“Pure Imagination”: A Lament For The Music Makers And The Dreamers

There is no life to compare with Pure Imagination. Living there, you’ll be free if you truly wish to be…

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“We are the music-makers. And we are the dreamers of dreams” – Willy Wonka.

Hold your breath. Make a wish. Count to 3.

My breath could not be held.

It has been taken far too many times already this year by the heartbreaking and unbelievable number of top talent we have lost. Who does not wish that we could have held on to them a little while longer?

Sadly, they are too many to count…

When the news of Gene Wilder broke on Monday evening, it did not immediately affect me. Can’t let it: it’s become an almost-disturbing commonality this year. However, work on a completely different Post was suspended yesterday in order to make way for these thoughts.

Naturally, yesterday, a number of you uploaded “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory (1971).

Actually, the first track that came to my mind was this dreamy slice of ambiance from Aphex Twin – it contains a suitably magic sample from Wilder as Wonka: 

The year began with a shock that crushed just about all of us.

The top legend – the ultimate pop singer: David Bowie departed, just ten days into 2016 – and only two days after his 69th birthday, and after the release of his swansong album: Blackstar. 

The outpouring of grief they say was “unprecedented.” No, such a mass turnout was to be expected in London, Berlin and New York for the the beloved boy from Bromley. 

They say the music will endure – Bowie was sufficiently talented to ensure that, but when you know there will be no more from that unique stock… 

And to think Wilder passed away on Monday listening to Ella Fitzgerald’s version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow. 

To weep, perchance to dream…

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“There is no Star Wars without R2-D2 – and Kenny Baker defined who R2-D2 was and is” – Kathleen Kennedy.

A fortnight ago, the news concerning the passing of Kenny Baker came so abruptly. But the real shock came from not seeing enough Obituaries dedicated to him. 

This is a shame.

Just because he was of diminutive size – 3ft 8in to be exact – does not mean he has less entitlement to a celebration of his achievements.

Originally, Baker appeared in a variety troupe known as the Mini Tones. In 1976, his fellow diminutive co-performer: Jack Purvis convinced him to go and audition for a fantasy film. In the original record-shattering phenomenon that turned out to be Star Wars, Purvis “played Chief Jawa,” but Baker landed the way better more enduring – role of R2-D2, the endearing droid who came to the rescue in every episode. He sat inside the metal shell, even in the middle of the Tunisian desert, just to make the dream of a seemingly-impossible space opera come alive.

And what of Baker’s “audition”? Talk about a dream come true!

He showed up on set. George Lucas pointed at him and said: “You’ll do.”

(…!)

He and his wife – who was also of diminutive stature – played Ewoks in Return Of The Jedi. The actor went on to appear in other genre faves such as Flash Gordon and The Elephant Man (both 1980) but his fave role was as Fidgit in Time Bandits (1981). He did not have to be concealed in an “upturned bucket” or under several coats of alien make-up to work some very special magic. 

Arguably Terry Gilliam’s best film, it followed the adventures of a band of dwarves who exploit holes in the fabric of space and time with the aid of a stolen map and set out to become “stinking rich.” 

It endures as one of the most ingenious and delightful fantasy films you are ever likely to see. 

Quite simply, it is a classic of pure imagination. 

He died on August 13, aged 81.

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“I re-invented my image so many times that I’m in denial that I was originally an overweight Korean woman” – David Bowie.

With each sad, significant loss mentioned in the Obituary columns this year, the grief is accompanied by a gnawing and reluctant realization that there is barely anyone – in either the music or movie industry – worthy enough to take their place.  

“The stars look very different today…”

Is it a telling lack of talent?

Or a moribund cultural landscape where ingenuity and originality are not allowed to thrive?

Or both?

Contemplating the former calamity: tried to think of half a dozen current stars of the big screen.

Nuts…

Honestly cannot remember the names of four of ’em. And the two names that are seared into my memory have done so only cos their output is notoriously dire and unwatchable… 

On this Summer’s day, as warm as the memories that Wilder’s – or Baker’s – or Bowie’s most magic moments rekindle, writing this lament has gone on long enough for one to see l-o-n-g shadows stretching across the ground outside.

Uh-oh – allegorical mode. 

Coming to the end of a productive – and reflective – day, it is all too easy to consider that, with the passing of each true great, we indeed reach a regrettable “end of an era.” 

Nearly all the classic music-makers and dreamers of dreams have left us. This is, ultimately, an unnerving, as well as a sorrowful, thought. For they leave a stunning legacy in which: only music that is (at leastthirty years old can be heard through my earphones, and only SF/fantasy films filled with genuine wonder and charm (and NOT artificial CGI!) make my gleeful grade.

