Electric Dreams III: Revenge Of The Synth

Synthwave, Retrowave, Dreamwave And – Oh Yes – Darkwave… 

“We’ll always be together
However far it seems
(Love never ends)
We’ll always be together
Together in Electric Dreams” – Phil Oakey.

Is it too soon, you may ask, to have another music post on this site?!

Perhaps. And yet…

Considering how it feels like an age since the last Post, and my writing is a tad sluggish at the moment for my liking, this seemed like the easiest option to get me back into the swing of actually completing something!

Have not listened to any Synthwave for a while, but returned to it just this week. For me, Lazerhawk is the outstanding artist of this amazing genre – so selecting our first vid posed no problem at all: 

SAL-9000: “Will I dream?”

Dr. Chandra: “Of course you will. All intelligent beings dream. Nobody knows why. Perhaps you will dream about HAL… just as I often do.”

You may be interested to know that my ideas have not abandoned me.

Far from it – there is no shortage of them! Time is no problem – never has been for me! My problem is finding the energy! 

Purge those rumours of this site’s imminent demise!

Forthcoming attractions are on their way. In  the next few days: you can (hopefully) expect Bradscribe Reviews of BOTH Deadpool movies, various updates on my expeditions to find more awesome Bronze Age comics, and…? The rest is a surprise! 

Blimey! So was this next track now this is fukkin’ sick! (As the younglings are wont to say these days, by Jove!): 

Nancy Thomson: It’s only a dream!”

Freddy Krueger: “Come to Freddy!”

Speaking of nightmares, my fiction has suffered more than anything 😛 – it seems to have dried up (only for the time being we hope! Yeah…?) 

For the second time, my novel has stalled. What has been produced so far is bereft of plot progression  – that breath-taking twist still hasn’t “sprung to mind.” Not going to chuck the bally thing in completely – for one thing, it would be a shame to see all my research papers go to waste… 

On a much brighter note, during this past two years my enthusiasm for concocting short stories has revived. Through the blog format, Bradventures featuring a distinctly English galactic hero have come along in leaps and bounds. You may like to know/be assured that a handful of new episodes reside on my Dashboard awaiting editing, so he won’t be going away any time soon! 

The most recent instalment is still pretty fresh, if a tad neglected, so please, pay it a visit, right here: 

You’ll like it, it’s about a prison break. 😉

Moving on then, this next video would have made it into Electric Dreams I – a perfect accompaniment to a Lazerhawk track, but it got pulled offline so had to rummage around for a replacement at the last minute(!)

No worries!

This tune will suffice; this is the awesome opening sequence from that crazy sci-fi thriller: The Hidden (1987) featuring an alien parasite that uses human vessels to wreak his own warped sense of “fun” on Earth:

Bob Blair: “Now we can go into an enemy’s dream, kill him, make it look as if he died in his sleep. Do you realize what that means?”

Alex Gardner: “It means no one’s safe from you…” 

Blade Runner (1982) remains as monumental as those techno-ziggurats that dominate the LA skyline.

Not only did it create one of the most mesmerising examples of visual futurism on the big screen, but the velvety Vangelis soundtrack has had a huge influence on the Synthwave genre. 

Not surprisingly, a considerable number of Synthwave tracks turn up on YouTube illustrated by stills from this classic movie. 

So, guess what appears here next! :0

Funny how the source material, written by Philip K. Dick is called “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep” and yet there is no quote featuring the word: ‘dream‘ in the movie…

But why complain?

It’s Blade Runner!

“Milk and cookies kept you awake, eh, Sebastian?” – Dr. Eldon Tyrell. 

Speaking of visual style, whenever the mood for writing failed to manifest, my creative faculties have expressed themselves instead through sketching. Noting how plenty of Followers/readers have commented that my fiction would be enhanced by converting the work into graphic novels… 

Maybe, just maybe… 

In the meantime, there are some artworks – produced several years ago as well as more recent gobsmackers – that should (scans permitting!) appear on this site very soon.  

Moving on thenoh yes – when it comes to the best Retrowave producers, there’s no ace like HOME: 

Miles Harding: “A dream is a wish your heart makes when you’re fast asleep.”

Edgar: “Who says?”

Miles Harding: “Walt Disney. Sleeping Beauty, nineteen… fifty.”

Edgar: “No, it was Cinderella, 1949.”

To end on a high note, completing this Post has reminded me what is so compelling about the blogosphere; plus, it has restored the verve to carry on!

What better way to end this playlist, fellow Oneironauts, than with some scintillating Chillwave from the exceptional Crockett, who – as you may have gathered from Electric Dreams II  has become my second-favourite Synthwave artist!

“I’m a seeker too. But my dreams aren’t like yours. I can’t help thinking that somewhere in the universe there has to be something better than Man. Has to be…” – George Taylor. 

Sweet dreams… 🙂

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“I Can Do This All Day!”: The BIG Bradscribe MCU Countdown

Brad’s Marvel Movie Marathon Has Led To This Moment: 

Where Will YOUR Favourite Be?

About damn time…” – Nick Fury.

“By Odin’s Bristling Beard!” 

There was an idea…

To bring together nineteen remarkable movies. To see if they could be arranged in Bradtastic order.

Besides, seeing as other bloggers have compiled their charts, it was only a matter of time until the arrangement of This Post. If you click on the title of selected entries, it will take you to that particular Bradscribe Review.

To up the tension, trust me to show additional info, such as the order of MCU movies as determined by IMDB users. 

Plus: the order of ratings (showing each percentage score) on Rotten Tomatoes. 

So, these are what we’re up against FOR:

 

Release Date Order:

  1. Iron Man (May 2008)
  2. The Incredible Hulk (June 2008)
  3. Iron Man 2 (May 2010)
  4. Thor (May 2011)
  5. Captain America: The First Avenger (July 2011) 
  6. The Avengers (May 2012) 
  7. Iron Man 3 (May 2013)
  8. Thor: The Dark World (November 2013) 
  9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 2014)
  10. Guardians of the Galaxy (August 2014) 
  11. Avengers: Age of Ultron (April 2015) 
  12. Ant Man (July 2015)
  13. Captain America: Civil War (May 2016)
  14. Doctor Strange (November 2016) 
  15. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 2017)
  16. Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 2017)
  17. Thor: Ragnarok (November 2017)
  18. Black Panther (February 2018)
  19. Avengers: Infinity War (April 2018)

“Before we get started, does anyone want to get out?” – Captain America.

 

19. The Incredible Hulk 

IMDB Ranking: 19

Rotten Tomatoes: 18 (67%)

“Don’t make me hungry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry” – Bruce Banner.

Not surprisingly, the lowest MCU movie in this – and the IMDB – chart, has the lowest box office gross. No trademark mid or post-credit scenes; no Nick Fury. Its only memorable scene is when the not-so-jolly green giant hurls a tank into the distance – wait! That’s from Ang Lee’s 2003 snoozefest. Duh…

It’s ironic that the strongest being on the planet cannot hold up his own standalone movie. 

