Do The Wampa Stomp!: Dancing To Another Liebster Award

Was Ist Das? Ein Weiterer Liebster?! Ausgezeichnet!

“The world is never the same once a good blog has been added to it” – Dylan Thomas.  

A BIG THANK YOU to Danica @ Living A Beautiful Life for nominating me for another Liebster Award!

This honour is particularly special to me as Danica is truly one of the blogosphere’s exceptional treasures; her collection of “Short Stories, Flights of Fancy and Everyday Anecdotes” are a delight. 

What is the Liebster Award?

The word “liebster” (originating in German) has several definitions — dearest, sweetest, kindest, nicest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued. 

This award recognizes bloggers who offer amazing content and can connect with their readers in ways that are truly awesome. For me, it is an opportunity to show my appreciation for the finest blogs to illuminate my Reader (and let you know that my visits would be far more frequent if poss!)

Acknowledge the blog that nominated you and display the award.
Answer the 11 questions the blogger gives you.
Give 11 random facts about yourself.
Nominate 11 blogs.
Notify those blogs of the nomination.
Give them 11 questions to answer.

 

11 QUESTIONS Answered

Coffee or tea or mocha/hot chocolate?

Tea all day every day while writing. Mocha whenever in town.

Why do you blog?

To show editors/employers what Brad can do; without anything published (yet) my blogs are the only proof that BRAD LIVES. And has created. 

How would you describe your sense of humor?

Good to flimsy!

What would you do in your ideal day?

Anything with Mrs. B!

Summer or winter?

Summer boy, definitely! English Winters always got the better of me…

Beach or mountains?

Love both! Nothing like walking along a beach. Or biking in the mountains.

Could you live without your smartphone? 

Interesting question!

A more pertinent query would be to ask most people why they feel the need to live WITH one! It has become such a monotonous, time-wasting addiction. Nobody calls/texts me; my laptop offers any data/news updates anyway – would much rather prefer a sardine sandwich than a smartphone, thanks. 

Do you like sardines?

Aha! Now you’re talkin’…

How do you like your eggs?

Preferably on me table, not in me face, cheers!

Does the weather affect the way you see the day?

The best time to write is when a storm is howling outside – gratifying to know you’re not stuck out there in it! 

Can you dance well?

Blimey Charley, CAN Brad dance! Woo-hoo!! Gets on the good foot whenever he can… 

“The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words” – William H. Gass.

 

11 Random Facts About Brad:

1 THERE’S BEEN NO BLOGGING this past weekend, because my artwork is taking up all my creative time/effort @ th mo! It is another therapeutic way for me to unwind.

2 NEVER EATEN in McDonalds – as an “active” member of the Friends Of The Earth group at college, we voted to boycott all branches (then suffering from a reputation of unhygienic practices) – a principle this freedom fighter has faithfully adhered to ever since…

3 CAN’T STOP playing this:

4 NEVER MET any of my current group of friends. Seeing as you are all bloggers – based predominantly Stateside, (presumably reading this right NOW!) – have wondered how great it would be to have a mocha and a chat with you!

5 MOST OF THE BEST IDEAS for my fiction come to me when out walking.  

6 THE ONLY STAR WARS ACTOR that Brad met was Dave Prowse.

The Green Cross Code was a national campaign during the 1970s to educate UK children road safety issues. Dave Prowse magically appeared in a number of TV commercials as the Green Cross Code Man to instruct kids to: Stop! Look! Listen!  before they dared to venture out into the road. Went to a local funfair to meet him; he took one look @ pint-size Brad and slapped a Green Cross Code badge on me. Will never forget it – was like being punched in the chest! Top bloke.  

7 BELIEVE that Lawrence of Arabia (1962) is the GREATEST Movie Ever Made. It excels in every department: direction, cinematography, the acting, etc. It has the best entrance of any character in cinema history; that score by Maurice Jarre! And the screenplay by Robert Bolt remains truly inspirational and unmatched. There are enough fantastic quotes to fill at least THREE of my Posts! Choosing just ONE clip for this Post is gruelling enough, but Anthony Quinn’s first scene is both dynamic and amusing.

(see Question #7)

Auda Abu Tayi: “Who told you that?”

T.E. Lawrence: “I have long ears.”

Auda Abu Tayi: “And a long tongue between them…”

8 THE NAME of my record shop would have been “Al Gore Rythms.” (Would he have approved? Probably not – can’t spell rythms).

9 STILL TYPE ‘s’ instead of ‘a’, and ‘r’ instead of ‘e’!

10 HAD COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN that Bradscribe has its own Facebook page! (Doesn’t matter – NOBODY looks @ it anyway – ha!) 

