Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope you’ve all had a lovely week.
I’ve only been in school for about a month, but I can already tell that the “Crash Course” theme music will haunt my dreams by the time May rolls around…
It’s definitely been an…okay week for me? I got back on my normal reading schedule, but I’ve had an amount of schoolwork and studying to to that’s definitely not ideal, but hey, first world problems. I’m gearing up for a similar week next week, so I might not be able to post quite as much.
I’ve been outlining for a story idea that I’ll probably whip out come NaNoWriMo season, so that’s been going slowly but surely. I also watched Netflix’s adaptation of Enola Holmes Friday night, and…well? Millie Bobby Brown was amazing, as always, but there was something missing. There were a few changes from the book that really seemed unnecessary, but I understand that most adaptations do need to change up the source material a tad bit. I still think that Sherlock should have been portrayed as more of the mansplaining jerk that he was in the books, and Henry Cavill would have been great at that, but alas, nope.
I’m glad that I haven’t read a bad book this week! Aside from re-reading Aurora Rising yet again (shh, I swear it’s just for book club purposes), I got some great content through my last eARC and my new library books. I’ve got a bunch more ready, so I think that this week could hold another week like it!
I don’t do many reviews of movies and TV shows here, but I figured that I would pour out some thoughts for this one. After reading Thomas Wheeler and Frank Miller’s Cursed back in April (and loving it), I figured that I would give the Netflix adaptation a try, since I didn’t have much else to watch save for It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (which I’m steadily binging at the moment). I finished the show in about a week, and overall, I liked it–for the most part, a faithful adaptation, but at times, a forgettable one. I don’t regret watching it, but it’s nowhere near my favorite show.
In summary: Cursed is a 10-episode adaptation of Wheeler and Miller’s 2019 novel, a retelling of Arthurian legend before King Arthur pulled the sword from the stone. It follows Nimue (Katherine Langford), a Fey girl whose home has just been burned down by the Red Paladins, an army of monks bent on purging the Fey from Europe. Her mother’s dying wish was for her to deliver the Sword of Power to Merlin (Gustaf Skarsgård), and Nimue, fueled by anger at the slaughter of her family and people, sets off to find the famed wizard. Joining forces with Arthur (Devon Terrell), she goes in search of Merlin, only to discover that the sword that she wields may have a darker power than she could have ever imagined.
Alright, folks…below, I’ll break down what I liked and didn’t like, so be prepared for quite a bit of rambling! This review/breakdown may contain some spoilers, so be warned.
The opening title sequence and transitions: Absolutely GORGEOUS. The watercolor style was so detailed and beautiful, and it meshed so well with the general mood of the show.
The instrumental score: I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again: Jeff Russo can do no wrong. Though this score isn’t as notable as the ones he did for TV shows like FX’s Legion or Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy, it was certainly a masterfully composed score, especially in the opening theme and some of the songs from the final two episodes.
The sets/filming locations: Every single location that Cursed was filmed in was such a joy to take in. The forest setting made for countless beautiful shots, and even the more fabricated ones, especially in the Fey refugee camp of Nemos, did volumes in immersing the viewer into the story.
Cast diversity: Kudos to Netflix for casting a variety of actors from all different backgrounds, from the protagonists to the side characters, for the show! There’s quite a few POC characters both at the forefront (ex. Arthur and Morgana) and in the background, so that was always good to see. There was some LGBTQ+ representation as well, which I’ve been going back and forth about. Morgana, one of the protagonists, is in a sapphic relationship with Celia, but in the first few episodes, Celia is killed when their nunnery burns down. She appears in later episodes, but as an…undead puppet of a spider demon. It’s dangerously close to the horrific “bury your gays” trope, but…yeah, I don’t know. On one hand, it’s set in Medieval Europe, and in a nunnery, no less, so the relationship likely wouldn’t have ended well even if it hadn’t burned down. On the other, Celia didn’t have to be killed off/resurrected for Morgana to have character development–Celia could have run off with her, and there still could have been tension there if she had joined her, Nimue, Arthur, and the rest. I’m still unsure about it, but at least they…tried. And I think there were a few LGBTQ+ couples present in the Fey camp in the background.
Faithfulness to the source material: For the most part, the Netflix adaptation followed the book closely, which was great to see! There’s a few tweaked details, but they didn’t bother me much at all.
