Fantastic Beats And Where To Find Them: Vol. 4

Now A Trilogy In 4 Parts! 

“Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Korg. I’m kind of like the leader in here. I’m made of rocks, as you can see, but don’t let that intimidate you. You don’t need to be afraid, unless you’re made of scissors! Just a little Rock, Paper, Scissors joke for you” – Korg.

Hiya! How ya doin’? Thought you’d be glad to see me! 

Apologies for the extended absence from your WordPress Reader. 

The first half of this month was spent writing this, that and the other. Tried writing a few round-ups of Bronze Age comics – they didn’t sing, didn’t fly, no matter how much frenetic fiddling went into them. Various other intriguing topics occupied my time and energy, but actually completing any of these Posts proved to be inexplicably challenging. 

Two weeks ago, at the height of an unusually rare heatwave, yours truly took a few days off, hoping that my creative batteries would be recharged. Nevertheless, on setting down to write again, my “talent” still lay on a beach somewhere…

Perhaps something quick and easy -like a music Post – would suffice?

No! 

Determined to combat this lull in activity and produce something awesome again, decided to open up totally new reviews and discussions. 

Another week later, and… 

Ah well, quick and easy it is then, just in time to close this gruelling month. Anyway, it’s been ages since the last Fantastic Beats, right?

With over a million new Posts loaded on WordPress each day, the “experts” advise making your blog as distinctive as possible.

Well, where else during any weekend can you find a disco lovingly illustrated with some of my fave quotes from Thor: Ragnarok (a DVD that only recently made its way into my MCU Collection!) and Seinfeld gifs?!

Honestly, what are the chances of finding anything around here quite like Bradscribe?!

“I have been falling… for 30 minutes!” – Loki. 

Give up blogging altogether…? 

Ever-diminishing Stats, and no new “Followers” since the Obama administration sound like reasonable excuses to jack it all in.  

However, Brad is NOT a quitter! 

Besides, popularity is an alien concept to me. Heck, this is the kid who was so insignificant at school that the bullies never noticed him!

Apart from derelict blogposts, there is still a hefty number of unfinished novels and short stories lying around here. This site (when at the peak of my powers!) can help address this unwanted backlog – WordPress has, easily, provided the most conducive platform on which to churn out my own unique stuff.

Music, generally, is a good motivator/inspiration for my writing. And, every so often, a truly monumental stomper pops up that gets the ol’ noddle working.  

Here is the One for this Volume:

“No, no, no. I don’t even like Hulk. He’s always like, grr… smash, smash, smash. I prefer you!” – Thor. 

“The Lightning Field has collapsed, sir!” 

What?! How can this be?”  

“It’s no good, Captain – the outer perimeter has been breached! Our MB Space is diminishing at an exponential rate!”

“Scanners detect something massive and malevolent approaching at high velocity.”

“Titan’s moons!! What- what IS it?!”

“It- it’s the Swarm Intelligence…”

Thor: “I love what you’ve done with the place. Redecorated and everything.”

Hela: “It would seem our father’s solution to every problem was to cover it up.”

Thor: “Or cast it out. He told you you were worthy. He said the same thing to me.”

Hela: “You see, you never knew him, not at his best. Odin and I drowned entire civilizations in blood and tears. Where do you think all this gold came from…?”

It occurred to me that after all this time, one of my all-time fave pop vids has never appeared in my own blog.

Might as well rectify that right now.

Th DJ aka Norman Cook is a local boy – our paths have crossed twice in the village supermarket; but the chances of bumping into the legend that is Christopher Walken – in this case: Christopher Dancen 😉 – in said supermarket seem just as likely as ever completing my Review of... oh, forgotten the name of the bally thing, it’s been so long… 

And to think that this beloved star of The Anderson Tapes and Annie Hall started off as a professional dancer. 

Well, by Jiminy, didn’t we all…?

Thor: “If you knew where he was, why didn’t you call me?”

Dr. Stephen Strange: “I had to tell you. He did not want to be disturbed. Your father. He had chosen to remain in exile. And you don’t have a phone.”

Thor: “No, I don’t have a phone but you could have sent me an electronic letter. It’s called an e-mail.”

Dr. Stephen Strange: “Yeah. Do you have a computer?”

Thor: “No. What for?”

Another reason for me to keep on pressin’ on is the fact that only two months stand between us and the 5th Anniversary of Bradscribe.

Naturally, let’s make a big song and – hahaha! – dance about all this, with special features, lists and – oh yes – a party or three 😉

And if such a grand jamboree finally burns Brad out for good, then at least he’ll be going out on a high note!

“I just, I gotta say. I’m proud of you all. This revolution has been a huge success. Yay us! Pat, pat on the back. Pat on the back. Come on. No? Me, too. ‘Cause I’ve been a big part of it. Can’t have a revolution without somebody to overthrow! So, ah, you’re welcome. And, uh, it’s a tie” – Grandmaster.

So here we are: on the verge of pressing Publish for the first time since… too long, that’s for sure…

During the next few days, oh course, another Post – preferably one featuring some original work – will see the light of day(!) Hopefully, September will turn out to be more favourable month writewise for me.

For our closing foot-tapping selection, here is a classic beat that you might not have expected, but – as you will no doubt have noticed – is just typical of the zany material you have come to expect from this site.

And just what the blazes is goin on in that gif?!

Is that what a trouser press looks like…? 

“Guys, we’re coming up on the Devil’s Anus!” – Bruce Banner. 

 

Advertisements

Ant-Man And The Wasp: The Bradscribe Review

A Sting In The Tale 

“My initial reaction – do not tell Marvel! – was: “I don’t want to do a stupid superhero movie.” And my manager said: “Paul Rudd will be starring.” What…? It really intrigued me. So I watched some Marvel films and and I just thought what they were doing was so unique and fun” – Evangeline Lilly. 

 

2018 will be remembered as the year of both billion-dollar buddies: Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War.  

Such a shame that most people aren’t likely to recall Ant-Man And The Wasp. 

My main memory forever-entwined with this – the 20th instalment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – will be the bonkers decision to delay it’s release in the UK cos we Brits were supposed to be too busy watching the World Cup to consider donating to Disney. 

So was it worth the extra month’s wait?

Nah, not really. 

Ant-Man And The Wasp is an adequate action/adventure SF yarn: Little Big Man (played as amiably as usual by Paul Rudd) has been on house arrest for the past two years enacting fantasy adventures around his gaff with his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). If the entire movie looked as awesome as their rad helter skelter, this would be UP there with this year’s heavy-hitters, but in the end it didn’t leave me buzzing (arf, arf, arf!) 

Who is with me as regards the current banal state of huge, often nonsensical, summer blockbusters where the only reaction it incites involves nothing more than an indifferent shrug, and the (snide) comment:

“Yeah, the visual fx were amazing, but… …”?

