Q is for Q

Yes, that title amuses me. There are very few characters I could think of with names beginning with Q, I suppose I could’ve gone with Quicksilver, but I thought I’d go for the head of Q Branch in MI6.

I didn’t realise how long ago it was that I watched and reviewed all the James Bond films aka my Bondathon but that was in 2015. I still have fond memories of Desmond Llewelyn’s portrayal of Q. I especially liked his dynamic with the various Bond’s but the Timothy Dalton one especially stands out.

While there have been a few different actors as Q and I like the core elements of the character a lot no matter who plays him, my favourite is the newest incarnation. I think it was clever to have a young, nerdy-looking guy as the head of Q Branch and the one inventing and organising all the engineers making these fancy cars, guns and gadgets. It makes him stand out from the previous iterations of the character, and it offers a new dynamic between Q and the other characters – especially Bond.

I love the respect James Bond and Q have for one another, even if they bicker and Bond doesn’t return the equipment in one piece – if he returns it at all. Q is obviously extremely smart but he’s also a little arrogant which can be his downfall. Q is loyal and resourceful and a brilliant hacker. While there’s only small hints of it in Skyfall and Spectre, I do like the nods of his working relationship with both Tanner and Eve Moneypenny. It helps flesh out the world of MI6 outside of James Bond.

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Colourful Book Covers

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. The theme of this week is, as the title suggests, sharing some of your favourite colourful book covers. I had a lot of fun going through my books and seeing what colourful covers I had. It looks like I’ve read more books with colourful covers than are currently sitting on my shelves waiting to be read so all these link to my reviews of them – some of which are nearly five years old!

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
Young Avengers Vol. 1: Style > Substance by Kieron Gillenand& Jamie McKelvie
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

When We Collided by Emery Lord
Frangipani by Célestine Hitiura Vaite
Seed by Lisa Heathfield
The House of Hidden Mothers by Meera Syal
The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven

What are some of your favourite colourful covers?

REVIEW: Love and Monsters (2020)

Seven years after monsters took over the planet and humans had to take shelter underground; Joel (Dylan O’Brien) sets out to find his girlfriend Aimee (Jessica Henwick) who is at another colony 85 miles away.

The creature designs in Love and Monsters are fantastic. The creatures are all mutated insects and cold-blooded creatures like frogs and crocodiles. So many of them have gone from being tiny and easy for a human to step on to the size of a car or even a house. The designs are great because you can tell what kind of bug they were originally but they’ve transformed into something out of the stuff of nightmares. Also, the creatures are used sparingly so then tension is always there and when one does show up it leads to a great sequence.

While there is a smattering of other characters throughout the film, Dylan O’Brien (and a dog, but I’ll get to that) carries this film. There’s his voiceover as he narrates his journey in the form of letters to her that’s equally funny, awkward and charming. In fact, as a character that sums up Joel pretty well. He is not known for his bravery and he makes a lot of mistakes in his trek across the surface, but he learns and O’Brien really captures Joel’s fear and joy in learning what’s out in the world.

Because that’s what Love and Monsters shows. There are creatures out there that are happy to stomp on or eat you, but there’s also beauty out there too. Not all of the creatures are nasty and in a world where no human has been for seven years, there’s so much that Joel, and any other survivor, has forgotten about. Even the simple pleasures of the smell of the grass and the feel of the wind, through experiencing them for the first time in so long Joel realises that while he might have been surviving, he wasn’t living.

Now onto the dog. Soon after leaving his colony Joel meets Boy, a dog who saves him from a monster attack, and they have such a brilliant bond. A lot of the time it’s just Joel and Boy together, with Boy being Joel’s sounding board and only true friend. Their relationship is easy to get invested in and as they protect one another, the tension grows because you don’t want anything bad to happen to either of them.

