Xmas Post: ‘Tis The Season To Blog!

Never Mind The Baubles…

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“On Christmas morning we stuck up a board with ‘A Merry Christmas’ on it. The enemy had stuck up a similar one… Two of our men then threw their equipment off and jumped on the parapet with their hands above their heads. Two of the Germans done the same… our two men [went] to meet them. They shook hands and then we all got out of the trench” – Frank Richards: ‘Old Soldiers Never Die’ (1933).

I remember one Christmas morning
A winter’s light and a distant choir
And the peal of a bell and that Christmas tree smell
And their eyes full of tinsel and fire.

Blazes, last year’s Yuletide only seems like yesterday – you can’t tell me that one whole year has gone since the last one! Hardly done any shopping, only put the tree up on Tuesdaysorry, Bing, it’s not beginning to look a lot like Christmas. It’s okay, you will get no bah or humbug from me – it just feels as if we’re still in September. 

Christmas was always a fab time in the Brad household: Mum creating the most fantastic dinner in a white hot kitchen; balloons bursting in Dad’s face as he tried to, erm, blow them up; and Hannibal – our constantly petrified brown tabby – attacking the Christmas tree (then scarpering from the living room when it keeled over on top of him). Aah, happy times…

It was the best time of year to swell my collection of Star Wars action figures, and Annuals of my fave comics; consume lots of chocolate and mince pies, and catch some HUGE movies on the telly. But that wait for the Big Day to arrive was always long and arduous. 

Now, of course, the zest for this festive season has long since gone, just like my childhood; Christmas just comes and goes in a flash, and before you know where you are, it’s the (Happy?) New Year already…

Ah, but the dinners are still fantastic. 

…As are the mince pies.

So please, bliss out by the fire, and help yourself to some… 

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“Hey, Mr. Churchill comes over here
To say we’re doing splendidly
But it’s very cold out here in the snow
Marching to win from the enemy
Oh, I say it’s tough, I have had enough
Can you stop the Cavalry?”
– Jona Lewie.

They sold me a dream of Christmas
They sold me a Silent Night
And they told me a fairy story
Till I believed in the Israelite.

Being chosen to play one of the Three Wise Men in that school year’s Nativity production would be – you’d think – a highlight of my acting career. Let’s just say there were artistic differences between the director and my rather confused self.

Honestly, what were those idiots doing, hanging around a manger in the early hours of the morning?! They had brought NO toys (and no mince pies!) Pretty sure Dad would have told ’em to naff off…  

Seem to recall making a deliberately impudent remark concerning the Nativity Play and managed to get meself banished to the “choir” instead. Since then, though, the Star of Bethlehem has attracted my scientific curiosity later in life. What is particularly intriguing is that, rather than a comet, the Star was, most likely, a double eclipse of Jupiter in 6 BC, the year now widely accepted as the birth of Christ. Roman astrologers said that it “signified the birth of a divine king.”  

But hey, rather than carry on down this high-brow tangent, let’s just take it easy.

Put your feet up (against the fire).

And have another mince pie. 

Anyway – as this is indeed the time for giving – here is a little treat to help you, dear reader, through the perishing cold and unwanted socks. Without further ado, here is one of the greatest – not to mention one of the most hilarious – moments from SF cinema history:  

“You don’t have to follow me! You don’t have to follow anybody! You are all individuals” – Brian Of Nazareth. 

“Yes! We are all individuals!”

“I’m not…”

And I believed in Father Christmas
And I looked at the sky with excited eyes
Till I woke with a yawn in the first light of dawn
And I saw him and through his disguise.

It always bewildered me how one elderly, bewhiskered lunatic in bright red snazzy jim-jams could deliver pressies to all children around the world… in one night. 

Having been told all year round by our parents NOT TO TALK TO “STRANGERS,” come the most wonderful (bat-shit bonkers) time of the year, and we were actively encouraged to sit on the lap of a stranger – with a ridiculously false beard no less – and tell him what we wanted…

And the less said about his frickin’ flying reindeer the better…

Even to my delightfully innocent infant mind, none of this madness added up. Then again, if they handed over some Star Wars gubbins, yours truly wouldn’t make a scene. Honest. 

Supposedly this is the point in which the obligatory Christmas Carol is uploaded. Well, nuts to that… 

This is my blog, baby, and something more entertaining is called for; been waiting for the opportunity to upload this for ages. Granted, it’s not “seasonal,” but wow, it’s enough to get any party goin’; and it has a very sci-fi feel to it. Yes, Jon is using a theremin – that bizarre instrument used on soundtracks for classic B-movies of the ’50s. You know what they say: “We’d better let him in – he’s got a theremin.”

