“SWEET JUMPING CHRISTMAS!”: It’s The Bradtastic Festive Post

‘Tis The Season To Be Groovy

“Hey, Santa… You’re just the man I need. You see a cat in funky vines waltz by here?” – Luke Cage. 

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and the writer lay slumped in his armchair in the Study @ Brad Manor. The latest addition to his SF Library gradually slipped off his lap as he dozed off into a dreamscape blessed with marshmallow trees and golden honey seas; gateau mountains and caramel fountains… 

Suddenly! He jolted awake as the astounding realization struck him – it does not seem a YEAR since yesteryule… 

This year, dear friends, I thought it best to make an effort and produce a special Festive Post just for you. In keeping with the nostalgic tone of my blog, let’s begin with reminiscences of Christmas Past. 

Every morning during school assembly, especially in the run-up to Christmas, we had to sing hymns. To get us in festive mood – ho ho, and if you will, ho. It’s not that none of us munchkins believed any of this religious gubbins, but, strangely enough, none of the teachers ever – as far as one can recall made attempts to explain what any of the words meant. 

Remember one pleasant tune: 

“Good King Wenceslas last looked out on the feast of Stephen,”

So far, so groovy. 

But WHO was this King Wenceslas fella? What did he he become famous for? Incidentally, who the chestnuts-roasting-on-an-open-fire blazes was Stephen?! What fab finger-licking-good grub did they have at this feast?  

Was there – ever – an(y) explanation for all this? 

Was there fairy cakes…

Ho ho, and if you will, ARSE…

Never mind. No scrooge in this gaff. 

‘Tis the season to be merry!

To spread joy. 

To sing: 

“May the longest night and the shortest day, 

Bring rest to your mind and soul, I pray.

May you find guidance and may you find peace,

As the cycle of light will slowly increase” – Pagan Prayer. 

The Pagan custom of Winter Solstice (also known as Yule, or Yuletide, from the Olde English: “geol,”) is a festival historically observed by the Germanic peoples, and long predates the Jesus story. 

Beginning on 21 December, this original celebration honoured the Return of the Sun: the days start to get longer! Warmer weather is on the way! To ensure that new harvests would be plentiful, offerings were made to the pagan gods. In Roman times, the festival of Saturnalia, held in honour of Saturn, father of the gods became very popular. 

Meanwhile, in Scandinavia – more pertinent to the modern manifestation of what we celebrate – Baldur, the Norse god of the sun, was honoured. The evergreen tree became his symbol – this is where we get the tradition of putting a tree in our living rooms every December. Just like Halloween, the Christians felt disgruntled enough to try and quash these Yuletide traditions. And yet they held a soft spot for the gift-giving and tree-decorating, mixing them into the jolly jamboree we all recognise today as “Christmas.”

Thankfully, my childhood turned out to be the happiest, and most productive, chapter in my life, with just about every Christmas (just me and my parents) being exceedingly enjoyable, with many magnificent and memorable presents most heartily received.

But…

Having grown up, and dear ol’ Dad becoming one with the Force over a decade ago, it is difficult to feel much festive cheer these days… 

Hey!

Hold the sleigh – gotta keep that melancholia at bay. 

How does Brad spend his Christmas Day?

Apart from watching classic epic movies in the comfort of my own Disney Plus, Netflix, Amazon AND the BBC iPlayer, ’tis tne season to get stuck into some top nosh: 

Behold! The feast of Brad: 

Pigs in blankets! Turkey sarnies, mince pies, smoked ham an’ cheese, mince pies, yule logs, angel slices. And mince pies.

And Peanuts: 

“Look, Charlie, let’s face it. We all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket. It’s run by a big eastern syndicate, you know” – Lucy Van Pelt.

You know, A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) is probably the best Yule-themed animation ever created. It is scandalous how it is NEVER shown on the telly on this side of the Pond; thankfully, it can be enjoyed online. 

Listening to the OST by The Vince Guaraldi Trio – Schroeder on piano; Pigpen on bass; and (of course) Snoopy on guitar 😉 – helped me compile this Post. 

Had the option of loading either the Charlie Brown Christmas Dance or the 1st part of this CBS classic, but – yay! – it’s the time of giving, so more prezzies the better! 😉

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer 

is singing loud for all to hear” – Buddy The Elf. 

Come December, The Nativity is a constant part of junior schools up and down the country, so it became an inevitable event at my school. Yep, just like those hymns, we were NEVER taught the significance of it. To this day, one cannot fathom how/why they selected ME to “play” one of the Three Wise Men. Kept badgering Miss Crummy to explain:

Just who were Melchior, Balthazar and Gaspar?

From whence did they hail?

And WHY did they travel goodness knows how far to present gifts to a baby not directly related to them? 

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Cobblers…

But the teacher’s response did little to appease my tiny mind. Outrage, frustration and sheer bewilderment – she simply could not believe how this achingly-adorable blond moppet, as sweet as a ray of sunshine (and yet as cocky as a Tatooine farmboy) had NOT heard of this particular episode of the Wholly Fable. 

I was only 8, fer cake’s sake…

Of course, upon remarking something to the effect that it was “her job” to educate me on such matters, well – Blimey Charley! – she launched into a vociferous fit of seething and snarling – caterwauling against my perceived “impudence.”

Or something like that. 

‘Cos by that point, I had given up listening, becoming, instead, bewitched by the peculiar colour her face was rapidly turning. 

Before you could say: 

“We three kings of Orient are, 

Two in a bus and one in a car” 

she had confiscated my paper crown and gold foil-wrapped tissue box and banished me to the choir… 

Well, honestly! An innocent, curious juve, asking QUESTIONS?! AT SCHOOL?!?!  

Jumping Jakoombas!! What is the (western) world coming to…? 

 

Well, ding-dong-merrily-on-high, this is really groovy:

“Jump back and do the boogaloo. Go on, do your thang. HIT IT”

 

“Be a jolly, happy soul. Spend time outdoors. Avoid meltdowns. Be well-rounded. Live well. Life is short!” – Advice From a Snowman. 

 

“Three caskets they bore on their saddle-bows,

Three caskets of gold with golden keys;

Their robes were of crimson silk with rows

Of bells and pomegranates and furbelows,

Their turbans like blossoming almond-trees…”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

And lo, he cried, if ya wanna learn something yerself, go research it yerself! Thus, my quest to discover more about those Three Wise Men set me on my fascinating life-long pursuit of Near (and Far) Eastern history.

“People think they were magi,” wrote John of Hildesheim in his mid-14th century compendium: “Historia Trium Regum.” 

The original premise cited them as Persian – more specifically: Zoroastrian – scholars, keepers of the holy fire of  Ormuzd, and skilled in astronomy, medicine, magic and astrology. The sixth-century mosaic at Ravenna (above) is the last artistic evidence to emphasize their Persian heritage – gotta dig those snazzy pants and Phrygian caps.  However, the term: “magi,” held too many pagan connotations for the early Christian church to tolerate. This mysterious trio “followed the teachings of Balaam, and dealt in demons,” ran the common belief of those times.  

“It was not good to introduce devilry into the Christmas scene,” wrote one modern commentator, “even if the Christ-child could defeat it with one wave of his tiny hand.”