And speaking of irony…

 

18. Iron Man 3

IMDB Ranking: 14

Rotten Tomatoes: 13 (80%)

“Is that all you’ve got? A cheap trick and a cheesy one-liner?” – Brandt. 

Hard to helieve, but this threequel proved to pe just as boring as the big green fella’s outing.

Hmm – this is NOT the one with Mickey Rourke, right…?

You see, yours truly really struggles with this one – if there was ever a time and opportunity to make The Black Widow Movie it was here…

 

17. Iron Man 2

IMDB Ranking: 16

Rotten Tomatoes: 17 (73%) 

“Tony, you’re too young to understand this right now, so I thought I would put it on film for you. I built this for you… It represents my life’s work. This is the key to the future. I’m limited by the technology of my time, but one day you’ll figure this out. And when you do, you will change the world. What is and always will be my greatest creation… is you” – Howard Stark.  

HEY, Mickey! You’re so fine you blow my mind, hey- nah, not really. Nothing worse than having an unintelligible villain. 

Notable for Black Widow’s debut, but there is not much else to commend this outing – pity, because Howard Stark (albeit in archive film) has one of the most moving scenes in the franchise.

On its own, Sam Rockwell’s hotsteppin’ is Top 5 material all week long.

WHOOO, baby! 

 

16. Ant Man

IMDB Ranking: 13

Rotten Tomatoes: 12 (82%)

“Pick on someone your own size!” – Scott Lang. 

When yours truly used to read Ant-Man in Hulk Weekly (where else?) so loooong ago, it NEVER occurred to him that Hank Pym would get his own movie one day. Sfx have reached the stage where this particular hero can be brought to the screen – pity nobody considered getting a good scriptwriter as well…

Paul Rudd turned out to be an ace choice to play Scott Lang/Ant-Man (although everybody preferred him in Civil War), but Michael Douglas as Hank Pym? Not so sure… 

Some thrilling microscopic action scenes but, for me, this entry was spoilt by what Hank dismissed as the “three wombats.” And Darren Cross/Yellowjacket was too bland for my (dis)liking.

Wish there was a way for me to embrace this more – to think that Brad is the biggest Ant-Man fan (Ant-fan?) you will ever know…

 

15. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 

IMDB Ranking: 8

Rotten Tomatoes: 11 (83%)

Nebula: “All any of you do is yell at each other. You’re not friends.” 

Drax: “You’re right… We’re family.” 

My first viewing was (mostly) agreeable – and heartrending, with the only original member of the Guardians: Yondu Udonta – but remember exiting the cinema somewhat underwhelmed.

The original Guardians of the Galaxy movie was always going to be a tough act to follow, but this effort has plummeted in my estimation since last May. It’s not just the plethora of lame lines, the forgettable opening scene with Ayesha – although it might as well have everything to do with David frickin’ Asslehoff… (>_<)

But the way in which James Gunn casually discarded Quill’s father: J’son simply ‘cos “I don’t like him” STILL rankles in this camp.

Having read more of Starlord’s back story, this movie crumbles even more. Poor Meredith Quill: in the comics she dies heroically trying to protect Peter from the alien mercenaries sent to eliminate his father – but what do we get instead? Call me old-fashioned, but a brain tumour should play no part in such a light and frothy adventure…

That Mixtape is NOT as awesome as it could be. And Vin Diesel’s Alvin Chipmunk impression is not enough. 

Thanks, Taserface, but no thanks…

 

14. Thor

IMDB Ranking: 15

Rotten Tomatoes: 15 (77%)

Thor: “I need a horse!”

Pet Store Clerk: “We don’t have horses. Just dogs, cats, birds.”

Thor: “Then give me one of those large enough to ride.” 

The casting of Tom Hiddleston as Loki and Sir Hop as Odin, plus Ken Branagh’s direction, signified the MCU’s concerted effort to bring some classical, almost-Shakespearean gravitas to these Asgardian proceedings. 

What we got was a less-than-engrossing exercise, mainly because it was so poorly lit! Too many of the crucial scenes are deluged in darkness; those Frost Giants might as well be formless entities, but Chris Hemsworth is always watchable in this.

(Not to be confused with Thor: The Dark World – a much lighter exercise)

 

13. Thor: The Dark World 

IMDB Ranking: 17

Rotten Tomatoes: 19 (66%) 

“Oh, this is much better. Costume’s a bit much… so tight. But the confidence, I can feel the righteousness surging. Hey, you wanna have a rousing discussion about truth, honour, patriotism? God bless America…” – Loki (…?!

Great cosmic scenes in Asgard; groovy – but all-too-brief – cameo by the Cap, but one skips some of the scenes set in London. Especially…

The most surreal moment in the MCU: Thor, Son Of Odin, Scion Of Asgard finds himself @ Charing Cross Underground station.

“How do I get to Greenwich?!” the God of Thunder enquires mightily.

The mortal must have been mesmerised by his biceps – or his hammer – for she replies: “Take this train. Three stops.”

RIDICULOUS! Brad says thee NAY!

Listen ye here, Odinson: 

From Charing Cross, take the Southbound Northern Line (black) TWO stops to Embankment. Take the Eastbound District Line (green) or Circular Line (yellow) FIVE stops and change @ Monument. Then it is a hardy slog through that station to access the DLR (Docklands Light Railway); it takes another TWELVE stops to reach Greenwich.

Know ye this: the journey is long (approx. 1 hour, most of your Running Time in fact) but not as strenuous as having to sit through Chris Eccleston’s Malekith.

Fare thee well on thy voyage, noble outta-towner!

(Uff, “three stops,” my eye!!) 

 

12. Spider-Man: Homecoming 

IMDB Ranking: 11

Rotten Tomatoes: 5 (92%)

“You need to understand, I will do anything to protect my family. I know you know what I’m talking about. So don’t mess with me. Don’t interfere in my business again. Because I will kill you and anyone you care about” – Adrian Toomes.

Well, well, the Spider-Man movie nobody wanted turned out to be pretty cool!

Some people reckoned that Tony Stark spent too much time here – for me, the whole cynical mentor/enthusiastic hero-in-the-making ploy really works here. Appreciate the way they successfully recreated that whole ’80s John Hughes vibe with the high-school scenes. And playing A Flock Of Seagulls too?! Aah, the MCU knows how to make this old boy happy!

But – hoo boy! – DON’T make me sit in the back of Adrian Toomes’ car! Ever!!

 

11. Iron Man

IMDB Ranking: 4

Rotten Tomatoes: 2 (94%)

“My turn…” – Tony Stark.

The Movie Where It All Began still holds up remarkably well a decade on. Hard to believe that, back then, the choice of Robert Downey Jr. as the titular Shellhead posed quite a gamble for Marvel Studios. No worries, he made his wit and bravado Stark’s own. 

Nice entertainment, shame about the sequels…

Blimey, not even those dancing air stewardesses could prevent this from dropping out of my Top 10…

 

10. Avengers: Age of Ultron

IMDB Ranking: 12

Rotten Tomatoes: 16 (75%)

“Ultron can’t see the difference between saving the world and destroying it. Where do you think he gets that…?” – Wanda Maximoff.  