11 THIS IS THE ONLY BLOG to have LOST Followers in the last six months!  

 

So, now we come to the exciting part!:

My 11 Nominees:

boxofficebuzz

byhookorbybook

cinemaparrotdisco

mycomicrelief

mysideofthelaundryroom

onthescreenreviews

recoverytowellness

sci-fijubilee

stephenliddell

thetelltalemind

wordsforeverything

 

My Questions:

1 What is the best aspect about blogging? 

2 Thor: Ragnarok or Justice League?  

3 Who is your favourite fictional character?  

4 What music have you enjoyed listening to this week?

5 What was the last line of movie dialogue that made you ROFL?

6 Should one writer be allowed to change the background story or ethnicity of another writer’s character?

7 What do YOU consider to be the GREATEST Movie Ever Made?

8 Can you dance well?

9 What should be done to improve Bradscribe?

10 Could you live without chocolate? 

11 We’ve analyzed their attack and there is a danger. Should I have your ship standing by?

 

And finally, here – by popular demand – is the key to how the Official Bradscribe Ratings System works:

 

DJANGO MEETS SARTANA!

DJANGO FANDANGO

DJANGO BELLS

JINGO DJANGO BANJO

STOP! OR DJANGO’S MOM WILL SHOOT 

 

Of course, all my Nominees – hey! and Danica, of course! – excel in a Django Meets Sartana stylee!

Please Don’t Change A Thing…

 

“We gotta go. Come on, move with me. We got a plan, and we’re going to stick to it” – Tony Stark.

 

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“Oh Globbits!”: It’s The Bradscribe Video Show!

“Where The Blazes Has That Brad Got To?!”

“He’s Stuck In An 80s Vortex!”

“What, AGAIN?!”

“Eighties – I’m living in the Eighties
Eighties – I have to push, I have to struggle
Eighties – get out of my way, I’m not for sale no murr!” – Killing Joke.

Yes, again!

Welcome to my very own neon sanctuary, which – not that surprising to all those who know an’ love Bradscribe oozes with positive 80s vibes.

A cavalcade of classic 80s pop can get me out of any daggy, uncreative mood. After a few weeks stuck in a rut – unable to make ANY of my writing dance, or fly, in my usual inimitable groovy style – various vids were activated and bingo! – it has worked! My reviews, articles – even my fiction! – are now back on track.

Instead of banging out that intense piece about dystopian SF – besides, it’s a wet and dreary Bank Holiday Monday out there – thought it best to spread this feelgood factor. In this Age of Outrage, we could certainly do with MORE FUN and nostalgia!

This is not the first time this site has delved into Neon Nostalgia and it won’t be the last!

Not only could you listen to the best pop music – on your own Sony Walkman of course! – the 80s also offered the best videos, the best movies, the best telly shows, the best candy etc. etc.

For those of you too young to remember the Golden Age of the music video (or never around then) no worries! Let this selection of some of my faves – with my blessings – be your gateway. 

No need to get your deely-bobbers in a twist! Help yourself to a Curly-Wurly!

Just pull your jacket sleeves up, stick your ghetto-blaster in the air and away we go!

“You’re too shy shy hush hush eye to eye
Too shy shy hush hush eye to eye
Too shy shy hush hush eye to eye
Too shy shy hush hush hush” – Kajagoogoo. 

One of the most distinctive synthpop groups of the 80s was Ultravox – always been fascinated by that snazzy sci-fi name!

They had several classic vids, but this was the best ‘cos it was the most exciting.

Great camaraderie among the group in this highly adventurous vid; plus, the director has even wrangled a way to include Midge Ure’s addiction to hang-gliding as well – huzzah!

You do realise that between 0:30-0:39 you will witness the Greatest Moment in Pop Video History:

“Say, we can act if we want to
If we don’t, nobody will
And you can act real rude and totally removed
And I can act like an imbecile” – Men Without Hats.

And they say that back in the day this fella was a heartthrob? Wild Boys? Too wild fer me, man…

Still, a darn sight better than the talentless cretins the “music industry” foist upon us nowadays, but hey! Promised there would be NO argy-bargy on this Post.

The only mildly offensive material you may encounter here is a very dodgy shoulder pad or two.

You really couldn’t get anyone less offensive than Kate Bush.

Despite being perceived as a tad uncool back in the day, this video has always affected me in a good way. Part of the charm here is a wonderful cameo from Donald Sutherland, and guess what!

Managed to accompany this vid with a gif from cult classic teen vamp shocker:The Lost Boys, which features Donald’s son Kiefer.

Ha, Brad amazes even himself sometimes!

“You spin me right round, baby
Right round like a record, baby
Right round, round, round” – Dead Or Alive.

Look at this!

With spiky blond hair and bum fluff, THIS is EXACTLY how Brad looked in 1987!