Thus, they became rebranded as Oriental kings, respectively of Arabia and Nubia, Godolia and Tarsus. Of their gifts – significantly more symbolic than practical –  medieval travellers wrote: 

“Gold lay so thick in Arabia’s red earth that you kicked it up as you walked, incense dripped from the trees of  Godolia, and you could not wander in parts of Tarsus without myrrh, “moist as wax”, clinging to your clothes.”

Most importantly, they represented the main areas of Christendom, with Balthazar’s dark features, in particular, depicting that rarest of artistic treasures: an African face in Medieval Europe. 

Gaspar, Balthazar and Melchior also signified all the ages of man: 20, 40 and 60. And yet, even when I was only that high, I knew that real kings would never ponse about all by their lonesome, or, in this case, as The Three Amigos. No, a single king would have to be accompanied by a considerable entourage. Three kings together? Each sizable retinue would amount to an enormous army traipsing across the desert! So their royal  credentials also languish on flimsy grounds. 

Nice story, but too far-fetched. 

Jesus’ mum, Mary, summed up the absurdity of the whole bally thing: 

“Uff, three “wise” men, and no one brought chocolate?!”

 

Let me close by wishing you all 

A Very Merry Gingerbread Latte

and 

A Happy New Cranberry Muffin

xxx

 

“Once more the ancient feast returns,
And the bright hearth domestic burns
With Yuletide’s added blaze;
So, too, may all your joys increase
Midst floods of mem’ry, love, and peace,
And dreams of Halcyon days” – H.P. Lovecraft.

 

“We’re Gonna Need More Holy Water!”: The Bradscribe Spooktacular Halloween Horrorthon

Not For The Nervous

“That thing in the cellar is NOT my mother!”

Welcome, fellow chill-seekers! 

‘Tis the night of All Hallows Eve once again(!) Blimey, it keeps swingin’ a-round with ever-more-frightening-regularity doesn’t it?! 

The origins of Halloween can be traced back 2,000 years to the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celtic New Year fell on the first day of  November – a day marking the end of summer and the harvest, and the beginning of winter: a season most associated with death. The Celts believed that on the night before their new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. Thus, on the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead were more likely to return to the mortal plain. This festival involved huge bonfires on which crops and animals were burned as sacrifices to the Celtic gods. People wore costumes – more specifically, animal heads and skins.

With Celtic territory subjugated by the Roman Empire during the first four centuries CE, two Roman festivals gradually became incorporated into the traditions of Samhain: Feralia, a day in late October on which the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead; and Pomona, a day reserved to honour the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. Her symbol was the apple – hey! That’s where we get apple-bobbing from!

In 609 CE, the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. Later, the festival was expanded to include all saints, and moved from May 13 to November 1. In 1000 CE., the church made November 2 All Souls’ Day: a day to honour the dead – a deliberate attempt to replace the CelticHEATHEN!! – festival of the dead with a “church-sanctioned holiday.”

Remarkably, though, All Souls’ Day bore all the hallmarks of Samhain, with big bonfires, parades and dressing up in costumes (especially saints, angels and devils). It also came to be known as All-hallowmas (from the Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain began to be called All-Hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.

But you didn’t turn up here to be bludgeoned to boredom by Professor Brad, did you?! NAY! 

In a packed goody-bag of tantalizing TRICKS tonight, expect to be TREATED to some of the most groovy sights and sounds of horror! 

Speaking of groovy sights, the cobwebs of my Attila The Nun costume have been brushed ON, so expect this evening’s party to become particularly frightful. 

How about some music? Might cover the noise we make…

“Watches! Watches! Ooh, ooh, lighter fluid! And chocolate. Chocolate! Hey, how about a mink coat?” – Roger DeMarco.

Why – when yours truly doesn’t even dig zombie movies, fer cake’s sake! – does George A. Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead hold a reserved spot in my all-time Horror Top 10? 

Why, when there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the mall?

Why did so many decent, seemingly placid, Pennsylvanians volunteer to “play” all those zombie extras?!

Why did Roger, (one of the most badass protagonists in horror movie history) have to get bitten – and come back like that?

Why does such a gonzo film that so radically tonal-shifts from flesh-eating to pie fights (and back again) make for compelling viewing no matter how many times you watch it?! 

“Right, and we’re up here doing traffic reports! Wake up, sucker! We’re thieves and we’re bad guys. That’s exactly what we are. We gotta find our own way” – Peter Washington.

Perfect, baby, perfect.

 

“When the music stops, you’ll see him in the mirror standing behind you” – April Perron.

Hey, if you’re surfing through your streaming services hunting for a really scary movie to watch tonight, you might like to try Session 9 (2001). An obscure, totally under-rated chiller, even yer own buddy Brad had not heard of it until only three months ago. 

A group of guys are assigned a 2-week job to remove asbestos from an old abandoned asylum, but pretty soon they realise that the building’s dark history – especially a demonic entity known only as “Simon” – is catching up with them.  

There is such a constant, creepy feel throughout – some may find Session 9’s slow-burn atmosphere quite unsettling, yet to me, it’s a most-welcome alternative to all those wretched slasher flicks that have spoilt the horror genre. 

Disappointingly, the denouement had to be branded with that ever-so-tiresome trope of pools of blood, but the violence is, thankfully, minimal and the fear factor throughout is more psychological. 

DARE YOU to watch this shocker…

Alone. 

In the dark. 

During the witching hour…

Doctor: “And where do you live, Simon?”

Mary Hobbes: “I live in the weak… and the wounded… Doc…”

 

YOU are the caretaker. You’ve ALWAYS been the caretaker…

Wendy Torrance: “Oh, Jack. Thank God you’re here! There… Jack, there’s someone else in the hotel with us. There’s a crazy woman in one of the rooms! She tried to strangle Danny!” 

Jack Torrance: “Which room was it…?”

All twerk and no cake makes Brad a dull boy.

All twerk and no cake makes Brad a dull boy.

All twerk and no cake makes Brad a dull boy.

All twerk and no cake makes Brad a dull boy.

All twerk and no cake makes Brad a dull boy.

All twerk and no cake makes Brad a dull boy.

All twerk and no cake makes Brad a dull boy.

All twerk and no cake makes Brad a dull boy.

All twerk and no cake makes Brad a dull boy.

All twerk and no cake makes Brad a dull boy.

All twerk and no cake makes Brad a dull boy.

All twerk and no cake makes Brad a dull boy.

All twerk and no cake makes Brad a dull boy.

“There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin” – Linus van Pelt.

Jumpin’ jolly jack-o’lanterns! 

You’re still here?! My MY! You are a bold bunch! Let me remind you: it gets truly horrific from here until the end of this Post. 

You have been warned! 0 _ 0

Here’s hoping you have a fearsomely-fun evening. 

Tonight, as with EVERY Hallowe’en, you can find me wrapped up cosy and snug with me hot cuppa and a tub of Terrifying Toffee Twirls™ engrossed in my all-time favourite horror movie. (You can read a celebration of it right here

Which scary movie will YOU be watching tonight? 

Not sure if my viewing experience will go as peacefully as planned…

Rumours have been circulating through our village today that the more… disreputable younglings in the community have hatched a plot to raid Brad Manor, particularly its legendary pantry of the sweetest delicacies. Have posted several of my minions on sentry duty at the North and South gates. 

Uff, naturally they are somewhat dischuffed by this – they’d much rather be out Trick-or-Treating! (bless ’em) 

No worries.

