I just do not understand why this film has been slated by so many critics: it is great fun and it is Bond. I have read too frequently that this is too far removed from traditional Bond formula, but this is utter nonsense. Permit me to explain why: it has a car chase; a boat chase; an aeroplane chase; various foot chases; scantily clad women in the opening title sequence; vodka gin martinis (6 of them in one sitting – a series record I believe); sexy women; gruesome death; wry humour and quips (“I think she has handcuffs,” says Mathis. “Hope so,” replies Bond dryly); exotic locations; bad baddies; men who strive for world domination; explosions – lots of them; great banter between Bond and M; a dry, ruthless and driven Daniel Craig; and even a henchman with a silly haircut. What more could you want? Okay, well maybe you could want a little more plot. The idea of the arch-villain craving control of the world’s water supply so he charge exorbitant fees seems like something Dr Evil would come up with. And Fields’ sardonic apology when she trips the (awful fringed – so bad it needs mentioning twice) henchman down the stairs is, unfortunately, a dreadful piece of acting. But as complaints go, that it is. This is not as good as Casino Royale (not much is to be honest), but it is a worthy sequel and I am still loving this resurrection of the franchise and its gritty real world resurgence. Daniel Craig IS James Bond.
Laughable. Completely laughable. But the tragedy is that it is totally unintended by director Sidney Furie (how did he find work again? and was this really the same man that brought us The Ipcress File?). This was made as a serious piece of filmmaking – not a tongue or a cheek in sight. It is ghastly. Truly I cannot think of a positive thing to say about it. Previously Reeve and Hackman have brought gravitas to this comic book series, but even for them this is a paint-by-numbers charade. What is also pitiful and laughable is how the special effects managed to be considerably worse than the original Superman Movie made ten years earlier. A 7 year old with a set of crayons could have done better. A real embarrassment to all concerned.
* (only because I can’t give minus ratings)
Some typical Arnie 80s fare on offer here as our biceped hero kills his way to victory whilst offering a plethora of cheesy puns along the way. You know, the usual corny throwaway line of “He had to split” after he sliced some bad guy down the middle with a chainsaw, or after strangling another deserving villain with some barbed wire, “What a pain in the neck.” Terrible, and yet somehow brilliant. You know you’d be very disappointed if they weren’t there. Based loosely on a Stephen King short story (how prolific is he?) set in a dystopian world, Arnie is supposed to pay for his “crimes” against society by being the hunted target in a rigged TV show. You can pretty much write the rest for yourself… he doesn’t go softly into the night, but he fights back and kills the hunters sent to kill him… whilst dropping terrible yet brilliant puns in all over the place. Oh and there is a ridiculous tacked on romance angle too. I know, how silly and utterly unnecessary. This is by no means the best Arnie film, but there are worse.
Dear oh dear, poor Roland Emmerich seems to be synonymous with disaster movies – both in terms of genre and quality. This is another ‘Wow-the-end-of-the-world-is-coming-let’s-have-some-really-huge-jaw-popping-special-effects-to-cover-up-the-sheer-ridiculousness-of-the-plot-yeah!-special-effects-oooooh-i-love-them’ movie that he has made himself king of. More is expected of this film with a cast as good as it has, but then you have to remind yourself not to get your hopes up as it will obviously end up disappointing you. It is crammed with horribly cheesy dialogue “home is where the family is” [cue vomit] and SFX after SFX after SFX. Credit where it is due, some of the effects are well realized, but as there was no suspension of disbelief I wasn’t able to really engage. And the fact that it cost $200,000,000 is an absolutely laughable. That is so much money I can’t even fathom it. For that I could buy 8,697 Ford Mustang V6s; 400,801 iPad 2s or 263,157,895 tubes of wine gums. All considerably better value than this eye-boggling piece of rubbish.
