Hey, I don’t blame Bond. I’d be pretty pissed if Eva Green was taken away from me.
Returning once again, James Bond (Daniel Craig) battles wealthy businessman Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a member of the Quantum organisation, posing as an environmentalist who intends to stage a coup d’état in Bolivia to seize control of the nation’s water supply. Bond seeks revenge for the death of his lover, Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), and is assisted by Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko), who is seeking revenge for the murder of her family.
After falling in love with Casino Royale right from the first-shot on, I realized that the only way to keep this “new” Bond series going-strong, would be to up the ante a bit and give us some more action, more intensity, and most of all, more of Bond just being cool. That last one isn’t really hard to do, but the first two can sometimes be pulled-off well and other times, cannot. Sadly, I think director Marc Forster took this idea of “more, more, more”, and decided to just go to town with it and that’s where I think the film/”new” series takes it’s sudden-dip.
See, what makes Bond so cool is that the guy is able to do all of this crazy, violent crap that definitely makes you go “Ouch!”, but is also able to pull off some sly and witty stuff like faking people out, getting in between buildings without being seen, and just being the ultra-sneaky spy we all know and love him to be. However, all of that violent crap starts to take over the film and as fun as it may be to watch, you can’t have a Bond flick with over 15 minutes of non-stop action, already happening in the first 30 minutes of the actual-movie. That makes it seem more like an action-thriller that is more about being thrilling, rather than being a Bond flick and as weird as that may sound, yes, they are both two different types of films in their own right and I think it comes off more as Bourne movie.
A lot of people complained that the last one felt a bit too much like a Bourne movie with all of the non-stop shaky-cam work, crazy stunt-work used, and high-flying, action set-pieces, and sort of getting rid of the old-school, classy-way that Bond usually does his line of business. However, as much as I agree with that statement, I can definitely say that some of that is true because it is a very gritty, actiony thrill-ride that delivers more action than it deserves class, but at least it had the classic, Bond class. This film, somehow, doesn’t even seem to really have that. It goes on and on and on with Bond killing almost every single person that walks into his way, without him ever getting a chance to ask question them or interrogate them in any way possible, and to top that off, the story makes no sense despite picking right up 5 minutes after the first-one ended.
In a case like this, I think it’s easy to blame the writers, the producers, and the companies who were behind this movie, but I think the one to really blame is Foster of all people. For people who don’t know who the hell Marc Forster is, well, let’s just say that he’s a guy that’s most known for directing character-based dramas like Stranger than Fiction, Monster’s Ball, and the Kite Runner, among others. To be honest, the only type of action that happens in any of those movies is when Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton decide to get down and dirty, late one night, so why the hell would they decide to give this guy a Bond movie that’s all about guns, cars, violence, girls, and Bond? Seriously, it’s not like the guy does a terrible job or anything, it’s just that it’s pretty obvious that the guy brings nothing new to the table in terms of action or story-development, and instead, has this movie come off like a failed-attempt at trying to create a Bond spin-off for a far, far away future. It’s no surprise that this guy’s screwing up World War Z now, because he sure as hell came close to screwing this one up, big-time.
But as much as I may get on Forster’s case, and this movie’s case, I can’t lie anymore because I really did have a fun time with this flick and all of it’s action. Some of the set-pieces are a bit unbelievable and ridiculous, but you know what? So were some of the ones in Casino Royale and that’s what sort of made me love that movie even more, so I can’t really get on this film for all of that crap either. At the end of the day, it’s still a James Bond movie that definitely features plenty of thrills worthy of seeing and worthy of being in a Bond movie, and even though they sure as hell aren’t as memorable as Bond playing poker, they sure as hell keep your attention on the screen for as long as it can.
And come to think of it, as much as this film may not be worthy of his skills, Daniel Craig still kicks plenty of ass as Bond and shows us exactly why he was chosen for this role in the first-place. Craig, no matter what all the haters may say, just has this dirty and tough look to him that makes you scared for the baddies that go up against him in brawls, but also has this charming and swift look that makes you feel like he is the coolest guy in the room, and definitely the type of guy you would go up to and try to conversate with, but no words would come out because he is simply that cool and intimidating. Maybe I put too much thought into this guy’s look and role, but I don’t care, because Craig is awesome.
Olga Kurylenko plays his “Bond girl” and is alright for the most part, even though she really has nothing to work with here other than a forced, sympathetic-route her character takes. I just want to know why the hell Craig doesn’t bone her, instead, goes off to bone Gemma Arterton as some red-headed, secret-spy that shows up for 5 minutes, gets laid, and is practically gone from the rest of the movie after that. I mean you put them side-by-side, Olga definitely takes the cake and it’s a shock to me that Bond would make a silly-mistake like this. Once again, gotta blame it on Forster. That guy should know Bond, and Bond’s taste in women. Damn you!