In this case, size DOES matter.

“I can definitely phase through things. Absolutely loved every second of it… Creating even the style of how your character fights. Everyone has their own different style” – Hannah John-Kamen. 

Ant-Man And The Wasp is, at once, one of these fascinating, yet frustrating, movies.

This is best exemplified by the main antagonist: Ghost – a stunning character with a baffling matter-distorting (dis)ability that both enhances and hurts her. Tragic backstory, cool costume (hey! gotta look good for that Funko Pop! figure), intense performance (by Hannah John-Kamen): all those boxes ticked off, but what ticked me off is how she barely registers on the wow-factor. After the impressive upgrades in badassery such as: Hela, Erik Killmonger and – whisper him – Thanos, it looks like the MCU has already settled back to presenting bland and instantly forgettable villains. 

Had expected (hoped?Evangeline Lilly’s Hope to really come to the fore and steal all of Ant-Man’s scenes – this is, after all, the first Marvel movie in TEN years to have a superheroine’s name in the title. On the contrary, with Daddy giving her directions while she’s obsessed with finding Mummy, this is hardly a resounding triumph for the #Time’sUp campaign.

Michelle Pfeiffer looks great, but then, she always did. No seriously, if Janet Pym had been granted more substantial input, with tough and touching dialogue pivotal to the plot, then yours truly would be more than happy to discuss Pfeiffer’s role rather than Pfeiffer’s looks. Is this not the same Janet Pym who was a founding member of the Avengers, even becoming their Chairman back in the ’80s?! Her character deserves so much more than the scant attention afforded her here.

Watching more substantial flashbacks of Janet would certainly be preferable to sitting through “the three wombats” (as Hank so eloquently dissed them) Honestly, why did they have to be brought back?! Exclude Michael Pena, and the other two completely unfunny (even Thanos garnered more giggles, fer cake’s sake!ethnic representatives = the movie would not be affected. In any way.

As it is, alas, Michelle Pfeiffer appears in the briefest “remember me?” cameo, and can now state how proud she is “to be part of the MCU.” Surely this is a classic case of: she IS big, it’s the pictures that got smaller…? 

“We start the movie and… I am not living a heroic life… We [Hank, Hope and Iare not on the best of terms because of what I put them through by going to Germany. Throughout the course of the film we’re starting to click and get cool with each other” – Paul Rudd. 

Despite grumpy ol’ Brad’s angst for the ants (you can’t tell by reading this, but Ant-Man is, actually, one of my all-time favourite comic characters, being among the very first to grab my attention back in the day) there are still some groovy moments to savour here:

a top secret lab complex that can shrink to resemble cabin baggage; Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) locking ant-lers 😉 with former partner Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne); the awe-inspiring minutiae of the Quantum Realm itself (those Tardigrades!!); the above chase scene, and – oh yes – this reviewer finally got to behold a giant ant playing a drum kit (that’s another ambition to cross off the list – yay! 🙂 )

Speaking of post-cred scenes, could anybody tell me why Scott returned to the Quantum Realm AGAIN? Yes, that’s right: my view – and concentration – became impaired by a steady stream of punters lurching towards the EXIT. The sanctity of the modern MCU post-creds teaser counts for nuthin compared to the need to get out of that multi-storey car park first!

Intriguingly, did the Quantum Realm somehow spare Scott from the “Snapture”…? 

One more thing: 

after TWO Ant-movies, where oh where is Adam And The Ants’ Antmusic on the soundtrack?! Come ON! Talk about opportunity missed! 

This is one of those movies that adequately helps pass the time, but you won’t be tempted to race back to watch it again immediately. 

As for its position in the Bradscribe MCU Countdown?

Not in my Top 10, that’s for sure. 

Should have known that working up any eager ant-icipation (again) would lead to joy as miniscule as Hank’s Dinky Toys collection. 

Only moderate insects appeal.

BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

“I got something kinda BIG, but I don’t know how long I can hold it…” 

 

“Don’t tread on an ant
He’s done nothing to you
There might come a day
when he’s treading on you!

“Don’t tread on an ant
You’ll end up black and blue
Cut off his head
Legs come looking for you!

(chorus)
“So unplug the jukebox
and do us all a favour
That music’s lost its taste
so try another flavour
Antmusic”

 

“Exquisite, Absolutely Exquisite”: Just What The Doctor Ordered!

Ah-haaar! Loooong Scarf. Would You Like A Jelly Baby? Come On!

Costa: “Name and date of birth.” 
The Doctor: “Well how would I know? I don’t even know who he is yet.” 
Costa: “YOUR name and date of birth!”
The Doctor: “Oh well, I’m called the Doctor. Date of birth difficult to remember. Sometime quite soon, I think.”

My life changed on 1 September 1979. 

Destiny of the Daleks just happened to be the opening story of Doctor Who Season 11. 

For the next five years, my Saturday evenings became a magical time catching the cosmic – sometimes Earthbound – shenanigans of a dual-hearted Gallifreyan renegade in his Type 40 time capsule (better known as the TARDIS).

The programme’s effervescent mix of mayhem and monsters, humour and horror – and jelly babies – proved to be an irresistible delight. To me, and twelve million other viewers.

EVERY Saturday evening. (And this Saturday teatime is the ideal time to launch this Post! 😉 )

For those of you who believe that the time is right to delve into Classic Who, who better to guide you through the best stories than someone who tried to alleviate the inexorable wait for that following weekend’s unmissable instalment by grabbing each ish of Doctor Who Weekly and, using his own wardrobe for a TARDIS, accompanied by (cuddly) companions: Jallo Bear and Teddy Edwards, enacted his own adventures in time and space (imagination permitting!) 

It seems unbelievable now, but back then, the producers simply could not select a suitable replacement for the very popular Jon Pertwee (the 3rd Doctor: 1970-1973). Until Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks (Producer and Script Editor respectively) were captivated at the cinema by the evil sorcerer in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, played by a little-known actor named Tom Baker. At a meeting, where this actor discussed the morality in children’s literature, the duo realised they had found the new Doctor. 

This regeneration’s distinctive “Bohemian and battered” look would be inspired by a portrait of Aristide Bruant by Toulouse-Lautrec. A delightful misunderstanding caused Begonia Pope to use ALL the wool she had been given, resulting in the twelve-foot technicolour scarf that has become the most iconic part of his wardrobe.

Despite a mixed reaction – “too silly,” or “too crazy” cried some of the dissenters – Baker swiftly transformed this Gallifreyan into a national institution. Once again, Doctor Who triumphed at exacting what secured its status as the longest-running SF series: its boundless capacity for change.

