Tag Archives: action movies

Good Bond

Quantum of Solace (Marc Forster, 2008)

The new Bond film, Quantum of Solace, is a strange beast indeed. It aggressively imitates the rival Jason Bourne spy franchise; and yet despite that derivativeness, it somehow manages to impart a sense of renewal and vigour to the Bond series. In that sense it continues the work started by Casino Royale admirably. And while it doesn’t always feel like a Bond film, it does feels like those at the helm are actually concentrating – something that was missing in plenty of more identifiably “Bondian” entries in the franchise.

It starts mid-chase, in the immediate aftermath of Casino Royale, thus reviving the idea of film-to-film plotting that had been used (albeit more loosely) in the sixties Bond films. Bond is still smarting from the death of Vesper Lynd, and he’s following the leads she left him to try to find the organisation that was backing the previous film’s villain, Le Chiffre. Quantum thus gives a sense both of the film that should have followed the death of Bond’s wife in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and also of what the previous “renegade Bond out for revenge” film Licence to Kill should have been. It also very strongly echoes The Bourne Supremacy, right down to the icy Russian epilogue.

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Please Just Stop

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Steven Spielberg, 2008)

Man, this is some bad movie.

And keep in mind; this is from someone who managed to enjoy some of the Star Wars prequels.

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“It’s Not Called the Temple of Roses: It’s Called the Temple of Doom.”

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Steven Spielberg, 1984)

In the lead-up to the release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a longstanding argument was revived. Which is the second best Indiana Jones film: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, or Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? The two films split fans of the series down the middle; they are so different, and the qualities people value in each are so different, that there is no room for agreement. (It’s one of those arguments where both sides are surprised that the other could even pose such a question.) About the only thing that unites everyone is the unstated assumption that, of course, Raiders of the Lost Ark is the untouchable, streets-ahead best of the series. I, too, love that film: I can’t fault so much as a single shot, line-reading, or camera angle. It’s funny and exciting. Harrison Ford is awesome as Indiana Jones, and the supporting cast are all fantastic. A number of sequences – the flying wing fight, in particular – are amongst the most skilfully mounted in Spielberg’s extraordinary oeuvre. But here’s my dirty little secret… as time has gone by, I think I have come to love Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom even more than Raiders.

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Putting the Hustle into Kung Fu

Kung Fu Hustle (Stephen Chow, 2004)

It used to be possible to split martial arts films roughly into two broad categories: those that featured largely unassisted physical feats, such as the films of Jackie Chan; and those reliant on more over-the-top, heavily faked wire-work, such as Once Upon a Time in China or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The last few years, however, have seen the emergence of a variant of the latter: computer assisted martial arts, as seen prominently in the fight with many Agent Smiths in The Matrix Reloaded. Here the computer fakery moves beyond just the digital removal of wires, and starts creating digital stunt men and props. Once a fight is at least partially animated inside a computer, anything is possible. In unassisted martial arts, a kick might knock someone over. With wire-work, it might send them flying across a room. With digital martial arts, however, it can send them over the horizon.

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Sixteen Years and Counting

Ain’t It Cool News are carrying a small item that links over to The Indy Experience, which in turn links to an interview with Kathleen Kennedy at Now Playing Magazine. Kennedy, for those who don’t recall, has been one of Steven Spielberg’s chief lieutenants (usually as producer) since as long ago as E.T., and she provides the latest, most reliable update on Indiana Jones IV, which is now to be set in the late 1940s:

“We’re working on a screenplay,” says Kennedy, long-time producing partner of Steven Spielberg. “I know this sounds like something that we’ve been saying for 15 years, but I’m hoping that we’re going to see something in a couple of months. Jeff Nathanson is working on the script right now… I will say this: If it comes in and we’re all happy with it, it will be more than likely the next thing we do.”

Kennedy acknowledges that previous reports of Nathanson’s script being “approved” by Indy producer George Lucas and director Spielberg were true, but that doesn’t quite mean what it sounds like it does.

“It’s one thing to approve something, it’s another thing to say it’s greenlit and we’re shooting it. So we’re just in that sort of phase of finessing,” she says, before responding to a question about whether or not star Harrison Ford is too old for the part these days. “No, I don’t think so. Certainly we’re not writing the script as though he’s 20 years old. You know, Sean Connery spent a lot of time in the Bond role and whatnot. I think it’s great that we can go make another Indiana Jones movie and Indy can be a little older. I think playing with that is a good thing.”

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Is this it? Is this the sign that in America at least, every single thing that can possibly be released on DVD is already out? I refer to the news that Rambo: The Animated Series is to be released on DVD. I had no idea that such a show ever existed, and it truly boggles the mind. But then, having been about nine or ten when Rambo: First Blood Part II was released, I do recall that the film series had a lot of appeal for small boys. (Who knows what it did to their fragile little minds – although it could do a lot to explain the current political environment). The picture on the front of volume 2, in which Rambo punches out an indeterminate ethnic stereotype, is particularly disturbing. (And have Bruce Lee’s estate signed off on the use of the title “Enter the Dragon?”)

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