“The Gentlest Of Giants”: Peter Mayhew 1944-2019

Peter Mayhew Died On 30 April Aged 74.

“We were partners in film and friends in life for over 30 years and I loved him” – Harrison Ford.

“He invested his soul in the character and brought great pleasure to the Star Wars audience.” Harrison Ford paid an emotional tribute to Peter Mayhew – the 7′ 3″ actor who brought Chewbacca to life in the Original Trilogy – who passed away at his Texan home on 30 April. Harrison remembered Peter as a “kind and gentle man,” and praised him for being “possessed of great dignity and noble character”.

Brad – like most, if not all, fans – loved Chewie too. So, today, on what would have been Peter Mayhew’s 75th birthday, here are a few words that just had to be shared. 

Let’s face it: where would Star Wars be without Chewie? And what would the Wookiee have looked like without Peter Mayhew‘s brilliant portrayal?  

The idea of having an alien, Sasquatch-like co-pilot seemed so instantly cool to me. Moreover, Chewbacca made me realise that in order to create great SF, you don’t have to adhere to the traditional tired-and-tested aliens-are-always-bad trope.

In 1975, Peter was working as a porter at King’s College Hospital in London, when he learnt that “an American director was at Elstree Studios making a sci-fi movie.” 

He would never forget those magical words:

“They’re looking for someone big.” 

“He was the gentlest of giants… What was so remarkable about him was his spirit and his kindness, and his gentleness was so close to what Wookiee is” – Mark Hamill.

“A big man with an even bigger heart who never failed to make me smile,” Mark Hamill – forever-immortalised as Luke Skywalker – wrote on Twitter. “He just radiated happiness and warmth. He was always up for a laugh and we just hit it off immediately and stayed friends for over 40 years.”

Legend has it that 6 ft 6. Dave Prowse became the first actor to be considered to play Chewbacca, but he expressed a preference instead for Darth Vader (the iconic role for which he is best remembered). At Elstree, Peter Mayhew took one look at Vaderbut he expressed a preference instead for Chewbacca. “I looked at the character and said: ‘I can do something with that. That has possibilities.'”

Peter recalled waiting in George Lucas’s office: “He and [producer] Gary Kurtz walked in. I did the natural thing. I stood up. Basically, that was the interview. He turned to Gary and said: ‘I think we’ve found him.'”

The actor would go on to wear the shaggy yak-hair suit not only throughout the Original Trilogy but also as a memorable Special Guest Star on The Muppet Show! Lucas recalled him to Kashyyyk for 2005’s Revenge Of The Sith. And, of course, a decade later, arguably the greatest duo in SF movie history were reunited for The Force Awakens. 

However…

“Look, I can’t walk,” Peter informed incoming director: JJ Abrams. Double knee replacement surgery two years previously – necessitated by both age and height – had left the actor incapacitated as a physical performer. “I can do most things, but the only thing I can’t really do is walk. But I can do the facial expressions and everything else like that for Chewie.”

During 2015, in the months leading up to Episode VII’s release, fans and critics alike raved about the much-heralded return of Luke, Leia and Han, but – much to my dismay – nobody spared a thought for the Wookiee… 

Not surprisingly, this legendary character had little to do – the greatest duo’s comeback turned into a letdown. To me, Han’s demise was inevitable, but the fact that Chewie was deprived the moment to mourn was probably that script’s most significant error.

Peter himself summed up the secret of Chewie’s appeal: “The character itself is basically teddy bear. Security! People love security. I bet everybody had a security blanket of some sort during childhood, therefore this character represents the person who looked after you. 

“Chewie just grew – on the first movie he was a minor character; second movie, he became part of the good group, and the rest is history.” 

Peter Mayhew in-between filming that “sci-fi movie” with co-star Kenny (R2-D2) Baker (above);

and with make-up artist Stuart Freeborn (below)

“Peter was a wonderful man. He was the closest any human being could be to a Wookiee: big heart, gentle nature – and I learned to always let him win. He was a good friend, and I’m saddened by his passing” – George Lucas. 

“Too short for a Wookiee?”

Almost every school breaktime, Star Wars had to be reenacted in our playground. Yes! Due to my beautiful blond mane, yours truly would get to play Luke!! A rare sign of respect for an otherwise insignificant and shy comics-muncher who always sat at the back of the class.

That’s  almost every breaktime – REAL fights would break out between some boys as to who would be Han Solo – rebellion amongst the Rebellion. Sheesh! The Death Star would have cleared the planet and blown us all to smithereens well before we had to trudge back in for Maths class…

One time, seeing as it was his birthday, one kid received the privilege of playing the moping moisture-farmer. My reaction? To the sheer bewilderment of my playmates – was to immediately opt for the part of Chewie: the co-pilot with a crossbow. WICKED! 🙂

Bizarrely enough, we actually had a Mr. Peter Mayhew teaching at our junior school! He was incredibly tall, but there, alas, is where the comparisons ended. Of course, my year were staunch Star Wars fans, so those more rebellious fellas among our rabble could not resist lumbering along the hall right behind him, “making Wookiee noises” etc. Poor grouch: totally oblivious to this ultracool international pop culture phenomenon, he had absolutely no idea why all these pesky perishers were acting like that. 

Looking back, methinks: yeah, it was a fun prank to do 😉

I’d like to think that THE REAL Peter Mayhew would have been proud of us.

For he represented the best of Star Wars in its original – wondrous and inspirational – form. His boundless passion and positivity ensured him enduring popularity. That, and attending 20-30 Star Wars conventions a year. 

“Much of my personality has gone into Chewie, and people can pick those bits out,” he said. “There are quirky movements that nobody else does. I feel that I’ve put a great deal of Peter Mayhew into Chewbacca.”

 

“The big chance came, so I took it. Star Wars was such a unique opportunity that I couldn’t refuse. It’s an opportunity that only strikes once, so you might as well make the most of it.

