Thursday, November 30, 2006

Yet another 'Casino Royale' review

It was a good movie, it just wasn't a Bond movie.

The film was gripping, fast-paced, gritty, and was in general a good action flick. It just wasn't Bond. Blue-eyes over there plays a very hard man. This is a character with a lot of anger, bitterness, a chip on his shoulder, and who at various points in the film seriously doubts whether or not he will succeed in his mission. It is an interesting character with emotional depth, which is why it's not the Bond we know and love.

James Bond is characterized by a swaggar brought on by his impossible confidence in his own ability: he never, ever doubts himself. He is smug, arrogant, and saunters through car chases, run-downs, and gun fights without breaking a sweat or letting his shirt come untucked. He has saviore-faire to spare and a relaxed demeanor that allows him to practically saunter through the films.

The character brought to us by whats-his-face was more complicated, more psychologically plausible, complete, and human; a man who had to fight tooth and nail for every inch he gained on his enemies. A good character, an interesting character, but not 007.

The point of the movie was to be a prequel of sorts, see the earliest days of Bond, how he gains his '00' status, that sort of thing. But it fails as a prequel becuase the man we see at the end of the film bears little resemblance to the character we know he becomes, in the performances of Sean Connery. It's almost impossible to reconcile the two.

I had hoped that the prequel concept would mean more of a return to the camp and swaggar of the Connery days, but instead this was darker, dirtier, and much more modern than any other Bond film in the series.

That's the big picture, as it were. I'm not going to go through a list of little details that annoyed me, but I do feel compelled to mention 1: the utter, utter lack of good car chase. If you count the seconds during the film, you will notice that we actually spend more time watching the Aston Martin DBS rolling than we do watching it driving. The wreck scene lasted longer than the chase! For fuck's sake! I knew it was going to hurt watching that car be destroyed, which is why I was doubly annoyed that I got to spend so little time admiring it before it got trashed. Shame on them.

My other problem (ok, i'll mention 2) was with the audience. When Bond is being tortured the audience laughed. WTF? Yes, there was comic relief in the scene, but it only served to highlight the agony of what was taking place on the screen. How can you watch a man being tortured and laugh? I dunno, I guess I could ask the US troops staffing Abu Gahrib prison.

Still, for all that, it's worth seeing. Blue-eyes isn't that hot (honestly, when he put on the tux and adjusted his cuffs, I thought about how gorgeous the Pirate looked at the ball last Saturday, and I leaned over to him and said "eh. I've seen better." Poor lad turned absolutely purple. it was too cute), and the Bond Babe is a frigid bitch with brains (wtf? and Bond Bimbo with brains? that ain't allowed), but overall it was still an entertaining film. Just don't buy your candy at the theatre. Smuggle it in under your coat. I've never before spent $20 on two small bags of gummy candy and 1 bottle of pop.

Hey, that gives me an idea! The next Bond flick needs to feature a cinema-franchise owner as the villain! I think that's someone we can all agree is evil as sin and enjoy watching being blown up.


Michael said...

Oh, I adored this movie, my only quibble being that it was about 15 minutes too long. But then, I never really cared for the Bond films before. I guess that's why I was OK with it being so different for the others. All those gadgets just got tiring for me. It was time for a reboot and this was it in spades. It was gritty and dark and more real, as you mention. Like I said when I put in my .02, this 007 has a license to kill, with his bare hands. I'll give you that there wasn't a car chase, but that dizzying opening scene at the construction site was the best action sequence I've seen in a long time. As for Daniel Craig, well, he's blonde and blue-eyed, so he had two strikes for you already, but for me he's sex on a stick. His face is all rough and imperfect and craggy and uber-masculine. His body? Fuggedaboutit. Fucking. Slab.

Agree to disagree, then?

homo escapeons said...

Well the media has been going on and on about Craig since his coronation.
I tend to agree that the whole Bond Brand was the impossible uberswagger of 007.
Not since George Lazeby has there been such a kerfuffle..I would have put money on Clive Owen but I guess that he didn't want the Bond curse..and Hugh Jackman doesn't have time since he is currently on a career busting orgy of making one movie a month.
It is alarming that the audience expressed such schadenfreude during the nadger scene..wth?

I guess that since the formula had been abandoned they didn' know how to react appropriately..I mean would Pierce or Sean ever get into that situation?
Hmm I would Always say Never.

MinCat said...

you know, when i was in undegrad studying bond, in the books for example, he IS precisely all of what you just described in this film. child of the 90s and 00s i always thought of him as suave on top of it ALL never emotionally involved with the women, but in the bvooks he falls in love with EVERY one fo them! hes scared and doubtful and whatnot. so maybe this is a throwback to what it wa.s or, maybe, since bond was always said to reflect britains standing in the world and its own eyes, it reflects a change in the self-conception. eh?
sorry...cant escape that MA Litt :)

frobisher said...

Im sorry, you are wrong.