For me, the 4th Doctor IS the Doctor, not just because he was my first to watch, but with his large eyes, imposing height, riot of curly hair, that toothsome grin, his amusing penchant for shouting: “Ah-haaar!” and “Come on!” in almost every episode (in that rich and renowned voice of his!), his cool loping gait – and jelly babies – he actually exuded an “otherworldly” nature that no other actor in the role has managed to recreate.

From his debut story: Robot (28 December 1974 – 18 January 1975), THIS is the definite article, you might say:

The Doctor: “You’re improving, Harry!”

Harry Sullivan: “Am I really?”

The Doctor: “Yes! Your mind is beginning to work! It’s entirely due to my influence of course; you musn’t take any credit…”

The 4th Doctor’s first three seasons (12-14) were exceptionally produced by Philip Hinchcliffe – widely regarded by fans as the Golden Age of Doctor Who.

Despite Robot resembling a stock Jon Pertwee adventure, Ark In Space (25 January – 15 February 1975), The Sontaran Experiment (22 February – 1 March 1975), Genesis Of The Daleks (8 March – 12 April 1975), and Revenge of the Cybermen (19 April – 10 May 1975) remain such well-crafted SF masterworks, (all now available on Blu-ray!)

Moreover, the 4th Doctor was truly blessed to be joined by arguably his best-ever companions: UNIT Surgeon-Lieutenant Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter) and Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen). 

Sarah Jane (still the longest-serving companion) had first wandered into the TARDIS at the beginning of Season 11; Harry, on the other hand – regrettably – fared less well. A much older actor – harking back to the Hartnell years – had been the original intention to play the 4th Doctor, with Harry drafted in to manage the more physical, feisty moments. However, when it became all-too-apparent that Tom Baker could more than take care of himself, the Surgeon-Lieutenant was soon written out. This is a pity, as Baker and Marter shared an amazing chemistry together onscreen.  

Season Th13teen got off to a rip-roaring start with Harry’s swansong: Terror of the Zygons (30 August – 20 September 1975): a taut tale of tartan and teeth written by Robert Banks Stewart. Good to see the return of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (even if his appearance in a kilt looks more terrifying than your average Zygon!) Particularly impressive is the sinister performance of John Woodnutt as the Duke of Forgill – there’s much more to him than meets the eye! 😉 Okay, so the model effects for the Skarasen (better known as the Loch Ness Monster) always look cringingly bad, the quality of the script and the quickening of the pace leaves a lot of NuWho to be desired. 

Of course, cliffhangers added extra excitement to Classic Who. NuWho, in its mundane way, deals in self-contained stories, so no place for cliffhangers! Some rather clever episode-closers can be seen between 1974-81; most notably, one of the very best – cited by most Classic Who fans as the scariest – is this from Terror of the Zygons first episode: 

The Brigadier: “You get on well with the landlord, don’t you?”

RSM Benton: “Well, yes, sir. I suppose I do.”

The Brigadier: “Well, use your influence to get him to play the pipes when we’re out, will you?” 

During the mid-’70s, Doctor Who continued to try the patience of the BBC – and the dreaded National Viewers’ Association – infusing gothic horror into the sci-fi, with mechanical Egyptian mummies lumbering around English forests in Pyramids of Mars (25 October – 15 November 1975); The Brain of Morbius (3 – 24 January 1976) is such an obvious copy of Frankenstein; the ecological terror of The Seeds of Doom (31 January to 6 March 1976); the occult and sacrificial subplots in The Masque of Mandragora (4 – 25 September 1976); and is there anything not creepy about The Hand of Fear (2 – 23 October 1976)?

Unfortunately, the violence featured during The Deadly Assassin (30 October – 20 November 1976) proved too deadly, and caused Hinchcliffe to be “transferred” to another programme.

The next three seasons (15-17) would be supervised by Graham Williams; and although, in some cases, diminishing production values would show through (no thanks to a technicians’ strike crippling the BBC during the late-’70s) some great stories would still be produced.

The Doctor: “Now which box is larger?”
Leela: “That one.”
The Doctor: “But it looks smaller.” 
L
eela: “Well, that’s because it’s further away.”
The Doctor: “Exactly. If you could keep that exactly that distance away and have it here, the large one would fit inside the small one.”
L
eela: “That’s silly.” 
The Doctor: “That’s transdimensional engineering, a key Time Lord discovery.” 

The Robots of Death (29 January – 19 February 1977) is the fifth serial of the 14th season, written by Chris Boucher. 

Essentially a murder-mystery set onboard a mining vessel, it boasted the most incongruously lavish (and outlandish!) costumes ever seen on any show from that decade. But it’s those intricately designed Voc robots, with their mellifluous voices, and sporting an uncanny resemblance to the ancient Chinese terracotta army, that linger long in the memory. These robots were THAT CLOSE to appearing in my recent celebration of robots, but their place is rightfully deserved here. 

This is the story in which Leela – the feisty warrior-woman played by Louise Jameson – asks the Doctor how the TARDIS can be bigger on the inside…

Season 16 (1978-79) turned out to be an ambitious story-arc for new Producer: Graham Williams to exert his influence. The six fragments to the Key To Time lay scattered across the universe; and the Doctor – accompanied by Romana, a fellow Time-Lord, played by Mary Tamm – had to find them, before the Black Guardian could get his dastardly mitts on them.

Must admit, however, that while K-9 (the Doctor’s robot dog) may have “enchanted younger viewers,” Brad was not one of them. Strangely enough, one can’t recall those stories where K-9 made a positive contribution to the plot…

“Curious the tricks time plays on one, isn’t it…?”

The Doctor: “Adric, I give you a privileged insight into the mystery of time, yes? Open your mind to adventures beyond inagination, yes…? And you criticise my logic?!” 

Adric: “No… no, I’m just saying that a lot of the time you really don’t make sense.”

The Doctor: “Aarh. Aarh! You’ve noticed that, have you? Well, I mean anyone can talk sense as long as that is understood. I think we’re going to get along splendidly! Come on!” 

 

Frisk: “Who are you? The company you said you worked for was liquidated twenty years ago!”

The Doctor: “I was wondering why I’ve never been paid…”

Frisk: “That’s not good enough!” 

The Doctor: “That’s exactly what I thought…”

Doctor Who heralded the new decade with a drastic image makeover.

Not only a brand new title sequence, but a completely (ahem) regenerated, synthesized theme tune, a new Producer (John Nathan-Turner) and new companions were introduced, but, unexpectedly, Baker continued in the role for one more season. Having served as the longest-serving Time-Lord, he felt it his duty to speak out against anything unWhovian. 

This viewer still watched avidly every Saturday evening, even if the quality used to fluctuate. Among the weaker stories from this period: The Mandrels (above) from Nightmare of Eden ‎(24 November – 15 December 1979) always looked great to me even though the costume department loathed them. Re-watching this story, nearly four decades later, the script (provided by Bob Baker) is uproariously funny! The much-derided Horns of Nimon (22 December 1979 – 12 January 1980) still appealed to me because their minotaur-like monsters latched onto Greek mythology: my other great obsession around that time. 

