Archive for the '2008' Category



19
Dec
08

In Passing… Majel Barrett Roddenberry (1932-2008)

roddenberry

 

 

 

Actress and wife of the late Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry passed away from leukemia. She was 76 years old. Majel Lee Hudac’s career began with a TV show called “Whirlybirds,” and she had parts on other various shows and films until 1966 when she played the role of Nurse Chapel on “Star Trek;” she also voiced the Enterprise Computer. After the series ended, Gene Roddenberry married her in Japan. Since then she has primarily stuck with “Star Trek,” playing voicing the ship’s computer in every incarnation of the series, as well as playing Lwaxana Troi in “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and doing multiple voices for “Star Trek: The Animated Series.”

 

Thoughts and prayers for her family and friends.

 

For more information check out her IMDB page at:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000854/

18
Dec
08

In Passing… Van Johnson (1916-2008)

vanjohnson

 

 

 

American film and television actor Van Johnson passed away on Dec. 12. Born Charles Van Johnson in Rhode Island, he grew up and became interested in entertainment, moving up to New York to try his luck. He gained a few parts on Broadway and was noticed by Warner Bros. in “Pal Joey” in 1940, whereby they offered him a six-month contract. After WB let him go, friend Lucille Ball got him noticed by MGM where his career really took off. After a nearly-fatal accident left him with a metal plate in his head, he was disqualified for war service but did his part by playing in war films such as “A Guy Named Joe,” and “Thirty Seconds over Tokyo.” Additionally he was in comedies, musicals, and dramas such as “The Caine Mutiny.”  His film career tapered-off in the 50s and 60s and he returned to stage in such productions as “The Music Man,” “Guys and Dolls,” and “Bye Bye Birdie.” His last film was in 1992.

 

Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.

 

For more information, check out his IMDB page at:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0004496/

16
Dec
08

Oh, the Dickens: Favorite Christmas Movies

“Christmas, Christmas time is here

Time for joy and time for cheer…”

Hills of snow. The jingling of sleigh bells. Fireplaces with stockings hanging from them. Whether or not you get the Norman Rockwell/ Courier and Ives Christmas so lauded in songs and movies, I do wish you the best and present to you

TEN FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MOVIES

charliebrownchristmas1A Charlie Brown Christmas” – The Peanuts Gang sing Christmas carols while Charlie Brown, distraught with all the commercialism, tries to find the true meaning of Christmas. One of the best Charlie Brown TV specials and it endures to this day. Also, I think I grew up having the exact same tree Charlie Brown had for Christmas.

rudolphdvdRudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” – Narrated by Sam the Snowman (Burl Ives), this is the story of how a misfit reindeer and his friends Hermey and Yukon Cornelius brave the snow and the Abominable Snowman in order to make it to the North Pole, where it’s fogged-in until Santa finds a use for Rudolph.

miracle_on_34th_streetMiracle on 34th Street” – No offense to Richard Attenborrough, but I prefer the original 1947 version. When a man takes over being a store Santa he’s a hit but when the store manager (Maureen O’Hara) finds that he BELIEVES he’s Kris Kringle, she has him committed. It’s up to a young lawyer (John Payne) to prove he’s the real thing.

its_a_wonderful_lifeIt’s a Wonderful Life” – George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) is a bank manager a heartbeat away from losing the bank his father helped found. Contemplating suicide, Bailey is visited by an angel named Clarence (Henry Travers) who shows him what the world would be like if he didn’t exist. “Look Daddy! Teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings!”

thegrinchHow the Grinch Stole Christmas” – Directed by Chuck Jones (the “Bugs Bunny” guy) and Bob Ogle, this is another TV staple that has stood the test of time. Based on the Dr. Seuss book, a grumpy recluse plans to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville. “You’re a mean one, Mister Grinch. You really are a heel…”

christmas-carolA Christmas Carol” – There are a few film adaptations of the Charles Dickens book as well as numerous TV versions. Choose whatever version you can find but I suggest the 1984 TV version with George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge. For those who don’t know, this is the story of an elderly miser who is visited by ghosts from the past, present, and future who warn him what will happen if he doesn’t change his ways. “God bless us, each and every one.”

