And The Bradscribe Award For Best Sci-Fi Of The Year Goes To…

The Bradscribe Awards 2015: What Was Best: Maz, Max, Mish Or Machina?

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The academy may pride itself on its history, but the world around it is changing, and unless it begins to reflect these changes, I can see the Oscars ceasing to be of any relevance to a growing and vocal new generation of artists who see it as a relic of the old world” – David Harewood.  

Hello and welcome to the Bradscribe Awards!

As we were blessed with a year brimming with various cinematic nuggets to choose from, it’s only fair to review it in our own lavish ceremony. And besides, many of you have been wondering – especially as this site has slagged off more than its fair share of crud these past twelve months – what actually managed to impress me during 2015!

One thing you can be certain about the Bradscribe Awards – activated to honour the criminally-overlooked field of science fictionthey are bright and visionary. And diverse. Nominees can be black, brown, blue or green. Or shiny and chrome. 

Also, there’s lots of cake on offer…

Why Don’t The Oscars Celebrate SF?

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“It is a genre that I think doesn’t get enough respect when you consider how many issues sci-fi brings up that we need to deal with” – Sigourney Weaver.

There seems to be an unwritten rule stipulating that science fiction – and fantasy, and horror, come to that – do not receive awards recognition in the main categories. Sure, the Academy recognises the technical achievements of this genre, but really, you can quite easily find some of the best scripts and acting in this continually innovative field.

In trying to sort this migraine out, trust longtime Bradscribe fave, Sigourney Weaver, to come to the rescue:

“The work being done in sci-fi is some of the most interesting, provocative work out there.”

Yet why should this genre tend to make little impact when Oscar season gets into full swing?

She has remarked how the Academy consists of “mostly people like me who are over a certain age” who tend to look for the “the more conventional movie.”

Uff, nuts to that. 

Part of SF’s wonder is its ability to offer more unconventional thrills. Rather than get stuck in the same mundane, formulaic soup – which, let’s be honest, too many mainstream dramas do – the genre is experimental and challenging, vital components sought, surely, by the modern movie-goer.

Before launching into the main ceremony, here’s a little sketch to get you warmed up. Hey, it was either this, or a flashy-but-ultimately-pointless song-an’-dance extravaganza: 

Without further ado, let’s get down to the essential categories:

Best SFX: Mad Max: Fury Road

Jurassic World just looked big; Star Wars: The Force Awakens looked impressive, but Namibia nabbed it.  

Best Music Score: Mad Max: Fury Road

This would have been set aside for John Williams – continuing the fine tradition of classic scores for Star Wars – but on first viewing, the new score was barely discernible. 

Best Original Screenplay: Ex Machina

Intellectually-stimulating sci-fi is what we crave at this site. Nominated for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar, how it did not win last night is my pet peeve of this year’s ceremony. 

Congrats to Alex Garland, who made his directorial debut with this instant classic. Here, honestly, this Award was as predictable as that Titanic boy getting the Best Actor Oscar… 

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Martian 

Drew Goddard worked wonders with Andrew Weir’s novel.

Rising Star Of The Year 

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“It’s important that the conversation carries on… Everybody should be the change they want to see and go from there, but keep talking, keep doing” – John Boyega. 

This Rogue Stormtrooper received most of the biggest laughs at the packed cinema this reviewer attended. While everybody is quite rightfully lauding Daisy Ridley as the new New Hope – an equally impressive entry to the SW galaxy, we should not overlook this young and promising boy from Peckham. The Oscars have, but Brad hasn’t…

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Let’s assess candidates for the Woman Of The Year and Man Of The Year:

Woman Of The Year 

Always keen to catch strong and memorable women’s roles, especially in SF. However, there seemed to be fewer notable women’s roles on offer this year. Emilia Clarke should have brought in an exceptional Sarah Connor, but had weak material with which to work; and Bryce Dallas Howard made a mark only by outrunning a T Rex. In high heels. Never gonna let that lie… 

But who made it onto the final list? 

Honestly, Sigourney should be here – for old times sake – but Chappie was so underwhelming; even she couldn’t make it bearable. Instead, we have plumped for:

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5. Scarlet Witch 

It was great to see Wanda Maximoff on the big screen at last, but so frustrating that she had so little to do, and had barely any “character” to develop sufficiently. Oh well, hope she gets more (worthy) screentime in the forthcoming Captain America: Civil War… 

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4. Maz Kanata

Maz is over one hundred years old, and she had – until those First Order loons swept in and trashed the place! – her own swell pad at which anyone in the galaxy can hang out; even got her own awesome statue outside it(!). She happens to possess Luke’s lightsaber, and also counts Chewie as her boyfriend. Way ta go, girl! 

