Royale Review

To paraphrase a line from the Simpsons, I'm not prone to hyperbole, but Casino Royale may be the best Bond movie ever. I have been a lifelong James Bond fan, and I don't take the previous statement lightly.

Of course, 'best' is indictive of opinion, not fact. Once you take 'Goldfinger' out of the equation, any fan's top-five list of Bond films will never match another's. Do you like your action, your gadgetry, busty women, your quips to be oh-so snarky? There are far too many traditional elements, almost cliched today (and certainly parodied), that define a Bond film and divide the fan base. Make no mistake, this is the most unique Bond film of all time. That is no opinion, that is fact. It's almost an un-Bond film, it's so visibly different from the rest. This Bond character is a rookie. He makes mistakes. He bleeds (often). He trusts the wrong people. For Christ's sake, he only sleeps with one woman, and only after he has fallen in love! What in the hell has happened to our hero?

Humanity. Realism. Drama. Poignancy. All these things have happened, and it has breathed new life into a series that was beginning (heck, it was well on its way) to become its own parody, making the Austin Powers series seem redundant.

This could only have been possible with Daniel Craig. One movie in and he fucking owns the role. He is the un-Bond. Feral, feeling, emotional, powerful, cold, human. Everything Ian Fleming envisioned when he created the first novel.

The moment that I really felt a sense of awe and downright giddyness was early on in the film, when Bond is chasing a terrorist in Madagascar. After a thrilling run through a construction site, the terrorist takes refuge at his embassy, seemingly escaping. Barely hesitating, Bond brazenly busts into the embassy and yanks his man from their sanctuary. I could barely believe the audacity of this man I thought I knew so well.

The peerless action sequences are balanced with some of the finest acting and dialogue in the series. It should go without saying the Judy Dench is remarkable, but the scenes between her and Bond carry a new relationship. She is tolerant of her new agent, she cares for him, believes in his talents, but is patiently trying to teach him some lessons (which he learns all too well). Craig is bold, cheeky, and confident, even when we know he's wrong. And when he's wrong, like in the aforementioned embassy incident, or breaking into M's loft or stealing her passcodes, M is so baffled and impressed that it tempers her anger. How can she crack down on this man, when nobody does it better?

The movie also doesn't work without a strong performance from Eva Green as the Bond girl, Vesper Lynd. Their introductory conversation on the train to Montenegro is my favorite exchange in the film, and I'm hard pressed to think of better repartee in all the series. Vesper is witty, confident, yet fragile and very feminine, and it's easy to understand how he falls for her. As Mathis asks, "How's our girl? Melted your cold heart yet?" Their relationship is lovely and tragic and essential to understanding what makes this man tick. (Not to always bring it back to Star Wars, but...) It's like watching the prequels and knowing now who is behind the mask of Vader and how he came to be. You aren't able to look at the rest of the series quite the same way again.

Where does it rank amongst the Bond catalogue? If I haven't been plain enough, I'm not sure that question even applies for this film. What I can assure you is that the experience of this film is unlike any other I've ever felt, and I'm going back for another pass soon.

Update: At Commander Bond.net the reviewer compares the love story to that of Casablanca.


Bond Quiz

I'm a double-o. Are you?. (I should note that the only ones I missed were about the freaking lyrics to the songs. Hand job by the best boy, indeed.)

On a completely related note, by this time tomorrow I will have seen Casino Royale.


The rumor that X4 will happen continues to propogate, despite the limp claims by the studio that it was the 'last one'. Heh.
    This whole "will there be a fourth X-Men movie" is turning into a game. Someone really should collect all the quotes coming from everyone involved and stack them up against each other just to see who contradicts who. It can be like Civil War ... "whose side are you on?" A handful of prominent X-actors, including Patrick Stewart, are fully convinced another sequel will happen. Recent talk by Marvel bigwigs would seem to give weight to their argument, although nothing resembling a real plan has been discussed. A larger handful of prominent X-actors are fully convinced the series is finished, and talk from director Brett Ratner seems to give weight to the argument.
I'm all about another movie, but if fucking Ratner directs it I will see it with a scowl on my face, much like the frowning-of-a-lifetime. Ratner!!!! Ratner!!!!


Bunch 'o Bond

The Unscripted series, where two principles from a film ask each other emailed questions, has been loaded up for Casino Royale. The two are Daniel Craig (naturally) and director Martin Campbell.

Nothing overly remarkable, but there is an extended shot from the film showcasing Daniel's now-famous coming-out-of-the-water shot, and some behind-the-scenes tidbits that only I could possibly find fascinating.

Reviews are starting to pour in, now that the release date is only a couple days away, and the film is still getting overwhelmingly positive reviews. Tick tock until Friday.

And, if you have extra spare time at work, you can watch all the previous Bond trailers via Cinematical.