Baker’s penultimate story: The Keeper of Traken (31 January – 21 February 1981) has become another personal favourite. Especially liked the way in which arch-villain The Master lurked inside that creepy Melkur statue (see below!)

After kicking up a grand bally-Who with Nathan-Turner, Baker, rather inevitably, threw in the scarf. His beloved era of wit, warmth, and wool, came to its conclusion in the Season 18 closer: Logopolis21 March 1981: a date forever seared into my memory.

“It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…” 

The Doctor: “When I mentioned the black hole to Soldeed, he didn’t seem to know what I was talking about.”

Romana: “Ah, well, people often don’t know what you’re talking about!” 

The Doctor: “Exactly!” 

 

In other Who’s: 

As well as time, space is an issue, but surely you can make room to discuss those other glorious masterpieces such as: The Ark in Space, The Deadly Assassin, and The Talons of Weng-Chiang, yes? These gems, all masterfully written by Robert Holmes, will appear together in a special forthcoming Post reviewing this great writer’s work.

If one had to recommend just one story that best exemplifies the Baker era, it would have to be Genesis of the Daleks (1975, written by Terry Nation). It not only restored the menace of the series’ most popular villains, but with its tense and terrific storyline – plus a wicked performance by Michael Wisher as Davros, creator of the Daleks – it redefined what SF TV could achieve. 

It contained the single greatest scene in the history of British TV drama which can be found here in this previous celebration of Doctor Who.

And which single Classic Doctor Who story counts as my personal favourite?

City of Death (29 September – 20 October 1979). Without a doubt. 

Scaroth, Last of the Jagaroth (“an infinitely superior race”) remains one of SF TV’s greatest villains; Julian Glover’s performance of megalomaniacal malevolence landed him the role of General Veers in a blockbuster the following year called: The Empire Strikes Back. 

The destruction of the Jagaroth ship caused the chemical reaction that gave birth to the human race. And the Doctor must stop Scaroth from going back in time to prevent himself from initiating the launch sequence: GENIUS. 

Doctor Who: written by Douglas Adams, and guest-starring John Cleese?

Come on! 

It’s a shame that NuWho is nowhere near as witty and clever as this: 

Scaroth of Jagaroth: “Time is running out, Doctor!”

The Doctor: “What do you mean: Time is running out?’ It’s only 1505…” 

 

The Doctor: “Good, well now he’s gone, any chance of a cup of tea?” 

General Ravon: “WHAT?!”

The Doctor: “Or coffee. My friend and I’ve had a very trying experience. Haven’t we had a trying experience, Harry?”

Harry Sullivan: “Very trying, Doctor.”

General Ravon: “STEP INTO THE SECURITY SCAN!”

The Doctor: What, no tea…?”

 

The Company Of Robots: My Devotion To Droids

Look, Sir, Droids

Lt. Charley Pizer: “V.I.N.CENT, were you programmed to bug me?” 

V.I.N.CENT: “No, sir, to educate you.” 

Lt. Charley Pizer: “When I volunteered for this mission, I never thought I’d be playing straight man to a tin can.” 

“I don’t mean to sound superior,” remarks V.I.N.CENT, cool and quote-dispensing droid of the USS Palomino, “but I hate the company of robots.”

No worries – when infant Brad first gawped at The Black Hole in 1979 there was no doubt in his tiny mind that he could easily dig the company of robots.

First, and foremost, hovered V.I.N.CENT (“Vital Information Necessary Centralized”), whose laser-precision, drills and other assorted attachments, and mellifluous voice (provided brilliantly by Roddy McDowell) granted his place as my very first favourite movie star. He was wonderfully accompanied by Old B.O.B. (“BiO-sanitation Battalion”), a battered early-model robot similar to V.I.N.CENT (voiced equally suitably by Slim Pickens, no less!).

The antagonist came in the mute, but mighty, imposing, crimson form of Maximillian; thus, a nail-biting David vs. Goliath duel looked inevitable. An army of sentry-robots guarded the USS Cygnus and more than satisfied our yearning for laser-battles as we could barely contain our excitement for the imminent Star Wars 2…

Also that year, British comics grabbed my attention – and pocket money. One of these homegrown titles featured a cosmic hero – white and fair-haired, obviously – who patrolled the spacelanes with a robot sidekick. Genius!

Unfortunately, my memory banks should have been reprogrammed a lot sooner as the names of this pair, the story-title, even the comic in which it appeared every week escaped me. And has proceeded to bug me on-and-off for the last 39 years…

Can vaguely recall one panel presenting this pair racing along in a landspeeder. All British comic interiors back then had no colour, but every so often, the first page of a story would be cyan-tinted, such was the case with this particular episode. This stylistic factor emanated from one company: D.C. Thomson – so ’twas with them that my search would concentrate. When commencing my foray into Bronze Age comic collecting two years ago, one of my objectives involved trying to rediscover the identity of this very first favourite comic character.

Whilst revising my notes (reprogramming my output?), you can sit back and enjoy this classic magic moment from the distant past when Star wars and Disney exrsted as two very separate entities – aah, get that music! get those ultracool sound effects! but mostly – WAHEY!! – somebody get those droids!: 

“Your crack unit, outwitted and outfought by some Earth robot, and that antique from Storage!” – Dr. Hans Reinhardt.

Fortunately, my copy of Starblazer #21: Robot Rebellion – a cherished pocket-book – is still in pretty good nick.

During the school year of 1984, you didn’t need to buy 2000AD – somebody else brought every weekly Prog into class! So, the wacky wonders of Robo-Hunter and ABC (Atomic, Bacterial and Chemical) Warriors could still be enjoyed without denting our meagre coffers. The title of coolest droid ever to be activated must go to the ABC Warriors’ Joe Pineapples. Leather jacket and thongs look DAFT on any male carbon-based lifeform, but Joe somehow made it work.

All these mechanised marvels inspired me to delve into robo-history.

The term: “robot” was coined by Czech novelist/playwright: Karel Capek in his play: R.U.R. (1921) – a satire in which artificial men are gradually made more competent, until they harness the will to rebel and replace mankind.

The author most synonymous with robots has to be Isaac Asimov, whose series of robo-tales extends through three collections: I, Robot (1950), The Rest of The Robots (1964), and The Bicentennial Man (1977) – all based on the premise that robots are equipped with an unbreakable code of inbuilt ethics: the three laws of robotics. Primarily, Asimov sought to combat the “Frankenstein Syndrome,” whereby people sometimes exhibit a neurotic fear that their creations will destroy them. He attempted to allay such anxieties, and in so doing, called into question the philosophical basis for our attitudes to machines.