muppet_christmas_carolThe Muppet Christmas Carol” – Mickey Mouse, the Flintstones, and Barbie have all done their version of the story, so why not the Muppets? The first Muppet movie following the passing of creator Jim Henson, Kermit the Frog (voiced by Steve Whitmire) plays Bob Cratchit and Michael Caine plays Ebenezer Scrooge. Trivia fact: Caine claims that this was one of his most memorable roles.

scroogedScrooged” – Bill Murray takes on the “Ebenezer Scrooge” role this time playing Frank Cross, a TV exec who doesn’t care about Christmas until he has to produce a TV version AND met by the ghosts of Christmas past (David Johansen) and Christmas Present (Carol Kane). Great movie. Lee Majors is hilarious in the trailer “The Day the Reindeer Died.”

christmas_vacation2National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” – The third of the Griswold vacation movies finds the family planning for Christmas, which leads to disastrous, yet funny, results. Inviting both sets of parents to the home Clark (Chevy Chase) becomes consumed with creating the perfect Christmas. Joining in the mayhem is his cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) and his family. Favorite scene: Clark “slicking up” the sled with some potent stuff before going bobsledding. Classic.

frostyfinal1Frosty the Snowman” – Jimmy Durante narrates this tale of a snowman who comes to life. Frosty (voiced by Jackie Vernon) is brought to life but must make his way to the North Pole before he melts. Following close behind is a magician who wants his hat back. This was the last movie for Jimmy Durante.


Honorable mentions:

christmas_storyA Christmas Story” – “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!” All Ralphie wants for Christmas is an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle. Great movie, but after the 100th time it gets a little old. If you have NEVER seen, it, rent it immediately. Or, wait for TBS to show it for 24 hours straight.

nightmare_before_christmas“The Nightmare Before Christmas” – Tim Burton animated movie about Jack Skellington, the king of Halloweentown, who decides to kidnap Santa Claus and bring his version of “Christmas” to everyone, with comical/horrifying results.

prancer“Prancer” – A little girl named Jessica (Rebecca Harrell) finds a reindeer with a broken leg and believes that it’s one missing from Santa’s sleigh. Her father, an impoverished apple farmer, has other plans. For the record, my mom likes this one.

die_hard“Die Hard” – John McClane (Bruce Willis) is in Los Angeles to visit his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia). Problem is she’s at an office Christmas party taken over by terrorists led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). McClane must battle them, and the police who believe he’s a lone vigilante, in order to save his wife and the others in the complex. It takes place during Christmas so it’s a Christmas movie, right?

Enjoy the Holidays, and see you at the movies.

-Chas

This was first published in Wiregrass Parenting magazine. Check it out at: www.wiregrassparenting.com

12
Dec
08

In Passing… Forest J. Ackerman (1916-2008)

ackerman

 

 

 

Sci-fi enthusiast, editor, agent, magazine publisher and movie memorabilia collector Forest J. Ackerman passed away on December 4, 2008 at the age of 92. Ackerman was known for having the largest collection of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror movie memorabilia; housing 300,000 items (50,000 of them books) in his 18-room house he dubbed “The Ackermansion.” In 2002, due to financial straits from court cases, he moved into a smaller home, but each Saturday would still open his home to visitors wanting to see his collection.

 

Ackerman was born in Los Angeles and by the age of 8 fell in love with science fiction which at that time was in the form of a magazine called “Amazing Stories.” As he grew up he started science fiction fan clubs, worked as a movie projectionist, and even enlisted in the Service. Upon his return he invested further interest in science fiction, notably by mentoring Ray Bradbury and introducing him to Robert A. Heinlein, Frederic Brown, and Jack Williamson. He also gave Bradbury money to start a magazine called “Futuria Fantasia.” In 1958 he started his own magazine, “Famous Monsters of Filmland,” introducing the history of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror to readers. The magazine ran until 1983.

