The War Of The Words: Why Does No One Talk Much In SF Films Any More?


The Quality and Quantity Of Good Movie Dialogue Is Declining! We Need To Talk About It… 


“…Do I talk first or you talk first? I talk first…?” – Poe Dameron.  

Wouldn’t it be cool to watch SF movies where you can just listen and enjoy good lines instead of being bombarded by noisy, meaningless CGI buffoonery?

As a writer who has dabbled in the art of good chatter – even trying (struggling!) to compile suitable quotes for my Star Trek review last week – it cannot have escaped your attention that there is decidedly less dialogue to get excited over these days.

Any writer of quality fiction/scripts/plays will tell you: there is nothing like good dialogue to drive any scene.

However, it should be pointed out that in  Mad Max: Fury Road – undoubtedly the Best Film of 2015 – the titular Road Warrior himself managed to grunt only 52 lines of dialogue; back in March, this year, Superman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice seemed to phone in his scenes with a measly 43 lines.

Where can we listen to cool and catchy prattle beyond the stars these days? 


“George, you can type this shit, but you sure as hell can’t say it” – Harrison Ford.  

On our Third Stone From the Sun, today, about 7000 languages are spoken (Goodness knows how many other thousands of languages have died out in the last few centuries!).

Imagine that!

7000 ways to say: “Hello!” and 7000 ways to ask: “Got any cake?”

And yet…!

An intriguing paradox is lodged at the core of human communication: if language evolved to allow us to exchange information, how come most people cannot understand what most other people are saying?

No matter how globalized the 21st century would appear, there are numerous far-out, obscure – dare one say it: alien – places in this world where a dash of basic local lingo is essential in order to just get by.  

In the realms of science fiction, a dazzling coterie of pseudo-technical jargon has gradually arisen to aid in the hopefully-convincing creation of alien worlds and “futuristic” technologies.

This leads us to the now-legendary quote (above). George Lucas had immersed himself into this far far away sci-fi set-up to such an extent, that an outsider like Harrison Ford was easily stumped by having to spout it.

There is a very telling reason why less dialogue in modern movies is becoming the norm. 

The Chinese sector has taken over the American market as the largest box office territory in the world. Not only does less dialogue mean less subtitles/dubbing for them, but – alarm bells among screenwriters everywhere – Chinese cinema-goers are attracted primarily to the spectacle. 

Apparently, the (Western) world is not enough. 

We have reached the stage (regrettably) where the movie industry is geared towards doing good business, rather than making fine art.

For movies to make a profit (as substantial as poss, of course) they need to do well in Asian cinemas, not just in American. This should go towards explaining why major blockbusters are released in places like Thailand and Singapore (my former stomping grounds) well before the “official” dates in the US and UK…

Dialogue seems to have lost its power to influence – how and where can memorable lines fit into a world where people spend more time sending texts of abbreviated jargon, and emojis and Instagram encourage more image-based communication?


“Can you speak? Are you programmed to speak?” – Harry Booth.  

How aliens communicate is a source of constant fascination in SF films. Star Trek is synonymous with species which are nearly all carbon-based bipeds. As a result, they invariably speak as humans – for the sake of not bamboozling TV audiences with distracting subtitles! – in perfectly-rendered English (preferably with American accents).

For the movies, the Klingons had their own language – specially created (Trekkies can even get their own Klingon phrasebook for pity’s sake!)

Of increasing concern is the prevalent problem of character under-development. How many times have we complained about that? Dialogue provides an important key to our understanding of a particular protagonist or, for that matter, antagonist. 

With the notable reduction of spoken lines in blockbusters, we are almost forbidden to learn their intentions or directions. Presumably, our attention must(!) be focussed on the digitally-enhanced action and explosions; if we want to learn what they’re thinking, we’ve gotta go and buy the novel/comic book that this spectacle is based on.

Let the cynicism flow through you… 









“No, no, no, no. You gotta listen to the way people talk. You don’t say “affirmative,” or some shit like that. You say ‘no problemo.’ And if someone comes on to you with an attitude you say ‘eat me.’ And if you want to shine them on it’s ‘hasta la vista, baby’” – John Connor. 

