I’m not sure what it says about me that my biggest problem with Quantum Of Solace, the latest in the famously chauvanist (if not outright misogynist) Bond franchise, was the lack of a compelling female character. I know, I know, Bond movies are about super stylized machismo, over the top chase scenes, and liberal use of bikini babes. So what sort of dolt am I to expect a serious female presence in the film? The jury’s still out on that one, but from Dame Judi Dench’s ineffectual nanny to the attempted heroine slash perpetual victim Camille (Olga Kurylenko) to the four minute cameo of Agent Fields as a token sexual conquest slash plot device (although the meta-reference to Goldfinger is sharp); never is a lady given anything meaninful to do but wring her hands as Bond methodically grinds everything in the world (friends, foes, lovers) to a bitter dust. There are plenty of other things to criticize like the incoherent action sequences and the weightless villains, but to me the most unforgiveable sin of this latest 007 outing was the lack of a sufficiently interesting and alluring Bond girl.
The Incredible Hulk suffered from an all-around lack of charisma, a deficit seemingly highlighted by commercials saying that it’s “Just as good as Iron Man!” That’s some great ad-copy there, I mean selling the movie as, “JUST AS GOOD,” is basically equivocating your product with the sort of cut-rate bargains found at outlet malls. Designer looks at half the budget! Quality film-making if you don’t like quality! The casting of this movie just failed in every aspect. While I’ve liked her in other flicks, I’ve seen tissue paper with more presence than Liv Tyler in this movie and for something he wrote a draft of, Ed Norton really doesn’t seem all that sold on his role. Everyone is phoning it in, from William Hurt to Tim Roth (possibly the most impossibly miscast individual in this entire sorry affair). There’s just something so half-hearted about the entire enterprise, it’s almost hard to criticize because it feels too easy. Instead of “JUST AS GOOD” they meant, “SORRY, WE DID OUR BEST.”
And carrying on the movie bummers was, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army which happened to put me to sleep, make me happy that I fell asleep rather than catch the stupid end of a stupid movie, then make me angry that I wasn’t sleeping the whole time. It’s some sort of paradox that Guillermo Del Toro can make movies like The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth using supernatural elemants poignantly and artistically to deal with themes of war, regret, aging, love and revenge– while simultaneously being responsible for the all around horrible Hellboy movies. Del Toro doesn’t seem to understand or care about what makes Hellboy and his stories unique. Everything about his film appearances have turned the impossible to encapsulate story of Hellboy (well seeee he’s the devil or a devil conjured by Rasputin to bring about to end the world but he didn’t and was adopted by the Army….), into a terrible romantic comedy where the wrong people are trying to make their romance work. I’m not against adaptations taking liberties with source material, as long as those changes make the story better– but changing the basic tone of Hellboy’s relationship to every single character in the source story (not to mention cudgeling the idiosyncratic supporting cast into hackneyed stereotypes) has not made the film any better. Hellboy deals with all of Del Toro’s pet themes and subjects, but his lack of regard for the characters undermines the story to a degree that his otherwise inventive visual imagination, can’t hope to compensate for.
While I sat through a lot of stinkers, I did manage to see one really great movie in the past few weeks, the eery and tense Swedish vampire movie, Let The Right One In. Following the relationship between an ostracized boy and his budding attraction to a seemingly young vampire, all the anxiety of adolescent desire is laid bare without ignoring traditional vampire lore. Abandoning the velvet boudoir seduction of other vampire films, Let the Right One In is about affection borne of friendship and shared alienation. Genuininely creepy and squirm-inducing at times, the film avoids the cheap jump-scares remembering that there is often enough horror and fear to be found in simply being an isolated and lonely kid.