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Scholar, Writer, Mother, Dreamer. Editor of Luminarium, an online library for English Literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Bond. James Bond.

I went to see the new James Bond Film, Casino Royale, with a bit of trepidation. Bond movies of the latter years have left me somewhat cold, and I wasn't sure how I would feel about Daniel Craig as Bond.
      To my delight and relief, my fears were unfounded: Craig was an excellent Bond — he was more like the James Bond written by Ian Fleming than the last few actors. Craig is in unbelievable physical shape, and it's not hard to believe him a lethal weapon. I was fairly pleased to see that he had acting chops. There are a few scenes in the movie, where Bond could be portrayed very straightforwardly, and instead Craig is able to bring lovely depth and multidimensionality to the character and scene. I unreservedly approve of him as Bond. While Connery to me is still Bond, Craig deserves to wear his mantle.
      About the movie itself, it is great — in feel as the good old Bond movies, down to the hokey beginning titles, this movie returns to the premise of James Bond as a secret agent, who can charm, fight, and out-think his enemies. In this movie, it's mano-a-mano, instead of gadget-vs.-gadget. There are great, very real-feeling fight sequences, where it's who can punch and be punched most, who has the most stamina, and so on. There are no insane gadgets, no martial arts happening, just good honest fighting (omg, do I sound bloodthirsty!). What also is nice, that instead of James Bond saving the world in every movie, in this one, it's clear that there are smaller and bigger assignments, and that each is as important — the stakes may seem higher, if James Bond has to stop a nuclear bomb (one of the last movies, forget which one), but a modern audience can't care as much, because it's pretty obvious he's gonna emerge victorious. When the stakes are more fathomable, there are chances Bond might fail. The fact that Bond does fail and make mistakes a few times in this movie actually makes Bond much more accessible and engaging; there's a guy who's just trying his damnedest, and most people can get behind that.
      And yet, while returning Bond to his roots, the filmmakers have very consciously brought Bond to the 21st century, which really pleased this female viewer. The few times that Bond tries to make a chauvinistic or patronizing move towards the leading lady, Vesper Lynd, she matches him and patronizes him right back. While there is eye-candy for the men in the beginning with one gangster's girlfriend, and another gangster's girlfriend Ivana Milicevic rising from a swim, dripping with water, the leading lady, played by Eva Green, is never objectified, or seen A) in a bikini b) otherwise half-naked (although that one evening gown is cut sooooo low). I liked that in a shower scene, she is fully clothed, and when we get to a requisite beach scene, instead of Ursula Andress rising from the waves like a modern Botticelli's Venus, it is Bond himself who is the eye-candy (did I mention he is in unbelievable physical shape?). Between the characters of M. and Vesper, the movie says women can be powerful, intelligent and tough, and stand on their own two feet, and be even more desirable than brainless bunnies. The warriorwoman inside me liked that.
      The movie is 20 minutes too long, plain and simple. There were a few scenes which could have been removed, a few which could have been shortened by better editing, and *boom* they would have had an A-movie. Even so, it's still very satisfying. Casino Royale was Ian Fleming's first Bond-book, and the way they made this movie, I'd say they've revitalized the Bond film franchise; it is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. I'm gonna give this Bond movie a strong A-.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Mophia said...

My associate number at one job is 007, and at the other... 777. hehe. maybe i'll get a chance to see this movie at a theater. Remember celebrate the coming New Year responsibly everyone!

Mophia

December 31, 2006 5:48 PM  
Blogger SzélsőFa said...

I never EVER thought of watching a Bond movie, but damn, this review makes me think twice about my prejudices. According to you this film is just about everything a good action movies should be about.

I was utterly and hopelessly repelled by Pierce Brosnan for example ... and I also dislike gadgets and saving the world is also too much of a problem to solve...

Thanks for the review. And I'm glad we have so much in common :)))

January 02, 2007 5:27 AM  
Blogger Mother of Two said...

I was surfing thru the blogs and I found yours. You are a good writer. I enjoyed your postings. I too think Sean is THE bond.

Feel free to visit mine www.motheroftwosguide.blogspot.com.

January 05, 2007 8:52 AM  

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