“At least my costume was comfortable!” 

Peter Mayhew 19 May 1944 – 30 April 2019. 

 

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Harry James And His Orchestra – It’s Been A Long, Long Time: MARVEL Music Monday

SHIELD COMPROMISED… 

Steve Rogers: “I don’t remember giving you a key.”

Nick Fury: “You really think I’d need one? My wife kicked me out.”

Steve Rogers: “Didn’t know you were married.”

Nick Fury: “There are a lot of things you don’t know about me.”

 

Written by Jule Styne;

Lyrics by Sammy Cahn;

Vocals by Kitty Kallen;

Performed by Harry James & His Orchestra (1945)

Natasha Romanoff: “Hey, fellas. Either one of you know where the Smithsonian is? I’m here to pick up a fossil.”

Steve Rogers: “That’s hilarious.”

 

“He Was A Navigator On A Spice Freighter”: My Father’s Top 10 Movie Moments

I Am Groovy, Like My Father Before Me! 

I am Auda abu Tayi! Does Auda serve?  Does Auda abu Tayi serve? I carry 23 great wounds, all got in battle. 75 men have I killed with my own hands in battle. I scatter, I burn my enemies’ tents! I take away their flocks and herds. The Turks pay me a golden treasure, yet I am poor! Because I am A RIVER TO MY PEOPLE!!” – Auda abu Tayi.

Hard to believe that my father – former globe-trotting RAF sergeant and Jedi Knight – passed away on this day 10 years ago.  

Considering how difficult it has been trying to concentrate on writing anything else this week, this Post seemed like an ideal celebration to compile. 

Having had absolutely no paternal guidance himself, he sometimes found it difficult to be Dad – “I’m just making it up as I go along, man” 🙂 Whatever problems or disagreements we had, it would only take one of us to suggest: “Let’s watch a movie” and everything would revert to being as right as rain again.

He really digged a smart script – he constantly criticised my short stories, complaining about the drab dialogue, constantly advising me to listen –always listen – to the way people talked. Thus, he picked up some iconic one-liners along the way, many of which are included here. 

He appreciated some really fine performances, most notably: Eli Wallach (as Tuco) in The Good, The Bad And the Ugly (1967); Robert Lacey (as Toht) in Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981); and Robert De Niro in practically everything he did! But mainly the Godfather Part II (1974), Midnight Run (1988) and Heat (1995).

Possibly the most impressive performance he ever watched came from Anthony Quinn as Arabian tribal chief: Auda abu Tayi in Lawrence Of Arabia (1962). To us, that will stand forever as the Greatest Movie Ever Made – Quinn alone could easily have filled this Top 10 list (but of those few good clips, none of them stay online for long)

Today, you could have been treated to: the Top 10 Planes That Dad Loved To Fly. However, guessing that you probably wouldn’t recognise most of them anyway (for those of you taking notes, No.1 happened to be the de Havilland DH 98 Mosquito 😉 ) instead, this list will just have to suffice.

 

 

10. “Don’t sweat it!”

Southern Comfort (1981)

Paris Texas (1984) was one of those great Americana movies we enjoyed together, mainly because of that haunting soundtrack by Ry Cooder. 

My father had been THAT CLOSE to getting a job Stateside, but after that fell through, he “disappeared,” trying to travel as much overland as possible. So when we found Ry Cooder attached to the soundtrack of this thriller set in the Louisana bayou, we thot we’d give it a go.

Mostly, a mean, moody and magnificent work, but the last ten minutes was a revelation. For the next few months, my quest for Cajun LPs stretched far and wide…

Allons dancé!

Cajun Trapper: “I ain’t gonna kill y’all if I don’t gotta… you got a bayou over dere… take it… stay to the west side… you’re gonna find a road about a mile up dere.”

Hardin: “Do you mind tellin’ us what the Hell this is all about?”

Cajun Trapper: “It real simple… we live back in here… dis is our home, and nobody don’t fuck with us…  Now, if I was you all, I’d quit askin’ questions and haul ass… ’cause my buddies… dey not nice like me.”

Hardin: “Are we supposed to say thanks?”

Cajun Trapper: “You not supposed to say nuttin’… soldier.”

 

9. “War changes men’s natures…” 

Breaker Morant (1979)

An anti-war war movie set during the Boer War (1899-1902) based on a true story. 

Dad stayed up well after his bedtime, completely absorbed in this courtroom drama (and he detested courtroom dramas!) that featured one of the most notorious cases of military injustice.

And at breakfast the next morning, he couldn’t help but go on and on about it. Would have bunked off school that morning, just to listen to his enthusiasm all the way until lunchtime, if Mum hadn’t told me to skedaddle. 

We regarded this as the greatest Australian movie ever made. Yes, that’s right, we thought it’s even better than Mad Max!

Strewth!

It really ain’t the place nor time to reel off rhyming diction,

But yet we’ll write a final rhyme while awaiting crucifixion.

For we bequeath a parting tip of sound advice for such men

Who come in transport ships to polish off the Dutchmen.

If you encounter any Boers, you really must not loot ’em,

And if you wish to leave these shores, for pity’s sake, don’t shoot ’em.

Let’s toss a bumper down our throat before we pass to Heaven,

And toast a trim-set petticoat we leave behind in Devon” – Lt. Harry Morant.  

 

8. Litmus Configuration 

Midnight Run (1988)

A cool, entertaining and highly recommended buddy comedy – how many times did this grace our VCR?! It got to the stage where we could hurl whole sections of dialogue at each other, and still never get tired of watching the actual movie. 

The amazing – yet under-rated – Charles Grodin only had to walk through the door into this scene and Dad was already in stitches. 

1:24 always cracked him up even more: 

“YOU GUYS ARE THE DUMBEST BOUNTY HUNTERS I’VE EVER SEEN! YOU COULDN’T EVEN DELIVER A BOTTLE OF MILK!” – Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas. 