Should any of those bally miscreants manage to break in, one butcher’s at Attila in all “her” (ahem) glory and, no doubt, they will make themselves scarce pretty sharpish. Heh heh heh…. 😉 

“It was a dark and stormy night…”

Happy  Halloween!

“You have a lot of spirits in here, but there is one I’m most worried about because it is so hateful” – Lorraine Warren.

 

“WE WILL TEAR YOUR SOUL APART!” – Pinhead.

 

Stranger Th1ngs HAVE Happened!: Season One Celebration

“Something Is Going On Here!”

Please Note: This Post contains copious oodles of chocolate pudding and LOTS of tears…

Jim Hopper: “99 out of a 100 times kid goes missing, the kid is with a parent or relative.”

Joyce Byers: “What about the other time…? The one!”

If it had been on disc available to rent from the Public Library – and if my laptop had not detected a virus upon first clicking on Netflix.com last Winter – Brad would have watched Stranger Things lot sooner. 

After a spate of lousy movies and TV shows, and yearning to escape the humdrum of daily toil, the hype for this show could not be ignored forever. Upon learning that Season 1 is set in 1983 – imho, one of the best years ever! – my heart leapt, and thus, my Netflix sign-up duly completed.

Heck, Stranger Things was awesomely hookable enough to watch through several nights AND drag me away from my morning (breaks) of coffee and CONTEMPLATION to compile this Post.

Unfortunately, on this tea and scones side of The Pond, we don’t have Eggo Waffles, but seeing how chocolate pudding is universally scrumptious enough to be found in the fridges of both Hawkins Middle School AND Brad Manor, one reckoned that sumptuous treat would make an ideal accompaniment through this binge-watching malarkey. 

Okey-dokey, got your Eggos at the ready? Let’s engage! 

Mrs. Wheeler: “I hope you’re enjoying your chicken, Ted!”

Mr. Wheeler: “Hey, what did I do…? What did I dooo?”

“On his way home from a friend’s house, young Will sees something terrifying. Nearby, a sinister secret lurks in the depths of a government lab…” 

The opening eight-minute pre-credits sequence of Chapter One is a masterpiece. 

Not only effectively setting the dark and creepy premise, but, with the unexpected aid of Dungeons & Dragons, it introduces our main protagonists as a thoroughly likable gang of Tolkien-crazed perishers. At its simplistic best, this wholesome scene sets Will, Mike, Dustin and Lucas as the sort of friends we would want to have hung out with back in the day. How else can it be explained that so many viewers have become so emotionally invested in what befalls them?

Interestingly, their role-playing gaming also informs us as to which beastie we will have to confront: the Demogorgon (a Demon Prince of the Abyss, it is considered the most powerful villain in the 1st edition of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons). Said beastie and a “mysterious girl with psionic abilities” have gone missing from a top secret facility: Hawkins Lab on the edge of this supposedly quiet town.

What about Chief Jim Hopper (FREAKY FACT: Named after the unfortunate MIA character killed by the Predator (1987); incidentally, Hawkins became the first member of Arnie‘s combo to be eliminated by that eponymous hunter). When we are introduced to him (waking up on his sofa) the immediate reaction was: oh great, methinks, another stereotypical deadbeat cop. But, fortunately, Hopper – played exceptionally well by David Harbour – quickly establishes himself as one of the outstanding integral characters of the series, even driving the plot to such compulsive extremes.

No matter how sternly he warns the D&D gang to stay away from the hunt, they – naturally! – head off into “Mirkwood” anyway to try and find their friend themselves.

This whole opening episode is riveting to watch. And it culminates in the dramatic encounter with the “weirdo” in the woods.

It was a dark and stormy night… 

Lucas: “I bet she escaped from the nuthouse in Curly County.” 

Dustin: “You got a lotta family there?” 

Lucas: “Bite me!” 

One of the crucial factors in this show’s success – and popularity – is the gang, played by an amazing bunch of young actors. It’s oh-so-easy to see how Dustin quickly became a firm fan-favourite. But it’s Mollie Bobbie Brown as Eleven who really steals the show here. With little to no lines to work with during her introductory scenes, her expressive performance is quite easily the most striking by a child-actor seen in a long time. Dr. Brenner summed her up perfectly: “Incredible.”

Sometimes, flashbacks can screw up the narrative flow, but in Stranger Things they work really well, particularly Eleven’s unfavourable memories of “Papa.” It would be convenient, at this point, to mention how great it is to see Matthew “Birdy” Modine again, after too long away from our screens, here playing a villain for a change: Dr. Martin Brenner, Director of Hawkins Lab, and – gee whiz! – such a nasty piece of work too.

Is anybody going to mention what a swell diner Eleven finds?! Any hangout that plays Jefferson Airplane and The Seeds is a cool dive in my book. ‘Tis written: play the White Rabbit song and this White Rabbit blogger will always be pleased no end! 😉

The bickering interaction between the boys in Mike’s basement offers particularly commendable scenes. We get to learn more about their individual characters as they try to work out how to deal with the “Weirdo On Maple Street.” This scene is notable for two reasons: first, the boys learn that Eleven has “superpowers,” and secondly, that’s a swell Dark Crystal poster on his wall! 😉

If Chapter One had the best series opener ever, then Chapter Three offers arguably the most heart-wrenching end sequence of any TV drama: a child’s body is retrieved from the river; Jonathon gets a hug from his mum, whilst Mike pedals home to get a hug from his mum, as Peter Gabriel’s achingly beautiful version of Bowie’s Heroes plays.

And Brad almost chokes on his chocolate pudding. Seldom has one witnessed anything so moving during the early hours…

“Mike?! Mike what?! You were supposed to help us find him alive. You said he was alive! Why did you lie to us? What’s wrong with you? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!” – Mike Wheeler.  

Speaking of flashbacks, in one striking scene, we see the Byers brothers in an endearing bonding moment: bopping along to The Clash’s Should I Stay Or Should I Go, which later takes on creepy significance as the mystery gradually unfolds.

Oh, what the ‘eck! We’ve held off this track long enough – you just can’t have a Stranger Things Season 1 round-up without The Clash. Honestly, listening to this ol’ classic stomper will never be the same again.

This is your cue, Joyce:  

“COME ON! COME ON! TALK TO ME! I KNOW YOU’RE HERE!” 😉

Jonathan Byers: “Let me get this straight: Will, that’s not his body, because he’s “in the lights”, right? And there’s a monster in the wall! Do you even hear yourself?!” 

Joyce Byers: “I KNOW it sounds crazy! I-I-I sound crazy! You think I don’t know that? It IS crazy! But I heard him, Jonathan! He talked to me! Will is- is calling to me. And he’s out there. And he’s alone, and he’s scared, and I don’t- I don’t CARE if anyone believes me. I am not going to stop looking for him until I find him, and bring him home!

“I AM GOING TO BRING HIM HOME!!” 

Joyce Byers stubbornly refuses to accept that her youngest boy is dead. Winona Ryder plays the stressed-out mum really well here – a career-best performance, perhaps? 

Right, there are lots of good, freaky stuff in this first season, but none more so than during the fourth minute of Chapter Four. Chief Hopper leaves Joyce sitting, worried and confused, on her coffee table. The camera pulls back, and THIS begins to play.

WOW:

“You can keep the mix if you like. Really, all the best stuff is on there: Joy Division, Bowie, Television, The Smiths. It’ll totally change your life” – Jonathan Byers.

