Monday, November 12, 2012

Skyfall (Sam Mendes, 2012)

It's an accepted fact at this point that Daniel Craig and Martin Campbell saved the Bond franchise. Casino Royale was enthusiastically received by both critics and audiences that had been wary of a new Bond film when it was announced. The new tone brought Bond into the modern age, and helped to wash the stale taste that had been left in audience's mouths following both Pierce Brosnan and Timothy Dalton's tenures. Even as it left intact many of the things long time fans always look for in a Bond film, Craig and Campbell made the character feel both fresh and familiar at the same time. They focused on the drama of the story and on the characters as much or more than they did giant action set pieces and finding excuses for Bond to use some unbelievable gadget in the middle of the film.

The second film in Craig's term as Bond, Quantum of Solace, Marc Forster took over in the directors seat and proved that following in Martin Campbell's footsteps was no easy task. Quantum wasn't a horrible film, but it was much closer to being both an older variety of Bond film and less interesting. It's definitely not the worst film in the franchise history, but it threatened the good will Casino had built. It shouldn't all be laid at Forster's feet though, as the script written by Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade was muddled and inconsistent, at best.

With the announcement of Skyfall, there was a sense that if this film didn't deliver the goods, it could actually finally be the end of the Bond franchise. There would always be a hard core fan base, but new fans would be hard to come by and casual movie goers would no longer be interested in the exploits of 007. Skyfall will please the hard core Bond fans as well as casual movie goers looking for some fun at the multiplex.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Star Bored

George Lucas and the horror that is the second trilogy of Star Wars films did not assuage my love for the original trilogy. Sure, Jedi isn't a great movie by any means, but it still wasnt a horrible film that had some truly great and iconic moments. A New Hope is an amazing piece of popcorn, action/adventure, serial storytelling. The Empire Strikes Back is often cited as the greatest sequel of all time, an argument that can be made quite plausibly and one of the earliest experiences I can remember in a movie theater. I fell in love with this trilogy at an early age, and it is part of what gave me a slavish obsession for cinema, so it takes a whole hell of a lot for me to turn away from it as a fan.

It may have happened though. I may have finally just completely reached the nadir of my ability to handle anything else related to Star Wars. And no, it wasn't that George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney. For about three decades now, the principle difference between Lucasfilm and Disney has been a set of big, round ears and a couple of theme parks. In basically every other way, they've been the same. Consider that Pixar started out under Lucasfilms roof and then made the migration to The Mouse, and that Disney has had a number of Lucasfilm rides in their theme parks. If you're out there getting all pissy over the Disney move now, you're at least twenty years too late. You should have found your scruples earlier.

So, if it wasn't The Mouse becoming Darth Vader's new master and it wasn't that abomination that was the second trilogy, what could possibly have made me decide that just maybe it's time to let it go and just cut the cord with all things Star Wars? It's the absolutely insane reaction from the nerdhood in the film press. As someone who has spent many years now, pouring over the details of upcoming projects, tidbits from behind the scenes, stories of studio strife and the general commentary of the internet film press, I can say that of all the insanity I've seen, and that hasn't been an inconsequential amount, I've never seen anything as ridiculous as this.