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

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

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

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

boys read science fiction – girls did not.

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

No worries.

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

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

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

At its best, science fiction makes us THINK.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No NO, Lady Go-Go! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Well somebody has to save our skins…”

But that was before the dark times.

Before Disney…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Up an’ at ’em, lady!” 

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

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

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

Let me finish by saying just this: 

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

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

“Go get ’em, girls!”

 

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

Kyle Reese: “Good fighters.”

 

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“He Was A Navigator On A Spice Freighter”: My Father’s Top 10 Movie Moments

I Am Groovy, Like My Father Before Me! 

I am Auda abu Tayi! Does Auda serve?  Does Auda abu Tayi serve? I carry 23 great wounds, all got in battle. 75 men have I killed with my own hands in battle. I scatter, I burn my enemies’ tents! I take away their flocks and herds. The Turks pay me a golden treasure, yet I am poor! Because I am A RIVER TO MY PEOPLE!!” – Auda abu Tayi.

Hard to believe that my father – former globe-trotting RAF sergeant and Jedi Knight – passed away on this day 10 years ago.  

Considering how difficult it has been trying to concentrate on writing anything else this week, this Post seemed like an ideal celebration to compile. 

Having had absolutely no paternal guidance himself, he sometimes found it difficult to be Dad – “I’m just making it up as I go along, man” 🙂 Whatever problems or disagreements we had, it would only take one of us to suggest: “Let’s watch a movie” and everything would revert to being as right as rain again.

He really digged a smart script – he constantly criticised my short stories, complaining about the drab dialogue, constantly advising me to listen –always listen – to the way people talked. Thus, he picked up some iconic one-liners along the way, many of which are included here. 

He appreciated some really fine performances, most notably: Eli Wallach (as Tuco) in The Good, The Bad And the Ugly (1967); Robert Lacey (as Toht) in Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981); and Robert De Niro in practically everything he did! But mainly the Godfather Part II (1974), Midnight Run (1988) and Heat (1995).

Possibly the most impressive performance he ever watched came from Anthony Quinn as Arabian tribal chief: Auda abu Tayi in Lawrence Of Arabia (1962). To us, that will stand forever as the Greatest Movie Ever Made – Quinn alone could easily have filled this Top 10 list (but of those few good clips, none of them stay online for long)

Today, you could have been treated to: the Top 10 Planes That Dad Loved To Fly. However, guessing that you probably wouldn’t recognise most of them anyway (for those of you taking notes, No.1 happened to be the de Havilland DH 98 Mosquito 😉 ) instead, this list will just have to suffice.

 

 

10. “Don’t sweat it!”

Southern Comfort (1981)

Paris Texas (1984) was one of those great Americana movies we enjoyed together, mainly because of that haunting soundtrack by Ry Cooder. 

My father had been THAT CLOSE to getting a job Stateside, but after that fell through, he “disappeared,” trying to travel as much overland as possible. So when we found Ry Cooder attached to the soundtrack of this thriller set in the Louisana bayou, we thot we’d give it a go.

Mostly, a mean, moody and magnificent work, but the last ten minutes was a revelation. For the next few months, my quest for Cajun LPs stretched far and wide…

Allons dancé!

Cajun Trapper: “I ain’t gonna kill y’all if I don’t gotta… you got a bayou over dere… take it… stay to the west side… you’re gonna find a road about a mile up dere.”

Hardin: “Do you mind tellin’ us what the Hell this is all about?”

Cajun Trapper: “It real simple… we live back in here… dis is our home, and nobody don’t fuck with us…  Now, if I was you all, I’d quit askin’ questions and haul ass… ’cause my buddies… dey not nice like me.”

Hardin: “Are we supposed to say thanks?”

Cajun Trapper: “You not supposed to say nuttin’… soldier.”

 

9. “War changes men’s natures…” 

Breaker Morant (1979)

An anti-war war movie set during the Boer War (1899-1902) based on a true story. 

Dad stayed up well after his bedtime, completely absorbed in this courtroom drama (and he detested courtroom dramas!) that featured one of the most notorious cases of military injustice.

And at breakfast the next morning, he couldn’t help but go on and on about it. Would have bunked off school that morning, just to listen to his enthusiasm all the way until lunchtime, if Mum hadn’t told me to skedaddle. 

We regarded this as the greatest Australian movie ever made. Yes, that’s right, we thought it’s even better than Mad Max!

