Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Yesterday I went to see the new Bond, James Bond, movie. As is clear to anyone by now, this one is different, a new start as it were, and the first time this production company has done Casino Royale, the first of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels. (It was done as a tongue in cheek comedy about the same time as the Broccoli team did Dr NO.)

I was not thrilled. In hindsight, I think this was more a matter of expectations than the script. If one is expecting a typical Bond movie, a story of adventure and good triumphing over bad, a martini finish with a beautiful girl, even if from a less melodramatic lens, then it is slow, poorly told, and drags.

The movie is well acted, well photographed, and there are certain segments that are simply awe inspiring for instance, the opening chase- a new and original take on a now very old movie cliché. No cars, just two men running- and climbing and jumping and creating a few gasp-worthy moments for the viewer. But this is also the first scene that exposes the problem- for all the time it took; it had little to do with advancing the story line. That seemed secondary throughout the movie- unless one considers that maybe the point of this movie is not to tell the story, but to newly introduce and develop the character. In that case, certain seemingly irrelevant scenes become of interest. I am thinking that I would like to see it again with this understanding, but on first viewing, this led to a bit of dragging, and a few scenes that seemed simply superfluous.
The production values were good, the acting good, the photography was good, and overall an entertaining movie- and the final scene was great! Made up for any shortcomings in the rest of the movie. I recommend it, but with the understanding that it is not the best story of the Bond movies, but maybe the best Bond.
Today I went to see Happy Feet! Like the early previews of several months ago, and the more recent previews, my opinion changed considerably during the later parts of the movie. If I had been pulled out halfway through, or even ten minutes or so before the end, I would have had nothing but praise for it- my entire review might have been "Wow!". The opening is strong, unique, refreshing, original, new, exciting... and it carries. It is unique and original and new and exciting. The music is wonderful and just keeps on going, beautifully integrated into the experience and adding to it. The pacing is excellent, the animation flawless, and the drawing beautiful! The story is good, though not exceptionally well executed, but quite passable, and with everything else, it still ranks a WOW, if only they had ended it ten minutes earlier...

Remember all those Stephen Segal movies- he makes a good exciting action packed movie, and then he ends with a five-minute sermon?
Not quite as blatant as that, but that is where they went. Not that the point isn't nice and good, but it is the job of the artist to make his point within his work, not by suddenly changing it all and inserting a message. If you have a message, it is your job to get it across without suddenly leaving your medium and lecturing, even if it is still a pictorial lecture.
They do try to tie it into the story, but it is roughly done, forced, distracting, as if some executive had walked in and issued orders to go this way without regard to the rest of the movie, such as was done to so many Disney Animations near the end (but for far less noble reasons).
I can still readily recommend this movie, but it fell far from what it was for most of its delightful presentation, and I doubt I will be buying the DVD.
Just leave when Mumbles makes his big dive- Ya! That is a good ending point!

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