 

Above all things, Ackerman was one of the biggest fans of science fiction and an inspiration for those in the genre including George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton, Stephen King, Danny Elfman, and John Landis, among others. He was also the literary agent for Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and numerous others. Lastly, he has appeared in several movies such as “Queen of Blood,” “Dracula vs. Frankenstein,” “Amazon Women on the Moon,” “Vampirella,” “Transylvania Twist,” “The Howling” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video.

 

Thoughts and prayers to his friends.

 

For more information, click on the link below:

http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=67699686

12
Dec
08

In Passing… Bettie Page (1923-2008)

bettie_page

 

 

1950s pin-up queen Bettier Page passed away from pneumonia yesterday at the age of 85. Page began modeling in the Fifties, eventually becoming a centerfold in Playboy magazine in 1955. From there her image was on playing cards, record albums and posters. She embodied the hidden sexuality of the culture of that time. In 1957, faced with federal agents and religious activists shoving her pictures at her she retreated from modeling and eventually found religion. Staying under the radar she resurfaced in the Nineties, thanks to the film, “The Rocketeer.” She began signing autographs but insisted her photo not be taken. Interest would rise again with Gretchen Moll playing Bettie in the indie flick, “The Notorious Bettie Page.”

 

Thoughts and prayers to her friends.

 

For more information on Bettie Page, check out the link below:

http://www.bettiepage.com/obit/index.html

08
Dec
08

The Dark Knight on DVD and Blu-ray

Tomorrow (Dec.9) will be the release date for “The Dark Knight” on DVD. Whether you’re camping outside the Circuit City, cruising around the Target lot, waiting in line at the Best Buy, or pre-ordered at the fye, a TON of people are going to pick it up tomorrow. But if you’re a savvy DVD/ Blu-ray collector, what versions are available in stores? To save you some time and gas, here are the releases:

standard-single3This is the cover of the Standard and Widescreen Single Disc set. This will be offered at the major retailers such as Target, Kmart, and Best Buy. This version is basically the movie only.

 

 

 

 

standard-2discThis is the cover to the Widescreen 2-disc version. Note the Batpod and Joker covers. This will be offered at major retailers such as Target, Kmart, and Best Buy. Aside from the movie, Disc 2 will also include: Gotham Uncovered: Creation of a Scene- How Christopher Nolan and His team developed the new Bat-Suit and the amazing Bat-pod, AND Composer Hans Zimmer on musically characterizing the Joker’s Reign of Chaos The Dark Knight IMAX scenes – view these 6 action-packed sequences – shot on the largest format possible – in their original IMAX framing, just as they were intended: Prologue, Hong Kong, Armored Car Chase, Lamborghini Crash, Prewitt Building and Final Montage

Gotham Tonight – 6 Episodes of Gotham Cable’s Premier News Program

The Galleries – Poster Art, Production Stills, Trailers

 

circuitcity-2discCircuit City is offering this Limited Edition variant cover. “Why so serious?” Same features as the Widescreen 2-disc, but with a digital copy.

 

 

 

 

 

bluray-2discBlu-ray is offering a 2-Disc set. Disc 1 contains the movie and Gotham Uncovered: Creation of a Scene – director Christopher Nolan and creative collaborators unmask the incredible detail and planning behind the film, including stunt staging, filming in IMAX, the new Bat-Suit and Bat-Pod and exclusive features via BD-Live

Disc 2 contains Batman Tech – the incredible gadgets and tools

Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of the Dark Knight – delve into the psyche of Bruce Wayne and the world of Batman througn real-world psychology

Gotham Tonight – 6 episodes of Gotham’s cable premier news program

The galleries – the joker cards, concept art, poster art, production stills, trailers & tv spots

 

bluray-lmtdBlu-ray also has a Limited Edition with a small scale model of the Batpod.

 

 

 

 

 

 

fye-2discFinally, fye is releasing “The Dark Knight” Steelcase Edition. This will contain the same features as the Widescreen 2-disc version. Note: this will be released on Dec. 15.