We see Jonathan Byers locked away in his bedroom, lying on his bed listening to Atmosphere by Joy Division on his headphones, trying to shut out the upsetting possibility that his mother has gone insane. 

You see, that was ME exactly thirty years ago, locked away in his bedroom, lying on his bed listening to Joy Division Atmosphere on his headphones, playing and rewinding it over and over and over again, trying to shut out all those scholastic, social or psychological problems… Watching an uncanny biopic of This Brad’s Lifeespecially at that time of night – should be unsettling, but on the contrary, it’s gratifying to learn that someone in the crew saw fit to apply such fine taste in music.

In order for El to try and locate Will, the boys have to smuggle her into the AV room at their school. So they give her a makeover – she has such boyish looks that even wearing Nancy’s old pink dress and a blonde wig – an obvious nod to E.T.’s disguise! – she still looks like Charlie Brown in drag!

Speaking of Peanuts, whilst compiling this Post, this amazing mash-up turned up.

El’s dancing and the Demogorgon’s yawn still crack me up every time.

Good grief! 😉

Joyce Byers: “If he’s so wise, why does he need fireballs? Why can’t he, y’know, outsmart the bad guys?”

Will Byers: “Most of the time, yeah, but sometimes the bad guys are smart too, y’know?” 

Joyce Byers: “Alright, I don’t know who’s been raising you, but I’m going to get you some new crayons (because it looks like he’s shooting cabbages!)” 

Lookee here: ANOTHER quintessential ’80s trope: a lone hero sneaks into a top secret facility and hiding in doorways whenever one of its dodgy denizens happens to walk down that very corridor. In this Stranger Things case, it’s Hop who sneaks into Hawkins Lab in search of that most elusive quantity: the TRUTH.

Really digged the scene following that bogus funeral for Will  in which the boys ask Mr. Clarke how to travel to another dimension. Gee, what a great teacher Mr. Clarke is! He helps the gang cope with their “mourning” by explaining the theoretical principles of parallel universes. Spiffing! 

“You guys have been thinking about Hugh Everett’s “mini-worlds” interpretaion, haven’t you?” 

Yeah, man, not a day passes… 

And so, the gang set off to find the portal that should lead them into the Upside Down. 

Chapter Five ends on a suitably sinister note, with that unlikely pair of Nancy Wheeler and Jonathon Byers venturing out to try and find that “faceless” entity she witnessed behind Steve‘s gaff. Yay, Nancy manages to escape from the Upside Down (at the beginning of Chapter Six). Did anybody doubt that she would? A particularly fine performance from Natalia Dyer, whose character develops from shy cardy-and-long-skirt-wearing school swot to assertive jacket-and-jeans urban monster-hunter. 

And – ha ha ha! – how the blazes could we forget Steve (“This is crazy. This is crazy!” etc.) Harrington? He starts off as the cool cat: “King Steve” = Stephen King – nice touch! 😉 – turns into an annoying douche halfway through this series, but redeems himself by ending up getting stuck into the spirit of urban monster-bashing. 

The same chapter ends with a gripping confrontation between Mike, Dustin and those school bullies. And wahey! Guess who shows up to save the day?

“Yeah, you’d better run! She’s our friend and she’s CRAZY!”

WOO-HOO!

One of my instant favourite scenes, and yours too, no doubt! 😉

Dustin: Do you know anything about sensory deprivation tanks, specifically how to build one?”  

Mr. Clarke: “Sensory deprivation…? What is this for?”

Dustin: Fun….?” 

Mr. Clarke: “Okay, well, why don’t we talk about it Monday, after school, okay?” 

Dustin: “You always say we should never stop being curious, to always open any curiosity door we find. Why are you keeping this curiosity door locked?” 

As expected, the penultimate chapter really gets busy, beginning with a tribute to E.T. – the gang are pursued through the Watkins streets by the “bad men” in their matching vans.

Having just wiped my face (and keyboard!) dry after that emotional embrace between Mike, Eleven and Will on the clifftop during Chapter Six’s finale, so Chapter Seven compels me to ransack the manor for MORE tissues as Lucas makes his heartfelt apology to Eleven, and Mike and Lucas shave hands – everything’s fine and dandy now?

Oh no-ho-ho! 

In come more extras from E.T. Luckily the Chief of Police turns up just in the nick of (clobberin’!) time.

Assembling a salt bath in the school gym is kinda rad, man! Another great, creepy sequence.

And as the gang wait for the grown-ups to return, Dustin goes to raid the school store for CHOCOLATE PUDDING. Attaboy, Dustin! 😉

Hey, if MY junior school had stored such a humongous stash of gooey goodness, then – by Jiminy! – all those detentions would have been way more bearable… 

“This is crazy. This is crazy. This is crazy. This is crazy. This is crazy! THIS IS CRAZY! What are you doing?! Are you INSANE?!” – Steve Harrington. 

And before you know it: my binge reached the final episode. Gee, it all went by so quick; but wow, what a crescendo.

At the Byers’ residence, Jonathan, Nancy and Steve are occupied with paranormal threats, while the kids are chased through their own school by the “bad men.” Meanwhile! Joyce and Hopper – Hazmatted-up and venturing into the Upside Down to rescue Will – offers another irresistibly creepy highlight. Ultimately, Hop makes a deal with the shady cohorts of Hawkins Lab but what price will he be paying…?

Eleven has a final showdown with the Demogorgon in one of the school’s classrooms, and both are whisked off… to the Upside Down? Eleven has to return in Season Two, right?! Boo-hoo! She’s just got to!  

Actually, before proceeding with Season Two, this brand new Stranger fanboy went back and watched this whole corking caboodle all over again. 

Is this love…?

“Only love makes you that crazy, sweetheart, and that damn stupid” – Florence.

Eh? Come again, Flo?!

Seriously though, this Post set out to be a Review, assessing its faults in addition to gushing over its awesomeness. Let’s face it: tried my BEST to find the WORST, but there are no niggling negatives to be gnawed at here. 

However, one crucial point should be made though:

Got to love the way in which this is described as “A Netflix Original Series.” On the contrary, of course, Stranger Things is a cut-and-paste show, with nods to The Goonies here, E.T. there, and so many references to Stephen King sprinkled everywhere! But it’s all concocted in such a deliciously fun and engrossing way that it can – and should -be savoured as a loving ode to the ’80s. And – oh yes – that synthtillating soundtrack by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein is wonderfully evocative of the best decade ever.

Primarily, what appeals to me here is that it’s not so much a horror show; rather, its emphasis leans more towards dark fantasy (an intriguing subgenre that is currently fueling some of my best fiction writing!) There is menace; there are one or two moderately gruesome moments but nothing gory. The 1983 setting is mighty fine and dandy – a story such as this could not have worked in the 21st century – gimme walkie-talkies, NOT mobile phones, ANY day! 🙂 And you know the writing is top class when it becomes impossible to select just one favourite character. 

All in all, glad that time and technology could finally coalesce in a highly fortuitous manner to make Stranger Things Season One happen for me. At last! It’s a splendid, but rare treat: watching a perfect piece of television such as this for the very first time. 

Ah yeah, this series grabbed me by the Goonies from the get-go and never let go.  

Now, Brad has to go and replenish his fridge with MORE chocolate pudding, but he WILL return VERY SOON and present you with an Xtra special feature about El, a Season 2 Review and -hey! – a Season 3 Review.