They really don’t make ’em like they used to… 

If only all the guff that passes for popular “entertainment” these days was just a figment of our imagination.

But then again, we could dream up far more entertaining packages… 

Couldn’t we…? 

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The Hunt For The Man-Beast: The Bradscribe Expedition To Find Lost Comics!

In The Mighty Jungle, A Fearless Bunny Will Not Rest Until The Awe Of Yore Has Been Found… 

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“Permit me to sneer, Warlock! — Has one who has purity like unto a god — Yes, and innocence, too — Has he found a lasting good upon this planet? Speak truth now! Have you?” – Man-Beast. 

The galactic hero patrolled an alien world in a landspeeder. An evil, slit-eyed droid pursued him.

His hair was definitely black; his outfit? Maybe black. His adventures certainly did not appear in colour, but unmistakably graced a UK comic. Probably Marvel UK?

Who the blazes was he?!

Despite providing a thrilling read, over 35 years ago(!) his name, and – more crucially – the name of the comic in which he starred have – to my complete dismay – completely escaped me.

This Summer, reminiscing about the earliest comics to bring me inestimable pleasure so many moons ago has motivated me more than ever to track some of ’em down.

It’s now or never.

Shut out all 21st century distractions. Cast my mind back to the “Golden Age” of 1979-82 and try and work out the identity of that, and other, lost classics.

Marvel UK produced so much fantastic stuff during that period. Most notably, the bulk of their material happened to be b/w reprints of good ol’ American colour originals. Yay, ’tis through this cheap yet cheerful, and undeniably invaluable modest medium that much of my exploration of the Marvel Comics Universe gained momentum.

Perhaps the most entrancing (re)discovery from my trawl through the comics of yesteryear was Star Wars Weekly – a title reprinting the ongoing adventures of Luke Skywalker, superbly illustrated by comics legend: Carmine Infantino – enjoyed so much back in’79. However – inexplicably, and despicably! – not a single ish survived the cull that swept through the Bradhouse one fateful Winter’s day long ago. 

Now, in 2016, a dozen ishs were laid out high along one shelf of one specialist shop in London. You had to ask the ass(istant) just to TOUCH them.

One cover in particular leapt out at me – it looked SO familiar! The cover blurb stated that it also featured: Starlord, Guardians Of The Galaxy and Tales Of The Watcher. When the Guardians Of The Galaxy movie came out two Summers ago, this team didn’t ring any bells, and yet! They had been a part of my infancy… and yours truly hadn’t even realised! 

Back then, you see, those Guardians did not consist of a gun-toting raccoon, nor a talking tree. Peter Quill spacefared all by his lonesome, in his own strip, not as the leader of the Guardians. Heck, he wasn’t even associated with them neither!

As for Tales Of The Watcher, well…! Get all choked up whenever catching that title – this character had such a captivating effect on me, cos when producing my own first comic book (at the tender age of 6, no less!) it was named: “The Watcher.”

Was this the ish in my possession 37 years ago?! Was that galactic hero set to reintroduce himself to me there and then? Was it, perhaps, Starlord himself?!

Just had to open the polythene bag and find out.

Took a deep breath.

Turning over the front cover, a tingling burst of happy memories might flood my senses…

But no… 

This Starlord looked completely different. And that mysterious cosmic figure was nowhere to be seen…

Curses…!

My quest must resume… elsewhere. 

Never fear, thrill-seekers! A most unlikely target HAS been acquired!

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“The reptilian speaks more truly than you, Man-Beast! My eyes see not the humble robes of my guide, who called himself The Prophet — but the gaudy royal cloth of one who would subjugate this Second Earth!” – Adam Warlock.

Future Tense (a sci-fi Weekly launched in November 1980never – strangely enough – found its way into the Bradhouse.

…Until now.

At long last, a whole crate of original editions were located at my local comics emporium! Bought two editions: opened up the one dated: January 28 1980, and turned to the final story: And Men Shall Call Him Warlock.

The golden-skinned protagonist known as Adam Warlock is another of those numerous warmly-received, yet dimly-remembered comic characters to have danced giddily across my retinas over three decades ago.  

And what – in a gloriously dramatic splash page – is gloating imposingly on the steps of his subterranean stronghold on Counter Earth (“Like our planet, but exists on the other side of the Sun!”) with a captured Adam at his mercy?

Why, ’tis Man-Beast isself!

This humanoid creature with the head of a wolf may have been one of the more obscure oddities to emerge from the mighty Marvel Comics Universe, but – blimey Charley! – made a HUGE impression on me way back when, even though he has lain dormant in the dark recesses of the Brad mind for far too long.

If he regularly appeared in Warlock, then here – lol and behold – is where he first came to my gobsmacked attention.

