Among survivalists, Bear Grylls is a controversial person.
On the positive side, many of the techniques he shows are extremely valuable for a single person to use when unexpectedly caught out in a number of different wild environments, and so this video is very informative. Techniques like getting oneself out of a bog trap, using a knotted parachute cord as a safety device on glaciers to save you from hidden crevasse falls, how to use tree crossings to keep away from alligators, and some of his "quick found meals" were all great. For those, I recommend watching this video. I also liked his "We're not here to live, so let's get the heck out of here fast" attitude.
But on the other hand, as may be expected from a Special Forces kind of guy, he tends to be very aggressive and high risk taking. Many of the stunts he attempted were extremely risky or requires physical skills and boldness (like sliding down a steep jungle waterfall, crossing a canyon on a rope, drinking unboiled water, walking "alone" in the open anywhere near African predators, hiking in bright daylight in dehydration risk areas before securing water, etc). As expected in these films, some of his food and water sources were appropriately rated "ewwww", but some may harbor diseases. So whenever possible, if you aren't planning on boiling or cooking more conservative strategies to deal with those issues should probably be sought out.
It is also vital to keep your priorities straight (the "STOP" principle). True, taking a FEW risks to quickly leave bad areas may be important, but I lost count of the number of things he did that could have easily gone horribly wrong (or may have been addressed in the wrong order). As he said, even one twisted ankle, infected cut, or illness when alone in the wild could prevent travel and prove fatal, so many of the things shown made for great entertainment, but in reality should only be attempted as a last resort.
In my opinion, there were also a number of missed opportunities in some of his scenarios that may be commonly encountered. Dealing with leaches when traveling in swamps, or even making a few basic weapons or traps to provide food or turn the tables on local predators that may hunt you while moving or camping overnight would have greatly enhanced many of his scenarios.
But my biggest challenge is getting past that you may not have his basic equipment list "that he always carries on his person". What are the chances if you bailed out of a plane and were stranded in the middle of the Everglades you'd be equipped with a big switchblade hunting knife, a water bottle, a metal cup to boil water and a metal match flint striker? (Especially today, when many of those items would be stripped from you at the airport.) Showing what you should do without one (or all) of them in a damp environment would have been highly informative. I feel the "Dual Survival" video series better handles those issues.
So... I'd recommend this one for interesting ideas and entertainment value. But if your true goal is to learn what to do "if suddenly caught out in the wild", I would also watch a wide range of other authors' videos as well, to get a more balanced view of the topic.
An incredibly creative exploration of Found Sound, this absurd romp revolves around two elements: the group Six Drummers, "dangerous" Avant-garde musical artists fanatically driven to create the Ultimate Musical Concert ("in several movements") using the entire cityscape as instruments regardless of the consequences, and the story of "Amadeus", a tone-deaf detective from a large family of musical geniuses who has to live down constant reminders of the fame of the rest of his talented family (especially his conductor brother) when he has no apparent talent at all. But because of his family's heritage, Amadeus is the only policeman to realize that the terror and chaos in the city is being created by musicians, and he begins the hunt to stop them.
The compositions and "found instruments" show significant creativity. In addition, there are a number of very funny points and quotable lines throughout the movie, adding to the absurdity of it all.
This is a Foley Artist's dream movie. Extensively researched (the bonus material states "before production began over 29,000 sound samples were collected as an initial working set") each of the musical compositions were created by an amazing array of "instruments" both tonal and percussive, selected from an eclectic set of venues. For example, in the bonus material the movie developers stated they searched for a long time just to find a motorized medical table that generated the right PAIR of "chords" when it moved, to work with one composition. They also stated that one of their biggest challenges was reducing the instrument count of each composition to make it possible to be played by only six musicians.
In Swedish, with subtitles. But don't let that deter you. This movie is an exploration of musical sounds so it works in all languages.
The only plot element that I found distracting at first was one character's "selective deafness", being used as a tool. (...and given the absurd premise of the movie overall, that's saying a lot!) But when you see how it is finally applied in the climax, it provides an interesting and satisfying final plot twist to serve the character's long term needs.
The bonus materials includes explorations in the creation of Found Music, and the construction of the various compositions.
- Keith Mc.
The overall story is based on the famous Hasbro naval battle board game, but instead of two countries pitted against each other the US and Japan team up at Pearl Harbor to defend the planet against invading aliens with unusual battle technology. (A nice touch.) It features a "perpetual screwup character under stress", that must either finally figure out how to "get his own act together", use his wits for once, and organize everyone to come through in a pinch, or let the world down. The wide range of characters touched upon includes: women warriors in the military, children of military officers, older vets called back into service to tap their experience, and even veterans dealing with rehab issues after coming home with severe injuries.
The filmmakers did a great job of maintaining many of the key elements of the board game in the movie, from grid based blind battle, to even pegs! (LOL!)
The bonus footage includes: adapting the game to the movie, behind the scenes during the filming, an inside look at the cast and sets, some of the challenges of filming at sea, and even a rare look at one of the world's last remaining great battleships at sea and in drydock for maintenance.
Appropriately rated PG-13, for the fighting action.
- Keith Mc.
As a film, Get the Gringo has some interesting settings, and plot elements. "Quick Thinking Under Duress" films can be quite entertaining, and this is a decent example of that genre. Filmed in an actual recently retired Mexican "h-hole" prison, you watch how a career criminal from another country thrown into it attempts many schemes to try to survive a situation few could endure.
Comparing to The Shawshank Redemption - Both main characters generate many interesting "multi-layered plans". However, this one starts out with a person quite experienced in inventing and running scams, quickly taking advantage of any momentary opportunity to advance himself, and planning ahead. (Shawshank started out with a "fish out of water" character that has to learn to adapt his outside qualities to the system.)
Some of the attempted schemes in "Gringo" are definitely unique to the genre. Given the seriousness of the setting, his attitude and fast thinking provides decent entertainment value, and some good laughs. Although he establishes early that he is a good fast talker, you still have to wonder how the Gringo will possibly get away with, or survive some of the situations. For example - Starting out the film with an attempt to rob a top criminal boss is not something you'd expect most smart people would attempt, nor be very good for their longevity if pinned down in a prison where you may run into an associate of theirs.
The bonus footage includes talks about the filming, and a bit about the Mexican prison system. Warning - As expected in an "explicit prison movie", there are a large number of violent acts involving knives, guns, deadly explosions, blood, torture for information, and even a subplot about potential organ theft. So IMO this is definitely mature fare, and not appropriate for young children.
All in all, an interesting DVD. Though I definitely enjoyed Shawshank more, I'll still give Get the Gringo a 4 out of 5.
I'd highly recommend viewing by any good SF fan, or "technology film" buff. Just as "2001: A Space Odyssey" accurately forecasted such things as real time computer displays et al far before their actual appearance, this film's plot nicely discusses a VR theme, some of the technologies' potential ramifications and (mis)uses, decades before VR really became widely known and viable as more than just a research curiosity.
There are also a lot of great extras on the disk, discussing the making of the film, its ramifications, and talks with many of the people involved, so be sure to take the time to review them as well.
- Keith Mc.