Luke who’s talking…

In Star Wars: the Force Awakens, some fans were disappointed that the pivotal character remained mute in such a climactic, yet brief, screen time. Having been in that incredibly annoying situation myself where the right, poignant words for a crucial character just won’t come together, this is grudgingly possible to understand. 

Honestly, no matter how many alternate approaches or drafts are churned out, saying nothing at all can be the best, (safest) and most effective outcome.

Harrison Ford’s enervated Sam Spadesque narration for the original version of Blade Runner is partly what drew me into that “flawed classic.” After those “explanatory notes” were totally eradicated from the “Final Cut” the film is now regarded as a masterpiece.

My plans of breaking into screenwriting seem to be dwindling to the same extent as the very requirement for fine lines itself!

Judging from the upsurge in quality TV drama serials, good dialogue is allowed to flourish on the small screen, where the action and spectacle of the big screen is diminished, and more hours to fill provides opportunities for developing characters.

There, good scripts still matter.

The power of the spoken word, when crafted well, determines whether the captivated viewer comes back for the next episode(s).

So, rather than look for Brad on the big screen, you’ll be more likely to find my niftiest nuggets on Netflix.  

“To make anything work, you gotta find the right words.”

Now ya talkin’!


“Come on guys, can we talk this over? …Good talk” – Iron Man. 


Star Trek Beyond: The Bradscribe Review

Going Where Most Sequels Go, But Sadly Not So Boldly Either…

And… Beyond What, Exactly?!


“We got no ship, no crew – how’re we going to get out of this one?” – Captain James T. Kirk. 

In the 50th Anniversary year of Star Trek, insurmountable pressure gnawed at the thirteenth film in one of the all-time revered franchises. 

Luckily, Star Trek: Beyond certainly turns out to be an enjoyable outing. It’s bright, energetic and – dare one say it – fast and furious. Yes, it IS quite good, and whenever it appears on TV, a second viewing won’t hurt. But in honouring this franchise’s half-century, it falls well short. 

Stardate 2263.2. On their 966th day in deep space – a little under three years into that five year mission – and an alien threat never encountered before attacks the USS Enterprise and splinters it in  spectacular fashion. Yeah, this starship is the most ridiculous and LEAST aerodynamic design in SF history, but watching it destroyed in increasingly diverse and dramatic ways is quickly becoming tedious. 

Actually, Beyond’s strongest aspect has to be the visuals, and the conceptualization and realization of Starbase Yorktown is especially mesmerising. A few more gliding and panning shots of that would have sufficed, thank you very much. 

Sure, the sfx is top notch, but in SF cinema these days, ironically, complicated visuals seem to be the simplest feat to achieve



“Unity is not your strength. It is a weakness” – Krall. 

Star Trek: Beyond… what, exactly?

Not only does this title not signify anything specific, but this whole exercise (released now to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the franchise) does not really recapture the rather sedate – and not too furious – spirit of the original series.  

The villain: Krall is your typical ho-hum nasty Trek alien: prosthetically-challenged? Trek! Glowers at all the good guys (and gals)? Trek! And spouts incomprehensible, yet coolly sinister, galactic lingo in his deepest and most menacing voice (this time by Idris Elba)? Trek! Great entrance, but subsequently doesn’t do anything dastardly distinctive. 

Let’s face it – “Damn it Jim!” – if this was the 60’s, Idris would have to parade around in a loincloth and sport a pink candy-floss wig (to accentuate his extra-terrestrialness, you see…)

Sure, the cast do recreate (re-energize?) the original characters with gusto, particularly Chris Pine (as Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (as Spock) who fit better than ever into their iconic characters. After all the kerfuffle over “outing” Sulu, his relationship is merely implied – nothing sordidly frightful enough to vex the Chinese censors.

Of course, it’s a shame to watch Anton Yelchin knowing that it is his final appearance as Chekov…

My personal fave is Karl Urban as “Bones” McCoy. The interaction between him and Spock is particularly commendable (the closest you can get to recapturing the essence of the original show).



“Ah, he likes that chair…” – Montgomery “Scotty” Scott.