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3. Imperator Furiosa

When Mad Max made his energising and explosive return to the big screen, little did anyone expect that Cherlize Theron would not only steal Immortan Joe’s War-Rig, but steal all the scenes in the year’s most explosive actionfest. Her presence was so seismic that the subtitle should have read: Furiosa Road. 

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2. Alicia Vikander

As Eva: the AI centre of attention in Ex Machina this Swedish actress made an immediate impact. And held her own against the big boys in The Man From UNCLE. Already looking forward to her next projects.

Congrats to Alicia for confounding the run of play by snatching the Best Supporting Actress gong; but really, she deserved the Best Actress Oscar. For a vastly more impressive picture…

This girl should go far. We hope. 

1. Not surprisingly, the Real Greatest Woman of this – and, for that matter, every other – year just happens to be – unreservedly, wholeheartedly: Mrs. B, but seeing how we really should be talkin’ about movie stars (and me darlin’ still won’t reverse that online pics ban) let’s move swiftly on. 

But in case you’re still wondering, you can find the Woman Of The Year here:

And now, on to the:

Man Of The Year 

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5. Ant-Man.

Always a personal fave comic character, it seemed inconceivable how the tiniest Avenger could transfer easily onto the big screen. Initially, Paul Rudd looked like a disastrous case of miscasting, but he helped make this little movie the surprise package of the year. 

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4. Andy Serkis

The actor most synonymous with motion capture – who lit up the Bradmonitor when he first crawled onscreen as Gollum – not only brought us our new villain of the Dark Side: Supreme Leader Snoke, but a traditional live action nasty called Ullysses Klaw in Avengers: Age of Ultron. 

Always a treat to watch, Serkis is the only reason to look forward to yet another Planet of the Apes sequel. 

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3. Kylo Ren

The villain of the long-awaited new Star Wars episode, had to make a rather special impact. Fotunately, Kylo Ren did just that. How many times has Brad replayed that scene of him staggering through the dark forest, then energising his lightsaber? Guess that correctly, dear reader, and YOU can have a slice of cake… 

Best Supporting Actor Award for Adam Driver methinks?

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2. Ultron

“Look at me! Do I look like Iron Man?!”

Traditionally a formidable villain in the Avengers comic, a certain degree of trepidation led up to the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron. 

No worries! They got the look just right. Voiced malevolently by the Amazing Spader-Man, he turned out to be supercool as well as superbad! And he was blessed with oodles of great lines! 

In any other year, Ultron would have stolen this category, but there was one fella who managed to impress me even more, and that was: 

1. Oscar Isaac

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“There’s some stuff he’s got in his tool set which is properly rare. Fierce talent, that’s what you want – and that’s exactly what Oscar’s got. You don’t need to be a filmmaker to see it” – Alex Garland. 

You may be thinking this was staged so that yours truly could chortle: “And the oscar goes to Oscar!”

Ha ha, no really, ever since spotting him steal scenes from the Crowe way back in Ridley Scott’s otherwise lacklustre Robin Hood, Isaac has been carving a very special niche in modern movies. He gave one of the best performances of the year in Ex Machina, but Poe Dameron was woefully underused.

We just can’t wait to see him steal the show as the eponymous archvillain in X-Men: Apocalypse!

Right? 

Crud Of The Year 

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“It was stupid. It was trash… It was not a flop that quietly came and went without anyone noticing. It got the disrespect it deserved” – Joe Queenan.

Gotta take the rough with the smooth, so they say, but even so…

It’s hard to believe, but 2015 still manage to serve up some particularly underwhelming duds. Rather than rant eloquently about the ever-dwindling standard of movie-making, let’s get these turkeys out of the way, sharpish:

Chappie; Fant4stic Four; Jupiter Ascending; Pixels; Terminator: Genisys;

Even presented with the offer of sitting through this abysmal cack for free, you still couldn’t entice me. Honestly, you would think Game Of Thrones adequately paid Peter Dinklage’s rent, so why did he have to get involved in this tragedy? 

Let’s cheer ourselves up with the:

Magic Moments Of The Year 

Well, bless my frickin’ quarnex battery! Here are the most awesome scenes to have graced our local popcorn parlours this past year:

5. 2015 Arnie vs. 1984 Arnie in Terminator: Genisys

You can’t beat nostalgia. A stylish nod to the classic scene from the original Terminator movie. If only the rest of the movie was as cool as this. One to search for on Youtube only.

4. T Rex vs. Indominus Rex from Jurassic World

This fourth installment of the Dinoland franchise may not have wrangled its way onto my Best of The Year list, but the climactic scrap between these two giants evokes the spirit of the original Jurassic Park. An extra slice of cake for that Mosasaurus 😉 If anyone can get near it, that is…

3. Kylo Ren stops a laser blast in midair

 So Snoke says Kylo needs to complete his training. If he can do that, his powers look pretty formidable to us!   

