Some stuff I’ve watched lately. Spoilers for Gunpowder Milkshake and MotU: Revelation are marked.
Casino Royale (2006)
Bond film no. 21, and the first for Daniel Craig. The final era in this James Bond run, looking forward to it. Casino Royale is new to me, but I’ve seen two of Craig’s Bond films, so I have an idea of what to expect: a more serious and much less campy James Bond, grim and determined. The tone here is much closer to Dalton’s two films than any of the other runs. Since it’s kind of a reboot, it takes place early in Bond’s career, in fact he earns his double-O status right in the cold open. Craig’s Bond is younger, brasher, more vulnerable, and a bit more prone to mistakes, like letting himself getting caught on camera assassinating a prisoner.
The theme song here is “You Know My Name” by Chris Cornell of SoundGarden fame. It’s a bit more alternative than recent theme songs; I like it.
Judi Dench is back as M, the only actor carried over from previous incarnations. We don’t get any of the usual support staff like Moneypenny or Q. Bond spends most of the first half of the film alone in the field, and the second half supported by treasury agent Vesper Lynd (played by Eva Green). Mads Mikkelsen plays the protagonist, terrorist financier Le Chiffre, who Bond challenges to a high-stakes poker game at the titular Casino Royale. Also making an appearance is an old Bond ally, CIA’s Felix Leiter, who we last saw mauled by a shark in Dalton’s License to Kill. (He has been recast as a black man for the modern age of James Bond.)
The plot is reasonable and action-packed. Daniel Craig probably feels the least “Bond-like” compared to what his predecessors have established for the role, but his Bond is pretty good and is portrayed as relentless and unstoppable, in spite of his mistakes. The on-foot chase scene in Madagascar near the start of the film is great, especially all the crane shots. Le Chiffre seems a bit incompetent for a villain. The final third of the movie (after the poker game) plays out a bit strangely, for a while I was like “What the heck is going on?” There is a betrayal in the end that I didn’t see coming, which erased any doubt in my mind whether I had actually watched this one in the theaters.
Looking forward to the rest of Craig’s run!
Gunpowder Milkshake (2021)
We watched this during our Saturday online gaming session watch-along. I didn’t have high expectations for the film, as I thought it was kind of an ultraviolent grim John-Wick style thing and I didn’t really think Karen Gillan and Lena Headey would be good to lead that kind of movie. It does turn out to be ultraviolent, but not super grim, and in fact maybe even a little goofy. There are some great action sequences and fight scenes here, but as soon as I saw that
Karen Gillan was going to have a fight scene in the doctor’s office with her arms all floppy from anesthesia
Batman: The Long Halloween (2021)
This is a 2-part entry to the DC Universe animated movie line, an adaptation of the famous comic of the same name by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. The story covers an early year of Batman’s career as he works with Captain Jim Gordon and then-district attorney Harvey Dent to face both the Gotham mob and a serial killer that kills once a month, on the holidays. The film mostly covers the same story beats as the comic (which I had to review because it’s been probably more than a decade since I read it!), with a bit of a twist towards the end of the first part that changes the eventual ending in the second part.
I can’t help but compare this storyline to The Dark Knight (2008) as it covers some of the same elements: organized crime in Gotham and the origin of Two-Face among others. In fact I believe the comic book was one of the inspirations for Nolan’s eventual plot for TDK. I would guess that TDK changes were largely due to the need to focus on The Joker, who is more of a minor villain The Long Halloween, and I can’t help but imagine what if Nolan had chosen to stay more faithful to TLH storyline, what kind of movie could we have gotten?
Anyway, this particular animated version is pretty good, mostly faithful to the source material, and I like the animation style here. Jensen Ackles is a serviceable Batman voice, and Troy Baker is a pretty good Joker; for a moment I wondered if it was Mark Hamill in the role. Part one was released back in June, and part two just last week, so I only watched both parts today.
I think the next DCU animated movie project is Injustice, based on the game series of the same name, also looking forward to that!
Masters of the Universe: Revelation (season 1 part 1)
We also watched this during Saturday’s watch-along. This one is a bit controversial, so I thought I’d write about it even though technically the season is only halfway through. The controversy is because the show’s plot mostly focuses around Teela and a quest she undergoes after the events of the first episode:
He-Man and Skeletor are presumed dead in a battle and Teela leaves the service of King Randor out of anger over having Adam’s secret withheld from her for so long.
The voice work is pretty good; we immediately recognized Lena Headey’s voice as Evil-Lyn, and Mark Hamill as Skeletor is unmistakeable. We didn’t recognize Sarah Michelle Gellar as Teela though! The storyline so far is okay, though not super original. It kind of felt like a typical JRPG party-gathering and going on a quest thing, really.
A lot of old fans didn’t like the focus being taken away from He-Man and focusing on a female character, which many imagined as purely a diversity play. I feel like it’s much too early to judge the season overall, since it’s only halfway through, but even then, there’s nothing wrong about focusing on some other characters, as the show is explicitly titled “Masters of the Universe” without the “He-Man and the… " prefix. It’s probably best to see where Kevin Smith takes us for the eventual second part (for which we have no release date yet).