Now – more than any time before: “Damn it Jim!” – my heart BLEEDS for Zoe Saldana, poor girl, underused YET AGAIN. At least she didn’t have to get her face painted for nothing…

But really…

What’s the point of her showing up on set at all if she is not going to get to do anything of any consequence?!

Lt. Uhura was one of the ground-breaking, progressive womens’ roles in early TV SF, so – with this Anniversary strongly in mind Saldana should at least have got the opp to turn in what most people call: “a career-defining performance,” with the main crux of the plot hinging on her, but… no…

And, talking of significant females in Star Trek, the grooviest intro to the ranks here is Jaylah (bold and boisterously portrayed by Sofia Boutella) but, there again, as is increasingly frustrating in modern SF cinema, she gets all made-up to do precious little…

So what? Tough gal with a staff = cue obvious favourable comparisons with Rey, from that other legendary franchise beginning with ‘Star’…

Well, Montgomery “Scotty” Scott had more to do this time, but – no surprise – he is played by the co-writer: Simon Pegg. Amazed he didn’t add a little romance between the engineer and the staff-wielder…

Oh, by the way: why the blazes did THAT BLOODY BIKE have to be on the Franklin, apart from allowing Kirk to look cool (and feel-young-again-annoying-cliche-alert)?

Not so much Starfleet but Speedway…

Beam me up NOW, Scotty, if you please… 



” You spent all this time trying to be your father, and now you’re wondering just what it means to be you” – Dr. “Bones” McCoy.  

Personally, my extortionate popcorn parlour ticket would have been better spent had Jaylah been the main figure (character woud be preferable but that would mean the writers having to flesh her out more), trying to save her people from the fiendish Krall. 

Replace the crew of the Enterprise with a bunch of anonymous Starfleet expendables (remember to order the RED uniforms, darling) and you might get to learn more about Krall as well.

Hey, ditch the Star Trek tag while we’re at it(!)

 It would still be visually stunning, but… deprived of all formulaic familarity, it would NOT – “Damn it Jim!” – be financially viable… 

The problem is: after 13 movies, where else can this franchise hypothetically (okay, if you will, boldly) go now?

And just as one suspected: this movie – along with the last ten – fail in comparison when placed alongside the great Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan. 

This 21st century version of a 20th century vision of the 23rd century may divide critics and Trekkies alike, but it provides decent enough entertainment, and still managed to silence that gang of obstreperous younglings in the back row who kept jabbering throughout the Trailers.

On a last – and most tender – note: really appreciated the affectionate dedication to Leonard Nimoyalthough even he would have found that vague title highly illogical…  




“I fail to see how excrement of any kind plays a part…” – Spock. 

“Let Them Eat Static!”: Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan Revisited

What Better Way To Celebrate 50 Years Since The Starship Enterprise First Set Out On Its Mission To Explore Strange New Worlds?


“This is damned peculiar…” – Admiral James T. Kirk.  

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

While on a school holiday camp in 1983, me, and me room-mate, both HUGE Star Wars fans, thought it might be a good laff to go and watch Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. After all, the laughably-monickered: Star Trek: The Motion(?!) Picture had famously failed to resonate with fans and critics alike;  this would be just something to “pass the time.” 


Back in the day, the original TV series went out at 6pm on Monday eveningssomething to watch while eating dinner, no more. Personally – in the year in which Star Trek celebrates its 50th Anniversary – some of the original scripts, not to mention most of those costume designs(!), have not stood the test of time well.

But Star Trek II did exceptionally well to entice and surprise the neutrals such as myself and convince us that the Gene Roddenberry Universe could offer its own wonders…

From the moment that Ricardo Montalban reveals himself as the genetically-engineered Khan Noonian Singh on Ceti Alpha V and starts fiddling with those gruesome Ceti Alpha eels (NOT to be watched with your Monday evening dinner…) you just knew that these proceedings were turning out to be a decidedly different – and more intriguing – Trek than usual – certainly several Warp Factors more sensational than what this ongoing mission had served up for us before…



“He tasks me! He tasks me and I shall have him! I’ll chase him round the moons of Nibia and round the Antares Maelstrom and round Perdition’s flames before I give him up…” – Khan Noonian Singh.