Now, some of the characters/performances that I liked:
Arthur and Morgana: As brother and sister, they didn’t have the best chemistry, but individually, both their performances were good! Arthur was simultaneously bumbling and steadfast, just like I imagined him in the book. Morgana was similarly endearing, and they way that the show ended, I’m interested in seeing how they *might* continue her arc.
Merlin: A lot of the criticism that the book got was about Merlin, specifically about how they had massacred his character, making him a more arrogant man, and more than a bit of a drunkard. But even though I love Arthurian legend as much as the next person, I understood the change–Cursed is supposed to be a prequel to the events of these legends, and it would make sense for Merlin to be a younger, more disillusioned character, before he became the wise mentor figure that we know and love. Skarsgård’s performance was well-translated from the book, and I liked following his character.
Uther Pendragon: He’s exactly the kind of character that you love to hate. Pendragon was the perfect, whiny and overtly arrogant and hotheaded king to contrast with the other characters.
The Red Paladins: Though Sister Iris was a bit underused, the Red Paladins are just as chilling as they appear in the novel.
…Nimue: I liked her character in the book, but Langford’s acting just felt…so flat, so lacking in emotion. I wanted to root for her, but there was such a lack of heart in the character that I could barely muster up any emotion.
The romance: They had this in the book as well, but I wasn’t as much of a fan of it there, either. It felt like it was needlessly shoehorned in to appease the Teen™️ audience.
The gratuitous violence: Again, I suppose this means that it was faithful to the books, because the book was very violent, but it was definitely a bit much. Some of it felt like it was only added in for the shock value, and could have been cut out in the long run. Also, the effect of the blood splattering onto the camera lens works well in present day/more futuristic media, but it took away from the Medieval European setting.
The subplots: At least they got tied up at the end (somewhat), but they didn’t contribute to the story. Pym’s whole arc with the Red Spear felt wholly unnecessary, and just fan service that assumed that everyone would appreciate that they kept their comic relief character alive and giving her a romantic arc. Most of the Red Spear characters bugged me as well (especially the captain). The subplot with Morgana, Celia, and the spider demon was a little bit better, but it didn’t do much to the story, other than giving the allusion that Morgana might become more powerful than Nimue herself.
That awful song at the end of episode 9: OH GOD. OHHHH GOD. NOPE. Aside from being blatantly manufactured to be put in the show, it again took me out of the setting. I mean, it’s not like a medieval sea shanty would have worked any better for the scene, but I found myself rolling my eyes sky-high.
The acting: Even though I listed some of the good performances above, most of them were…good, but forgettable. Other than the characters listed, nobody quite stood out for me (save for Sister Iris). Decent, but nothing that blew me away.
Overall, Cursed wasn’t spectacular, but I don’t regret watching it. The filming locations, score, and transitions were gorgeous, and it mostly stayed true to the source material, but it was dragged down by a few unnecessary subplots and forgettable acting. I’d give it a solid 3/5.
Would I recommend it? I suppose I would. For all you fantasy lovers and fans of the original novel who don’t have much else to watch, I’d encourage you to give it a watch. As long as you have the stomach for quite a lot of violence, though.
Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope you’ve all had a lovely week, and that you and your families are all safe and healthy.
[dons a pair of sunglasses] IT’S LEO SEASON…
Aaaaaaanyway, I’d say that it’s been a nice week. I can’t believe July is almost over already…
I’ve been practicing with putting on my new contact lenses with…[ahem] varied results, but hey, I suppose these things take time. Even though my reading week started off disappointing, I got around to reading two good eARCs (I’ll review the other one next week). I’m SO CLOSE to being finished with my Iron Giant puzzle, and I finished my short story for Camp NaNoWriMo! It’s nearly 10,000 words, and I think I made it appropriately depressing. I’m still working my way towards telling people coherent summaries of my various WIPs, but I will say that it’s a bit of a fairytale, and one that involves quite a lot of bad luck and an unexpected, amphibious child.
I also finished the Netflix adaptation of Cursed (expect a review of that soon), and I’m SO excited for season two of The Umbrella Academy!
Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you and your loved ones well.
