Sunday, November 19, 2006

It didn't suck

"It" referring to the new James Bond filem, "Casino Royale".

So,

The good:

Lots of great action, and very little cheese. Other than a couple of the fight sequences being somewhat Jacky Chanish (awesome physicality, just a little unreality); the action of this film is gritty, dirty, and entirely believable. Without trying to wow with big fancy effects or gadgets, this is one of the best straight action films I've seen in a long while. The freerunning sequence in the beginning of the film is mindblowing, and still believable at the same time. I never said to myself "no way could they do that".

The pacing of the film is absolutely relentless; though it's over two hours long (2:24 actually), you never notice it; and I don't think more than five minutes goes by without an action piece.

Better though, this film marks a return to the Bond of the books. James is hard, cold, angry, a sociopath... This is James Bond, looking like Hoagie Carmichael, but with a cruel smile; and a comma of hair that never quite stays in place.

Oh and one more for the fans of the book; the movie is without doubt the truest to the book Bond movie yet made; and I hope there are more in this vein. In fact, I wouldnt necessarily take exception to remaking the original movies, in the order written by Fleming, IF they would keep to the books.

The Bad:

Dialogue? Was there any, I didn't notice? Story, plot, not so much. Of course in the original book, there wasn't very much either; it was really an overlong short story. The pacing of the movie didn't really allow for any story, and real character development etc...

Also, the editing of the movie was somewhat irritating; with a lot of odd camera angles, bad jump cuts, and some chronological discontinuities that I found disorienting and distracting from the story. Several points were left hanging badly, where I felt there was resolution, that may have been cut out.

On a purely story front, I think there was a LOT chopped out, and a lot that could have been done that wasn't taken advantage of.

The Ugly:

Daniel Craig. No, he himself is not an ugly man; in fact he was chosen for how good he looks with his shirt off; and the physicality of his part here is amazing.

The problem with this James Bond is simple: Daniel Craig has all the personality, charisma, charm, and presence, of dimensional lumber.

They didn't give him much to work with; and he didnt do much work with what they gave him. At no time did I ever feel the character as a live human being through his dialogue. The only real spark he had, was when he was showing the cruel cold side of James. Perhaps this was intentional; an effort to reinforce the characterization of Bond the sociopath, but I don't think so; I don't think Craig is that good an actor, and I think if he was, he would have done a better job of conveying that sense.

Overall, the movie wasn't bad; it was a typical action movie, and about middle of the road for Bond films. Better than all the Roger Moore pics; far better than the Dalton movies (though Dalton himself wasn't bad) or the excerable OHMSS (which should have been one of the best movies, it was one of the best books; and Diana Rigg is awesome, but the writing and acting of everyone else was awful), and even better than the last couple of Connery films (I don't count Never Say Never Again, it never happened, do not speak of it again).

Actually, if craig had even a bit of the charm of charisma of either Connery or Brosnan, this movie would best all but Connerys first four (Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, and Thunderball), or perhaps even the first three (thunderball had great moments, but isn't exactly great when taken as a whole); though of course Craig can't hold a candle to Connery.

I like the leaner, more stripped down production, less gadgetry and gimmicks, more action, and more real James Bondfrom the books; I don't like Daniel Craig. I won't say he was awful, because he wasn't; but he wasn't great. Daniel Craig isn't a star, he's a good action man who worked cheap in comparison to Brosnan. I predict he will pull a Dalton here, and we'll see another Bond in two movies (the next movie is already in production).

Oh, and I saw another movie today; one that I wholeheartedly and without reservation will tell you you should go watch right now if you are any kind of fan of noir, or neo-noir of the Tarantino/Rodriguez variety.

Lucky Number Slevin. Go watch it right now. I'm not kidding.