Seriously!

Even at college, the most common thing people in the street asked me happened to be: “Could I have your autograph, Kiefer?”

In 1985, the Sisters of Mercy were a standard dark Goth band, but with the breakthrough Floodland LP in 1987, they became a bigger and better phenomenon. With a steady stream of hit singles, each came with its own elaborate video.

Here, with Dominion, we see what 80s videos excelled at: amazing photography, exotic location shots and iconic moments. This is the most unlikely place to find a saxophone! But then again, anything and everything could work during the 80s.

Here, Andrew Eldritch never looked cooler.

And Patricia Morrison never looked hotter. 

“Karma Karma Karma Karma, Karma Chameleon
You come and go, you come and go
Loving would be easy if your colours were like my dream
Red gold and green, red gold and green” – Culture Club.

Dominating BBC TV schedules every Thursday night used to be Top Of The Pops.

If a pop group wanted to boost sales they could do no better than be featured on this show. Sure, all appearances were mimed, the presenters would sometimes bombard audiences with the most appalling puns, and the audience invariably consisted of morons who believed that hogging the cameras was the ONE aim in life, but it became – undeniably – a National Treasure.

Loved the exotic Eastern sounds of Blancmange’s Living On The Ceiling. Fondly remenber this as one of my all-tive fave TV moments, and feeling aggrieved that (being, at that time, without a VCR) there would never be another chance to watch this ever again…

“Buying bread from a man in Brussels
He was six foot four and full of muscles
I said, “Do you speak-a my language?”
He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich” – Men At Work.

Now, something to enrich your viewing pleasure!

My American friends will be unaware of this lil gem – the main reason why Brad hardly did any of his school homework! Or his chores! (Whatever they were…)

“Cthulhu for kids” as one bright spark remarked. The narrator: Willie Rushton was a talented writer/satirist and his distinctive voice worked perfectly.

Who needs CGI  when you can do wonders with plasticine?!

With the revelation that Drut spelt backwards is turd, the hilarity lasted for WEEKS – aah, happy times…

“I feel peculiar…”

“Hold a chicken in the air
Stick a deckchair up your nose
Buy a jumbo jet
And then bury all your clothes
Paint your left knee green
Then extract your wisdom teeth
Form a string quartet
And pretend your name is Keith” – Spitting Image.

With film reviews, comic round-ups, fiction, and now 80s Club Nights (WAHEY!!) you can’t deny that Brad is one groovy gaff at which to hang out!

Whatever lousy mood you may find yourself in, trust me, put on this next vid by the Thompson Twins (hey, there’s three of ’em, ha!) and a big, contented grin will always be guaranteed.

“Dance, boy; dance, boy!”

“Wake me up before you go-go
Don’t leave me hanging on like a yo-yo
Wake me up before you go-go
‘Cause I’m not plannin’ on going solo” – Wham.

 

And how could we end this Post without including Bill Murray?!

Honestly, it was either him or Molly Ringwald… 

“I ain’t afraid of no gif”

 

Well, what vids did you/do you enjoy the most from the 80s?

 

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2: The Bradscribe Review

The Difficult Second Album…? 

“It’s unlike the first movie in so many ways. It’s wild, it’s daring…” – James Gunn.

“It’s high on its own supply,” stated one discouraging early review.

But hey! That’s no bad thing, ‘cos Brad is high on believing that Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is another veritable smash hit for Marvel! Everybody enjoyed the original – this reviewer included, especially captivated by the wisecracking hamster/monkey/puppy, as you can see here.

Rather than copy all that was awesome and entertaining from the original, this sequel attempts to expand – on the largest scale possible! Plus, just about every riotous and rambunctious scene is ram-packed with a delirious spectrum of candy colours.

Kicking off not long after the end of the first movie, our beloved bunch have to deal with a typically gooey reject from the Men In Black franchise for Ayesha, Gold Leader of the Sovereign race. Due to the uncompromising wiles (and winks!) of the unscrupulous Rocket – stealing batteries?! BAD hamster! – they escape with Sovereign remotely-piloted drones (in a wacky swipe at vintage arcade gaming!) darting after the Milano. In a bizarre twist, the Guardians are saved by the intervention of an ancient and mysterious celestial entity, who ends up providing a substantial emotional heft to these chaotic proceedings.

“Now the expectations are very high, so there’s more pressure… I still think we’re going to surpass expectations, but it’s going to be monumentally different…” – Chris Pratt.

You just gotta dig the snazzy ingredients that constitute the Guardians formula: a groovy opening credits sequence; madcap action; quirky humour; and zingin’-an’-a-pingin’ cosmic thrills presented in a whopping great fun and frenetic package!

