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. 

 

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.

 

Sphare Sechs – Phase II: Mellow Music Monday

We Have Loved The Stars Too Fondly To Be Fearful Of The Night…  

To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit” – Stephen Hawking.

 

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

 

 

“The Woman Is Breaking Free!”: The Evolution And Revolution Of Women In SF

A Look At Women’s Roles In SF On International Women’s Day 

“Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away?” – Ellen Ripley.  

Many many moons ago, at school, there was one quick, and somewhat sad, way to tell the difference between boys and girls:  

boys read science fiction – girls did not.

Traditionally, my fav genre had been restricted to being a “Boy’s Own” pursuit long before my arrival on this Pale Blue Dot. My constant comic-reading consisted of Starhawk, Strontium Dog and Rogue Trooper – all male characters, of course! – used to irk some of the girls in my class no end. Despite trying to hide my mags, or chuck them over the playground wall, they never directly expressed any curiosity, or interest, in this reading-material. Shame, ‘cos such interaction might have extricated me from my insufferable shell a lot sooner…

No worries.

Science fiction has always exuded a voracious appetite for change. And to reflect those gradual, now quickening, changes in society, most notably in attitudes towards, and rights affecting, women, the genre has dramatically achieved so much to this end and, promisingly, continues to do so. 

To accompany this analysis, there will be a selection from the feminine side of Brad’s jukebox: 

“This is what Jodie Foster said when she first looked at me: ‘You’re not nearly as big as I thought you’d be.’ I thought she was joking so I kind of giggled but she kept laying it on thicker and thicker… She wouldn’t let up. I was a little crushed…” – Dave Bautista. 

At its best, science fiction makes us THINK.

And there was one particularly awesome comicbook cover that single-handedly altered my mindset in regards to women in SF.

In one of my most beloved books from the Library Brad Manor, a compendium: Alien Creatures, by Richard Siegel and J-C Suares (1978) – “Dedicated to those who haven’t landed yet” 😉 – on page 40 to be exact (that fact is proudly printed indelibly in my memory), this exquisite classic vintage cover (by Al Williamson and Frank Frazetta, above) of Weird Fantasy #21 made me realise the potential of incorporating strong, distinctive female characters in my own fiction. 

Note how the traditional gender roles haye been reversed: this woman – armed and sensibly-dressed (obligatory goldfish-bowl permitting) – assumes an assured, active and commanding position in the foreground while the male is reduced to just scantily-clad manflesh. Bold, and very progressive, especially when you consider this artwork was originally published – slapbang in that “Boy’s Own” era – in 1953!

2000AD – still “the longst-running comic in the galaxy” – has always been considered to be an highly-esteemed tag to have on any comic writer’s/artist’s resume, and yet it’s most notable alumni began their respective careers… working on girls’ comics!

Lately, my scope of classic comics has veered towards British publications of the ’70s. Whilst searching for the “lost Starhawk stories,” in The Crunch, imagine my astonishment, but sheer delight, upon discovering “Ebony”: a black, female MI5 agent; for 1977, this looked like an extremely impressive and empowering premise –  the spitting image of Nina Simone, she’s every bit as tough and classy as Pam Grier! And way too cool to be this obscure. (Not surprisingly, there are no clear images of her online).

While stories for boys centred on action, comics for girls concentrated on romance. 

Interestingly enough, there was indeed only one (albeit short-lived) British SF/fantasy comic for girls from that time: SpellboundHeard a lot of encouraging items about one of its contents – that quartet of enhanced femme fatales: the Super-Cats, so will endeavour to check out this “Fabulous Four.”

Back then, one would have been branded a “sissy” if seen with a girls’ comic, but now, who cares…? 

“Let me tell you something about sexism, girl. When you wear that costume, it cheapens you, but when I wear it, it cheapens them. It’s all about how you use it” – Emma Frost. 

How apt: playing this on the Eighth Day of this month 😉

No NO, Lady Go-Go! 

Let Hazel show you what a bona fide unorthodox-but-awesome songstress really looks and sounds like!:

J. Jonah Jameson: “You! Ms. Marvel!! I knew one of you super-creeps was responsible for this! Good or bad, it doesn’t matter – you’re all the same. You’ve got to be stamped out… and if J. Jonah Jameson has anything to say about it, lady, you will be!” 

Ms. Marvel: (I hear you, J. Jonah, and I’d love to argue the point, if I had the time… but I don’t. I doubt you’d listen anyway. Still, that’ll probably become one more editorial hassle Carol Danvers doesn’t need…)  

“The horrible immorality” argued Anatole France, ominously, as early as 1905, “…is to be the morality of the future.”

Whereas bygone authors of general fiction felt restricted from writing about the realities of human relationships, science fiction auteurs went ahead anyway and experimented with gender as well as genetics, and sex and sexuality in addition to science and scientific plots.

The main credit for breaking through the barriers of taboo is usually given to Philip Jose Farmer, whose The Lovers (1952) dealt with the unfortunate consequences of a love-affair between a man and an alien, although some would argue that Nice Girl With Five Husbands  (1951) by Fritz Leiber, at last deserves critical reappraisal.

