Quantum of Solace (2008)
James Bond is the ultimate film icon. He has been a staple of cinema for over fifty years. The action hero, super spy, poker champion and ladies’ man has appeared in twenty-three films (plus two unofficial films) and has been played by six different actors (plus one unofficially). With so many films, it’s only fair to expect that a few would fall flat — especially during the seventies.
But there wouldn’t be that many films in the franchise if they weren’t generally pretty awesome. Casino Royale in 2006 was one of the awesome ones. Daniel Craig took over as the new Bond, in the film based on 007’s very first mission. It was dark and moody, and super-infused with all the epic moment that you would expect from the world’s best spy. The film ended up on a big cliff-hanger and audiences were left sitting on the edge of their seat, eagerly anticipating what was going to happen next.
A lot of the hype was due to Craig’s portrayal of Bond — a quite inexperienced and angry young man. It was a fresh take on the hero, and it was fantastic. Of course, he wasn’t the only thing that was great about this film. The plot was simple to follow and filled with epic set pieces. And this is where it’s 2008 sequel, Quantum of Solace, failed miserably.
Can anyone actually remember what the bad guys wanted? Something to do with water…? Somehow using that to topple governments…? The entire plot was a muddled, confusing mess. And what does the title Quantum of Solace even have to do with what happened?
This film was a far cry from what fans had been expecting and it was disappointing for a lot of people.
The king of monsters, Godzilla’s presence has been dominating cinema screens worldwide for fifty years. He is a Japanese icon, having save Tokyo from all kinds of giant monster attacks. Anything from enormous moths with the power of lightning to a super badass robotic version of himself, Godzilla can fight almost anything. He is a cultural icon. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn’t heard of him. Even soap ads parody his awesomeness. But, he was a Japanese invention, and everyone knows that is a cinema icon wasn’t made in Hollywood, Hollywood is going to remake it.
But hey, it’s not so bad. Technology certainly has come a long way from when Godzilla was a man in a suit stomping around a cardboard cut-out version of Tokyo. Jurassic Park has shown everyone how real and scary dinosaurs could be, and Godzilla is kind of like a dinosaur. Roland Emmerich had just made the super awesome Independence Day (2006) — which was all about creatures destroying cities and national monuments — so why not get him to direct it? It was the perfect time for a Godzilla film, too. How could it go wrong?
Oh, in some many different ways…
Godzilla has always been fun. Movies about gigantic monsters smashing buildings left, right and centre should always be fun. But they didn’t seem to get this memo on set. They took the entire premise way too seriously. The film had no heart. The characters were all nothing but stereotypes making stupid decisions — Why would you not evacuate the city? The plot was nothing more than a poorly put-together string of special effects. The setting wasn’t even Tokyo! (Minor complaint, I know) There were none of the awesome air-punching moments of the original films, where Godzilla destroyed the other monsters. Instead there was a film filled with inconsistencies and plot holes.
The monster didn’t even look like Godzilla.
In 1979, the film Alien came out and terrified audiences all over the world. Directed by the very talented Ridley Scott and starring Sigourney Weaver — in the role that would make her famous — it was the story of a small crew being slowly stalked and slain by a horrifying monster in their labyrinthine spaceship.
The titular alien (designed by the incredibly talented H.R. Giger) was a masterful creation, inspiring terror with even just a glimpse of its salivating mouth or long, sharp claws. It really was the ultimate predator.
Could it get any better? Yes, it could.
Seven years after the original film, James Cameron stepped in and created the perfect sequel. How do you create the perfect sequel? By making everything bigger and crazier. Aliens was born (but seriously, how awesome is that name?). The simple idea of turning the haunted house feel of the first film into a building under-seige feel for the second was, simply put, genius. Another couple of films were already made, but they really lost the true terror of the first two. But in 2012 there came a film that everyone had been secretly hoping for: Prometheus.
It was a prequel, set in the same universe, and directed by Ridley Scott himself. All systems were go! They had put together a fairly up-and-coming new cast, with Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce thrown in for good measure. Alien was set to return in a big way. But something went horribly wrong.
Out of place themes of God and life, frustrating characters (What the hell was wrong with that biologist?); a confusing and badly paced plot; and Guy Pearce in old man prosthetic for no apparent reason, are just a few of the complaints thrown at the film. But not an Alien film. The only thing that made this connected to the Alien franchise was a small cameo of everyone’s favourite nightmare tacked on the end. The people were promised a look into the origins of one of cinemas most terrifying creations, but instead we got a weird bunch of “engineers” nonsense and a film where the characters didn’t run to the side when they about to be crushed by a giant rolling spaceship. Ridiculous…
Lightsabers., Darth Vader, The Force, The Millenium Falcon, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, R2-D2 you would be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t know what at least one of these things were. This is a testament to how big the Star Wars franchise is. With just three films, George Lucas was able to create a universe so big and exciting that it would rule popular culture for decades. In addition to the original three movies there have been countless books, games and comics based on the adventures of the Jedi in a galaxy far, far away. There are even people who consider Jedi as an official religion. There are also people who follow the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but now isn’t the time to talk about them). No other film series has come close to having the kind of influence Star Wars has had. The original trilogy was a pretty simple idea of a farm boy and a team of rogues joining the rebellion and defeating the evil Empire, fulfilling their destiny. But the characters are what really stand out. The young, adventurous Luke Skywalker, the dashing Han Solo and the beautiful determined Princess Leia have been inspiration for everything from Captain Mal Reynolds of Serenity to Xena the warrior princess. These are the reasons why fans went crazy at the mention of a brand new trilogy. A prequel no less, detailing the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker and how he would go from being one Jedi with the potential to save the entire universe to the evil and terrifying Darth Vader. The story of the new trilogy would cover huge things only hinted at in the previous films, such as the Clone Wars and the Jedi Order. Plus it would bring all new characters to get excited about. Instead, we got Jar Jar Binks.
The Phantom Menace was a mess. No central protagonist, confusing plot lines and just flat-out horrific acting, single-handedly ruined almost ruined the franchise. Sure there were a couple of cool things: Liam Neeson as a badass Jedi master, and double bladed lightsabers. But all the bells and whistles couldn’t distract from just how bad it was.
Star Wars was always known for its exciting action. The attack on the first Death Star and the first time Luke faces Darth Vader in a lightsaber duel were just some of the standout moments of the original trilogy. The Phantom Menace was filled with senate hearings where they debated trade and political stand-offs. It was no way to make an action movie. But their biggest mistake was with the characters. The future terror of the galaxy was a whiny little kid, Padme was nothing but a less exciting version of Leia, and what the hell was Jar Jar Binks even doing?
After sixteen years of waiting there was nothing more disappointing than seeing this.
Words by Zach Mullane