Sunday, November 19, 2006
Movie Reviews: CASINO ROYALE & STRANGER THAN FICTION
James Bond's (Daniel Craig) first "007" mission leads him to Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), banker to the world's terrorists. In order to stop him, and bring down the terrorist network, Bond must beat Le Chiffre in a poker game at the Casino Royale. Bond meets a beautiful British Treasury official, Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), who is assigned to deliver his stake for the game and watch over the government's money. But, as Bond and Vesper survive a series of lethal attacks by Le Chiffre and his henchmen, a mutual attraction develops.
Cast Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Giancarlo Giannini (more)
Director(s) Martin Campbell
Writer(s) Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis
Status In theaters (wide)
Release Date Nov. 17, 2006
MPAA Rating PG-13
I haven't been a fan of the James Bond franchise since I was a kid. I'd lost interest in increasingly goofiness of the plots and villains. Casino Royale reboots everything, gone are all the over the top unrealistic action which has been replaced with gritty realism. Taking cues from the Jason Bourne spy franchise, Daniel Craig's Bond is a deadly beast with a massive ego that's capable of killing someone with his bare hands if he needs to. Adding to the equation is the fact that Bond takes his fair share of licks through the movie; he's not some impervious super hero but a real person who can die. Daniel Craig may have not been the obvious choice to fill Bond's tux but once you see him on screen exuding testosterone and charisma you just can't see anyone else doing a better job. Returning from previous Bond installments is Judi Dench who is a real standout, as always, in a small role as M. As mentioned, the action is much more realistic and fast paced, some might be surprised at how brutal some of the violence is especially for a Bond movie. Casino Royale is a very well crafted movie that rarely disappoints but if there is one draw back it's that the movie stall about 2/3rds of the way through film. It's not a major issue and considering how good this film is it doesn't really detract from the audiences overall enjoyment.
STRANGER THAN FICTION
An IRS agent (Will Ferrell) hears a mysterious voice narrating his entire life, a voice that seems to know his thoughts and feelings, as well as when and how he'll die. It turns out that the voice is that of an author (Emma Thompson) writing a book in which the agent is a character.
Cast Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah, Emma Thompson, Kristin Chenoweth (more)
Director(s) Marc Forster
Writer(s) Zach Helm
Status In theaters (wide)
Release Date Nov. 10, 2006
Running Time 113 minutes
MPAA Rating PG-13 - for some disturbing images, sexuality, brief language and nudity.
Stranger than Fiction is very smart, at times poetic, movies that give Will Ferrell his first opportunity to put away his clown cap and test his real acting chops. Will Ferrell treads where other massively popular comedians have gone before. Like Jim Carrey did in the Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Adam Sandler in Punch Drunk Love, Will Ferrell tones it way down here and allows some more subtle portions of his acting ability shine through. This film is a heady experience and is totally worth the amount of attention it demands. Ferrell blank slate persona really allows the audience to feel for this man who's looking for some real purpose in his life. Ferrell is great but his supporting cast is just excellent, in particular Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson both of which could have supporting Oscar nods for their performances. Hoffman is just awesome as the literary professor helping Ferrell find out if he's in a comedy or a tragedy. Emma Thompson is just a joy to watch as the unhinged author unwittingly writing Ferrell's demise. Maggie Gyllenhaal is also very good as Ferrell's very bohemian love interest. This movie may let down some Ferrell fans expecting his usual antics. That shouldn't detract anyone from seeing this movie as it's an excellent film.