I’m going to see Daniel Craig (right) as 007 in "Quantum of Solace" this Wednesday night but plenty of journos have seen it already. Here’s a quick critical mass report:
James Christopher of The Times of London is over the moon about the 22nd movie in the James Bond franchise. He writes: "The director, Marc Forster, has absorbed the lucrative lessons discovered in Martin Campbell’s ‘Casino Royale.’ He has also managed to pace his sequel much better… but it’s the amount of heartache and punishment that Craig’s new Bond absorbs that makes him look so right for our times. Bond is no longer a work in progress. He is now the cruel, finished article."
Less excited is Derek Elley of Variety, who thought the movie had plenty of crackle but not enough core: "The shortest and certainly the most action-dense Bond ever, ‘Quantum of Solace’ plays like an extended footnote to ‘Casino Royale’ rather than a fully realized stand-alone movie."
Mark Monahan of the Daily Telegraph says that the film gets a bit convoluted at times and veers toward tedium at some points, but then rights itself nicely. "So, if ‘Quantum of Solace’ lacks ‘Casino Royale’s’ narrative drive, and is less than the sum of its parts, those parts are often terrific. See it for them, and see it for Craig’s fully-formed Bond: angry, icily unsentimental, and fleetingly borderline psychotic at the close. Craig inhabits the character with a ruthless charisma that never lets up. And he, above all, keeps you watching."
Now on with the rest of today’s handpicked headlines…
Producer Gale Anne Hurd tells Larry Carroll about her childhood affinity for Hulk and how the big green guy represented "wish fulfillment" for her since she was always getting picked on by her older brother. Less wistfully, she tells Carroll that she and star Edward Norton have every intention of making another "Hulk" film. The bad guy? Well, think brainy and emerald. "When I think of all the many, many, many villains in the Hulk universe, we’ve now done the Abomination, so wouldn’t it be great to tackle the Leader?…It’s a completely different type of cerebral villain, which would give the movie a terrific new take on the character." [Splash Page blog, MTV]
Joey, do you like movies about gladiators? Here’s the oddest press release of the day: "The world of gladiators comes to life as the Roman Empire’s most brutal fighters clash in the ultimate arena. Starz’s new series, ‘Spartacus,’ an entirely new twist on the ancient legend, will utilize virtual environments giving it a unique graphic novel look and style, along with a fresh narrative approach. Debuting exclusively on Starz, ‘Spartacus’ will be produced by Starz Media with Executive Producers Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Joshua Donen…It will begin production in early 2009, debuting on Starz and its suite of channels later in the year." [press release from Starz]
Do the math: The "Saw" franchise just cut off a chunk of movie history. Eric D. Snider writes: "With the Friday-Sunday $30-million haul, the ‘Saw’ series is now the highest-grossing horror franchise in history, with a cumulative domestic gross of $316 million. Just think of all the microcassette tapes and countdown timers that kind of money could buy!" [Cinematical]
Alex Tse wrote the screenply for "Watchmen," now he is on board to pen the script for an adaptation of "Ninja Scroll." Michael Fleming has the standard announcement story for the trades: "Warner Bros. has acquired rights to turn the Japanese action thriller anime ‘Ninja Scroll’ into a live-action feature. Alex Tse has been set to write the script. ‘Scroll,’ set in feudal Japan, revolves around [a] ninja for hire [who] is forced to fight an old enemy who will stop at nothing to overthrow the government." [Variety]
And, finally…take a look at Marcello Poletti’s breathtaking archival achievement, a Flickr gallery titled "The Galactically Hot Women of ‘Star Trek: The Original Series‘," 81 photos that will make William Shatner smile…
– Geoff Boucher
"Quantum of Solace" photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures. "The Incredible Hulk" photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. "Spartacus" photo courtesy of Universal Studios Licensing LLP. "Ninja Scroll" artwork courtesy of Wildstorm/DC Comics. "Star Trek" image from the NBC show.