 

 

7. “Wake up, time to die!” 

Blade Runner (1982) 

My father loved to read Philip K Dick’s novels, so couldn’t wait to watch the TV premiere of Blade Runner. 

So much has been written about its influential visual futurism, but it was one of the replicants: not the obvious choice: Roy Batty, but Leon, played by the crazy-eyed Brion James who Dad paid particular attention to. His role as the one-armed Cajun trapper in Southern Comfort was the other reason why we watched that movie!

Always dig that mo @ 0:35 – when Dekard draws his gun and Leon immediately bats it away.

As Dad so eloquently put it: “Way too cool, man!”

Leon: “What do you mean, I’m not helping?”

Holden: “I mean: you’re not helping! Why is that, Leon?”

 

 

6. La Golondrina 

The Wild Bunch (1969) 

Yeah, this is the typical “Dad Movie” alright.

Expect nothing less than one long gore-fest cram-packed with incredibly stylised bloody action sequences in Sam Peckinpah’s infamous masterpiece: The Wild Bunch.

And yet its most peaceful moment, when the bunch are riding off to certain death, that really struck a chord with Dad. He instantly fell in love with La Golondrina (The Swallow); it’s a Mexican tune written in the 19th century.

Had to take note of its time on our tape whenever he often requested just “THAT MOMENT from The Wild Bunch.”

“Very smart. That’s very smart for you damn gringos…”

Dutch Engstrom: “They’ll be waitin’ for us.”

Pike Bishop: “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

 

 

5. The Imperial March

The Empire Strikes Back (1980) 

You may already know how this blogger was blessed to have gawped at the original Star Wars trilogy in the cinemas on their respective original releases.

Even more exuberant to have a father who – for the next three decades – never failed to admit how glad he was to have taken me (and several excitable chums from school on numerous occasions!) and share the joy to be had from that galaxy far far away. 

(For the record, his fav “character” – you’d never guess! – turned out to be Salacious B. Crumb – HA!)

So many thrilling individual moments to choose from… 

He loved that now-legendary shot of Luke gazing into the twin suns and EVERY SINGLE TIME it came on, he’d whistle along to the Tatooine Theme, but the Imperial March provoked a more striking action: EVERY SINGLE TIME we reached 1:27, Dad would start slamming his heel into the floor in time to the Imperial beat. Hannibal (our tabby cat) could sense that particular disturbance in the Force comin’ – honestly, he never fled THAT FAST in sheer terror from any other movie…

“You found something?” 😉

Darth Vader: “The Rebels are alerted to our presence. Admiral Ozzel came out of lightspeed too close to the system.”

General Veers: “He… he felt surprise was wiser…”

Darth Vader: “He is as clumsy as he is stupid! General… prepare your troops for a surface attack.”

General Veers: “Yes, my Lord.”

 

 

4. The Smoker

For A Few Dollars More (1965) 

Arguably, the coolest western ever made. 

Dad taped this for me during my last year at junior school; he’d enjoyed watching this in an open-air screening in Yemen back in ’68. Gian Maria Volonte as El Indio, was one of Dad’s fav villains. Which of his scenes to select?

But then memories of how Dad laughed every time Klaus Kinski appeared, especially here @ 0:10.

This scene is probably the most TENSE confrontation in movie history.

Saw a lot of my father in Colonel Douglas Mortimer (Lee van Cleef): true gentleman; expert marksman; absolute BADASS!

Wild, The Hunchback: “Well well, if it isn’t the smoker. Well… Remember me, amigo? ‘Course you do. El Paso.”

Col. Douglas Mortimer: “It’s a small world.”

Wild, The Hunchback: “Yes, and very, very bad. Now come on, you light another match.”

Col. Douglas Mortimer: “I generally smoke just after I eat. Why don’t you come back in about ten minutes?”

Wild, The Hunchback: “Ten minutes you’ll be smoking in hell. GET UP!”

 

3. “When you cast it in, what did you see?”

Excalibur (1981)

Not only were we entranced by this stupendous and spellbinding retelling of the legend of King Arthur, but we were gobsmacked by the music of Richard Wagner. Siegfied’s Funeral March, especially, had quite an inspirational and spiritual hold over both of us. 

With its almost ethereal imagery, and powerful performances, this was John Boorman’s masterpiece.

Studying ancient British history – and the legends/mythology stemming from these isles – became our joint mission; and Excalibur brought the two of us even closer together.

Now you know why this movie is played in Brad Manor every year on the fifth night of the second month…  

Uther: “The sword. You promised me the sword!”

Merlin: “And you shall have it; but to heal, not to hack. Tomorrow, a truce; we meet at the river.”

Uther: “Talk. Talk is for lovers, Merlin. I need the sword to be king!”

 

 

2. “Bet you were thinking: now why don’t he write?” 

Dances With Wolves (1990)

Aow, it really is getting more emotional now…

My father’s final trip to the cinema came in January 1991. Dances With Wolves satisfied his fascination for American Civil War history, and marked the directorial debut of Kevin Costner, whose The Untouchables (1987) we had enjoyed immensely.

Dad always remarked out loud at the superb training of Two Socks. Except for our last viewing together @ Christmas 2008 – it would mark the final viewing session we shared together, but by that time, he was too weak to keep awake through most of it…

Oh, THAT music: 

“There’s a wolf who seems intent on the goings-on here. It does not seem inclined to be a nuisance however, and aside from Cisco has been my only company. He’s appeared each afternoon for the past two days. He has two milky-white paws. If he comes calling tomorrow, I will name him Two Socks” – John Dunbar.  

 

 

1. Bad To The Bone 

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) 

His favourite movie star.

His favorite rock song.

So when these two most formidable entities in the universe collided in our living room back in ’91, it became one of those life-affirming moments. Heck, with Arnie’s shot-gun twirl, the big rig carnage on the LA freeway and many more energetic sequences, will never forget how Dad kept jumping out of his armchair.