Promise 🙂

 

BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

“Pretty… good…” 

Marks Out Of 10? ELEVEN! (or El for short) 😉

 

“Friends don’t lie…” 

 

“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. 

 

NetflixFest!: “Top Picks For Brad”

Behold! Brad The Binge-Watcher?! 

“Hi Brad! Thanks for joining Netflix. You’re all set to start enjoying TV programmes and films. We’re here to help if you need it” – Netflix. 

What do bloggers do when they don’t blog? 

They watch Netflix!

Yes, as a special birthday treat this year, Brad finally signed up to the top streaming service.

At last.

Had originally intended to join last September, but my laptop detected a virus so immediately denied access to the site. Besides, the urge to unwind “in front of the telly” after loooong increasingly-difficult days refuses to go away, despite hundreds of unappealing terrestrial and satellite channels now churning out a seemingly inexhaustible supply of the most insufferable pap!  

Lately, summoning the concentration and energy to sit through entire movies and novels has become an unnecessary pain (grief! Even the quality and quantity of my writing has suffered); therefore, the demand for individual TV episodes to offer me more taut writing and direction has become more pressing than ever. 

Okey-dokey, let’s see what Netflix served me during these past few weeks:

 

Takeshi Kovacs: “I didn’t ask you to bring me back into this world.” 

Laurens Bancroft: “All I ask of you is that you solve a murder.” 

Takeshi Kovacs: “Whose?” 

Laurens Bancroft: “Mine.” 

Heard some encouraging publicity surrounding Altered Carbona “futuristic thriller” based on the 2002 cyberpunk novel by Richard Morgan. It looked Blade Runneresque, but a tad rougher. Set in a future where consciousness is digitized and stored, a prisoner, known as Takeshi Kovacs, returns to life in a new body and must solve a mind-bending murder to win his freedom.

Yeah, methinks, let’s give this a go.

However, after a brutal and brooding first half, the pilot episode proved too much of a hefty slog to sit through. Sheesh, if Brad WANTS to be belaboured continuously, monotonously, with unsavoury dialogue and uncontrollable violence, he can hang out any time @ Granny Turnip’s gaff down in our own village! For me, the whole point of watching Netflix shows during the late-night hours is the chance to ESCAPE into bizarre and/or intriguing (hopefully well-written!) worlds, away from the tedium, shocks and inconveniences of “real” life. 

The last slice of SF to bring an unsuspecting fella out of a 200-year carbon-freeze was Woody Allen’s Sleeper, an altogether more clever and rib-ticklingly funny adventure.

Takeshi Kovacs? 

Nah, gimme Takeshi’s Castle any day, man! 😉

 

BECAUSE BRAD WATCHED ALTERED CARBON:

Lost In Space:

This version of the classic ’60s series has been totally revamped for the SJW crowd to such an extent that the makers forgot that annoying little matter known as The Script… It took me FOUR attempts to slog through the pilot episode, so felt no compulsion to click onto Episode 2. It’s oh-so-woke it ‘urts…

The Umbrella Academy:

“What if Wes Anderson made a superhero movie?” This intriguing – and, let’s face it, one heckuvan irresistible! – pitch drew me towards this series (based on the Dark Horse comic of the same name), but the pilot episode’s languid pace proved to be such an unexpected struggle. A pity, as one really hoped to enjoy this…

But never fear! 

It still resides on My List, so there is plenty of time and opportunity to return and reassess it. Besides, Pogo is quite an intriguing character, so am looking forward to catch more of him 🙂

Suicide Squad:

Oh, Good Lord, no. Avoiding this rubbish at the cinema became one of my Greatest Achievements of 2016… 

 

The Royal Cake-Maker: “I think you will be very pleased with the revised cake, Your Highness!”

King Zog: “Nice likeness, competent lattice-work; moving down… Sugar columns seem structurally-sound; back looks good, and just a cursory glance at the bottom tier and it says: “Get Bent Dad.” Isn’t that- WHAT?!! 

BEAN!!”

Matt Groening’s latest animation project: Disenchantment, intended as animated fare for adults, caught my eye upon its release last August. 

Even me Mum laughed when she first saw the portrait of its goofy-toothed anti-heroine: Princess Tiabeanie (or Bean for short). Her co-anarchists: Elfo and Luci (that weird cat!) are irresistible; thankfully, the snazzy scripts are uproariously funny, with lines and visual gags delivered at a rate more rapid-fire than yer standard trebuchet. And it’s difficult to select a fav character – another promising sign! Hard to believe it’s received mixed reviews – roll on Season Two already!

They didn’t have to put Bowie on the trailer – this already held a high place on my Watchlist.

Actually, one had wolfed down the whole Season before completing the first episode of Altered CarbonPerhaps the latter should have invested in a laughing horse… 

Elfo: “You do the slightest thing here and everyone freaks out! It’s like they’ve all got peppermint sticks up their asses.”

Kissy: “Ooh yeah! Your whining really turns me on…!” 

The Elf King: “Kissy! What in humping heaven is going on?!” 

Kissy: “Nothing, father!”

The Elf King: “Weirdo doesn’t take his pants off for nothing! Elfo! This is the last straw! You’re going to be punished!” 

Elfo: “What are you going to do? Give me a paddling with a big wallypop?” 

 

BECAUSE BRAD WATCHED DISENCHANTMENT:

GLOW: 

From elves to leotards?? Now that makes sense… …

Suicide Squad:

Hey… didn’t we already-? How does enjoying a medieval fantasy cartoon make me want to watch THIS as well?! No Thank You! 

Black Lightning: 

Sure, why not? At the very least, it’ll be interesting to compare this with Marvel’s very own hot-headed, Harlem hard-hitter: Luke Cage.

OHO! Speaking of that bullet-proof bro… 

 

“Sweet Christmas!” – Luke Cage.  

Back in the day, one ish of Power Man and Iron Fist somehow found its way into my initial stash of comics, and into my heart. A considerable portion of my recent Bronze Age expeditions has concentrated on acquiring more ishs.

Why? 

In addition to being brash and super-tough, Luke Cage had an amusing penchant for yellow silk shirts and the peculiar habit of yelling: “Christmas!” during the more shocking moments of any of his action-packed capers. Both seasons of his TV series couldn’t possibly incorporate those particular character traits.

Or could they…? 

Mike Colter nails the indestructible titular protagonist, and the supporting cast – especially Alfre Woodard as the local corrupt politician and Mahershala Ali as her gangland cousin: Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes – are also impressive. And, of course, the theme tune is pretty slinky too.

It isn’t until the excellent Episode 4: Step Into The Arena, that we discover how Luke acquired his super-strength and bulletproof skin. Realising that he now has the power to punch through walls with his bare fists, he yes! – utters the above cool line. During his prison-break, he nabs some clothes from a washing line, including yes! – a yellow silk shirt. 

Ultimately, you’ve got one happy viewer here 🙂

Good gravy, Ms Evans – playing herself as one of the acts @ Cottonmouth‘s club – certainly knows how to get on the good foot!

Ain’t it funky now!

BECAUSE BRAD WATCHED LUKE CAGE:

Iron Fist: 

It’s great to learn that Luke’s partner in Heroes For Hire acquired his own TV series too, but personally, not too sure about the choice of actor for the titular role, though. Nevertheless, will sample the pilot and take it from there. Ta very much! 