As well as being funny and a bit dark and scary, Love and Monsters is also surprisingly sweet and touching. You wholeheartedly believe in the love Joel has for Aimee and the little moments of connection he finds with other survivors are great too. Love and Monsters is a pretty innovative film about going outside your comfort zone and finding hope and connection at the end of the world. 4/5.

P is for John Proudstar

I’m still watching the second (and last) series of The Gifted but John Proudstar aka Thunderbird was pretty much instantly my favourite character in the show – and this show has a lot of interesting and layered characters.

The word “nice” is often used when you can’t think of anything else to say to describe someone, but John is just so nice and decent in the best way. He is kind and caring and the way he’s so tactile with people just works and is never too much. He seems like the kind of guy who would give great hugs.

John is a mutant. His powers include super strength, invulnerability, and heightened senses and foresight, meaning he can track people and see a short time into the future. The fact that he’s this big, strong guy just makes his caring nature even more pronounced. John frequently uses his own body as a shield to protect others from bullets or debris without a second thought.

His background in the military along with his abilities help make John an incredibly capable and natural leader. Though sometimes John doubts his abilities due to having so many people relying on him and he’d do anything to keep them safe. In my opinion, this insecurity over his leadership makes him a better leader. He knows his strengths and weaknesses and the way he can turn to his best friend and co-leader Marcos for support.

John is a fighter in every sense. He is great in combat and he’s emotionally and mentally resilient. I love how in tune he is with others, especially those he cares about, and he always tries to do the right thing even if that means making difficult choices.

REVIEW: X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen) and what’s left of the X-Men send Logan (Hugh Jackman) to the past in order to try and prevent an event that results in the annihilation of mutants and humans alike in the future.

From the opening scene X-Men: Days of Future Past is firing on all cylinders. You’ve got this small group of mutants fighting for their lives against sentinels (giant killer robots that can adapt to anything) as Kitty Pryde (Elliot Page) sends Bishop (Omar Sy) back in time in order to warn them. The special effects are great, the whole sequence is exciting but it’s also nerve-wracking as it makes it clear how powerful these machines are and that our heroes may not make it out alive. What a way to start a movie and show how awful this apocalyptic future these characters we know are living in.

When Logan is sent to the 1970s, he has to find and reunite the younger versions of Charles (James McAvoy) and Erik (Michael Fassbender). He finds a Charles who is a shell of the man he knows in the future, overwhelmed by his powers and the pain of losing both Erik and Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), his shut himself away from the world with only Hank (Nicholas Hoult) for company. Erik meanwhile is in prison in at the Pentagon and Logan knows one person who can help them get him out – Peter Maximoff (Evan Peters). Peter is such a fun character, he’s a bit manic and weird and how his power is shown is really different to what we’ve seen before. He’s a guy who can move super-fast, so it makes sense that to him everything and everyone moves slowly, making a very entertaining scene when you get to see his powers from his point of view.

Days of Future Past sees Erik truly become Magneto. While Charles is still an idealist and Raven is planning to do bad things for good reasons, Erik is firm in his beliefs. He will do anything to protect his fellow mutants even if that means hurting people he once considered to be friends or allies. His power has also grown and thanks to Fassbender’s performance and the costuming, Erik is a foreboding presence when he puts his mind to something.

The balance between what’s happening in the future and in the 1970s is done so well – as is the balance between action and emotion. The action sequences in the future are thrilling, the ones in the past are character-driven and equally exciting but then the scenes where it’s just two characters talking are just as compelling. Whether it’s Logan trying to convince Charles of what the future holds or Erik and Charles reconnecting, it’s just as engaging as the action and spectacle. The best quieter moment is between the old and young Charles Xavier. Seeing both actors playing the same character at vastly different points of their lives together on screen not only gets me in the nerdy part of my heart, but the discussions of hope and perseverance really struck a chord too.

I know I’ve said previously that X2 is my favourite X-Men film, but on this rewatch I was struck by just how impressive X-Men: Days of Future Past is and it might now be my favourite. There’s action and emotion and it’s got some funny moments too. It’s a real celebration of this franchise, its characters and the general story of mutants vs humanity. Just a fantastic film. 5/5.