The Original Brad To The Bone 🙂

As that other “great old man” once said: “he was the best pilot in the galaxy and a good friend.”

He always told me: NEVER GIVE UP, and yet he gave up a career in the RAF to become a full-time Dad. 

In an insane world, it was the sanest choice.

“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” 

Gordon Bradford (4 December 1925 – 6 February 2009). 

 

So Low: Is Brad Done With Star Wars?!

Star Wars: The Last Straw…?

Yes, You Were Right, Luke, This Did NOT Go The Way Brad Thinks…

“What do you know about the Force?” – Luke Skywalker.

On the day in which Solo: A Star Wars Story began at our local popcorn parlour last week, there it stood on the library shelf: Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Available to rent for one week. A whole week?! The prospect of watching it for SECOND, or –Dyzan forbid – a third(!) time (>_<) filled me with such dread and nausea that yours deliriously had to sit down… before he fell down… 

Yes, folks, even five months later, DON’T try bribing me with egg custard tarts, there is no way you could make me wade through THAT… “experience” again…

Is it a coincidence that it had been placed right next to fellow turkey: Geostorm…? Somehow, this most recent instalment in the galaxy’s biggest franchise makes Gethard Buttwad’s most recent flop look like a veritable masterpiece of modern cinema.

No matter how you look at it, it’s undeniable – The Last Jedi IS a complete mess.

Pondered going to watch the much-troubled Solo: A Star Wars Movie, but, considering The Last Jedi’s shortcomings, plus the uneasy prospect of watching a Corellian smuggler movie without Harrison Ford, Brad eventually decided to give it a miss, hence no Bradscribe Review. It’s maybe just as well: initial reviews citing disappointment; reports of the most annoying character (a droid?!) since the prequels; and a plethora of dimly-lit scenes (the problem blighting modern movies, and TV series’ that infuriates me the most!) all make for unpleasant reading.

Perhaps improbable now, but Brad actually became one of the few heartened by Star Wars: The Force Awakens, encouraged by the introduction of such intriguing new characters: Rey, Poe and Finn. Of course, as we were all crestfallen to discover, The Last Jedi failed to embellish these characters with ANY meaningful, or consequential, developments whatsoever. 

Cue scene of this blogger standing forlornly on a cliff edge, chucking his copy of the now-pointless Force Awakens over his shoulder…

When Rey states: “I need someone to show me my place in all of this,” weh-heh-hell! DON’T look at Rian Johnson – he’s The Last Nerk to ask for directions… …

“I was shocked. I said to Rian, Luke is the most optimistic, hopeful character and now he’s this miserable, despondent hermit… I had a real problem, because I don’t believe a Jedi would ever give up…” – Mark Hamill. 

“It says right in the script: ‘forget the past! Kill it if you have to!'” wailed Mark Hamill during a Q&A session at one fan function, before turning to his director, lounging inappropriately gleeful on the couch beside him. “You’re doing a pretty good job!” 

And everyone in the room accepted that. As a joke

Speaking of unbearable puns, notice how Rian Johnson is listed as “Writer” as well as Director…?

In his somewhat twisted mind, Brad envisaged a creepy Majestic-12-like committee, lurking deep within the fiery Mustafar-like pit that is Disneyland – its sole purpose: to concoct the insane plot-threads to be spun for this current trilogy.

No, dear friends, the truth is far more sinister than that! 

There is NO such committee; thus, no such plot(s) or plans have been laid out. Astonishingly, Johnson came in and singlehandedly put together Episode VIII, apparently with little to no collaboration from Lucasfilm/Disney. 

How much did he actually write? 

Judging from the ineptitude and incoherence displayed onscreen, you get the impression that the crew were just making (breaking…?) it up as they went along…

“Never mind, eh? All the “little niggles” will be sorted out with Episode IX!”

So certain are you…?!

Can’t see how any of this tosh could be rectifiedTotally bereft of a logical, or progressive plot structure, with all the original characters written out, there is no sensible direction for this embarrassing charade to take.

Having wondered extensively as to the background story of Supreme Leader Snoke, only to squirm at his premature – and ridiculously swift! – demise, the bewildering realisation that there is absolutely NO rationale – or justification for the existence of the Worst – sorry, First – Order becomes immediately (and eye-rollingly) apparent! The First Order persists, simply because the trilogy demands a considerable antagonistic element (no matter how one-dimensional!)  

Such a ludicrous set-up only enforces my suspicions: NO planning went into this guff! NONE at all! 

And let’s not bang on about this – for plenty of disgruntled fans have already done so – but that miserable, old blue-milk-supping git arsing about in The Land Of The Porgs is definitely NOT the Luke Skywalker we grew up with. You know it’s a calamity when even Mark Hamill himself has to speak out against the wrong direction of one of SF’s most beloved characters…

If anything, the ONLY enchanting moment of the whole movie involved the reappearance of Yoda. And his original puppet at that, voiced as always, and reassuringly, by the irreplaceable Frank Oz. Alternatively, Brad would have been fine and dandy paying to watch a crazy, cosmic comedy, featuring just this crotchety Odd Couple:

“Your turn to fetch the blue milk, Short Round!” Lukewarm chirps, to which Master Yoda replies: “My turn?! My dimpled ass! Your turn, it is…” 

Star Wars: The Last Rian Johnson Film? 

‘Fraid not… 

We can expect not just one more movie from him, but The Clusterfuck Trilogy! Coming To Theaters Near YOU! 

Ah, not me, baby! Gonna grab my blue milk an’ split the scene, man… 

“There are no Jedi here anymore; only dreamers like this fool” – Baze Malbus. 

So, all is lost?

Not so, my young padawan.  