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2. That Ex Machina Dance 

Just when you think you’re gonna bust some heavy-duty grey matter getting to grips with the premise of top class AI drama: Ex Machina, so Professor Isaac – really unexpectedly – teaches us how to cut up the dance floor – yeah! This was destined to be THE Magic Moment Of The Year, until we gawped at: 

1. The Sandstorm from Mad Max: Fury Road

Let’s face it, all two hours of this exhilarating high-octane thrill-ride exudes movie magic of the highest calibre, but you can enjoy this classic scene right here: 

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for! The cake!

Best Movie Of The Year

So, what provided the most outstanding viewing experience of the year?

  • It was wonderful to be able to marvel at a new Star Wars movie, but although it was great to have new exciting characters and elements to savour, feelings that we were watching a retread of the 1977 original still filtered through.
  • The Martian certainly provided our happiest visit to the cinema together this past year.
  • Ex Machina is the solidly-written, well-crafted thought-provoking movie that the genre cries out for, but:

The frenetic energy, stunts, and sheer irresistible spectacle of Mad Max: Fury Road clinches it!

Last, but not least, is the:

Outstanding Contribution To Film

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Douglas Slocombe was a British cinematographer of exceptional skill. Some of his film credits: Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), The Italian Job (1969) and the Indiana Jones trilogy, read like a list from the Bradscribe Hall of Fame. 

He passed away last Monday aged 103. As a tribute, here is perhaps his most iconic work: 

So, congrats to Max. Your cake is thoroughly well-deserved. 

While compiling this Post, we were delighted to learn last night that Fury Road secured a mightily impressive hoard of six Oscars: Costume Design; Editing; Make-Up; Production Design; Sound Editing; and Sound Mixing. 

But why stop there? Best Actress should have gone to Theron; moreover, Fury Road deserves Best Picture…

Officially the top cinematic sensation of 2015, show us your appreciation, Max: 

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Oh, what a year! What a lovely year!

And they discovered water on Mars. Which was nice. 

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Komikaze!: The Cutting Edge Of Comic Book Culture

Is It Still Possible To Create Original Comics In The Age Of The Comic Book Movie Blockbuster?

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“Where once comics were summarily dismissed as light entertainment for adolescent boys, there are now comics for everyone by everyone. In many ways, there has never been a better time to read comics” – Eric Stephenson.

Konnichiwa, my comic-guzzling friends! 

This past week saw both the 80th Anniversary of The Phantom, the archetype for the costumed comic book superhero (created by Lee Falk), and the record gross for Deadpool, the latest Marvel character to get a solo outing on the big screen. So, a comics-related Post here seemed sorta inevitable.

It’s unbelievable now, but during the 1990s, comics looked to be on the way out.

No, really!

Video games were surging in popularity; an upcoming medium called “the internet” was predicted to transform our leisure time; indie comic stores were struggling to stay in operation: how would/could comic books survive?  

Fast forward to the here and very much geeky now.

More comic book titles than ever before are in regular production. Encouragingly, more original titles than reboots are appearing on the shelves. Movie producers eagerly scan the most popular titles to see what will make the most successful strip-to-screen conversion. 

Fortunately, my first phase of comic book-collecting (198o-1983) occurred at what most people considered the “right age” to immerse oneself in such products. With the emergence of “mature” titles during the 80s, the age range significantly increased. Nowadays, comic books are no longer the province of youths; guys in their 40s – even 50s – scour comic books. And no one bats an eyelid. 

When “analysts” state that it’s a “new kind of culture” they invariably tag on such annoying terms as “more free time” and “disposable income.” They overlook the inescapable truth that if modern twenty-(and thirty!)somethings do have an income, it is too darned miniscule to be disposable! Somehow, though, they are the demographic most likely to have made Deadpool the new record-breaker at the cinema.

“Merc With A Mouth,” eh? 

Well, Brad is a Bunny With A Bushido – ha, TOP THAT, juves!

What The Fiddle-Faddle?!

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“When I was at Marvel and our newsstand comics were on spinner racks that touted them as wholesome entertainment for kids, I wouldn’t allow profanity” – Jim Shooter.

Thankfully, this week saw the most-welcome return of childhood Marvel faves: Power Man and Iron Fist. Especially chortlesome is the ingenious way in which this series gets round the age-old swearing bug, as you can see above!

Perhaps the most heartening trend in this recent comic book popularity resurgence is the remarkable increase of female readers. As such characters as Gwenpool and Squirrel Girl – not to mention Jessica Jones – have clearly demonstrated, yes, it is quite possible to have popular – and original – female-orientated titles. 

Of course, there should be more to comic book creativity than just rad and contentious race/gender switching. As Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson mentioned at ComicsPRO’s AGM last week, the comic book industry is doomed to repeat the same old mistakes that brought Marvel Comics to the brink of bankruptcy twenty years ago:

“We’ve gone back to gimmicks, to variant covers and relaunches and reboots and more of the same old stunts disguised as events, when really all our readers want are good stories.”