O is for Sally Owens

I watched Practical Magic for the first-time last October and loved it – it’s definitely going to be a film I watch on the run up to Halloween each year going forward. I loves everything about it, the story, the clothes, the music, that amazing house, and all the characters but my favourite (as the title suggests) was Sally.

Sally is a witch and she and her sister Gillian (like all the Owens women) are cursed so that any man who they fall in love with will die. Sally is determined not to fall in love and have children because her father died when she was young, and her mum left her and her sister with their aunts due to her grief and she doesn’t want to go through that. Life doesn’t always work out that way though.

While her sister is a bit of a wild child, Sally is the sensible, responsible one who likes to keep things pretty ordinary. She has her little shop, she has her daughters, and she is quite content with all that. Naturally things don’t stay that way, but she impresses herself with how resourceful she can be and the lengths she’ll go to, to protect her sister and the rest of her family.

Sally is a very talented witch and she’s quick-thinking when it comes to magic and potions. I just love how Sally deals with things. Sometimes she bottles up her emotions and pushes people aware because she thinks it’s safer for her, but she has such a big kind heart. She and Gillian are the best sisters I’ve seen on screen for a while and just generally Sally’s relationship with the different members of her family are so strong and important.

N is for Nancy Wheeler

Generally speaking, the teens in Stranger Things are my favourites – though really the kids are getting so old now they could also be teens now. Anyway! While I could wax lyrically about Steve Harrington, Jonathan Byres and Robin Buckley (and they may make an appearance later on this month), today is all about Nancy Wheeler.

I love how much confidence she gets over the course of the series and how she keeps a level-head when dealing with monsters. She’s always questioning things and running her own investigations and it’s clear she’d be a great reporter when she’s older – and if she wasn’t dealing with the sexist attitudes of her bosses.

It’s kind of a small thing but I love how she’s the one who’s naturally good with a gun. She practices a bit and then in any situation where monsters are attacking and there’s a gun lying around, whether it’s a handgun or a shotgun, she’ll just pick it up and start shooting, and hitting, the target.

I often feel like Nancy gets an unreasonable amount of hate and that makes me want to defend her even more. I think some of it is from season one where she wanted to spend time with her boyfriend Steve and her best friend Barb was kinda being a bit clinging/they were growing a part a bit and a lot of people related to Barb and therefore where on her side. Personally, I never saw the fuss about Barb, she was nice but I easily liked Nancy more. Then there’s how she treated Steve during season two which I do agree was not great and she should’ve at least properly apologised because he wasn’t a terrible boyfriend, she just wasn’t great at telling him what she was feeling.

I really like how Nancy’s relationship with her mum and younger brother develop. There’s a really nice scene where she tells her mum about all the stuff she has to put up with at work and they commiserate together. With her brother Mike, they are typically siblings who always argue and annoy one another but they also work together really well, and she does her best to protect him when they’re dealing with monsters.

Nancy is smart and studious and kind and brave. She’s incredibly loyal and determined, and she’ll always do what she can to seek out justice and reveal the truth of what’s going on in this town. I love both her relationship with Steve and Jonathan and if there was any justice the three of them would’ve ended up in a polyamorous relationship as they all balance each other out really well.

M is for Mark Watney

The Martian is one of my go to comfort films. I love how it’s a story about people working together and the good in people plus it’s also very funny and has a great soundtrack. I also think it’s one of the best adaptations and I love the book a lot too.

Mark Watney is the greatest botanist on the planet Mars after he accidentally gets left there by his crew when they think he’s dead. I love him in both the film and the book. He has such a wry and sarcastic sense of humour as he just has to get on with things to survive.

Obviously, Mark has to be smart to be on a mission to Mars but seeing how he copes with no one with him and no support from NASA for the longest time actually shows how capable and resourceful he is. Though he did blow himself up once after he miscalculated how much oxygen was in the air.

