Logan Lucky (2017)

Logan Lucky
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Rebecca Blunt
Cast: Channing TatumAdam DriverDaniel CraigRiley KeoughKatie HolmesKatherine WaterstonSeth MacFarlaneJim O’HeirBrian GleesonJack QuaidHilary Swank
Seen on: 18.9.2017
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Plot:
Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) just got fired. So instead of a regular income, he needs a different way to get some money. Fortunately he has a plan. Together with his brother Clyde (Adam Driver) and his sister Mellie (Riley Keough) they’re going to rob the NASCAR bets during a race. But first, they need somebody who knows explosives and there’s nobody more knowledgeable than Joe Bang (Daniel Craig). Fortunately, Joe is currently in prison. So they all have their work cut out for them.

Logan Lucky is very entertaining, albeit not particularly deep. It may think that it’s a little funnier than it is, but it is funny enough to make it absolutely enjoyable.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (aka Episode VII)
Director: J.J. Abrams
Writer: Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt
Sequel to: Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Mark HamillOscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Max von Sydow, Peter Mayhew, Gwendoline Christie, Simon Pegg, Greg Grunberg, Warwick Davis, Iko Uwais, Judah Friedlander, Daniel Craig, Alec Guinness, Ewan McGregor, Frank Oz
Seen on: 21.12.2015

Plot:
It was 30 years ago that Darth Vader was defeated and the Empire fell. And it’s about as long that Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has disappeared from the Galaxy. The Resistance is still looking for him. Pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is hot on the trail of a missing map piece for that search when he comes under attack. He hands the map to his droid BB-8 and sends it on its way. Rey (Daisy Ridley) works as a scavenger on that very same planet and she stumbles first on BB-8 and then on a stormtrooper (John Boyega) who deserted. Before they have a chance to think, they are on the run – and run straight into Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). Together they decide to try to find Luke.

I’ll come right out and say it: I’m not a Star Wars fan. I watched Episodes 4 through 6 when I was a kid and thought they were okay, watched Episode 1 when it came out and thought it was so stupid, I never even watched 2 and 3. When 7 came out, I hesitated for a while to watch it, but ultimately I figured why not? I have watched films for less reason than the cast of this one alone. And I have to say, I don’t regret watching it. In many ways it has the IQ of a potato, but it is seriously entertaining and very nice to watch.

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Spectre (2015)

Spectre
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Jez Butterworth
Based on: Ian Fleming‘s James Bond novels
Sequel to: Casino Royal, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall
Cast: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Monica Bellucci, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Rory Kinnear, Judi Dench
Seen on: 10.11.2015

Plot:
The 00 program is still reeling from recent (forced) restructures. Now M (Ralph Fiennes) has to fight to keep it going at all as C (Andrew Scott) tries to establish a more technological data gathering approach to spying. Meanwhile, James Bond (Daniel Craig) is on a mission. A mysterious message from the old M (Judi Dench) reaches him, sending him to a funeral in Italy and with it right in the middle of Spectre – a secret organization that seems to have its hand in every major global event.

I’m not a huge Bond fan – which is probably why I enjoyed the most recent efforts in the franchise (well, apart from Quantom of Solace) as it seemed a step away from the worst of Bond’s inherent sexism. Plus, they were good actions films. Spectre, unfortunately, is a jump back into the 70s and with it, into all the Bond-pitfalls that the Craig-Bond-era has at least partly avoided. I was disappointed.

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Skyfall (2012)

Skyfall
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan
Based on: Ian Fleming‘s James Bond novels
Sequel to: Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace
Cast: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Helen McCrory

Plot:
James Bond’s (Daniel Craig) mission is to protect a computer drive that contains the identities of several agents. But things go very wrong, Bond loses the drive and is shot by fellow agent Eve (Naomie Harris) – at the orders of M (Judi Dench). Believed dead, Bond disappears. But M has to face a lot of criticism for her actions and losing the list. When the MI6 HQ is bombed, Bond returns from his supposed death and he and M both have to face their pasts to clear this matter up.