Strewth!

It really ain’t the place nor time to reel off rhyming diction,

But yet we’ll write a final rhyme while awaiting crucifixion.

For we bequeath a parting tip of sound advice for such men

Who come in transport ships to polish off the Dutchmen.

If you encounter any Boers, you really must not loot ’em,

And if you wish to leave these shores, for pity’s sake, don’t shoot ’em.

Let’s toss a bumper down our throat before we pass to Heaven,

And toast a trim-set petticoat we leave behind in Devon” – Lt. Harry Morant.  

 

8. Litmus Configuration 

Midnight Run (1988)

A cool, entertaining and highly recommended buddy comedy – how many times did this grace our VCR?! It got to the stage where we could hurl whole sections of dialogue at each other, and still never get tired of watching the actual movie. 

The amazing – yet under-rated – Charles Grodin only had to walk through the door into this scene and Dad was already in stitches. 

1:24 always cracked him up even more: 

“YOU GUYS ARE THE DUMBEST BOUNTY HUNTERS I’VE EVER SEEN! YOU COULDN’T EVEN DELIVER A BOTTLE OF MILK!” – Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas. 

 

 

7. “Wake up, time to die!” 

Blade Runner (1982) 

My father loved to read Philip K Dick’s novels, so couldn’t wait to watch the TV premiere of Blade Runner. 

So much has been written about its influential visual futurism, but it was one of the replicants: not the obvious choice: Roy Batty, but Leon, played by the crazy-eyed Brion James who Dad paid particular attention to. His role as the one-armed Cajun trapper in Southern Comfort was the other reason why we watched that movie!

Always dig that mo @ 0:35 – when Dekard draws his gun and Leon immediately bats it away.

As Dad so eloquently put it: “Way too cool, man!”

Leon: “What do you mean, I’m not helping?”

Holden: “I mean: you’re not helping! Why is that, Leon?”

 

 

6. La Golondrina 

The Wild Bunch (1969) 

Yeah, this is the typical “Dad Movie” alright.

Expect nothing less than one long gore-fest cram-packed with incredibly stylised bloody action sequences in Sam Peckinpah’s infamous masterpiece: The Wild Bunch.

And yet its most peaceful moment, when the bunch are riding off to certain death, that really struck a chord with Dad. He instantly fell in love with La Golondrina (The Swallow); it’s a Mexican tune written in the 19th century.

Had to take note of its time on our tape whenever he often requested just “THAT MOMENT from The Wild Bunch.”

“Very smart. That’s very smart for you damn gringos…”

Dutch Engstrom: “They’ll be waitin’ for us.”

Pike Bishop: “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

 

 

5. The Imperial March

The Empire Strikes Back (1980) 

You may already know how this blogger was blessed to have gawped at the original Star Wars trilogy in the cinemas on their respective original releases.

Even more exuberant to have a father who – for the next three decades – never failed to admit how glad he was to have taken me (and several excitable chums from school on numerous occasions!) and share the joy to be had from that galaxy far far away. 

(For the record, his fav “character” – you’d never guess! – turned out to be Salacious B. Crumb – HA!)

So many thrilling individual moments to choose from… 

He loved that now-legendary shot of Luke gazing into the twin suns and EVERY SINGLE TIME it came on, he’d whistle along to the Tatooine Theme, but the Imperial March provoked a more striking action: EVERY SINGLE TIME we reached 1:27, Dad would start slamming his heel into the floor in time to the Imperial beat. Hannibal (our tabby cat) could sense that particular disturbance in the Force comin’ – honestly, he never fled THAT FAST in sheer terror from any other movie…

“You found something?” 😉

Darth Vader: “The Rebels are alerted to our presence. Admiral Ozzel came out of lightspeed too close to the system.”

General Veers: “He… he felt surprise was wiser…”

Darth Vader: “He is as clumsy as he is stupid! General… prepare your troops for a surface attack.”

General Veers: “Yes, my Lord.”

 

 

4. The Smoker

For A Few Dollars More (1965) 

Arguably, the coolest western ever made. 

Dad taped this for me during my last year at junior school; he’d enjoyed watching this in an open-air screening in Yemen back in ’68. Gian Maria Volonte as El Indio, was one of Dad’s fav villains. Which of his scenes to select?

But then memories of how Dad laughed every time Klaus Kinski appeared, especially here @ 0:10.