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“Mortimer Hill is a veteran officer who has busted his fair share of criminals, but when mechanical monsters start causing trouble he’ll need to use all his wits (and brawn!) to get to the heart of the mystery” – all-comic.com 

Ah, the wonders of Steampunk! 

It’s amazing how this site has not done an appreciation piece about this unique genre much sooner. Trouble was, you could never tell the best place to start.

No worries: The Precinct – published by Dynamite – seems like quite an intriguing prospect worth pursuing. Through one major comics blog, its striking covers have regularly appeared on my Reader these past few weeks. In the sprawling, steampunk metropolis, only the officers of The Precinct can maintain law and order!

With so many new unknown names in the script and art depts these days, it is admittedly difficult to keep tabs on all of them. Some legendary names from yesteryear would be nice…

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“I find most superhero stories completely meaningless… So long as the industry is geared towards… the same brightly coloured characters doing the same thing forever – you’re never going to see any real growth” – Garth Ennis.

‘Allo, what’s this?!

These two names leap out at me – or anyone who savours comic book talent of the highest order. Garth Ennis is an award-winning writer, responsible for DC Vertigo’s The Preacher, and the best issues of Hellblazer (John Constantine’s solo series) during the ’90s; the name of Carlos Ezquerra, meanwhile, will always be synonymous with Strontium Dog, one of the best stories to appear in legendary, ongoing British comic: 2000AD. 

Published by Image Comics, Bloody Mary – “set in a world only slightly worse than our own” –  looks like those far-out comics me and me mates used to dig during school lunchtime. It’s due to hit the stands next week.

Come on! 

Mary Malone, a gun-totin’ nun: surely not your run-of-the-mill fiddle-faddle?!  

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“Home. It feels so good to be back… I left a monarch. Yet I return naked, alone… Hungry. Weakened, I clutch a passing dream…” – The Sandman. 

If anything, my second phase of comic book-collecting (1989-1994) was motivated primarily by the release of Neil Gaiman’s classic, game-changing title: The Sandman: Master of Dreams. Alternating between enchanting and unsettling, but always inspirational, this title – along with Swamp Thing and Hellblazer – helped establish a darker, more mature, more sophisticated side to the medium.

To celebrate its 25th Anniversary, Gaiman agreed to return to his outstanding realm of dreams. That classic premier issue (dated January 1989) told how, in 1916, a British magician: Roderick Burgess intended to entrap Death, but instead caught Dream, her little brother. Sandman: Overture is a Prequel, chronicling the events that led to this complicated member of the Endless getting into that predicament. 

Originally released in 2013 as a six-part miniseries, with particularly sumptuous artwork by J. H. Williams III, it was published as a complete graphic novel just in time for this Christmas just gone.

It would take a real sourpuss knick-knack-paddy-whack not to be impressed by this!

Couldn’t let you go without slipping in just one page of awesomeness: 

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As you can see from the striking image above, it is imperative that this mesmerising book gets – by hook or by crook – into my collection. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman really is the pinnacle of graphic magic.

Any Collector would want it to grace their shelves, because – quite simply – it is:

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There And Back Again: A Blogger’s Tale

My Middle Earth Valentine. There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something…

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“All those who wander are not lost” – J.R.R. Tolkien. 

On the shores of the Andaman Sea,

As far from the rainswept murky west as any young man could be,

A beautiful young damsel wandered alone across the sand; with sparkling eyes 

And long lustrous hair as black as the night skies,

 

Awestruck, the western explorer suddenly felt compelled to approach and talk to her.

She felt strangely drawn to this blue-eyed boy; he was quite unlike any other.

But her happiness stalled, for he had to return to his country far far away,

Yet he promised to return one day…

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“Home is behind, the world ahead… And there are many paths to tread. Through shadow, to the edge of night, until the stars are all alight… Mist and shadow, cloud and shade, all shall fade” – Peregrin Took. 

Knowing how lousy men’s promises can be, she became sad and dejected about what an uncertain future might bring. 

What better way to ease the heartache than a trip to the cinema and The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring?

Not good: as soon as Frodo Baggins hears Gandalf enter the Shire, he jumps up to beam goofily into the camera.

The hobbit’s eyes were too blue- too achingly reminiscent of her love-so-true.

 

Lo! Her love would not be forever spurned! True to his word, her blue-eyed boy eventually returned! 

They dined and danced together once more, and come that December,

They enjoyed Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: a movie classic to remember. 

For you see, that blue-eyed boy was ME, and that delightful beach belle is now my incomparable Mrs. B. 

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“You said you’d bind yourself to me, forsaking the immortal life of your people” – Aragorn.