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Garth The Hunter: “Nurse your wounds, stout one — and leave the fighting to me. Perhaps that bite’s taught you the error of your brash and vociferous ways! — Though I doubt it –”

Gorjoon: “Suck an egg, blondie!” 

Funny how something you had never even considered looking for turns up out of the blue when you are busy browsin’ for something else…

A more concentrated scope around my local comics emporium again last week brought to light some very interesting titles, including one title that almost made me jump!

Good Grud! Could not Adam-an’Eve that it was just lying there in wait for me!

As Man-Beast played a profound role in the first of my comic-collecting, so, apparently, did Man-Wolf, aka John Jameson (the son of Peter Parker’s Editor: J. Jonah Jameson).

And so ’twas: Man-Wolf #36.

The cover: a shirt-ripped lycanthrope-hero trapped in space set my arm hairs on end – a startling image not seen for 35 years! 

THIS is a major blast from my past, rediscovered: 

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“I’ll folla ya in the Sky Sled — It wuz the first thing we secured in the attack! Once we git there, though — yer on yer own” – Nick Fury.

And yes – deep joy!

This particular ish just happens to feature Nick Fury, Director and Top Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., albeit in a minor supporting role. The writing by David Kraft is top-notch, and the art – supplied by George Perez and Frank McLaughlin – is so small and meticulous that up to ten panels per page is per usual. 

John Jameson’s curse materialised in the form of the Moonstone. 

“It affixed itself to my throat,” the soldier-turned-astronaut recalled bitterly. And, since then, whenever a full moon appears, it transforms him into “a nocturnal grotesquerie, a lurking brute unleashed by lunar radiation.”

It may not cause a colossal ripple across the the fabric of spacetime, but within the perpetually awesome and award-winning Bradmosphere, this find is positively stupendous!

Huzzah!

This stage of the expedition, my fellow thrill-seekers, has revealed not one, but two, faves once trapped on the distant shores of hazy recollection. Ah, so glad… 

But what of that dark-haired cosmic hero mentioned at the beginning of this Post?

Alas, nobody can tell… yet.

Perhaps he has resurfaced on another side of the Marvel Comics Universe – rebooted and rebranded – in a completely unidentified guise. Such is the trend in comics these days, he is now likely to be a woman…

No doubt The Watcher has noticed – to considerable bemusement – my plight. Nothing gets past him…

Nevertheless, undaunted and undeterred, this bunny ventures even further into the macrocosm that is this jumbled and overloaded mind.

To unleash other long-forgotten thrills from yesteryear.

To delight you, dear reader.

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Keep It Awesome!😉

The Bradscribe Beach Party!

If Life Is A Journey, Then The Beach Should Be Our Destination… 

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“She would be half a planet away, floating in a turquoise sea, dancing to flamenco guitar” ― Janet Fitch: “White Oleander.”

It may be bucketing down with rain outside, but in this sector of the blogosphere, the suns – yes, both of them – are blazing; the sand is as smooth as fudge and the sea is a snazzy shade of turquoise. 

Yay, and its hot, and pleasantly so – the way we dig it round here. 

Besides, after one helluva hectic week, sitting on a secluded beach somewhere is all one is capable of doing this weekend… 

Whoa, what a week!

On Monday, revived a post that has been lying dormant on my Dashboard for far too long – still couldn’t get anywhere with it!

Another two ideas will (hopefully) be developed for a couple of news/enterainment websites – so nothing here until something proceeds over there, you see.

Was working on a Post about SF villains and how to create really superbad ones, but…

You know what? 

Deluged with SO MANY hate crimes and despicable acts across international news, it seems that society at large is all-too-capable of producing its own repugnant brand of villainy and in bewildering copious amounts as well…

Perhaps having no time to relax or having no access to any beach is a factor in all this…?

Rather than waste my precious MB Space by droning on philosophically regarding how far we have lost our way, etc., it’s best to just:

CHILL OUT

And blog only about the good stuff.

After all, life is too short to get distraught… 

So, why not party? Grab a bikini (you’re welcome to borrow one of mine if ya like), fill a plate with some tasty gubbins from the beautiful, bulging buffet bar, head on down to the water’s edge and flop out on one of the official Bradscribe Sunbeds. 

Earlier this week, Nancy over @ Graphic Novelty nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award – aha! Another reason to party!

How very kind, but you needn’t have worried – your invitation to this Beach Party was already assured well in advance!

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“People see me and they squeal like tropical birds or seals stranded on the beach” – Carrie Fisher. 

So, apart from soaking up the rays, what is Brad getting up to these days?

Following the success of last week’s Post (many thanks for helping to QUADRUPLE my Stats! V much appreciated!) there has been research into the origins of both classic and cult comic book characters.