Matthieu Amalric plays Greene, the typical Bond-villain that we need in these movies to make it work and although he does what he can, the character is too thinly-written. It’s a good thing that Greene isn’t your typical Bond-villain, where all he does is twirl his mustache and hat and make huge, unbelievable promises of destroying the world around him, however, I felt like we sort of needed that in order to hate this guy even more and actually feel scared for Bond. Yeah, Greene does do some bad things, but never to the point of where I felt like Bond needed him to kill him right-away, or else all hope was lost. Also, the guy was a bit of a softy and I even think M could have kicked his ass, just as much as Bond could have.
Consensus: Quantum of Solace is definitely fun, entertaining, and a relatively mediocre addition to the Bond series, but still feels like it should have been so much more, instead of just settling for typical, action-thriller conventions, two-dimensional characters, and choices that seem to come from a place that isn’t all about Bond, and more about making a lot of money and making it quick. Hey Hollywood, news flash for ‘ya: It’s a James Bond movie, therefore, it’s already going to make a shit-load of moolah at the box-office. Now shut up, and let James get back to work!
Just when you thought vampires were getting lame, Jack Sparrow comes along and makes them hip again — sort of.
The movie centers on playboy Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) who is turned into a vampire and buried alive when he breaks the heart of the witch Angelique Brouchard (Eva Green) back in 1752. When he wakes up two centuries later in 1972, his manor has fallen into ruin and his descendants are in such state of discord that matriarch Elizabeth Collins (Michelle Pfeiffer) has called on the resident psychiatrist (Helena Bonham Carter) to help her and her family out a bit.
It seems everybody out there already realized that Johnny Depp and Tim Burton can’t get enough of each other. I mean this is their 8th collaboration and judging by it, I think it’s time for them to separate. It’s not always easy, but it’s for the best, guys.
The first trailer for this flick really had me anxious. I don’t know a lot about the 60′s cult TV show that this movie is based off of, but from what I hear, it definitely was all work and no play. Everything was so serious on that show, whereas the trailer promised a slightly goofy flick that more or less made a lot of jokes towards the earlier premise, rather than play them in a serious matter. Sadly, all of those laughs and all of that humor goes away pretty quickly and that’s when I realized that once again, I was jipped by Hollywood. Damn you!
That’s not to say there isn’t any humor here, because there is and it does work to an extent. The jokes and gags are funny and had me laughing a lot when I least expected to, but the problem was that all of the funniest material was already done to death by all of the commercials and trailers. Once again, damn you! The humor this flick has does add a little lift to the story, and whenever the film actually starts to focus on the soap opera melodrama that made the TV show so famous, Tim Burton goes more for a tongue-in-cheek approach that brings out some laughs. Funny stuff but should have been so much funnier.
With a plot like “ancient vampire, wakes up in 1970′s and experiences a culture shock”, you would expect that there would be an enormous about of jokes for Burton to play up; but instead he plays a more serious note. I know that the original TV show was sincere and all, but to have an idea that seems pretty original and something that would be deemed “comedic gold” turn into a plot the gets weirder and weirder just for the sake of being weird only makes it seem like Burton wanted an excuse to make a film to bring him back to his weird-o childhood days. Then again, maybe it’s as original as I once though and maybe it’s been done before. But come on, guys, what would you rather see?: a melancholy but meaningful “Dark Shadows” movie, or a “Dark Shadows” movie full of one-liners and odd humor? I choose the latter, but some folk might drift the other way.
As always though, Burton’s film does look pretty good in his dark, CGI way. Everything is so dark and gloomy, but yet very lavish; it shows that once again, Burton can do almost no wrong when it comes to his production designs. However, the whole gothic style started to wear off by about the third or fourth time I saw waves crash against the rocks, or whenever there would be an eerie piece of music played in the background when Depp came walking into a scene. It seemed like Burton didn’t have much faith in this material in the first place, so he just resorted to a bunch of random moments that would hopefully keep his audience glued. I was watching the whole entire time, but that’s only because I was waiting for Burton to really pull me in and give me something that I wasn’t expecting from him. Sadly, that is exactly what I got.
Regardless of what Burton did here, I still have to give a lot of credit to Johnny Depp because no matter what flick he is in, he always give it his all and that is no different here. Depp is fully committed to playing Barnabas Collins with his Old English delivery and goofy faces, and still gets most of the film’s laughs despite being a one-joke the whole way through. Collins is a vampire from another time, that is simply trying to adjust to a very different world but Depp is better than that and allows Collins to be one of his more erratic characters to date. Which is definitely saying a whole lot.