I had heard only good things about Skyfall before seeing it and that might have made me expect a little too much. It was still a very good film, it just wasn’t as great as I had expected.

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Re-Watch: Quantum of Solace (2008)

Quantum of Solace
Director: Marc Forster
Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis
Based on: Ian Fleming‘s James Bond novels
Sequel to: Casino Royale
Cast: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Gemma Arterton, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Jesper Christensen, David Harbour, Rory Kinnear, [and for about 5 seconds Stana Katic]
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
Set directly after the events in Casino Royale, James Bond (Daniel Craig) is out for revenge and to understand exactly what happened with Vesper. To that end he kidnaps Mr White (Jesper Christensen) and he and M (Judi Dench) interrogate him. But before White can reveal much more than that he is working for a mysterious organisation, things go south. In the end Bond is left only with one lead that brings him to seemingly squeaky-clean environmentalist Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric). But things are far from being clean.

Watching Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace back to back just makes one thing even clearer: Quantum of Solace really and definitely and fully sucks.

[SPOILERS]

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Re-Watch: Casino Royale (2006)

Casino Royale
Director: Martin Campbell
Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis
Based on: Ian Fleming‘s James Bond novels
Cast: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Caterina Murino, Simon Abkarian, Isaach de Bankolé, Jesper Christensen

Plot:
James Bond (Daniel Craig) is a special agent who just recently graduated to 00-status. And in his first mission, he has to take on Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), banker to the upper leagues of terrorism. Le Chiffre is about to play a high-stakes game of poker; and if Bond can beat him and take his money, they will have him cornered. So Bond’s boss M (Judi Dench) sends him and accountant Vesper (Eva Green) to Montenegro to win at poker.

Casino Royale is an extremely satisfying action movie that also holds up to second viewing. Daniel Craig is a cool bond and the whole thing is very entertaining.

[SPOILERS]

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Director: David Fincher
Writer: Steven Zaillian
Based on: Stieg Larsson’s novel
Remake of: Män som hatar kvinnor
Cast: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Stellan Skarsgard, Robin Wright, Christopher Plummer, Geraldine James, Goran Visnjic

Plot:
Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is a journalist in trouble. Not only has he just been convicted of libel, but the magazine he edits is experiencing financial difficulties because of it. But then he gets an offer from Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), rich retired business man. Vanger wants Mikael to research his great-niece Harriet’s disappearance 36 years ago, in the hope that he can discover something new. At the same time Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), young borderline researcher, gets the job to look into Mikael and his libel case.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is in almost all counts the better movie compared with its Swedish predecessor. Too bad they messed up the ending.

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The Adventures of Tintin (2011)

The Adventures of Tintin
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Stephen Moffat, Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish
Based on: Hergé‘s comics
Cast: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Cary Elwes, Toby Jones, Daniel Mays

Plot:
One day Tintin (Jamie Bell), a young reporter, stumbles upon the model of The Unicorn, a ship that was lost at sea (and with it, the treasure it was carrying). Tintin just thinks it’s nice but when several people immediately try to buy it off him (for outrageous prizes), he is intrigued and starts to investigate. But Mr Sakharine (Daniel Craig) one of the prospective buyers, doesn’t give up easily and even resorts to kidnapping. And so Tintin is whisked away on an adventure, together with the eternally grumpy Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis).

Tintin is a gorgeous looking movie* with a good voice cast. Unfortunately, it is also a Tintin movie.

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Cowboys & Aliens (2011)

Cowboys & Aliens is the newest film by Jon Favreau, written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, based on Scott Mitchell Rosenberg‘s comic book, starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell and Paul Dano.

Plot:
Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) wakes up in the desert, without his memories but with a weird bracelet on his arm that he isn’t able to remove. He makes his way to the town of Absolution where he is recognised as a wanted fugitive when he gives Percy (Paul Dano), the son of the local head honcho Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford), his due. Before things can go really bad, Absolution is attacked by space ships and many of the town inhabitants are abducted, among them Percy and the town’s barkeeper Doc’s (Sam Rockwell) wife. That’s when Jake’s bracelet kicks into action and shows some really special features. So, a search party heads out to find the missing people, including Jake, Woodrow, Doc and the mysterious Ella (Olivia Wilde).

