Monday, April 6, 2009

DVD Review - Quantum of Solace

Bond, James Bond. That simple line conjures up images of sexy women, elite card games, and a man in a tux. James Bond is a man of class, a man of elegance, a man with a rich taste, and yet a man who can kill you with the blink of his eye. Bond has been able to save the world over 20 times, and yet he still always gets the girl. Bond is known as the man that always gets away from the bad guys, but, you can now truly capture him. Yes, you can take James Bond home with you, if you get Quantum of Solace on DVD that is.

Quantum of Solace is the second Bond movie of the new canon. Instead of relying on separate episodes that were unique, as all of the old films did, the new James Bond movies tell an actual story arch. Starting with Casino Royale, and moving into Quantum of Solace, Daniel Craig plays a new version of Bond, one that is dark and mysterious. This is a new take on the series, and one that is quite interesting.

Quantum of Solace starts off exactly where Casino Royale left off, which marks the first time in the Bond series that one movie lead into another (they are usually not even referenced). James is still on his quest for vengeance, and still circling around the world, trying to figure out exactly what Quantum is. Through a series of betrayals, car chases, roof chases, and many hand fights, a picture of the organization emerges. However, at the very end, we are left knowing only slightly more then we did when we started.

Quantum of Solace takes the normal Bond stalwarts and uses them in a new way. There are still Bond girls, but they are no longer necessarily the object of James’ desire. James is still elite and proper, but he has been updated into the new millennia (most notably by playing Texas Hold ‘Em instead of Baccarat in Casino Royale). M is still there, but she is a woman, and definitely a balance to the sexism that Bond seems to portray. The gadgets are still there, though they are laid back and there is no more Q. Yes, Quantum of Solace is still Bond, but it seems to be a different one.

I really do like this modernistic revitalization to the Bond franchise. While they still keep to the same elements that have served them well in the past – technology, car chases, shooting, Bond outsmarting everybody, girls – the new stories provide a more compelling character study to entertain the modern Jason Bourneified audiences. We expect wit, intelligence, and vengeance from today’s heroes, and the new Bond delivers it. By having Craig create a new Bond from scratch, we are able to see an evolution of a character, and that is highly important for the survival of this franchise.

One of my favorite things about Quantum of Solace is the new interplay between M (Judi Dench) and Bond. Both Dench and Craig are great actors, and their emotional roles are played exceptionally well. M clearly cares about Bond, and she also cares about her organization. She gets placed in a paradox where she must defend MI6 as it is loosing prestige at the cost of having Bond taken in and probably killed. This internal struggle is portrayed expertly by Dench, and is truly understandable. To make it even harder, the two have a mother son relationship, and so M truly has sacrifices to be made. Both Craig and Dench are able to pull this acting off seamlessly, and so the emotional drama seems real.

I also really like the new vengeful approach that Bond has. Though many of my friends like the old chauvinistic Bond (though they would hate those characteristics in any real human), most don’t like the new take on him. I, on the other hand, like the new Bond, as he shows us why he is what he is later in life. Instead of a person who should have AIDS by now, the Craig version of James keeps his class and womanizing while being respectful and proper. He also is in love with a woman, and that is the first time we have seen this since the second movie, when Sean Connery’s character was married. To me, this new emotional depth to Bond really adds to the story, and helps the franchise out drastically.

One thing that I find missing from the new Bond franchise is the lack of Q. While there were gadgets in Quantum of Solace, there was no Q character, and that was severely disappointing. I love the wit, sarcasm, and general attitude that was always portrayed by the role. The man that gave Bond his gadgets was a great character, and it was always interesting to see what cool new technologies they came up with this time. I am hoping that in the next rendition, they decide to add Q and some of his goodies back into the series; he is sorely missed.

As for the actual DVD, the video and audio qualities were about as good as you can get short of getting Quantum of Solace on Blu-ray. The colors were vibrant, the black levels deep, and the action sequences occurred with very little ghosting or pixilation. The overall transfer was done perfectly, and it was quite stunning. As for the audio, the DTS 5.1 surround sound was exceptionally impressive. Using all of the channels, the sound literally immersed you into the movie, as you would hear cars speed by you and bullets hit the floor at your feet. I was quite impressed with the sound, and it helped the movie out greatly.

Though there were several extras on the Quantum of Solace DVD, the only good one was Bond on Location. This thirty minute clip was basically a mini-documentary about all of the locations that the crew went to to film this movie. Ranging from the deserts of Peru, to small towns in Italy, the crew went all over the world for Quantum of Solace. I really liked how they explained the history and idiosyncrasies of each locale, and were able to show exactly how they were used in the movie. Though this is not essential to the experience, I really believe that Bond on Location helped to add to the Quantum of Solace feel.

Overall, I believe that Quantum of Solace is a good addition to any Bond collection. The movie is well done, engrossing, and an interesting character study. Additionally, the video and audio qualities of the DVD are stunning. I believe that Quantum of Solace is a perfect gift for any Bond lover, spy-flick aficionado, or any college kid. You can grab Quantum of Solace on DVD for $29.98 at stores across America.

Quantum of Solace is Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sexual content.

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