This scene is probably the most TENSE confrontation in movie history.

Saw a lot of my father in Colonel Douglas Mortimer (Lee van Cleef): true gentleman; expert marksman; absolute BADASS!

Wild, The Hunchback: “Well well, if it isn’t the smoker. Well… Remember me, amigo? ‘Course you do. El Paso.”

Col. Douglas Mortimer: “It’s a small world.”

Wild, The Hunchback: “Yes, and very, very bad. Now come on, you light another match.”

Col. Douglas Mortimer: “I generally smoke just after I eat. Why don’t you come back in about ten minutes?”

Wild, The Hunchback: “Ten minutes you’ll be smoking in hell. GET UP!”

 

3. “When you cast it in, what did you see?”

Excalibur (1981)

Not only were we entranced by this stupendous and spellbinding retelling of the legend of King Arthur, but we were gobsmacked by the music of Richard Wagner. Siegfied’s Funeral March, especially, had quite an inspirational and spiritual hold over both of us. 

With its almost ethereal imagery, and powerful performances, this was John Boorman’s masterpiece.

Studying ancient British history – and the legends/mythology stemming from these isles – became our joint mission; and Excalibur brought the two of us even closer together.

Now you know why this movie is played in Brad Manor every year on the fifth night of the second month…  

Uther: “The sword. You promised me the sword!”

Merlin: “And you shall have it; but to heal, not to hack. Tomorrow, a truce; we meet at the river.”

Uther: “Talk. Talk is for lovers, Merlin. I need the sword to be king!”

 

 

2. “Bet you were thinking: now why don’t he write?” 

Dances With Wolves (1990)

Aow, it really is getting more emotional now…

My father’s final trip to the cinema came in January 1991. Dances With Wolves satisfied his fascination for American Civil War history, and marked the directorial debut of Kevin Costner, whose The Untouchables (1987) we had enjoyed immensely.

Dad always remarked out loud at the superb training of Two Socks. Except for our last viewing together @ Christmas 2008 – it would mark the final viewing session we shared together, but by that time, he was too weak to keep awake through most of it…

Oh, THAT music: 

“There’s a wolf who seems intent on the goings-on here. It does not seem inclined to be a nuisance however, and aside from Cisco has been my only company. He’s appeared each afternoon for the past two days. He has two milky-white paws. If he comes calling tomorrow, I will name him Two Socks” – John Dunbar.  

 

 

1. Bad To The Bone 

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) 

His favourite movie star.

His favorite rock song.

So when these two most formidable entities in the universe collided in our living room back in ’91, it became one of those life-affirming moments. Heck, with Arnie’s shot-gun twirl, the big rig carnage on the LA freeway and many more energetic sequences, will never forget how Dad kept jumping out of his armchair.

The Original Brad To The Bone 🙂

As that other “great old man” once said: “he was the best pilot in the galaxy and a good friend.”

He always told me: NEVER GIVE UP, and yet he gave up a career in the RAF to become a full-time Dad. 

In an insane world, it was the sanest choice.

“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” 

Gordon Bradford (4 December 1925 – 6 February 2009). 

 

Black Panther: The Bradscribe Review

Hero. Legend. King. (But No Spoilers)

“Big movie, big world… I had great confidence in this story that [Ryan Coogler] was trying to tell about Black Panther, and this universe… that he would make something notable and beautiful” – Angela Bassett.  

“So, you like cats?” 

Oh, YES! We love ’em! Especially the big, black and bossin’ kind like the Panther on glorious show here!

The story picks up straight after the events of Captain America: Civil WarIn the wake of King T’Chaka’s death, T’Challa returns to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to tackle his own with-great-power-comes-great-responsibility-thing, fending off challenges to his sovereignty – cue some stunning waterfall fight sequences.

This character is rapidly becoming one of my favourite comic book characters, and this movie could not have arrived at a better time. Ryan ‘Creed’ Coogler has created an amazing African adventure.

As the 18th(!) MCU movie masterwork, in addition to the usually reliable fantastic fare of gobsmacking action, furious car chases, overwhelming drama, Black Panther instantly carves out a unique and distinctive niche within the MCU. In addition to its predominantly black cast, there are more strong female characters than any other recent blockbuster; moreover, it succeeds – thanks to first female Oscar-nominated cinematographer Rachel Morrison – in looking and feeling as magical and mysterious as the continent on which it is set for most of the duration.

