Saturday, February 03, 2007

Cars and Casino Royale - updated top 10 of 2006 list

The Pop Culture Pusher closes the proverbial book on his movie lists when that year ehds. I maintain that the year the film was released in is how it gets classified. So when I see films from previous years, it alters those lists. Keeps it simple in my mind.

Saw two movies over the past two days, which is some kind of record for me now. The first was Casino Royale, and all I can say is "exceeds expectations". One of my favorite Bond films is "For Your Eyes Only", and has been since I first saw it in 1981. I'm not a die-hard Bond film fan though, because I was given a massive tome of collected Bond novels around the same time I saw "For Your Eyes Only" by my Aunt Annemarie, and while I sadly no longer have it, it made a considerable impression upon my ideas of who Bond really is. And that he's rarely portrayed that way.

I had high hopes when Brosnan took over the franchise, but the only decent films made in his tenure as Bond were the first two, "Goldeneye" and "Tomorrow Never Dies" (which should have been called "This Franchise Never Dies"), while the two others, "Denise Richard's Boobs Are Not Enough" and "Halle Berry's No Ursula Andress" made me pine for "Octopussy"--and I really disliked most of the Roger Moore era Bond films.

I've stated many times over the past couple of years that what they needed to do with the franchise was start over. In my mind, make the Bond films period pieces - Bond belongs to the Cold War, not the 21st century. "Casino Royale" did one of the things I'd hoped for, which was effectively start over, sans gadgets and camp. In addition, it proved that Bond can exist post 9-11, and retain his integrity.

I loved this movie. The adjusted list proves that. The first 30 minutes were an adrenaline rush of on-foot chase scenes and great physical stunt work, something which I find abysmally lacking in modern film. While I know wires were involved, that didn't change how cool the physical nature of the stuntwork was, and how apparent it was that these were flesh and blood people doing the stuntwork, not wireframe CGI constructs. Daniel Craig makes a hell of a Bond, and while Judi Dench is still playing M, I have no doubt that this storyline of James Bond takes place in a different possible world than the other films did. I really, really, found myself thinking, Sean who? It follows the original Fleming novel as faithfully as it should - after all, it needs to appeal to modern audiences, but the lengthy poker game was something I remember from the book - it's why I never finished that particular one - too many card hand diagrams for a 12 year old brain. Texas Hold'em wasn't all the rage back then. I'm giving it 10 out of 10 because in my esteem, there wasn't one misstep in the entire production.

"Cars" is another nearly perfect movie, but it's not really my thing. I love the animation - this is one of the most amazing pieces of 3D artwork, and stands as a reminder that Pixar remains the benchmark for the industry. The voice acting was great, the jokes were funny, and I enjoyed watching the movie...I just don't like anthropomorphic machine stories. I did as a kid, I know. I was an ardent fan of Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel. I guess I don't mind if the machine has a mind of its own, but when there are no PEOPLE populating the car/machine's just REALLY weird. And it makes me wonder who installs the fluorescent tubes. I know, it's dumb and nitpicky, but hey - I did enjoy the film. I just didn't LOVE it, like I loved Pixars' "The Incredibles".

Here's the updated list:

MY (updated) TOP FILMS OF 2006

1. V for Vendetta: 10/10
2. Casino Royale: 10/10
3. Miami Vice:
4. The Prestige: 8/10
5. Silent Hill: 8/10
6. Superman Returns: 8/10
7. Underworld: Evolution: 8/10
8. Cars - 8/10
9. Pirates of the Carribean-Dead Man's Chest: 7/10
10. X3-The Last Stand: 6/10


  1. Casino Royale was indeed a surprisingly great Bond ... I just loved how they started over and got rid of the gadgets, and I hope Mr. Craig is now taking some time out to gloat to all the haters who doubted he could pull this off

  2. Yes. He has gloating rights for sure. Love your blog btw Reel. All you film geeks should go check it out!

  3. I went to see this film with a friend of mine who is a diehard Bond fan. He's a Connery Bond, I like to say; I'm more of a Moore fan because his movies came when I was old enough to go :) but after we left the theater, i looked at my friend and said, "I bow down to that Bond." It truly was a thrill ride, and Daniel Craig made a memorable Bond beginning....I can't wait till the next one. And, like you, I love the Freerunners. I thought that was an awesome chase scene. ;) And there was a lot more angst in this film than the others; it was hard to watch Bond lose the first, and most loved, Bond girl, harder even than watching his wife die. It was a quite exacting and well timed portrayal; he wasn't hardened, jaded, or otherwised used to beauty being stolen by evil men, just yet.