The Man with the Golden Gun (Novel)

Worth reading if you’ve read the other eleven books

What it’s about

A brainwashed James Bond has tried – and failed – to assassinate M, his boss. Now Bond has to prove he is back on form and can be trusted again. ‘All’ 007 has to do is kill one of the most deadly free-lance hit-men in the world – one Paco ‘Pistols’ Scaramanga, the Man with the Golden Gun.

My thoughts

​This is the final of Flemings twelve Bond novels, but unfortunately it is far from the best, and in fact arguably is the worst. Before getting onto the problems, as most people who plan to read this book will likely have seen the film, the only real similarity between the film and the book is the fact that Bond is doing battle with Scaramanga a.k.a. the Man with the Golden gun.

So the book and the film are two completely different kettles of fish, that means if you are expecting the book to be similar to the film, and as a result a better version of the story than the film, you will be disappointed.

With that said onto the problems with this book, the first being that James Bond himself does not appear properly for far too long, in fact he does not really make a proper appearance until about one third into the novel. The majority of the first third of the book is based around M dealing with the reappearance of Bond after he had been missing for a year.

Basically Bond went missing a year ago and was presumed dead but in fact has been captured and brainwashed by the Russians – he now sees British Secret Service as the enemy. As a result of his brainwashing he attempts to assassinate M, but fails and as a result is captured by the British and sent to a facility to be basically un-brainwashed.

We don’t follow him to this facility instead we jump straight to him being released from it, though we do learn a little about it, some sort of shockwave therapy was used on him, and now he has to prove it has worked and redeem himself by killing Scaramanga, who has been killing British agents.

M makes out that this Scaramanga is an unbeatable gunman and believes that James Bond, due to M sending him after him, is likely being sent to his doom, the trouble is the so-called man with the Golden gun just never really seems that smart or that good.

But before getting to that, so after all this build up and all this blah blah, the book finally starts because we finally start following James Bond, he is in Jamaica where Scaramanga is believed to be holding up. The last time Bond was in Jamaica was in Dr No, and Fleming is not shy about touching upon this fact though only briefly as there is no link between the stories, but it is a quite nice touch if you have read Dr No.

But back onto the main point of the bad guy just not seeming that bright, firstly, Bond first meets his deadly nemesis in a whore house, he just so happens to go to a whore house which has been put up for sale at the exact time that Scaramanga makes an appearance, Scaramanga is a very difficult guy to find and yet Bond manages to find him before really even beginning to start looking for him.

I’m diverting from the point here, next Scaramanga decides to employ Bond, who pretends to be someone else, as a bodyguard as such, which allows Bond access to Scaramanga’s secret base where a secret meeting will take place by a secret faction which is linked to the KGB. Felix Leiter and his CIA buddy are of course already there spying on this secret mission.

So just to put this into perspective Scaramanga, this super skilled killer who we’re supposed to believe is every bit Bond’s rival if not his superior, has hired the CIA and James Bond is an effective protection for this supersecret mission, and is clueless of the fact that he has done so, the reason being he met them in random places and so assumed they clearly must be legit.

Don’t get me wrong this is a novel and poetic licence is allowed, but considering just how clever Scaramanga is supposed to be, it just seems a stretch that he could be so unlucky as to hire three agents. And I have not even mentioned the elephant in the room yet, Bond could have killed him many times but does not, it seems he is battling with his conscience, doesn’t like killing in cold blood…

You read that right, Bond could have killed Scaramanga many times over but does not because he battles with the morality of killing in cold blood, so basically this is a story of Bond in effect waiting for Scaramanga to try to kill him before killing him because he doesn’t like the idea of killing in cold blood. James Bond, licensed to kill assassin. Not wanting to kill the man who has been killing his fellow agents, despite being given the order to kill him…

I have read the Bond books and I have to say it just does not feel like this is how James Bond would ever act, I get he is supposed to be knocked off his game due to this brainwashing but, still, it just doesn’t really make for a compelling story, at least not the way it is written.

Perhaps if the story had been solely focused upon Bond having lost his nerve for killing it could have worked but it just wasn’t about that, in fact it seemed more a story about eavesdropping and learning about the KGB secret operations which they had been running out of Jamaica, along with their future plans for Jamaica, but that just did not make for compelling reading. To be honest I could go on and on with the complaints but I will just leave it there.