Cowboys & Aliens is a well paced action flick with a good sense of humor and a very good cast. I liked it a lot.

[SPOILERS]

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Quantum of Solace (2008)

This weekend brought deadra and me to the movies to watch Quantum of Solace. Actually, we made a double feature of it and watched Casino Royale before that at home. Which might have been a mistake…

Where Casino Royale has everything – the thrill, the charm, the romance and the (half) naked Daniel Craig, Quantum of Solace is sadly lacking.

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I’m not the one to cry after the old Bond movies – I never got them anyway, not really. But I loved Casino Royale – it was exactly the right development of Bond for my taste. Therefore, I had very high expectations regarding QoS. Especially, since Marc Forster was directing it. That is to say, I liked Casino Royale because it worked very well as a movie with a very interesting main character and very solid action and *sigh* beautiful romance. For QoS, unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing. [And this is not about the whole “is it a good Bond movie or not”, it’s about whether this is a good movie or not.] It doesn’t work as a thriller, especially because of the plot holes. Like:

[SPOILERS FOLLOWING]

They didn’t bother to close the whole Vesper story ark – why did she have to kill herself, exactly (other than being fridged, that is)? Why would they have got Bond if she hadn’t? Did she know about the boyfriend being a decoy? And, most importantly, what the fuck happens to Mr. White? Nothing? Is he still in Bregenz, watching the opera? Are they still looking for him?

Unfortunately, these were not the only plot holes. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that there was more hole than plot (I’d say the ratio was about 3:1): Why would somebody build a hotel in the middle of a desert? Especially such a huge and ugly one, filled with hydrogen tanks? Did they plan on Bond blowing it up? Will the Quantum come back again and again to haunt us? What’s with all the people who were said to be a part of it? How could they find Greene in the desert? Did Bond really use Mathis as a human shield, even though he was still alive, or was he just not thinking when he got him out of the car the way he did?

[END SPOILERS]

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Something else I wondered about – did you get subtitles? I mean, the people talked French, Spanish and German additionally to English and we didn’t get a single subtitle. I mean, I was fine with most of it, I understand French and German, I was able to follow the Spanish, but I’m pretty sure that most people in the audience couldn’t. Wouldn’t subtitles have been nice?

Another thing that bothered me, but it’s admittedly not a single Bond-related occurrence: I want to see what’s going on in the action scenes. I don’t want to get nauseous, I don’t want to feel confused [Who just got the axe into his foot?], I want to follow what’s happening. I want to be able to see it. Yes, I’m sick like that.

Other than that I liked Marc Forster’s directing. Like, right in the first scene, the car chase, he’s got this brief moment were he shows the pursuing cars in the reflection of another car – a beautiful shot. I also liked

[SPOILER]

when Camille is trapped in the hotel and fire blazing about and Bond comes to rescue her, and she kind of buries herself in his arms – thanks to the camera work and the close-ups she really looks like a child again. Wonderfully done. [Even if the whole scene was unnecessary and kind of destroys her image as a grown, independent woman…]

[END SPOILER]

It definitely had some chuckles (especially “I can’t seem to find the stationary”), but give me more of that, will you?

quarktaken from here
While it’s not exactly my opinion about the movie, it’s still funny. :)

Speaking of more: there could have been more M, because Judi Dench Rocks [yes, with a capital R]. And there could have been more naked Daniel Craig, because that’s always good. But most of all, there should have been more plot which makes sense.

Summarising, I got mixed feelings about this one. While it’s definitely not as strong as Casino Royale, it’s not as abysmal as many reviews want to make you think. It does have a lot of problems, some of which could be resolved with Bond 23. But it also has it’s strengths. So, I guess I’ll stay with an undecided “more on the positive side, but just because I’m a nice person” grade for this one.