Hunting for vintage comics has been a thing-to-do at the back of my mind for some time, and on this extended stay in the UK, the opportunity to get on and do that very thing has come up!

So far, have managed to discover some classic titles that escaped my attention the first time around; not just from (my) Golden Age of 1979-1982, but some amazing titles from the ’70s have been tracked down.

You will get to see how my comics collection has expanded this Summer in write-ups here in due course!

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“How inappropriate to call this planet Earth, when it is quite clearly Ocean” – Arthur C. Clarke. 

Hey, there needs to be more beach parties in the blogosphere! 

But really…

There really needs to be more science fiction set on the beach –any beach. 

Is it just me or have we had too many dystopian SF flicks set in inner cities? Sure, 75% of us are going to be living (and working, if we’re lucky!) in cities by 2050; pretty sure the percentage of citizens craving escape to the beach will be much higher…

And we need to unwind after a somewhat underwhelming Summer at the box office.

Don’t forget the BEACH is the Best Escape Anyone Could Have…

Never fear, for something intriguing is always near!

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This has just come to my attention today – with a striking poster campaign a forthcoming SF movie: Arrival reportedly offers a “unique spin” on the alien invasion movie.

Based on the Ted Chiang short: “Story Of Your Life,” Amy Adams plays an expert linguist recruited to find out what a newly-arrived alien fleet want from us. Also starring Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker, it comes out in early November, and – along with Chris Pratt’s Passengers (released in December) – will hopefully revive this year’s weak choice of big movies to get excited about.

Until then…

Where else, in this bloomin’ marvelous pulsating blogosphere, can you just sit back with a good drink in your hand?

And R E L A X…

Yay, you don’t have to worry about ANYTHING on this site.

Oh, and don’t you worry about me, sitting at the back, trying frantically to prise niggling grains of  sand out from between me toes…

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Don’t forget your sun cream…

Voyage To The Bottom Of The Wardrobe!: Secrets Of The Bradscribe Comics Collection Revealed!

Some Time in The Future, Somewhere in Space:

An Earthship Careens Madly Through The Interstellar Void, Screaming At The Top Of Its Lungs Like A Lost Child. 

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“Excellent! Soon I shall be “rescued,” and my mission of sabotage against the fleshers shall begin” – The Skelon Astronaut. 

During every stay back in the UK, it’s always pleasant to seek out that box in the wardrobe – the one stashed away from the perils of light and dust.

In these dark and difficult times, it is gratifying to have something to fall back on – to escape into. And as writing about other, more mundane, subjects has brought little enjoyment, or success, this week, something therapeutic was called for… 

The first phase of my comic-collecting: 1979-1982 probably amounted to no more than 50 books – by all accounts a measly haul for a kid with such a voracious appetite for sci-fi action and adventure.

You may think that yours truly is a Marvel Man, but actually, the majority snapped up during those heady days were predominantly DC – such faves included Legion of Super-Heroes, All-Star Squadron and Dial “H” For Hero.

Just about all my comics were acquired at the news emporium on the concourse of London Victoria railway station, on the way home from Grandma’s gaff (but only during school holidays).

We had so little time before train departure, so snap decisions were the order of the day. My judgment was invariably hugely influenced by how wicked the cover looked. Primarily a team title rather than a solo title would be more economical, but if Legion of Super-Heroes – especially the Secrets of the Legion of Super-Heroes mini-series – was on display, that got snapped up instantly. 

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To this day, it’s beyond me why only one issue of Mystery In Space #116 (eerie and compelling outer space fare); Shogun Warriors #18 (actually the premise for Pacific Rim!); and Ghost Rider #52, which inspired me to draft my only (so far) screenplay focussing on a comic book character – came into my eager mitts, but then again, poor distribution played a regrettable part in these proceedings…

In addition, Mum was not so keen on me acquiring too many comics anyway. 

Speaking of cool covers, they mostly got cut out and compiled into a well wicked  (we never said “awesome” back in those days!) scrapbook (hey, does anyone still keep them these days?!) which subsequently, much to my dismay, “vanished without trace.”

Of the various interior pages and very few complete ishs to survive, here is a peek at a select few: 

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“My belt of gravity-resisting Ninth Metal can’t possibly halt that bomber’s plunge, but I’ve got to try!” – Hawkman. 

There is a fondness for a particular DC title that made its debut in 1981.

Can still remember finding the first issue of All-Star Squadron (dated September 1981) set in the alternative world of Earth-2, with its iconic cover.

That Fabulous First Issue ended up being my one remaining copy until picking up #10 during my second phase of collecting ten years later.