In regards to the action at the end, it isn’t bad, it’s nothing special, but it does at least keep you turning over the pages, there is also a corker of a final line, though feminists beware of this line as it is most definitely probably the closest moment James Bond comes to to feeling like James Bond in this novel. I won’t give it away but it will either make you smile or will infuriate you.

All in all I can’t really give this book a thumbs up but if you are a fan of Bond, and as this is the last in the series, it is still worth reading even if only so that you can say that you have read them all.

Writer: Ian Fleming

Genre: spy thriller, mystery, action

Year: 1965

The Ghost Writer

A solid thriller with a great twist

What it’s about

When a successful ghostwriter agrees to finish the memoirs of a former prime minister after the previous writer suspiciously dies, his publisher assures him it’s the chance of a lifetime. Instead, he begins to uncover evidence that suggests his late predecessor knew a dark secret and may have been murdered to prevent it from coming to light.

My thoughts

This feels a very Roman Polanski -type film, which is inevitable as he directed it, but at the same time it is a very hit and miss sort of film. Ewan McGregor puts in a solid performance as the lead, the other big star name Pierce Brosnan also puts in a solid albeit reality fleeting performance.

And it is indisputable that there is much suspense and mystery in this film, also you definitely get the feeling that there is something sinister going on, and that McGregor’s character has well and truly found himself in the middle of it.

At the same time it is hard to avoid the fact that this feels like a bit of a dig at Tony Blair’s premiership and his close relationship with the US. In fact my first thought upon watching it was that this is a conspiracy film about Tony Blair. It is not but the parallels in the accusations directed at Pierce Brosnan’s Prime Minister and Tony Blair over his relationship with the US is pretty much impossible to miss.

But at the same time this is used to good effect with McGregor’s ghost writer coming to the conclusion that Adam Lang is not who he appears to be, and in fact may have some very troubling links to the CIA. This is of course where we step away from the parallels to Tony Blair and enter into the realms of fantasy, and it is when the film steps away from these apparent Tony Blair parallels that it really comes to life.

Obviously I won’t give away any spoilers but this is a very well done thriller, with McGregor’s character increasingly feeling in grave jeopardy as the film progresses.

The only real letdown is the ending, there is a brilliant twist which is a real aha moment, but that twist in a way is spoilt by what comes after. A little spoiler alert here so be warned, but McGregor’s character ends up getting killed but the lead up to how he gets killed and the way he gets killed just kind of feels unbefitting of how good the story was to this point.

It is not the fact that he dies that is the problem it is the way it happens, the filmmaking is clever but just feels totally illogical for the character. Really you just can’t help but be left feeling that the film deserved a better put together ending, or rather it feels like that the writers thought okay now we’ve revealed the big twist let’s just end things quick.

But I take nothing away from this film, it is an entertaining thriller and as the film progresses you really do feel that McGregor’s character is increasingly in grave jeopardy. For that reason all in all from me it gets a thumbs up.

​​Director: Roman Polanski

Writer: Robert Harris, Roman Polanski

Genre: thriller, drama, mystery

Year: 2010

​Runtime: 130 minutes

The Warrior Queen of Jhansi

A decent if not very basic look at a legendary Queen

What it’s about

Loosely based on true events. Freedom fighter Rani of Jhansi shifts the balance of power by leading her people into battle against the British Empire in 1857 India. Her insurrection set in motion the demise of the British East India Company.

What you will learn from watching it

​This film is done very well in regards to providing a very simplistic snapshot of the political situation in the providence of Jhansi in regards to the rule of the British East India company, it also captures very well what really went so wrong with the British East India company.

But before getting onto that, one thing is clear there is nothing in-depth about this, so this is a very very simplistic near enough back of a cigarette packet look at the situation of the time, so what caused the uprising in the mid-1800s and how the British East India company responded to it. It is also a very PG look, so this is a very light story which considering that it covers subjects like mass rape and murder, as well as a fifteen-year-old Queen marrying a much older king, may lead some to wonder whether the film does the story justice.

But on the flipside this is a film that younger people could quite easily watch, and I imagine if I had a youngest daughter this would be a great film to watch with her. And that’s because this is a story that is very much of the inspirational sort, a film which shows that even in the past there truly were women who could kick ass and inspire.

