[24 March 2009]
McClatchy-Tribune News Service (MCT)
The latest James Bond film, “Quantum of Solace” (MGM, 2008, $39.99), and four other 007 adventures lead the lineup of this week’s new Blu-ray titles.
Daniel Craig is back for his second outing as Bond in “Quantum of Solace,” which could have been called “Casino Royale Part II” because it begins about an hour after the 2006 film. Bond, still haunted by the climactic events of the first movie, is determined to track down those responsible.
The trail leads him to an organization called Quantum and face-to-face with Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a supposed environmentalist who gains ownership of a barren piece of desert after helping overthrow a foreign government. The desert is part of his dream to control that country’s water supply.
Dame Judi Dench reprises her role of M, Jeffrey Wright is Felix Leiter and Giamcarlo Giannini returns as Rene Mathis. The film is packed with enough action and cliffhanging situations to satisfy any Bond fan. Also good news is that Craig is beginning to fit comfortably into the role of fiction’s most famous secret agent.
“Quantum of Solace” includes one of the film franchise’s most unusual and memorable endings. The film will have greater meaning for those who have seen “Casino Royale.” “Quantum of Solace” looks and sounds terrific in the high-definition Blu-ray format. Highly recommended.
The other Bonds:
“Never Say Never Again” (MGM, 1983, $34.99): This is not part of what is known as the official James Bond series that was launched by producers Albert “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman in 1962. The attraction here is the return of Sean Connery to the role of 007. The title of the film was inspired by Connery’s earlier vow to never play Bond again. Max von Sydow takes on the role of SPECTRE’s Blofeld and Kim Basinger adds some extra beauty to the scenery. Even a bit older, Connery still makes for a striking Bond. Although called a remake of “Thunderball,” it is actually a re-working of that story. Recommended.
“Goldfinger” (MGM, 1964, $34.99): Connery’s third film as Bond remains one of his most popular. It is certainly among the best Bonds, if not the best. Gert Frobe plays the title villain, who unveils an elaborate plan to raid America’s Fort Knox. The British secret service gets wind of the plot and puts 007 on the case. Along the way he encounters Pussy Galore (played by Honor Blackman) and Goldfinger’s henchman with the deadly hat, Odd Job (Harold Sakata). This is the film in which Desmond Llewelyn’s onscreen moments as the gadget-loving Q began to expand. Throw in Shirley Bassey’s rendition of the title song and John Barry’s pulsating music score and you’ve got one grand piece of entertainment. Highly recommended.
“Moonraker” (MGM, 1979, $34.99): Although originally scheduled for 1981, the production of this outer space-oriented saga was pushed up to take advantage of the then current “Star Wars” craze. It marks Roger Moore’s fourth effort as Bond. When a U.S. space shuttle is hijacked, 007 is assigned to the case. He eventually discovers that businessman Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale) is plotting to re-make the world, which he plans to carry out from a massive space station. Lois Chiles is on hand as Dr. Holly Goodhead and Richard Kiel is Jaws, the man with iron teeth. A far-out Bond film but still entertaining. Recommended.
“The World is Not Enough” (MGM, 1999, $34.99): Pierce Brosnan takes his third crack at playing 007 and the result is another solid outing. When wealthy oilman Robert King is assassinated, Bond is assigned to protect his daughter Elektra (Sophie Marceau). He uncovers a nuclear plot by villain Renard (Robert Carlyle), who can feel no pain, to take over the world. What follows, of course, is plenty of action and marvelous stunts. Recommended.
“Goldfinger,” “Moonraker” and “The World is Not Enough” also are available in a three-pack collection at $89.98.
Other Blu-ray releases this week:
“Bolt” (Walt Disney, 2008, $39.99): A canine version of “The Truman Show.” Bolt is a dog who believes he has super powers, but doesn’t realize they come from special effects and that he is actually the star of TV show. When he gets separated from the film crew and is on his own, Bolt begins to realize he has no special powers at all. John Travolta provides the voice of Bolt and Miley Cyrus is the voice of Penny, the dog’s friend on the TV show. It’s great Disney family entertainment. Includes not only the Blu-ray version but also a regular DVD and digital copy of the movie. Recommended.
“The Fast and Furious Trilogy” (Universal, $99.98): This set includes “The Fast and the Furious” (2001), starring Van Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez in a loud film with plenty of action and car chases. There is a story here but it is overshadowed by the spectacular stunts and fast pace. The other two films are “2 Fast 2 Furious” (2003), with Paul Walker returning in his role as one-time cop Brian O’Connor, who goes after a local drug dealer, and “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” (2006) with the speeding cars and racing moving the Japan.
“The Kite Runner” (Paramount, 2007, $29.99): A marvelous piece of filmmaking about two friends, Amir and Hassan, who grow up in 1970s Afghanistan and spend much of their time flying kites together. Then they are separated by an act of betrayal. Amir moves for away to California and becomes a writer. More than 20 years later, he receives a phone call and is asked to return home. Amir responds and, in the process, hopes to right the wrong of his childhood. Khalid Abdalla headlines the cast. Recommended.
“A Mighty Heart” (Paramount, 2007, $29.99): Based on the true story of Daniel Pearl (Dan Futterman) and his wife, Mariane (Angelina Jolie), who are journalists working in Pakistan for the Wall Street Journal in 2002. When Daniel goes to do an interview and doesn’t come back, the frantic and pregnant Mariane’s worst fears are realized. Her husband has been kidnapped by terrorists.
“Things We Lost in the Fire” (Paramount, 2007, $29.99): Halle Berry plays Audrey Burke, a widow after losing her husband, Brian (David Duchovny), who was murdered while trying to stop a crime. She is left alone with two kids in a big house. For some reason, Audrey invites Brian’s longtime but very drug-troubled friend Jerry (Benicio Del Toro) to move in with them. Eventually, their sadness turns to happiness.
“Watchmen: Tales of Black Freighter & Under the Hood” (Warner, 2009, $35.99): Features two stories from the graphic novel that do not appear in the current movie.