You know what one of the strangest feelings (for me) is? Sometimes, I’ll watch a certain movie so many times that I’ll only be able to see a certain actor as the role in said movie, and then I’ll see them in something else, and it’s either impossible to make the connection or it just weirds you out for a bit. Sorry, that was kind of long winded and weirdly-worded, but I’m not sure how to put it into words. But anyway, I watched Alien (1979) on Friday night, and let me tell you, seeing John Hurt after having only seen him in the Hellboy movies (when he was far older than he was in Alien) was weirdly bizarre. I’d just permanently imagined him as Professor Bruttenholm, so…
Also, the John Hurt Professor Bruttenholm will always be the superior Professor. The reboot was way too out of character.
[ahem] Now, back to our scheduled program…
Overall, I’ve had quite a nice week. I’ve gotten a lot of reading done after said library haul, and though there were a few disappointments, I enjoyed everything that I read. Camp NaNoWriMo has been going smoothly as well; I surpassed my goal of 5,000 words for my short story, and updated it to 7,500 so I could get to the end of July. It’s one of those instances where I wish I could just give my past self a little reassurance–the first few days, I panicked a bit that my short story was too short for the word count limit. And now, here we are…
Other than that, I’ve made lots of progress with my puzzle, watched Alien, listened to a bit too much Josh Cohen, and started watching Cursed. I enjoyed the book, and I’m about three episodes into the show. The trailer looked like it could go either way, and so far, I’d say it’s pretty good. Once I finish it, I’ll try and put together a review. We’ll see.
Hopefully, you’ve all had a nice and productive/fun/eventful week 🙂 This week’s certainly had its ups and downs, but hey, it picked up by the end of the week. I had a pretty prolific posting week and a productive reading week, with The Theory of Everything [sobs into a bucket] and Sex Education factored in, so that’s a plus.
Also, I found a very tiny spider that’s taken up residence behind my bathroom sink. I have named her Martha. I wish her all the best.
And hey, happy International Women’s Day! Hey, good thing I read Rebel Girls today…
And finally, Radiohead’s album The Bends recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, so I guess I have an excuse for Tuesday. THE BENDDDSSSS
I figured that today would be a good day for a tag, and in lieu of the announcement that the Netflix Shadow and Bone/Six of Crows show has wrapped up filming, I figured this one would be fun to do. (I’m kind of scared for how the show will turn out, because some of the Grishaverse books are kind of my babies, but that’s a story for another time). I found this tag over at SMELLFOY CAN READ?
Since I should probably give this post a little pizzazz, here’s some Six of Crows art from one of my favorite comic artists/book cover artists, Kevin Wada. (Same guy who drew the covers for Carry On and Wayward Son, actually!)
Let’s begin, shall we?
The Thief • Kaz Brekker: A Layered or Complex Character
One of my first thoughts here was Art from Like a Love Story. Definitely someone who presents a tough exterior, but is deeply wounded on the inside.
The Wraith • Inej Ghafa: A Book With a Twist You Didn’t See Coming
Without question, the end of Thunderhead. The ending came out of nowhere…I think I still bear the scars from having to wait almost two years to see how it all turned out…
The Sharpshooter • Jesper Fahey: An Author that Never Misses the Mark
Though I haven’t read any of his adult works, Jay Kristoff has never disappointed me. With his signature wit and heartrending writing, I’ve never read any book by him that I didn’t like.
The Heartrender • Nina Zenik: A Book that Broke your Heart or Gave you All the Feels
I’ve been wanting to do this tag for a little while, but I figured that it would be good for today since I’ve pretty much been subsisting off of Netflix for most of this four-day weekend. (*coughcough I AM MOTHER coughcough MONTY PYTHON coughcough*) I found this tag on First Line Reader, and the tag was originally created by A Darker Shade of Whitney.
RECENTLY WATCHED: The last book you finished reading
I’ve been a big fan of Raina Telgemeier for years, and I was so excited to find Gutsat the comic shop last week!
TOP PICKS: A book/books that have been recommended to you based on a book you have previously read
Not sure if I should start out this post with my usual bibliophile greeting, since this isn’t the most bookish of posts, but hey, we’re all bibliophiles here, aren’t we?
Last night, I finally got around to watching I Am Mother, a movie that caught my attention when it came out last summer. I won’t detail the main reason why until around the end of the post, but needless to say, I put off watching it for a while. I’m not sure where my expectations were, but I was pleasantly surprised (and a bit freaked out, not gonna lie) from the results. An incredibly tense and well-done film that’s lingered in my thoughts since the moment I switched the TV off.