The moment Ultron comes online, thanks to James Spader’s sinister tones, is one of the great moments in the MCU. Ruminating on issues such as the nature of existence, power, intelligence (artificial or not) whilst fending off attacks from the Cap et al makes for such thought-provoking viewing. And then, of course, The Vision – superbly played by Paul Bethany – enters the equation.

The CGI of the opening action sequence may look decidedly dodgy compared to other MCU works, and the climactic Battle of Sokovia tends to drag in one of the MCU’s under-rated offerings, but everyone taking turns trying to lift Mjolnir at Tony’s party more than makes up for that! Surely? 

 

9. Doctor Strange

IMDB Ranking: 10

Rotten Tomatoes: 8 (89%)

Dr. Stephen Strange: “I’m gonna have to vanish now. Keep me alive, will you?”

Urban landscapes doing cartwheels! Skyscrapers folding in on themselves! Roads disappearing into nothingness! Benedict Cumberbatch running up the side of a building! The Ancient One has turned into a Caucasian woman!

Will ask this only once:

BY THE HOARY HOSTS OF HOGGOTH! WHAT THE BLAZES DID THEY PUT IN THAT POPCORN?!?!

And could Brad have some more, please…? 

 

8. Black Panther 

IMDB Ranking: 9

Rotten Tomatoes: 1 (96%)

“Praise! Another broken white boy to fix…” – Shuri.  

WAKANDA FOREVER!!

“Wassup, princess?” – Erik Killmonger.

 

7. Captain America: The First Avenger

IMDB Ranking: 18 (WHA-?! Uff, that’s just nuts…

Rotten Tomatoes: 14 (79%)

“Captain America! How exciteenk! Ay’m a great fen uf your feelms!” – Johann Schmidt. 

When watching Chris Evans’ enjoyable turn as Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four movie, the prospect of him playing another Marvel hero – let alone the Cap himself! – seemed highly unlikely. Glad he turned up for this – can’t imagine anyone else playing the Cap! Hayley Atwell is so impressive as Peggy Carter, she ought to get her own TV series…

It even made Tommy Lee Jones worth my while for once. But it’s Hugo Weaving as the thoroughly demented Johann Schmidt/Red Skull who lifts this into classic territory.

Thus speaketh the boy who – at one point – was fanatically devoted to Captain Britain…

“Geez! Somebody get that kid a sandwich…” – Senator Brandt.

 

6. Thor: Ragnarok

IMDB Ranking: 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 3 (92%)

Thor: “Strongest Avenger!”

Quinjet Computer: “Access denied.”

Thor:Damn you, Stark. Point Break.” 

Quinjet Computer: “Welcome, Point Break.” 

Hey Sparkles, here’s the deal:

Ditch all that heavy, brooding, end-of-days gubbins. Throw oh-so-funny goofballs and looney aliens into candy-coloured cosmic capers. Let loose the Hulk, give Loki more to do, and get that “creepy old man” to shear off Odinson’s locks! Most of all, introduce Hela as the formidable villain the MCU so desperately needs! Oh, and bring in Jeff Goldblum (can’t even type his name without a big dopey grin spreading across me chops!) as the Grandmaster, and you have – quite easily – the most enjoyable movie of 2017! 

“Darling, you have no idea what’s possible” – Hela.

 

5. Captain America: Civil War

IMDB Ranking: 6

Rotten Tomatoes: 6 (91%)

Spider-Man: “Hey guys, you ever see that really old movie, Empire Strikes Back?

War-Machine: “Jesus, Tony, how old is this guy?”

Iron Man: “I don’t know, I didn’t carbon date him. He’s on the young side.”

“You remember that time we had to ride back from Rockaway Beach in the back of that freezer truck?” 

“Was that the time you used our train money to buy hotdogs?”

“You blew three bucks trying to win that stuffed bear for a redhead.”

“What was her name again?” 

“Dolores. You called her Dot.”

“She’s gotta be a hundred years old right now…” 

“So are we, pal.”

It’s the sweet and subtle moments like this that count here, along with Tony’s wacky first meeting with Peter. 

Plus: a rad debut by the Black Panther. 

And, of course, That Airport Scene. WOW, it’s so weird how you run into people at the airport. Don’t you think that’s weird…? 

Iron Man: “Who’s speaking?”

Ant-Man: “It’s your conscience. We don’t talk a lot these days…”

 

4. Guardians of the Galaxy

IMDB Ranking: 3

Rotten Tomatoes: 7 (91%)

Rocket Raccoon: “What did the galaxy ever do for you? Why would you want to save it?” 

Chris Pratt: “Because I’m one of the idiots who lives in it!” 

cosmic combo featuring – get this – a walking tree, a talking raccoon, an ex-wrestler, the star of Avatar (Okay, blue girl is green now! She’s green now!) Oh, and led by that chubby fella from Parks And Rec(?!)

Only Marvel Studios could take the most obscure comic – and these unusual suspects – and produce a supremely groovy galactic gleefest.

And where would this beloved bunch of A-holes be without that Awesome Mixtape…? YAY! Gives me an excuse to fit this in! (Okay, which track would YOU choose?)

“I may be as pretty as an angel, but I sure as hell ain’t one” – Yondu Udonta.

 

3. The Avengers 

IMDB Ranking: 2

Rotten Tomatoes: 4 (92%) 

Thor: “Do not touch me again!”

Iron Man: “Then don’t take my stuff.” 

Thor: “You have no idea what you are dealing with.”

Iron Man: “Uh, Shakespeare In The Park? Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?”

Joss Whedon skilfully managed to assemble six heroes for this first team-up epic and what a humdinger it is too!

Despite bigger movies unleashed since this one’s box office conquest, the first Avengers blockbuster retains its high-standing due to such a cool script – selecting the quotes to use here proved more challenging than working out some of these rankings!

The comic book action is irresistible; the tremendous assault on Manhattan is worth a shawarma or three, but, for me, it’s Iron Man and Thor’s fisticuffs in the forest that provides the real knockout punch. 

Arguably Rob Downey Jr.’s finest moment in the MCU – certainly his funniest. 

My favourite MCU movie for at least two years, primarily ‘cos it marked my initial introduction to this MARVEL-ous franchise.

“Well, let me know if “real power” wants a magazine or something” – Nick Fury.

 

2. Avengers: Infinity War

IMDB Ranking: 1

Rotten Tomatoes: 10 (84%)

“Stop massaging his muscles!” – Peter Quill. 

STILL trying to catch my breath back!

STILL overawed – and relieved! – at how well the Mad Titan is depicted here!

STILL amazed at how they [SPOILER!] [SPOILER!] AND Captain America’s beard!!

STILL can’t believe the wizard seriously just said: “hitherto undreamt of”

Gamora: “Really? Tears?”

The Stonekeeper: “They are not for him…”  

 

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

IMDB Ranking: 7

Rotten Tomatoes: 9 (89%)

“Don’t look at me. I do what he does, just slower” – Sam Wilson. 