Now to how it shows quite well just what was so wrong with the leadership of the British East India Company, perhaps the best example comes when one of the shareholders proudly states that he is sixth generation shareholder. Meaning he sure as hell did not earn his role.

This is a clever piece of dialogue because in a very simple way it highlights one of the biggest problems of the British Empire, and that was how the people running it rarely earned their position and more often, in fact pretty much in every case inherited it, and the more this happened the more the Empire fell into decay and the more wrongdoings the Empire ended up committing. For example what led to the Indian uprising in the first place was a catastrophic error on the part of the British East India Company – the bullets were made using cow and pig fat, something which was sacrilege to the Indians of the time.

But like said this it is very much a back of the packet of cigarettes telling of what happened and what the situation was. But it gives that packet of cigarettes type review in a very clear and intelligible way, making it a great starting point for perhaps someone young to gain knowledge of a very inspirational historical figure, but for the adult market perhaps lacking in depth.

Is the story any good

Director Swati Bhise has created a hit and miss film, the drama and storytelling is quite good but at the same time it feels that such powerful historical figure of Rani Laxmibai deserved a more in-depth story, something that really got into the nitty-gritty of just who she was, the hurdles she had to face, and just what she had to overcome to truly become the Warrior Queen.

But like said as a PG version it works, and is a fun and inspiring story. The only real letdown is the fight scenes, firstly she slaughters British troops in a way similar to how Arnold Schwarzenegger kills the bad guys in a typical action flick.

The difference of course is whereas in Arnold’s world firstly due to his size he does look like he could do some damage, but secondly due to the type of films he stars in these types of unrealistic feats are expected.

In this film not only does it not seem believable that Devika Bhise’s Queen Rani could do the type of damage that she does, at the same time it doesn’t feel the type of film where you would expect such feats to be possible.

For example, in one scene at the end she is surrounded by British troops and my first thought was why the heck did one of the troops just shoot her, surely they would have done.

In a typical action flick you would not think such a thing because you expect such things from that type of film, the problem this film has you expect a little bit of realism but in the fight scenes it just feels like there is none and it pushes poetic licence just a little bit too far.

Really I think the problem is the director seemed to be unable to decide whether she wanted this to be a film based on realism or a fantasy version of it. So something that turns the Warrior Queen more into a mythical figure than a real figure. At times it feels like you are being asked to see this as a realistic tale, at other times it feels like you are being asked to see this as a mythical tale.

But ignoring this if you look past the fight scenes, this still tells a decent story.

Final words

If you are interested in learning a little bit about British/Indian history specifically the uprising in the mid-1800s but do not want to go in depth in your learning, this film presents a decent solution by telling the story of a person who is in effect a true real life kick ass Queen. But remember when watching this not to expect anything in depth, this is just like I say a very simple back of a cigarette packet style look at one of history’s great figures. It is also very PG which means it is great for perhaps showing to a young daughter as means of inspiration but not so great for someone wanting a more in-depth look at a legendary historical figure.

But despite that this film still gets a thumbs up from me, as it is a fun watch.

Director: Swati Bhise

Writer: Devika Bhise, Swati Bhise, Olivia Emden

Genre: historical drama, action

Year: 2019

Runtime: 104 minutes

Force 10 from Navarone (novel)

A slow starter but an electrifying finisher

What it’s about

This follows on immediately from the highly acclaimed The Guns of Navarone, Keith Mallory, Andrea and Dusty Miller are parachuted into war-torn Yugoslavia with the task of rescuing a division of Partisans. But they also have a secret mission, a one that is so deadly that it must be hidden from even their own allies.

My thoughts

​If you have not read The Guns of Navarone though it is not a prerequisite to reading this book, I would highly recommend that you do in fact read a first as it is literally a direct follow-on. So this book starts right at the moment that the last book, The Guns of Navarone, ends

However, the stories of the two books are very much different so really the importance in regards to reading the predecessor is more about getting to know the main characters. So like I say even though I highly recommend reading the predecessor first it is not a prerequisite.

With that said, now onto the story of Force 10 from Navarone, it is a highly entertaining one, basically the small incursion team led by Mallory plan to blow a dam to bring down a bridge just as a German brigade is crossing, and though the story of the predecessor is arguably better in terms of pacing and action this novel probably comes up trumps.