 

 

 

 

walmert_batman1

 

 

 

Walmart is offering the standard Widescreen 2-disc. This however comes with a Collectible Batman comic book and Commemorative Coin (think Two-Face).

 

 

 

 

Thanks to MovieWeb for the information.

Check them out at www.movieweb.com

 

05
Dec
08

Movies on DVD Review: The Bank Job

bank_job

 

 

Bank heist movie, Seventies style.

 

Starring Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, Stephen Campbell Moore, Daniel Mays, James Faulkner, and Richard Lintern. Directed by Roger Donaldson

 

Terry Leather (Statham) owns a small car dealership/ garage in London. Constantly harassed by thugs he owes money to, opportunity knocks in the form of Martine Love (Burrows). Love lets him in on a foolproof score: the Lloyds Bank on Baker Street. Terry rounds up his friends Dave (Mays) and Martine’s former lover Kevin (Moore) to help him plan it out, along with “proper” Englishman Guy Singer (Faulkner) and on lookout with a walkie-talkie, Eddie (Michael Jobson). What Terry doesn’t know is that the bank job is a setup being orchestrated by Tim Everett (Lintern), a member of MI5 (which is akin to CIA covert operatives) which doesn’t want to be connected to the crime. MI5 want to get a series of photographs being held in a safe deposit box at the Lloyds Bank by Michael X, the British version of Malcolm X. When a ham radio operator listens in on the walkie-talkie conversations and alerts police, events take a turn. When Terry realizes the objective of the caper (the photos of a Princess in a ménage a trios) wasn’t just money or jewels, everyone is at risk. The heat is turned up when a porn producer’s “real” ledger is being held by the group, unbeknownst to them. Terry must try to keep the group together and keep from being killed by the porn producer’s thugs, the cops, MI5, and the guys he owes money to.

 

Honestly, I didn’t think I would like this movie as much as I did. For the more “Americanized” movie watcher, it’ll take a bit to get into London circa 1971. My only experience with British gangster movies is “Snatch,” “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels,” and “Get Carter” and this is an interesting addition to the genre. Playing more as a drama than action/adventure, the film is a little slow on the setup of the principal characters. However, once the job is pulled off everything shifts into high gear and you’ll want to stay to the end to find out how it all works out.

 

With it being “based on a true story,” is it all true? The movie does a great job at suspending disbelief. In reality, the bank job was a success. A group of people did rent out a shop and tunneled under it to break into the lockbox area of a bank .A ham radio operator did intercept and record the calls, notifying the police. While four people were supposedly sentenced to twelve years none of the money was ever recovered, the “take” being valued at over $5 million. The rest is speculation. Were the newspapers given a D-note, telling them not to talk about the robbery for the purposes of National Security? Was MI5 really afraid of Michael X and the pictures he had? Couldn’t they have just went into the bank and retrieved them? One of the biggest mysteries is that Michael X’s “file” is closed until 2054; most criminals’ records stay closed for 25 years, spies for 100. Guess we won’t know until then.

 

Overall, a good British caper movie.

 

My grade: a recommended B

28
Nov
08

December Movie Releases

untitled

 

 

“Cadillac Records” – Biopic on the record company that gave starts to Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Etta James, and others. Stars Adrien Brody, Mos Def, Cedric the Entertainer, and Beyonce Knowles. Opens December 5, 2008

 

“Frost/Nixon” – Based on the real life events of British talk show host David Frost interviewing ex-president Richard Nixon after his impeachment. Stars Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, and Oliver Platt. Opens December 5, 2008

 

“Punisher: War Zone” – Ray Stevenson plays the Marvel character who, this time, is taking on a New York underworld boss it wants to control it all. Opens December 5, 2008

 

“Che” – Part One of Steven Soderbergh’s two-part saga on revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevera. Stars Benicio del Toro. Opens December 12, 2008

 

“The Day the Earth Stood Still” – Keanu “Whoah” Reeves stars in this remake about an alien who comes to Earth to deliver a message: live in peace or be destroyed. No word on if he’s bringing the cure for cancer or not… Opens December 12, 2008