My personal favourite – possibly the finest superhero movie ever made. 

Some remarkable ingredients in this delectable concoction: the fight choreography is outstanding; the riveting spy-thriller narrative; the “GET ME. OFF. THE GRID!” street carnage; Jenny Agutter kicking ass; and Frenchmen getting beaten up. All in all: Brad’s perfect movie!  

Even the viewing experience itself was exceptional: that rare moment where the class and coolio-factor displayed onscreen matched the opulent interior décor. That whole weekend was such a wonderful time for both Mr. and Mrs. B – the shopping trip, that Japanese dinner and the hotel are all so pleasantly indented in our memories for all the years to come – we couldn’t have asked for a more spectacular movie that evening to round it all off…

The price of awesomeness is high. It always has been. And it’s a price Brad’s willing to pay.

On your left…

“Was that your first kiss since 1945?” – Natasha Romanoff. 

 

 

Avengers: Infinity War: The Bradscribe Review

MARVEL At The Mayhem 

“Colossal, cataclysmic, delirious, preposterous – and always surreally entertaining in the now well-established Marvel movie tradition… And yet somehow in its pure uproariousness, it works. It’s just a supremely watchable film, utterly confident in its self-created malleable mythology…” – The Guardian. 

“Oh God…” 

You can say that again, Cap. 

Avengers: Infinity War is an extraordinary piece of work. 

A group of superheroes must band together to thwart a maniacal extraterrestrial threat- but fortunately this is NOT Justice League! Only the Russo brothers could manage so many elements and craft them into a cohesive and highly entertaining package.

As mentioned here so many times already, Thanos seeks the six Infinity Stones – the ultimate power in the universe. At whatever cost, this Titan must be stopped. 

Mad?!

He’s positively Stark Raving Hazelnuts… 

As soon as a suitably sinister score begins to play, you instantly realise you’re in for one helluva good ride!

Movie of the Decade? Quite possibly.

A monumental cinematic achievement? Oh, most certainly!

“Infinity War manages a succession of double-page spread awe that sells the cosmic saga… Kudos also for the witty/chilling envoi: “Thanos will return” – Sight And Sound. 

Incredible!

And that’s just the Running Time. 

Those 149 minutes feel more like 90. From the faint distress call relayed over the MARVEL STUD10logo, to the very evident signs of distress among some departing cinema-goers, Infinity War crackles along, as fast as a giant green behemoth hurtling towards Earth. 

There is such a great roster of characters on show here:

Yet again, Robert Downey Jr. shows here that Tony Stark everybody’s fave action-hero/playboy/philanthropist quip-dispenser works so much better in these Avengers movies than he ever did in his solo trilogy. 

The romance between the Vision and Wanda is handled very well; Natasha and Bruce’s reunion is relegated to an exchange of awkward glances and just as well! (Black Widow always only had eyes for Hawkeye).

Eager to see how the frickin’ Guardians of the Galaxy fitted – or fretted – alongside Earth’s Mightiest Heroes: no worries! The mix turns out to be supremely entertaining, especially Star-Lord’s desperate attempts to out-macho the God of Thunder. 

There is genuine friction on an antler-locking scale between Stark and Strange -both ridiculously rich and self-centred enhanced playboys. It’s as if that off-screen bickering between Robbie and Bennybatch as to which one played the best Sherlock spilled over in front of the cameras…

Thanos packs a heck of a punch… he pretty much punches everyone. It’s the emotion behind those punches that will surprise you” – Washington Post. 

What about the Man of the Match himself: Thanos – one of the most formidable villains in the Marvel canon? 

It is with great joy – and relief – to see one of my personal favourite comic book characters make such a triumphant transition to the big screen. A powerful and yet demented tyrant whose twisted logic cannot distinguish harmony from genocide, is portrayed here through a phenomenal mo-cap performance by Josh Brolin. 

Brutal, intractable and ferocious, as you would expect, what sets this particular antagonist above the usual one-dimensional, monologuing nerks is an unlikely serene and sensitive side. This is perfectly exemplified by all the dramatic scenes he shares with adopted “daughter” Gamora.

Finally! After two Guardians movies we get to see the character of the last Zen Whoberis develop. The emotional intensity of the moment Thanos finds Gamora as an infant just transcends the simple confines of the traditional “blockbuster.” Didn’t know they made ’em like that any more, but glad that the Russos could so happily oblige…

A superhero movie on such a gargantuan scale must have outstanding moments and thankfully, those fantastic fist-pumping, whoop-worthy moments are in abundance here: SPACE and the first sight of the Milano with mixtape blarin’; the Cap stepping out of the Scottish shadows; and the biggest cheer at my viewing: Thor, Rocket and Groot materialising amidst the Wakandan battlefield with the stirring Avengers theme ringing out at top volume.

You also get Iron Man, Spider-Man and Magic Man riding through the cosmos in a giant flying donut. WAHEY!!

You couldn’t make this stuff up – but it’s great to know that Christopher Markus and Stephen Freely can – and have done – again to such top-notch extent – arguably the best screenwriters in any genre. Their scripts are beyond compare. The way they can move from heavy drama to light relief, and back again, is a masterclass in deft writing. Who but they could include dialogue implying the Avengers “breaking up like the Beatles,” during a movie concentrating on the Stones – a force as old as the universe itself? 😉

Assuredly, there are plenty of great quotable lines to sustain this site for another few weeks. “Dude, you’re embarrassing me in front of the wizards!” should be recognised as one of the best in the franchise.

But the Greatest Hits this War has to offer come in that unforeseen and yet so-cool-as-fudge Marvel Team-Up we never knew could happen. Come on! Let’s start an online petition and get a Thor and Rocket Rabbit cosmic buddy movie in the works! If the Studio doesn’t comply, then, as the Mad Titan himself once said:

“Fine, I’ll do it myself…” 😉

“It inherits plenty of the problems endemic to crossovers: the privileging of quantity over quality, of spectacle over story, and of the shock value of major changes to the status quo over just about everything else” – TIME Magazine. 

Watched Avengers: Infinity War for a second time yesterday evening, admittedly to eke out any glaring errors or anything amiss…

Honestly, the amazing action set-pieces, affecting romantic interludes, carefully crafted comedy, breathtaking drama and Josh Brolin, of course, completely cancelled out my critical faculties and swept me headlong (always go for the head) just as giddily and intoxicating as it did last Friday. 

The direction is so taut, tense and terrific that there is never a dull moment. But there’s never been a better opportunity to make this next statement: There’s no oxygen inside that donut. 