And what really perhaps makes this book stand out and really come into its own, is the dynamic between the original team, which is Mallory, Andrea and Miller, and the young upstarts who have joined them, Reynolds, Saunders and Groves.

There is great mistrust between them, but different sorts of mistrust, Mallory and his team do not trust Reynolds and his team have what it takes to do what has to be done. This lack of trust needs to Reynolds and his team misinterpreting what is going on and frequently wondering whether Mallory is perhaps up to no good.

As the novel progresses the dynamic changes and the teams come to trust each other but that trust comes with a very heavy price leading to a very poignant moment at the end. I have to say a big fan of the dynamic between the characters in this book, it really does create some great tension but also makes you think about the rights or wrongs of what the characters are doing and thinking.

Regarding readability, it is quite difficult at the beginning to make sense of just what is going on, who they are helping and who they are not helping and much more.

Really the problem is there are too many names that are difficult to remember, and there are too many different messages being told to too many different characters, meaning you really have to pay attention to make sense of just who they are helping, who they are fighting and just what it is they are actually going to do.

But in all honesty you are able to get the gist of it without rereading, and I didn’t bother rereading as I assumed that I would make sense of it later on in the book which I did. And it is later on in the book that this story really comes to life.

To say the least the buildup to the ending of this book is electrifying in its pacing, and in fact the way the text seamlessly bounces us from place to place, from character to character showing us different scenes which all interconnect and help build up to the electrifying climax, is very cinematic in style.

In fact at times it feels like you are reading a film, except that is in the format of a book and so you feel much closer to the characters and action than if you were watching a film.

All in all despite the information overload at the beginning, this is an electrifying and very much high octane action story. That means from me it gets a definite thumbs up and is unquestionably a worthy follow-up to The Guns of Navarone.

Writer: Alistair MacLean

Genre: war story, action, adventure

Year: 1968

Where Eagles Dare (novel)

Arguably Alistair Maclean’s best novel

What it’s about

A team of British Special Forces commandos parachutes into the high peaks of the Austrian Alps on a rescue mission, the chief planner of the Western front has been taken prisoner. To save the war effort they must free him, but he is being held in an invulnerable alpine castle, accessible only by aerial gondola, which just so happens to be the headquarters of Nazi intelligence.

My thoughts

​Despite popular belief this is not based on a true story, and is entirely fictional. With that out of the way this is arguably Alistair MacLean’s best novel, most people probably better know it as the film which stars a young Clint Eastwood along with the legendary Richard Burton.

In regards to which is better, both are equally brilliant, but there are some minor deviations the biggest perhaps being that in the book there is much less violence.

Also the characters in the book are a little bit more humorous, you also get a far greater sense of place in the book, along with the claustrophobic feeling of truly being inside the headquarters of Nazi intelligence. But perhaps the biggest difference is the fact that the stakes even though they are near enough the same feel in the book just so much bigger.

What the book really succeeds at is making you really buy into just how big the stakes are, and how if this mission fails it could truly mess up the planned invasion on the Western front i.e. D-Day.

But outside that really the big differences are what you would normally expect to get from a book versus a film. For example, in the film the stakes are high but the characters always seem to be ahead of the game, while in the book you really get a sense for just how desperate this mission is. Pretty much all throughout you also get the feeling that actually they might not succeed, which you don’t really get in the film i.e. Richard Burton’s character always seems like he is going to succeed.

So in the book you are just much closer to the characters and action and they feel more like real people rather than action stars.

But the film is great, and the book is great which means all in all I don’t really have a great deal to say other than this is a brilliant read, highly entertaining, simple English and written in a way that means it is highly improbable that you will need to reread any sections to make sense of what is going on.

That means from me this book gets a solid thumbs up, and is a highly entertaining World War II rescue story.

Writer: Alistair Maclean

Genre: war story, action, adventure

Year: 1967

True Lies

A brilliant but equally hilarious action thriller

What it’s about

The life of a fearless globetrotting secret agent, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, takes a shocking turn when he suspects his wife of having an extramarital affair with a used-car salesman who is posing as a secret agent. He must now not only save the world but also save his own marriage.

My thoughts

This has everything you want from an Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick, so full of one-liners, a good amount of comedy, and much ass kicking. But it is not a conventional action flick, it is in fact an action film combined with a domestic comedy, two genres that not many people would ever think of combining.

