugh in the face of 18 rated gore whilst those around them drop their popcorn in astonishment

After the film - more on which later - we had the opportunity for some photographs with people inside the cinema and then it was time to - at long last - get changed out of some very sweaty clobber and return to relative normality. And for anybody who happened to be travelling on the tube between Leicester Square and Snaresbrook last Saturday evening, I apologise if you had to stand anywhere near me - You'll know if you were, as your nose won't quite have recovered yet. I was humming like a barbershop quartet after a hot day in leathers.

So, how was the second viewing? Despite the fact that both screenings saw me in the presence of fanboys (and I'm not ashamed to count myself as one of their number) it was interesting to see it again without the whole "Squeee I'm Sitting Near To John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra in an exclusive screening" fever pitch mood accompanying my first viewing and to actually pay proper attention to it.

Much as I still love the film - the look and feel of it despite the differences from the strip (low-tech vehicles, an oddly sparse Mega City One) are incredible, for instance - what I'm most excited about isn't the film I've just watched but that which will come after it.

If there is any justice in the world it deserves to do well - It's a British independent film so deserves our support, after all - and the world of Dredd has such a fantastic wealth of material to tap into. Subsequent Dredd films (and I sincerely hope it does well enough at the Box Office that this happens) might be bigger and fancier but Garland understands the material and this shows in every second of Dredd 3D. It might not look exactly like the Dredd we'd envisaged, but it sure as Drokk feels like it.

..Time to check out the time of the next showing of Anna Karenina

And it's brutal, uncompromising, ridiculously violent and earns every bit of its 18 certificate - and it's nice for once to have a film that hasn't been watered down just so it gets a bigger audience. As I said last week this is the Dredd film I've wanted to see since I was a kid - and I'm anxious to see what Garland could do next with it, if given the chance.

And the traditional Coventrian*** exuberant review from Tara? "Well, I didn't hate it.". That is as high praise as I'd expected from my lovely wife :)

So, thanks to John Burdis for organising an excellent evening, The Empire in Leicester Square for letting us muck around outside their building, Steve Green for loads of photographs/looking after the Judges and also (last but not least) to Tony Richards for taking the excellent photographs that accompany this piece. There are some awesome photographs of the weekend, and undoubtedly more will emerge over time.

* - delete as applicable. Or don't. It's your call.

** - She told me she might get to a showing the week after. I suspect she said that to humour/placate me.

*** - The inhabitants of Coventry, by their very nature, seem to find it difficult to get overly excited about anything. If Zeus were to visit Earth, his arrival accompanied by the sound of a billion triumphant horns being sounded and a kaleidoscope of colour as the Heavens themselves joyously greeted his arrival, a Coventrian, upon witnessing said spectacle, would announce "Yeah, s'alright.". The cause for this phenomenon is mostly unknown, but it's believed to be something to do with Coventry City Football Club.

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