Tell you the truth: while initially setting out this Review, the star-rating was loaded before any of this text, so certain that this cat would not – and could not – disappoint!

Looking around and seeing a majority of black cast is something I haven’t had too many opportunities of being a part of. That’s another level of like, “Wow, this is crazy, man” – Michael B. Jordan. 

Writers Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole have crafted an enjoyable script, imbued with plenty of groovy lines to keep this quote-crazy critic jolly for ages. 

The production design – by Hannah Beachler – is suitably endearing; had to look up the genius responsible for costume design – Ruth Carver has created some stunning, quintessentially African threads here.

And wow – there are more scintillating performances here than you can shake an assegai at! We could be here all night discussing individual roles, so let’s talk ahout a select few.

Reigning supreme is Chadwick Boseman, allowed to reprise – and expand – his cool and dignified turn in Civil War to fantastic effect here. Danai Gurira is simply breath-taking – especially in one of the best MCU action scenes (set, unexpectedly in South Korea?!) we will ever see – as General Okoye, Chief Of Security. Can’t forget Lupita Nyong’o as superspy Nakia – even her ear-ornaments were hypnotising! 😉

After being needlessly wasted in The Last Jedi, it is SO GOOD to watch Andy Serkis being deliciously duplicitous and distasteful as token-white one-armed-nogoodnik Ulysses Klaue. His Afrikaans accent is just as entertaining as Martin Freeman’s hilarious American accent!

What’s that?! “Museum Of Great Britain?” Ha ha! Only in the Marvel Universe! 🙂

Michael B. Jordan creates an intriguing – and yet startlingly relatable -antagonist; not so much a villain, but a frustrated soul who fights for what he believes is rightfully his. 

Got to give a special shout-out to Letitia Wright as Shuri – superb and funny as the scene-stealing cheeky younger sister: 

“…It sounded too good to be true. I didn’t know a lot about Black Panther – it felt exciting and fascinating and amazing. Being a Zimbabwean American, my interest [is] in bridging the gap between two places. To actually become part of something that does that is unprecedented…” – Danai Gurira. 

Yes! Wakanda looks every bit as enchanting and exhilarating as hoped – for once, CGI has been put to such stupendous effect. 

It’s baffling when you consider that Warner/DC are incapable of producing a decent comic book movie to save their skins, and yet Marvel Studios continue to excel – almost flawlessly – with each of these quality productions!

My only niggle?

(Apart from that CG-armoured-rhino?): two important elements, vital to the MCU, failed to materialise as expected (if mentioned here, they would probably spoil your expectations/enjoyment too!) Watch out – as always – for that inevitable Stan Lee cameo! (Incredibly, he, and Jack Kirby created Black Panther 52 years ago!). And – oh yes – you know the drill: STAY for both post-credit scenes. (Only a lucky quarter of what had been a packed popcorn parlour remembered to remain and enjoy the second, charming scene!)

Grab as many return tickets to Wakanda as you can get your paws on, True Believers – trust me, this is one Afro-futuristic wonderland you’ll want to keep revisiting time and time again!

Happy, and confident, to report that my first trip to the cinema this year is looking also like a sure-fire contender for Best Movie of the Year. 

No, have not forgotten about Thanos  undoubtedly Avengers: Infinity War is set to blow us all away, but on a much grander scale!

2018 is shaping up to be such an awesome year! 

And, in answer to your question, Danai Gurira should play me in the film of my life. Have no doubt that Ryan Coogler could make someone reading comics and eating cake for three hours into a mesmerising masterpiece as well!

Wakanda Forever!

 

BRADCSRIBE VERDICT

“He really is a groovy cat,
And what a gentleman, a scholar, what an acrobat!” 😉

 

Where We’re Going, They Don’t Have Flying Cars, Doc!

Well, Bless My Flux Capacitor! It’s October 21 2015 Already – Welcome To The Future, Marty!

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“Wait a minute, Doc, what are you talking about? What happens to us in the future? Will we become assholes or something?” – Marty McFly.

Great Scott!

October 21? 2015?! “You mean we’re in the future?!” 

At last, Marty McFly, who is the “only kid ever to get into trouble before he is born,” has arrived today on this date – to sort out his kids. 