The Squadron itself was a superhero ensemble formed just prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941. They are presented with the dilemma of disbanding the team so individual members can go and enlist in the armed services. Undoubtedly, the main attraction with this title was Hawkman, and the 40s detail which always looked amazing.

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No! Our orders are to destroy Herne and recover the medallion. That trinket is the key to our destruction. Stay… I will deal with Herne personally” – Algol The Terrible.

It was not all about DC and Marvel Comics. 

Alternatively, a regular pocket-sized book called: Starblazer – “Space Fiction Adventure In Pictures” appeared in the UK from 1979 onwards. Although acquiring only half a dozen of these, they were a welcome form of diversity at a time when SF comics were multiplying at such an unprecedented rate. With over 200 books, the title offered some of the finest writers and artists in the business until its demise in 1991).

For most fans of this obscure series, the first one bought happened to be the best. You really couldn’t get any better than Algol The Terrible, famous now for being one of the earliest weeks of acclaimed comics writer: Grant Morrison. 

Algol‘s appearance and actions were impressionable enough to guarantee him a place in my Top Villains Of All Time. 

And his gimmick? 

A stash of sonic javelins slung in a quiver across his back – a weapon so potent they “could vibrate any solid object apart.” 

Oh dear…

Standing defiantly against him was Herne The Outlaw, one of Starblazer’s very few recurring characters.

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“C’mon, Brad, quit bothering me. I said I don’t want to go out with you anymore” – Vicki Grant.

Last, but by no means least, it’s back to the endearing DC stable for Dial “H” For Hero (which appeared in several issues of Adventure Comics). 

Legion of Superheroes served me very well, so it’s such a shame that none of my copies survived. Issue 272 contained a Preview of Dial “H” For Hero; these particular pages have survived the cull, and are steeped in cosy nostalgia for me.

Based on a really cool idea, Vicki Grant and Chris King, two high school students, stumble upon a couple of strange lockets that, when activated, turn them into different superheroes (albeit only for one hour). This title appealed because of its innovative concept: different heroes (and villains!) were each created by a reader who had submitted their own ideas. In the panel where the good/bad guy/gal made their first appearance, that creator’s name, age and hometown were mentioned.

My particular fave was “The Silver Fog was created by Harlan Ellison, Age 46.” His dramatic, if unconventional, entrance on the splash page is lovingly reproduced for you below:

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Would have given anything to see my Danger Man recreated by the legendary Carmine Infantino, but that exceptionally high airmail fee dashed all my plans before they could get anywhere.

In case you were wondering where exceptional faves: ROM and Thor can be found, they will be getting their own Posts in due course… 

That wardrobe doesn’t store as many comics as one would have liked, but that box contains some of the most significant works sifted through on rainy days or sleepless nights down the years. Most importantly, these comics played a major role in influencing and shaping my own writing.

And yes, Brad always had a soft spot for Sunspot:

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The War Of The Words: Why Does No One Talk Much In SF Films Any More?

Direlogue!

The Quality and Quantity Of Good Movie Dialogue Is Declining! We Need To Talk About It… 

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“…Do I talk first or you talk first? I talk first…?” – Poe Dameron.  

Wouldn’t it be cool to watch SF movies where you can just listen and enjoy good lines instead of being bombarded by noisy, meaningless CGI buffoonery?

As a writer who has dabbled in the art of good chatter – even trying (struggling!) to compile suitable quotes for my Star Trek review last week – it cannot have escaped your attention that there is decidedly less dialogue to get excited over these days.

Any writer of quality fiction/scripts/plays will tell you: there is nothing like good dialogue to drive any scene.

However, it should be pointed out that in  Mad Max: Fury Road – undoubtedly the Best Film of 2015 – the titular Road Warrior himself managed to grunt only 52 lines of dialogue; back in March, this year, Superman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice seemed to phone in his scenes with a measly 43 lines.

Where can we listen to cool and catchy prattle beyond the stars these days? 

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“George, you can type this shit, but you sure as hell can’t say it” – Harrison Ford.  

On our Third Stone From the Sun, today, about 7000 languages are spoken (Goodness knows how many other thousands of languages have died out in the last few centuries!).

Imagine that!

7000 ways to say: “Hello!” and 7000 ways to ask: “Got any cake?”

And yet…!

An intriguing paradox is lodged at the core of human communication: if language evolved to allow us to exchange information, how come most people cannot understand what most other people are saying?

No matter how globalized the 21st century would appear, there are numerous far-out, obscure – dare one say it: alien – places in this world where a dash of basic local lingo is essential in order to just get by.  

In the realms of science fiction, a dazzling coterie of pseudo-technical jargon has gradually arisen to aid in the hopefully-convincing creation of alien worlds and “futuristic” technologies.