It is reassuring to remember that we still have Rogue One – the movie Brad waited only 36 years for (and to that end, dreaded it more than anything) but was pleasantly surprised nevertheless. However, that jubilant – and relieved! – reaction (albeit only eighteen months ago) now seems like a far, far away, almost vague, recollection…

This reminds me of just one of the many reasons why Revenge Of The Sith sucks: the main point of watching that was to witness the finale that finally graced the Final Act of Rogue One.

Unlike The Last Jedi, Rogue One is blessed with an engrossing script, coherent action (and editing), great participants; some may argue that their characters were not properly developed, but then again, why worry about that? We knew, alas, that they were all doomed anyway. It’s easily the best Star Wars movie since Return of the Jedi. Let’s face it: it’s the ONLY decent Star Wars movie since Return of the Jedi! (Search your feelings: you KNOW it be true! 😉 )

For the time being, yours truly will stick with the OT and Rogue OneBut please, let me stipulate that it must be the original Original Trilogy – not those so-called “Special” Editions that ruined the franchise’s 20th Anniversary. The tampering with Mos Eisley was unforgivable – you will never find a more wretched hive of CGI and pointlessly inserted trash. 

Return of the Jedi suffered the worst: shockingly, inexplicably, my fave song performed by Sy Snootles and the Max Rebo Band was replaced with a “new” derisory number. And what’s with the line-up of Force-ghosts? How could anyone replace the distinguished  Sebastian Shaw with that lameass dipwit from the prequels?! 

There is nothing on the horizon that might assuage my gnawing doubts. 

A solo Boba Fett movie, perhaps? 

No! Absolutely NOT!

Part of what makes this badass Mandalorian so great is his mystique – it’s cool that we know barely anything comcerning his origins or devious history. Let’s keep it that way (but nobody listens to Brad these days…) If any characters deserve their own big screen outing, it has to be those other bounty hunters glimpsed in The Empire Strikes Back for the most fleeting seconds: Bossk, IG-88, Dendar, 4-Lom and Zuckuss of course. (Brad was only the 7th kid in his class to acquire that latter action figure – one of the finest achievements from my scholastic period!)   

Naturally, those days when excitement and giddy anticipation seemed inextricably linked with all-things-Star-Wars are long gone.  

Regrettably, we are lumbered now with the crass commercialism and mediocre machinations of a corporation that fails to understand what generated mass appeal for Star Wars in the first place.

Business is business. Except it’s none of Brad’s business… 

For me, the Wars are over, but there will be no cheer. No celebrations. Not even manic Stormtrooper-helmets-as-drumkits levels of revelry can shatter the uneasy tranquillity that now pervades the musty (dark-but-not-as-ineptly-dark-as-Solo-A-Star-Wars-Story-dark) halls of Brad Manor…

For those of you who still believe this franchise remains the one true, unfaltering bastion of awesomeness in modern sci-fi cinema – or reckon a morose old moofmilker like meself should just “snap out of it”! – you are more than welcome to bamboozle Brad with logic, concise arguments and/or wisecracks in the Comments section graciously provided.

May The Force Be With YOU! (Alas, it snuck out of my life. A long time ago… …) 

 

“Stockpile of Last Jedi DVDs in range, General!” 

“Target! Maximum firepower!” 

Hey, it’s not all doom and gloom.

Found this vid which, unlike Disney’s interpretation of Star Wars, is actually quite clever and entertaining. 

At least, Ryan Reynolds voicing our fave Sith Lord is preferable to trying to endure Laura frickin’ Dern as Admiral Hairdye.

Admiral?! HA! 

Out of all the ill-advised, cringe-inducing “humour” foisted upon The Last Jedi, this ill-advised concept, instead, is what really amused Brad.

Be warned: there’s some coarse language herein, but this is nothing compared to the multitude of expletive-laden rants overheard on that fateful evening last December. Staggering out of the screening of you-know-what…

Knock ’em dead, Poolboy:

 

A New Hope In A New Light: A Reappraisal Of The Movie That Started It All

Why “Episode IV” Will Always Be No.2 In The All-Time Star Wars Chart

“Suddenly the film starts, and every kid in the audience starts screaming!” – Irwin Kershner.   

It’s over a month now since we were subjected to the travesty that is Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Not only has it lessened my attitude towards the saga (will probably never watch Episode VII again, now knowing that Episode VIII fails to develop the new characters in any way 😦 ) but – as you may have gathered this past few weeks – it has almost completely sapped my will to write! A staggeringly bitter irony to take, considering that the original Star Wars – with all its bewitching escapist fare, “done with all the energy and intelligence and thought that I could muster,” as its creator George Lucas remarked back then – inspired me to create my own science fiction.

Ahem, it has come to my attention that a number of fans have recently blogged their Star Wars rankings – in many such Posts, The Last Jedi has been ranked far too highly; but more surprisingly, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope appears far too low on these charts.

You probably wondered why no 40th Anniverwary Celebration appeared on this site last May. Here in the UK, “Star Wars” did not get its theatrical release until 27 December 1977, (cinemas – like everything else around the country – are closed on Christmas Day) and even then, it would take good ol’ word-of-mouth to convince us that something quite extraordinary awaited us at our local popcorn parlour…

So, to mark four decades since its release on the tea-and-scones side of the Pond, me writers’ block has been jiggled orf in order to cobble together some hopefully-entertaining thoughts. 

By the mid-’70s, a more gritty, often brutal, realism had permeated the big screen; Star Wars brought a timely sense of magic and fantasy back to the movies. No matter how much the original cast and crew complained about the simple script and dodgy dialogue, there were no niggles to be had from yours truly. Besides, many of the lines have become immortalised in pop culture.

It will be forever intriguing to speculate who else could have played these iconic roles. We could be here all night discussing all the influential major and minor players, but for the moment, let me focus on a role that remarkably receives less treatment.

Star Wars helped convince me that Peter Cushing was one of the greatest actors. He could portray the fiendishly evil Dr. Frankenstein and create a fetching, grandfatherly Dr. Who with equal relish. A young Mark Hamill was in awe, and has confessed that – even though they shared no scenes together onscreen – he would visit the Hammer Horror legend in his dressing room to pick up acting tips.