One SF author to take this stance further was Philip K. Dick. As one of the few members of my generation to have read “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep” before watching Blade Runner, the whole issue of not so much how artificial beings look human, but can/do they act human had a most profound effect on my perspectives towards human – and non-human – behaviour.   

“A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law” – Isaac Asimov. 

Having made the case for droids programmed to speak, so the next two awesome candidates for inclusion here, weren’t. 

Once you’ve seen “her” you can’t forget “Maria” from Fritz Lang’s ground-breaking Metropolis.

For 1926, the sleek and sophisticated style of “her look” was truly staggering.

It still is. 

Soon after its grand opening during the ’80s, my mother took me to MOMI (Museum Of the Moving Image, in London) – there, in a special case, stood the actual life-size metal suit used in that German silent movie.

Must have stood there for AGES, honoured to be gawping at such a complex design; 1926?! Incredible!

“Gort! Deglet ovrosco!” – Klaatu.

The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951) remains one of my most beloved SF masterpieces.

The charismatic – though enigmatic – Klaatu arrives on Earth (in Washington, USA, of course) to present a dire warning to the human race, but it’s his travelling companion – “that big iron fella” – an eight foot robot named Gort who stole the show. Instead of using a frightening voice, Bernard Herrmann’s eerie score helped enhance the fear factor quite considerably.

In his closing address, when Klaatu explained that Gort acted as a policeman, “patrolling the galaxies, protecting the planets,” his place in my Hall of Fame was assured. 

Obviously, sprawled across the living room floor, watching avidly back in the day, it’s a shame Klaatu couldn’t drum into me the name of this elusive blond space hero with the same intensity he instructed all us seven-year-olds that in order to prevent Gort from destroying the Earth, we must go to Gort. We must say these words:

Klaatu.

Barada.

Nikto.

“I thought it was a bit too quiet in this place, Boots. Here come the guard-dogs and I don’t like the look of their teeth” – Rory Pricer.   

“Robots, and they look like military versions too.”

“Something sinister was afoot without doubt. It was bad enough that alien ships had trespassed in Federation space, but these looked too like the representatives of a sophisticated and alien civilization for Boots’ liking…”

At this phint, allow me to mention one of my fav droids featured in one of the very first SF books to grave my shelves (and still standing beside my desk, nestled behind the smaller – but no less significant – Science Fiction Source Book 

The Space Warriors by Stewart Cowley, telling the galactic exploits of Commander “Boots” Walker and Rory Pricer as they battle the evil Phantor Gorth and his droid army. Apart from the menacing warbots (illustrated above by the legendary Eddie Jones), there was an amazing yellow sentry-robot (who cannot be found anywhere on Google Images or Pinterest) and the delightful domaestic robot who was so ecstatic to see Boots come home again he almost blew a fuse…

Droids can also offer unlikely moments of comic relief.

Take Woody Allen’s zany (and only) SF offering: Sleeper (1973), for instance. Trying to acclimatize to 22nd century life, Miles Monroe is given a robot dog called Max: “Is he house-trained or will he be leaving batteries all around the place?” Who could forget Reagan The Gaybot (“Here’s your silly hypervac suit!”) or the Jewish Tailor Robots (“What’re we gonna do with all this velvet?!”)?

And then there is The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, written by the late, great Douglas Adams (we shared the same birthday!) which featured Marvin The Paranoid Android.

He was hilarious in the TV series; one feared the worse when it received recent Hollywood treatment, but, with a HUGE sigh of relief, the Hitchhiker’s movie turned out to be pleasantly entertaining, especially with Sam Rockwell, Mos Def and Martin Freeman onboard. And of course, the late, great Alan Rickman provided the voice of Marvin: 

Chewbacca: “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrgh!”

C-3PO: “He made a fair move. Screaming about it can’t help you.”

Han Solo: “Let him have it. It’s not wise to upset a Wookiee.”

C-3PO: “But sir, nobody worries about upsetting a droid.”

Han Solo: “That’s ’cause droids don’t pull people’s arms out of their sockets when they lose. Wookiees are known to do that.”

Chewbacca: “Grrf.”

C-3PO: “I see your point, sir. I suggest a new strategy, R2: let the Wookiee win.”

(Been waiting patiently for the most suitable Post to insert this all-time classic exchange!) 🙂

 

Inevitably, we reach Star Wars. 

There are more droids to be found in this galaxy far far away than you can shake a lightsaber at. The original trilogy helped bolster my devotion to droids even further.

Apart from the iconic duo of C3PO and R2D2, take a look at The Empire Strikes Back (1980): especially 2-1B, the medical droid that tends to Luke Skywalker in the bacta tank after that nasty Wampa attack on Hoth, and the one responsible for replacing Luke’s hand in time for this episode’s finale.

My one gripe towards arguably the saga’s greatest instalment, is that FORTY SECONDS did NO JUSTICE to that awesome assembly of badass bounty hunters. Not enough time to see IG-88 (blink and you’ll miss the moment when he actually TURNS HIS HEAD). Unlike other droid action figures, Iggy not only came with a blaster, but an extended assault rifle! Curiously enough, the insectoid 4-LOM is actually defined as a protocol droid – blimey, who knew?! 

More comic relief in Return Of The Jedi (1983)8D8 assigns R2D2 to waiter-duty aboard Jabba The Hutt’s sail-barge, but please, have mercy on the little, upended droid, screaming with a Munchkins voice, getting his soles branded while EVERYBODY in the cinema LAUGHS at him! And Wookieepedia can’t even tell me his name. Poor lil fella…

And yes, you guessed it, one of the joys of Rogue One (2016) came in the sure, yet surly, ex-Imperial form of K-2SO, who just like the best droids, instantly captured our attention – and hearts? – with a unique “personality.” In addition, “he” followed the old SF tradition of letting the droid steal the best lines… 

A unique, seldom praised, factor about that original smash hit of 1977 is how, to begin with, the events are experienced solely through the two droids. Although never a big fan of C3PO, perhaps his finest moment in the whole saga came on Tatooine, arguing with “that malfunctioning little twerp.” There followed another great joy: those pesky Jawas, roaming the Midlanowhere Plains inside their ginormous clanking Sandcrawler with its diverse collection of droids, including the Death Star Droid: 5D6-RA7 (see above) – always liked its slick design, and unnerving vocalizations; the Power Droid (nothing more than a cute box on stumpy legs, its unremarkable and weaponless action figure has since become so rare, it is now THE most valuable one out there!); and spare a thot for that R5 unit (even if it did have a bad motivator).

And to think these adventures transpire before we even get to meet that blond kid from the moisture farm… 

K-2SO: “I’m surprised you’re so concerned with my safety.”

Jyn Erso: “I’m not. I’m just worried they might miss you… and hit me.”