BE WARNED: I’m not sure if or how I’ll go about reviewing this without substantially spoiling the film, so for those who haven’t seen I Am Mother and intend to, you may not want to read this.
The film follows Mother, a caretaker droid with one task: to nurture the next generation of humanity after an extinction-level event wiped out much of the human race. In her lair, she raises her female child, referred to only as “Daughter,” teaching her about her species as she grows. But when she enters her teenage years, Daughter begins to grow suspicious that Mother may be hiding something from her. Her suspicions are confirmed when a woman shows up outside of her dwelling. She and Mother take the injured woman in; while Daughter is eager to care for her, Mother is more hesitant, almost reluctant to help her in any way. The woman (who also goes unnamed…nice…) is also reluctant of the droid’s help, claiming that it was a droid just like Mother who caused her injury.
Conflicted by the opposing truths of Mother and the woman, Daughter begins to delve deeper into her situation, spurred on by the woman, who claims that it was droids, not the contagion that Mother claimed, that wiped out the human race. A delve into the laboratory where the other embryos are kept leads Daughter to the discovery that Mother’s intentions are far more sinister; the droids intend to make a new human race, one less fallible than the humans of old, and the children who do not live up to the droid’s standards are terminated.
After the disturbing revelation, the woman convinces Daughter to go back outside with her, where they discover that the droids have already begun to lay the groundwork of their plan, making the air and ground fertile. But the woman has been withholding secrets as well–though she spoke of more humans, she appears to be the only one left in the vicinity. Betrayed by both sides, Daughter returns home with the intention of rescuing her newly born brother, who is currently under Mother’s care. Reluctantly, she shoots the droid who raised her from birth, saving her baby brother as she breaks down into tears. The film ends with her beginning to raise her brother, and staring hopefully into rows of unborn embryos in Mother’s laboratory.
Nearly every scene in I Am Mother is beautifully shot; the director clearly has a penchant for symmetry, which shone through in every camera angle, from simple landscape shots of Mother’s dwelling, to a particular shot of Daughter staring at the woman through the infirmary window, the glass pane separating them an on-the-nose portrayal of their moral divisions. For the most part, the FX were well done, though Mother herself, though smooth in design and execution, didn’t seem quite as computerized as she was intended to be, mostly in the way she ran, however tense some of those scenes were.
As a whole, I enjoyed the acting a fair amount. The best of the cast, in my opinion, was Clara Rugaard (Daughter); she stunningly portrayed Daughter’s naïvete and eventual growth into an independent young adult. I didn’t particularly care for Hillary Swank (the woman from outside) as much, but she did an excellent job of making her pain seem all too real.
Now, for the most part, I feel that Rose Byrne was a good fit for the voice of Mother, though she did add to the feel of her not being mechanized quite enough. Though the writing shone through, her voice didn’t feel as though it belonged to a robot, though it was on its way to being there. I haven’t seen her in much other than her role as Moira McTaggert in the newer X-Men films, but I’d say she did a good job with Mother other than that.
Other than some political undertones (possible anti-abortion weirdness; I’m personally more pro-choice myself, but the undertones weren’t blatant, and I may have misinterpreted them. They don’t align with my personal beliefs, but hey, think and believe whatever you want, as long as you’re not hurting anybody) and a few more nitpicky aspects, my only problem with this film was the second-to-last scene. In it, we see the woman in her dwelling on the outside. It is revealed earlier that Mother is part of a hive-mind who is working to “repair” the human race, and her consciousness exists in all of the droids that we see throughout the film. One of these droids, not so unlike Mother herself, approaches the woman, makes a remark about how she’s surprised that she’s survived this long, and hints that it’s “almost as though she has a purpose.”
The scene is the last that we see of the woman and this droid, and goes unresolved for the rest of the film.
What? WHAT? What exactly are they hinting at? If they have the audacity to leave such a cliffhanger unresolved, is there going to be a sequel???
I dunno. Anyway.
Before I end this review, I’d like to address one more question I’ve had about I Am Mother since the trailer was released. The plot, or at least the first third of it, almost resembled a favorite series of mine, almost to a T.
Yep. That’s right. GUESS WHO’S BACK…
Regardless, the first novel follows a strikingly similar plot–that of an adolescent girl, raised by a robot called M.U.T.H.R. in an underground facility. As she grows, M.U.T.H.R. continually tells her that she is not ready to go to the surface world, and that her being human is “special”.