Then how our hearts raced and we began to sing,

As we enjoyed the brilliant Return of the King!

No other movies we shared together struck to the core, 

And make me think of you, my darling, even more. 

 

In our house by the beach, there my pretty lady is, calm and meditating;

While your blue-eyed boy is stuck in the cold west, busy fretting and anticipating.

For you, my sweet – o slender as a willow-wand! – my aim is to fight any cause,

For my heart has been – and always will be – yours.

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“I would rather share one lifetime with you, than face all the ages of this world alone” – Arwen.  

While you water the plants and feed the cat, 

Your blue-eyed boy strives to make our kitty nice and fat!

Not long now, until we can embrace at last, 

And make these inconvenient partings a thing of the past.  

 

Still round the corner there may wait 

A new road or an unseen fate, 

But in the end – it is certain – we are destined to be

Living happily ever after, on the shores of the Andaman Sea.

Star Wars Prequel Blog-a-thon: Revenge Of The Sith [Week 3]

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Shit

Bore!

The Cerebral Cortex is crumbling under attacks by two hapless Star Wars prequels. There are headaches on both sides. Crud is everywhere. In a stunning move, the wily writer, Brad, has swept back into the blogosphere and sets out to wrap up what he half-heartedly began… 

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“This is where the fun begins” – Anakin Skywalker.  

And so, my young padawan, we return to those most perplexing mysteries of the Force: the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Having had two crap episodes in a row, was it to be three in a row?

By jiminy, yes! Of course! Well, hurrah for consistency…

Meh…

Hang on, though, rather than dismiss Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith completely, it does at least try to produce more memorable fare. Admittedly, there is a copy of this in my VCD collection, but a considerable layer of dust will have to be removed from it first…

After eleven years, can the few decent scenes enjoyed at the cinema withstand the test of hindsight? 

What Works:

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“You ever hear the tragedy of Darth Plagus the Wise? …I thought not. It’s not a story the Jedi would tell you” – Senator Palpatine.  

  • The Opera Scene:

Finally, this trilogy receives a slow and moody scene with some fantastic atmospheric music. And some intriguing lines for a change. It is greatly enhanced by Iain McDiarmid’s acting, and as a precursor to Anakin’s descent to the Dark Side, it carries the underlying menace required. Other scenes that Palpatine shares with Anakin are equally watchable, made compelling only by McDiarmid’s sinister performancearguably the best of this trilogy. 

In addition, when Anakin saves Palpatine from Mace Windu, isn’t it interesting that as soon as Samuel L. Jackson gets blasted out of that window, this movie suddenly becomes watchable…?

  • The Wookies on Kashyyyk: what we should have had in Episode VI…?

It was great to see a war party of Wookies at long last. The location photography for this segment was taken around the Andaman Islands near Phuket, South Thailand. As Southeast Asia has been my base for the last fourteen years, those islands looked sooo familiar!

  • Order 66: Not a dry eye in the auditorium… 

If anything, the systematic execution of the Jedi was going to up the ante quite considerably, and help give this episode its dark edge. This trilogy was crying out for some gravitas, but we had to wait until about halfway through the third part to get it. Again, a triumph for the musical genius of Williams as Anakin leads a clone army up the steps of the Jedi Temple. Tissues at the ready as one knight after another meets their unexpected doom at the hands of the clone troopers they thought they could trust.

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“You will not stop me! Darth Vader will become more powerful than either of us!” – Darth Sidious.

  • Anakin becomes Vader: mean, moody… magnificent. 

When Obi-Wan watches as Anakin is consumed by fire following their duel on Mustafar, there is a tender, moving moment; as Obi-Wan wanders away, he cries: “You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you.” A contender for McGregor’s best scene? 

A rare powerful moment: we glimpse Anakin’s metal hand as he tries to crawl away from the lava stream; the silhouette of Sidious’ shuttle passing overhead, accompanied by an excellent creepy score from Williams, followed by the creation of Darth Vader as we know him, intercut with the births of Luke and Leia, makes you wonder why some of the earlier scenes couldn’t have been as haunting.

But let’s not dwell on that James Earl Jones scream, thank you… 

Especially praiseworthy is the way in which the proceedings then take on a most-welcome nostalgic nod to the original trilogy: a look at the interior of the Blockade Runner (to be pursued in the classic opening shot of Episode IV); and that binary sunset on Tatooine which – oh yes – did leave a lump in my throat.

Most chillingly, the two Sith Lords aboard a Star Destroyer survey the construction of the first Death Star. Great to see Grand Moff Tarkin again!

But listen to the music. It’s something bittersweet. With only a slight trace of the Imperial March inserted. Touching. Resonant. Brilliant. 

This scene below – the final shot from the trailer – single-handedly got me into the cinema: 

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As for my fave outstanding scene?

