Sully

 

Sully is a 2016 American biographical drama film directed and co-produced by Clint Eastwood and written by Todd Komarnicki, about US Airways Flight 1549 and its pilot, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, based on the autobiography Highest Duty by Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow. The film stars Tom Hanks as Sullenberger, with Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Anna Gunn, Autumn Reeser, Holt McCallany, Jamey Sheridan and Jerry Ferrara in supporting roles.


Review

Given that the events here actually happened, it’s a surprisingly tense and suspenseful film. Of course it’s all in the way you do it, and Clint Eastwood really knows how to direct. The film starts after the events of the landing. Flashbacks during the hearing show how everything happened. Worth the wait and for those not familiar with the story, will provide a satisfying ending.

 

Alan Turing Test

Alan Turing

The Imitation Game is a 2014 American historical drama thriller film directed by Morten Tyldum, with a screenplay by Graham Moore loosely based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges (previously adapted as the stage play and BBC drama Breaking the Code). It stars Benedict Cumberbatch as real-life British cryptanalyst Alan Turing, who decrypted German intelligence codes for the British government during World War II.


Review
I had seen the the Alan Turing story in a BBC production from years ago. This film brought him to mainstream prominence, mainly due to the popular Cumberbatch playing the title role. Keira Knightley seem miscast and to young to be playing Joan Clarke. It’s Cumberbatch’s performance that really makes the film work. Turing is an introverted and arrogant genius, always finding it difficult to get on with his co-workers.

The film is told in three timelines. The main narrative is of his time at Bletchley Park, from initial employment to the cracking of the enigma codes. The second timeline is after the war and covers his arrest and treatment for homosexuality. The final narrative is of his school days and the impact of his closest friendship. This is film that received numerous awards and accolades, and deserved them all.

 

Ex Machina

Ex Machina

is a 2015 science fiction psychological thriller film written and directed by Alex Garland in his directorial debut, and produced by Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich. It stars Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, and Alicia Vikander, and revolves around a programmer invited by his CEO to administer the Turing test to an intelligent humanoid.


Review

This is a very slick and sexy re-telling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It looks great and is well acted. The problem is that despite its pondering on themes  of ‘what is human’, in the final act it resorts to a predictable ending. This story has been told since the beginning of science fiction and the film doesn’t add much to those than have gone before.

 

Solomon’s Seal

Solomon’s Seal (Ogmios Team Adventure #2)
by Steven Savile (2012)

With the discovery of the long lost Seal of Solomon Konstantin Khavan and Orla Nyren find themselves in Jerusalem and Palestine fighting for their lives with enemies on all sides. They don’t know who they can trust. They don’t know which way to turn next. All they know is they have to find the Seal while diverting the detonation of a dirty bomb at one of Jerusalem’s most holy sites. Which would be fine, but Orla’s been here before, during the worst days of her life when she was a prisoner in Jenin, a refugee camp on the border.


Review

This is more like ‘Crucible’, at 44,000 words it come in a novella length. It’s about a single operation to retrieve a piece of jewellery. May sound like nothing, but Savile ramps up the action to suitable levels to satisfy.  At times there is a but too much violence, pushing into the horror genre, especially its depiction of the actions against the female agent.

In the end, a decent but not complicated action thriller.

Silver

Silver (Ogmios Team Adventure #1)
by Steven Savile (2010)

Two thousand years ago, thirty Tyrian shekels were paid to secure the most infamous betrayal of all time. Melted down by the grandsons of Judas Iscariot, Menahem and Eleazar ben Jair, in the dark heart of the Sicarii fortress, Masada, the silver was re-forged as a dagger.

When Sicarii zealots committed mass suicide in AD73, the dagger of Iscariot and the truth of his sacrifice were lost. Until now. A religious cult calling itself the Disciples of Judas has risen in the Middle East. Its influence is pernicious, its reach long. In thirteen cities across Europe, thirteen people martyr themselves in the name of Judas, promising forty days and forty nights of terror.


Review

There is more than a hint of Dan Brown’s ‘The Da Vinci Code’ in this book. In fact  in the author notes Steven Savile states that he felt he was overshadowed by Dan Brown as the books came out around the same time.  But this is a better story. It lacks the over the top breathless quality of Dan Brown.

Savile really knows how to deliver an action sequence, they are tense, gripping and usually have an unexpected way out for the protagonist.

What I have noticed in the writing it that he will spend more time on setting and the environment that most authors. This results in a more immersive read, but without the dreaded info-dump some indulge in.

The only negative aspect was the amount of Christian/Jewish history included beyond my minimal knowledge of the era.

Still a great thriller with an unexpected ending.

