Saturday, November 22, 2008

Quantum of Solace

Okay, this isn't a James Bond movie, not in the way other James Bond movies have been, at least. The familiar James Bond theme (along with the familiar image that's opened so many movies in the series) doesn't show up until the closing credits, as if it was either an afterthought or something the moviemakers felt they'd better throw in as a sop to the old fogies in the audience who can't accept change.

I'm an old fogey, but I can accept change. I like it when the change is for the better, though, and this time I don't see most of it that way. Take the opening theme. Please. Maybe it's all hip and modern, but I thought it sucked. Or take the action scenes. Jeez. At least 90% of the time I couldn't tell who was doing what to whom. For the most part, they sucked. (When did all this quick cutting start, anyway? I remember that my complaining about them started with Gladiator, but that doesn't mean anything.)

I missed the humor that's been a part of the series for so long, too. I know Bond's supposed to be all gloomy because of the death of Vesper, but still. Okay, there's a nice line at a performance of Tosca. And maybe the last bit was supposed to be funny. There's this really, really ugly luxury hotel in the middle of the Bolivian desert. Why there would be a luxury hotel there is never explained. Location, location, location? Anyway, somebody says, "Was there any trouble making the hotel secure?" (Or words to that effect.) You sure wouldn't think so, considering that the hotel has no guests, mainly because it's about a zillion miles from anywhere. And then someone says, "No trouble. The only problem is the hydrogen cells we use for power. They're very unstable." That's what's known as foreshadowing, kids. Of course the place isn't secure at all, not when James Bond is on the job.

How many Felix Leiters have there been, anyway? Anybody counting?

All that aside, I didn't hate the movie. I liked Daniel Craig a lot. I liked Judy Dench, Olga Kurylenko, and Gemma Arterton. I liked the scenery. The story was okay. It just wasn't a James Bond movie. It could have been any other action movie around.

I liked the trailer for The International, which for some reason looked like a James Bond movie.

16 comments:

  1. Bill,

    Some of your comments about the action scenes remind me why I like the new three Star Wars films a bit less that the original three. So many of the scenes seem cluttered with cgi ... like they couldn't stand if a single square inch of the screen didn't have an effect. Newer and always better.

    Or maybe this is my application to the fogies club.

    VG

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  2. Okay,

    "and" toward the end should be "ain't".

    I need more coffee.

    VG

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  3. Welcome to the club!

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  4. Almost point by point what I said in my own review. Which turned out to be almost point by point what Roger Ebert said in his. I'm with you!

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  5. Yep. Saw it last night. Hated it. And yet, I still like Craig. So...it's as if they find a great blues singer and say, "Now, sing country-western." "Huh?" "Yeah, we know you could sing blues really well, but we think the audience *wants* super-slick C&W, so..." Sigh.

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  6. Well, it worked out for Ray Charles.

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  7. I remember being confused in a similar way by the cutting in "Batman and Robin," so inept editing has become the norm for quite awhile.

    If you really want to see the difference, pick up some of the movies from the '80s, such as "Adventures in Babysitting" or "The Warriors" (that one will be especially mystifying, considering it had a rep at the time for extreme violence. This wouldn't make an episode of "24" nowadays.)

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  8. What you and Bish and Roger Ebert said.

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  9. I like both those movies. Saw 'em in the theater long ago.

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  10. Felix Leiter -- in chronological order, Jack Lord (still the best), Cec Linder, Rik Van Nutter, Norman Burton, David Hedison (twice), Bernie Casey, John Terry, and now Jeffrey Wright, who has pretty good chemistry with Craig. I rather liked the movie, which may suffer a bit from positioning itself as a followup to the previous one rather than a pure stand-alone. I hope the next tilts a little more toward the fun n' gadgets Bond, as long as it doesn't tilt too far in the direction of Jaws and Sheriff JW Pepper. One of the reviews claimed that "Quantum" was the 2008 version of, or successor to, SPECTRE, but I don't recall that being stated in the film itself.

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  11. Thanks, Fred. I knew there'd been a lot of them. I would've liked the movie more if it hadn't been a Bond movie, if that makes any sense. But I'm sure I wouldn't have liked those action scenes in any movie.

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  12. I've been looking forward to this one because I thought Craig did an excellent rendition of 007. I liked that they stayed (fairly) close to the original story line from Fleming's introduction to all things "Bond".

    I'd hoped that the negative patter was wrong, but can see that waiting for a cheap rental will be the route to go here.

    Leiter is an interesting character in Bond life because the shark story that happens somewhere along the fifth or sixth story according to film versions, happens much earlier in the books.

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  13. Fred forgot Michael Pate from the very first version of James Bond, the 1954 TV production of "Casino Royale" done for the series Climax!. You know, just to be a completist jackass.

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  14. I never knew there was desert in Bolivia.

    Word Verification: rehowl. What Bill would do if he saw this movie again.

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  15. So at least the movie was educational.

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  16. I think we have the European art cinema directors to blame for, especially the Dogma guy, Lars von Trier (I hate his films, especially Breaking the Waves). He raved about using hand-held cameras and shooting without lighting and that's what they do in Hollywood these days - except that everything is done looking like they were done Dogma-style, even though there's FX and lighting and computer-aided postproduction or whatever. The same kind of stuff is being done both in the Bonds and in art flicks like Traffic (which was probably done like von Trier suggested in the first place). Try to see a film nowadays that's shot like a classical Hollywood film. Does even Woody Allen do that anymore?

    Word up: pumrizal. What kind of adjective is that?

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