Back To The Future, released 30 years ago, is a fine sci-fi adventure, held together by Marty McFly and Doc Brown’s great buddy-repartee – once you get past the heavy premise of his Mum falling in love with him and not George McFly,

Back To The Future II, on the other hand, is a sequel that failed to impress me back then. After finding 2015 too heavy to handle, Marty must travel back to 1955 again to prevent the chaos of an alternate 1985… without interfering with his first trip. So, it’s needlessly complicated, and too heavy to sit through

Even in November 1989, when Back To The Future II was released, there was no way to predict what 2015 would bring. So it really doesn’t come as any surprise what the visual futurists managed to come up with. Rather than pine for the lack of hoverboards – which thousands of other bloggers will be doing today anyway – let’s take a look and see what the ’80s perception of 2015 brought us.

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“The encounter could create a time paradox, the results of which could cause a chain reaction that would unravel the very fabric of the space time continuum, and destroy the entire universe…!” – Dr. Emmett Brown.  

When 1985 McFly wanders bewildered around 2015 Hill Valley one of the more intriguing revelations is Jaws 19 (directed by Max Spielberg, Stephen’s son, born in 1985) at the Holomax. Holographic movies may be imminent, according to the latest science sources, but there is greater sophistication of 3-D technology in movie-making now than ever before.

People dispose of their garbage on the back seat and still – incredibly – along the dashboard, but not in a Mr. Fusion energy converter. Doc’s rejuvenation clinic is not far off from all the botox injections and chemical gubbins that proliferate nowadays. You do realise, of course, that plot device was put in so that Christopher Lloyd could complete Parts II and III without spending so much time and angst in the make-up chair…

Yes, nostalgia for the 80s is quite prevalent now, so having the Cafe 80s in Hill Valley is spot on; and – get thisCharles Gherardi plays “Ayatollah Khomeini Video Waiter.” Swell. 

Actually, there was one horrendous moment which thirty years cannot erase from my memory. The doorbell rings. Marlene McFly comes stomping down the stairs and we see that “she” is played by… Michael J. Fox! Holy flux!!

That’s heavy enough for anyone to choke on their hydrated pizza… 

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“Now look, just take it easy and you’ll be fine, and be careful in the future” – Officer Reese.

Before you criticize the ridiculous get-up of Biff Tannen and his gang, this blogger can actually report – quite sobre, but with dread – to have seen any number of morons dressed like this… and in several countries too. 

The wall of multiple channels on a large widescreen TV and video-conferencing (Skype!) look eerily familiar, and it’s amazing to see how preoccupied Marty Jr is with his hi-tech specs. No handheld phone gadgetry, although in one scene, one character campaigning to restore Hill Valley’s clock tower seems to be holding a tablet. But making a call on an AT&T payphone? In 2015?! Ha! Remarkably, the worldwide web only made its debut in the same year as the release of Back To The Future II! 

Interestingly enough, among Part II’s DVD extras, the Director: Robert Zemeckis tells how he did not want the sequel to take place in the future as any movie set at a future date always ends up “mis-predicted.” No doubt, he had envisaged hordes of bloggers on this very day nitpicking all the stuff that Part II got wrong… 

Personally, the original Back To The Future works perfectly well as a standalone film. It didn’t need a sequel; the final scene – setting the premise for one – works perfectly well as a joke. These, funnily enough, were also the exact opinions of Robert Zemeckis. 

As the Doc said: “Your future is whatever you make it, so make the best of it.” 

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The future starts right here: 

And that’s 1 Challenge down – 4 to go. 😉

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Synchronize your watches! The future’s coming back…

Yeah, today also marks another Anniversary – it’s two years(!) since the very first Bradscribe Post wandered tentatively out into the big wide blogosphere. 

To find out how it all began, you can view it here: 

A BIG THANK YOU to Followers old and new for ALL your support along the way, and hey, here’s to even bigger and better awesomeness in the – ahem – future.

Cheers!

Breaking Brad: Trying To Put Up A Good Fight In The Tech-Wars

Do Not Even Think About Upgrading The System!

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“God isn’t interested in technology… Look how he spends his time: forty-three species of parrots! Nipples for men! …Slugs! He created slugs! They can’t hear. They can’t speak. They can’t operate machinery. Are we not in the hands of a lunatic?!” – Evil.

The future is upon us. Tell me about it; my laptop crashed twenty minutes ago. 