Lewis 8.30

Lewis Series 8
30 “Beyond Good and Evil”

(Originally Aired in UK 7 November 2014)

Thirteen years ago, Lewis successfully apprehended hammer killer Graham Lawrie. Now Lawrie is on the verge of freedom thanks to new evidence. Lewis fears the worst, but nothing can prepare him for a string of murders resembling the original case. With his mentor’s reputation in jeopardy, Hathaway races to catch the killer.


Review

The last of the season and best of the season. This is due to the simplicity of the story. It’s a basic did-he-do-it plot. Was Lewis wrong in his original arrest of Lawrie. Is there someone else and who will die.

Alec Newman plays Graham Lawrie and gives a great portrayal of a psychopathic killer.  Hathaway finally gets to show some leadership as Lewis is fading into retirement.

 

 

Deep Fire

A Fire Upon the Deep
(Zones of Thought #1)
by Vernor Vinge (1993)

Thousands of years hence, many races inhabit a universe where a mind’s potential is determined by its location in space, from super-intelligent entities in the Transcend, to the limited minds of the Unthinking Depths, where only simple creatures and technology can function. Nobody knows what strange force partitioned space into these “regions of thought,” but when the warring Straumli realm use an ancient Transcendent artifact as a weapon, they unwittingly unleash an awesome power that destroys thousands of worlds and enslaves all natural and artificial intelligence.

Fleeing the threat, a family of scientists, including two children, are taken captive by the Tines, an alien race with a harsh medieval culture, and used as pawns in a ruthless power struggle. A rescue mission, not entirely composed of humans, must rescue the children-and a secret that may save the rest of interstellar civilization.


Review
This is being read as the ‘Sword and Laser’ podcast pick for September. The last Vernor Vinge book I read was ‘Rainbows End’. This starts OK, but the plot really sags in the middle, I got bored with it and gave up.
So it’s with trepidation I started this book………

The start is OK, spaceships are destroyed and a family is abandoned on a planet to face a savage foe. Then the third person narrative switches to the aggressor. The language changes and all sorts of unnecessary  words are thrown in that makes it a difficult read. Up until now I can follow the story, then we get another narrative by some unknown people in an unknown place.

The author just isn’t that good at setting up a situation and describing what is going on. Things start to drag and become boring. I persisted until 14% of this 203,000 word novel. Was I going to slog my way through the remaining 86% ?

No Way.

 

 

Crucible

Crucible (Ogmios Team Adventure #5)
by Steven Savile (2014)

1996, London. The Troubles are in full flow. A young Irish officer, Ronan Frost, is deep undercover inside an IRA cell in London. Something big is happening. Something devastating. Something that will shake the foundations of Anglo-Irish relations and make sure the peace process stalls.

The Ogmios Team doesn’t exist.

Sir Charles is not confined to a wheelchair.

This is where it all begins.


Review
As I had read another Steven Savile book, I wasn’t too worried about being taken on a story that would waste my time. I gave his book ‘Immortal’ a 4/5 review.

This novel is a conventional thriller told in two parallel third person narratives.

It feels like an episode of a TV series like ‘The Professionals’, Sir Charles could be George Cowley. Boddy or Doyle any of the agents. Certainly well done, however it covers ground (UK-Irish troubles) that has been done a lot before.

This is episode five, supposedly an origins story, but for half the book it felt like being thrown in with established character I had just met. Reading the blurbs for the other four books, they appear to cover less conventional ground, so should be worth a read.

 

Didymus Contingency

The Didymus Contingency
by Jeremy Robinson (2007)

When Dr. Tom Greenbaum faces that question after successfully discovering the secret to time travel, he knows the time, place and event he will witness: the death and failed resurrection of Jesus Christ. Dr. David Goodman, Tom’s colleague and closest friend follows Tom into the past, attempting to avert a time-space catastrophe, but forces beyond their control toss them into a dangerous end game where they are tempted by evil characters, betrayed by friends, pursued by an assassin from the future and haunted by a demon that cannot be killed.


Review

This is Jeremy Robinson’s first book,not published until recently. It’s got all the characteristics of later books; action, suspense and evil villains. This is a time travel tale. Near the end things do get a bit to timey-whimey (trademark Dr Who) for my liking.

The interesting thing was his depiction of Jesus. In this book he is a big boisterous guy, outgoing and charismatic. In Ben-Hur (2016) he is a sniveling wretch, downtrodden and weak. Robinson’s Jesus makes more sense, you would expect the King of the Jews to be outgoing and a natural leader. I’m not sure if this mixture of religion and science fiction is meant to be taken too seriously, but I found humour and a touch of satire in what happens when the heroes of today meet iconic people from Judea.

Despite the inherent problems with time travel and the insertion of an unnecessary villain, it’s still a good read. Just don’t think too hard about the ‘rules’ of time travel and the nature of Jesus.