K-2SO: “Doesn’t sound so bad to me…”

Speaking of blond galactic heroes, it is heartening to be able to end this Post (yes, even this insufferable dirge has to be deactivated at some point! 😉 ) with some promising news.

Just a few months ago, following an extraordinary incident of Baggins-like philosophy, yours truly finally managed to find what he was looking for. By looking for something completely different instead!

Naturally, this year’s birthday triggered a tremendous nostalgia-rush. Among my recollections happened to be a short-lived “boys’ paper” produced in 1983 (by D.C. Thomson) named Spike. It covered the full gamut of boys’ stories: football, war, espionage and school gangs, but the SF entry: Starhawk Against The Powerbeast (not surprisingly, my best of the bunch) rang a few bells…

It featured a fair-haired cosmic hero. With a robot sidekick.

AHA!! 

My search is finally OVER. 

Should have known he’d be called Star-something; just consider the number of Starlords to have passed through the comics industry on both sides of The Pond – why, even the obscure precursor to 2000AD was entitled: Starlord! And, the original combo of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy boasted a member known as Starhawk! 

Yes, checking the D.C. Thomson database, the Starhawk of Spike 1983 did make a previous appearance in 1979. 

The comic? The Crunch!

Jeez, how could it be possible to forget such a groovy title?! Especially when it sported such a formidable masthead?

Scant info told me that the sidekick was merely called “Droid.”

That’s it? Just “Droid”?!

Nothing facetious like Cecil? Or Humphrey? Or anything remotely badass like Joe Pineapples? Or Marvin…? 

Still, as long as it’s NOT a meaningless stream of numbers and letters…

Anyway, a recent Bronze Age expedition into the heart of London returned with some encouraging findings. Only one awemonger (to my knowledge) stocks British comics, and much to my surprise – and sheer delight – when it came to The Crunch, substantial copies were indeed in stock. Came away with two ishs #35 (dated 15 September 1979, see below; tried to upload the first page, but, apologies, being produced on rather cheap “newsprint” paper, it does not copy satisfactorily) presenting Starhawk‘s debut; while #40 (dated 20 October 1979) featuring on its back page the aptly-titled: Gallery Of Heroes, and that week’s subject?

YES!

It IS (please pardon the pun) the droid that Brad‘s been looking for!!

Amazed to learn that Droid came equipped with such a cool array of gadgets: his “eyes” were actually highly sophisticated radar sensors; a medipak, computer, scanners and vidcams installed in his chest; an Impulse Unit was attached to his right hip; a repair kit fitted to his left thigh; a communicator built into his wrist; and – get this! – lasers AND “space blasters” loaded in EACH arm!

The text added:

“But Droid has another more important function. He can pilot the Space Raider – Starhawk’s battlecraft – by remote control… He can also aim and fire the ship’s weapons. So Droid is the perfect side-kick for Starhawk…”

Oh, so much more than a mere “side-kick” as finally getting to perusing this forgotten nugget in British comics history would reveal…

Of course, as we all know, by the 26th century, the Terran Empire is in serious decline:

“…survival once again depended on the swiftness of man’s gun. Chaos reigned in solar systems that had reverted to barbarism (hence the men wearing pleated mini-skirts…?), but one man stood for law and order. His name, Sol Rynn, known as… 

STARHAWK

Interestingly, ultimately, this Sol cuts quite a drab figure, nothing more than a typical, one-dimensional blond galactic hero. Ironically, his only merit is that his co-pilot is a robot! Droid, on the other hand, comes across as cool, clever and regularly cracks wry remarks pertaining to the human condition. Even his tendency to address his mundane “master” as “Mister Rynn” is classy in itself. 

Thus, the revelation struck me: 

‘Twas NOT this ordinary protagonist, but his extraordinary partner, who had captured my imagination all those years ago!

Perhaps the traditional low-key status of robots in SF, plus his dull, inconsequential name, had prevented him from making a more significant impact on my sensors. But now – it’s been too long – he (not it, he) is back in my life, and in my collection. And he’s here to STAY.

As Asimov professed, there is no reason why intelligent machines should not be considered good people. 

Thus, rather than the happenstance of flesh and blood, through the capacities of wit, moral behaviour and rational thought can a being rightfully claim recognition as human.

To that end, then, rather than rediscovering my very first favourite comic character, this feels more like reuniting with my oldest friend. 

Starhawk: “A successful mission, Droid. Luckily I didn’t fall for the old drugged food routine. You see, my mechanical friend, they made us too welcome, and that’s downright suspicious!”

Droid: “Trying to analyse human thought processes causes severe strain on my logic circuits, Mister Rynn. Course laid for Cygnus Alpha…”

 

Jurassic Park: 25th Anniversary Rereview

Hold On To Your Butts…

John Hammond: “…And there’s no doubt, our attractions will drive kids out of their minds!”

Dr. Alan Grant: “And what are those?”

Dr. Ellie Sattler: “Small versions of adults, honey…”

 

Can it really be a qurarter-century since tbe “Biggest Movie Of All Time”: Jurassic Park smacked gobs and broke records?!  

Rather than waste time and ticket fare on the latest instalment: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (uninspiring Reviews reassure me, alas, that nothing special is being missed) let’s celebrate, instead, the anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s classic dinofest. Luckily, in that Summer of ’93 – haha! When Jurassic Park Ruled The Earth! 🙂 – we were served a superior concoction of thrills, spills and chills – setting, in effect, the definitive template for the summer blockbuster.

For once, Size DID Matter.

Yep, sitting in a packed cinema watching the (then) cutting edge CG tech unfold proved to be a very special experience. 

Unforgettable? You’re telling me!

An insufferable nerk sat directly behind me (Jeez, isn’t that always the way?!), and EVERY TIME that sauropod lifted up on its hind legs to reach higher food; T Rex chased the jeep; T Rex (again) lunged out of nowhere to feast, or the velociraptors ran rampant through the kitchen, he had to utter:

“This is unreal! This is unreal!”   

Okay, that’s one extremely irritating way to admit that, undeniably, Jurassic Park turned out to be one of the game-changers of modern cinema.

Unlike the majority of summer blockbusters, the characters assembled here are well-defined; there is some snappy dialogue written by David Koepp; in addition, the casting is very commendable: considering how HARRISON FORD(!) was offered (and turned down) the role of Dr. Alan Grant; Sam Neill was great, but one can’t help wondering how that box-office-beating Spielberg alumnus (well-accustomed to jungle adventures himself) would have fared against these adversaries!

Interesting to learn that Spielberg wanted to recreate the Ford/Connery chemistry from Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, envisaging Sir Sean Connery as first choice for the role of John Hammond(!) (so THAT explains Sir Dickie Attenborough’s dodgy Scottish accent!); and behold! There is my particular favand yours too, no doubtthat superior hunk of manflesh: Jeff Goldblum as chaos theoretician: Dr. Ian “Must go faster!” Malcolm.