This leads us to the now-legendary quote (above). George Lucas had immersed himself into this far far away sci-fi set-up to such an extent, that an outsider like Harrison Ford was easily stumped by having to spout it.

There is a very telling reason why less dialogue in modern movies is becoming the norm. 

The Chinese sector has taken over the American market as the largest box office territory in the world. Not only does less dialogue mean less subtitles/dubbing for them, but – alarm bells among screenwriters everywhere – Chinese cineama-goers are attracted primarily to the spectacle. 

Apparently, the (Western) world is not enough. 

We have reached the stage (regrettably) where the movie industry is geared towards doing good business, rather than making fine art.

For movies to make a profit (as substantial as poss, of course) they need to do well in Asian cinemas, not just in American. This should go towards explaining why major blockbusters are released in places like Thailand and Singapore (my former stomping grounds) well before the “official” dates in the US and UK…

Dialogue seems to have lost its power to influence – how and where can memorable lines fit into a world where people spend more time sending texts of abbreviated jargon, and emojis and Instagram encourage more image-based communication?

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“Can you speak? Are you programmed to speak?” – Harry Booth.  

How aliens communicate is a source of constant fascination in SF films. Star Trek is synonymous with species which are nearly all carbon-based bipeds. As a result, they invariably speak as humans – for the sake of not bamboozling TV audiences with distracting subtitles! – in perfectly-rendered English (preferably with American accents).

For the movies, the Klingons had their own language – specially created (Trekkies can even get their own Klingon phrasebook for pity’s sake!)

Of increasing concern is the prevalent problem of character under-development. How many times have we complained about that? Dialogue provides an important key to our understanding of a particular protagonist or, for that matter, antagonist. 

With the notable reduction of spoken lines in blockbusters, we are almost forbidden to learn their intentions or directions. Presumably, our attention must(!) be focussed on the digitally-enhanced action and explosions; if we want to learn what they’re thinking, we’ve gotta go and buy the novel/comic book that this spectacle is based on.

Let the cynicism flow through you… 

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“No, no, no, no. You gotta listen to the way people talk. You don’t say “affirmative,” or some shit like that. You say ‘no problemo.’ And if someone comes on to you with an attitude you say ‘eat me.’ And if you want to shine them on it’s ‘hasta la vista, baby’” – John Connor. 

Luke who’s talking…

In Star Wars: the Force Awakens, some fans were disappointed that the pivotal character remained mute in such a climactic, yet brief, screen time. Having been in that incredibly annoying situation myself where the right, poignant words for a crucial character just won’t come together, this is grudgingly possible to understand. 

Honestly, no matter how many alternate approaches or drafts are churned out, saying nothing at all can be the best, (safest) and most effective outcome.

Harrison Ford’s enervated Sam Spadesque narration for the original version of Blade Runner is partly what drew me into that “flawed classic.” After those “explanatory notes” were totally eradicated from the “Final Cut” the film is now regarded as a masterpiece.

My plans of breaking into screenwriting seem to be dwindling to the same extent as the very requirement for fine lines itself!

Judging from the upsurge in quality TV drama serials, good dialogue is allowed to flourish on the small screen, where the action and spectacle of the big screen is diminished, and more hours to fill provides opportunities for developing characters.

There, good scripts still matter.

The power of the spoken word, when crafted well, determines whether the captivated viewer comes back for the next episode(s).

So, rather than look for Brad on the big screen, you’ll be more likely to find my niftiest nuggets on Netflix.  

“To make anything work, you gotta find the right words.”

Now ya talkin’!

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“Come on guys, can we talk this over? …Good talk” – Iron Man. 

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Star Trek Beyond: The Bradscribe Review

Going Where Most Sequels Go, But Sadly Not So Boldly Either…

And… Beyond What, Exactly?!

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“We got no ship, no crew – how’re we going to get out of this one?” – Captain James T. Kirk. 

In the 50th Anniversary year of Star Trek, insurmountable pressure gnawed at the thirteenth film in one of the all-time revered franchises. 

Luckily, Star Trek: Beyond certainly turns out to be an enjoyable outing. It’s bright, energetic and – dare one say it – fast and furious. Yes, it IS quite good, and whenever it appears on TV, a second viewing won’t hurt. But in honouring this franchise’s half-century, it falls well short. 

Stardate 2263.2. On their 966th day in deep space – a little under three years into that five year mission – and an alien threat never encountered before attacks the USS Enterprise and splinters it in  spectacular fashion. Yeah, this starship is the most ridiculous and LEAST aerodynamic design in SF history, but watching it destroyed in increasingly diverse and dramatic ways is quickly becoming tedious. 

