Spectre

November 21, 2015 at 9:04 pm | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I went to the latest James Bond film the other day.Spectre completes the reboot of the 007 universe: the multi-national crime syndicate, that gives its name to the film, is re-introduced; its leader Blofeld is re-introduced; Bond’s beloved Astin Marton DB5 is re-surrected; and other parts of Bond’s early life filled in.

Warning: plot elements discussed.

The film seems littered with homages to previous Bond films: Bond in a white tuxedo; “shaken not stirred”; destroying yet another car; a massive brute of an adversary; driving off with ‘the girl’ in the DB5 into the sunset; it goes on. There have been so many Bond films that it must be very hard to be ‘new’. My one disappointment was that there was no Rolex watch.

This being the information age, there is a new threat: big brother – big data. The Internet-of-Things has a dark side.

Bond is ably played by Daniel Craig; Blofeld is played by Christoph Waltz; and Madeleine Swann, Bond’s love interest, is played by Léa Seydoux. Only time, and the next film, will tell if these two plot lines progress.

The re-boot has tackled some big issues: water and big data; maybe global warming is next. This being the 21st century, it would be nice to see Moneypenny, played by Naomie Harris, and Swann characters do more.

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Skyfall

November 26, 2012 at 9:22 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I saw Skyfall the other day. This film completes the Daniel Craig re-boot of James Bond. By the end film key characters will be in-place for the next era of Bond.

Spoiler Warning – plot elements revealed.

The film fills in the missing back story of Bond’s childhood.

There is a new Q: John Cleese is a bit long in the tooth to provide a stable part of the Bond universe; instead Ben Whishaw is set up for the role – possible for life!

There is a new Moneypenny.

There is a new menace – Silva – played by Javier Bardem; he is from M’s (Dame Judi Dench) past, out to repay a betrayal. He is a new kind of villain: able to mix it with the physical stuff and a bit of a cyber wizard. As it turns out a very deadly combination.

There is a short romantic interest – played by very Eurasian looking Bérénice Marlohe.

Despite the cyber-terrorism theme, Bond returns to the basics: Q issues him with a gun and a radio. Gone are the gadgets of the past. Even, the Aston Martin DB5 makes a welcome return. There is a quiet question that hangs through the film: are the old values and approaches appropriate in the new world?

It is a Daniel Craig James bond, so it is gritty.

Hopefully no komodo dragon were hurt in the making of this movie.

Cowboys and Aliens

August 15, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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A cowboy movie and a science fiction movie rolled into one – how could I resist? So I went to see Cowboys and Aliens.

Daniel Craig is “the cowboy” – Jake Lonergan – “Jake”; and the aliens are extras. Jake wakes up without any memory, a picture of a young women, and a strange bracelet on his left wrist. We are shown a glimpse into Jake’s nature when three bounty hunters try to take him prisoner; Jake kills them all.

The other main characters are: Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) and Ella (Olivia Wilde). For awhile, the film flirts with the audience: is Harrison Ford actually going to play a bad guy – wealthy cattle rancher who abuses his position? Ella, turns out to have a very mysterious past and is crucial to the final outcome – of course the aliens are vanquished.

The film uses the aliens in the traditional role played by indians – ruthless, brutal, and two dimensional. The film is then challenged to work the actual indians in; the film could have omitted them, but they seem to serve to develop Ford’s character.

It is a very busy film: Jake is an outlaw who had set himself on the straight and narrow, prior to him loosing his memory; the colonel actually cares, but because of his experiences in the civil can’t show it; there is new found respect between cowboys and indians; alien invasion; a boy becomes a man; another boy gets another chance; on and on.

Some very nice action sequences. I thought the film was based on a computer game, but it turns out to be adapted from a graphic novel (a comic).

Casino Royale

February 3, 2009 at 1:21 am | Posted in DVD Review, Film Review | Leave a comment
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Having watched the sequel, first, I managed to get hold of Casino Royale and finally see the introduction of Daniel Craig as James Bond.

Warning: plot elements revealed

January 31, 2009 by


Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
Wellington
New Zealand

I was disappointed, I felt the major tension builder – the card game was badly handled. The result was that the film was a like one of the old Bob-Hope-and-Bing-Crosby Road-film; only no humour – just action and thuggery. The action scenes were very well done – John Woo has had a big impact in terms of raising the bar in this area. The run up a crane-arm chase segment is so amazing that it is totally unbelievable – the athleticism and skill required reduces the action scenes to choreography for gymnasts. It was like watching the Cirque de Soleil!

The film introduces us to Bond and explains the way he is, but that is useful only if you have seen most of the other Bond films. Otherwise, there are these odd moments when the film seems to pause, before moving on for no reason – the Aston Martin, the Martini, the dinner jacket, and so on.

I read the book when I was younger, and this turned out to be a drawback. Vesper Lynd (played by Eva Green), in the book, works for M16. The concept of sending a Treasury official along to handle the money side of things is so contrived as to be implausible, and against printed reality that I momentarily dropped out of ‘sit back and enjoy’ mode.