Alas, the Motion Picture failed partly due to baring no resemblance to the legendary TV series that spawned it. However, by reintroducing one of the series’ more charismatic villains, from the 1966 episode: Space Seed, the stage was set for an epic showdown. 

Sure, at once, Khan made very much an 80s villain – big hair and big pecs – and as Shatner and Montalban both exuded larger-than-life characters, the scenes they shared together were electrifying, reslting in some of the best exchanges in SF cinema. 

Acquired a movie magazine from 1982 this week, containing two articles about this movie, including a review by a self-avowed Trekkie who thought it“stunk.” Apart from having “a silly script,” he remarked that Montalban‘s performance as Khan was “so outrageously over the top, it threatened to go over the edge.”

What rot! 

Charismatic yet dastardly, Khan is actually one of the great SF villains – now universally regarded as such. Goodness knows what said same hack makes of some of the lacklustre villains we have had to endure in recent big screen offerings!

To hell with the fact that Ensign Chekov didn’t even appear in the original Space Seed episode so wouldn’t have recognised the significance of Botany Bay!

Look past this obvious goof and get immersed in the flawless and endlessly riveting outer space action! Also mercifully extricated was the first film’s inexplicable predilection for dentist uniforms; sure, in 1979, that sort of thing would have been expected, but in 1982 – the year that also brought us Blade Runner, Tron and The Dark Crystal (remember that?!) – big and bold visions were the IN thing.



“Admiral, the Commander of the Reliant is signalling. He wishes to discuss terms of our surrender…” – Lt. Uhura. 

While there could not have been any Trek movie without the phenomenal success of Star Wars, again, one redeeming fault of the Motion Picture was the banaland, quite frankly, tedious – way in which it tried to be too cerebral. Good to see this sequel jettison all that. 

Glorious galactic spectacle was not enough though; some major Star Wars-style action scenes were required. And some top-notch battle sequences were added. The initial attack of the Reliant was superbly handled – as you can see here:

…As was the Battle in the Mutara Nebula.

Over thirty years later, these effects still look remarkably special, but let’s face it: would they have been exhilarating without the stirring score supplied by the late great James Horner? Probably not…

And, after all this time, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is still the yardstick by which all new Star Trek movies are judged. 

Will the brand new Star Trek: Beyond be able to sit comfortably beside it? 

We shall see…


“I have been, and always shall be, your friend” – Spock. 

Obviously, the great twist: SPOCK DIES was such a bold move.

Although neither of us avidly watched the series, we understood how integral to the series format its token Vulcan officer was, and applauded this incredibly bold move to kill him off…

Apparently, there was only ever to be these two movies, and to have one of the central characters meet his end seemed the only (ahem) logical way to end it all. This scene – according to Hollywood legend – was the only reason that Leonard Nimoy agreed to reprise his most famous role anyway. It still puts a lump in my throat every time it comes on – a superbly acted and directed sequence. 

Such a shame that the huge box office success of Wrath Of Khan meant that Star Trek III had to go ahead. And with one of the most ludicrously contrived plots ever committed to film as well! 

What would modern SF cinema look like today if the Trek franchise had ended with the view of Spock’s coffin on Genesis…? 


“Are you out of your Vulcan mind? No human can tolerate the radiation that’s in there!” – Dr. McCoy.

Star Trek: Beyond is in cinemas now.

The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe

Sci-Fi nom noms to tickle the taste buds, bust the gut and confound the lower intestine


“My God! I beat a man insensible with a strawberry” – Miles Monroe. 

Whilst researching and blogging about food and nutrition matters, and wondering how and when this next Post can ever emerge, by following that age-old tradition of doin’-everythin’-at-once, it was thought best to combine the two objectives and explore the culinary delights that can be savoured in the realms of sci-fi. So, let’s get stuck in, shall we?

Everyone has to eat – even the aliens. Not that we should eat the aliens, but watch out, to them we might be the tastiest looking delicacy on this side of the Outer Rim territories. What tasty morsels can we look forward to? Well, by some odd happenstance, foodstuffs – even the necessary act of eating – are hard to come by in this particular genre. Why should this be?

As an essential part of life, food should be a defining element of science fiction, but after close inspection, there are a relatively few instances to select from. Come! On! Where is deep fat when you need it?