 

“Delgo” – CG animated epic about a teenage creature struggling to unite two warring nations. Contains the voices of Val Kilmer, Eric Idle, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Opens December 12, 2008

 

“Milk” – Directed by Gus van Sant, this is the biopic on San Fran’s first homosexual mayor, Harvey Milk (played by Sean Penn). Also stars Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, and James Franco. Opens December 12, 2008

 

“Nothing Like the Holidays” – The Rodriguez family is converging on Chicago for Christmas. Stars John Leguizamo and Alfred Molina. Opens December 12, 2008

 

“While She Was Out” – Kim Basinger is an abused housewife who gets out of the house and goes to the mall, only to run into murderous thugs. Eventually, she finds herself in the woods with only her wits and a toolbox. Opens December 12, 2008

 

“Gran Torino” – Clint Eastwood plays a man in his seventies (who knew?) who saves the life of his Asian neighbor’s son, much against his prejudice. He ends up in a war against the gang that assaulted the son. Opens December 17, 2008

 

“The Wrestler” – Mickey Rourke stars as Randy “The Ram” Robinson, a burnt-out 80’s wrestler who has one last shot of glory: taking on his arch-nemesis “The Ayatollah.” Thing is, this could cost him his life. Also stars Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood. Opens December 17, 2008

 

“The Brothers Bloom” – Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo are brothers pulling a con job on a wealthy woman (Rachel Weisz). Also stars Robbie Coltrane. Opens December 19, 2008

 

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” – Brad Pitt is the title character: a man who was born looking ancient and regresses in outward age as he progresses with his inward age. Complications arise when he falls in love with Cate Blanchett. Opens December 19, 2008

 

“Seven Pounds” – Will Smith stars as a guy about to commit suicide who falls in love with a woman. Also, he tries changing the lives of seven people for the good. Opens December 19, 2008

 

“The Tale of Despereaux” – CG animated tale of a mouse whose ears (and ambitions) are far too big for his Mouseworld. He becomes an outcast and his journey leads him to a Princess named Pea, whom he must rescue. Opens December 19, 2008

 

“Yes Man” – Jim Carrey finds that “yes” is the new “no” and that saying it can be liberating. Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks… Opens December 19, 2008

 

“Bedtime Stories” – Adam Sandler watches his sister’s (Courtney Cox) kids. When he reads them bedtime stories, elements of the stories bleed into reality with hilarious results. Opens December 25, 2008

 

“Marley and Me” – Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston adopt a Labrador puppy. Comedy hijinks supposedly ensue. Opens December 25, 2008

 

“The Spirit” – Frank Miller takes the director’s chair and brings “The Spirit” to the screen. Gabriel Macht plays the titular character: a cop who fakes his own death to fight crime. Also stars Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Eva Mendes, and Jaime King. Opens December 25, 2008

 

“Revolutionary Road” – Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet team up again, this time going forward a few years to the 1950’s, playing a couple dealing with personal problems while living in their Connecticut suburb. Opens December 26, 2008

 

“Valkyrie” – Tom Cruise heads up a cast of people trying to depose Hitler in Word War II. Based on a true story, and they’re stickin’ to it. Opens December 26, 2008

 

“Defiance” – Daniel Craig is one of four brothers saving Jews by taking them into the forest and setting up their own village with the help of Russian resistance fighters. Based on a true story. Opens December 31, 2008

24
Nov
08

Movie News and Views Nov. 24, 2008 Poster Edition

whiteout

–          Warner Bros. Studios is pushing for a posthumous Oscar for Heath Ledger.

         Clint Eastwood has now retired from acting at the age of 78. His upcoming movie, “Gran Turino,” will be the last time he will be seen acting. However, he has no plans on quitting directing.

         And Clint Eastwood isn’t the actor “throwing in the towel.” Joaquin Phoenix has quit acting in order to pursue music. Possibly joining him are Nicole Kidman and Angelina Jolie.

         A sequel to this past weekend’s vampire chick-flick cash-cow “Twilight” is currently under development.