Jessica Jones:

Bronze Age Boy here is unfamiliar with this particular modern Marvel character, but you can’t escape those rave reviews for this series, now into its third season. So, naturally, one is curious to find out what all the fuss is about.

The Defenders: 

Oh yes please! Despite NOT featuring Dr. Strange, nor Valkyrie (not even The Hulk!), once Luke and Jessica’s respective series have been gorged, then this will be the logical progression.

Suicide Squad:

Aww… and you were doing so well… …

 

Landry: “We’re not going to stay and fight?!” 

Godfrey: “There are too many of them! We must make sure the Grail is safe!” 

Landry: “What about Acre?!”

Godfrey: “All is lost. We meet at the docks. Get the Grail! NOW!” 

Personally, this next choice is rather special.

Templar History has fascinated me for several years. Here in Southern England, a 900-year-old Templar church still holds regular services in the adjacent village; and in the next town, what had served as the regional House of Templars lies at the bottom of the river (that changed course over 400 years ago.)

Fortunately, Knightfall (originally shown on History channel) made for engrossing viewing. Beginning with a suitably cinematic portrayal of the Siege of Acre in 1291, the ensuing drama of intrigue and infamy, brotherhood and betrayal, never lets up.

Of course, there is another – more urgent! – reason for gorging on this opening season. In an intrepid – albeit shrewd – piece of casting, Season Two is graced by the addition to the cast of none other than Mark Hamill! For the last few years, this first-generation Star Wars follower hoped to catch a wizened, bearded Master impart his sage advice to young initiates…

Never realized that such a joyous spectacle would come, instead, in the most unlikely form of a drama series set in medieval France! 

Worryingly, it’s been a whole month since completing Season One, and there’s still no dickie bird as to when Netflix plan to play Season Two. Hmm, would subjecting myself to Suicide Squad help… rectify this matter? Uff, seems such a hefty price to pay…

This, below, is just a sample of what we’re missing:

Say! Who gets the tingles when he says: “…an impenetrable force“?! 😉

 

BECAUSE BRAD WATCHED KNIGHTFALL

A Series Of Unfortunate Events: 

Sounds like it could be the title to my Autobiography… Actually, that esteemed tome will be known as:

“From Brad To Worse: How To Survive A Whole Night Stuck In A Flamin’ Elevator Wth Marky “Mark” Frickin’ Wahlberg” 

Harrowing reading? Uff, tell me about it…

Transformers: The Last Knight: 

BWAHAHAHAHA!! Oh go away… Actually, best move on pretty sharpish meself before they recommend

Suicide Squad:

GAH!! Phooey, fiddlesticks and flapdoodle!! (Oof, pardon my FrenchOh, fer cake’s sake, this is gettin’ RIDICULOUS. Honestly, what part of “No Means No” don’tcha fellas NOT understand…?!

Ash Vs. The Evil Dead: 

AHA! My dear Netflix, this looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship…

 

Ash: “Yeah, we were just passing through – thought we’d pop in and say hi!” 

Kelly’s Mum: “Why are you covered in blood?”  

Ash: “Um, we hit a deer on the way up here, and when I tried to pull it out of the grill, the sucker just exploded all over us…! So we had to cut it up with my chainsaw… arm.”

Kelly’s Pop: “I’m actually a hunter and I’ve never seen a deer explode.”

Ash: “Well, maybe you’re not huntin’ the right deer…”  

WAHEY!!

Now THIS is more like it!

Confession time: Ash Vs. The Evil Dead was my Second Main Reason for signing up to NetflixYou can probably guess what the First happened to be; let’s just say that: in forthcoming Posts, Things will be getting a whole lot Stranger on Bradscribe 😉

Ash Williams is one of the legendary characters in horror movie history and, as you may recall, holds an eternally-reserved place in Brad’s Badass Brigade Three decades after the original cinematic mayhem, this series opens with Ash Williams – played as always by the irrepressible Bruce Campbell – trying to carry on a “normal” life, hidden away in some deadend trailer park, “working” at a local DIY depot. Yet after some decidedly dodgy pot-addled shenanigans, the NecronomIcon is inadvertently opened once more, and a new wave of deadites lurch forth into our long-sufferin’ mortal plain.

And before you can say: “Suicide Squad is a right loada’ cobblers!!” Ash has reverted to his old uncompromising ways: shooting! slashing! mincing! and screwing! his trusty chainsaw back onto ol’ stumpy to gain the upper (ahem) hand.

Yay, the brawling badass with the boomstick is back!! 

And what a barmy, Bradshit bonkers – but brilliant! – bloodfest this series is too. It’s great to see Sam Raimi return to ensure that this wild and wacky ride works, and hear Bruce Campbell spout some truly hilarious one-liners in his own inimitable style. Such a supercool soundtrack too! 

It is one of those immutable laws: whatever Ash gets up to, Brad will always be keen to see what develops!

There was a time (many many moons ago, you understand!) when the goriest horror vids passed thro my rickety ol’ VCR; but, eventually, it seemed as though one had “grown out” of such explicit tomfoolery…

Nevertheless, the prospect of an Evil Dead TV series seemed just too groovy to resist.

Well, really!

A fella of my age?! Indulging in such an outrageous, gory, undeniably imbecilic freakshow?!

HELL yeah! Guilty as charged, baby! 😉

Ash: “You were right, no more running.”

Pablo: “It’s good to see you, Jefe!”

Ash: “Good to be back.” 

Pablo: “How does it feel?” 

Ash: Groovy…”

 

The Kinks – Supersonic Rocket Ship: MARVEL Music Monday

Welcome To New Asgard!

Move aside, there, Lebowski!” – Tony Stark

Thor: “Do you know what is coursing through my veins right now?”

James Rhodes: “Cheez Whiz?”

 

Avengers: Endgame – The Bradscribe Review

Dread It. Run From It. The Bradscribe Review Arrives All The Same.

And Now It’s Here.

“Unconquerable brilliance takes Marvel to new heights… an irresistible blend of action and comedy, guaranteeing a sugar rush of delirious enjoyment” – Peter Bradshaw. 

This is the end, beautiful friend…

In a movie that is the culmination of eleven years and over twenty movies, thus transcending the rules and expectations of the superhero movie genre, where the whole objective is to conclude all super-business in a convincing and compelling closure, AND fire decisive repulsor-rayblasts to your mind, heart and – hoo-boy! – tear ducts, where do we begin?!

Tony Stark is marooned in space with the daughter of the fiend who fatally slew him; where do the original Avengers – survivors of the Snaptastrophe – go from here?

To undo the Mad Titan’s wrongdoings, and try and restore some sorta semblance of order back to the universe, before you can say: “TREE! Help me find the handle!” they have constructed a “machine” that can transport what’s left of the cast into their respective subplots…

And to that end, as expected, the following three hours deliver on so many winning levels in the best way possible. 

The only way.

The MARVEL way! 🙂

“The only complaint is that it raises the bar so high that there may well never be a superhero movie to match it…” – Matthew Norman. 

PHOOEY to those critics who dared slate this gargantuan cinematic swansong as “preposterous”(!)

Look, this is a comicbook movie fer cake’s sake, where fans don’t bat an eyelid at such Stark Raving Hazelnuts stuff as a talking raccoon, a wizard’s cloak that has a mind of its own and a giant Peter Dinklage. 

