Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Dredd - Let's Love This Film (spoilers!)


I really like the Dredd movie.

I mean, I really like it. This isn’t all that surprising; I was an enthusiastic reader of 2000AD when I was a kid, and Karl Urban has yet to disappoint (he’s Bones, he’s Eomer, he’s the best thing in Doom the movie – he’s genre’s favourite actor!). The chatter from fans was positive despite not nearly enough people watching it at the cinema, and, let’s face it, it had to be better than the Stallone version.


Even so, watching it again at the weekend whilst tidying the living room (hyper-violence gives me the pep needed to remove the gravy stains from our coffee table) I found myself startled by how much I loved it; at the end I was grinning and nodding like a loon. I may even have bopped around the living room to the closing credits. I had to ask myself, what is it? Why does this film please me so much?


There is a lot to like. Visually, it is spot on. What I remember mainly of the Stallone version is that at first I liked the way it looked – Mega-City One looks crazy and you can see that it came from the comics – but as the film progresses it rapidly becomes less and less 2000AD and more Stallone’s Latest Vehicle, until you realise it is in fact unwatchable pap. Dredd seems to work in reverse; at first it feels too real, too gritty, like this is New York of a few years from now, but as you follow Dredd on the opening bike chase and into one of the blocks the atmosphere of 2000AD settles over you like a sooty cloud. Everything is soaked in sickly sodium yellow, and the Judge’s uniforms are dusty, lived in. By the time Dredd is striding through the precinct informing Control of “bodies for resyk” you are in that world.


The soundtrack! The soundtrack. I am in legitimate love with the soundtrack. I am listening to it when I’m writing and it’s fabulous; frenetic, doom-laden, anxious, ass-kicking. It’s pitch perfect, as important to the film as it’s visuals. Action sequences are cooler with it, more frightening, and the scenes where certain people take a dive from the top of Peach Trees are more beautiful, more horrifying. And I love Urban’s Dredd too. I expected to, really, but he’s more than just a grumpy chin – he’s stoic, relentless, and hiding a tiny twisted streak of dark humour deep within himself (very deep). I love LOVE that after he pushes Ma Ma off the balcony his only comment is “Yeah.” Because that’s all you need with Dredd.


But I suspect what lifted this movie above my usual general appreciation for a good, ass-kicking action movie was the female characters. The women in this film are great, and you know it makes me a little bit sad to say it, but that’s actually pretty rare in films at the moment. Yeah sure, you might get the token woman, and she might even be quite good at punching (usually kicking) people, but most of the time we will be viewing her through the Male Gaze – she will have her midriff showing or wear latex – and she will partially exist as a reward for the much more important male character.


In Dredd, we have Judge Anderson. This is her story, in fact – a rookie with questionable grades out for a final assessment – and we see her go through the wringer, but this is the thing; she is every bit as tough as Dredd. Olivia Thirlby has a sort of ethereal quality that initially gives Anderson a sense of vulnerability but we quickly discover that actually, this Judge can have you helpless and wetting yourself in seconds. The scenes where she a) demonstrates exactly how much control she has in the mind of the scummy perp and b) stands up to Dredd and makes her own Judgement made me cheer. At no point does Dredd patronise her, and at no point does the possibility of romance raise its perfumed head – my god, how refreshing is that? Not that I have a problem with romance, not at all, but so often it is a foregone conclusion.


And there’s Ma Ma, played with nearly uncomfortable intensity by Lena Headey. Like Dredd, she isn’t overburdened with lines but she manages to convey menace with just a certain way of standing, a particular frown. She is in charge of a lot of men who appear to respect her, or are terrified of her, and sex doesn’t seem to come into it at all. She isn’t using her sexiness as a weapon; she isn’t played for sexiness at all, in fact. She is just a serious Bad Ass, and one who will Fuck You Up.


Even the minor female characters get better treatment than usual. The woman who lets Dredd and Anderson into her apartment is brave and no-nonsense, doing what she needs to in order to save her family (for what good it does her). The Chief Judge is a woman too, and although you sense she probably has a better idea of what is going on than Dredd, this isn’t played as conniving or in any way negative; she’s just doing her job, and doing it well.