I think Mark just works as a character because he feels really human and real in an extraordinary situation. He has moments where he gets angry, sad and frustrated at the situation he’s in and he is a realist in the sense that he is well aware of the fact he is stuck on a planet with limited resources so there is a good chance he’ll die before he’s rescued. He knows all the ways things could go wrong for him but he continues to work through the problems as he can’t see himself giving up.

I think what really shines through, even though they don’t have a lot of screen time actually together, is the banter and camaraderie Mark has with the rest of the crew. He’s a likable person even if he makes jokes about other people’s jobs and says they’re less important than his. Mark has a bit of an ego, but for a guy who survives Mars I think that’s allowed.

L is for Leïto

Banlieue 13 and its sequel Banlieue 13: Ultimatum are some of my favourite films. They’re action-packed, fun and have interesting characters dynamics but Leïto is my favourite.

He’s one of my favourite type of characters. He’s a low-level criminal but he does bad thigs for good reasons. Like in the opening scene you realise he’s stolen a load of drugs from a gang in order to destroy them and he keeps the area around his apartment block free of drugs and gangs.

Leïto is a realist or perhaps even a cynic. He’s grown up in an area that’s been forgotten about by the government and everyone’s had to fend for themselves. There’s no schools, no parks, no police, it’s a lawless area but Leïto has a code that he sticks to. I also like the fact that while he’s not strictly affiliated with any gang, the gang leaders all respect him and are willing to listen to him. He’s the one that brings them all together in the final showdown in B13: Ultimatum. Plus, even random teenagers in the neighbourhood know that Leïto is someone they can go to for help when they’re in trouble.

Leïto is street smart and resourceful and is quick at thinking on his feet. While he always sets boobytraps around his apartment building and has different ways to get in and out the place quickly, sometimes it does seem he has luck on his side as he’s not one to make thorough plans.

His relationship with Damien, an undercover cop, is great. They compliment each other a lot in terms of fighting style and personality though it takes time for Leïto to trust or even like him. But that’s the thing about Leïto, once he does like someone, he’s loyal and protective. Leïto and his sister Lola have one of my favourite sibling relationships on films because it’s clear they know each other so well.

How can I not share the opening sequence of Banlieue 13?! It’s a perfect example of Leïto’s parkour skills as he uses his environment and other people’s momentum against them.

K is for Kaz Brekker

I’m currently reading Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, the sequel to Six of Crows, and it’s just affirming the fact that Kaz Brekker is a great character.

Kaz isn’t a nice person. No, honestly, this isn’t one of those loveable rogue kind of characters, he is actually ruthless, cold-hearted, and conniving. He values money and power and is known for doing any job no matter how dangerous if it gets him either of those two things. Kaz is great at figuring people out and exploiting both their weaknesses and their talents in order to achieve his aims. He is a master manipulator.

Kaz is a part of The Dregs, one of the gangs in in the city of Ketterdam, and he quickly rose through the ranks to be an influential figure. He inspires loyalty through fear but also through his honesty. For a thief and a liar Kaz and does tell the truth but really only when it’ll get him something. I love Kaz’s intelligence. He’s had to learn the hard way how to survive in this seedy city and he’s learnt how to make shrewd investments in both people and property. He makes plans within plans and often only tells people the bare minimum of what they need to know to get the job done. Kaz does not trust easily and he’s always considering his and any opponents moves three steps ahead.

The fascinating thing about Kaz is that slowly he does start to care for other people – or maybe just one person in particular. Actually, care about them, not just what they can do for him. To what extent this may change him as a person I’ve yet to find out.

I’m really looking forward to the Shadow and Bone Netflix show which is released next week. Kaz and his fellow Crows are going to be in it so I’m looking forward to seeing how they bring this character to screen – because Kaz Brekker can be a nasty piece of work at times.