During the horror that was Order 66, it’s brief, but brilliant. It’s this: 

What Doesn’t Work:

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“I can’t watch any more” – Obi-Wan Kenobi. 

Well, same as before, there’s a lot to get through so let’s begin at the beginning (if you can call it that): 

  • The opening space battle: 

After that always-rousing theme score, this time we were treated to action! A battle scene in space, no less! And as a big fan of battle scenes in space my overall reaction was: WAHEY!!

But, oh no. Talk about underwhelming: “as dramatically weightless as the movement of tropical fish in an aquarium” said one review. It couldn’t be summed up any better. 

  • The Death of Dooku: By far the best asset of Episode II is wasted within the opening ten minutes!

Certainly the demise of Dooku was integral to the main story arc of this episode, but it is such a shame to see Christopher Lee have so little to do. 

  • General bloody Grievous: The second most irritating SW figure after that bloody Gungan. 

Rather than create another Darth Maul, Episode III opts instead to get stuck with another forgettable figure, and don’t tell me to stretch out with my feelings! There is no way you can convince me that GiGi is a class character; sure, you are most welcome to launch a tactical argument in the Comments section below, but don’t think so…

A droid with a bad cough – how can anyone pitch such shit? When he reveals his four arms, all you can think is: ho hum, more limbs to cut off… 

“Trained in the Jedi arts”: hands spinning at great velocity? Not even Obi-Wan could do that. Not that he would want to, of course… 

  • Obi-Wan riding a giant lizard. Chasing Grievous, who is escaping. Inside a giant hamster wheel. 

Now, surely this description alone puts anyone off. As daft scenes go, surely this takes some beating. Remember squirming in my cinema seat when this came on. The sound of that lizard is annoying – we have a couple of geckos living inside our gable – even they don’t sound like that. Couldn’t bear to watch this scene again now. And please don’t tell me the lizard’s name! This scene only solidifies my longheld antipathy towards SF heroes riding giant lizards…

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“At an end your rule is, and not short enough was it”  – Yoda. 

  • The duel between Yoda and Darth Sidious: 

Really wanted to enjoy this. Supposedly a bitter confrontation, this should have been epic, but it just… isn’t. When Sidious gets forcibly removed(?) from one side of the set to the other by Yoda, shrieks of laughter echoed around the cinema. Reviewing this scene now, it’s all rather hilarious: a long shot of green and red sabres locked in battle as they rise up into the empty Senate. Then Sidious hurls those pod-things at Yoda who, in turn, makes one swivel and hurtles it back at the Sith Lord. 

Halfway through, Yoda loses his grip and falls to the senate floor; he is one of the greatest Jedi – why does he fall at all?! And he just gives up and drops out. For no reason. Whatsoever. 

“Into exile I must go. Failed, I have.”

How, “Master” Yoda? Why?! You looked well in control to us…

At least this duel didn’t drag on, unlike: 

  • The duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi.  

“He is like my brother,” Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi mutters in his constant monotone drone. “I cannot do it.” His lacklustre performance fails to incite the dramatic tension required. Besides, we never got the impression from wading through Episode II (with all those uneasy exchanges between them) that he is “like a brother”.

However, in a later scene, when Obi-Wan says to Padme: “Anakin is the father, isn’t he? …I am so sorry,” and struts off to one of John Williams‘ most heart-rending themes, you think this is quite a tremendous build-up to what should be one of the monumental scenes of the complete saga!  

But, nah… 

After an uninspiring exchange of words, the former master and apprentice go at each other with sabers blazing furiously, in a battle that takes place involving numerous unbelievable settings, but it just goes on and on.

And – yawn – on! 

Never contemplated the notion that lightsaber fights could actually be quite boring. 

  • Hayden Christensen scowls at the camera and – whoa – we’re supposed to believe he has turned to the Dark Side…

Good grief, this was meant to be the darkest episode of this trilogy. How can this be achieved with such a dull, charmless “actor”? 

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“If Princess Diana had gone to the Dark Side, she would have looked a lot like this” – Peter Bradshaw.

This line never fails to crack me up. When setting out to compile this Post, this had to be the first ingredient to include.

And Natalie Portman as Padme, naturally, completes him: 

  • Christensen and Portman grate together! Again! Especially on Mustafar:

If it’s broke (like it was – excruciatingly – in Episode II) don’t fix it…

Portman manages to be even more incorrigibly bad this time around, but that scene in which Padme confronts Anakin on Mustafar is tinged with dialogue as appalling as anything suffered from Attack of the Clones. This is supposed to be another poignant scene, but just makes you want to press Mute. Or Fast Forward.