Must have watched the trailer countless times back in the day. Note how there are only subtle hints of the dino-action in store – no spoilers in those days! Anybody else miss the guttural voiceovers…? 

“Steven [Spielberg] had me screen-test with Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman for Hook. I was just too young for the role. ‘Don’t worry about it, Joey,’ Steven said, ‘I’m going to get you in a movie this summer.’ Not only a nice promise to get, but to have it be one of the biggest box-office smashes of all time? That’s a pretty good trade” – Joseph Mazzello.

“You feel that…?”

For the first time in several years, yours truly finally (for the benefit of this Post at least) got round to rewatching this movie.

Arguably the best sequence in the whole franchise (it has lost none of its terrifying potency 25 years later) is T Rex’s breathtaking entrance, at night, in the rain, as the two tour cars are stranded right beside her compound. (Hang on: didn’t they pass the Tyrannosaur paddock already during the day, and move on when she proved to be a no-show? What are they doing back there again, considering how those automated jeeps are irreversible??)

Never mind, it’s the tense build up – the sound of ominous, even-heavier-than-Dennis-Nedry footsteps heading the stranded tour party’s way, those ripples in the water cups (incidentally, the very first gif selected for this Post!sets one heckuva spine-tingling tone, especially if you dare to watch – and listen – during the early hours…  

It’s amazing how the obese guy (Nedry) and the lawyer (Gennaro) are deliberately rendered as thoroughly detestable characters so that we can all “enjoy”(?!) a guilt-free (and obscene) “pleasure” when they inevitably end up as dino-dindins…

The greatest asset of this movie is that it did not descend into a mindless, and relentless, dinosaur-chase B-movie, but opted instead to embellish the action and tension with more thought-provoking material, most evidently in that rightfully-revered classic scene of Dr. Malcolm discussing the ethics – and irresponsibility – of genetic tomfoolery over lunch.

Trust Brad to have loaded that vid already elsewhereguess where! Yay! A celebration of Jeff Goldblum right here!

To think that Jim Carrey was considered for the role of Dr. Ian Malcolm(!) Blimey… who would want to see his pecs…? 

Dr. Ian Malcolm: “Gee, the lack of humility before nature that’s being displayed here, uh… staggers me.”

Donald Gennaro: “Well thank you, Dr. Malcolm, but I think things are a little bit different than you and I had feared…”

Dr. Ian Malcolm: “Yeah, I know. They’re a lot worse.”

Donald Gennaro: “Now, wait a second now, we haven’t even seen the park…”

 

And just when you consider how Jeff could play EVERY role from Jurassic Park, well, here is the vid that proves he can – Goldblum! Goldblum! We’ve got Jeff Goldblum here!: 🙂

It’s supposed to be Costa Rica, right? So things are hot and I’m sure I’m in some sort of fever. So all the logic is that we gotta get some of these wet clothes off immediately. As I remember, I don’t think anybody fought me on that” – Jeff Goldblum. 

And, of course, where would this epic be without John Williams? This renowned composer sealed his reputation by providing one of his most sumptuous music scores. 

Let’s not forget the phenomenal cultural impact the movie created a quarter-century ago.

While Raiders Of The Lost Ark (arguably Spielberg’s greatest movie) inspired Brad and many of his contemporaries to get into archaeology, Jurassic Park did its best to influence a new generation of palaeontologists.

Although a hefty bundle of the technic and genetic gubbins discussed/featured therein seemed quesionable, to the point of bonkers: i.e. the utility – and durability – of millions-of-years-old DNA; could/did sauropods balance on their hind legs? (and so on) at least it encouraged a wider, greater understanding of scientific principles. As delirious-for-dinosaurs as the next kid, Jurassic Park, for an albeit all-too-brief period during that Summer, resurrected that long-dormant palaeo-passion. 

Regrettably, though, the main aspect of this particular movie that comes back to my mind concerns those numerous continuity errors, most notably the one gaffe that baffles me with each viewing: why is the T Rex paddock predominantly flat during daylight hours, but after dark a sheer drop emerges -the scene in which Alan and Tim clambering as fast as they can down a tree before their own car falls on top of them is tense enough, but how – and why – does the script demand that such an absurd feat transpire at all?! 

And just what exactly did happen to Ray Arnold (Samuel L Jackson)…?

Finally, what of Jurassic Park‘s legacy?

Admittedly, my affection for the original movie has soured somewhat by the fact that its sequels – two lacklustre direct follow-ups, the imbecilic Jurassic World and this season’s unappealing tag-on: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom have come no way near to recreating the original’s ground-breaking impact of action and suspense. Rather, the makers of these wasted opportunities (including Spielberg himself, disappointingly enough!) were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should…

 

BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

“That doesn’t look very scary. More like a six-foot turkey.”

 

Tim: “Well… we’re back… in the car again.”

Dr. Alan Grant: “Well, at least you’re out of the tree.”

 

My Dad would always take me to see the dinosaurs in Philadelphia, the Franklin Institute of Technology, with big dinosaur bones, and so I made Jurassic Park remembering how much fun it was to imagine, with such yearning, that some day wouldn’t it be great to run into a dinosaur… and for everybody who had ever wondered, or been fascinated with that whole era…” – Steven Spielberg.

 

“The Purfuit Of Happineff”: Happy 4th Of July To All My American Friends!

Hip Hip Hooray! Let’s Hear It For The US Of A!

“You can’t do this to me, I’m an American!” – Marion Ravenwood. 

Howdy!

For this Post, considering how the majority of you live Stateside, thought it best to write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.

As far as one can remember, America always had something bigger and better to offer. British television: yes, all three channels, just two if you include the broadcasters’ strike (one of many in various sectors to cripple the UK during the late-’70s) languished in the doldrums. Even Doctor Who – that longest-running bastion of SF TV, its already-miniscule fx budget hindered even further by a technicians’ strike at the BBC!  – could not compete against the flashier, more expensive likes of Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, or The Muppet Show, The Incredible Hulk, Starsky & Hutch, Kojak(!) (et al, etc. etc.) for that matter. Who (else) did we have? Metal frickin’ Mickey, that’s who – who?? Exactly!! 

Compared to the subsequent decade, The British Film Industry offered larger, more expensive than usual, but ultimately unattractive movies, but nothing like those two gargantuan smashes of 1977 and 1980 respectively (you know what they were!) that sent cinema queues trailing down the street. And then around the corner. 

So finger-lickin’ good: American comics, American toys – heck, even American words – dominated our school playground. Yay, our precious post-punk platters led the way in the pop parade, but let’s face it, our own Claire Grogan was cute, but Debbie Harry was gorgeous.