One can appreciate how (the best of) these MCU movies have been created by comicbook buffs who not only know how crazy, clever and cosmic these stories can be, but understand how they work. Essentially, Avengers: Endgame has been (ahem) assembled in such a meticulous, but oh so MARVELous way that it looks – and works – like a remastered Greatest Hits compilation, with a handful of iconic scenes from the last eleven years – including familiar faces we thought we’d never see again! – lovingly spliced in to add an always-welcome tinge of nostalgia to that unfailingly spectacular eleven-year mix of action, drama and humour. 

Moreover, this time, we are presented with an unprecedented, but irresistibly intriguing premise in a superhero movie: 

failure, and how (what’s left of) the team deal with that. 

Just when you think the First Act would dissolve into something too morose to handle, and drag a tad, once again – thankfully! – writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely are at the top of their (end)game, providing one of the best scripts of the year (and not to mention, as reliable as ever, a hefty wodge of rad quotable lines! 😉 )

The depleted number of protagonists means that Avengers: Endgame offers closer attention to character study, and even sends some of their story-arcs down paths that were (dare we say it!) hitherto undreamt of. One of them in particular highly uncharacteristically crawls into a bottle (Clue: it’s NOT Ant-Man).

At the end of the day, it’s so cool to discover that – like your fav cake-scoffing blogger 😉 – Clint is just as badass with a blade as he is with a bow.

Oh, and speaking of cool, that much-anticipated Stan Lee cameo is – how we remember The Man – real classy!

“We won’t talk about the technobabble inelegantly cited in a bid to hold it all together – the equivalent of taking out an airplane’s jackscrews and replacing them with bubblegum” – Ed Whitfield: The Ooh Tray. 

At three hours and one minute, this is the longest MCU instalment; kudos to its directors: Anthony and Joe Russo for not letting the pace slip at all, not once, during these epic proceedings. Against all odds, Avengers: Endgame manages to be a worthy and thoroughly enjoyable successor to Avengers: Infinity War.

However, once that sheer exhilaration settles down and those critical faculties kick in, a few niggles pop up preventing me from bestowing it the full quota of five perfectly balanced stars. 

The biggest drawback here happens to be the biggest character: despite having a few cool scenes, Thanos is inevitably relegated to formulaic antagonist.

When Captain Larson shows up at Avengers HQ, nestling the Benatar on their front lawn, there are no gawps or gasps from Steve and co. Obviously, this universe is positively heaving with enhanced individuals of one sort or another, so “New Girl” is allowed to hang around the base, no questions asked, until the moment the script has no further need for her she has to skedaddle to some distant planet to… do something for no discernible reason… She eventually returns, making a brief, but blistering impact during the Final Act which, incidentally, looks far too cluttered and chaotic. All in all, Captain Marvel’s appearance in this movie was not substantial or integral enough to have warranted her own lousy movie almost two months ago.

Personally, last year’s masterpiece – with its towering (and harrowing) central performance, a truly Mighty Marvel Team-Up in the unexpected groovy forms of Thor and Rocket, moon-throwing and THAT unforgettable ending – seared a more indelible mark on my memory, but this is still an incredibly engrossing piece of work, and provides a fitting finale to this frenetic franchise. 

When The BIG Bradscribe MCU Countdown is due to be revised shortly, Avengers: Endgame should be riding high in the Top 10. It deserves to snap out of existence all box office records; after only three days, it’s officially become the Highest Grossing Movie Of All Time. 

The enormous, exciting, and – oh yes – emotional effects have proved remarkable, and will surely never end – this really feels like the blockbuster to end all blockbusters.

Therefore, yours truly takes this opportunity to announce The End of my forty years of cinema-going. Let’s face it: during the next ten – perhaps twenty – years, methinks it probably unlikely that we will ever experience a movie, bigger, bolder or better than this…

At the very least, watching Avengers: Endgame is infinitely preferable to being stuck in a flying doughnut billions of miles from Earth with no backup…

 

BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

“I like this one.”

 

“We like very propulsive storytelling. We like to keep it tight and focused, and to give the audience a thrill ride. No one’s been pushing us to cut the film… we’re primarily pushing ourselves” – Anthony Russo. 

 

UVB76 – SG1: Manic Music Monday

Part Of The Journey Is The End.

When I drift off, I will dream about you. It’s always you” – Tony Stark. 

 

Some people in this galaxy DON’T dig Marvel movies. 0_0

But not us…

Not us! 

Before unleashing my Review next week, this chattering animal will be posting – midweek – a few thoughts on the soon-to-be-revealed Avengers: Endgame, so hope you can join me for that!

Ha ha! We all wondered how we would manage to wait a whole year to find out how this monumental story arc could come to a satisfying MARVELous denouement – now we are only DAYS away.

So this is it? It’s all been leading to this…

 

“Oh My God! I should’ve stayed on the bus…” – Peter Parker.

 

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.”

 

Captain Marvel: The Toxic Avenger

We Found Her And We Weren’t Even Looking…

captain-marvel-90s-movie-explosion-scene-official-trailer-2018-09-18

“This is an… odd superhero action movie… There’s an eccentric splurge of tonal registers from boomingly serious to quirkily droll… A lovable cat makes an important appearance…” – The Guardian.  

Imagine my nightmare. If you can…

Stuck in a packed cinema, trying to keep awake during the latest MCU instalment. Amidst a rather bland action scene – in space – one of the most annoying pop songs in living memory – by that eternally-detestable combo: No Doubt, no less! – starts to play.

Yes, it did make my one good eye roll.

No, it did NOT put a smile on my face…

You know, Bradman is NOT one to skedaddle from a battle, but in this case, the urge to split almost consumed me. 

Moreover, to compound the no-good-niggles tormenting my throbbing bonce, the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi throttled my mind: 

“I’m getting too old for this sort of shit…” 

‘0 _ 0’

After the jaw-dropping brilliance that was Avengers: Infinity War it seemed pointless going into Captain Marvel with any expectations. Nevertheless, confidence that we would get another top quality comicbook movie package remained fairly high. 

The plot is your basic “origins” tale: Nick “Two-Eyes” Fury teams up with The Cat From Outer Space and they set out on a quest to find the memory of The Woman Who Fell To Earth, with the Jude Law and the Kree Order in hot pursuit.

Okey-dokey, methinks, so far, so groovy. 

But…

Before you can say: “Higher, further, faster, baby!” it descends into a dismal display of bland performances, incoherent narrative and some of the most lame and lacklustre lines heard in a long while…

And don’t get me started about the Skrulls: those nefarious shapeshifting aliens who look here like Trekkie cosplayers. 

Quite naff Trekkie cosplayers…

Rather than the despicable race as depicted in the comics, the BIG twist here is that they are the repressed refugees of the galaxy. And we’re supposed to empathise with them? Don’t you know what they say? “Keep your friends close, your Skrulls closer.” DON’T listen to them, Carol – IT’S A TRAP…

And just why on C-53 is Ben Mendelsohn trying to do an Andy Serkis impersonation…?!

“Oh Captain, my Captain. There’s not enough on the page… It’s only two hours long and they kind of rushed through it…” – Double Toasted. 

It comes as absolutely no surprise to learn that Roy Thomas – legendary Marvel writer who co-created Carol Danvers in 1968 – felt less than impressed with this movie.