“No steak or cream pies or… hot fudge?” 

“Those were thought to be unhealthy… precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true.”



“Hot dog? There’s no dog in this… Hydrolyzed vegetable protein, soybean meal, niacin, dextrose, and sodium nitrate flavouring” – Nestor 1.  

Gotta get me some galactic goodies before navigating the Nebula. Yet it seems that for all the wild and wonderful exploits in outer space, from defying the evil empire, guarding the galaxy, getting lost in the Mutara Nebula, even making the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs, calls for some top nosh, but where is it?! Maybe that’s why there is so much aggro in outer space, because protagonists can only dream of partaking a hearty meal, and it’s doing their head in. As well as their stomachs…  

When the crew of the Nostromo celebrated Kane’s recovery with a slap-up meal – culminating in one of SF’s most memorable moments – we still didn’t get to see what their spread consisted of. Even in the sequel when the marines emerge from cryo-sleep, all they seemed to dine on was cornbread. Not even Ripley liked that; no wonder they got wiped out – insufficient protein is no excuse for anyone. Well, if you thought the cornbread was bad…

In keeping with their war-like tendencies, what do Klingons eat? Their signature dish has the mouthwatering name of “Gagh,” which just happens to be a plate of worms of course. A dish that is best served cold, presumably? 

Today’s Menu:




Waiter: “Would you like to see the menu? Or would you like to meet the Dish of the Day?”

Zaphod Beeblebrox: “That’s cool. We’ll meet the meat.”   

The astronauts of the Discovery: Bowman and Poole are sampling a tray of colourful but bland gunk; in rainswept Los Angeles, Rick Deckard (ex-Blade Runner/ex-cop) only wanted to have noodles; in The Road Warrior, Max Rockatansky shovells out a can of Dinki-Di dog food. Grief, best not to dwell on those post-apocalyptic days… Yes, but amidst the battles to control water, or petrol, how and from where are all those shoulder-padded loons of the near-future going to get their munchies? And let’s not mention what’s being consumed in Soylent Green.

At least after all he went through, Tony Stark of the Avengers knows a shawarma joint “about two blocks from here.” Not sure what was more spectacular: the team taking out that huge Chitauri millipede thing… or the fact that Stark didn’t even know what shawarma is and wanted to try it?!

Is that it? Let me know if there have been any delectable delicacies excluded from this Post.

Right, that’s it, then: the next sci-fi project to be developed by this writer –  whatever part of the galaxy they end up in, whatever tight spots they get stuck in – most of my characters will (have to) be crazy about Mexican, Thai or Japanese food. And they will stop at nothing to acquire it in it’s natural form, as delicious as poss. Why should that have to sound like such a groundbreaking plot device? 

And then they can wash everything down with a mind-pummeling pint of the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, which as The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (whose second course is entitled: The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe) quaintly puts it: “…the effect of which is like having your brain smashed out with a slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick.” 



Enjoy your meal!

A Vulcan Obituary: Leonard Nimoy 1931-2015

A Salute To Spock (Don’t Grieve, Admiral).

spock mirror

“Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most… human” – Admiral James T. Kirk. 

Leonard Nimoy, who died on Friday aged 83, will forever be known as the actor who portrayed the first regular alien character in a long-running TV series.

Mr. Spock, who made his debut in Star Trek’s pilot episode: The Cage in 1966, is one of the most recognisable icons of popular culture. If any editor had to produce a montage of iconic images to celebrate, say, the best of TV sci-fi, or characters from sci-fi movies, then Mr. Spock would get selected every time. Leonard Nimoy possessed such drawn, gaunt features that he could easily pass for something otherworldly. With those slanted eyebrows and famous pointed ears, how could he not become an instant star?

Besides Trek, Nimoy made appearances in countless TV shows including: Dragnet, Rawhide, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Mission: Impossible and Columbo, and he even made a cameo appearance in a video with The Bangles!     

William Shatner, who played Spock’s commanding officer: James T. Kirk: “loved him like a brother,” and added that we: “will all miss his humour, his talent, and his capacity to love.”   