Really, you don’t get bands this cool, frenetic, anarchic and downright talented these days; why not…? 

Have a very Merry Christmas! And be sure to enjoy as much good grub an’ grog as you possibly can!

Cheers!

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I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave New Year
All anguish pain and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear.

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Rey Of Light: Who’s That Girl?

The Scribe Scrutinizes The Scavenger

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“People are getting tattoos! Of my face! Already! It seems insane to me” – Daisy Ridley.

“…The movie has a major problem in this central character. [Daisy] Ridley can barely act at all.” 

Eh? Come again?

“Her facial expressions are limited and repetitive, her interactions with her fellow stars unconvincing, her physical repertoire – running, fighting, shooting – awkward…”

So writes the obviously disgruntled film critic for the London Evening Standard who – like just about everybody else – awarded it four stars. Everybody knew that Star Wars: The Force Awakens was going to obliterate box office records around the world; some fans fretted over whether it would fail to satisfy their expectations; but hardly anyone – after this weekend – is none the wiser as to who Rey, the staff-wielding scavenger, really is.  

Finding out about Daisy Ridley is easy.

This 23-year-old Londoner – whose previous appearances include just bit parts in UK TV dramas such as Mr. Selfridge and Casualty – may have seemed like an ordinary bookworm and “Speed Garage enthusiast” up until last week, but now, of course, she has suddenly become one of the most famous women in the world. Also, she swears like a Stormtrooper, which makes her a natural successor to Carrie Fisher. 

By the way, major plot points will be included; but seeing how the latest widespread box office records indicate that everyone in the US, UK and the Outer Rim Territories have seen the movie, there is no longer any need to worry about dropping spoilers.

As my review pointed out, The Force Awakens is an undeniably exciting spectacle, and yet – as the days go by – key plot points and a rising pile of questions just baffle me even more, making me reconsider whether it is an episode to embrace wholeheartedly.    

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do: who is Rey?

“Well, Rey starts alone – and I did not mean ‘Solo’ when I said ‘solitary’,” she laughs.

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“I said: ‘Don’t go through the crew like wildfire.’ I also told her not to take any advice from me” – Carrie Fisher.  

“You start thinking: give her time, she’ll loosen up, it’ll get better. It never does.” 

Grief, this fella’s starting to annoy me…

“And she’s the heroine, the very heart of the film. So that doesn’t work.”

Yes, it does, dullard! Just take a look at all the other reviews: Ridley has instantly won over critics and fans alike. From the first few (captivating) moments we saw Rey, she was intriguing – we wanted to know her story, especially as her surname has been deliberately withheld. 

“People naturally assume that I am Han and Leia’s daughter,” Ridley has remarked, which – the more you read it – seems to imply that it is a misleading assumption… 

In the movie, SF’s most famous couple fret over their son, now ensconced in the First Order; tellingly, neither of them acknowledge Rey in any way to suggest that she is their child as well. Instead, should we be looking to the other Skywalker to discover her parentage?

As the film progresses, it is quite evident that there is more to this mere “scavenger” than meets the eye… Her skills are apparently limitless: just for starters she can climb (and rappel); not only can she pilot a ship, she can fix it as well! The most obvious giveaway that she is Han’s daughter is that she’s good with a blaster, but – hang on – on the other hand, she defeats Kylo Ren in a lightsaber duel and plays a faultless Jedi mind-trick on poor, unsuspecting Stormtrooper TK007 😉 which would suggest that she’s Luke’s girl…

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“The Force, it’s calling to you. Just let it in” – Maz Kanata.

Look at one of the movie’s best moments: Kylo Ren tries to summon Luke’s lightsaber – incidentally, how on Earth Takodana did such a revered artefact come into Maz Kanata’s possession? – but it whisks straight past him and into the hands of Rey. As the script notes reveal, Anakin/Luke’s lightsaber: “calls out to [Rey] wanting her to become its new master.” 

Moreover, that beloved overweight glob of grease: R2-D2 only powers up once Rey arrives at the Resistance base…

Expect Luke’s monologue from the second trailer (unused in the film, did you notice?) – most likely spoken to Rey – to form a vital crux of Episode VIII’s dialogue…

Ridley’s resistance to the media mind-probe these past few weeks has been particularly strong. She just emits that huge, full-beam, brilliant-white grin: “Is she an orphan? Who’s to say?” 

[cue coquettish wink]

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“[Rey] is an ordinary girl, in extraordinary circumstances” – J. J. Abrams. 