And, of course, “dear little Carrie” simply could not bring herself to shout at this gentlemen even if he was playing “a rather frightful Edwardian chauffeur.”

Sure, today’s technology can recreate the likeness of Peter Cushing, but it will never capture his charm:

“I was absolutely knocked for six. I was riveted! Star Wars was a picture you had to see again… My only disappointment was that poor old Moff Tarkin was blown up at the end, which meant I couldn’t appear in the sequels” – Peter Cushing.

“I actually designed the sandcrawler. R2-D2 was my concept. Darth Vader was my concept. And the white stormtrooper costume was mine; George wanted a white costume, but that’s about all he said. Many people could have done them. I happened to be available and capable of doing the stuff when it was needed… It’s just a big happening” – Ralph McQuarrie. 

Biggs Darklighter: “Luke, I didn’t just come back to say goodbye… I made some friends at the academy. When our frigate leaves for the central systems, we’re gonna jump ship and join the Alliance-“

Luke Skywalker: “THE REBELLION?!”

Biggs Darklighter: “Quiet down, willya? You got a mouth bigger than a meteor crater…”

On Christmas Day 1987, Star Wars (at last) received its UK TV premiere. Naturally, a brand new VHS tape was utilised – for the next few years it would have to withstand umpteen repeated viewings. 

Also that year, Starlog magazine put out an amazing special issue celebrating Star Wars‘ 10th Anniversary; one of the numerous jaw-dropping facts to grab my attention concerned the deleted scenes. This section even published a still from the scene in which Biggs Darklighter returns from the academy to tell Luke of his intention to join the Rebel Alliance, and suggests that they go together…

Admittedly, most of these scenes (set on Tatooine) were rightfully deleted, but this scene in particular has long evoked a personal fascination. It offers some nifty dialogue between these best buddies; in addition, it reveals the effects of Imperial dominion on a domestic level (and would help give the emotional resonance that Biggs’ death requires.

Such a shame: a poor copy can be found on YouTube, but most likely, you probably never heard of it.

In 1997, when news broke of a Special Edition – released to herald the movie’s 20th Anniversary, chances of finally getting to know Biggs looked more promising. 

Well, what a swiz… 

Instead, we had to watch needless – not to mention mindless – animated inserts; at least the remastered climactic attack on the Death Star  got spruced up rather well. Although we got only one previously unseen moment with Luke and Biggs meeting up at the rebel base on Yavin, this still did not help explain Luke’s line: “Biggs is right, I’m never going to get out of here!” which, curiously, was still left in. 

“Much of my personality has gone into Chewie, and people can pick those bits out. There are quirky movements that nobody else does. I feel that I’ve put a great deal of Peter Mayhew into Chewbacca” – Peter Mayhew.

“We were very worried about credibility. We wanted everything to come across as if it existed in the real world. The film’s whole style was dented, rusty and realistic” – Ben Burtt.   

From Tatooine, to the Death Star, and then onto Yavin, the pace never lets up (unlike The Last Jedi where, at some points, staring at my watch – or my cinema’s exquisite early 20th century décor –  proved to be a more engrossing spectacle than anything delivered onscreen).

Perhaps, the moment in the trash compactor aboard th Death Star is Episode IV’s slowest, least appealing moment? A few times my infant self felt propelled to fast forward to that gripping TIE fighter attack. 

With the climactic battle against the Death Star, both my interests in Second World War aerial dogfights and sci-fi action were spectacularly combined, but this next sequence always excited me more.

Stuff the ridiculous video game effects of the prequels! And that bland bombing run with which The Last Jedi begins – THIS is Star Wars!:  

So, let me get this straight: 

you really believe that Benicio Del Toro is more important than Ben Kenobi? That the salt of Crait is more precious than the sand on Tatooine? And that Canto Bight (ugh) is more awesome than Mos Eisley?! 

You may put forth your arguments defending what is no more than a 150-minute Disney commercial in the Comments section below.

“I’m going to cut across the axis and try and draw their fire!” 😉

And please don’t tell me you’ve already forgotten this magical scene:

“In six weeks, we set up shop, made 30 aliens – some were my designs, some were Ron Cobb’s… I’m very proud to have done something on the picture. I wish to God I had spent a year on Star Wars rather than King Kong” – Rick Baker.   

This clip brings us nicely to my last – and arguably most endearing – point.

Seeing how anybody could have written this Post – let me add my own 25-satangs-worth. 

While everyone wanted to be Han Solo, or a Jedi, my time – and ebullient imagination – became captivated by those Tusken Raiders aka Sand People, those nomadic, primitive crack-shot ruffians of the Jundland Wastes who – when easily startled – could be guaranteed to  “be back, and in greater numbers…”

Instead of clamouring for a (decidedly naff) plastic(?!) lightsaber, this innovative moppet improvised with a Tusken Raider mask (remember it being so brittle it could have torn like paper). Found a fallen branch from the small pear tree in our back garden – miraculously just the right size for me, AND with one end unbelievably curved exactly like a a Tusken gaderffii stick; to complete this “transformation” Mum wrapped me in that small, sand-coloured blanket from the airing cupboard under the stairs (besides, it was pretty nippy outside at that time of evening!).

Sadly, there are no photos of me in my very first dabble with cosplay – ‘twas a time in which having photos of you doing anything and everything was not essential. Perhaps people were too scared to take a snap of me, fearing the prospect of stealing this pint-sized primitive’s virtue, or somesuch. 

Beware of the Bradling?!

Loved wandering around outside the corner store up the road, in character, for hours, as a formidable liddle Sand Person, waving my homemade gaderffii menacingly at any outsider who dared venture into that establishment…

Ask anybody in that neighbourhood at that time and they would testify to that end..

“They had a guy wandering around in a dog suit. It was ridiculous” – Harrison Ford.