The 1960s proved permissive enough to see an influx of more gender-based stories; Harlan Ellison’s anthology: Dangerous Visions (1967) confirmed that any speculative fiction concerning sexual matters could thenceforth be published, while the ground-breaking Left Hand Of Darkness (1969) by Ursula LeGuin offered a more sensitive approach to sexual roles and mores. The 1970s witnessed an increase in feminity – and feminism – through science fiction with the most prominent examples being: When It Changed (1972) by Joanna Russ and Marge Piercy’s Woman On The Edge Of Time (1976). 

More varied roles for female characters appeared on a relatively healthy basis up to the end of the 20th century, and beyond, culminating in the current blossoming subgenre of YA fiction.

Princess Leia: “All troop carriers will assemble at the north entrance. The heavy transport ships will leave as soon as they’re loaded. Only two fighter escorts per ship. The energy shield can only be opened for a short time, so you’ll have to stay very close to your transports.”

Hobbie Klivian: “Two fighters against a Star Destroyer?”

Princess Leia: “The ion cannon will fire several shots to make sure any enemy ships will be out of your flight path. When you’ve gotten past the energy shield, proceed directly to the rendezvous point. Understood? Good luck.”

Arguably, the strongest, most positive female role in science fiction has to be Ellen Ripley, superbly played by the incomparable Sigourney Weaver. 

The character had originally been written as male, but Sigourney impressed the director: Ridley Scott to such an extent that he not only changed the course of movie history, but furthered the opportunities for women’s roles in science fiction. Crucially, when she returned in the equally-impressive sequel: Aliens (1986), the addition of terrorised infant, Newt, allowed Ripley’s character to be enhanced by expressing long-suppressed calm and compassionate maternal instincts.

We inevitably turn our attention to the woman’s role that defined its time: Princess Leia, immortalised by the late great Carrie Fisher. 

Some would argue that she was upstaged by that young farm boy; he was the one who destroyed the Death Star and received the glory, cake and medal, but the cultural – and psychological –  impact that Leia had on each generation over the last forty years makes said space station look like a ping pong ball…

“Well somebody has to save our skins…”

But that was before the dark times.

Before Disney…

What chance do we have? The question is “what choice.” Run, hide, plead for mercy, scatter your forces. You give way to an enemy this evil, with this much power and you condemn the galaxy to an eternity of submission. The time to fight is now!” – Jyn Erso.

In this modern Star Wars era, there is, alas, not much to get excited about.

The lone redeeming item is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It offers a striking lead performance by Felicity Jones – an ingenious case of casting as Jyn Erso; her soft and slight build belies the fact that she has had to become tough, confident and resourceful – she was more of a “rebel” in every sense of the term than any other member of that Rebel Alliance. 

One of the multiple problems that beset Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the baffling observation that although the cast featured a commendable and considerable number of female figures in its cast, due to poor writing, strong, discernible characters did not manage to flourish. 

Naturally – ‘cos you know it’s Brad – we come to the MCU, the franchise that just keeps on giving. There are various instances of strong and commanding superheroines therein, to name but a few:  

Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow is the only reason to watch Iron Man 2 (which should have been the Black Widow we all deserve!) and she further excels in the Avengers movies AND Captain America: The Winter Soldier; Hayley Atwell is exceptional as Agent Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger; whilst my personal fav (see below!): she’s not a queen, or a monster, she’s Hela, the Goddess of Death.

And we come to the latest – and possibly most game-changing – instalment: Captain Marvel. 

Where there’s good, there’s bad – cue the rise of that “horrible immorality” in the repugnant form of sexist trolls who have crawled out of the depths of their own ignorance, this time, to belittle Brie Larson: the first female lead in a Marvel movie. Rather than shut down her TwitFace™ account (or whatever you blessed younglings call the bally thing) she’s done what any honourable superhero would do: STRIKE BACK.

“Up an’ at ’em, lady!” 

“You know, I used to want to be a Valkyrie when I was younger, until I found out you were all women. There’s nothing wrong with women, of course, I like women. Sometimes a little too much. Not in a creepy way, just more like a respectful appreciation. I think it’s great, an elite force of women warriors” – Thor. 

And so, considering how – over thirty decades ago – such a prospect would have seemed unthinkable (certainly in my school yard), SF enjoys a poignant and promising age in which more girls and young women than ever before actively watch science fiction movies at the cinema, read SF novels – AND comics!! –  participate in, and cosplay, at comic conventions in record numbers. More crucially, some have been inspired to create their own far-reaching fiction!

Let me say how, for me, this is a genuinely thrilling and reassuring situation to behold. Long may it continue! 

Let me finish by saying just this: 

Those girls who, back in the day, nabbed my comics, now, most likely, have daughters who wholeheartedly embrace science fiction! 

And, what’s more, if they can craft an intergalactic saga better than anything this humble ol’ nerfherder could muster, then that would be really groovy. 

“Go get ’em, girls!”

 

Sarah Connor: “Kyle, the women in your time, what are they like?”

Kyle Reese: “Good fighters.”