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

Don’t Let Go

A Film That Will Pleasantly Surprise You

What it’s about

Detective Jack Radcliff gets a shocking phone call from his recently murdered niece Ashley. Working together across time, they race to solve the crime before it can happen.

My thoughts

The time travel genre has been done to death over the years which makes finding a new angle from which to use time travel difficult, but this film manages to do just that, the story feeling both fresh and unique.

However, it should be noted this film is a slow starter and many could miss out as a result by switching off too soon. That would be a mistake, because once this film gets going it doesn’t hold back, David Oyelowo and Storm Reid respectively putting in solid performances as detective Jack Radcliff and his niece Ashley.

It’s not a film that’s going to change your life, but it is a film that will pleasantly surprise you. The idea of getting a phone call from your dead niece who is alive and well in the past after all is a mind-boggling notion in its own right, and writer/director Jacob Estes does not miss a beat in using this to build a substantial amount of suspense.

It is perhaps let down a little by the ending where the bad guy played by Mykelti Williamson so freely chases after the young Storm Reid’s character with a shotgun seeming not to care about being seen.

But this should not be held against it as it is after all not a big budget film. Also unlike the majority of time travel films these days it completely avoids any forms of explanation about how the time travel works. This means there is zero technical jargon to be afraid of nor much exposition to worry about.

All in all this is a decent story with a great premise which makes for an entertaining evening watch, which means it gets a solid thumbs up from me.

​​Director: Jacob Estes

Writer: Jacob Estes and Drew Daywalt

Genre: drama, horror, mystery

Year: 2019

​Runtime: 107 minutes

Message Man

Solid Action Flick with a Terrible Name

What it’s about

When his dark past threatens to catch up with him, an assassin comes out of retirement to go on a final killing spree to make things right.

My thoughts

First thing’s first it has to be said this film arguably has the lamest name in the history of films, the fact that any person thought that Message Man was a brilliant name for a ruthless assassin is beyond belief.

However, ignoring the terrible name this is actually quite an enjoyable film, and if you like action flicks along the lines of John Wick and the Rambo films, so ruthless killers killing bad people ruthlessly, then it is highly probable that will enjoy this.​

Is it as good as said films, no but it is indisputably a decent action flick, with ex-Home and Away man Paul O’Brien putting in a solid performance as the lead actor.

There is not much in the form of story, but there never is in films like this. What matters in films like this is whether there is enough story to justify all the killing, and this film ticks that box.

Basically Message Man hires a young boy to help him and goes on to befriend his mother. That young boy then gets kidnapped by someone from Message Man’s past, forcing Message Man to come out of retirement to get him back. Much ruthless killing then ensues.

All in all it is one of those films that you don’t expect much of but goes on to pleasantly surprise you. Best of all the name Message Man is barely mentioned in the entire film, which means it gets a thumbs up from me.

​​Director: Corey Pearson

Writer: Corey Pearson

Genre: action, crime, thriller

Year: 2018

​Runtime: 86 minutes

Need for Speed

A Videogame with a Supercharger Attached

What it’s about

A street racer is framed by a rival who is also a wealthy business associate in a murder case. Upon his release, the street racer devises a plan with revenge in mind.

My thoughts

Tyre burning in this film is taken to an entirely different level. In fact it is probable that during filming, they will have burnt through so many tyres that they could have filled a tyre graveyard. But if you like films in which high-powered cars are taken to their limits, then you will like this film.

But only if you are able to watch it for what it is, and that is a video game turned into a film, which means if you are person that likes films to have a semblance of realism to them you’re gonna think this film ridiculous.

That means to say the least poetic licence is used in this film, and the way the title characters are willing to just pop in and out of jail so freely and willingly, and to risk jail so freely and willingly is definitely more videogame than feature film.

In fact the entire film is more videogame than feature film. But video games are fun and this film is fun, and if you’re willing to watch it with that in mind then you will find it a fun and easy to watch film which pays solid homage to the video game it is based upon.​

For these reasons it gets a solid thumbs up from me.

​Director: Scott Waugh

Writer: George Gatins and John Gatins

Genre: action, crime, thriller

Year: 2014

​Runtime: 132 minutes

Sonic The Hedgehog

Boisterous Family Fun

What it’s about

An extraterrestrial hedgehog named Sonic is discovered by a scientist who concocts evil plans to use his superpowers for his own selfish needs, but a local police officer helps Sonic fightback.

My thoughts

Is this an amazing film, no. But if you like Sonic The Hedgehog then there is a high probability you will like this film. Even if you don’t then there is still a high chance that you will like this film.

Some argue that Jim Carrey puts in a wooden performance, and it perhaps is a bit, but James Marsden’s performance as a local town cop who Sonic befriends makes up for any shortcomings as he has yet again proven that family films are what he does best.

All in all it is a fun film, has some great laughs in it, and has a nice touching story at its heart, the sort which everyone will be able to relate to. Basically Sonic is hiding from the world and inevitably is suffering the effects of loneliness, the question is will he be able to find a friend or will he have to leave Earth forever and spend his life alone on a lifeless planet.

Any person can guess what the answer will be, but that is the norm for films like this, what matters is the journey. And the journey is a good one, and has in it some great sequences, the best perhaps being the scene where Sonic finds himself caught in the middle of a bar brawl, in this scene to hilarious consequences he moves so fast everyone else is frozen in time.

But that means yes, at times this film does go a little over the top, perhaps expected from a film which has Jim Carrey as one of its stars, but in its defence it never stretches too far over so as to detract from the story. Meaning this film strikes that great balance between not taking itself too serious, but taking itself just serious enough to be taken seriously.

All in all a fun family film that both old and young can enjoy which means it gets a solid thumbs up from me.

Director: Jeff Fowler

Writer: Pat Casey and Josh Miller

Genre: action, adventure, family

Year: 2020

Runtime: 99 minutes