How does Peter continue to patter faster than lightspeed just as endearingly as always, without air?! And it’s a good job the atmosphere on Titan is still sufficient enough for Spidey to carry on his dizzying friendly neighbourhood loopin’ an’ a-swingin’. What the hey – just immerse yourself in the pure comic book escapism…

As expected, the Children of Thanos aka The Black Order did succumb to that dread affliction of our era: the “Phasma Curse”: they look/sound awesome, but get little/nothing to do in the actual movie. Despite constantly gleering, wielding a rad-bladed staff, and looking like he’s just traipsed over from World of Warcraft, Corvus Glaive – even the name is too astounding for its own good! – becomes far too underused. Still, the awesome conceptual design has, nevertheless, intrigued ol’ Bronze Age Boy here to check out the current comic books (These servants of Thanos have only been around for a few years so it should not take long to track Corvus et al down)

The same applies to Mrs. Glaive: Proxima Midnight. Actually, with a tighter adroitness towards choreography and camerawork, her duel between Black Widow (okay, Natasha is blonde now! She’s blonde now!) and Okoye in Wakanda ought to be one of the Most Awsweome Fights In The Movie Ever. Opportunity missed… 

What looked to be the least interesting chatacter turned out to exact the most impact: Ebony Maw, a nasty, maleficent matter-manipulator whose street fight with Strange and Wong has become an instant classic.

Personally, greater emphasis on character interaction more brooding, less brawling – would not have gone amiss. The climactic Battle of Wakanda – the MCU’s most grandiose spectacle yet – could so easily have been avoided. Let those rampant alien beasties mince themselves on the Wakandan forcefield? No, gotta give those thousands of digital artists something to do, so His Majesty orders Plot-hole 17 to open up… 

Despite these relatively minor niggles, when it comes to Star Ratings, Brad is notoriously stingy when it come to dishing out his precious 5-star icon, but, in this case…

Considering the gasps and laughs these non-stop thrills evoked from me; its power to make me care – and cry – for a psychotic, yet placid, purple pariah; the sheer exhilaration it instilled for hours after my first viewing – a sensation not felt since Rogue One, it would be my genuine pleasure to bestow upon this treasure the highest rating possible!

What the blazes! Who knows when – or how! – another monumental sci-fi epic as big, bold, bonkers and brilliant as this will invade our popcorn parlours again…?

And as for those viewers “exhausted”, or exasperated by this movie:

What’s the matter with you kids? You’ve never seen a masterpiece before? 😉

Avengers: Infinity War is precisely the sort of entertaining – and jaw-dropping – spectacle we have come to know/expect -and love – about the MCU; against all the odds of scale and ambition, it not only met our expectations – well, mine anyway – but exceeded them. This epic, most definitely, is one to enjoy time and time again. And again! 

Truly MARVELous…

“Dread it. Run from it.”

HA! Not a frickin’ chance, Grimace!!

 

 

BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

“Perfectly balanced, as all things should be…”

 

Unbelievable Bronze Age Bargains! But At What Cost?

SO Many Comics Purchased With So Few Pennies!

Carol Danvers: “You startled me. I didn’t hear you approach.” 

Wolverine: “No one ever does.”

For too long, True Believers, this site has been bereft of a Bronze Age Bonanza. 

Well, long for such a Post no more! Thought it would be a swell idea to get one rattled out this weekend.

But it still took this long to make it work!

New additions continue to enrich the Bradscribe Comicbook Collection each month, but keeping up with writing about them is a completely different matter – don’t know why these Posts should prove so strenuous to write up…

The Post that would have appeared here has been withdrawn to my Dashboard for the umpteenth time, while numerous ishs for this Post came and went before settling on the following frantic finalists. 

As these examples set out to prove, cheap doesn’t have to mean nasty…

 

Corsair: “Callous as it sounds, Cyclops, all of that is negligible, even expendable. You worry about a few score lives. I’m trying to save a world. This world.” 

Storm: “You are correct, Corsair. It is callous. And cruel… and inhuman. 

Corsair: “Then, I guess, so am I.” 

Let’s start at the zenith of my most startling recent acquisitions:

The Uncanny X-Men is arguably the most expensive series to bedeck the boxes of back ish basements. However, through sheer good fortune – the likes of which only ever happens to other people – one of these fine editions stumbled into my possession with a price SO unbelievable, you’d think some cheeky fella had tagged it on as a prank. 

#154 Reunion (February 1982) begins with Cyclops and Storm, innocently enough, playing handball with their powers. Hurtling Earthwards, a Shi’ar space vessel crashes into the pond on Prof Xavier’s estate! Both X-Men dive in and rescue Corsair – leader of the Starjammers – from the wreckage.

Hot on Commander Christopher Summers’ heels is a tempest of arachnid-like Sidrian hunters. Storm “generates an incredible, irresistible vortex” to banish them, but succeeds only in trashing Xavier’s Mansion! Unlike Brad, she paid a hefty price! 😉

Although this terrific trio escape in one of the Blackbird jets, the Sidri converge into a ship, “as big as a skyscraper!” according to Air Traffic Control and chases them across Manhattan’s East River!

Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum at the top of their game.

‘OW MUCH?!: 

FIFTY PENCE?!

Yeah-heh-hes!! 

How can ANY ish of a series that is regularly marked between £10-30(!) pass into my eager mitts for so few pennies?!  

The wraparound cover had fallen off this copy’s staples, but the Claremont/Cockrum goodness remains unblemished…

 

Thor: “Tell me, monster – art thou the madman or the madman‘s slave? And more – how didst thou appear so suddenly… like a ghost from out of the air?”

Ego: “Know this, godling, I am no ghost, but Ego personified! My flesh is the flesh of this planet – my body, the stone at your feet! This form exists because I created it – so that when I crush you, I may see your pathetic face!”

Ego The Living Planet! Has gone mad?!

Why else would Thor(!) join forces with the despicable Galactus(!) to try and stop him?! With the awesomeness for this classic mind-boggling saga ascending beyond measure, so, alas, the value had to rise in accordance.

When first reading this storyline last year – reprinted as Essential Thor Volume 7 – just the thought of ever owning a single instalment – in all its original colourific glory – seemed beyond even my grandest schemes. 

And yet…! By the Flames of Ragnarok!!

In the right store at the right time: “he just stood there, staring at the cover for what seewed an eternity – at its price for a whole lot longer…” 

The Mighty Thor #227 In Search Of… Ego! (September 1974) begins with Odin himself(!) at a loss to explain how his beloved son and heir could be colluding with “the most dangerous entity in all space and time?!” It is through the Allfather’s curiosity that we pick up the threads to the story so far – brilliant narrative device by Gerry Conway. Side by side with Hercules and Firelord, this most unlikely fantastic four proceed to destroy the Mind of Ego!

From the enthralling splash page to the explosive cliffhanger, this is Big John Buscema at his pulse-pounding best. 

This ish has prized possession written all over it (probably why the price was so ridiculously low, ho, ho!) 

“I’m certain you now fully comprehend the danger, Asgardian. If such energy were to be applied against the stars of this galaxy… we would all perish” – Galactus.

‘OW MUCH?!: 

Considering how some unscrupulous ‘erbs have tried to flog this very ish online for three-figure sums, yours truly managed to pick this up for only TWO POUNDS(!)

Madder than the Living Planet itself, baby…

 

“Never in my wildest imaginings could I have filled a world with so strange a mixture of folk as I’d found on the Mars of the long-dead past – but this wasn’t my imagination… and most of those “folk” would dearly love to see me dead” – Gullivar Jones.  

