Films, TV - John C. Kirk
Dec. 3rd, 2006
01:40 am - Films, TV
Catching up on some of my pending reviews, I went off to the cinema last week to watch "Casino Royale". I had some doubts about this, since I haven't been very impressed with the last couple, but I decided to go along and give it a shot. It turned out to be very good, so I'm glad I went. I think the best praise I can give is that it would work well as an action adventure film in its own right, if you'd never heard of James Bond before. Mind you, be aware that it's quite a long film (2 hours plus 30 minutes of adverts/trailers), so I had to dash out in the middle to pee; in retrospect I probably shouldn't have bought a big Coke at the start.
I read most (if not all) of Ian Fleming's Bond novels when I was at school, and generally the films haven't had much in common with them. By contrast, I'd say that this one was pretty close. It's been a while since I read the book, and there are a few obvious changes (e.g. the use of mobile phones and the internet), but there are other aspects which are almost identical (e.g. Bond knowing the name that M stands for). The film involved several card games, and I don't know enough about them to follow the details. However, I do remember that the novels involved some lengthy discussions about this, and the various anti-cheating measures that were employed, such as using a fresh pack of cards in each game, offering players a choice of three decks, and letting them all sniff the glue on the plastic seal so that they could verify it hadn't been tampered with since it left the factory.
Thinking back to my comments on Daredevil, I think that this is the type of film that should have been. There's a chase scene near the beginning of the film, where I'd say that people are operating at the higher edge of human ability without crossing the line into superhuman, and this gives a genuine sense of danger. In particular, at one point Bond is on top of a crane; if that was me, I'd be clinging onto it for dear life, rather than letting go to fight someone else. By contrast, there's a scene in "A View to a Kill" where Bond (as played by Roger Moore) is balancing on top of the Golden Gate Bridge; this ought to have the same level of risk, but I don't remember feeling any tension when I saw the film. (In fairness, this may be because I've gained a greater sense of my own mortality as I've grown older.)
Another thing I liked about this film is that Bond isn't perfect. There were a few times when I thought "That's just sloppy, you ought to do X to be on the safe side"; Bond didn't do X, but then the mistake came back to bite him. So, he's still learning the ropes, and actions have consequences. I wouldn't describe this film as a comedy, and I think it's good that they got rid of the cheesy one-liners from the previous films (as parodied in Austin Powers). However, there were lots of other people laughing at some of the lines, so reactions did vary. In the interests of balance, I should observe that the CPR done in this film doesn't follow any protocol that I've ever encountered. However, I was amused by the fact that susannahf and I both counted the ratio of chest compressions to rescue breaths!
This week I had a few friends round to watch Batman on DVD (the 1966 film). I've seen it before, but I was very happy to watch it again. While other incarnations of Batman focus on the "dark avenger" aspects of the character, this one goes for inspired lunacy. ("The crime happened at sea ... C ... Catwoman must be involved!") Mind you, looking at it now, I suspect that Robin would fit in quite well with the Power Rangers, since he's so keen on dramatic movements, particularly punching his right fist into his left palm. (There was an amusing week of comic strips I read on this theme, starting here.) Then again, I think this may be the only Batman film so far where he doesn't reveal his secret identity to his girlfriend by the end of the film, so in that sense it's closer to the comics than the "serious" films. Anyway, it's a lot of fun, and probably the best use of a "trained exploding shark" I've ever seen.
Tonight I watched the latest episode of the BBC's new Robin Hood series, which I'm enjoying. Following up on my previous comments, I think that this series has some similarities to Xena, since it has anachronistic elements and a fairly light tone, while still addressing some serious themes. The Sheriff is shaping up quite nicely, although the actor has an unfortunate tendency to mutter his lines. There was a storyline in The Incredible Hulk a while back where the Leader gives the Hulk an ultimatum: get to a particular location by a particular time, otherwise bombs will be set off. The Hulk manages to get there on time, so the Leader sets the bombs off early; he's the bad guy, so he can cheat! Without giving away too much, the Sheriff is taking a similarly flexible attitude towards law enforcement. I mentioned before that I think Guy of Gisbourne is the most interesting character, and I'm now increasingly convinced that Marian is a complete bitch for the way that she leads him on and takes advantage of his feelings for her (bonus points for casting herself in the role of hard done by victim). By a happy coincidence, her name has the right number of syllables to fit into Cartman's song about Kyle's mom. Meanwhile, I was amused by a discussion in the IMDB forum for the series: "Things you have learned from Robin Hood" (sign in required, free registration). Generally, the IMDB forums make me despair of humanity, but there were some very funny entries there. I particularly liked #81: "Friar Tuck is busy with those pesky Saracens in the Holy Land and sends his apologies for not being able to join his homies, the Hoodie crew." Overall, I'd say that Robin of Sherwood (from the 1980s) is my definitive version of Robin Hood, but I'm glad that the new version has been renewed for a second series, so I'll keep watching it.
Speaking of the 1980s, Digiguide sometimes put amusing comments in their descriptions of TV episodes and films, rather than just providing the basic facts. For instance, they had this to say about today's episode of The A-Team on UK Gold: "If you can find them, maybe you can hire... The A-Team! Not that we ever saw them accepting any money for any of that death-defying mercenary work." On a related note, I had to agree with this comment about Knight Rider: "If you manage to get through the episode of Knightrider where KITT dies without shedding a tear, you have a heart of stone, irregardless of his not-really-much-better-than-Sat-Nav-and-e
Finally, I did like the quote that I received in an email this morning: "Although the wombat is real and the dragon is not, nobody knows what a wombat looks like and everyone knows what a dragon looks like." This is from the advertising blurb for Adventures in Unhistory, although arguably it demonstrates the need for more books about real animals. Anyway, that calls for a poll:
Which creature would you be more likely to recognise?