The technology dreaded throughout the sci-fi of olde has now seeped into our everyday lives. But at what price? Amazingly, it looks like everyone has accepted this gleaming gizmo-laden future with open pockets (despite the fact that hardly anyone appears to have any money). Is it disconcerting how people have become so – no, too – dependent on their phones and other assorted gadgetry? Every time on the train, it’s always the same – the majority of commuters with their heads down, eyes locked on their mobile screen, their fingers busy fiddling…

If there is one thing guaranteed to mess up my equilibrium of sobriety and patience then it is the despicable act of “upgrading the system” – that ultimate lunacy of “fixing” what is not broken. Just when you think you’ve mastered one mode of tech, along comes another. And you’re stuck with a piece of junk that has become obsolete faster than you can say: “In which socket does the frickin’ recharger go?!” 

Mark my words: once the the War Against The Machines breaks out, it will be Brad leading what’s left of the human resistance, standing on the front-line, scowling at the HKs.

Whoa no, you accursed machines! You’re not gonna take this carbon-based biped without a fight!

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“‘Humans’ is showing us a world that’s not that far off. We should be questioning whether, as a society, we’re embracing technology too quickly… There’s a generation growing up who only know how to interact with their devices” – Gemma Chan. 

The uneasy relationship between man and machine moves ever closer. As realised in the most recent UK sci-fi drama: Humans, domestic life (in – that most desirable of real-estate – the “near” future) has become so stressful that artificial home-help, known as Synths, is required.

“Basically, they’ll have common sense,” exclaims  Prof Geoff Hinton, one of the top AI scientists. He is currently developing a new type of algorithm designed to encode thoughts as sequences of numbers, which he calls “thought vectors.” He believes the path from current technology to a more sophisticated version approaching a “human-like capacity for reasoning and logic” is plausible. Moreover: “I don’t see why it shouldn’t be like a friend… A flirtatious program would probably be quite simple to create.”

Oh, leave. It. Out. The cynic in me immediately assumes that my human-like artificial intelligent unit will more likely resemble the treacherous Ash (from Alien) than Gemma Chan (above). And would most likely try to throttle me or nick me nachos – both scenarios are far too dire to contemplate…

Hang on, though; nothing to fear just yet.

“We really have no idea how to make a human level AI,” adds Murray Shanahan, professor of cognitive robotics at Imperial College London, and adviser on one of this year’s best films: Ex Machina. He rates the odds of human-level AI development before 2050 as “possible but unlikely.”

It would appear that the sweeping advances in technology now engulfing the 21st century have left some older miscreants (you talkin’ to me?) out, and yet notice how it’s all second nature to the younglings – what the blazes is going on?! You gotta lol…

Like Groucho Marx once said: “Why, it’s so easy a four-year-old kid could understand this… Run out and find me a four-year-old kid; I can’t make head nor tail out of it…”

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“That cold war paranoia is the larger framework of the first two [Terminator] movies, but now we are so reliant on technology… SkyNet no longer needs to beat down your door because you lined up in front of the Apple store and invited the wolf to dinner” – David Ellison.

With ubiquitous technology influencing our “popular” culture, including the movies we watch, it would appear that the traditional sci-fi fear of haywire technology has been made redundant; so, who wants an obsolete Terminator sequel? For the umpteenth time: the first two movies of that franchise were NOT broken… 

Never mind: time to embrace all this talk of tech-this an’ tech-that. If you can’t join ’em, beat the hell outta them i.e. out with the manuals, instructions (and aspirin) and get swottin’. 

Take the other day for instance: having decided to study how to cascade my spreadsheets, and optimize my HTML, etc. the nearest, most moderately-priced technical tome was selected. Huzzah! Brad faces the future – for the first time – with a sense of hope. 

On proceeding confidently – and nonchalantly (hey, gotta look groovy for that CCTV, baby) to the counter, the “member of staff” fumbled with the bar-code in front of the scanner, unable to make it bleep. After having to type it in manually, she uttered the price. Upon handing over my hard-earned polymer note, she gawped incredulously.

“Wow!” she cried. “Real monnay! Oi ain’t seen that fer a long toime!”

One flick of a switch to activate the till. Nothing happened. She fiddled and tugged. Again, nothing continued to happen. Guess what: “they” had upgraded the store’s internal system and forgot to send her the relevant memo. Typical. What could she give me other than a look of utter despair?