Well done to James Gunn for creating a script exploring – within such a mainstream blockbuster – the intriguing psychodynamics of family tensions and, in addition, it’s (g)rooted in how the Guardians find the belonging they crave – developing their own adoptive family unit.

Cool to see the Ravagers again, but even better to see Kraglin – one of the first film’s underrated supporting figures! – receive a more meaty role this time around. But praise for Michael Rooker! Another terrific outing for Yondu – who knew this red-finned dude would provide some of this sequel’s funniest and most powerfully moving moments?!

Oh yes, the Stan Lee cameo is hilariousone of his best! And for this Marvel fanboy: a great surprise to see the Watchers as well!

Inevitably, the biggest scene-stealer is the smallest “Guardian”: Baby Groot, in turns a tricksy twig and soppy sapling.

We all want one! Don’t we?!

“I have the biggest fin because I’m the coolest dude. You will see, in the process of the film, how that comes about – Michael Rooker.

Sure, Vol. 2 had no hope of matching its predecessor: an unexpected smash that set the bar so enjoyably high, but it certainly did pile on lots to relish, but…

Let’s get the niggles outta the way.

One of the weakest points of the first movie is now the primary problem of the second. The only viable reason for bringing Nebula back involved developing her character, but – ho-hum, once again – all she can do is bitch and broodher presence here is even more pointless than three years ago…

Again, Zoe Saldana spent more time getting her face painted than being allowed to expand Gamora’s character…

Really wanted to like Mantis, but she came across as too fizzy and fragile. Her interactions with Drax undoubtedly came cursed with the movie’s poorest lines.

Yes! Sylvester Stallone is more unintelligible than ever…

Naturally, there is still more bickering than actual guarding going on, but hey! That just adds to the charm of the whole caboodle.

But please! Spare me the David Hasselhoff-was-Peter’s-childhood-icon crap. And that frickin’ cameo! Jeez, really wanna unsee THAT…

What, you imagined… he was your Dad?!

You got issues, Quill…

“Only someone like me could pull something like this off…” – Kurt Russell.

To think that Pratt’s own suggestion led to the one and only Kurt Russell being cast as Ego The Living Pranet – a quite formidable opponent who, back in the day, certainly kept Thor – even Galactus! “occupied”!   

Not as badass as Snake Plissken; not as cool as R.J. Macready, Russell’s Egoha! love typing that – is nevertheless an unforgettable monster. Thankfully a more substantial antagonist than Ronan The Accuser! Uff, celestials make rotten Dads, but as our awestruck gaze sweeps across that sumptuous vista, you can’t help but think: that is a handsome planet…

Kurt Russell, the star of Stargate, and doughty white-vested hero of Big Trouble In Little China, is an undeniable icon of SF cinema, and thus certainly adds the necessary style and gravitas here.

The interaction between this father and son is engrossing, until a shocking revelation leads to Peter unleashing his Pac of tricks.

In conclusion then, this movie is an absolute blast!

From the dashing 1980 Russell beaming at Meredith (and listening to Brandy), to the gargantuan finale, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 delivers just the right level of energy and escapism to ensure the quintessential cinema experience.

In actual fact: can’t remember the last time a Big Release elicited so many laughs and tears from yours truly!

Even digged that Mary Poppins gag you never knew you needed!

So, many repeat viewings are assured then.

And the tantalising hint from the post-creds indicating the appearance of one of my Top 5 All-Time Fave Marvel Cosmic Characters in Vol. 3 sounds like the next instalment could be even bigger!

“Oh… YEAH!”

 

BRADSCRIBE RATING: 4 Ooga-Chakas outta 5

 

“‘Rocket do this, Rocket do that…!'” – Rocket Raccoon.  

 

No raccoons or sentient trees were harmed in the making of this Post.

 

“Of Star-Gods And Sales Figures”: The Short-Lived Comic Books That Live Long In The Memory

Another Frenetic Excursion Through Bronze Age Awesomeness. 

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“Easy with that pig-sticker! You and your buddy ought to be more discreet about where you have spats…” – E. Hammond Preiss.

“Not quite a year ago, I composed a brief text feature on the letters page as an introduction and I’m writing what amounts to an epilogue.”

So wrote David Kraft, in an Editorial, snazzily titled: “Of Star-Gods And Sales Figures,” effectively announcing that this: Creatures On The Loose Featuring Man-Wolf #37 (June 1975), would be the final ish.

He explained how: “Sales, of course, are generally the deciding factor. But not totally.”

Apparently, despite “doing well on the newsstands,” it hadn’t been doing well enough. Kraft explained that granting J. Jonah Jameson’s hairy star-cursed son his own book was given “very serious consideration,” but at that time, Marvel had already laid extensive plans to launch a variety of new series.