“This was the first day! And I honestly wanted to die. I thought I was gonna cry, I couldn’t breathe.”  

Why?! What happened?

“JJ probably doesn’t remember telling me that my performance was wooden,” Ridley explains. “And there was so many crew there… It was so hot… It was… awful.”

No worries: overall, she did a great job: “My experience has been incredible. I’ve felt supported and respected the whole way through.”

Seeing how it took only seven months and five auditions to win the role of the newest New Hope, it’s only fair that Daisy should get the final say:

“First and foremost for me, I want people to enjoy the film and think that I did a good job…”

Absolutely: “you have that power too.” 

“Beyond that, I don’t know… When I actually first heard about the job, it was months before I auditioned. And I got a funny feeling in my body.”

Ha, pun intended?

“It felt like the whole time – even though I thought I was doing a shit job in the auditions – there was something pushing me on, telling me this was going to happen. So it kinda feels like the wheels continue to turn.”  

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  • The first spinoff: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, currently in production, is set to hit theaters on 16 December, 2016;
  • Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII is slated for release on 26 May, 2017;
  • Star Wars Anthology: Han Solo Movie arrives on 25 May, 2018;
  • Star Wars: Episode IX opens sometime in 2019;
  • Lucasfilm is also developing a Third Star Wars Spin-Off Movie, which is presumably set for release in 2020.

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“Classified? Me too…” – Rey ___??

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Bradscribe Review

Episode VII: Luke Skywalker has vanished… 

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“The idea of being involved in it frankly felt dangerous” – J. J. Abrams. 

“Come on, baby, don’t let me down!” growls everyone’s favourite nerfherder during one of the many exhilarating moments in this record-smashing latest installment of the galaxy’s greatest saga. This perfectly sums up the expectations – not just of my humble self – but millions of fans as the weeks, then days, till release were agonisingly counted down.

No worries; fortunately for all of us, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a triumph, and deservedly so. J. J. Abrams has crafted a superior space fantasy, offering so much more than just a fanboy pastiche – embellishing this blockbuster with plenty of brand new and intriguing delights, forging the franchise in a bold and promising direction. Give him a film project with ‘Star’ in the title and – yay – he will work wonders…

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“I’ll tighten those restraints, scavenger scum” – Daniel Craig. 😉

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“People were like: ‘Oh my God, you’re Rey Solo’ – this is what people do, they just assume I’m Han Solo’s daughter, it’s not even a question any more” – Daisy Ridley.

It’s fantastic to see the new generation of Wars stars: Ridley, Isaac and Boyega – and, what the heck, BB8 as well – establish themselves firmly and convincingly in this beloved galaxy. 

As the central character, newcomer Daisy Ridley more than holds her own as the resilient Rey. Most curiously, when we first see her, she is merely a scavenger, searching for scrap from the now-legendary Battle of Jakku (and selling it to Simon Pegg! 😉 and – bizarrely – squatting in the shell of a fallen AT-AT. Pretty soon, she’s – what the-?! – not only flying the Millennium Falcon, but perfectly adept at the Ways of the Force. Blimey, Charley! She’s just too good to be true…

In Finn (John Boyega), we have a completely different type of character: a stormtrooper who – after a change of conscience – wants to defect to the Resistance. Through a compelling plot development, he helps the escape of star-pilot: Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). The time is right for Star Wars to have a new cocky young flyboy, and Dameron certainly makes the grade. 

Must – at this point – express what a delight it was, at last, to meet the wonderful, yet enigmatic, Maz Kanata. She reminded me a lot of the old dears who sell jasmine garlands in downtown Bangkok. Her “castle” is the sort of blissed-out, rad dive this blogger would have loved to frequent during his college days.

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“I feel there’s a recklessness about him that’s maybe not normally associated with the Dark Side. You normally think of order, and structure… he’s just a little bit more unpolished” – Adam Driver. 

For me, by far the best, most tantalising new addition to the cast is Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). He not only looks right, but – by Jove! – he sounds menacing enough. Black-robed and badass: that’s how we dig it around here! Could it get any better? 

In time-honoured tradition of Star Wars – with his ragged crossbeam lightsabre and disconcerting mask – he has captivated and freaked out the entire fanbase in equal measure. 

Hey,  don’t mean to brag, but his true identity was sussed on this blog months ago. And what he does towards the end of this episode – with Rey, Finn and Chewie looking on in horror – actually came as NO surprise. At all. 

Before moving on: let it be known that Supreme Leader Snoke was superb and sufficiently sinister – another unforgettable contribution from Andy Serkis.  

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“I didn’t have the imagination to recognise the future potential for the character. I was only going to do three of them, so I wanted to use the character to supply some bass notes, some gravitas” – Harrison Ford.  