But this is James Cameron, a man who is indisputably the king of making great films. And this is a great film, and perhaps what makes this film one of Arnie’s best non-terminator outings is the relationship between Schwarzenegger himself and his on-screen wife, who is played by Jamie Lee Curtis.

Basically Helen Tasker, wife of Harry Tasker, has no idea that Harry is a secret agent and in fact believes him to be an extremely boring computer salesman. Their marriage is dull, so dull that when a snake car salesman pretends to be a secret agent in an effort to lull her into bed, she falls for it.

Arnie’s Harry Tasker though, gets wind of this cue hilarity. Anyhow while hilariously trying to save his marriage he loses sight of his main mission which is of stopping a terrorist from using four nuclear warheads which have been smuggled into the US.

This leads to both he and his wife being kidnapped by the terrorists. Much kick ass’ery then ensues, along with much hilarity, perhaps two of the funniest moments coming firstly when Jamie Lee Curtis’ Helen Tasker drops a machine gun and it falls down a flight of stairs, in the process taking out all the terrorists, and then secondly later on in the film when the terrorists find themselves in a precarious position in a van which hangs over the edge of the bridge. They think that they are safe and that they are not going to fall over the edge, but then a bird lands on the bonnet. Guess what happens next, goodbye terrorists.

The best one-liner and the one to watch out for in this film inevitably comes at the end, it is not one of his best but is still highly effective. (Spoiler alert) While flying a fighter jet, the terrorist gets hung up on one of the rockets, before releasing the rocket and sending the terrorist to his doom, Arnie says, “you’re fired”, and he says it in that way that only Arnie can.

All in all this is a highly entertaining watch, and without a doubt one of Arnie’s best in the more slapstick style action hero genre. For that reason, along with the fact that it’s an Arnold Schwarzenegger film (I’m a big fan), from me it gets a big thumbs up.

​​Director: James Cameron

Writer: James Cameron

Genre: action, comedy, thriller

Year: 1994

​Runtime: 141 minutes

Moonraker (novel)

One of Ian Fleming’s best Bond stories

What it’s about

Sir Hugo Drax is a multi-millionaire tycoon and war hero, revered by the British public for his Moonraker missile defence programme. But he cheats at cards and in doing so risks his reputation and the Moonraker project. Bond is tasked with putting a stop to his cheating ways before they are exposed, but in doing so uncovers a very dark plot indeed, a plot so dark it puts the lives of millions at risk.

My thoughts

​First things first, the book is very very different to the film version, in fact it is in a different stratosphere to the film version. The film version which the vast majority of people will know of, sees Roger Moore’s James Bond uncover a devious plot by Spectre to destroy the world, all the while repopulating it with some selected people who will be protected from the Earth’s destruction by taking refuge on a space station.

In reality Moonraker the film is Bond gone sci-fi with half the film spent in space with laser guns. The book on the other hand is nothing at all like this, the book is a basic espionage story which sees Bond uncover a plot by a group of Nazi’s from the war who have infiltrated society and plan to do some real damage to the UK, all in an effort to bring the Nazis back to life.

In terms of how good it is, this is the third of Fleming’s Bond books and it is one of the best ones, all throughout the book there is a real sense of high tension and suspense as well as impending doom as Bond digs deeper searching for what the truth of this dastardly plot is and its links to Hugo Drax and the Moonraker project.

So on an entertainment level as a Bond novel it is top-notch. But what is perhaps most interesting about this novel is how in effect Bond rather than playing his typical role as a spy and thus working abroad is playing more the role of a standard detective. In fact this could be argued as being more of a MI5 style story than a MI6 one, after all MI6 is supposed to be tasked with missions abroad not at home, which is the playing ground of MI5.

That means unlike other Bond novels this is a story set entirely in the UK. Basically Bond is tasked with taking over security of the Moonraker base after the previous head of security was killed. He needs to work out both who killed him and why he was killed, inevitably he has the aid of a lady friend who helps him along the way as well as joining him in the bedroom, this is Bond after all.

But this novel, though incorporating all the elements of Bond from the cardplaying to the bravado to the girl to the villain, places Bond in a slightly different world than the other novels meaning all in all from me it gets a thumbs up as it is indisputably an entertaining read.