James Bond doesn’t get any better than this. In fact, film doesn’t get much better than this either come to think of it. Challenged with reinvigorating the series they did just that. Daniel Craig explodes onto the screen with a fantastic noir-esque pre title sequence, and then gets your Bond juices flowing with an epic chase through Madagascar (actually the Bahamas) that allows us to see Craig’s characterisation of Bond from the outset: a tough and brutal agent hell bent on getting his man. When he burst through the dry wall I knew I was in for a treat. Martin Campbell has made two of the best Bond films in the last twenty years with this and with Goldeneye, both times having been challenged with kick-started the franchise, and both times hitting a bull’s eye. Perhaps the only disappointing thing about this outing for me was that Bond was seen driving a Ford. And they tried to make him look cool whilst doing so. A Ford. And not even a Ford Mustang (would have been excusable) but a Ford Mondeo! Grandpas drive them, not James Bloody Bond. Anyway… moving on. The locations are what you would expect from a Bond film; there are no Moore style campy jokes, but instead the script is darker and grittier; the gambling is well done; the torture scene superb (amazingly containing a laugh out loud funny bit too) and to wrap it all off, Craig is superb as 007. He is powerful, brutal, ripped, cocky and Fleming would be proud. What is so impressive about Casino Royale is that it is just as successfully the 1st Bond film as it is the 21st. And this really is some achievement. More please. Lots more.
Simply put: Style over substance. There are some excellent sequences, but that is all this film seems to be, well planned and executed sequences – but with nothing coherent gluing the whole thing together. The ‘aeroplane near crash and last minute rescue’ is extremely impressively realised and the machine gun ammo slamming off Supe’s chest followed by the bullet in the eye are magnificent. My jaw was dropping and I almost wanted to cheer. That is what Superman is about: seeing him defeat the bad guys in new, engaging – even amusing – ways. But that was where the fun ended. As what Superman is not about is love children and ridiculous heroic dabblings with kryptonite. I find both to be so hideously implausible that they must both be ridiculed. As Brodie (ably played by Jason Lee in Kevin Smith’s Mallrats) points out, “It's impossible! Lois Lane could never have Superman's baby. Do you think her fallopian tubes could handle his sperm? I guarantee you that when he comes during sex, he probably blows a load like a shotgun blast... right through her back.” So aside from Lois Lane being alive post coitus, you would then have the impossibility of a human being conceiving and bringing to full term an alien’s child. Do not forget that just because Clark Kent looks like and ostensibly acts like a human he is an alien. He is a different species entirely. And entirely different species cannot mate. Just think of the havoc it would cause in the animal kingdom if a lion fell in love with and mated with a crocodile. Or a guinea fowl.
The other issue that makes me quiver with anger is the whole cretinous concept of Superman being physically able to lift an entire continent of kryptonite into outer space. As internet blogger dpogue21 so proficiently phrases it (much better than I could – so thank you dpogue) in his imdb review, “My next major complaint [is] that Superman lifts a continent made out of kryptonite up into outer space. It doesn't take comic book guy from the Simpsons to point out what's wrong with that. I don't know how many comic books Bryan Singer has read, but when Superman is exposed to even a small amount of kryptonite he barely has the strength to stay on his feet. Whoever had the idea to have him fly a large island made out of his greatest weakness into space has no business being associated with any Superman-related projects ever again. The concept is as ridiculous as making a Dracula movie where the title character has a stake through his heart and still manages to fly a spaceship made out of garlic into the sun. Why not just have Superman eat kryptonite? He can eat it and then brush his teeth with it, and then go to sleep in kryptonite pyjamas. That's not any more absurd then having him hoist a continent of kryptonite into space and then fall powerless through the atmosphere without burning up in re-entry or splattering all over central park when he hits the ground.” Need I say more? Didn’t think so.
Films do not get much more tongue-in-cheek than this riot of a film. Engaging from the very beginning, it sets out to send up every action film – especially buddy cop films – of the last couple of decades. Lethal Weapon, Bad Boys, Point Break, Leon, Mad Max, Jurassic Park, Trainspotting and a whole bunch more are referenced, parodied and spoofed here. The better you know your films, the more you will enjoy this. But do not let that put you off, as it can also be enjoyed knowing nothing of film history. And therein lies its genius. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (on the surface, a most unlikely action double act, but such is their comic talent, timing and sheer love of film that they work very well) form an improbable partnership that uncovers hidden secrets of the most macabre nature in a peaceful rural English village, “Village of the Year” no less. The city of Wells makes for a beautiful setting, so beautiful that it is easy to be lulled into its false sense of security. The race to uncover the many mysterious deaths is energetically paced, superbly edited (a take off of most Tony Scott action films), full of shocking twists and turns and darkly hilarious all rolled into one. Should it be funny, for example, when a character is impaled by a falling church steeple that lands on top of him causing his head to explode like a watermelon? No it shouldn’t. But it is. Timothy Dalton is also excellent is his role as local supermarket manager.
Another lonely voice on the internet.