Though I Am Mother takes a far more sinister turn, it shares some major similarities to the series, what with WondLa ending up as a journey on an unfamiliar Earth, now colonized by alien life forms while humans dwell in the shadows. The later books do take several dark turns, but not quite in the way that I Am Mother did. So why all these similarities? I’ve done a bit of digging on the internet, but all I’ve found is that either the (tiny but mighty) WondLa fandom just came out of its hole and said “Hey waaaaaaait a minute, that’s kinda funny…”, or that the film is “loosely based” on the novel. And if the latter is true, it’s very loosely based. Very. It went from “Sheesh, did they just paraphrase the dialogue from the first few chapters?” to “[glances at book] THIS is what it’s based off of?” in a split second. Even the outside view of Mother’s dwelling likened to the illustrations of the abandoned Sanctuaries in WondLa. I’m still scratching my head on this one, but either way, a very different interpretation, if that’s what it was.
Though it wasn’t without its flaws, I Am Mother was certainly a well-done and thought-provoking movie that continually kept me on the edge of my seat. I’d give it a solid 8/10.
(This one’s been lodged in my head since this morning…)
That just about wraps up this review! I hope you enjoyed this deviation from my normally bookish content…
Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Let me just start off by saying that I didn’t have the highest expectations for this movie. I read all three of the books in Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series earlier this year (not review, but well loved by yours truly), and I didn’t want the movie to drastically change from the book, as all too many YA adaptations have in recent years. (Looking at you, Love, Simon…fantastic book, but way too much changed between the book and the movie…😬) The trailer really didn’t do anything to ease my suspicions.
Then it came out a few weeks ago, and it seemed to be getting some positive reviews. About two weeks after its initial release, my mom and I decided to watch it on Netflix. And I’m happy to say that the movie adaptation of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before exceeded my expectations!
For the most part, I felt like they did a great job of staying true to the book. No unexplained characters that didn’t exist in the books, hardly any deviation from the plot, all the good things. They nailed all of the characters. No kidding. Nailed them.
Let’s start off with Lara Jean. Her portrayal was spot-on, down to the little details. Not to mention, I loved all of those perfect lil outfits she put together. Absolutely adorable. A+, Netflix. Thank you.
Also, kind of unrelated but kind of not, throughout the movie, I had this feeling at the back of my head that I recognized her from somewhere else. It wasn’t until the end of the movie that I realized…
She was so adorable! I wish we’d gotten more of her and all of her wonderful, neon 80’s-ness. Maybe we’ll see more of her in Dark Phoenix. Or maybe not. But I kinda want to see more of her. I mean, the only time we got to see her powers was in the deleted mall scene (which, by the way, is totally worth it to watch).
Now, back on topic.
They TOTALLY NAILED Kitty. I mean, they captured all of her hysterical sass and charm. Oh, my goodness. I missed lil Kitty.
Overall, I liked Margot, though I felt like she was slightly more of a jerk than she was in the books. Also, I imaged her with a bob and straight-ish bangs. Kind of like a younger version of Jenny Han’s original author photo, come to think of it. Weird, I know, but that’s just my brain. Don’t judge me.
I felt that Josh and Peter were also pretty spot-on, mostly how I imagined them in the books. Peter had always gotten on my nerves in the books (Really, Lara Jean? You chose him? Out of everyone? God…), and he got on my nerves in the movie, so…I guess that was a good sign? Kinda? 🤷♀️
Also, this might have just been me, but…did Peter and Josh look eerily alike? For the first twenty minutes, I had a bit of trouble distinguishing between the two of them…
Aaaaanyway, they pretty much nailed most everything. My only major problem was the ending.
I…just don’t remember if it even happened in the book. And even if it was, it felt really forced. Like, no, this is not Lara Jean and Peter. This is over-the-top, corny, Hollywood chick-flick material. No. Stop. Just act normally. Please. Oog.
But as I said, overall, a great movie. I was happy to see that they’d done just enough justice to the original series, and it was an all-around, cute and feel-good movie. Perfect for Saturday afternoons and whatnot.
I hope you’ve had a good long weekend, and enjoy the rest of your day! I’ve got the first BRT of September 2018 coming up tomorrow, and I’ve got a couple more posts planned out for the near future. So stay tuned, everyone!