Casino Royale – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Martin Campbell

Cast: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Caterina Murino, Jesper Christensen, Judi Dench

Film matched beverage: Vesper Martini

Synopsis:   Finally, after years of legal wrangling, Eon got to make Casino Royale, the very first Bond novel that Ian Fleming ever wrote.   Being a beginning for Bond in popular culture, they made this film a new beginning for the franchise.   Indeed, they went full reboot mode, and to great effect.   New film, new start, new Bond.   And Daniel Craig made the role his own…. Continue reading

GoldenEye – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Martin Campbell

Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco, Famke Janssen, Joe Don Baker, Judi Dench, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Cumming, Samantha Bond, Desmond Llewelyn

Film matched beverage: Golden Cocktail

Synopsis: After the longest gap between Bond films since the franchise started, Brosnan begins his tenure as the ultra-cool British agent.   Bond tails the mysterious Xenia Onatopp following a chance encounter.   In doing so he stumbles upon a much larger plot.   A few twists later, and it turns out our new villain is not unfamiliar to Bond… Continue reading

Green Lantern – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Martin Campbell

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Tim Robbins, Taika Waititi, Angela Bassett, Temuera Morrison, Geoffrey Rush, Michael Clarke Duncan

Synopsis: Test pilot Hal Jordan has a close encounter with a crashed alien, whom gives him a green ring of power, and a lantern by which to charge it.   He becomes a Green Lantern, part of an intergalactic peace keeping force known as the Green Lantern Corps.   Their oath; ” In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight.   Let those who worship evil’s might, beware my power… Green Lantern’s light”.

This film comes relatively late to Australian shores, it having been released in the US over a month ago.   Box office overseas has not been overly kind, and many have considered Green Lantern a flop.   Despite being a comic book fanatic myself, I have never really followed any specific Green Lantern titles, so perhaps my lesser degree of familiarity may make me forgive any divergence from the source text this film takes.   Overall, my impression was one of entertainment, and if I had to provide a reason for the film’s lack of success, it would perhaps be that audiences may be starting to fatigue of superhero films.

In addition, this is also not just another superhero movie, it is another superhero origin movie.   Director Martin Campbell though has previously proven himself to be an able hand at reviving well-worn genres.   He has done so twice already with the James Bond franchise, having helmed both GoldenEye and Casino Royale.   Though he does not do much to reinvent the superhero origin story film he does at least put a very well structured and enjoyable film with high entertainment value.   Jordan’s inner conflict in feeling he has been chosen incorrectly as he does not possess the Lantern quality of lacking fear is a very real prospect for anyone thrown into that situation.   A reasonable history is provided for this fear, but in the end it does come across as a natural human response.   Reynolds successfully balances the cocky self-assured test pilot persona with a man battling within himself to find his true courage.

It is largely Reynolds show here, but there are other strong performances on hand.   Peter Sarsgaard is always a very reliable presence on film, and he portrays the villain of the piece, Hector Hammond.   Unlike Jordan getting the green power of will, Hammond receives by accident the yellow power of fear.   His make up threatens to rule his performance, so it is to his credit that he can rise above this limitation.   Lively is the love interest, and the plot does not serve her character very well, often feeling like she is there because every hero must have a romantic, humanising interest.   Lively does rise to the challenge though, and she makes both a sympathetic and even a courageous counterpoint to Jordan himself.   Special note must be made of Robbins as Senator Hammond, Hector’s father, in a smaller but certainly memorable role.

The effects are of course brilliant, given the tools available to film makers these days.   One of the loudest complaints about the film in online circles has been that the fully CGI costume looks unrealistic.   The accusation is not entirely without merit, but there is also a degree of logic in the decision.   Though originally jarred by the appearance of the costume, as I got accustomed to seeing it, I considered that if that was my most significant complaint, it is a relatively minor one.

This is a film that does not break boundaries, nor does it need to.   It ticks all the right boxes for an entertaining two hours in which one can leave the real world outside the cinema and just sit to enjoy popcorn while simultaneously having candy for the eyes and the ears.   By that definition, the film is a success.

3.5 stars out of 5

 

Green Lantern on IMDB

Green Lantern on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oazFv302DIM]

30 Day Film Challenge Day 19 – Your Favorite Action Film

Film Nerd’s Choice: Casino Royale

Review:

Director: Martin Campbell

Cast: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Caterina Murino, Jesper Christensen

Synopsis: Based on the novel by the same name by Ian Fleming, this James Bond film takes the first written novel as an excuse to reboot the series.   In doing so, a harder edge is given to the franchise bringing it closer to Fleming;s source material than ever before, even if it does translocate the action forward into modern times.

 

As a Bond fan, it delights me that the 30 day film challenge has afforded me the opportunity to reflect on what I consider a true highpoint in the franchise after already being in a position to review the low point, that being Moonraker.   I have in many ways been raised on the 007 franchise, and am intimately familiar with his adventures both in text and on-screen.   I have many favourite stories in both formats, the earlier films being more direct adaptations of the novels than the later films became, the mor recent films not being based on Fleming material.   Casino Royale, due to legal issues as the most prominent Bond story never yet brought to the cinema in the official Broccoli 007 franchise.   Thankfully, despite shifting the setting to a modern casino in Montenegro, and changing the game of choice from Baccarat to Texas Hold’Em poker, this is once again a fairly faithful adaptation… just with more action thrown in.

Campbell is a gifted director, once before having creating a dying Bond franchise when he was in the main chair for Brosnan’s first outing Goldeneye.   He managed the same magic trick twice, creating a different Bond film that also retained respect for the franchise.   He portrays Bond here as a man struggling with his new role in the secret service.   Though he is still a man of wit, he finds less humour in his activities than previous Bonds, bearing the scars of previous encounters, both literally and figuratively.   His penchant for alcohol and women is portrayed as less suave and cultured, and more as escapism from the realities of his world.   As such, we have a much more visceral film, that seems more grounded than many previous instalments.

However, this entry is for favourite action film, and as such I should spend some of the discussion on this element of the film.   There is much more action in the film than in the novel, yet none of it is superfluous.   Each action sequence does something to advance the plot, while also being an edge of your seat, nail-biting thrill-ride.   The pace is frenetic, yet everything is filmed in such a way that things are not lost in a flurry of activity that is impossible to follow (take note, Michael Bay).   From the free-running opening that redefines chase sequences, to the chase to prevent an explosion at Miami airport, to the final sequences in Venice, Craig is painted as a Bond to be reckoned with, ever resourceful without any reliance on special gadgets.   I would also argue that the poker game itself is an action sequence.   There is no running or bullets flying, but it manages to make a sequence of twelve people around a baize table holding cards consistently exciting, and it does so while occupying a large part of the film at the same time.

I could go on for much longer, discussing individual performances, especially focussing on the cracking chemistry established between Green’s Vesper and Craig’s Bond.   The simple fact is, I can write a pages long essay on this film, though I fear my level of interest may deter readers from even starting this post.   So I will leave it here with just a simple recommendation.   If you like your action fast and loud with enough character development to keep it interesting, well, this is the minimum of what Casino Royale achieves and what is not only a superior Bond film, but a superior film outright.

5 stars out of 5

 

Casino Royale on IMDB

Casino Royale on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fl5WHj0bZ2Q]