Creatures On The Loose is an important series in my collection for Man-Wolf features as the star attraction of its final seven ishs. 

Earlier editions are intriguing for giving a home to Gullivar Jones. 

Gullivar who…?

Some SF aficionados argue that Edgar Rice Burroughs – to put it politely – “borrowed” this character in order to produce his more popular John Carter of Mars. Nevertheless, Marvel adapted both of these Red Planet adventurers; while John Carter back ishs are easy to find, Gullivar like the original novel – is extremely rare. But new stock in one of my regular comic book emporiums (just in time for the January Half-Price Sale!) included a few Creatures back ishs featuring this character.

#19 The Long Road To Nowhere (Septemher 1972) offers artwork by Gil Kane – one of my favs! – Jim Mooney and Wayne Boring, but the writing fails to impress (finding decent dialogue to quote turned out to be an unexpected task). Also, this story is too short (it only fills half this ish); the rest of the pages are taken up by two short fillers – while the first includes art by Jack Kirby(!) it is a substandard alien-invasion-of-Earth story.

After an impressive splash page (see below!) the quality of this ish rapidly plummets with each turn of the page…

‘OW MUCH?!: 

£2.50 – but would further ishs in this series be worth my time and money…?

 

“At once, should one of those guardsmen become unnerved… a stray bullet could plunge all eternity into irreparable chaos! And by the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth that must not come to pass!” – Doctor Strange.

The Defenders – that so-called non-team featuring the Hulk, Doctor Strange and Valkyrie – has been a rather hit-or-miss series. It is an absolute delight, though, to state that  #26 Savage Time! (August 1975) is a classic. Not only does it featurespecial-guest-star appearance by the (original line-up of the) Guardians of the Galaxy(!) but – thanks to an enticing script by Steve Gerber – it incorporates a staggering 1000-year history of the future, including a single-panel appearance by Killraven.

You’ll be happy to learn that the rebellion against the Techno-Barons comes to a triumphant end with the execution of the tyrant Kwaal in 2525. Well, whoopee-doo! Any excuse to order more cake 😉

All this action, adventure – and future-history – is brought to furious fruition by Our Pal Sal Buscema. 

“What you’re seeing is a genuine U.F.O., a ship presumably of extraterrestrial origin… 

“It seems the pilot of this spacecraft has survived the ship’s plummet from space and is concealing himself inside.But perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the ship is its insignia. For inscribed in English on the hull are the words: “Captain America”…

Hard to believe that not all Defenders ishs are up to this standard… or down to this price!

‘OW MUCH?!: 

FIFTY PENCE!

(The bottom half is badly crumpled, but after sitting beneath a pile of other distinguished members of the Bradscribe Collection, it no longer makes crinkling noises when you turn the pages!)

 

Sir Lyan: “Board, man of metal – and do not be brave if you value your life! My blaster is set to kill!” 

Iron Man: “You have nothing to fear from me – I’m no friend of the colonizers! (Besides, I think I’ve figured out a way to recharge my deplted power!)”

What a genuine – and totally unexpected! – pleasure to welcome Iron Man to the Bradscribe Collection! Hey, if the plot goes cosmic, then any title can make it in there!

Iron Man #111 The Man, the Metal, and the Mayhem! (June 1978) continues th unputdownable cosmic adventures of the Knights of Wundagore – those fabulous man-beasts created by the High Evolutionary – and their ongoing resistance against those diminutive would-be world-conquerors: the Rigellians. 

Having been beamed aboard a Rigellian scavenger ship “whose size beggars our poor mortal powers of description” belonging to Fleet Commander Arcturus and his crummy crew of unruly observer-munchkins, the Armoured Avenger finds himself trapped inside an inter-galactic war. Suspecting he is a Rigellian robot, tke Wundagorians shoot ol’ Shellhead down to Wundagore II. There, he gains the trust of the walking, talking beasts. 

For me, personally, this is a great ish as Tony is joined by Jack of Hearts, one of my very first favourite comic book characters and, arguably, the owner of the most elaborate costume in comic book history. Much like Spider-Man in last Summer’s Homecoming movie, Stark acts as mentor to the young Jack Hart throughout ishs: 103-113.

And, as both sides also make significant cameos in The Mighty Thor as well, this bunny can’t wait to catch all these other ishs – at an agreeable price… of course! 

Fleet Commander Arcturus: “A lovely planet! Alive with everything one could ask for! A perfect planet for settling at least some of our fleet!”

Observer YJ18: “Fleet Commander, no! What of the oath sworn to the Asgardian: Thor…?!”

‘OW MUCH?!: 

ABSOLUTELY FREE!

WHAT?!?!

Yes, priced at £3 – same as all the other Iron back ishs, my friendly neighbourhood awemonger deducted it from my bill in recognition of frequenting his establishment after all these months. 

Also: ’twas the night before Christmas! 😉

Cheers!

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!”

 

 

 

“Don’t Delay, Book Today!”: The Entertainer Is Back in Town!

2ooth Post!!

The Entertainer Blogger Award comes to me from the talented and entertaining

Danica @ Living A Beautiful Life Thank You, Danica!

“You mean old books?”

“Stories written before space travel but about space travel.”

“How could there have been stories about space travel before-“

“The writers,” Pris said, “made it up…” – Philip K. Dick.

Having succumbed to a particularly debilitating bout of Scribe’s Fever a few months ago, it was truly a delightnay, a blessing – to be presented with this particular Award. 

The Entertainer Blogger Award recognizes bloggers who are funny, inspiring and most of all, entertaining. This special Post – also marking my 4th Blogiversary! – happens to appear in the same week that this blog hit the 30,000 views mark. 

Yes, yes, this is a BIG brouhaha for me – it makes me want to dance on the beach; shout in the local library. Feel so high, wanna touch the sky etc. etc. 

One of the questions asked as part of this Award intrigued me:

What is your favourite book?

Thus, these last few evenings have been spent, deep within the cosy and cushty confines of the Sanctum Sanctorum @ Brad Manor, perchance to pour over the VAST array of books that one has accumulated across four decades and determineonce and for all – which of them proved to be The Life-Changers… 

“A room without books is like a body without a soul” – Marcus Tullius Cicero.

The most amazing SF novels to inspire me will – no doubt – feature here @ some point. Probably in two parts. Or even three… 

For this Post, we will – whole-heartedly – concentrate on the NON-fiction cabinet of my book collection. Selecting just FIVE titles proved to be quite a perplexing beard-scratcher in itself.

Without further ado, welcome to Brad’s Books 

Hmm, sounds like a vintage secondhand tome emporium, lost down some leafy English lane. No doubt such an establishment would look very much like the inside of his head: small, cramped, and full of dust and good reads. 

Aah, can see it now:  rather surly-looking fat Persian cat sits in the window, nestled on a comfy, leather-bound edition of How To Spot A Creep From A Distance.

A sign on the door reads: Come In, We Are Awesome!

“I don’t believe in astrology; I’m a Sagittarius and we’re sceptical” – Arthur C. Clarke. 

