Quantum of Solace
Directed by Marc Forster
Review by Tony Sheppard
There are three separate, unrelated questions one can ask about "Quantum of Solace": Is it a good movie? Is it a good action movie? Is it a good Bond movie? That's assuming one doesn't bother to ask if it's a good title (it isn't).
Let's start with the second. It's a good action movie IF you like frenetically paced chase scenes with seemingly superhuman characters leaping from building to building without the aid of capes or externally worn underwear. Movies with fights that are aided by CGI which, although not as blatantly executed as the wire and harness supported tussles of a martial arts movie, are similarly high in testosterone and at times almost Rube Goldbergian in their unnecessary complexity. Movies with car chases that resemble an especially destructive level of the game Burnout, but from which the lead actor steps unscathed.
An extended car chase opens the movie, and any long-time fan of Bond is likely to sit back confidently expecting smoke screens, oil slicks, bullet-deflecting metal plates, or rocket launchers to come into play from a heavily-adapted Aston Martin. But no, despite a legacy of cutting edge gear (literally) that's been so prevalent in prior outings that it actually drives the ads for the boxed set of DVD's, the new Bond is disappointingly (or refreshingly) gimmick free. He's also seemingly quite unBond-like in his heavy-handed and relatively charmless violence. Where the old Bond was equal parts Casanova, MacGuyver, and Inspector Gadget, the new Bond is more like Jason Bourne trapped in a marathon-length Timex Commercial. "It takes a licking…."
After 21 movies and five Bonds (not counting the 1967 "Casino Royale" spoof), Daniel Craig simply seems like a different character. The story structure and far-flung locations are there, but it's like we're watching "The Adventures of 008, Bond's Less Sophisticated Sidekick" in which "suave" refers to an inexpensive bathroom product and not a state of being. It's also unusual in that "Quantum of Solace" is essentially Casino Royale (2006) Part Two in a franchise of stand-alone plots.
Is it a good movie? Yes, if you want an expensive, exotic, fast-paced, shallow, violent, explosive, action movie with an invulnerable new iteration of a classic character who vaguely resembles the original. Meanwhile, if you want a complex and confused hero battling a compelling and scene-stealing villain, you might be better off revisiting "The Dark Knight."
On a side note, it's interesting to see the villain's modus operandi and reflect on the fact that for all of our panic, oil is not the most precious liquid on the planet. "Quantum of Solace" is somewhat reminiscent of "The Coming Anarchy" (Robert Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly, February 1994), an article that's old enough to have been published back when Bond still seemed Bond-like.
On a side, side note, the opening car chase resulted in multiple wrecked vehicles and two injured stunt drivers. I drove along the same road last year in a tiny Italian hatchback with the kind of miniscule turbo-diesel engine that American consumers aren't given the opportunity to buy. It was a fun drive, with much less carnage and significantly better fuel economy.
Directed by Catherine Hardwicke
Review by Katie Monson
I am completely biased when it comes to anything "Twilight," having read all four books in the series several times. With this in mind, I was very excited and but nervous about seeing this movie. It could have been really bad, like some book-based movies are (say "A Walk to Remember"), but I really enjoyed it.
"Twilight" centers on Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), who moves from sunny Phoenix to cloud-covered Forks, Washington, to live with her father, Police Chief Charlie Swan (Billy Burke), when her mother marries a minor league baseball player who is constantly on the road. There she meets the dazzling, mysterious Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), a "vegetarian" vampire (meaning he doesn't feed on human blood), and her life goes from predictable and boring to thrilling and frightening. Although Edward struggles with his unquenchable thirst for Bella's blood, because of him, the scent of her blood is more potent than the scent of anyone else's. They soon fall in love. Bella and Edward are tested when three new vampires pass through town who don't share the Cullen's diet. James (Cam Gigandet) begins to stalk Bella the moment he gets a whiff of her. With his mate, Victoria (Rachel Lefevre), James tracks Bella to Phoenix, where the big show down between he and Edward takes place.
What I loved the most about this movie is that it follows the book quite closely, but you don'tneed to have read the series to get the story. Any die-hard Twilighter will enjoy Stephenie Meyer's cameo in the movie. The inevitable changes to the dialogue and events from the book don't change the plot and keep the dialogue from bogging down. One pivotal episode from the book, the meadow scene, is pretty much glossed over. This is disappointing, but the rest of the film more than makes up for this omission with the visual of Edward and his family's reason for not going into the sun. "Twilight" has some great action sequences to keep guys interested, and Robert Pattinson as Edward is more than enough to keep women's attention. After seeing this movie, I am looking forward to seeing the next book in the series ("New Moon") made into a film.