This is a great film, and it’s elevated further for me because at no stage did I experience that slight sinking feeling I often get these days when watching a movie; when a topless scene appears for no other reason than it’s assumed the audience is both male and straight; when a woman appears only as a prize or wish fulfilment; when whole chunks of the plot suddenly become very predictable because Romance. Dredd has female characters that are actually fully realised people, with interests and goals that do not revolve around a penis. I liked that. I loved that. And I loved everything else about it too.  


Friday, 22 February 2013

Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman: Pre-Order Competition!

You should know Emma Newman. She’s lovely, she drinks a lot of tea, and she has an excellent speaking voice. Oh, and she’s a fabulous writer too – evidenced by this rather nifty short story previously featured on this here blog.

And very soon her new book, Between Two Thorns, is coming out from the fabulous people at Angry Robot, and in celebration of this loveliness there’s a special competition for pre-orders. It’s going to rock people, so get your eyeballs below for the deets! 


Pre-order a copy of Between Two Thorns for a chance to win a great prize!






Pre-order a copy of Between Two Thorns and you'll be entered into a prize draw. If you win, you’ll have a character named after you in "All Is Fair" – the third Split Worlds novel (released October 2013) – and a special mention at the end of the book.







How to Enter



Pre-order a copy of the book from your favourite retailer (if you pre-order from Forbidden Planet you'll get a signed copy).






If you order from Forbidden Planet or robottradingcompany.com (for ebooks) you don't need to do anything else – Angry Robot will take care of your entry for you. If you pre-order from anywhere else you'll need to email a copy of your order confirmation to: thorns AT angryrobotbooks.com and they'll assign a number to you.






Here are links to all the places you can pre-order:






Forbidden Planet (signed paperback) http://forbiddenplanet.com/97907-between-two-thorns/




Angry Robot Trading company – for DRM-free ebook http://www.robottradingcompany.com/between-two-thorns-emma-newman.html







Amazon (paperback) UKhttp://www.amazon.co.uk/Between-Two-Thorns-Split-World/dp/0857663194/

US http://www.amazon.com/Between-Two-Thorns-Emma-Newman/dp/0857663208/





The Book depository (Worldwide free postage)



UK Edition http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Between-Two-Thorns-Emma-Newman/9780857663191


US Edition (bigger) http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Between-Two-Thorns-Emma-Newman/9780857663207






There are two UK launches and an international one using the magic of telephone conferencing. All the details are here: http://www.enewman.co.uk/real-world-adventures/between-two-thorns-launches-prizes-and-parties


Thursday, 14 February 2013

Urban Occult: Pre-Order Your Copy for Infinite Win

As I may have mentioned before, I am dead chuffed to have a story in Urban Occult, a new anthology of weirdness coming soon from Anachron Press; on the scale of "effed up-ness", I believe this story, Spider Daughter Spider, has an effed up factor of 11, and I'm very proud of it - not to mention that it's appearing alongside some absolutely stonking stories by some tremendously talented writers. It's going to be ace.

The good news is, you can pre-order this little beauty (and I mean really, the cover is a piece of fried gold right there) and the universe will smile upon you for doing so. Here be the deets:

Urban Occult Limited Pre-Order


Limited to 50.


Behind urban life, weird and horrific things fester. 

The whispers and chills of things long gone… the promise of power from the darkness… the seduction of those that lie in the shadows… the occult is all around us: in town houses, in mansions, and in your very own street.

Editor Colin F. Barnes collected together fifteen stories by a cast of critically acclaimed authors from around the globe who look into the stygian gloom, explore the dark corners of our houses, and peer into the abyss of human temptation.

Featuring stories by: Gary McMahon, Ren Warom, Gary Fry, Mark West, K.T. Davies, Nerine Dorman, Alan Baxter, Adam Millard, Julie Travis, Jason Andrew, James Brogden, A.A Garrison, Jennifer Williams, Sarah Anne Langton, and Chris Barnham.

Special Pre-Order Edition Limited to 50.

This pre-order edition means you will get the book at least a week to two weeks ahead of general release and:

A FREE ebook version (for any eReader)

and A FREE ebook of Day of Demons. (eBooks will be emailed to you on the 4th of March).

Just £9.99 (+£2.99 shipping anywhere in the world).

Pre-Order here: http://www.anachronpress.com/product/anthologies/urban-occult-limited-pre-order/