Confirmation has come through about next week, so I'm not going to be sleeping rough in the computer building through Thanksgiving. Always a plus.
When I was little, I loved James Bond films. Every Bank Holiday, I'd happily sit down and watch Sean Connery or Roger Moore save the world. As I grew up, the appeal waned, partly because I'd seen them all about ten times before, and partly because I felt that they weren't really all that good. My university friends dragged me to The World Is Not Enough (thus giving the distinction of being the first Bond film that I saw in a cinema), and I was not impressed. At all. Bad effects, a faintly ridiculous plot, the waste of Robert Carlyle, and it seriously attempted to pass Denise Richards off as a nuclear physicist. However, I'm all about the second chances; so instead of doing important work today I went to the mall and made a stop at the cinema for Die Another Day.
Now this is a Bond film. An over-the-top car chase that seems to last for ten minutes? Check. America/British friction? Check. Silly gadgets? Check. A swordfight? You bet. Look, it even manages to make good use of Madonna in an acting role. Yes, it's that good.
Although it stays true to the well-worn formula, there are a few surprises, especially in the opening segment, which ends in a rather different way to all the other films. John Cleese's Q scene is great, with a brief glimpse at gadgets from past films, and a priceless moment when Q shows Bond his new Aston Martin. There are a few niggles; one plot point was so obvious that I'm surprised that it wasn't highlighted with the aid of large neon tubes, and some of the CGI effects are really bad (this is not just my anti-CGI bias; there's one scene which looks worse than some of the composite effects that films were using in the 1960s) . And there's Halle Berry. Okay, she's better than she was in X-Men, but she's nothing special here, and I can't really see why they want to spin off this character into a new franchise (oh, while I'm here. Halle? Your character is almost exactly the same as every other Bond in the series, so please, stop with 'She's the equal of Bond' line. Otherwise we'll bring up Michelle Yeoh).
Despite that, I really enjoyed the film (it has Michael Madsen as the head of the NSA. What's not to love?). Which is just as well, as the trailers beforehand made me want to descend on Hollywood and lay waste to the people who greenlit next summer's big films. Legally Blonde 2? shudder. A poor-looking photocopy of Spy Kids? Yes, that's what we need. I also see that Bill Murray decided to cut his losses, as he doesn't appear anywhere in the trailer for Charlie's Angels II. Which featured a CGI sequence that somehow managed to be worse than the one in Die Another Day. If that's supposed to make me want to spend $8 next year, they're sadly mistaken. The one bright spot was the Catch Me If You Can trailer. This looks like a lot of fun; I'll hopefully be seeing it when I come back after the Christmas break (it's released at the end of Janurary in the UK, but Christmas Day over here).
I arrived back at the hall to find that Amazon had delivered the contents of their warehouse to my room. Christmas presents and the My So-Called Life DVDs. Moohahahahaha. Which I will be bringing home and leaving in the capable hands of my sister, because it would be silly to actually watch them (historical note: I taped every episode of MSCL when it was first on Channel 4. And I saw the first episode, and the last episode. But none of the others. I recorded over them, after they had sat around the house for two years. Hey, ask me about Neverwhere sometime). It's a pity that the pilot looks like the MPEG encoding was performed on a third-generation videotape, but after all the twists and turns that were involved in producing the set, I'm just glad I have it in my hands. Now all I have to do is get my $100 back from AnotherUniverse...