Wonder if any of them reached the heights of Man-Wolf?

With Kraft‘s script and George Perez’s art, the final ish of Creatures On The Loose is a rip-roaring yarn.

It’s only fault?

Who knows if the savage progeny of the moon managed to land the spacecraft and save his friends on the last page…?

And now, we take a rare venture into DC territory – from Man-Wolf to Ironwolf – hey, get that symmetry!

“You’re no better than the Empress – you’re worse! At least she doesn’t hide her evil behind fine words and gracious hospitality!” – Ironwolf.

The tenth and final ish of DC’s Weird Worlds: Ironwolf #10 (November 1974), features an Editorial called: “Weird Words.” It states that despite being both a critical and commercial success, this title has to close – why?

“In a word: Ecology.

“For years, we’ve been publishing stories in the comics, warning of impending shortages of vital materials… The problem is real. One proof is that there will me no more Weird Worlds. We can’t get enough paper to publish it. Simple as that.”

Hmm… your correspondent is NOT convinced.

This “serious paper shortage” does not appear to have affected all the poor and underwhelming titles churned out – by both DC and Marvel, not to mention other indie publishing houses – during the intervening four decades (thus justifying my love and belief in Bronze Age books).

This particular ish – featuring Ironwolf: a sword-wielding adventurer in the John Carter of Mars mould – has lots to commend it, especially lively art by Howard Chaykin. The story is pleasing galactic fun, enticing enough to make me hunt down further ishs – there are only nine of them, so it shouldn’t be an extensve hunt…

“Fool! My defensive screens can easily neutralize your pathetic attack. Can you do as well against my ionic sword?” – Salia Petrie.

“She’s forcing me into a corner and if her sword punctures the copper foil skinsuit under my costume, I’ll age a thousand years in a second!” – Vance Astro.

The third selection in this eclectic mix also happens to be the final ish of a classic title unfairly terminated much too soon.

Three reasons drew me to Ms. Marvel: a woman as the central character; news of her own forthcoming movie; and perhaps the most obvious excuse: it was written by Chris Claremont – the same auteur responsible for making The Uncanny X-Men such a stupendous – and enduring – series.

After acquiring both impressive and disappointing mags in this series, this ish: #23 (April 1979) is one of the best in the series. Abducted by The Faceless One and taken to the space station known as Drydock, she finds Salia Petrie – a fellow NASA colleague whose mind is being controlled by the cosmic villain.

And there is a cameo appearance by Vance Astro, leader of the Guardians of the Galaxywho will be all the rage in cinemas again next month!

Actually, it is not that difficult to see why the fate of this particular series was sealed: apart from the constant change of artist – always not a good sign Carol Danvers’ drastic change in costume appears to have been a desperate misjudgment. Moreover, being terminated in 1979, alas, meant that female-led series still had a long way to go before achieving mainstream acceptance…

“You people kidnapped me, you seek to destroy our planet… Do you expect me to show you mercy? If so, forget it, fiends. There’s nothing I won’t do to stop you. Nothing!” – Dejah Thoris.

“I have never been one write letters to the editor. However, something has come up that I cannot let pass. Simply put, the termination of John Carter of Mars, Warlord of Mars is an injustice,” stated one disgruntled reader, printed in #26 (August 1979) – the penultimate ish.

On the strength of this exciting – and yet moving – mag, other copies have been sought this past few months. It was truly a great expedition when #7 (Decemper 1977) came into my possession, and at a reduced sale price too. A keen John Carter fan for most of my life, Marvel did a fine job on this series.

This particular ish just happens to be blessed with the pulsating pencils of Gil Kane. And its title: Dejah Thoris Lives promises a suitably feisty appearance by one of science-fantasy’s most iconic princesses. In the hands of that other exceptional Wolf: Marv Wolfman, this ish does not disappoint!

Again, it is such a shame that this brand of awesomeness was ultimately defeated by the crass excuse of “poor sales.”

1979 was one of my favourite years; and yet it seems to have been less than favourable as far as comic books are concerned…

“Awwright, ya flap-eared yahoos! Everybody git your tails inside an’ git them fishbowls off!” – Nick Fury.

Know you this: Nick Fury is one of my all-time fave Marvel characters. It has been an absolute pleasure tracking down the work of the legendary Jim Steranko, arguably the greatest artist to bring this deadly Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. to bold and wise-crackin’ life. You’d think that he would have no trouble saving an experimental title like What If? from the dreaded sales figures curse, but no…

Stan Lee presents: A Stunning Saga Of An Alternate Reality, indeed!

