Sunday, 2 November 2008

James Pond...

…was a game on the Amiga in which you played a secret agent goldfish. It was followed by a sequel, Robocod, in which you played a bionic goldfish. Both of these games were infinitely more sophisticated than the latest James Bond film Quantum of Solace. Yes, I am using my blog as a platform to rant to about a rubbish film that will make billions of pounds – not very original I know. But I feel duped and would like to share my frustration with the world. Don’t read this if you’re planning on going to see it.

I never liked Bond films. Sure, From Russia with Love is good, and I kind of like GoldenEye for Sean Bean but mostly I’ve never been a fan. I never liked the character, I never liked the villains, I could never get on with the gadgets and the stupid plots, I hated the theme tunes and ultra-camp intros…I could go on and on. But every time a new one came out I’d somehow be convinced it might be alright and go along with a big group of friends and sit there, seething as everything I disliked about those films was repeated with very little variation. And then Casino Royale came along.

Casino Royale isn’t perfect – it’s too long and the structure is a bit off. But it felt like a proper film. It was interesting, the plot made sense, and it was about characters. Finally they took the James Bond character and did something interesting with him – they made him fallible. Plus I’ve always liked Daniel Craig and thought he did excellent job in both the performance and making the action look convincing. For the first time in ages I was watching an action film and thinking I really want to see how this character gets out of these situations – the action was part of the story, not the other way around. And Jeffrey Wright was in it – one of my favourite actors ever since Basquiat (also good in the Shaft remake – the film with one of the best bad guy team-ups ever in Wright and Christian Bale).

So I was actually quite excited about Quantum of Solace. And in a year of really good films my hopes were high…and then crushed. This is not Casino Royale. This is every Bond film before that – everything I hated about the franchise rolled into one. Except worse than that, because there is an attempt here to somehow combine the silliness of the old films with the seriousness of the new ones. But that’s not even the problem – it’s just a badly made film. It opens with a car chase in which there is a cut every half-second meaning you have no sense of space or movement and no idea what’s going on. With the exception of a fight in a hotel room all the action is as nonsensical as this. But that’s not the worst thing either – the script is terrible! There are three writers credited included Paul Haggis (who wrote Crash which I thought was too preachy but everyone else in the world loved). There are probably also three scripts going on at the same time. There is the revenge script which they have to keep reminding us about because it doesn’t really fit in at all. There is the bad guy taking over the world plot which never really makes any sense – surely Rule One in any film like this is to make the motivations of the bad guy clear. They really aren’t clear – Mathieu Amalric just keeps making speeches about oil and water and stuff. And one of the writers clearly did an action pass at the script, meaning there is a chase/fight every ten minutes whether you want it or not. Presumably one of them also decided this would be a return to the old Bond we all knew and loved only they just pasted it on top of the new Bond. In short, a mess.

I could go on forever. The climax takes place at a hotel inexplicably built on top of highly explosive fuel cells where the bad guys are meeting up for no discernible reason - guess what happens to that? Olga Kurylenko's Bond girl whom we were told was a new take on the character who would give Bond a run for his money (like they say with every film) ends up being pretty rubbish and needing to be rescued just like the others. Although as Andrea pointed out she does get to wear trousers which is a first. Andrea did however have a problem with the hair in the film which looked bad on everyone – thought I may as well add that while I’m listing criticisms. Was it as bad as Saw V? No. But I felt betrayed by this film so it’s badness hurt even more.

There are two good things in the film. There is an opera set-piece which is very well done. And Jeffrey Wright is in it.

The thing I always used to hate about seeing the new Bond film with friends in my youth was that we’d come out of it and everyone would be like ‘Wow, that was the most amazing film I’ve ever seen’ and I’d be all ‘That was rubbish’ and they’d say, ‘You read too much into films, you should just enjoy them for what they are,’ and I’d say ‘You are idiots’ except I wouldn’t because they were my friends so I’d just think it. Thankfully I now have much more intelligent friends, all of whom found the film just as terrible as I did which did lessen my frustration a bit.

Right, that’s out of my system. To end on a nicer note, we watched Wait Until Dark on Halloween in the end, which was excellent and something I would definitely recommend. Audrey Hepburn is great in it, Alan Arkin is amazing and terrifying and despite only being set in one room it had me hooked from the opening right up until the end.

And I enjoyed Dead Set - if you've seen any zombie film ever it does feel a bit unoriginal, but it was still pretty impressive work for British TV and better than all the recent zombie films I've seen.

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