The first book that springs to mind is the tome that helped get me mixed up in SF in the first place – the joy of The Space Warriors has already been praised elsewhere, but then, it IS fiction, so instead, let me draw your attention to that other hefty tome snapped up around 1979/80: Alien Creatures, by Richard Siegel and J-C Suares. 

It is one of those books that could appeal at once to a moppet like me and an intellectual like my father. Its in-depth history of SF cinema came with such an incredibly stuffy, hi-brow text for such a small boy to ingest, (read it and appreciated it only fairly recently, in fact) – my immediate attention was especially drawn to the rare stills from the Flash Gordon RKO serials (repeated every morning during the school holidays back then) and Ray Harryhausen filmography then my main obsession.

In addition, it contained conceptual art by Ralph McQuarrie and “exclusive stills” of a space opera – from the director of American Grafitti – that had only appeared in cinemas that past Summer…

While that unexpected smash went on to transform big-budget moviemaking – and the whole course of science fiction (for the better?), Alien Creatures set the standard for what my bookshelves – back then: clean, sturdy and reputable keepers of knowledge – should come to expect… 

“Enticing, imaginative, readable, iridescent” – New York Times.

What’s that?

Want to read a book telling the story of how fifteen billion years of cosmic evolution transformed matter and life into consciousness?

Ha! Got just the thing – Cosmos by Carl Sagan admittedly, we were hooked by the ground-breaking TV series in 1980. In such a rare moment, the medium of television actually fulfilled its remit of offering an educational and entertaining programme.

In this bold project, here was someone – Dr. Carl Sagan – prepared to discuss the mysteries of the universe in a captivating and uncomplicated way. Not only did his book instil in me a wonder of science and a zest for all-things-cosmic, it taught me the value of questioning anything and everything (much to my teachers’ annoyance)…

And there are half a dozen groovy quotes accompanying each chapter, so when my blog came to fruition, one automatically assumed that quotes were obligatory – ha!

“The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be” – Carl Sagan.   

“Sh! We hear a rustling in the greenery and a soft sound of running feet. This is Procompsognathus, an early meat-eating dinosaur. But how small it is!”  

Every boy should have a book on dinosaurs, so Dinosaurs And Other Prehistoric Reptiles by Jane Werner Watson became my go-to – published in 1978, and it shows. The sauropods had to “stay in swamps to keep their massive bulk upright.” Moreover, the advances and discoveries made in palaeontology since this book’s publication are quite considerable. 

However, what sets this tome apart from all the rest is the INCREDIBLE artwork by Rudolph F. Zallinger. 

The wonder of this book lies in its staggering timeline. Along the bottom of each page, a yellow, numbered box represents a million yrs; a tiny illo shows which major type of dinosaur roamed Pangaea at that time. While each chapter describes the (pre)history of these palaeontological marvels – from the emergence of fish onto land to the final members of the Cretaceous Period – that timeline works in reverse. 

To put this gargantuan chronology into perspective, we homo sapiens barely make it halfway across the first page, while the dinosaurs hold sway throughout the majority of the book’s fifty pages…

Interestingly, the last (first?) beast to be featured is the fish-like Eusthenopteron that swam around 290 million years ago. The otherwise empty timeline terminates at 293 million years BC… 

“Down along the sunny shore, Tyrant Lizard finds the hunting better. He can walk fairly fast on his two legs on dry land. But he does not like to get too close to the water…”

“Science Fiction: still for some of us the most marvellous subject – or at least the second most marvellous subject. ‘The glory, jest and riddle of the world’ – at once abominable and abysmal in so many of its manifestations, and yet, in its best, the voice nearest to our inner voice” – Brian W. Aldiss (1925 – 2017). 

Now, where would this blog be without The Science Fiction Source Book?! 

Acquired during a Withdrawn Stock sale @ the local library, this veritable encyclopaedia of science fiction, first published in 1984 – edited by David Wingrove, with a Foreword by Brian W. Aldiss – represents, arguably, the best thirty-five pence ever spent. 

Following an introductory decade by decade Brief History of SF, there are sections discussing the sub-genres of SF; various small features describing the Art of Writing contributed by a whole host of leading writers; and a considerable A-Z Consumers’ Guide: listing authors from Edwin A. Abbott to Roger Zelazny.  

It has flown with me between three countries, in my travel bag, nestled next to both my writing journals, a copy of either Scientific Enquirer or The Economist, and whatever novel piqued my interest at that time. 

Even now, as this Post is prepared on my Dashboard, the Source Book lies in easy reach…

“The strength of Maisel’s approach to his grand theme lies precisely in its breadth… it is generously illustrated with diagrams, maps and graphs… both scholarly and accessible to non-specialists; indeed it is a tour de force” – David R. Harris, Director, Institute of Archaeology, London. 

Twenty years ago this quarter, mu Ancient History abd Archaeology degree @ The University Of Manchester began.

When the Unconditional Offer arrived through the post, my parents were so delighted. And relieved. My freelance journalism career had come to an abrupt, unforeseen halt the year before so my life needed a dramatic upturn. The next letter to come from Manchester felt like a dream – it contained a READING LIST!! 

Deep joy. 

Thus ensued a (mostly) satisfying book-hunt. At the Top Of The List – and deservedly so when recalling it in hindsight – was: The Emergence Of Civilization by Charles Keith Maisels.

Integrating Archaeology, Ecology and Textual History to produce a new Anthropological perspective, it charts the rise from hunter/gathering – through farming and advances in social complexity – to the rise of city-states in the ancient Near East.

Now, you’d think that a textbook with such chapters as:

“The relationship of demography and technology to social structure,”

“Is agriculture the outcome of technological discoveries?” 

and – whisper it – “The ecology of the Zagrosian Arc,”

would make for trying and tiresome studying, but no!

Far from it!

It proved to be endlessly fascinating, responsible for helping me to produce some of my most successful essays. My interest was, however, not all it managed to absorb…

One day, somebody accidentally sat on my backpack (don’t ask), thereby squashing my daily banana onto this academic behemoth. All three page edges remain cursed by dark, frightful – but fruity – stains. But for months the sweet essence of banana lingered.

Lo, every book tells its own story… 

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life” – Mark Twain. 

THANK YOU SO MUCH to each, and everyone of you, who have Liked and Commented on my various movies, comics, books, science and fiction gubbins.

Brad is a humble wordsmith, but is nothing without YOUR appreciation.

CHEERS!!

There is a lot more cool stuff yet to come. Promise!

And who does Brad Nominate for this Award?

Well, automatically, YOU who are reading this! (If you want to do an Entertainer Blogger post let me know and you will receive the full set of questions!)

By the way, this Post could not finish without a special shout-out to the Best Book Blogger In The Blogosphere, who can read a novel AND post its review faster than Brad can eat a burritothat’s some considerable talent right there…

Think she might be absolutely thrilled to see this: 🙂

“A book is a fragile creature, it suffers the wear of time, it fears rodents, the elements and clumsy hands. So the librarian protects the books not only against mankind but also against nature and devotes his/her life to this war with the forces of oblivion” – Umberto Eco.

