So dark and bleak it (loses) what makes James Bond films so popular in the first place, fun
Quantum of Solace:
Russo Rating: 6/10
So I get it. Batman Begins was a successful remake. The Dark Knight brought out the brooding character arch even more so. So why wouldn’t Sony, MGM and Eon Productions think the same would be applicable for James Bond? While Casino Royale was certainly a darker Bond flick, it still remembered what makes a 007 film great, escapism.
When acclaimed dramatic director Marc Forster was tapped to helm Quantum of Solace, the first ever, direct follow up to a James Bond film, audiences expected him to flesh out the character even further. By following the path of the revamped Batman series, Forster certainly accomplished this, but made the picture so dark and bleak it lost what makes James Bond films so popular in the first place, fun.
That being said, there is quite a bit Quantum of Solace gets right. It is action packed. However, bringing in the geniuses behind the action in the Jason Bourne series completely changed how the action was shot stylistically. No longer graceful, but rough and in your face, Quantum of Solace does wow periodically, but only from the bone crunching, not necessarily the spectacle.
Luckily, the BluRay disc redeems itself. Sporting an excellent visual and audio transfer, this could possibly be the best-looking James Bond film to date. There is also a decent array of special features from substantial making of documentaries to fluffy music videos. MGM might be holding out for a special edition re-release down the road, but ravenous James Bond fans will need to add this to their collection regardless.
Never Say Never Again
Russo Rating: 6/10
Speaking of movies that don’t look or feel like James Bond films, MGM has done a bang up job with the BluRay Collector’s Edition of Never Say Never Again, the odd duck Bond film. After an intensive legal battle over the ownership of the Thunderball storyline, producer Kevin McClory teamed up with Warner Bros. to try and tackle the Eon Productions James Bond series head on.
What is the recipe for stopping an international phenomenon? Bring back the original James Bond and tap the director from the hottest science fiction franchise of all time. Sean Connery returns as agent 007, with Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner at the helm. Throw in a young Kim Basinger and a storyline that has already proven successful and you’ve got a winner right?
Ultimately, the goofy updates to the 1960s film made for a flawed James Bond picture, one that most fans like to pretend never even happened. Unfortunately, Never Say Never Again proved unsuccessful financially too, pulling in quite a few million dollars less then it’s Eon Bond competition, Octopussy. That should squash the Roger Moore vs. Sean Connery debate right? Right!?
The disc includes a decent array of featurettes, and a golden commentary from Irvin Kershner. The 1080p transfer looks quite good to boot. Does anyone else think that it is ironic that MGM, who bought the rights for Never Say Never Again from Warner Bros. in 1997, is releasing this odd duck on BluRay simultaneously with Quantum of Solace, another 007 entry that feels like anything but a James Bond film?