It was just amazing to see that wondrous piece of junk – not Han Solo, ha ha! – but his eternally supercool Corellian freighter which – inexplicably – just happens to be standing neglected on Jakku AND in the exact area from which Rey and Finn must make their escape?! How opportune… 

There is no dramatic build-up to the entrance of Han and Chewie together, but the lump in the throat is still inevitable. Funnily enough, after all these years, Han is STILL moody and obsessive over the Millennium Falcon, forever quick to remind anybody that it’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 14 – sorry! – 12 parsecs. 

But when General Leia first steps into view after 32 years, quite frankly my tear-ducts burst. SO GOOD to see Carrie Fisher in a Star Wars movie again. 

As a HUGE fan of the X-wing Fighterit was, after all, my very first Star Wars toy – the sensational sequence featuring a whole squadron of them skimming the surface of that lake was irresistibly stupendous. The ensuing dogfight offered an enticing spectacle. This movie also honoured one of this franchise’s more stirring trademarks: TIE fighters chasing our heroes through ever-narrowing tunnels of vast installations.

Just can’t get enough of that wrecked Star Destroyer embedded in the sands of Jakku. 

Impressive. Most impressive.

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“In the street, they call out: ‘Hey, Princess!’ which makes me feel like a poodle” – Carrie Fisher. 

Yes, there are a few quibbles:

  • Having been enthralled at the prospect of Captain Phasma: a female stormtrooper, we looked forward to finding out what she would do. Bah! A couple of forgettable lines and nothing else hardly seems worth the bother…
  • Been waiting on tenterhooks to hear the new score by legendary composer John Williams. Don’t know about you, but there were no discernible epic tunes here.
  • The movie ends on Skellig Michael, a World Heritage site off the coast of County Kerry, Ireland. That’s the problem: without any CG tinkering whatsoever, it looks exactly like it was filmed… off the coast of County Kerry, and NOT in a galaxy far, far away…  
  • Seeing Joseph Gordon-frickin’-Levitt all greened-up, supposedly as Yoda? (!) at the Hollywood premiere on Monday night. Jeez, what a prat… 

Let’s not deny it: Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a successful re-engagement with the myth and magic that has made this the best-loved and most durable franchise.

Despite being several notches down from the glorious masterpiece that was The Empire Strikes Back, this is still a Magnificent Seventh Episode in its own right. 

And – oh yes – the Force IS strong with this one! 

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© All Rights Reserved

Any scum and villainy who dare swipe any of this stuff for their own nefarious ends shall be cut down by my crossbeam lightsabre!

Grumble, grumble, disturbing lack of faith, etc, etc. 

100th Post! Full Circle: “There’s Something Familiar About This Place”

What Can We Expect When The Force Awakens This Thursday? 

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“The secrecy has been beyond ludicrous. For heaven’s sake, it’s a movie. When I got the script it was typed in black on paper of the deepest red so you couldn’t photocopy it…” – Anthony Daniels. 

It’s May 1980.

A new Star Wars movie is just DAYS away. 

An all-consuming swirl of excitement and curiosity warps my infant mind. ‘CAN’T WAIT!!’ is the only – albeit frantic – message my brain will process. It’s impossible to do anything else. How can a second Star Wars movie hope to be (half) as good as the one all of us at school know and love?!

At the cinema, once the Battle of Hoth gets spectacularly under way, all our expectations are met. And then some, as we are thrilled by the AT-ATs, giggle at Yoda (before realising how powerful he was) and gawp at the climactic lightsabre duel. My generation cannot believe their eyes! Or their luck. 

(Fortunately, Dad took me to the cinema five times to help satisfy my cravings for fun, frills, fx and Fett. Actually, we managed to see The Empire Strikes Back only three times, including the much-heralded double-bill – the infamous FULL HOUSE sign was strategically placed outside the main doors twice).

This is not just a smash-hit movie, but a monumental phenomenon! No other movie matters. 

Now that the release of the Most Anticipated Movie of the Decade is imminent, there is an eerie sense of deja vu – the fanfare is cranked up to maximum; the teensiest gobbets of information are trundled out; photos of the stars suddenly become ubiquitous across all media; and – oh yes – the merchandise is being trundled out ad infinitum. Honestly, it feels like 1980 all over again. 

“I sense something. The presence I have not felt since…”

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“If you are telling a continuous story, as we are, then all the episodes have to fit together to form a cohesive piece, and this middle act – The Empire Strikes Back – has to be a slower and more sombre piece in a way…” – Gary Kurtz.  