Actually, Beyond’s strongest aspect has to be the visuals, and the conceptualization and realization of Starbase Yorktown is especially mesmerising. A few more gliding and panning shots of that would have sufficed, thank you very much. 

Sure, the sfx is top notch, but in SF cinema these days, ironically, complicated visuals seem to be the simplest feat to achieve

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“Unity is not your strength. It is a weakness” – Krall. 

Star Trek: Beyond… what, exactly?

Not only does this title not signify anything specific, but this whole exercise (released now to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the franchise) does not really recapture the rather sedate – and not too furious – spirit of the original series.  

The villain: Krall is your typical ho-hum nasty Trek alien: prosthetically-challenged? Trek! Glowers at all the good guys (and gals)? Trek! And spouts incomprehensible, yet coolly sinister, galactic lingo in his deepest and most menacing voice (this time by Idris Elba)? Trek! Great entrance, but subsequently doesn’t do anything dastardly distinctive. 

Let’s face it – “Damn it Jim!” – if this was the 60’s, Idris would have to parade around in a loincloth and sport a pink candy-floss wig (to accentuate his extra-terrestrialness, you see…)

Sure, the cast do recreate (re-energize?) the original characters with gusto, particularly Chris Pine (as Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (as Spock) who fit better than ever into their iconic characters. After all the kerfuffle over “outing” Sulu, his relationship is merely implied – nothing sordidly frightful enough to vex the Chinese censors.

Of course, it’s a shame to watch Anton Yelchin knowing that it is his final appearance as Chekov…

My personal fave is Karl Urban as “Bones” McCoy. The interaction between him and Spock is particularly commendable (the closest you can get to recapturing the essence of the original show).

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“Ah, he likes that chair…” – Montgomery “Scotty” Scott.

Now – more than any time before: “Damn it Jim!” – my heart BLEEDS for Zoe Saldana, poor girl, underused YET AGAIN. At least she didn’t have to get her face painted for nothing…

But really…

What’s the point of her showing up on set at all if she is not going to get to do anything of any consequence?!

Lt. Uhura was one of the ground-breaking, progressive womens’ roles in early TV SF, so – with this Anniversary strongly in mind Saldana should at least have got the opp to turn in what most people call: “a career-defining performance,” with the main crux of the plot hinging on her, but… no…

And, talking of significant females in Star Trek, the grooviest intro to the ranks here is Jaylah (bold and boisterously portrayed by Sofia Boutella) but, there again, as is increasingly frustrating in modern SF cinema, she gets all made-up to do precious little…

So what? Tough gal with a staff = cue obvious favourable comparisons with Rey, from that other legendary franchise beginning with ‘Star’…

Well, Montgomery “Scotty” Scott had more to do this time, but – no surprise – he is played by the co-writer: Simon Pegg. Amazed he didn’t add a little romance between the engineer and the staff-wielder…

Oh, by the way: why the blazes did THAT BLOODY BIKE have to be on the Franklin, apart from allowing Kirk to look cool (and feel-young-again-annoying-cliche-alert)?

Not so much Starfleet but Speedway…

Beam me up NOW, Scotty, if you please… 

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” You spent all this time trying to be your father, and now you’re wondering just what it means to be you” – Dr. “Bones” McCoy.  

Personally, my extortionate popcorn parlour ticket would have been better spent had Jaylah been the main figure (character woud be preferable but that would mean the writers having to flesh her out more), trying to save her people from the fiendish Krall. 

Replace the crew of the Enterprise with a bunch of anonymous Starfleet expendables (remember to order the RED uniforms, darling) and you might get to learn more about Krall as well.

Hey, ditch the Star Trek tag while we’re at it(!)

 It would still be visually stunning, but… deprived of all formulaic familarity, it would NOT – “Damn it Jim!” – be financially viable… 

The problem is: after 13 movies, where else can this franchise hypothetically (okay, if you will, boldly) go now?

And just as one suspected: this movie – along with the last ten – fail in comparison when placed alongside the great Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan. 

This 21st century version of a 20th century vision of the 23rd century may divide critics and Trekkies alike, but it provides decent enough entertainment, and still managed to silence that gang of obstreperous younglings in the back row who kept jabbering throughout the Trailers.

On a last – and most tender – note: really appreciated the affectionate dedication to Leonard Nimoyalthough even he would have found that vague title highly illogical…  

BRADSCRIBE VERDICT:

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“I fail to see how excrement of any kind plays a part…” – Spock. 

“Let Them Eat Static!”: Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan Revisited

What Better Way To Celebrate 50 Years Since The Starship Enterprise First Set Out On Its Mission To Explore Strange New Worlds?

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“This is damned peculiar…” – Admiral James T. Kirk.  