         “Ace Ventura 3” has gone straight-to-DVD.

         Fox Searchlight has picked up the rights for an “Arrested Development” movie.

         “Get Smart 2” will start shooting next year.

         Universal Pictures has bought the rights to all future “Bourne” novels. I wonder how “The Bourne Ad Nauseum” will do.

         “Kung Fu Panda” director is helmed to direct a “He-Man” movie. By the power of Grayskull!

         “Tremors 5.” How many of you have been waiting for that?

         “The Nutty Professor 3” currently in development. No word on Eddie Murphy being involved.

         An addition to the “Meet the Parents/Fockers” franchise, called “Little Fockers,” is currently in development.

         Watch out for a “RoboTech” movie.

         The third “Narnia” film has NOT been greenlit. What’s up?

         Michael Moore’s next movie will be about the economy.

         Brett Ratner will be working on a “Conan the Barbarian” movie, but not before “Beverly Hills Cop 4.”

         Ridley Scott is rumored to produce/ direct the new “Monopoly” movie. I wonder if he passes “Go,” will he collect $200 million?

         “Deep Throat” porn director Gerard Damiano died on October 25th at the age of 80.

         Speaking of porn, GOP VP nominee Sarah Palin was offered $2 million to appear in a porn movie. She is also the “subject” of the film, “Nailin’ Palin.”

         Simon Pegg and Nick Frost will be re-teaming for the comedy, “Paul,” about two British slackers who go to Comic Con and take a trip out to Area 51 where they meet the title alien and have to help him get home.

         Broken Lizards and the Counting Crows are teaming up on a movie called “Freeloaders.”

         Chevy Chase will be in a movie about spoofing spoof movies called, “Not Another Not Another Movie.”

         Animated TV show “King of the Hill” is looking to be courted by ABC.

 

 

adventurelandbenjaminbutton1burningupcoralinedefiance

 

fanboys1hotelfordogskillshotpersonaleffectssevenpounds

iceage32thewrestlerunderworld3yesman

17
Nov
08

Movie Review: Quantum of Solace

quantum_of_solace

 

 

Quantum of Disappointment.

 

Starring Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric and Gemma Arterton. Directed by Marc Forster.

 

I sat during the credits, waiting for others to leave before I did. A guy and his wife sat a few seats to my right. I turned to him and asked, “Is it me, or was this largely plotless?”

He turned to me and replied, “I think you’re right.”

“I mean, what the hell was this about?”

He shrugs and his wife looks at me as if I may have an answer to my own question.

 

“Quantum of Solace” picks up where “Casino Royale” leaves off. Jason Bourne James Bond (Craig) is tearing down a road, being chased by guys firing at him with machine guns. We later find that he has kidnapped a guy we recognize from “Casino Royale” who had something to do with Vesper’s death. What we don’t know is that he’s part of an organization more powerful than the CIA, FBI, MI6, and any other Intelligence Agency known, so much so that before Bond can interrogate him, double-agents within MI6 stop him and run at breakneck speed through the crowd, blindly firing at Bond and taking out a few spectators. This leads to one of the best fight/chase scenes in the movie.

 

With MI6 now being compromised (“He passed background checks 4 times. He was my personal bodyguard.” -M) Bond takes it upon himself to find out who these people are and if possible, get revenge on the death of Vesper. Tracking down a lead he meets and greets (read: kills) he impersonates a guy who is supposedly a geologist supposedly sent to kill Camille (Kurylenko). This altercation leads him to Dominic Greene (Almaric), an extreme environmentalist running a program called Greene Planet. Greene is buying up “useless” tracts of land in order to own all the freshwater in the world. Maybe it’s me but if I were heading-up an organization so secretive that the U.S. and Brits have no earthly clue about it, giving funding to an environmentalist who wants to control the freshwater of the world would not be in my budget. But hey, maybe they have other, better nefarious villains. One would hope.