  • “I have seen a security hologram of him… killing younglings”: 

With McGregor’s banal delivery, not helped by Portman’s inane delivery, any chance of compelling drama here is instantly killed off by this godawful line. Blessed are the younglings! The younglings are our future! etc. etc. Ha ha ha, stop it! Oh, my aching sides…

  • Obi-Wan hands baby Luke to Owen and Beru Lars on Tatooine:

Aha… the first place to look is the last place Vader will look… obviously. Works every time, doesn’t it? Yeah, you have to salute the ingenuity behind this bonkers train of thought. Always assumed the Son of Skywalker would have been whisked away to Dagobah, hence that moment in Episode V when Luke remarks: “There’s something familiar about this place.” 

With these unhelpful prequels, this and other bothersome quandaries from the original trilogy, annoyingly, remain unanswered. 

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So, that’s it.

If you would like to read a more favourable review, you can catch boxofficebuzz right here: 

We’ve made it through. This episode is generally regarded as the “best” of the prequels, although judging from the poor standard of its forebears, that’s not saying much. The sheer disappointment of these prequel movies lies in their total failure to tell – dramatically and/or compellingly – what is essentially a terrific story. 

All in all, a stupefying compendium of industrial light, and barely any magic. 

Just consider how many decent and enjoyable SF movies could have been made with the amount of money and resources wasted here?

Considering how reboots are all the rage at the moment, it would be great to see these prequels get the revision treatment they deserve. Perhaps not just yet, but eventually, with a good stock of characters, well flashed out with plenty of meaningful things to do; a talented collection of actors – with particular emphasis on the role of Anakin; plus awesome -not artificial – special visual effects; and deep, driving dialogue that any fan can quote any time, anywhere. 

Actually, there is one very good scriptwriter out there up for the task: reliable, available and knows the Star Wars galaxy inside and out.

Hey, if JJ Abrams can be allowed to run amok through this franchise, why can’t Brad? 

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“Obi-Wan… there… is good in him. I know there is… still…” – Padme.

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Star Wars Prequel Blog-a-thon: Attack Of The Clones [Week 2]

Star Bores Episode II: Attack Of The Inanities. 

There is unrest in my brain. Several thousand cells have declared their intentions to rebel against the prospect of having to sit through this tripe a second time… 

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“I have a bad feeling about this…” – Obi-Wan Kenobi.  

Greetings, my young padawan! 

Here we are again, in collaboration with boxofficebuzz, on the Star Wars prequel trilogy blog-a-thon.

Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones is an absolutely marvellous piece of work. 

Against all odds, it managed to be EVEN MORE DETESTABLE THAN THE PHANTOM MENACE. Which, unbelievably, is quite a feat. 

Unfortunately, in my time, too many trips to the cinema turned out to be lousy and ultimately wasted days out, but, without a doubt – and, by Jove, it pains me to say this – Attack Of The Clones is one of the MOST UNDERWHELMING SF MOVIES EVER.  

So we were promised far less of that annoying Gunganso what? We were lumbered with an even greater diverse range of crud to seriously spoil our already somewhat lessened expectations…

And they made that Gungan a Senator… 

Rather than suffer through that great disturbance of a movie all over again, a few scenes were selected. What’s it like going through this material 14 years later? 

What Works (This Is Going To Be Tough):

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“You must join me, Obi-Wan, and together we will destroy the Sith! …It may be difficult to secure your release…” – Count Dooku.

First, and foremost:

If anyone could bring the required menace the Dark Side deserves, then it was the Master of Horror himself. His voice alone is tinged with “Sith Lord.” But would the character have been named “Count” if anyone other than Lee had played him…?

However, there is just one quibble that annoys me: just think of the terrifying names of some of the characters this late legend has played: Dracula! Scaramanga! Saruman! Dooku! Dooku…?! Get outta here: always sounds more like a puppet on a daytime kids TV show…

  • “You wanna buy some death-sticks?”

“You don’t want to sell me death sticks.”

“Ah, I don’t want to sell you death sticks.”

“You want to go home and rethink your life.”

“I want to go home and rethink my life.”

At this point, numb with boredom, yours truly felt like having a good chortle. As it had been so long since having a good laugh, thought it best to exercise the necessary muscles, just to see if they still worked… 

  • The lightsaber battle between Obi-Wan/Anakin/Yoda and Count Dooku: 

Distinctly remember the groovy lighting effects as Anakin fought Dooku alone in the darkness. When Yoda hobbles in, his saber flies into his hand and then – whoa! – see the pesky Little Big-Ears GO! Whoo-hoo! 

That got the biggest laugh in the cinema! Come to think of it – the only laugh…

  • Jango Fett does his blaster twirl:

The only highlight of the Geonosis arena sequence. Nice touch… 

  • Slave 1 chasing Obi-Wan through the asteroid field: 

Trying to select the outstanding scene from this Episodebelieve me, it was such a struggle. This was the first that sprang back to mind. One of the very few scenes to catch my sagging interest on that fateful sole viewing, it was amazing to see Slave 1 again and get some well-deserved action. Other than spectacular visuals – what is most impressive about this sequence are the sound effects, particularly those seismic charges. Oof, Brad digs a good seismic charge.