“On the day we filmed that scene… I came to this very much as a neophyte… I turn around and I’m looking at my cinematographer, and he’s got tears streaming down his face… and then I’m looking at the rest of the crew, and everybody’s crying! And I’m thinking: ‘what am I missing here?'” – Nicholas Meyer. 

Back in 1983, me and a pal, both ardent Star Wars fans, decided to check out Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan. We joked that it would probably “be just as crap as the first one.” Well…! How wrong could we have been?! We were in awe of Khan as the indomitable villain; swept along with the majestic score by James Horner; hypnotised by the epic battles between the Enterprise and Reliant; but what really blew us away was the death of Mr. Spock. 

Unbelievable. It just didn’t seem… logical. 

Yes, Spock of Star Trek. Killed off?! It was such a bold, and highly unexpected twist. Everyone knew where they were when Spock was killed off, so they say. Things like that didn’t – and shouldn’t – happen, especially to such an iconic character. But it did, and a landmark in SF cinema was produced. Played superbly by Nimoy and William Shatner, it was a monumental and intensely emotional scene, because one of the closest and best-loved friendships in TV history had come to an abrupt and shocking end.

Due to the lacklustre performance of Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979, there was minimal interest among the cast to reprise their roles for any sequel, especially Nimoy. He was eventually coaxed back, but with one condition: that Spock be killed off. The actor believed this denouement would make for a fitting end, considering that Wrath of Khan was apparently intended to be the “last” Trek film ever(?!) 

Of course, the phenomenal success of II meant one thing: Paramount Studios came clamouring for III… In the most ridiculous plot-contrivance in SF history, Spock had to be resurrected somehow, and indeed he wasThen, inevitably, came IV – a ridiculous time-travel romp featuring whales set in 1986 which (hey!) just happened to be the year it was made.

Both were particularly notable for being directed by Nimoy himself. He would go on to work behind the camera on numerous other projects, including the unlikely comedy Three Men And A Baby(!) Talk about being a far cry from…


nimoy bilbonimoy_directs_shatner_tsfs

“My heart is broken, I love you profoundly my dear friend. And I will miss you every day. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest” – Zachary Quinto. 

Other than the Star Trek movies, including the recent reboot (2009) and its sequel (2013), he appeared in Zombies Of The Stratosphere (1952), Them! (1954), Invasion of The Body Snatchers (1978) and A Woman called Golda (1982) (for which he received an Emmy nomination), among others. He dabbled in writing (mostly poetry) and photography, and his deep, distinctive voice led him ultimately to his own singing career where he gave us such greats as: “Highly Illogical,” “Where It’s At,” and the irrepressible “Ballad of Bilbo Baggins.” 

Annoyance with the limitations his Vulcan role had on his career culminated in Nimoy’s 1977 autobiography simply entitled: “I Am Not Spock.” He eventually embraced his Vulcan self, realising that it had secured a place in SF immortality.

The episode: “Amok Time” presented the first opportunity to see other Vulcans. Aware that Humans engaged in ritual behaviour when greeting others, when time came for Spock to greet others of his kind, Nimoy realised that no equivalent Vulcan rituals had been prepared. Nimoy himself concocted the perfect solution; drawing from his Jewish heritage, his famous split-fingered salute was based on the kohanic blessing, a “manual approximation” of the first letter in Shaddai, one of the Hebrew names for God. Within days of that episode’s first broadcast – and in the decades to follow – people in the street would greet Nimoy with that gesture!

The Vulcan phrase closely associated with Spock was “Dif-tor heh smusma.” We all knew it as: “Live long and prosper.”

Leonard Nimoy lived long and indeed prospered. 


“To this day, I sense Vulcan speech patterns, Vulcan social attitudes and even Vulcan patterns of logic and emotional suppression in my behaviour. Given the choice, if I had to be someone else, I would be Spock” – Leonard Nimoy.  

Naturally, so many tributes in the past few days have quite rightfully loaded the aforementioned death/funeral scene from Wrath of Khan; instead, to end this Post, something different, but still… fascinating was in order.

Normally, tawdry ads would never squirm their way onto one of my immaculately-crafted Posts, but this is such rare, exceptionally good fun, and perfectly encapsulates the humour and infectious joy you could always expect from Leonard Nimoy: