Viewed – 06 November 2012 Cinema
I make no secret of my love of Casino Royale. Also of the fact I think Daniel Craig is the best Bond we’ve ever had. So sitting down to watch this 50th anniversary entry in the famed franchise, filled me with excitement. Bang! An opening action sequence to blow the audience away, leading to the traditional Bond movie title song … which as in recent years, is instantly forgettable (sorry, Adele).
Make no mistake, unlike the new approach and fresh reboot of Royale, this outing has Bond written through it from beginning to end. Even that timeless theme is ushered in at almost brain-numbing regularity. Daniel Craig again is perfect, tough, charismatic and looks cool throughout, even if this time he’s more classic Bond than ruthless assassin, and yes ladies he’s shirtless A LOT. On fine villainous form is No Country For Old Men’s Jarvier Bardem who is brilliantly slimy and more than your typical egomaniac. Yet the star of the show, surprisingly is Judy Dench, cementing her reputation as one of the best actors of her generation, totally owning the role of ‘M’, delivering many of the movie’s best lines.
Director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) was probably not the best choice, with his approach often resembling one of those satirical commercials, and the script does have a few ‘huh?’ moments (the Shanghai sequence). Also the reliance on references to classic Bond got a bit much, with the movie often struggling to find it’s identity – was it trying to be new and fresh, or old and nostalgic? That being said this still delivered some great moments (the final showdown is pure class, and the moment the Aston Martin DB5 is revealed is a total crowd pleaser). Yet for me, although I had a good time, by almost undoing all the good work of recent years, this ended up feeling a bit outdated.
Verdict: 3.5 /5
- Review: ‘Skyfall,’ the best Bond ever (mercurynews.com)
- Skyfall Daniel Craig is the best James Bond (and a bit like Harry Potter) (lesleycroftblog.typepad.com)
- Skyfall writer wants Bond Oscars (bbc.co.uk)
Viewed – 23 April 2012 Blu-ray
I don’t normally agree with remakes of foreign movies, but in the case of this much-anticipated American adaptation, I have a major reason to make an exception … David Fincher. Arguably one of the best directors of the moment, who has crafted some of the finest movies of the last ten years of so, namely Seven, Zodiac and Fight Club. Newcomer Rooney Mara takes on the role of Lisbeth Salander, a computer hacker for hire who gets involved with disgraced magazine journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) when he is hired to investigate a 40 year mystery by an ageing business tycoon (Christopher Plummer). Blomkvist soon discovers he’s been given the job of piecing together the clues revolving around the disappearance and suspected murder of the tycoon’s niece, Harriet, and subsequently uncovers the shady dealings and murky past of a wealthy but complex family.
Fincher’s adaptation of the acclaimed novel by the late Stieg Larsson, and the first part of the famed ‘millennium trilogy’ that also comprises The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest, seems faithful not only to the book but also to the Swedish movie of the same name that made a cult star out of actress Noomi Rapace. For me having seen both versions, I found this the hardest to follow. Set like the book and the other movie in Sweden and with the same character names, locations etc, I think the Swedish version actually benefits from being subtitled, and many of the places, names and little details come across clearer when you’re seeing them printed at the bottom of the screen. This of course doesn’t help Fincher’s movie as the strong accents and foreign names are harder to grasp when hearing them as opposed to reading them. This version also differs in several key areas, such as how Blomkvist and Salander finally get to work together, how Salander’s mother isn’t even featured, but replaced by a stronger focus on her former ‘guardian’, and the ending is changed significantly, proving much less satisfying. It puzzled me why Fincher made these changes, but having not read the book, I can’t say which movie is the most faithful. Performances-wise Rooney Mara is excellent as Lisbeth and every bit as tough and complex as Noomi Rapace was, even if I felt I warmed to Rapace’s performance quicker. Daniel Craig however, although likable brings nothing that Michael Nyqvist didn’t achieve back in 2009, failing to stamp his own identity on the character.
To conclude this is a fascinating effort from David Fincher who brings plenty of style and his usual attention to detail to proceedings, even if for a film-maker of his calibre, I was left wanting. Considering the hype of the books or the acclaim of the Swedish movie, this should have been the definitive version … but for me, just felt competent rather than truly blowing me away. Yet there is still enough here to make me wonder just what we’ll get with the two proposed sequels, which I’m already guessing could turn out superior.
Verdict: 3 /5
Incidentally, a post on the blog ProdigalFilmStudent has compared both movie adaptations, which makes for fascinating reading, but as can be expected, is spoilerifick.
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (danielpthomas.wordpress.com)
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2012) – A toothless Dragon! (devlifeintechnicolor.wordpress.com)
- Dragon Tattoo Redux (anofs.wordpress.com)
This is the time of year when many of my viewing habits are of movies I missed out on seeing the previous year. You can expect reviews of some of the summer blockbusters and lesser known releases of 2010, amongst new cinema releases. This is one reason why an end of year top ten usually comprises of movies older than that year. Something that has been of much deliberation to me lately considering that originally I had placed 21 Grams as my movie of the year, then thought better of it considering its age. Yet that means classic movies such as The Sound Of Music will never qualify. But you must have rules or else such an end of year list will have no comparison to other people’s end of year lists.
Anyway I digress. In the coming months there are many movies I am looking forward to seeing, be it at the cinema or more than likely on Blu-ray. Of the movies that have got me most excited, Zack Snyder’s ballistic looking Sucker Punch is much-anticipated. Scantily clad babes with guns & samurai swords in a fantasy action adventure? Where do I sign? Also David Fincher’s adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is one of those movie’s that just can’t fail – especially with Fincher at the helm. Wes Craven returns with the unexpected but no less appreciated Scream 4, a franchise I recall loving to bits, and hell, aren’t we in need of a clever-ass slasher movie after all the countless remakes we’ve endured? Consider my seat booked. It also has to be said, the Harrison Ford / Daniel Craig vehicle Cowboys and Aliens looks heaps of fun, and with Iron Man director John Favreau at the helm, all the ingredients are in place.