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

While on a school holiday camp in 1983, me, and me room-mate, both HUGE Star Wars fans, thought it might be a good laff to go and watch Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. After all, the laughably-monickered: Star Trek: The Motion(?!) Picture had famously failed to resonate with fans and critics alike;  this would be just something to “pass the time.” 

BLIMEY! HOW WRONG WE WERE…

Back in the day, the original TV series went out at 6pm on Monday eveningssomething to watch while eating dinner, no more. Personally – in the year in which Star Trek celebrates its 50th Anniversary – some of the original scripts, not to mention most of those costume designs(!), have not stood the test of time well.

But Star Trek II did exceptionally well to entice and surprise the neutrals such as myself and convince us that the Gene Roddenberry Universe could offer its own wonders…

From the moment that Ricardo Montalban reveals himself as the genetically-engineered Khan Noonian Singh on Ceti Alpha V and starts fiddling with those gruesome Ceti Alpha eels (NOT to be watched with your Monday evening dinner…) you just knew that these proceedings were turning out to be a decidedly different – and more intriguing – Trek than usual – certainly several Warp Factors more sensational than what this ongoing mission had served up for us before…

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“He tasks me! He tasks me and I shall have him! I’ll chase him round the moons of Nibia and round the Antares Maelstrom and round Perdition’s flames before I give him up…” – Khan Noonian Singh.

Alas, the Motion Picture failed partly due to baring no resemblance to the legendary TV series that spawned it. However, by reintroducing one of the series’ more charismatic villains, from the 1966 episode: Space Seed, the stage was set for an epic showdown. 

Sure, at once, Khan made very much an 80s villain – big hair and big pecs – and as Shatner and Montalban both exuded larger-than-life characters, the scenes they shared together were electrifying, reslting in some of the best exchanges in SF cinema. 

Acquired a movie magazine from 1982 this week, containing two articles about this movie, including a review by a self-avowed Trekkie who thought it“stunk.” Apart from having “a silly script,” he remarked that Montalban‘s performance as Khan was “so outrageously over the top, it threatened to go over the edge.”

What rot! 

Charismatic yet dastardly, Khan is actually one of the great SF villains – now universally regarded as such. Goodness knows what said same hack makes of some of the lacklustre villains we have had to endure in recent big screen offerings!

To hell with the fact that Ensign Chekov didn’t even appear in the original Space Seed episode so wouldn’t have recognised the significance of Botany Bay!

Look past this obvious goof and get immersed in the flawless and endlessly riveting outer space action! Also mercifully extricated was the first film’s inexplicable predilection for dentist uniforms; sure, in 1979, that sort of thing would have been expected, but in 1982 – the year that also brought us Blade Runner, Tron and The Dark Crystal (remember that?!) – big and bold visions were the IN thing.

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“Admiral, the Commander of the Reliant is signalling. He wishes to discuss terms of our surrender…” – Lt. Uhura. 

While there could not have been any Trek movie without the phenomenal success of Star Wars, again, one redeeming fault of the Motion Picture was the banaland, quite frankly, tedious – way in which it tried to be too cerebral. Good to see this sequel jettison all that. 

Glorious galactic spectacle was not enough though; some major Star Wars-style action scenes were required. And some top-notch battle sequences were added. The initial attack of the Reliant was superbly handled – as you can see here:

…As was the Battle in the Mutara Nebula.

Over thirty years later, these effects still look remarkably special, but let’s face it: would they have been exhilarating without the stirring score supplied by the late great James Horner? Probably not…

And, after all this time, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is still the yardstick by which all new Star Trek movies are judged. 

Will the brand new Star Trek: Beyond be able to sit comfortably beside it? 

We shall see…

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“I have been, and always shall be, your friend” – Spock. 

Obviously, the great twist: SPOCK DIES was such a bold move.

Although neither of us avidly watched the series, we understood how integral to the series format its token Vulcan officer was, and applauded this incredibly bold move to kill him off…

Apparently, there was only ever to be these two movies, and to have one of the central characters meet his end seemed the only (ahem) logical way to end it all. This scene – according to Hollywood legend – was the only reason that Leonard Nimoy agreed to reprise his most famous role anyway. It still puts a lump in my throat every time it comes on – a superbly acted and directed sequence. 

Such a shame that the huge box office success of Wrath Of Khan meant that Star Trek III had to go ahead. And with one of the most ludicrously contrived plots ever committed to film as well! 

What would modern SF cinema look like today if the Trek franchise had ended with the view of Spock’s coffin on Genesis…? 

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“Are you out of your Vulcan mind? No human can tolerate the radiation that’s in there!” – Dr. McCoy.

Star Trek: Beyond is in cinemas now.