#14 (April 1979) boasts the incredible question: What If Sgt. Fury Had Fought WWII In Outer Space? On the morning of 7 December 1941, the Pearl space station is attacked by a squadron of “crummy Betan lizards.” Such a bizarre premise proved too irresistible; plotted by Gary Friedrich, drawn by Herb Trimpe – and narrated by The Watcher of course! – this special bumper-sized edition is certainly unputdownable stuff!

All the ishs featured here hold reserved places in my ever-expanding Bronze Age collection, although it is a shame that that it is their ephemeral nature that link them together. Ironically, the discontinuation of these titles has bolstered their value – not to mention made them more difficult to come by.

At the end of the day, sales figures proved to be far more effective at crushing heroes than any nefarious plan concocted by the most devious costumed supervillains.

Thankfully, David Kraft and George Perez were allowed to produce the two concluding episodes of the Star-God Saga in a couple of ishs of Marvel Premiere four years later.

Kraft ended that editorial in 1975 by stating: “Doing this series has been a lot of fun for all of us here, especially George and myself, and we hope that you’ve gotten some entertainment out of it along the way.

“We’re only sorry it had to end so soon.”

“I knew one of you super-creeps was responsible for this! Good or bad – you’re all the same…! You’ve got to be stamped out – no matter what the cost! And if J. Jonah Jameson has anything to say about it, you will be!” – J. Jonah Jameson.

 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: A Bradscribe Review

State Your Elation For The Record:

This Rogue Is The One To Rave About!

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“The first thing that you have to do is get over the fact that you’re doing a scene with Darth Vader. That took me a little while, because I’m a first-generation fanboy” – Ben Mendelsohn.

One of the many disappointments with Star wars Episode III is that it denied our chance to see how the Rebel spies stole the Death Star plans.

For TOO LONG has yours truly revelled in the intrigue induced by the legendary scrawl:

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…and wondered how that premise would… (eventually?) make such a great movie…

And here it is! It only took three and a half decades for delivery.

Like the seemingly impossible mission for which this ragtag band a’ rebels volunteer, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story defies the odds to present such a welcome addition to the galaxy’s greatest saga.

Well! Where do we begin?!

A big fist-pump to this band of lovable rogues. They represent a superior Suicide Squad: more thrilling and thankfully less puerile. We do end up caring about their fate, which seemed to be the ultimate challenge here.

Quite frankly, Felicity Jones is a revelation as Jyn, galactic tearaway and daughter of Galen Erso, the reluctant creator of the Empire’s new superweapon. Admittedly, Jones looks an unlikely action star, but she pulls it off with aplomb. 

By far the best of the main bunch are Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yenstill can’t believe he fits so well in this galaxy!) and Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang) – the fighters from Jedha. 

Love the relationship between Cassian and Kaytoo, although this charming lil plot device was crying out for further attention and development. Considering what an obvious win the reprogrammed Imperial droid turned out to be, he deserved greater opportunities to scene-steal. (If they couldn’t grant him more lines, at least give him that blaster!). 

Still reckon that Diego Luna makes a way cooler Star Wars name than Cassian Andor…

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“That’s right, I’m playing the male lead! I didn’t really think that would be such a big deal…” – Felicity Jones.

The main problem with SF these days is that sfx have reached such stupendous levels, other elements such as plot and character development sometimes tend to fail in comparison. But Rogue One overrides that problem – all elements fuse reasonably well to produce something that is undeniably enjoyable. 

Here, the effects are suitably grandiose and awe-inspiring, from the graceful flights of the supersleek spacecraft(s) to the simply stunning vistas of Jedha and Mauritiuis – (sorry!) Scarif.

What about the aliens? 

Sorely underused – a personal gripe. For my Rough Guidequite tactfully, details relating to Pao and Bishan were dropped. Naturally assuming that they might not receive too much screen-time, they didn’t even get a word in – not even an indecipherable one! Between them!

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“I’d have loved to have taken a Stormtrooper outfit but we weren’t meant to take anything. I got away with a couple of small things but I can’t tell you what” – Mads Mikkelsen. 

Of the Imperial personnel, Ben Mendelsohn is particularly impressive as Director Orson Krennic. 

It was wonderful to see that well-known (well-despised?) officer from A New Hope make a dramatic reappearance. Was expecting to burst into tears upon catching sight of this beloved actor, but, just when you think how sophisticated CGI has become – let’s face it – he doesn’t look natural! No real presence = no credible menace. Moreover, they did not get the voice right!

But what about Vader?!

Surely, this film could never have worked without everyone’s fave Sith Lord. The build-up to his long-waited “return” is tense; his first scene (shared with Krennic) presents him in typically moody and magnificent mode.

His second scene?

Deep breath: WHOA! He REALLY gets busy – showing a Dark Side darker than anyone had ever expected! This is REVENGE of the Sith right here! 