Movies I’m less looking forward to but could be worth seeing none the less are Cars 2, which knowing Pixar will be entertaining and look the biz, and this time with a secret agent storyline, may well be more interesting than the fish out of water plot previously. Having not seen the last Pirates movie, At Worlds End I wont be rushing to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides until I have got myself up to date – but the trailer does look like it will be great entertainment. Also Kung Fu Panda 2 is fairly assured entertainment even if it’ll be on the back burner compared to a few of the other big hitters. Oh and the idea of Transformers: Dark of the Moon fills me with dread after the mostly abysmal last movie, but then again the first Transformers in my opinion was superb, so it could go either way.
To conclude though, 2011 looks like being a great year for the movie industry with some great looking stuff coming our way. Colour me excited!!
- Trent Reznor to score The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (guardian.co.uk)
- Director Gives Exclusive ‘Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ Films Details (huffingtonpost.com)
- 2011 Hollywood movie preview (sfgate.com)
- Kevin Smith Goes Fanboy For Zack Snyder’s ‘Superman’ Reboot (splashpage.mtv.com)
Viewed – 22 Jan 2009 Blu-Ray
You can read my original review of Casino Royale below, and I have recently sat down to watch the Blu-Ray edition. My impressions?
The image quality throughout is the best I have yet seen Blu-ray deliver. The opening black ‘n’ white prologue proving especially pleasing to the eye. The level of detail present in the brighter scenes in Madagascar and The Bahamas is just phenomenal – and any doubters of the HD format should be silenced once and for all.
The movie itself stands up to repeated viewing and the love-story between Bond and Vesper (the stunning Eva Green) is both believable and creates an air of emotion and atmosphere often missing from the franchise. The closing Venice set-piece is all the more heart breaking as a result.
This is a Bond film that has it all – heart-in-mouth action, intelligent characterisation, a credible boo-hiss villain, and a story that is grounded in reality for once. Held up next to the other movies that preceded it and even the more recent Quantum Of Solace – this is streets ahead.
The deluxe edition, spanning two packed Blu-rays has a wealth of behind the scenes featurettes, a picture-in-picture commentary, a documentary on Ian Fleming, as well as True HD sound. The packaging also should get a special mention as its in a lovely fold out case that has a nice to the touch coating and we also get a small booklet to flick through with some great pictures and several write ups.
One of the best Bond movies ever made on a stellar Blu-Ray disk. Unmissable.
Casino Royale review:
(Cinema, Nov 28 2006)
I don’t know whether or not I’d call myself a Bond fan – more a casual admirer, having grown up liking the classics such as Goldfinger or Live & Let Die. I also really loved Die Another Day, the (sadly) final Pierce Brosnan outing. Yet despite initial trepidation, and my general concern over the casting of Daniel Craig as the No.1 super spy – it turns out he’s the best Bond yet. A bold statement I hear you say, and granted I was reluctant to bestow such an honour on someone who looks too ugly to be the smooth secret agent we all know and love. Yet he is, because he has all the basics, the charm, the humour and the action credentials, plus he’s probably harder than any Bond there has ever been – even in their prime. He also seems more real, with more genuine emotion – or maybe Daniel Craig is just a better actor. Yet this realism is definitely how the film has been produced, and it works wonders, giving the Bond franchise a new beginning, and in some ways free reign for the film makers to remake any Bond from the past (my money’s on Goldfinger). Director Martin Campbell (who also directed Goldeneye, not to mention Mask of Zorro) brings together everything you need, superb action (with an opening hit that has to be seen to be believed) and a gripping story based on an Ian Fleming novel, which hasn’t been done in years, obviously making the whole thing stick together, just like the classics. So we should never have feared, Bond is back in a big way – this time fresh, exhilarating and above all else – cool.
Verdict: 4 /5
Viewed – 11 November 2008 Cinema
Dodgy title aside, what was I expecting from this latest Jame Bond flick? Well following the rather impressive Casino Royale and the new direction the franchise had taken with the hard-as-nails Daniel Craig defying all expectations and turning out to be the best Bond (yet) – Its easy to say I went into this expecting something damn good. Even the slightly off-target opening song couldn’t put me off. So cue car chases, gun fights, lots of smacking of bad guys in the mush and beautiful Bond girls. But do you know what? The story is so reliant on having an a-z knowledge of Casino Royale that even this viewer who had not seen the last film since its cinema release, was nearly entirely lost through the running of the film.
Ok, we have a boo-hiss villain in the shape of French actor Mathieu Amalric, and he’s a well rounded, decent character and a step up from the one-note scuz-ball from Royale…Judi Dench as Bond’s boss ‘M’ steals the show every time she’s on screen (as so she should!), and the action each time its blasted on the screen is eye-meltingly well done and a serious shot to the adrenaline gland. So why make it so complicated and at the same time, so vague? This Quantum organisation is only briefly mentioned, making it about as foreboding as Postman Pat, and the villains main evil scheme just sparks of ‘is that it?’ compared to the diabolical plans of Bond villains from the past. But never mind all that – here’s another action scene! Really…how long did this one take to write? One major plus is the amount of believable emotion conveyed here as in Casino Royale and shows how well the new style is working, making Bond a more believable human being and his love-interests much more rounded (no pun intended).
So see it for the action. See it for Daniel Craig. But perhaps leave your brain on standby.
Verdict: 3 /5