Still, my father actually spent some time in the US during the ’60s, and was that close to getting a really great job in aviation – so, for that brief time (28 years ago) Brad found himself the centre of attention for once! Until one of the other kids announced that his Dad actually was American, and the throng gravitated to his side of the bike shed, eager to catch a glimpse of the bigger and better delights he could reveal from his Starsky & Hutch satchel. 

Gah!

Anyway, one of the various quality products that my father brought back with him – and enriched my childhood – included a classic Stan Freberg long-player (in Stereo!) 

It’s in, it’s very in! 😉

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn” – Benjamin Franklin.

Now, onto American music.

Generally, my music tastes gravitate towards the Blues, Soul and Jazz – all the phenomenal African-American essentials. 

Which is my favorite American band, you ask?

Gee, that’s a toughie. 

The Doors immediately excite the senses, but what gets me every time has to be Creedence Clearwater Revival. Ever since Bad Moon Rising caught my attention in An American Werewolf In London, they have held a very special place in my heart. And my record collection!

During the Vietnam War, thousands of American servicemen were stationed @ U Tapao, Nong Kok and other bases in Thailand. Countless bars – playing music of that era, including Creedence, sprang up all over the place. Most of these guys left long ago, but, most of the bars – still playing music of that era, including Creedence – remain. 

This was always my go-to tune on Karaoke Night:

“My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on Earth enjoy!” – Thomas Jefferson.

Just thought it would he groovy to fill this gap to ask:

How will you be celebrating today? Where will you go? What will you eat? How many fireworks are required? 

Is it the same every year? 

Will be thrilled to read your Comments! 🙂

Chon Wang: “The English are not very friendly.”

Roy O’Bannon: “They’re just sore losers.”

Chon Wang: “What did they lose?”

Roy O’Bannon: “A little thing called the American Revolution, Chon… They came over with about a million men. We had a bunch of farmers with pitchforks and beat ’em like a drum.”

Politics! Hoo-boy…

The political systems in both the US & UK these days are as mad as a bicycle. And then some. 

Today, your fest may not have the right zest, or your grub may lack the necessary relish, whilst grudgingly knowing that such a deplorable doofus is running your country (into the ground), but your Brit correspondent here would like to assure you that my thoughts are with you during these very trying times. 

You will NOT see Brad meddling in politics – by Jove, no!

Why, the very word itself is detestable: consisting of “poli” which means “more than one” – yours truly is an old-fashioned type o’ fella: can only handle one lousy inconvenience at a time. While “tics” are bloodsucking parasites. 

You see? Not my scene.

At all…

Couldn’t proceed without this BBC comedy gem from 1980, the year in which current affairs analysts on both sides of The Pond could not envisage a ’50s B-movie star in the White House. 

Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat! How times have changed…

“When I was a kid, my Mum said: ‘Work hard, you can become President!’ because I grew up in a Disney film. That was back when we believed that Presidents were righteous and honorable… Here’s the kicker: according to the odds, there is 40% chance that, as President, somebody is going to try to assassinate you, but there is a 100% chance of character-assassination…” – Rich Hall. 

Fact: Brad did not travel overseas until his early-20s. 

As my inaugural trip outta Blighty, guess the only one desirable destination that sprung to mind.

Yep! That’s right: during May 1996 – one of the highlights of this boy’s life – Brad spent a fortnight on YOUR side of The Pond. Manhattan, to be exact – sight-seeing (searching for those crucial movie locations, mainly). There was no need to fret over how to wrangle a cab to get me to the IYH (International Youth Hostel) – sitting next to me on the flight was a British businessman who kindly offered to give me a lift Uptown. And, as a regular visitor, he gave a few tips on how to get by.

Can vividly recollect waking up on my first morning in another country.

The temperature was scorching; the city noise every bit as cacophonous as my craziest dreams had imagined; and as my feet hit the NY street for that very first giddily-exciting time, which song on my Sony Walkman marked my wild-eyed an’ gawping-gob entrance into Pretzel Central?

Well, goldarn it! It had to be this: 

“See me walkin’ down Fifth Avenue, walkin’ cane here at my side. Take it everywhere I walk, I’m an Englishman in New York” – Sting.

As a member of The British Museum Society, the Manhattan Metropolitan Museum of Art was top-of-my-list and – gee whiz! – it did not disappoint! A whole afternoon was spent mooching around its impressive galleries. Then emerged into the relentless sun to get a hot dog an’ a bag o’ donuts from the multitude of street stalls crowding the pavement – sorry! – sidewalk. 

After visiting the Statue of Liberty, made my groovy way up Downtown to Uncle Huckle-Buckle’s Chuckle Hutch (try sayin’ that after a few Buds!) to sit down and listen to the stand-ups; can’t forget my ears popping in the express elevator to the top of the Empire State Building; and other wondrous sights and sensations too numerous to drone on about here(!)

Out and about in NYC, chances are that you will see some very famous people. One day, taking a route recommended by my Tourist Map, a classy African-American lady marched straight past me – yes! None other than Diana Ross!! Ruminating over which was her best: either Baby Love or Chain Reaction, walked around a corner and almost collided into John Lennon’s widow!! (Don’t forget: you heard it here first). A few months earlier, we had recorded Jackie Mason Live In London – a programme that my father always requested to watch and never failed to reduce him to tears of laughter. So, imagine papa’s envy when listening to my incredible story of hanging around in the doorway of the Waldorf Astoria, standing next to the comedian himself, listening to the joke that reduced two NYPD officers to tears of laughter. 

And upon returning to the hostel every evening, a special, extra-large, local delicacy awaited all tourists on the front desk. Absolutely scrumptious! What on Earth was it?!

Somebody replied:

“We call it ‘pizza’…”

After ten days of intense adventures, no wonder there was no energy left; nevertheless, my last four days turned out to be equally life-changing; just around the corner(!) two important discoveries were made in that “New World”: the Barnes & Noble Superstore (ended up buying two books for myself and two books for Dad); and even more crucially:

TACO BELL!!

Thus, thenceforth, Brad‘s undying love for Mexican food flourished.

Obviously, if and when another Stateside visit occurs, special detours will have to be taken so that, finally, WE CAN MEET and you can regale me with tales of YOUR bigger and better way of life!

Who better to round this Post off than with The Boss himself?!

What better way to sign off than by saying:

Have A Nice Day! 🙂

“Day of glory! Welcome day!
Freedom’s banners greet thy ray;
See! how cheerfully they play
      With thy morning breeze,
On the rocks where pilgrims kneel’d,
On the heights where squadrons wheel’d,
When a tyrant’s thunder peal’d,
      O’er the trembling seas…
O let freemen be our sons;
And let future Washingtons
Rise, to lead their valiant ones,
      Till there’s war no more.”
~John Pierpont (1785–1866), “Independence”

 

 

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…”