 

“I got the job of this movie with the caveat that I lose ten pounds… I was terrified they were going to look at me and say: ‘Bring in Jodie Foster and get that fat girl outta here!'” – Carrie Fisher. 

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The Bradscribe Review

Your Spoilers – They’ll Have To Wait Outside! We Don’t Want Their Kind Here!

“Ryan Johnson’s movie has a sense of humour about itself and a sense of joy, but its emotional generosity, even in the midst of all the extravagant green-screen work, is its best special effect” – TIME Magazine. 

“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror…

“I fear something terrible has happened.” 

You betcha!

Only the terror manifested more in the unwelcome form of spite and bitterness – there has been a Starkiller-sized amount of hate for VIII over this past weekend alone.

Truly, we waited on tenterhooks for two years for... THIS?! 

Okay, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is NOT terrible, but, alas, it is not great either.

You will be relieved to know that – unlike the barrage of bile foisted upon IMDb over the last few days – this review will refrain from descending into an expletive-laden rant. 

Unlike other episodes on the big screen, nobody cheered, nobody applauded, as the goosebump-inducing score broke out, or the legendary title scrawl began trundling upscreen… 

Hello, methinks, quite a different Star Wars movie is unfolding here… 

“And, as for Luke, Hamill comes into his own here with a very intelligent and sympathetic portrayal of his great character. Luke is now part Prospero, part Achilles… potentially the great magician or teacher on this island, ready to induct Rey into the Zen priesthood of the Force” – The Guardian. 

The biggest gasp in the auditorium did not go to the – admittedly awesome – praetorian guard fight, nor towards the surprise appearance of a dear old friend on Ahch-to (arguably Last Jedi’s most charming scene). No, as the opening space battle gets underway, the very first First Order officer we see on the bridge is played by none other than Ade Edmondson!! 

My non-British blogging friends might like to know that this cult fave star appeared in a few classic BBC TV comedy shows during the 80s. To see him here was extraordinary, but, immediately, alarm bells started ringing.

Uh-oh, they’re gonna play this for laughsunfortunately, this proved to be precisely the misguided and cringe-inducing case as a thoroughly underwhelming first act ensued. There are certain lines that should never be uttered in the Star Wars galaxy – “Let me put you on hold” (?!) should NOT be one of them, by Jove!

Amidst all the much-maligned New Hopisms of The Force Awakens, the trio of new characters: Rey, Finn and Poe were most welcome, and refreshing additions. Here, none of them, frustratingly, were allowed to develop any further.

The only thing to strike me about Holdo is that she looked all dressed and coiffured ready for Canto Bight, not saving the Resistance.

Laura Dern?! As an Admiral?! 

Come OFF IT… That absurd premise turned out to be more hilarious than anything “General” Gleeson managed to spout…

And “Captain” Phasma…? Soz, but that was the moment Brad blinked…

With the Asian cinema market larger than ever, it was just a matter of when, not if, a character like Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) would appear in this franchise. Personally, she gabbled too fast, so none of her scenes could be followed. No matter,  by the time she had become miraculously embroiled in the shoddily “written” derring-do, my attention had well and truly drifted. 

Speaking of cringe-inducing: by far the weakest – certainly most useless – sequence takes place on Canto Bight.

A cosmic Monte Carlo might be more suitable for crap like Valerian. But not Star Wars, for cake’s sake!

“We seem to be made to suffer. It’s our lot in life… …”

On a positive note, however, it was fabulous to see the lovely – and still feisty – Princess (sorry) GENERAL Leia again – thankfully, watching Carrie for the very-last-time proved not to be the emotional slog one had expected. However, one particular scene glided past 😉 that elicited a few sniggers in the darkness around me.

My time and patience was also saved by Adam Driver, who managed to bring some much-needed gravitas as perpetually-petulant-teen-with-ridiculous-mask: Kylo Ren.

And Chewie!

But then again, despite his instant-classic “Roast Porg” scene, this weary Wookie had – as feared – too little to do.

More sketches with those delightful, albeit dotty, “Caretakers” on Ahch-to would have cheered me up.

Most of all, though, it was great to catch a powerful and moving performance by Mark Hamill  as Ireland’s living legend: Stragglybeard, Lord Of The Grumpy Teatsqueezers.

The Last Jedi ranks with the very best Star Wars epics by pointing ahead to a next generation of Skywalkers – and, thrillingly, to a new hope” – Rolling Stone. 

Mercifully, this instalment is not as atrocious as the universally-reviled prequel trilogy, but still lags several parsecs behind last year’s Merry Sithmas Special: Rogue One. 

Disney – obviously – were too preoccupied with designing those cute critters: porgs, crystal foxes and whatnot – and all that blasted associated merchandise! – to worry about the inconsequential stuff. Such as story structure and a cohesive narrative, etc. etc.

And what is so Supreme about this Leader?

Deeply disappointed.

After being so intrigued by such a potentially-menacing figure, and wanting to know more about his origins/history, here (in his snazzy golden dressing gown) his “character” is – shamefully, almost embarrassingly – barely onscreen long enough to frighten us, let alone fascinate us further.

Snoke is a joke! (And like this film’s other “light-hearted” moments: simply not funny. And doesn’t deserve to be.)

Similarly, our fascination surrounding Rey remains almost-painfully unresolved. Amounting to nuthin’, this simply splutters out as the most annoying non-event ever. 

And Brad grows tired of asking this so it will be the last time: how did Maz find Luke’s lightsaber?!

Oh, never mind…

Not only do these unsettling anti-climaxes remain unsettled, but the way we all got psyched up and brainstormed out for NOTHING (partly inciting the extreme antipathy that has clogged up the internet these past few days) has brought me to the brink of indifference. And a complete, crushing state of apathy towards Episode IX, or – Sith forbid! – a whole new trilogy by Rian Johnson. It’s as if he didn’t BOTHER to watch The Force Awakens. Or, at least, consult JJ Abrams’ notes…

Whilst pondering whether to discuss Spoilers in this Review, let me conclude by stating that this whole bally venture felt like it spoilt just about everything that makes the Star Wars phenomenon so stupendous and awe-inspiring.