“It is a dark time for the Rebellion,” so began the legendary scrawl for Episiode V. “Although the Death Star has been destroyed, Imperial troops have driven the Rebel forces from their hidden base and-” 

And you’re thinking: Hang on! Major Bummer! What – and how much(!) – did we miss?! One minute our heroes are receiving medals and the next… they’re hiding in an igloo on one forlorn side of the galaxy(!) How did that happen?! This infant and millions of others of course – demanded a full report. It felt like we had got into the cinema way too late…  

“There’s been an Awakening. Have you felt it?”

Yeah, fella, but – yet again – we feel as though we’ve joined this brand new Episode way too late. Not only have thirty years passed since we last saw our happy heroes in the forest of Endor, but thirty years have passed in this galaxy. In that time, the apparently epic Battle of Jakku was waged, the remnants of the Empire reformed – relatively swiftly – into the First Order i.e. it’s a dark time for the rebellion (now the “Resistance”) once more. So, that party with the Ewoks was all for nothing…

One of the more enigmatic figures to emerge has been Kylo Ren (played by Adam Driver). He’s not a Sith, but affiliated with a mysterious sect known as the Order of Ren. Ever since we first glimpsed him staggering through a snow-covered forest energising his fearsome, yet crude, red cross-guard lightsabre, SW fans have speculated who he might be, especially since seeing Vader’s battered helmet in his possession.

The most telling fact is that he works for a character known as Supreme Leader Snoke: “who is a powerful figure on the dark side of the Force,” yet to be revealed, but we know it will be the latest motion-capture performance by Andy Serkis (a personal fave at this blog), responsible for providing the sinister narration for SW:VII’s first trailer.

As a supercool bonus: we have the chrome-clad Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) to savour as well! And watch out for Maz Kanata, (another CGI character played by Lupita Nyong’o): “a pirate who dwells in a castle populated by all manner of aliens and assorted scum.”  

Some intriguing aspects to look forward to…

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“I went up to Skywalker Ranch and they told me they were gonna do more Star Wars movies… So here I am. I got to write for Harrison Ford again after 30 years…” – Lawrence Kasdan. 

Inevitably, the background story of Anakin Skywalker – the Jedi who became a Sith Lord – received the prequel trilogy treatment. Naturally, as one of the original fans, there was a certain curiosity to find out how it all came together. But, oh boy… Talk about having a bad feeling…

There was absolutely no way multitudes of heartbroken fans like us could unlearn the travesty we learned back in 1999. Moreover, in 2002, Episode II did NOT correct the ills of its forebear: no! It succeeded in being an even more painful experience to endure.

This time, though, with reliable Star Wars aficianado JJ Abrams at the helm, particular attention to the visuals – and the script (so glad to see Lawrence Kasdan back onboard) – has been honoured; so far, the clips and stills look impressive – most promisingly, a return to the more practical special effects we know and love is assured.

The first trailer was good, but it wasn’t until the second trailer when my eyes widened – and my jaw dropped – as the camera panned along to this shot: 

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At this point came the realization that something quite special was in the works. Maybe, just maybe, the old magic will be invoked. And why not now? After all, 2015 has been the Year of Nostalgia; with dinosaurs and Terminators making a comeback, it seems fitting that we should be treated to the (ahem) return of the Jedi. 

So, huzzah, 35 years later, we have come full circle. Not surprisingly, advance ticket sales have broken all records. It would be amusing – not to mention, astounding – to learn that my ol’ popcorn parlour has had to dust down its FULL HOUSE sign…

For me, the excitement felt yesteryear may have faded – the memories of those wretched prequels still gnaw at my advancing cranium – but an unashamed desire to find out how the saga that not only captivated but redefined popular culture continues has shone through. 

At least, we all feel more confident now than we ever did back in 1999. And 2002 for that matter… 

It’s December 2015.

A new Star Wars movie is just DAYS away.

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No other movie matters…

 

IN OTHER NEWS:

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Yay! Made it to the Big 1-0-0! Couldn’t be happier!

Believe it or not: this is actually the first time that this blog has appeared during the month of December. The last two years the coming of December meant recharging my batteries over the festive period, but now – especially after having struggled through a rather uncompromising and uncreative November – the need to carry on writing grips me more than ever.

It would be nice to take this opp to express how awesome it’s been to meet so many other amazing bloggers on my wild yet wonderful jaunt through the blogosphere these past two years. 

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Honestly, this blog would not/could not have made it this far without all your support.

So, what should we do next?

Something good?

Something Brad?

Bit of both…?

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A bit of both! 

 

Bradscribe will return.