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Hey Bloggers!

After a very small hiatus, I am back and ready to start writing again. My days have been busy but my thoughts have always been on coming back to write more pieces to you all amazing people out there. With that in mind, I'm going to dust off an old favourite feature and bring it back for five more iterations before taking a break again. For those of you who are unaware, this feature is called Tuesday Tunes. This feature highlights three videos that focus either highlight or carry an underlining them revolving around music whether it's a music video, a television piece, fan-made or something around a similar archetype.

The three videos that I'm going to highlight this week are:

1. "I Wanna Go" by WinterSpringGo (Britney Spears parody of "I Wanna Go")

2. "Something To Die For" by The Sounds (Promo for Scream 4)

3. "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F)" by Katy Perry

Another book has been completed on my list and that means it must come with a review. In actuality, I finished this book on Monday but I've been completely busy with work and prior commitments so I'm happy to have time to write the review for this film and book. This one may definitely come as a surprise to a couple of people with my decision at the end but in my opinion, I feel I'm right. The second review will be on: Live and Let Die!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this feature on the blog. You can refer back to the first review and the introduction blog post that will help to explain the significance with these posts.

The Story (novel): MI6 agent James Bond is brought to the United States and Jamaica to take down a cunning and devious SMERSH agent and gangster, Mr. Big. Bond, along with his allies Felix Leiter, sailor Quarrel and psychic Solitaire, must stop Mr. Big in his plan of smuggling rare and elusive gold coins to fund SMERSH and all of Mr. Big's nefarious dealings.

The Story (movie): James Bond is called into action after three British MI6 agents are killed within the span of 24 hours while investigating the nefarious actions of Dr. Kananga. Bond's adventures bring him over the globe from Harlam to San Monique to stop Kananga's cocaine operation and bring down the evil dictator along with the nefarious gangster-in-crime Mr. Big, and their crew of evil henchmen. At Bond's side is the reliable Felix Leiter, virgin psychic Solitaire, bubbling yet untrustworthy Rosie Carver and boatman Quarrel junior.

This is the first review that involves one of Bond's older films from the 70s so it's more grounded in melodramatics. I tried to give this book a chance early on because I didn't want to make these reviews solely on the positive side of the films and not for the novel series. The beginning was definitely a highlight to read about Bond preparing for the events  and future confrontation with Mr. Big.

One glaring difference that bothered me when I was reading the novel is that it felt like it stopped being a story about 007 to one about piracy and treasure. The book was one step away from becoming Pirates of the Caribbean. The movie focused on the gangster aspect, the mysticism and the cocaine operation on San Monique while in the book, except for the references about Baron Samedi, it was about gold coins, sunken treasure and Sir Henry Morgan; only thing that was missing was Captain Jack Sparrow. One could argue that both are two different stories that focused on two different plot summaries and I agree with them...both may have used the same characters and operations but the plot and scenery were different.

Another glaring difference that is very noticeable when you read the novel is Fleming's depiction and characterization of the Harlem community is downright perplexing and somewhat racist. Even if the book was written more than 40 years ago, no one would have spoken in that tone of manner or lack of English prowess. I know that I would be offended if someone had a perception about the way I spoke because of the times and stereotypes. Having to read those chapters really was a pain and work through what Fleming was trying to say with each character.

The last thing I've noticed between the last two books is the lack of gadgets and the iconic objects. In the movies, Bond drives an Aston Martin and uses a variety of helpful gadgets to take down the antagonist but in the books, no gadgets were present throughout the book and Bond only using his whits to defeat the enemy. I'm not a fan of when an ending is sped up to a quick conclusion with the villain being defeated all in a neat package.

My Favourite: The Movie!
I had high hopes for the book because Live and Let Die is one of my favourite movies and Solitaire is in my Top 10 of favourite Bond Girls but I felt let down. Her powers were underplayed and except for one instance she has informing Mr. Big about Bond, there really is no aspect to her psychic powers at all throughout the book. The book was a little downright racist and I couldn't stand to read those pages or that one chapter without feeling uncomfortable and a little angry that Fleming choose to write it in this manner. The movie has its highlights and thought that it was done being from the early Bond movie days. The characters were quirky, fun and were polarizing in comparison from heroes and villains. The biggest aspect that pulled me in favour of the movie is that I felt the story and plot was, in essence, a 007 film instead of a cross between James Bond and Pirates of the Caribbean. I love both of those series but they really should be on their own and not mixed together. 

Final Scores:
Live and Let Die (the book) - 5/10
Live and Let Die (the movie) - 7.5/10

NEXT: The next book on the reading list from the Bond era is the one that takes Bond into space; yes, it's "Moonraker." Honestly, I've already started to read the book and have almost completed it so readers, feel free to start the book at your own pace and join in at any point to share your thoughts and let us all know what you really thought either reading the book or watching the movie!
On today's blog post, I will be reviewing one of the most recent films to hit theatres for the summer season. It's the action-packed prequel to the massively successful comic book adaption to the big screen: X-Men: First Class.

The Premise: In a time dated piece set in the past, a looming threat is brewing with the possible emergence of World War III. Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), leader of the Hellfire Club, is manipulating the US and Russian governments with his allies of "visionary" mutants to engage in war and lead to his ultimate plan of the world being run by mutants. Created in an alliance with the US government, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) are recruiting mutants of their own to help bring down this opposing force before the world is plunged in a battle of epic proportions that could leave millions dead!

Set in a battle of good vs evil, the movie features a variety of mutants that fight for either peace or supremacy. On the Hellfire Club's side, there's Shaw, Frost, Angel, Azazel and Riptide (Alex Gonzalez) while on the X-Men's side there is Charles Xavier, Magneto, Mystique, Havok, Beast, Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones) and Darwin (Edi Gathegi). Dr. Moira MacTaggert is the only human to be an honorary member on the X-Men's side who fights alongside Professor X.

