I started reading Philip Reeve’s Predator City series last year, on the strength of the Mortal Engines trailer that was making the rounds at the time. The books are absolutely brilliant, and almost a year later, we have the first movie delivered by Peter Jackson protege, Christian Rivers.
When you wait so long for a film to appear, you start to worry if it can be possibly as good as you want it to be; if the movie is based on a favourite book then the sense of apprehension doubles. Things get worse if you can only make the 3D showing …
So what was it like? Well, as you’d expect, it was a bit like The Hobbit for Steampunk fans …
I really am in two minds about this film. I liked … no, I loved the first one, and I say this as someone who’s never read a single book of the Harry Potter series.
I have to say though, I did struggle a bit with The Crimes of Grindelwald. On paper, this should’ve been a corker of a movie: Johnny Depp, Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, a massive budget for sets and special effects … this thing should have been stratospheric, and to be honest, the opening sequence was fantastic – like James Bond, but with wizards.
And yes, the special effects were excellent and the sets and the costumes and the acting were spectacular, but the whole adventure was let down by a story that seemed to be suffering a multiple personality disorder.
The Ian Fleming Estate won’t let just anyone write a James Bond novel, and I think that’s a good thing. Sebastian Faulkes made a decent job of it, and now Anthony Horowitz has taken a very similar tack of moving everyone’s favourite hard-drinking, hard-smoking mysgonist spy right back to his roots, dropping Bond right back to the start of his career just after World War II. (If I remember rightly, Faulkes’s outing was set in the sixties).
Following the murder of 007 in France, the British Secret Service is forced to promote a new agent fresh out of training: James Bond, a decorated war hero from Naval Intelligence takes the dead agent’s number and travels to France to avenge his death. It’s pretty much the standard Bond adventure: find the woman, find the villain, sleep with the woman, kill the villain. And as with all the 007 books, it’s not so much the plot as how it’s told. Horowitz tells it very well. The genius of setting the story in the mid-forties is that it immediately restricts you: there are no satellites for electronic surveillance, no invisible cars that can shoot missiles … nope, in the good old days, all Bond had was a pistol and a radio (and he was lucky if the radio worked). So without the gadgets then Bond is a much better read. Continue reading “Book review: Forever and a Day by Anthony Horowitz”