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Alice Creed: Two men kidnap a woman and demand a ransom from her wealthy father. This is the very definition of a ‘tight’ film; 3 actors, handful of locations, and a simple story that’s jam-packed with universal drama – it doesn’t get more basic than this. All three actors are great, but I can’t help but feel that the more seasoned Marsan was upstaged by both youngsters. Special points to Arterton, who is still on her way up, but isn’t afraid to appear in a risky film like this. The story – and its development – are both strong, aided by a few tasty reveals; the ending’s also solid, and keeps you guessing. The opening 10 minutes is bizarre with almost no dialogue and a very, very unsettling vibe. Alice Creed is a fantastic ‘little’ gem packed with more drama than most blockbusters – just stay away from any more reviews (almost any plot info would be a spoiler) and capture this for yourself!

Score: 9/10

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Rock ‘n’ Rolla [Blu Ray]: Guy Ritchie introduces another bunch of dodgy geezers that you would find in ‘everyday Britain’… honestly! There’s a huge section of Basil exposition at the start; although goes with the territory of having 20 storylines and around 400 characters. There’s more narration by a LANDAN GEEZA – and the script’s full of more cockney slang / gangster limericks; I wouldn’t blame non-Brits for requiring subtitles. (Ewe go’ mo’ feet on thu street van coppas on thu beat – etc). There’s more Tarantino-esqué styling with wipes, swipes, fast cut editing, dialogue in boxes. There’s more people acting trivially when surrounded by or cut between senseless violence – which is becoming old hat. There’s also more dark comedy elements, which are quite good: a homosexual sub-plot, S&M, botched robbery, comparing scars, indestructible Russians… Where this succeeds is the stunning Brit cast; Hardy, Strong, Elba, ‘Superhands’, Butler, Kebbell, and Newton. The Blu Ray’s worth the extra pennies, with a slick picture and some tasty HD-audio. If you can’t tell from the above, Rock ‘n’ Rolla is more of the same ol’ Guy Ritchie tricks, although it’s all totally passable, and in the end, quite entertaining & watchable. It was planned to be the first of three films and – surprisingly – I’d like to see the other two.

Score: 7/10

Quantum Of Solace: we join Bond about ten minutes after Casino Royale, trying to bring his main lead – Mr White – to M for questioning. After the culprit is busted out of custody by double agents in MI6, 007 has to find out how deep the terrorist group Quantum has compromised their operations. Back to back viewings definitely aids QoS as it’s definitely not a stand-alone film.

... and here's the government worrying about texting and driving!

The movie expands and reinforces what we previously learned about 007. As before, he remains a violent (yet arguably successful) instrument, with no self constraint or controllability, and a tendency to leave a trail of destruction wherever he goes – killing off almost every potential lead. Sadly, because 007’s riding solo for much of the story, and his Russian pal is a lady of few words we don’t get much new information, other than an emphasis on his insatiable desire to avenge Vespa. Revenge hasn’t looked this good since Bittersweet Life – Bond looks very sharp; wearing stylish suits, jackets and the very best of London high-fashion!

Making sure hit kills go out with style!

The action set-pieces in this film are shockingly handed. The cuts are so short, editing so rapid, and camera movement so shaky that trying to establish what’s happening and where the people are in relation to each other – and their surroundings – is impossible. Definitely the most poorly constructed action of all the movies.

Someone's falling? Running? Rooftop? Behind the other guy? In front? WTF?!?!

The single biggest thing that Quantum of Solace has going for it is the story, carrying on from the previous film, it follows Bond’s quest for revenge, coupled with his Carmille’s similar story. These stories are tied in with the great, and scarily realistic, idea of a secret society – similar to SPECTRE but with more humble, profit-driven plans – that permeates every institution from the British secret service to the CIA and some rotten dictatorships in Latin America. Not content with slating the easy political targets, it also casts a cynical eye over the UK and US governments for the first time – with both countries stating that they’ll work with anyone that has oil, or any other desirable resources.

Corrupt businessman and corrupt politician... I miss the megalomaniacs

As with the past few movies this one harks back to some of the older adventures, although I’m not sure if these are smug and subtle self-referencial nods, or just a side-effect of the franchise having to recycle old ideas because after 22 films, there ain’t a whole lot left to work with. QoS has the classic suffocation scene from Goldfinger re-done with oil, two people one parachute and the good ol Citroen – among others.

Strawberry Fields - Bond's wondering if the carpet matches the curtains...

The lack of gadgets is also starting to get pretty uncool. I realise that the re-boot is firmly rooted in reality – and we definitely don’t need another battle suit or invisible car – but it doesn’t have to be this boring. The only remotely technological things are a normal phone and a few Minority Report style computers.

"Folks, how do we compensate for no gadgets? Ah, explosions"

Other reasons this film stands out: sandy credits (that stuff goes everywhere!), gunbarrel sequence appearing at the very end (insane!), and someone in photography having a hard-on for contemporary architecture with the Opera house, Bolivian Hotel and Desert Hotel given lots of attention. Most insulting, is the ridiculous collection of stereotypical fonts used to represent different countries. Serious London font. Stylish Italian font. Quirky Latin American fonts. ЯúSSIдN font! How dumb do they think new-age Bond fans are?!?!


As the follow up to Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace is just not handled near as well, and while it’s not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination, it would be somewhat unfortunate to end a 22-film legacy with this. It it’s well photographed, has a villain, some Bond girls, a henchman and a nasty plot, but they’re all just so boring.

Score: 6/10

Felix looking like a mean-ass mo-fo!!

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: European, cool, short, hunched and limping, no talents. Booo! 3
Henchmen: Elvis – literally a secretary with a gun. Booo! 2
Babe: Sunburnt Russian girl. Ms Fields – a tasty toff. 7
Action: Car chase / Footchase / Boat chase / Aerial dogfight / Hotel fight at end (+ lift fight / bar escape). 5

With Bond 23 being kicked in to production James Bond January has done its job!

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Note: this was the very first ‘film review‘ I posted back in summer ’09!

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time – Our prince must save the girl, his family, the sands of time, a magic dagger, himself and the entire world… because why not! This film has everything you could want in an action adventure; heroes, villains, a hot heroine, fights, chases, exotic locations, shaky cam, plot twists… unfortunately it’s just so lackluster and clichéd. CGI snakes. CGI landscapes. GCI weather. GCI sets. GCI Parkour etc etc. What ever happened to the days where escapist blockbusters were shot in massive physical studios (or locations) with a thousand props and at least a hint of realism? Based the eponymous computer game, 90% of the visuals seemed to be borrowed from the Assassin’s Creed franchise, particularly the chase sequences. Furthermore, the story was pretty much the Lion King with humans, no awesome songs and a Pirates of the Caribbean feel. The only standout was Alfred Molina, who happened to land the best character with all the good lines – and he nailed it. Otherwise, the acting’s generally flat, but I’ll blame the pants script and shallow characters. Gyllenhaal rocks a ridiculous accent that can only be described as ‘Orlando Bloom spoof’ but I guess his physique shows some dedication to the role. At the end of the day this film is, and does, exactly what it says on the ‘Blockbuster’ tin, and for that you can only applaud it. Unfortunately, it’s painfully middle of the road in every other aspect.

Score: 5/10