Backing up Depp when it comes to the laughs is Jackie Earle Haley as Willie Loomis, the bum who cleans the Collins estate and pretty much delivers every line with sarcasm and a snarl in his voice. Haley is so funny in this flick and it’s a real wonder as to why Burton didn’t give him more material to play around with. Michelle Pfeiffer is also pretty good here as the family matriarch, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, even though her character gets pushed to the side by the last act; Helena Bonham Carter brings some laughs as the alcoholic psychiatrist Dr. Julia Hoffman, but should have been a whole lot funnier; Eva Green is very easy on the eyes but very over-the-top with her villainous role here as the evil witch Angelique; and Chloë Grace Moretz is fine as the teenage daughter of the family that is constantly being weird and seems like she’s about to sneeze every time the camera is on her. Still, with a cast like this you can’t go wrong but somehow Burton is able to just let them all fall by the waste-side so he can have some fun with his “passion project”.
Consensus: Definitely has some moments that are funny and very cool to look at, but as a whole, squanders a original premise with annoying jokes, loses its comedic edge with it’s semi-serious tone, and lets a great ensemble cast like this, do nothing other than play second-fiddle to the Tim Burton and Johnny Depp freak show.
Song of the Day: (hope you like this little thing I got going)
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Blond is always better.
James Bond (Daniel Craig)’s first 007 mission takes him to Madagascar where he is to spy on a terrorist, Mollaka (Sebastien Foucan). Not everything goes to plan and Bond decides to investigate, independently of MI6, in order to track down the rest of the terrorist cell. Following a lead to the Bahamas, he encounters Dimitrios (Simon Abkarian) and his girlfriend, Solange (Caterina Murino).
This was the James Bond flick that brought back James Bond after about 4 years because honestly, even though ‘Die Another Day’ was one of the highest-grossing Bonds flicks at the time, it was still pretty lame. So Hollywood finally wised up and brought back the director of ‘Goldeneye’, Martin Campbell, and probably made one of the best decisions of their lives.
Campbell is the perfect director for James Bond, especially a reboot of his story, which means he can do whatever the hell he wants without any die-hard Bond fan crying about how they are ruining the name of Bond. There’s so much action, energy, and fun to be had here with a bunch of crazy set-pieces like when Bond and some dude go parkouring around a construction site, the terrorist attempt on the airport that reminded me a bit of the ending to ‘Liar Liar’, and also when Bond was fighting those two guys in the stairway. Everything Campbell does here is so much fun and filmed in the kind of way that we can actually tell what’s going on, but still feeling the tension and havoc that is being ensued. Campbell also somehow found a way to make a simple game of poker seem like the biggest win or die situation that I have ever seen. It’s a real wonder as to why this dude doesn’t do more action with a big budget because he can put it to some real good use.
When it comes to the story, it’s pretty standard fare but what I liked is how I didn’t quite know what was going to happen next. Yes, we all know that Bond usually lives at the end so he can give his famous last lines, but something with this flick made me feel different about that because he wasn’t just a guy that could kick insane amounts of ass but he was also a guy that could easily lose as well. This was cool to see in a story about James Bond considering it can get pretty predictable at a certain point but the story still worked for me and at least held my interest beneath all of the running, shooting, and killing.
My only gripe with this flick is that it feels too long by the end. The film is about 144 minutes long and you can start to feel it around that 2 hour mark and it gets even worse when the film continues to never end. It was almost like ‘The Never Ending Story’ of James Bond, it just kept on going and going and going until we were basically lost in the story-line and sort of felt like we had enough. However, Campbell does do a great job of keeping our minds off of that for the most part.
The main hype surrounding this flick was actually whether or not Daniel Craig, a relatively unknown indie actor at the time, was going to be able to be the part of James Bond and he practically got all of the nay-sayers to shut their mouths after this. What I like about Craig is that he always seem one step ahead of whoever he’s talking to and his role as Bond is no different because if you think about, Bond is always one step ahead of everybody else around him even though he’s terribly cocky. I have seen all of the Bonds that have came before Craig and they are all good but Craig brings a lot more that we didn’t expect from him such as making Bond seem more like a bad-ass rather than just the wizard of spy gadgets. Yes, Craig is the Blond Bond but he’s also one of the better Bonds of recent memory and I’m glad to see that he is still sticking with this role and can still go onto other flicks like ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ and actually be looked at as an actor rather than just another Bond dude.
The rest of the cast is pretty out-standing too even though it is fairly knocked down to a couple of key roles. Mads Mikkelsen is pretty damn intimidating as Le Chiffre, and plays up that scary, freaky look to his advantage and definitely makes me feel like I should run away if I saw him across from me at a poker table; Eva Green is good as our new and improved Bond girl, Vesper Lynd, and she actually has a lot more depth to her rather than just being another one of the chicks that Bond bones and forgets about, she actually has something special about her and you can actually believe the relationship her and Bond have; and Judi Dench is always awesome as the cruel and sassy, M. Can’t say much else that hasn’t already been said of Ms. Dench.
Consensus: Casino Royale is by far one of the better Bond flicks with a star-making role from Daniel Craig, constant energy and action flying all about, and a new and improved look at Bond that we have yet to see from any other of the other films, which always works.