 

Bond then finds information about other lower-level villains. They’re all working together! M strips Bond of his funds and passports, which forces him to gain help from Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini). Together they fly to Bolivia where Bond is met at the airport by Agent Strawberry Fields (Arterton). Dressed in an overcoat and boots, it’s easy to see how she’s following the cover story of her and Bond being “teachers on vacation.” Yea, right. They all attend Greene’s party where Camille shows back up. Apparently, she’s still on her mission of revenge to kill the General Medrano (Joaquín Cosio), a Bolivian dictator who killed her raped her mother and killed her family, making her watch and then setting their house on fire. More people are killed, Bond is blamed and Camille joins him as they go out to Greene’s lair. There the film’s climax takes place (which at that point is anticlimactic).

 

Camille has her revenge, but Bond has to finalize his. Finding the apartment of Vesper’s ex, he excuses the Canadian Intelligence woman who is with the boyfriend (Canadian Intelligence? Where have you guys been? What do you do?) and proceeds to deliver vengeance. M and others show and Bond is now back on duty, leaving the past behind him.

 

The action scenes were great in a lessened “Bourne Ultimatum” sort of way. I like having medium and wide-angle shots for my action scenes over constant shaky-cam, sped-up camera shots. But maybe that’s just me. While “Casino Royale” had segments that I thought I would need a defibrillator because they were that engrossing, this movie whisks you from shot to shot to shot until the scene is over and you feel like trying to find a “rewind button” to watch it again. I don’t mind being in the middle of everything going on but there is a point where if I feel more confused than the main character seems, something is amiss. And this “Bourne Ultimatum” action-shooting only happens during the action scenes; never before or after.

 

What hurt this movie moreso than that was the lack of story material. This was the first Bond movie NOT to be based on a novel and it shows. It’s not just that fact that revenge movies are hard to do; the story was weaker than the parts making it up. Sure, some of the action was good but by the middle you stopped caring. It’s like the screenwriters began with a few really cool concepts (unknown spy agency, revenge on Vesper) then let it unravel to a mess in which they were searching for ways to tie the ending up.

 

It didn’t feel like a “Bond” movie. Yes, we loved “Austin Powers” for skewering the “Bond” franchise, and we loved “Jason Bourne” because he was the gritty, American “non-Bond” spy. But if Bond can’t be Bond, then what is he? I’ll give “Casino Royale” it’s points for re-igniting the franchise and starting to build Bond from the ground up, but no “shaken, not stirred” quips. No Q/R gadgets. And a Bond villain that makes Elliott Carver (Pryce) from “Tomorrow Never Dies” hand down his “Worst Bond Villain Ever” crown. And when the Bond girls seem to be thrown in to serve the story (yeah, I know, but still) England, we have a problem. Maybe I’m being harsh because I had hoped that these signature Bond elements would’ve at least shown some incorporation, instead of the producers feeling like they should capitalize on what made “Bourne” a great series. Again this is James Bond, not Jason Bourne.

 

And I know it’s petty, but I wasn’t overly impressed with the “Another Way to Die,” the theme song to the movie. I like Jack White (the White Stripes) and Alicia Keys I appreciate, and they do work well together, but I wasn’t overly taken. I know that getting creative on a Bond theme song is getting more difficult to do (referencing death? Check. Referencing women? Check? He’s a spy and he may die at any given moment? Check) but still, this theme is only marginally better than Madonna’s “Die Another Day,” which wasn’t even as good as “Beautiful Stranger,” the song she did for “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.” Maybe Chris Cornell’s “You Know My Name” (the “Casino Royale” theme) is a hard act to follow.

 

One other small note: a theme in the movie was keeping tab on how many people were killed because of Bond. Was this necessary? M constantly nags about every single kill Bond makes. I don’t remember this happening in any other Bond film and it’s not so much a welcome addition. He’s a spy, there are bad guys who are shot and killed… was I the only one to get irritated by this? If you know that most of the ones getting killed were bad guys in the first place, why care? Maybe it’s me and movie logic, but injecting too much reality into a Bond movie turns it sour.

 

Here’s to my hopes that since vengeance has been dealt, Mr. Bond will find his way again.

 

My grade: C+/B-