 

The most memorable moment of this particular viewing experience happened to be the severe cramp. 

After two and a half hours, all feeling in my right leg had gone. As the last dude stuck in his (plush, velvet, Edwardian) seat after this evening’s performance of The Last Jedi, a young attendant – black eyeliner, black lipstick, rings and studs protruding from the most unlikely places – came to check on me.

After explaining my predicament, whilst rising awkwardly to my feet, she chortled:

“Yer jus’ gonna ‘avta FORCE yerself, darlin’, he he!” 

Honestly!

What IS it with Brad and cheeky Goth girls?! 

She noticed me grimace at the endless end credits.

“I know!” she complained. “Absolute blooody roobbish, innit?! I ‘avta put up wiv this three times a day fer the rest o’ the week!” 

Ah yeah, your job really sucks…

“Anyways, enough abaht me – what did YOU think of it… …?”

 

 

BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

“That’s NOT how the Force works!”

 

 

 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: A Bradscribe Review

State Your Elation For The Record:

This Rogue Is The One To Rave About!

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“The first thing that you have to do is get over the fact that you’re doing a scene with Darth Vader. That took me a little while, because I’m a first-generation fanboy” – Ben Mendelsohn.

One of the many disappointments with Star wars Episode III is that it denied our chance to see how the Rebel spies stole the Death Star plans.

For TOO LONG has yours truly revelled in the intrigue induced by the legendary scrawl:

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…and wondered how that premise would… (eventually?) make such a great movie…

And here it is! It only took three and a half decades for delivery.

Like the seemingly impossible mission for which this ragtag band a’ rebels volunteer, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story defies the odds to present such a welcome addition to the galaxy’s greatest saga.

Well! Where do we begin?!

A big fist-pump to this band of lovable rogues. They represent a superior Suicide Squad: more thrilling and thankfully less puerile. We do end up caring about their fate, which seemed to be the ultimate challenge here.

Quite frankly, Felicity Jones is a revelation as Jyn, galactic tearaway and daughter of Galen Erso, the reluctant creator of the Empire’s new superweapon. Admittedly, Jones looks an unlikely action star, but she pulls it off with aplomb. 

By far the best of the main bunch are Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yenstill can’t believe he fits so well in this galaxy!) and Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang) – the fighters from Jedha. 

Love the relationship between Cassian and Kaytoo, although this charming lil plot device was crying out for further attention and development. Considering what an obvious win the reprogrammed Imperial droid turned out to be, he deserved greater opportunities to scene-steal. (If they couldn’t grant him more lines, at least give him that blaster!). 

Still reckon that Diego Luna makes a way cooler Star Wars name than Cassian Andor…

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“That’s right, I’m playing the male lead! I didn’t really think that would be such a big deal…” – Felicity Jones.

The main problem with SF these days is that sfx have reached such stupendous levels, other elements such as plot and character development sometimes tend to fail in comparison. But Rogue One overrides that problem – all elements fuse reasonably well to produce something that is undeniably enjoyable. 

Here, the effects are suitably grandiose and awe-inspiring, from the graceful flights of the supersleek spacecraft(s) to the simply stunning vistas of Jedha and Mauritiuis – (sorry!) Scarif.

What about the aliens? 

Sorely underused – a personal gripe. For my Rough Guidequite tactfully, details relating to Pao and Bishan were dropped. Naturally assuming that they might not receive too much screen-time, they didn’t even get a word in – not even an indecipherable one! Between them!

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“I’d have loved to have taken a Stormtrooper outfit but we weren’t meant to take anything. I got away with a couple of small things but I can’t tell you what” – Mads Mikkelsen. 

Of the Imperial personnel, Ben Mendelsohn is particularly impressive as Director Orson Krennic. 

It was wonderful to see that well-known (well-despised?) officer from A New Hope make a dramatic reappearance. Was expecting to burst into tears upon catching sight of this beloved actor, but, just when you think how sophisticated CGI has become – let’s face it – he doesn’t look natural! No real presence = no credible menace. Moreover, they did not get the voice right!

But what about Vader?!

Surely, this film could never have worked without everyone’s fave Sith Lord. The build-up to his long-waited “return” is tense; his first scene (shared with Krennic) presents him in typically moody and magnificent mode.

His second scene?

Deep breath: WHOA! He REALLY gets busy – showing a Dark Side darker than anyone had ever expected! This is REVENGE of the Sith right here! 

Aren’t we so grateful that James Earl Jones could lend his esteemed vocal talents to Star Wars once more!

Sadly, however, the rest of the Imperial Officers are just anonymous. 

Is it possible to have a Star wars movie without a John Williams score? Some fans may argue that Rogue One does not feel right, precisely because of that vital exclusion. The music here is rousing enough, especially the mystic twang played when the proceedings reach Jedha.

As these rogues are rougher, the action more gritty, the dogfights more spectacular, for me, Rogue One is bigger and better than The Force Awakens.

There have been a few five-star reviews appearing in the last two days. Obviously, those critics have enjoyed the exhilarating ride that uberfan Gareth Edwards (the force is strong with him!) has concocted here, but, to be fair, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story falls short of the brilliant standard of The Empire Strikes Back – a veritable 5* package if ever there was one. 

The power of what we are dealing with here may be immeasurable to some, but this first-generation fanboy is pleased (relieved!) to bestow upon it a solid:

4-out-of-5

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“For my 30th birthday, we visited the Skywalker home in Tunisia. I stood at the same spot where Luke watched the sunset. My girlfriend said: “For your 40th birthday, you won’t be able to top this!” For my 40th birthday, I was directing Rogue One…” – Gareth Edwards.