Movie Review: Johnny English Strikes Back

THE FUNNY-MAN better known for his iconic characters, Mr Bean and Johnny English, is back as the ‘spy’ who is Britain’s only hope against a new threat dooming the country and the rest of the world.

Since his last escapade with MI7, English (Rowan Atkinson) is now a geography teacher – cheekily teaching the ways of an old-school spy – at a private institution seemingly inspired by Hogwarts.

When a cyber attack exposes the identity of everyone of MI7’s active agents, the secret intelligence agency is forced to call in the retired English to save the day.

Together with faithful sidekick Bough (Miller) and spy gadgets from yester-years, English must stop the tech-advanced mastermind from breaching more of the island nation’s security systems.

In his hilarious pursuit of the bad guy, he meets the beautiful Ophelia (Kurylenko) but is clueless about this European spy’s identity – and intention.

With the cyber criminal’s character in check, his next move is to warn the prime minister (Emma Thompson), who has unwittingly played a role in the evil plan.

Johnny English Strikes Back is the third instalment of this character series, and it is what it is. It’s still essentially a comedy-action parody of the more-dramatic Bond movies.

It definitely delivers in that aspect because it’s the slapstick kind of funny that only Atkinson can pull off.

Don’t get your hopes up for a suspenseful plot because it’s so predictable and flimsy that you’d probably see right through it.

But the numerous laugh-out-loud moments make up for it, such as the baguette-wielding scene you can glimpse in the trailer.

It’s more of a nostalgic movie to enjoy for anyone who grew up watching and loving Atkinson’s Mr Bean and Johnny English roles.

But then again, Atkinson’s slapstick portrayal might just result in a new generation of fans for Johnny English.

Book review: Almost Adulting: All You Need to Know to Get It Together

SOMETIMES it’s nice to know that you’re not going through the stages of life alone.

This how-to book by Arden Rose, a self-proclaimed ‘person of the internet’, helps navigate arguably the most confusing and emotionally-delicate stage of life – that of a teenager or young adult.

The 23-year-old YouTuber started posting lifestyle videos way back in 2009. This book is a culmination of her experiences and life.

Now living in Los Angeles, after having moved from Arkansas in 2013, Rose talks about issues such as body positivity and relationship advice (including the cute story of how she met her British boyfriend, fellow Youtuber Will Darbyshire), as well as telling that it’s okay to take things one day at a time.

Towards the end, she speaks about deeper issues like her dad’s brush with cancer and how scary it was to have a parental figure who never got sick, eventually get sick.

There’s something about the way she explains things that most young people who also grew up on the internet would understand.

It’s like you can hear her talking to you (even though I’ve never heard her voice prior to reading this book), which is similar to her YouTube videos, but in book form.

In one relatable instance from the book, Rose writes about how life can feel like it’s in order.

Like paying rent on time for more than a couple months, and going to the dentist alone (glad to know visiting the dentist by yourself is a universal fear).

That is until you risk turning into a “human popsicle” from the cold water after realising you forgot to pay the hot water bill.

And that’s so relatable. Maybe not in that specific circumstance, since your hot water bill here is also your cold water bill. You’d just be standing naked in the shower without any water – and that’s sad too.

Almost Adulting offers reliable guidance for those of you who have been keeping up with Rose on YouTube, are still in high school or a young adult living that glorious student life.

However, the first half is especially slow to get past, since it is mostly her experience as a growing teenager or failings as an ‘adult’, which elicits a ‘been there, done that, what’s next?’ kind of vibe.

Queens of Fennbirn

FROM the Three Dark Crowns series, written by Kendare Blake, come this novella collection which comprises The Young Queens and The Oracle Queen.

Those who have read and enjoyed the Three Dark Crowns series would definitely find Queens Of Fennbirn enlightening.

The series features triplets born to each generation of royalty in Fennbirn. But there can only be one true queen, and the other two are destined to die.

Mirabella is an elemental who can control nature.

Arsinoe is a poisoner, while Katharine is a naturalist.

When they were six years old, the girls were taken by their respective houses to be trained in their special gifts in readiness for the battle ahead.

In The Young Queens, readers get a glimpse into the girls’ lives before they have to plot against each others’ demise.

This is the story of the three sisters from their births, until they are separated.

The second story tells the tale of the last Oracle Queen, whose legendary reign is tinged with blood and horror.

Paranoid, ruthless, and seemingly utterly mad, Queen Elsabet’s obsessive mistrust led to the slaying of three entire houses of innocent people – or so it was told.

Born with the gift of sight, she nevertheless could not foresee her fall from power, until it was too late.

This book offers an interesting look behind the scenes of these queens of Fennbirn.

Invisible Ghosts

GRIEF can manifest itself in strange ways, and for 16-year-old Rose Asher, things are very strange indeed.

For several years, Rose has been living with the (literal) ghost of her older brother Logan, who died at the age of 15.

He is her best friend, and the two hang out together every day, which means that Rose is considered a recluse by the other teens her age.

Things begin to change once Rose’s old childhood friend Jamie Aldridge returns to town.

After rekindling her relationship with Jamie, Rose begins to realise just how much of life she has been missing, and begins to go out more, and even begins to fall in love with Jamie.

However, this leads to some inner turmoil over Logan, as Rose is aware that staying with Jamie will mean letting go of her brother’s ghost, and she is not ready to take that step.

Don’t be fooled by all the apparent horror story elements of Invisible Ghosts: the book really is an emotional, heart-wrenching journey through love, loss and redemption.

Author Robyn Schneider has managed to craft a simple story that hits hard when it needs to.

The struggles experienced by Rose will speak to anyone who has gone through the loss of a loved one.

The book isn’t perfect: the characters often speak in stilted dialogue, and some of the situations they find themselves in seem a little too convenient to the plot.

And the ending seems a little too trite, and doesn’t really push the envelope far enough, in my opinion.

However, all of this doesn’t detract from this unique and memorable book’s ability to touch your heart. Have a box of tissues on hand.