Aren’t we so grateful that James Earl Jones could lend his esteemed vocal talents to Star Wars once more!

Sadly, however, the rest of the Imperial Officers are just anonymous. 

Is it possible to have a Star wars movie without a John Williams score? Some fans may argue that Rogue One does not feel right, precisely because of that vital exclusion. The music here is rousing enough, especially the mystic twang played when the proceedings reach Jedha.

As these rogues are rougher, the action more gritty, the dogfights more spectacular, for me, Rogue One is bigger and better than The Force Awakens.

There have been a few five-star reviews appearing in the last two days. Obviously, those critics have enjoyed the exhilarating ride that uberfan Gareth Edwards (the force is strong with him!) has concocted here, but, to be fair, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story falls short of the brilliant standard of The Empire Strikes Back – a veritable 5* package if ever there was one. 

The power of what we are dealing with here may be immeasurable to some, but this first-generation fanboy is pleased (relieved!) to bestow upon it a solid:

4-out-of-5

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“For my 30th birthday, we visited the Skywalker home in Tunisia. I stood at the same spot where Luke watched the sunset. My girlfriend said: “For your 40th birthday, you won’t be able to top this!” For my 40th birthday, I was directing Rogue One…” – Gareth Edwards. 

Arrival: The Bradscribe Review

What Is The Purpose Of This Movie?

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“The premise is that aliens are landing in places that make no sense, and nothing is happening. The world is freaking out… I love that” – Denis Villeneuve.

“I was in love with the exaggeration of reality or exploration of the world from a different point of view, which is science fiction” explains Denis Villeneuve.

When the French-Canadian director admits that “it’s tough to find good science fiction material,” at least he has tried – and succeeded – to rectify this matter in the intriguing form of Arrival, the sort of thought-provoking SF that rarely gets the big-screen treatment.

Based on Ted Chiang’s novella: “Story of Your Life” – a “highly scientific, not inherently cinematic” work – twelve massive, shell-shaped spacecraft appear in the most unlikeliest locations around the world. And the race is on to find out What They Want.

On a university campus, comparative linguistics professor Dr. Louise Banks, (played by Amy Adams)realises that constant low-flying jets and a collision in the car park signify that this is turning out to be no ordinary day.  

After learning about the Breaking News of the Century – strangely enough on an HD TV, not via smartphone – the Prof is soon whisked away by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) to Montana where the USA’s very own extraterrestrial representative has chosen to hang around. 

There is no explanation as to why a section of the craft opens up every eighteen hours, or how this arrangement was initially achieved but, nevertheless, a palpable sense of wonder ensues. 

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“…At the end of the day, it’s a story about a woman and her child, and the choices she makes. That’s really interesting to play in a sci-fi movie about communication and global war” – Amy Adams.

Why are they here, indeed.

For the central role, Adams puts in an engaging performance, one of intimacy and empathy, managing to elevate this material from the depths of absurdity to which it could so easily have sunk.

And despite its disturbing nature, the gradual unravelling of international tensions actually makes for compelling viewing.

Perhaps the most enthralling scene is the intrepid hazmat squad’s literally breath-taking ascent into the spacecraft, and their conversion to a vertical gravity. One discrepancy and all the guests would hurtle back/down to terra firma!

The visitors referred to here as  “heptapods” appear and dissolve in mist behind a transparent screen. They reminded me of the tentacled martians as depicted in The War Of The Worlds; the whale-like sounds they emit are particularly haunting. 

“Abbott and Costello” – how charming! Why do we see just two of them? …And we didn’t get to find out why they each have seven legs, either.

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I didn’t think it would look as big and expansive as it is. We’re in a black box. With a white screen and a hazmat suit… It emotionally wrecked me” – Jeremy Renner.

What a relief that Arrival spares us the eerie and stereotypical dramatic scenes of the alien armada ominously approaching Earth. Quite unlike more standard alien invasion flicks –gadzooks! They’re here already! An unsettling touch if ever there was one. And it is nothallelujah! – an invasion anyway!

Such a welcome cavalcade of subtle ideas: scientific, cultural and – oh yes! – linguistic. Part of the fascination for this movie centred on wondering how Villeneuve et al would bring it to a satisfactory denouement. Had expected a twist, but on a non-linear level? Heavy, baby.

Ultimately, its stark themes convince us that this film is not about the aliens, but about us: the complicated bipeds. In attempts at First Contact, these proceedings instead invoke that inherent inability to effectively communicate among our own species. Not only does communication (and co-operation) break down, in this hi-tech age, it gets switched off! 

As one news reporter rightly remarked at one point, whatever benevolent need our visitors require, why do they come in twelve ships, when only one would have sufficed?