“Actually, the one thing I really hated in the film was turning the Skrulls into a peace-loving race, with the Kree as the heavies.” he said in a recent interview. “As far as I am concerned, as the principal conceptualizer of the Kree/Skrull War, (and I suspect Stan Lee and Jack Kirby would agree with me) the Skrulls and the Kree are each as bad as each other, as they say. Having the Skrulls all mushy and family-friendly at the end left a bad taste in my mouth…”

The only aspect to please him was thus: “Still, Yon-Rogg turned out to be appropriately vile, and that’s all well and good.” 

What about those 12-year old girls this film so desperately tried to impress and inspire? Incidentally, the number of that demographic in the audience at my screening could be counted on the “fingers” of MY gauntlet. And they looked bored to tears…

Wire sued Elastica for stealing their riff from Three Girl Rhumba. Nirvana lifted the bass-line from Killing Joke’s Eightites, which in turn “borrowed” from The Damned’s Life Goes On, and – hey! – here’s me slouching (nay, yawning!) in the middle of the latest MCU movie with my concentration drifting into such mundane musical matters, particularly wondering which alternative Kurt Cobain song would have sufficed instead, if at all…!

Sheesh! 

Is it any wonder that the only scene to actually move me happened to be the heartfelt tribute to Stan Lee over the Marvel logo? And the only cool scene was, of course, his cameo. He’s reading the script to Mallrats (also released in 1995), in which you can find the most extensive cameo of his illustrious acting career. 

Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck have never made a comicbook movie before and, quite clearly, it shows. The montage of flashbacks from Carol’s early life are so fragmentary and ever-so-minimally informative (not helped by Skrull scientists jabbering over each clip!) that they look confusing, almost to the point of annoyance. 

Imagine what a dramatic improvement we would have if allowed to see that key moment in the comics in which teenage Carol rebels against her overbearing Dad and walks out. 

There should be a terrific performance by Lashana Lynch, as Carol’s best pal: Maria Rambeau, but, there again, the shoddy script deprives Maria’s role the chance to really shine. Moreover, the 1st Act needed a bonding moment between them – it would have instilled the emotional resonance this movie so sorely lacked. 

The fact that three writers were involved proves yet again how:

The more names involved in concocting a major studio movie script = the more incoherent that script becomes.

Again, is this really the MCU we are dealing with here…?!

“They really tried to cram it all in… boring, generic, by-the-book, which is unfortunate for Marvel’s fist female-lead movie” – Medium Popcorn. 

“Packed with action! Humour! And visual thrills!! With an origin story that makes effective use of the franchise’s signature formula!” 

Uff, well, that’s a loada’ cobblers…

Allow me to suggest (mercifully briefly!why this movie is regarded as  “good, but not great.”

Apart from the obvious observation that Larson lacks charisma, consider how Captain Marvel is supposed to be an origins story. Despite countless versions of this theme – some produced, remarkably well, within the MCU itself over this past decade! – the only spectacular revelation to be had here is the way it fails in this regard.

Bafflingly, the core of this movie is mysteriously bereft of a hero(ine)’s journey, so no revelation, atonement, redemption, or moral/ethical self-discovery. 

Wow, she had no misdeeds and failings to rectify; no life-changing lessons to learn; no knowledge to attain; no challenges to overcome; therefore, we feel no curiosity or compulsion to follow what happens to her. Subjected to the full blast of the Kree core engine does not count as a “personal transformation.”

Ultimately, this is all a meaningless spectacle. 

Always appreciated the origins story of Marvel’s other Cap: the classic, compelling Captain America: First Avenger. Where was the stirring equivalent “world doesn’t need a perfect soldier, but a good man,” speech amidst this mess? We waited and waited again for something other than a perfect Power Lady (so she doesn’t need to learn great responsibility either, yay!) but the real good – i.e. relatable, compassionate, etc. – Carol Danvers failed to show up…

Yeah, but wasn’t Goose purrrfect?! 

No.

When the “cat” freaks out, tentacles an’ all, it suddenly felt like a Men In Black movie – truly, one of the most abhorrent experiences anybody could suffer in a cinema…

Can’t get over the fact that the script is unbelievably inept. The dialogue is so clunky – Captain Clunky!

Despite having the “Supreme intelligence” onboard, there are too many dumb moments; considering all that flying: in jets, spaceships or just as herself, her “character” never gets off the ground…

This blog has been honed to practice (and hopefully perfect) my story-telling skills, for when my movie/TV breakthrough eventually comes my humble way. And yet this esteemed gig goes to…

this gaggle of amateurs…?!

Behold: the Plight of the Livid Brad?

Not at all.

Yours truly is too tired to generate any antipathy towards anyone or anything these days. So to read about these ignorant trolls wasting their energies – and our time – spewing their, quite frankly, pathetic Caps-Lock-laden rants at something they haven’t even bothered to watch(!) makes for the most bewildering behaviour.

Have reached that stage in my life whereby the race, sex – or even sexual orientation – of a character has become irrelevant, how that character is developed (or not!) however, means everything to me. 

“The film may be about women breaking their shackles, but the lead actress feels kept in check for much of the picture. Humor winds up being provided by Samuel Jackson’s Nick Fury, heart by Lashana Lynch’s Maria Rambeau, and pathos by…well, it ain’t Larson” – San Diego Reader. 

Having watched her in a couple of TV promotional interviews, Brie Larson comes across as witty and charming, so it’s a shame that “Vers”/Carol is denied the chance to bring these qualities to this muddled mix.   

Out of 21 movies, this is the first with a female lead… 

…and yet, instead, we’re all raving about how cool and funny Samuel L. Jackson as a remarkably-undistracting-de-aged Nick Fury turned out to be…

Fortunately, this interplay between Brie and Sam is fun and entertaining to watch – they obviously got along fine and dandy whilst working on Kong: Skull Island (gee, remember that?!)

Considering how Brie has signed a SEVEN-movie contract with Marvel, ensuring this Cap’s prominent role in the MCU’s Next Phase, this movie should have delivered a more substantial, more distinctive, and, if you will, more thought-provoking introduction to supposedly the most powerful hero in the MCU. Up until now, this franchise looked, and felt, meticulously planned, years in advance – from its expansive plot-unfolding to those subtle Easter Eggs – and yet this movie feels too muddled, as if hastily thrown together at-the-last-minute just to appease the crowd who have been crying out forever for a female-led Marvel superhero movie. Thus, it does not present a suitable prelude to Avengers: Endgame, in which the hotly-anticipated rematch against Thanos may likely culminate in GOOSE GOING FOR THE HEAD.

Whatever’s in store, in the ever-reliable hands of the Russo brothers, Avengers: Endgame ought to be a more epic and engaging eyeful than what we got here…

Yep, Captain Marvel is now the most powerful hero in the MCU. 

Can’t dispute that. 

She single-handedly drained my will to write for at least ten days after my trip to the cinema. And almost depleted my enthusiasm for the upcoming Endgame (!) 

One fan Comment summed it up perfectly: “If Captain Marvel has to fight Thanos, I’ll be rooting for Thanos…”

Sure, the Captain Marvel movie mahelp pass the time, but it’s not worth dropping into a Blockbuster™ for…

 

“I could 

NOT 

BELIEVE 

what I was watchin’! I almost threw my chicken strips at the screen, man!” – rapper59.