The Bond you hanker for has been saturised by the Austin Powers films and therefore been made redundant. You have to change to keep it fresh. Yes, the old Bond films stir up a nostalgia, and yes they were camp in their own way. What we got with Casino Royal was far more interesting with more depth without losing any action. Not a ten-out-of-ten movie but I'd give it a eight. The last 20 mins of the film seemed very cramped tho'

Valerie said...

Interesting.. that's funny, your review makes me *more* likely to see the movie. I think it's perhaps a bit closer to the novels. Not that I disliked the campy Bond -- far from it. But I liked the original, too.

Wyndham said...

I'm kind of with you - if I wanted to find psychologically plausible, complicated characters I'd go down the pub.

Get Roger Moore's agent on the phone!.

Chaucer's Bitch said...

Michael: I don't object to rough and craggy men, i just prefer them to be long-haired, sword-weilding brunettes. (Vigo Mortenson, anyone?)
A slab, true, but honestly? no more slabbier than my swashbuckler here. (my god i'm lucky.)

Homo: ha! too right.

Mincat: hmm. i havn't read the books. might have to rectify that.

Frobi: I'm not sorry and I'm not wrong. But you make an interesting point about the swank Bond being made obsolete by A.P. Must ruminate on that a while.

Val: I thought the campy Bond WAS the "original" Bond. All this talk of the novels has me worried.

Wyndham: exactly. thank you.

Babs said...

I can't even say anything, I've yet to see any of the Brosnan ones, for gods sake (I never bothered with Dalton because something about him annoys me no end). But DEF get the books. I had no interest in the movies at all (well, ok, liked the Connery ones since I was a teen because, I mean, it was Connery, dammit) til I happened upon the entire original collection at a used book sale. Best money I ever spent.

GreatSheElephant said...

Gotta disagree with you babes. It's a long time since I read the books but Craig seems much more true to them if I recall correctly. AND, without too much of a spoiler I hope, what happens at the end of the film is absolutely key to producing the man Bond became as personified by Connery. I don't remember if it was exactly the same in the book but the outcome was the same for his emotional makeup.

Futhermore, even though I don't normally like blonds, Craig is HAWT. Reminds me of Steve McQueen a bit.

Brosnan on the other hand was a pint sized abomination - almost as awful as Roger Moore.

Michael said...

THAT chin AND a slab of a body? Does your pirate have a gay sidekick?


::mutters off::

Chaucer's Bitch said...

Probably, given his line of work. I'll ask. :)

Nick said...

Actually, I always treated what I saw on the telly at Chrimble and what I read the rest of the year round as two separate characters. It's actually only just come out here and I'm trying to find a cinema buddy. If Bond is now as you say he is, frankly I'm delighted. The last Bond movie I saw (Die Another Day, actually) was alot like A.P. I was sitting through it occasionally adding things like 'Oh behave'. Hmm, looking forward to this...

Dave said...

What Nick said. I read the books as a teenager, and later used to get annoyed that the films resemebled less and less of what was actually in the books, until they got down to just using the title (take Octopussy, for example - a short story about, inter alia, an octopus). You have to take them as two seperate characters - except, it seems, the latest version (which I haven't seen) may just have returned to the book.

mutleythedog said...

I don't think Austin Powers was a satire was it?

NoShitSherlock said...

For reasons that are beyond me, Beta Blogger thinks my name is Nick. Nick was in fact me, NoShit. Go figure.

Annie Rhiannon said...

You can easily watch a torture scene and laugh, you can watch any kind of scene and laugh, it just depends on how it's directed.

Still, I haven't seen this film and probably never will. I didn't even realise they were still making James Bond films.

ZB said...

It was a good movie, it just wasn't a Bond movie.

Yes it was. One of the best and one of the best Bonds. If you read the books, Bond is not the raised eyebrow of Roger Moore or the @i'm just a lucky lad from the Emerald Isle' schtick of Brosnan but a hard bitten, hard drinking, hard living, emotionally repressed, borderline paranoid secret agent who lives on nerves frayed by constantly living on the edge of being unmasked, killed or having to kill someone. The self referentiality of the Bond Franchise might be cool for the audience but it's box office death for Bond long term. This is a good move and a good movie - in the 'I'm not a navel gazing arthouse flick I'm something you eat popcorn in front of' kind of way.

As for not realising that they still made Bond movies, they are easy to miss.

If you live in a cave in the middle of nowhere with headphones on and your eyes shut. Otherwise, no.

As for not realising that

Chaucer's Bitch said...

Nick, Dave: ok ok i'll read the books. clearly i've been comparing this movie to the other movies, and not to what Flemming wrote. I'll fix that over christmas. maybe.

mutley: i can't tell if you're being sarcastic or if you're incredibly thick.

Noshit: oh. hello.

Annie: i just can't find anything humorous about torture. but that may be because i'm in love with a man in the military. some things just hit a little too close to home these days.

ZB: ok i'll read the stinking books already! geeze.
as for "if you live in a cave in the middle of nowhere," Annie does live in Iceland. Go easy on her.

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