Writer: Ian Fleming

Genre: spy thriller, mystery, action

Year: 1955

The Guns of Navarone (novel)

A highly enjoyable read of a most desperate of missions

What it’s about

An entire navy had tried to silence the guns of Navarone and failed. Full-scale attacks had been driven back. Now they were sending in just five men, each one a specialist in dealing death. But the question is can they do the impossible and finally silence the guns of Navarone?

My thoughts

​First thing’s first, counter to popular belief this is not based on a true story and there is no island of Navarone, the only truth to the story is the historical context of which it is supposed to be a part of, which is the Dodecanese Campaign, a campaign by the Allies to capture the Italian-held Greek islands in the Aegean Sea back in 1943.

In terms of whether it is any good, the simple answer is yes it is a highly enjoyable read. In terms of whether it’s better than the film which perhaps it is better known as these days, not better just a little bit different, and a little bit is very much the word.

For example in the film there are female characters but in the book there are not, also in the film the main characters Andrea and Mallory have on a personal level fallen out. Basically Andrea blames Mallory for the death of his family and plans to kill him after the war.

In the film a large part of the story is the characters dealing with this issue and resolving it, but this issue does not exist in the book and in fact in the book Mallory and Andrea have an unbreakable bond and that unbreakable bond is a large part of the story.

I have to say I do prefer the film’s idea of the tension between them as it just adds another element but I take nothing away from the book, which is an enjoyable read, and perhaps what Alistair MacLean does best is making you feel like you are really out there on the fictional island of Navarone and are being hunted by the Nazis.

Literally the connection you feel to the characters as they as they are hunted and get more and more beaten up and more and more desperate, is what really sells this book and is its standout feature over the film version. You can just really feel the sense of sacrifice both mental and physical not only needed to be made but that they are willing to make and are making, you can also feel their turmoil due to their inner desire to save a fallen comrade yet knowing that their efforts to do so risk the mission.

And in fact I would say the most endearing part of the novel is just how hard they fight to keep Andrew Stevens, not just alive but out of captivity, the fact that they carry him on a stretcher for the majority of the book really drives home their sense of desperation. Also the inner turmoil around their fears about the mission being compromised if he was taking into captivity is a nice touch.

All in all this is a great read, and an easy read as the majority of the English is just basic, the only thing I will say is the sequence at the end when they finally reach Navarone, I had to reread that section as I got completely lost with the logistics of where they were and the exact details of just what they were doing, in all honesty the problem was that I could not in my head buildup an accurate image of the place which for this section is highly important.

With this in mind should you choose to read it, when they reach Navarone and especially when they reach the guns I suggest you really concentrate as it is very easy to get lost at this point. But other than that this is an enjoyable and easy read, not the sort that will blow your mind but the sort that you could happily read on a Saturday evening before bed which means it gets a thumbs up from me.

Writer: Alistair MacLean

Genre: action, war, historical

Year: 1957

The Finest Hours

An Amazing Story Made More Amazing by the Fact That It Is a True Story

What it’s about

Set in 1952, this is the true story of where four coast guards brave a deadly storm in an effort to rescue the survivors of an oil-tanker, which has split in half, and is fast sinking.

My thoughts

This film was basically a box office flop, and critics called it old-fashioned to a fault which translates to its uses an older filmmaking style which in reality means it uses a slower style of pacing than modern films.

I have to say I agree with this opinion and because of this it is not a film I could see myself ever feeling compelled to go to the cinema to see which is likely why it flopped. As a film to watch on TV though I have to say it is a solid watch.

It is based upon the 2010 book, The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue, which was written by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman. And this book tells the true story of what happened on that fateful day back in 1952.

In terms of how true to the story the film is, extremely so. Only small scale changes have been made, for example in real life he is married to his wife when the rescue happens, whereas in the film it follows the story of him meeting her and getting engaged to her. But the courtship that is shown in the film is a largely accurate account of how they got together including the fact that she was the one to ask him to get married.

Also in the film we see the crew of the oil tanker crash the ship onto a shoal in an effort to stop it from sinking, this did not actually happen. Another minor change is that on the way home it was a lighthouse light which showed them the way home not his fiancée parking her car at the waterfront and switching on the beams.

So the changes that have been made in reality are small-scale ones which have been made mostly for the purposes of concise storytelling along with adding some dramatic effect.