Jack Palance

I'm sure you all know by now that Jack Palance died over the weekend. The thing he's most known for, aside from winning his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for "City Slickers" is his acceptance speech, where in the space of a minute busted on Billy Crystal, displayed some rather racy comic wit, and famously did a few one-armed pushups. It still brings a smile to my face to watch it. (At You Tube.)For me, the primary thing, or role, that I remember him for was Tim Burton's "Batman". Not only did he bring his trademark delivery to its peak, but I can't think of another circumstance where Jack Nicholson, who everyone always does impressions of, did an impression of another actor during a movie. Pretty remarkable.


Spider-Man 3 Trailer

Set your VCR's tonight. Or just wait an extra couple minutes. Via Mania:
    According to the Hollywood Reporter, Spider-Man 3 will receive a TV and online blitz Thursday night when Columbia Pictures unveils a new, full-length, 2 1/2-minute trailer at 10 p.m. in a "road block" across Viacom's online brands and CBS' TV network -- six months before the film's May 4 premiere.

    On CBS, the spot will air after "CSI" and before the James Woods starrer "Shark." On Comedy Central, the trailer will run before a new "South Park" episode, while MTV will show the spot before a new "Real World/Road Rules Challenge." Other TV networks airing the trailer include BET, Logo, MTV2, Spike TV and VH1, with each supporting the event with custom promotions.

    In addition, 14 online destinations from Viacom's networks are supporting the airing, including AddictingGames.com, AddictingClips.com, BET.com, MTV.com, IFilm.com, Nick.com, ComedyCentral.com, GameTrailers.com, LogoOnline.com, Neopets.com, SpikeTV.com, The-N.com, VH1.com, and Xfire.com.

    Immediately after the television premiere, a high-definition version of the trailer will be available exclusively on MTV Networks' IFilm.com.
On the other hand, it may be tough to actually avoid seeing the trailer.


Do I look like I give a damn

Some of the biggest doubters and critics of Daniel Craig are suddenly singing a new tune:
    LONDON (Reuters) - British actor Daniel Craig, the controversial choice to play the new James Bond in the upcoming film "Casino Royale," has won early reviews Miss Moneypenny would be proud of.

    The producers of one of the world's most successful movie franchises were seen taking a considerable risk with Craig, who angry fans said was too blond, too ugly and insufficiently suave to serve on Her Majesty's Secret Service.

    But if the majority of film critics is anything to go by, the risk has paid off handsomely. The 38-year-old, with a proven acting pedigree, has been credited with revitalizing a series some felt had become bloated and over-reliant on clever gadgets.

    "It's a terrific debut," wrote the Daily Telegraph's Sinclair McKay, summing up a weekend of praise from British newspapers eager to get their reviews out early.

    "From the very start, he steps with full assuredness into Sean Connery's old handmade shoes."

    The Times' Wendy Ide appears to take a swipe at some of Craig's five predecessors in the role by concluding her review: "His main asset quickly becomes evident. He can act."
But my favorite line from the movie already is this:
    Several reviewers noted one joke that deliberately breaks a Bond tradition. When asked if he wants his vodka martini shaken or stirred, Craig replies: "Do I look like I give a damn?"
Money in the bank. Dark Horizons has links to all the reviews. Not to be redundant, big I am indeed excited.


Anger, Part 2

Little did I suspect the tiniest post would generate a follow-up

I should clarify about a 'fresh kill' regarding the post on Tuesday. I was trying to analogize the endorphin rush and immediate calming following the verbal or physical unleashing of emotional buildup. Although this typically takes the case of a physical unleashing for me (I hit the gym daily at lunch, often to release tension from buildup of nincompoopery), I hadn't yelled (yelling being a stern and heated talking to type -- not the head-spinning maniacal fuming type, although that, too, has its perks but generally poo-pooed in the work environment) at anyone in a long time.

I found the reward to be different than that of the physical, because while you can work out and release tension and get the endorphins, you won't get the satisfaction of (finally) unloading your frustrations that you have kept bottled up time and again. I often say about myself, that once I've vented, I'm 'over it', and generally that's true about anything. As such, I also issue a disclaimer to not take it personally if you happen to be vented at, because it's just a process to get past the problems that can eat at you if unchecked.

The downside is, I got a taste of the pleasure of mental venting and went looking for more yesterday. When my foolish co-hort made a suggestion to me that sounded like a retreading of his original mistake that caused the verbal take-down, I jumped the gun:
    HIM: So, instead of taking the data from Friday, can I just take it from Monday?
    ME: (heatedly) Does this mean we are YET AGAIN changing the specs???
    HIM: (quickly) No, no. Just should I copy in the data for this one run?
    ME: (dejected) Sure.
I moped away like a child who was told there was no recess. Or, a soldier who was unable to get to bayonet someone that day.