“Soz! You can’t buy anyfink today ‘cos oi can’t get me till open.” 

The case continues…

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Keep your friends close and your smartphones closer.

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“Give Me Genisys!”: Or Is This A Case Of Ever Decreasing Sequels?

He Said He’d Be Back…

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“It’s wild… it’s just amazing what they’ve accomplished with the visual effects and then to see yourself the way you were, it’s really fantastic. They’ve imitated exactly the motions and the fights, the way I walked. All this can now be duplicated exactly the same way…” – Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The hardest thing is deciding what to tell you and what not to.

Should this Post tell you that this sequel turns out to be nothing special, barely more agreeable than the last two misguided efforts? That’s a tough one. Will it change your decision to venture to the cinema… knowing? And to think “they” plan to make two more sequels – as part of an intended trilogy – which may be of rapidly decreasing quality?!

God, you can go crazy thinking about all this…

Sure, you can’t deny it’s fantastic to see Arnold Schwarzenegger, back reprising his most iconic role, but it seems that Terminator Genisys has seriously let him down. Originally undecided as to whether to watch this, in the end, what pulled me in was the prospect of a clash between old (not obsolete) “Pops” versus the T-800 from the original movie.

If there is one golden rule in the torturous world of film criticism, then avoid movies that deliberately misspell any part of the title in some lameass ploy to sound cool. Sure enough, this misfire seems to be no exception…

TERMINATOR GENISYS

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“It was one of those: ‘Let’s give it a round of applause’ moments. I mean, Arnie said that line to me, in a helicopter… if that’s not career defining, I don’t know what is” – Emilia Clarke.

So, what good points can we take from this movie?

Emilia Clarke puts in a good, gutsy turn as a decidedly different 80’s girl who can balance her checkbook. There is such a charming subplot about how the “Guardian” came to protect the nine-year-old Sarah Connor lurking somewhere in that script; development of this angle would have added such sorely-needed emotional depth to proceedings, but – typical – we got no more than the briefest of hazy flashbacks.

What about this Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney)? Sent back to a 1984 none of us expected, then – before you can say “mimetic polyalloy” – he has to hurl back to the strange and disconcerting “future” of 2017! Jeez, poor boy. A tad too much tampering with the temporals for my liking. How much more of the space-time continuum can they screw up? 

It was intriguing to see J.K. Simmons involved in this; however, after an astonishing (well-deserved) Oscar-winning performance in Whiplash, he is wasted here, with nothing significant to contribute.

And as for John Connor (Jason Clarke), well, how they’ve handled him this time round is just… wrong. Didn’t like it at all. What can one say – what can one do – when the smartest aspect of the whole movie is having both Connors played by two Clarkes? 

Terminator Genisys is watchable – notably less painful than the last two; but it could – certainly should – have offered so much more. Towards the end, one dissatisfied viewer was seen marching for the Exit, presumably seeking to keep intact the timeline he knew and loved. Sarah Connor herself at one point summed up this whole fruitless exercise rather well: “I know it needs work…” 

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“They’ve reimagined it. They’ve upgraded it. It’s left me in a state of paralisys. It’s crushing every brain synapsys. This is a personal crisys and I may need analisys… Terminator Genisys is the antythisys of enjoyable” – Peter Bradshaw.

Hey, buddy, did you just see a real bright light?

Riding a wave of nostalgia has done wonders these past two months for other fondly treasured franchises such as Mad Max and Jurassic Park, but does it – should it – work for The Terminator? Reshooting the sequence in which the original T-800 arrives at Griffith Park Observatory in LA, was actually quite a nifty move, and the twist was kinda cool – yet if they’re going to digitally recreate 1984 Arnie, then it’s only fair that 1984 Bill Paxton should reappear as well.

The general consensus of reviews basically dismissed Genisys as “witless,” “artless,” thus a pointless exercise. A major factor in the success of those first two movies was the abundance of cool and quotable lines, but here – and you know how much Brad digs groovy quotes – there are no lines worthy of note. Also, there are a few attempts at humour, but they fail miserably. The whole package does look hastily and shoddily assembled, as if by machines (ha!) – the 600 series, most likely (we spotted them easy.)

…And James Cameron himself personally endorsed this? 

If you need me, you can find me drowning my sorrows down at Tech Noir. (You know it, it’s on Pico.)

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Cheese!