It is startling to realise that in that cramped and bustling army camp in Montana, Dr. Banks is the only major female presence. Really?!

It is almost miraculous how she and physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) crack the intricacies of the alien non-linear orthography in unbelievably short time and in such stressful geopolitical circumstances.

Thankfully, this film is more engaging than Interstellar, and undoubtedly light years more worthwhile than Independence Day: Resurgence. 

Perhaps Arrival’s greatest asset is that, in a world increasingly tearing itself apart through social unrest and breakdowns in diplomacy, it could not have been released at a more apt time…

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BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

4-out-of-5

Doctor Strange: The Bradscribe Review

Open Your Eye…

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“It’s Strange” – Doctor Strange.

“Maybe, who am I to judge?” – Kaecilius. 

When you’re strange, faces come out of the rain.

When Bennybatch is Strange, Marvel go ALL OUT to make the fourteenth – and latest – entry in their formidable Cinematic Universe: Doctor Strange, a spectacular and one-heckuva-trippy outing. 

Straight after the new, enhanced Marvel Studios logo is unveiled, we are led on a blistering ride of energy-harnessing and reality (re)shaping.

Benedict Cumberbatch is a long way from Holmes in the role of arrogant neurosurgeon Stephen Strange, whose self-centred world comes crashing down around him after losing the use of his hands in a horrific car accident. He is advised to travel to Nepal, where answers of a mystic kind can be attained… providing he foregoes his stubborn defeatist attitude that “this material universe is all there is.”

Cumberbatch has the right look, mood and elocution to create this extraordinary character – no wonder the studio upheld production until he had completed his Hamlet sting in London’s West End!

Having got over initial reservations concerning visuals designed TOO closely to the aesthetic originally concocted for Inception and The Matrix, such scenes as soaring through the multi-dimensional vortices and the confrontation with the dread Dormammu are suitably good fun.

“Have you seen THAT at a gift shop?”

Fortunately, complementing the impressive visuals is a really snappy script: bold, intellectual, coherent and invariably humorous. 

For a handy intro to this character, see here:

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“You’re a man looking at the world through a keyhole. You’ve spent your life trying to widen it. Your work saved the lives of thousands. What if I told you that reality is one of many?” – The Ancient One. 

Much controversy centred around Tilda Swinton’s casting as The Ancient One. Changing the ethnicity to Celtic (?!) was (ahem) strange, but when you consider that the original setting for all those mystic arts was switched from Tibet to Nepal so as to appease the Chinese box office, it all becomes so painfully politically “correct.”

By the Rings of Raggadorr, the Power of Yen conquers all it seems. Business is – annoyingly, regrettably – business. 

Wong (Benedict Wong)his forever-faithful, forever-making-tea manservant from the comics – has been upgraded to Head Librarian. Amazingly, the titular role and the librarian are both played by top British thesps who share the same forename: Benedict – how strange!

Kaecilius – as noted before, is a character NOT found in the comics. Maybe he is not given as many memorable dastardly moments as we would like, but hey! The fact that it is played to sinister perfection by Mads Mikkelsen, possibly my – and your! – fave villainous character actor provides enough reason to rejoice.

And when you’re starting to wonder how this visual treat ties in with the rest of the MCU, there IS the honorary Stan Lee cameo – that is hilarious! To help bring further MCU relevance to these proceedings, Wong helpfully states:

“The Avengers protect the world from physical enemies… we safeguard it against more mystical threats.”

Too right, Wong!

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“Steve Ditko is one of the greatest Marvel artists in history… We are now able to take his trippy comic panels and have the technology to put that into big 3-Dimensional space on a movie screen… it’s amazing” – Kevin Feige. 

Okay, let’s get the most annoying problem (which applies to too many movies these days, not just Doctor Strange) out of the way first.

As is all too painfully predictable in modern cinema these days, Rachel McAdams has woefully little to do here, worryingly described as the “love interest.” As is so often, her “appearance” is reduced to insipid underdevelopment. And Stephen shows little Interest anyway. Yet again, we are left wondering what necessitated her inclusion at all…

It would have been really groovy if Martin Freeman’s American character from Cap America: Civil War had made a cameo somewhere here! Talk about opportunity missed…

Once again – as expected, Vishanti be praised! – Marvel has produced another great hit. It’s well worth checking out. Remember to stay for the post-cred scenes; BOTH are impressive – one features a cameo from one of Marvel’s well-established heroes (Hint: he does NOT like tea!)

As for me, multiple repeat viewings are assured – while you go and enjoy this one, Brad will be pleasantly coming down. Preferably with tea.

No mushrooms! Just tea. With a little honey. 

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BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

4 Eyes of Agamotto out of 5 – hey, four Eyes is nothin’ ta snigger at!