Posts Tagged ‘Quantum of Solace’

Quantum of Solace

December 4, 2008

Youtube clip nicked off Joe Cornish of Adam & Joe

The beginning of the new blonde Bond movie is dead exciting. People fall through roofs, Daniel Craig survives slow-mo explosions, a hot lady cracks a safe, planes crash, buildings explode, Judi Dench calls him a renegade – it’s a non-stop medley of action and drama and it is relentless!

Then the adverts end and Odeon have their inexplicable three minute lights up moment.

We’ve been in the cinema 20 minutes, the trailers haven’t even started and already we’ve seen the best bits of the film and heard the theme song numerous times. Make up. Drinks. Phones. Laptops. Televisions. This isn’t a movie, it’s an orgy of advertising – a quantum of synergy slowly destabilising the image of action heroes and brand association across the world.  “They have people everywhere.”

Movie begins; car crashes, rooftop chases and hundreds of extras all feature in a ballet of action – shot (as is the current trend) as if the camera were handled by five year old child with ADD. It seems insulting, employing all those stuntmen to perform daring acts of doing and then hiding them behind camera movements that look like they’re covering up budget defects, but I suppose that’s the style these days.

The plot revolves around an evil SPECTREesque alliance of bad guys called QUANTUM – which makes the title null and void since we were all told it refers to Bond trying to find moments of peace following the death of Eva Green in the last film. In fact, they actually forget about most things pretty early on with the potentially interesting idea of a faction of uber-villains operating without governmental knowledge being abandoned and instead focus on a very boring and sneery Frenchman who’s buying up land for some utterly pointless movie reason.

Remember when Casino Royale came out and a brave new beginning was announced? Daniel Craig was taking the character in a whole new direction and things were going to change, they said. Well that time was over pretty quickly – Quantum of Solace is a blueprint Bond film with all the trademark exploding buildings, casual fucking and overcomplicated plotting, except this time (because he’s, like, y’know, updated and everything) he feels guilty about most of it – which kind of steals all the fun out of the movie.

Pierce Brosnan’s reign of terror may be over and for that I’m thankful, but the producers are clearly terrified of abandoning the forumula that did them so well so they’ve made the same movie as always, except with some solemn faces and kudos casting. I give it one more film before they reintroduce Q as played by Ray Winstone and he’s flying around in invisible cars once again.

It’s a shame, because Casino Royale is a genuinely good film and it deserved a sequel that did it justice. All we have instead is a substandard Bond movie with all the crap nobody missed last time around put back in so it can be distinguished from the Bourne films. You get the feeling that they wrote the film around the product placements and required quota of action, employed a respected director with an indie-standing and then refused to let him do anything interesting lest the Bond brand be tarnished by deviation.

The opening says it all – a tough movie punching for realism while naked ladies dance in silhouette around Coke cans. Or was that the adverts again?


November 24, 2008

If like me (until yesterday morning) you hadn’t already heard of this Twilight phenomenon, I’ll try and explain. I should also point out that I haven’t read any of the books (though we were given complimentary copies at the cinema), mainly because I read grown up books these days, or badly written books with vast amounts or gore in them.

Before the curtain was raised, someone from E1 films came out to give a little speech (this was half industry screening, half fan-base). He quoted amazing box office figures from America at which all the teenagers in the audience whooped. This movie has performed better than Harry Potter or Quantum of Solace and will no doubt be a huge success over here too – the cult of the ‘Twilighter’ is ready to kick off. It was bizarre, this self celebration – like the kids were cheering the suit’s economic nous rather than any artistic achievement. There were a lot of teenage girls in the room. And a lot of them cheered the figures, then cheered the names of all the actors. This is a serious cult that’s about to go overground.

The film opens like The OC crossed with Lost Boys. In fact, there are so many elements of the latter in the film’s opening few reels that to start comparing would take all day, listing the borrowed ingredients. Apart from that, there’s some interesting stuff concerning native Americans in the opening – the best character being Jacob who explains the background. Apparently a pact was made between the ‘wolf-tribe’ of the indigenous folks and the blood-suckers back in the day causing an uneasy truce between the two.

In practice, at one point this brings up the uneasy sight of the ultra-slick, white-yuppie, all-American vampire being hostile to the far better intentioned native American lad, which looks very awkward onscreen. Was this a comment on settled Americans agreeing to stem their blood-lust to live in harmony with red indian-folk, or was it a just a clunky bit of ill-thought through scripting?

Hard to tell. Maybe in the book these ideas are fleshed out more. As it is, the film is all about love, love love. It’s aimed at teenage girls, so in looking for a low certificate the film-makers go for heart-throb of the day, Robert Pattinson as male lead and half the film is his face filling the frame looking all moody and pale. His character, Edward Cullen has fallen for Bella Swan played by Kristen Stewart. Sadly, she is a human and he is a vampire. All boys are vampires. They only want one thing.

Given the writer, Stephanie Meyer’s Christian background, I think it’s fair to say that the heavy-handed allegory is one of abstinence. He tries his damnedest not to bite huge chunks of her flesh out throughout the film, suggesting this is a story about the dangers of getting too close. It’s not that huge a twist on the usual vampire tale. The fact the female in the equation doesn’t care about the danger and, in fact, urges him on, implies that this is the woman’s fault. Weird.

In fact, the vampire element is pretty much redundant, aside from a silly baseball scene where the players use their supernatural skills to play a beefed up version of the game. In the end, this is just a cautionary tale about virginity and teenage lust dressed up with an edgy, blood-sucking twist. The fact that these vampires can walk around in daylight adds to the misery – apparently they avoid direct sunlight because it makes their skin go all sparkly. Strange – I always thought it was because beams of sunlight made them crumble or melt into a slush of flesh and bone. Silly me.

What bothers most is that teenagers are lapping up the movie and its message because of its emo-lite soundtrack and hunky leading male. It’s such a straightforward story with all stereotypes intact that it doesn’t do anything for the genre and, like superheroes in Smallville and the rich-without-responsibility in Gossip Girl, it sacrifices its best and darkest asset for smoochy, pedestrian relationship tales, almost lowering it to the Mills and Boon-for-kids level of entertainment we’re largely sick of – but not quite. It’s still watchable trash.

To sum up, and without wishing to patronise:

If you enjoy Twilight, download, rent or steal Martin by George Romero. It says a hell of a lot more than this mildly entertaining but ultimately throwaway stuff does. Failing that, The Lost Boys has got a proper cool bit with a vampire, a bath and shitloads of holy water in it. Death by stereo!

NewsGush – Best Bond

November 17, 2008

I’ve never been one for your James Bond rubbish. Bond’s a slimy sod, I reckon – whether we’re talking back in the Connery era or, more recently, the Brosnan epoch. And this Daniel Craig version doesn’t appeal. He may be all sensitive now but he’s still an overdressed ponce schmoozing about and killing innocent terrorists.

The only Bond film I’ve ever sat through was a Roger Moore one. At least ol’ Rog bought some chuckles to proceedings.

But what do I know? Apparently, the latest Bond is the biggest ever.

Quantum of Solace has captured a record opening for a Bond film at the North American box office, with takings of more than $70m (£47.4m).

Am I missing out on something great? Or is Bond a load of balls?