Spectre

From the desk of The Movie Snob.

Spectre  (B+).  This is my favorite James Bond film in a long time.  Although it is about two and half hours long, I never looked at my watch.  The opening action sequence, set in Mexico City on the Day of the Dead, had me on the edge of my seat, and really all of the action sequences held my interest very well.  Daniel Craig (The Invasion) seems completely at home as 007.  Although I have apparently seen this installment’s “Bond girl,” Léa Seydoux, in a couple of movies (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Midnight in Paris), I have no memory of her in those films.  Here, however, I thought she was quite memorable.  I didn’t think Christoph Waltz (Big Eyes) was given enough room to stretch his legs as the head villain, but he did what he could with his few minutes of screen time.  I’ll be interested to see if Craig signs on for another installment.  I saw somewhere that Spectre has grossed over $800 million worldwide, so I have to think he’d be welcome.

Skyfall

New from the desk of The Movie Snob.

Skyfall  (C-).  I barely caught the latest James Bond flick before it disappeared from the theaters, and I have to say I am glad I saw it in the dollar theater because it just wasn’t that good.  Mainly, it is too darned long–almost two and half hours–and it just kind of sags and drags along for a lot of that running time.  Do we really need to see Ralph Fiennes (Wrath of the Titans) arguing with Judi Dench (Mrs. Henderson Presents) about how the nature of spying has changed, blah blah blah?  It’s nice that we get filled in on some backstory for M and even for 007 himself, but a little of that kind of stuff goes a long way.  Javier Bardem (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) was decent as the villain, but the beautiful Berenice Marlohe has like three minutes of screen time as the “Bond girl” of this installment.  In short, I don’t really get the hype that Skyfall garnered, and it has made me start to wonder about the Bond franchise in general.  Aren’t most of them overly long, overly complicated, and really just not that good?  Hmmm.

Quantum of Solace

DVD review from The Bleacher Bum

Quantum of Solace

Like most guys, it doesn’t take much for me to enjoy a James Bond movie. A cool car, some alluring ladies, a few explosions, a brutal fight, an exciting chase sequence and dame Judi Dench are about all I need. If the movie has a good plot and some witty dialogue, then it instantly becomes a James Bond classic. Quantum of Solace has all the aforementioned ingredients. James Bond (Daniel Craig) uncovers a global conspiracy by a well-funded organization named Quantum. Quantum is trying to control the majority of Earth’s most treasured resource . . . water, not oil. Quantum also frequently converts CIA and MI-6 operatives into traitorous murderers.

As in Casino Royale, Craig is really good as Bond. He is very skilled and athletic at the physical stunts while being deft and cunning at Bond’s mental side. Bond also has a personal vendetta that he is trying to fulfill while saving the world. The movie traverses the globe, showcases lovely ladies and keeps the action movie at a breakneck pace. Quantum of Solace exceeded my expectations. I enjoyed the ride on land, in the air, on the sea and in the bedroom.

Bleacher Bum Movie Scale: homerun, triple, double, single, strikeout

Quantum of Solace: Stand-up Double without a throw

Quantum of Solace

New from The Movie Snob

Quantum of Solace
(B-). I guess there’s been a lot of wailing about what a comedown this movie is after the giddy high of Casino Royale. Well, don’t sign me up for that weepfest. I thought Casino Royale was a competent, enjoyable thrillride, but it wasn’t the greatest movie in the world or anything. This one was only slightly less enjoyable. The villain certainly wasn’t very intimidating, and I never quite understood exactly what the big nefarious plan was. And one of the fight scenes in the early going got a little ridiculous, a little “Donkey Kong” ish for my taste. On the other hand, this Ukrainian gal, Olga Kurylenko (Oblivion), is a top-tier Bond sidekick. She’s like a younger, petite version of Catherine Zeta-Jones (Rock of Ages).

Quantum of Solace

Movie Man Mike checks in with a new movie review.

Quantum of Solace (B+). When the 007 franchise signed actor Daniel Craig to play James Bond, it brought in a new kind of Bond. Not only is Craig a blonde, he’s given the character a newer, more serious dimension. In Casino Royale, we saw him in a more serious relationship with Vesper Lynd. Now, in Quantum, we see the impact that the loss of Lynd has on him. Bond goes rogue and defies M (Judi Dench). As Bond pursues bad guy Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric, The Grand Budapest Hotel), a world entrepreneur, we see a side of Bond that may be a little darker then we’ve seen before. The plot is riveting, and, of course, there is a Bond girl in this film, Camille Montes, played by Olga Kurylenko (Oblivion). This was a thoroughly enjoyable film. As with all Bond films, this one is packed with lots of action. My one criticism of the film actually has to do with the action scenes. The directors used a fast-track sequencing to present the chase scenes. The jerkiness of the presentation makes it hard to keep up with exactly what’s happening except in concept only. But at the end of it all, this Bond film left me asking the question, “Is Daniel Craig the best Bond yet?”

Casino Royale

Movie review from The Movie Snob

Casino Royale (B). Movie Man Mike has already reviewed this rebooting of the Bond franchise, so I’ll be brief. I liked Daniel Craig (The Golden Compass) as the new James Bond, and I liked the idea of going back to the very beginning, making Bond a newly minted double-0 agent who is still a little rough around the edges. Top spy M (Judi Dench, Philomena) refers to Bond as a “blunt instrument,” and he certainly is. The character development was unusually good for a Bond film, helping to show how Bond would become the character everyone knows. On the down side are many of the things that are always wrong with Bond films. It was too long. Although the technical gizmos are played down, there are still some pretty ridiculous action sequences. (How many times did 007 successfully run through a veritable blizzard of automatic rifle fire?) And much of the time I was hazy about who was doing what to whom and why, although some of the loose ends are decently tied up at the end. All totaled, I give this movie a 007 out of 10.

Casino Royale

New review from Movie Man Mike

Casino Royale. (A-). For those who were growing tired of the Bond series, take heart. The series has been given a jump-start, thanks to the new-improved Bond star, Daniel Craig (Cowboys & Aliens). Craig was considered by many to be a controversial pick because he is blonde (albeit dishwater blonde), and has a slightly rougher look about him. Believe me, though, he carries it off well. I did not see the original film starring Peter Sellers and David Niven, so I can’t compare, but the film compares very favorably to most any other Bond film. And, with one or two forgivable exceptions, the dialogue avoids those horribly distracting puns that have become such a mainstay of the series in recent years. To be sure, the film has good chase scenes, hot Bond girls, and a very toned Bond (Craig is not a bit shy about showing off his physique). The film takes place at the beginning of Bond’s career, but it is set in modern time. The plot keeps a good pace so that your interest never drops off. I wholeheartedly recommend this film and I am already looking forward to the next Bond film which is in preproduction and is due for a 2008 release. Since Daniel Craig is a mere 38 years old, I figure we can get several more good years out of him in this franchise.