Also, in the book, Le Chiffre (ably played by Mads Mikkelsen) plays baccarat – not Texas Holdem. The protracted poker game just did not build and hold tension. I felt the game was pretty much ignored and the audience was expected to take it all on trust.

The film is has a very fast pace, and feels like one long chase. There is no end as such, because the film is just part one, and transitions smoothly into part two – Quantum of Solace.

Daniel Craig play Bond very well; I never believed that spies lived the high life and occassional shot someone. Craig’s bond is gritty; he runs, gets wounds bigger than will be covered by a bandaid, gets dirty – much more believeable.

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Quantum of Solace

January 6, 2009 at 12:24 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Even though I had not seen the prequel – Casino Royale, I had a spare two hours, so I went to see Marc Forster’s take on James Bond: Quantum of Solace.

Warning: plot elements revealed

December 30, 2008 by


Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
Wellington
New Zealand

This film is advertised as picking up exactly where Casino Royale left off, so I wasn’t surprised when the film starts with a car chase – but then again it is not an uncommon way to start a movie these days. Bond (Daniel Craig) is back in an Aston Martin being chased by two black Alfa Romeos – bullets fly, the police get involved, cars crash, Bond gets away.

The surprise is that there is someone in the boot; the bad guys were after Bond’s captive. But before MI6 can interrogate the captive, a mole within MI6 takes out the interrogation team and security team, and almost kills M (Judi Dench).

And so this recreation of James Bond shows us – the audience – a glimpse of the recreated Smersh. Much of the film is used to develop the concept that there is a global conspiracy – MI6’s has a ‘new’ nemesis – Quantum.

Revenge is the theme of this film. Bond encounters Camille (Oleg Kurylenko) a young women scarred physically and mentally, out to avenge the brutal murder of her family. Bond is out to revenge the deaths of: Vesper, killed in Casino Royale; Fields (Gemma Arterton), killed to frame Bond; and Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini), killed to frame Bond. Inevitably Bond and Camille pair up – the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Fields’ death is quite unpleasant, drowned in crude oil, and appears to be Forster’s tip-of-the-hat to Goldfinger. Fields is found naked, covered in oil, on a bed; very remanisant of Jill Masterton (Shirley Eaton) painted in gold.

The film is has a very fast pace, and feels like one long chase. The end has the inevitable showdown in the desert, with bullets and bodies flying. The very end shows that Bond has not been consumed by his need for revenge, or perhaps that there are other ways to get revenge, than just killing someone.

Daniel Craig certainly brings a hard edge to Bond.

I thought the ‘bodies in the sand’ lead in, at the beginning of the film, very innovative and very relevant – Quantum are out to corner all of the water in Bolivia.

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The Golden Compass

January 11, 2008 at 10:30 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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An Alethiometer – it tells the truth. This review contains spoilers.

Jan 11, 2008 by


Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
Wellington
New Zealand

The film is based on Northern Lights – the first book in Philip Pulman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. I have not read the books, but I might be tempted – just to see how much they changed. Chris Weitz was the director.

The first chunk of the film sets up the story for the first book/film and the sequels. It got a little tedious. It was fascinating to consider a world where people (a) have souls, and (b) these souls have their own physical manifestations, and act more like a close companion.

Inspired decision to cast Nicole Kidman in the role of “Mrs Coulter” – the trouble shooter for Magisterium. The Magisterium is an example of the kind of government you can end up with when there is no separation between religion and civic government; they are not the good guys! Consequently, Mrs Coutler is at best a grey character – all the more fitting that she is played as pale skinned blonde haired woman who wear pale/light colours. Mrs Coulter is bright in a grey world; she is an assertive woman in a man’s world; she is ruthless. For me, she stole the movie !

The heroine is actually Lyra Belacqua – played by newcomer Dakota Blue Richards. She has to rescue some children that the nasty Magisterium is conducting experiments on.

Between them, these two are the movie. Yes, there are lots of other characters – most notable, is somekind of polar bear. But they are just there to move the plot along and give Lyra and Mrs Coulter points to engage with. One of the reasons they engage so well, is that Lyra is not an orphan living with her uncle after all; she is actually living with her father, and Mrs Coulter, is actually Lyra’s mother. Presumably the parents split up when ‘uncle’ Lord Asriel (Daniel Craig) had a falling out over scientific and polictical philosophy with Mrs Coulter. In many subtle ways, mother and daughter are alike – they are both: fearless, manipulative, willing to be frugal with truth, not unwilling to do what needs to be done, and resourceful. Daniel Craig is hopelessly under utilised – maybe he has a bigger role in the sequels.

The alethiometer – golden compass – is the major plot device for moving Lyra around and getting her into and out of trouble. It turns out that not everyone can use it.

The last part of the movie was really disappointing. There is a long segment after the climax that has no entertainment value – it just seems to set you up for the sequel. It had the effect of making the film seem like half a film; you just know that there is more story to come. It really pulls the rug out from under the film.

An interesting question that popped into my head, as I watched Mrs Coulter and Lyrac lie and manipulate: when is it, if ever, alright to do such things?

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