But hey, just this once, let’s overlook that problem of having sound effects in space at all…

Stand by!

What Doesn’t Work (How Much Time Have You Got?):

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“If you are suffering as much as I am, please, tell me” – Anakin Skywalker.  

Let’s deal with the main offender straight away: 

  • Hayden Christensen: And you thought Jake Lloyd was bad…

The inner torment, the struggle to suppress conflicted emotions, the lure of the Dark Side calls for deep, insightful drama, tackled by a fine young actor. Shame this production could produce neither…  

  • Natalie bloody Portman: (aargh! yet again!):

She turned out to be just as awful as you can imagine. This time, her “acting” (if you can call it that!) is more annoying than the script. How Padme still wants to have younglings with that whining, petulant whelp is one of modern cinema’s inexplicable quandaries…

  • That chase on Coruscant: guaranteed to give me a migraine just thinking about it… 

The worst scene ever featuring Obi-Wan is when – extremely against character – he leaps through a window, somehow grabs onto a probe and gets whisked through the busy sky-lanes of city-planet Coruscant. There then follows a quite ridiculous chase for a bounty hunter (other than Jango Fett); Anathema – ha ha! sorry! – Anakin just drops out of the speeder and – through thousands of other crafts whizzing by – somehow manages to land on precisely the one (eureka!) in which the shape-shifter is in (bollocks). It binds us, it penetrates us, etc. but no use of the Force canand should – ensure such error-free reckless daredevil antics. Suspension of disbelief, my eye…

“I hate it when he does that,” Obi-Wan complains. Funnily enough, so does Brad… 

Which brings us neatly to:

  • The Obi-Wan/Anakin “friendship”: 

Constant bickering, complaining, disagreements, and so on and and so on – sorry, but what friendship”?! Here, their incessant uneasy and turgid interaction provides anything but compelling viewing. At one point, Obi-Wan makes a remark about “falling into that nest of Gundarks.” Yeah, why couldn’t we watch that instead? Sounds infinitely more intriguing than the drivel we had to sit through… 

Whenever hearing Alec Guinness say: “And he was a good friend,” all one can do now is cringe… 

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“We’ll have to try something more subtle this time…” – Jango Fett. 

  • Obi-Wan’s fight with Jango Fett: Should be in the What Works column – but, hey! – isn’t…

Was really looking forward to this – a classic showdown between two of the saga’s greatest assets! In the end, however, it turned out to be flat and forgettable. This serves as a sad reminder that whatever talents Lucas had as a Director, they had well and truly dried up by this time. Also, his writing here was particularly poor, most notably in:  

  • The “romance”:

Such a catastrophic failure, considering how pivotal the love between Anakin and Padme is supposed to be at this stage in the saga. Banal dialogue and atrocious acting merge to create such mediocre viewing, it’s almost painful. Add that awful WTF moment in which Anakin tries balancing on the back of some wild quadroped-thing and the psychological damage cannot be undone…

What a waste, considering how epic John Williams’ sweeping score: Across The Stars (Anakin and Padme’s Theme) turned out to be.

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“Kin chasa du Jedi. No bata tu tu” – Watto.

  • THIS THING!!

Whatever it is, this ugly brute symbolises the tedium of the whole Geonosis arena sequence – quite possibly the most un-Star Wars scene imaginable. Did anyone thrill to the sight of (ahem) Padme riding some giant lizard, pulling along a wheelless chariot in which her beloved is fending off insectoids with his lightsaber? Ha, thought not… 

  • The Battle of Geonosis: 

This should have been awesome, but instead – addled with copious dollops of CGI – it looks shallow, too artificial – nothing more than a video game. Sure, we get to see other Jedis, but really, blink and you miss them; they show up merely to promote their own individual action figure (methinks somewhat cynically). Considering the substantial budget, the field of marauding battle-droids and sci-fi war machines look decidedly amateurish and anything but exciting. 

Last, and by all means least…

  • The script: Let’s get this out of the way… 

It is appalling how this damning fault from the first Episode was never rectified and allowed to grind on, ruining this second instalment as well. The “story,” perhaps easier to follow than its predecessor, still fails to engage. It’s not helped in any way by the stream of incomprehensible events that litter the screen.

Where was Lawrence Kasdan when we needed him?! 

*

We will stagger regardless to the third and – thankfully – final episode in this shoddy trilogy in the next Post (“He doesn’t seem to take a hint this guy!”). 

Hopefully, my life, limbs – and sanity – will still be intact once this challenge is done. 

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May The Force Make It All Go Away…