As soon as this Post goes out, no doubt another half-dozen life-changing titles will spring to mind.

Ah well…

For the moment, this insightful, perhaps interesting dare one say it – entertaining – Post looks groovy enough.

Doesn’t it?

As for the Book With The Greatest Title Of All Time – it didn’t take long at all to work that one out: 😉

“Books are a uniquely portable magic” – Stephen King.

keep-calm-and-read-a-book

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them” – Ray Bradbury.

 

Blade Runner 2049: The Bradscribe Review

Future Perfect? More Sequel Than Sequel…?

“This is not some clunky franchise-farmed cash-in… With all the art and craft of the original, Denis Villeneuve has… gotten down and dirty in the gene pool, marinated in its enzymes, slept in its bed and dreamt its dreams. And then he’s gone to work” – The Sunday Times.  

“I want more life!” demanded Roy Batty, the peculiar, but poetic, doomed replicant from the classic original Blade Runner. 

Well – after all this time – should that masterpiece, one of the greatest – and self-contained – SF classics reviewed here: have been granted an extension of its existence?

Remarkably, these past few weeks, some critics have argued that Blade Runner 2049 has surpassed the original, taking the issues of humanity, genetics and identity to whole new astounding levels. 

Now, considering how this blogger included himself as one of those teeming masses baulking at a “new” Blade Runner movie, it is a revelation – not to mention a relief – to report that Blade Runner 2(049) has turned out to be a surprisingly engrossing visual and emotional experience.

“Despite all the overlaps, this is not a simulacrum of a Ridley Scott film. It is unmistakably a Denis Villeneuve film, inviting us to tumble, tense with anticipation, into his doomy clutches” – The New Yorker.

The plot of Blade Runner 2049 begins with Ryan Gosling, turning in an appropriately vacant and artificial presence as a new Runner: K (as in Philip K. Dick?), paying a visit to the isolated warehouse/abode of Dave Bautista’s Sapper Morton – retired from the rumble-tumble world of WWF to a barren sector of the Californian wasteland to Grow Green Stuff, Man. What the officer’s surveillance equipment discovers onsite leads to the main plot development: K questioning the nature of his own existence – “basically Pinocchio with more eco-pollution” as one reviewer rather facetiously described it.

When we eventually get to see the Main Man/Replicant/? Himself, it’s nice to see Villeneuve honour that traditional sci-fi dystopian trope of the protagonist wandering into somebody else’s gaff without even a knock or a “Yoohoo!”

As tired and drawn as the world he now (barely) inhabits, Deckard cuts a haggard, whiskey-slugging figure, with only a dog and a holographic Elvis to keep him company. Perhaps Ford’s finest performance in years. 

That wasn’t a real dog… was it? 

Shame it wasn’t a sheep – that would’ve been neat. No, seriously, in the novel, Rick Deckard keeps an artificial sheep on his roof, and only takes the job to retire those wayward  Nexus-6 replicants so that he can afford to buy a real domesticated ruminant mammal with a thick woolly coat…  

“The question at Blade Runner 2049’s pulsating heart has no glib answer… With dazzling adroitness, [Villeneuve] has built on Scott’s legacy to create something grander in scope and emotional range” – London Evening Standard. 

What about the Soundtrack? 

There are no exceptional tracks here – nothing to compare to Vangelis’ sumptuous Blade Runner Blues, the sensuality of the Love Theme, the achingly beautiful Memories Of Green, or the sweeping grandeur of Harps Of The Ancient Temples – regrettably, the score is just as equally soulless as its artificial antagonists…

There is another unsettling observation concerning Blade Runner 2049 that has largely gone unmentioned in other reviews. In this post post-feminist “society” women can look forward – ha! – to not much in the way of beneficial or progressive roles. There are some strong female characters – who can forget Sylvia Hoeks’ “Luv”? Robin Wright is enjoying a promising upturn in her career – here she plays K’s superior: Lieutenant Joshi, in an interesting, but underused, performance.

Apparently, Blade Runner 2049 fails the Bechdel Test i.e. can two female characters share the screen and NOT have a conversation about a man? Morover, this movie just falls short of the Bradscribe Test, specifically: are there 3-4 lines cool or snazzy enough to be quoted herein? When you consider how the original movie positively brims with terrific lines and conversations, sill fondly remembered and quoted 35 years later…

The virtual love interest is brought to you by Joi (Ana de Armas), a hypnotic beauty, but then, she would need to be a top-of-the-range model distracting enough to make any man (or woman?) forget that they exist in a murky dystopia beset with biospheric collapse, child labour camps, distracting neon billboards and Jared Leto – blind, bearded and as bonkers as a bat – ruling the roost from his ambient asylum, inflicting poor, unsuspecting souls with his unintelligible pseudobabble. His (mis)casting as Niander Wallace is perhaps my biggest grumble with this otherwise captivating movie.

Tell you what: going for a spin in his spinner, tha last thing Brad (hopefully not looking as old and thoroughly dischuffed as Harrison Ford does here) will want is to be distracted by a 50 foot holographic ballerina pirouetting past the bally windscreen, thank you very much…

“Blade Runner 2049 has been made with impeccable craftsmanship and taste, yet the film is so terrified of disreputability that it renders itself dead from the waist down, unable to derive pleasure even from a theoretically kinky robot three-way” – Slant Magazine.

Will 2049 end up matching – or even surpassing – its predecessor’s revered status in the pantheon of SF greats? 

Well, no. 

Look at its core components: more bleak, more brutal, less memorable and less inspiring – can these really be considered to be superior traits…?

Certainly not. 

Those folks who reckon this movie supersedes the original are merely revelling (somewhat prematurely) in hype. Nevertheless, during all the time we were suppressing the prospect of a sequel, little did we know that such a wondrous filmmaker as Denis Villeneuve could even exist…

“You’ve never seen a miracle,” Sapper Morton mumbles before being wiped off the cast list. Considering how much the audience were fidgeting, yawning and groaning throughout 2049’s 2hrs, 44 mins (unlike the spinners, time doesn’t fly in this hazy, amber-tinted future), it looked like they were being hard-pushed to find anything exceptional in this languid concoction. 

Always keen to watch more sophisticated, less action-stuffed film fare, my patience, however, was awarded with incredible visuals, an extraordinary narrative atmosphere, and the golden opp of seeing – no matter how grumpy he looks these days – the Ford Legend grace the big screen once more…

In answer to the question: “would you recommend it?” it strikes me as being one of those movies absolutely magnificent to watch once, but fails to incite the urge to pay it numerous viewings. Guess one misses that rain-soaked Chinatown and those fire-spewing ziggurats of good ol’ 2019 a tad too much… 

Brad doesn’t know how long it will take to get round to watching Blade Runner 2049 a second time.

Who does…?

 

BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

4 out of 5 glittering C-beams, but ooooh, only just…

 

“I was quit when I come in here, Bryant, I’m twice as quit now” – Rick Deckard.