All in all that means this film tells a highly accurate account of what happened and just how amazing what they did that day really was, and what they did really was amazing, I mean it has to be said the fact that they went out there, into a hurricane class storm in the boat that they did, a boat that was only designed to rescue twelve people and yet they brought back thirty-two people. It is simply staggering. The fact that they also really lost their compass when barely out of the harbour and not only did they not turn back but still managed to find the oil tanker and make it back home just makes it even more insane.

That means yes, this film’s pacing will feel at times a little bit slow especially during the periods which focus upon Bernie’s fiancé as she struggles to deal with just what it is he is doing, but the true story and the fact they stay so true to it makes this film not just a compelling watch but a most definitely worthy watch.

That means from me this film gets a big thumbs up because this is simply a story which beggars belief and is a story which deserves to be told and needs to be seen because it will prove to anyone just what lengths people will go, the sacrifices people are willing to make, just to save lives. And one thing I love more than anything is an amazing story and that’s what this is.

​​Director: Craig Gillespie

Writer: Scott Silver, Paul Tomasy, Eric Johnson

Genre: action, drama, history

Year: 2016

​Runtime: 117 minutes

The Martian

Superb Story of Survival Told with a Positive Attitude

What it’s about

When astronauts blast off from the planet Mars, they leave behind Mark Watney (Matt Damon), presumed dead after a fierce storm. With only a meager amount of supplies, the stranded visitor must utilize his wits and spirit to find a way to survive on the hostile planet. Meanwhile, back on Earth, members of NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring him home, while his crew mates hatch their own plan for a daring rescue mission.

My thoughts

One thing about this film right off the bat, the visuals are brilliant and it really does make you feel like Matt Damon’s character is trapped on Mars. In regards to the story, it is one of isolation but isolation with a positive attitude which means Matt Damon’s character never feels as isolated as he actually is trapped in hostile conditions one hundred and forty million miles from Earth.

Some could argue that that is a bad thing, but I’m not one of those as I believe that to survive such a situation a positive attitude would most definitely be needed and his positive attitude makes you truly believe that he can not only survive on Mars but make it back home.

That means that this is not one of those nitty-gritty doom and gloom I’m all alone films, this is one of those super positive attitude there is nothing I cannot achieve if I put my mind to it films. That means if anything goes wrong the lead character is just going to smile, get over it and solve the problem, then the next problem, then the next problem and so on. And I have to say a big fan of films like this as I do love a positive attitude.

In regards to the story, it is derived from the smash hit book of the same name which was written by Andy Weir back in 2011. What made the book so compelling was that it came about as a result of Andy Weir wanting to work out the logistics for a journey to Mars.

That led to him posting his chapters on his website as he wrote them, with his fellow science buff friends many of whom were highly skilled people nitpicking the science until the point that the book told a story that was extremely realistic in regard to both the science and the realities of both a mission to Mars and just how difficult it would be to save a person should they become stranded on Mars.

In one of the best things about the film, is that it has largely stayed true to the idea of using present-day science to tell a story of a person being trapped on Mars, along with how difficult it would be to save a person stranded on Mars, along with how difficult it would be for a person stranded on Mars to survive. That means this is to an extent a film which tells a realistic story. Meaning if you want to know how we would save a person trapped on Mars this film will within reason give you a good idea.

One thing I will say is that due to the type of story this is the main character spends the majority of the film alone, and one of the big dangers of doing this is that due to this fact it becomes a straight up bore fest, and what can make things worse is that often the character ends up talking to themselves but not in a natural way, in an exposition laden way. That means that rather than just showing us the story they end up having the main character telling us the story.

Thankfully director Ridley Scott has navigated this issue well, with the moments where Matt Damon talks to himself actually adding to the film, namely by not only showing just how positive he is but also by providing some excellent moments of comedic relief. And in a film that runs for close to 2 1/2 hours and in which for the most part the lead character is alone that is definitely a good thing.

All in all that means this is film with a positive attitude that uses realistic science to tell a story of how a man in the present day should he get trapped on Mars would both survive and be rescued, and the execution of the story is brilliant and for that reason along with the fact that this is good fun film to watch, from me it gets a big thumbs up.

​​Director: Ridley Scott

Writer: Drew Goddard, Andy Weir

Genre: adventure, drama, sci-fi

Year: 2015

​Runtime: 144 minutes