The Good: Being a movie adaption of a series that is so beloved and has a long history with fans throughout the years, I really enjoyed that the story was executed quite well. Some scripts and productions like to loosely base movies off a single idea or theme from the original piece of material (i.e., the first Resident Evil movie or Alone in the Dark....I actually liked the former than the latter from those two movies) but I was happy that the personality of characters and their representation was almost done similar to the original; fans can only hope for "almost" when dealing with adaptations.

Another aspect that is amazing in this film is the acting and the characters. Sometimes the acting is sub-par or melodramatic but it was a pleasant surprise. My top favourites based on the acting and their amazing performances have to be Magneto, Emma Frost, Professor X and Mystique. I'm familiar with the X-Men series when I was a child and never purchased/read any of the comic books but have an understanding with the history of certain characters, I preferred seeing this presentation of the pre-history compared to the Wolverine movie (not even going to talk about that movie....fine! It was good, not great but isn't my top film from the previous movies). It was great to see more character development of Mystique in this film. In the previous films, she was very mysterious and quiet but here she had some heart and I loved her even more. Emma Frost...all I can say is I love sarcastic and icy villains.

The Bad: There weren't many things that were wrong with the movie; a lot of it was done well. The first thing I didn't like was the death of Darwin. I found it completely awkward and unnecessary for him to die because for someone to be "able to adapt for survival," he should have been able to survive the death scene instead of just blowing up. I think it was used in part of the producers to include a mutant death and make it ironic for the one who can survive anything to die. The other thing I found weird was how quick the humans wanted to turn on the humans even after they offered to help save the world. I can attribute this to the same so I'm alright with this but the civil politics and prejudices are something that have been highlighted in the X-Men; even more-so in this prequel.

The Results: 4.5/5!
I think this has to be the highest score I've ever given in a review I've written on this site and it's well deserved. The acting was great, the cinematics and action kept me on the edge of my seat, the characters were well chosen (for the most part) and it left me wanting a sequel because it felt unfinished and so much more could happen in the next movie. For those of you who loves the X-Men history then you will not be disappointed in the film and for those new viewers, it's a good film to start the series and later learn the real story and other characters in the X-Men universe. I do recommend, however, to learn a bit about X-Men or else you will be lost and will not understand the relationships with the characters or what the basis of the story is even about.

Agree or Disagree with the review? Share your thoughts below and let us all know what you thought about the movie!
I made a promise to start writing the segment after I finished each of the books and I'm only one day off for this post but I'm ready to begin with the first book in the series: Casino Royale

For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, I'm going to read every Bond book that has a corresponding movie in publication order then write a post comparing how I felt watching the movie after reading the book. It's great to know both points-of-view from the character in the story so let's begin with the first book.

The Story (novel): James Bond and his allies, Felix Leiter, Mathis and Vesper Lynd are brought to the casino at Royale to play a high-rollers game of baccarat to make certain that SMERSH operative Le Chiffre doesn't regain the funds he stole from the evil organization.

The Story (movie): Newly appointed double-o MI6 operative James Bond is on the hunt to uncover the inner-workings of a network of bomb makers and profiteers. His main mission is to play in the millionaire poker match in Montenegro and win the tournament so that the sinister Le Chiffre would not be able to repay his debts. Also by Bond's side is crime-adviser Mathis, CIA operative Felix Leiter and "the money" Vesper Lynd.

I prepared myself for reading this book by realizing that the time era that each story took place is vastly different. The movie is more closely linked to our life right now so it's easier to fall into that setting compared to the book. I understand....different time, different mentality. However, sometimes it took me out of the scene and thought that "nobody would every say this nowadays."

The personality of the characters were different. I felt Mathis and Felix were timeless and easy to relate between both the movie and the book but Bond and Vesper were the biggest surprises; Vesper in general. In the movie, Vesper is sarcastic, sly and holds her own against Bond while in the book, she's docile and silent a couple of times throughout the beginning and middle portions. Bond was different. He had the suave nature that defined his character yet the biggest shocker was how quick in the book he wanted to marry Vesper. For only knowing someone barely under a month, Bond was ready to make the commitment which felt weird and out-of-character but two excuses can explain this: 1) the times and 2) it was the first book.

I'm familiar with the rules of baccarat so it didn't cause any confusion when Fleming tried to explain the game in the novel. Adapting it to modern times with poker in the movie, I think, was a way more viewers to be captivated in the story and create the familiarity with possible experiences playing a poker game.

One thing that I did love about the book is the the character development and providing the reader with more information regarding the other players in the tournament. I felt like I got an understanding of who else was in the scene when Bond was trying to beat Le Chiffre while in the movie, I only new who three of the players were while the others remained anonymous.

My Favourite: The Movie!
The book was good. It had its moments and I really enjoyed reading about Bond's adventures through the entire card game climax. In terms of story, the movie gave more in terms of character dialogue, scenes, a defined plot and presentation. Both pieces of work are very beautifully done and each have their pros and cons. I just felt that after reading the book and then re-watching the movie, I was more absorbed in Vesper's betrayal and Bond's mission in the movie than the book. The novel wanted the reader to be sympathetic and feel for the characters but the movie created the atmosphere to bring the viewer along in this romance that self-imploded in a cataclysmic finale. Overall, both are definitely worth the time to watch and read but if I had to choose one then my preference would be towards the movie.

Final Scores:
Casino Royale (the book) - 7/10
Casino Royale (the movie) - 8.5/10

NEXT: It's time for the next book on the list and according to the time line, it should "Live and Let Die" next. Have any thoughts to share? Post your comments below or share your own feelings/review about reading the book and/or watching the movie. I would love to read what you have to say!