Hey! Watch and/or Read This, Why Don’tcha?
A few movie/DVD/comic/TV recommendations for y’all.
Quantum of Solace:
The second installment into the rebooted 007 series caught flack for being too “Bourne”-ish – too actiony, without the usual Bond charms. Those criticisms aren’t unfounded, particularly in the visuals, as Marc Forster adapts Paul Greengrass’s shaking cameras and quick cuts.
But the action sequences of Quantum overextend the style, cutting the action just a fraction too early, so that it’s difficult to tell just what’s going on, eventually making it hard to care what happens until things settle down.
But overall, the film does hit most of the Bond tropes, adapting them into what may be the most cynical Bond movie ever made. Bond still wears tuxedos, drinks martinis, and seduces women, but here, because we understand his mindset (barely controlled rage over the loss of Vesper in the first film), all those actions take on a bitter tone – he’s drinking because he doesn’t have any coping mechanisms for his grief, and his seduction of a junior agent shows Bond’s charm mostly as one more weapon in his arsenal.
(The agent is called ‘Fields,’ though the credits give her first name, Strawberry; the writers keep the pun-name tradition alive with an oil-monger antagonist named Greene.)
Toss in the impressive bit of technology at MI-6′s disposal (without the need for a crazy weaponeer in the basement to explain how everything works), along with the substitution of Quantum for SPECTER, and it’s clear anyone who didn’t spot the Bond-isms just wasn’t looking very hard.
With all that covered, Quantum of Solace delivers a dirty little story of installed dictators, oil deposits and backroom handshakes, where every bastard (including MI-6) is in bed with every other bastard (including the CIA), and it’s only because Bond is so damn pissed that anything gets done. And even then, it’s hard to tell if anyone has actually won anything.
It’s actually a bit like a Graham Greene story with a lot of incomprehensible action sequences.
Invincible Iron Man Volume 1: The Five Nightmares
One of the main reasons I prefer Marvel comics to DC is the free reign given to the writers to follow through on a tried-and-true method of dynamic storytelling: put your hero up against the worst odds imaginable, and see how he reacts, without any promise of a happy ending down the road.
Matt Fraction sets up our hero, Tony Stark, at the peak of his game – his company’s successful, he’s at the peak of his powers with his most advanced Iron Man armor yet, and he’s even in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D., a world peacekeeping taskforce. But as a “dry drunk,” Tony’s primary flaw – his inability to accept the things he cannot change -rears its ugly head, and as each of his nightmares (which tend to darkly reflect his own capabilities) comes to pass, he starts to lose more than he can possibly regain.
That’s just the first arc. The second half of Fraction’s first year of stories makes “The Five Nightmares” look like a cakewalk.
But even if you had never read an Iron Man comic before, it’s totally accessible for fans of the movie, which is no small feat. This is a book showcasing the movie’s rakish hero, just in a different environment. And that’s the other reason I love Marvel comics – they keep stories moving forward without losing the essence of what makes their characters interesting to new fans.
This is taking some time, so I’m gonna save the TV-talk for next entry. The short version: Ian McShane Is Awesome.