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News Archives - December 2006

: 'Tis The Season To Be Jiggly

December 25 2006

Another year is coming to a close, but before we get to celebrate the new year in a drunken stupor there's this unavoidable obligation called "Christmas" that we have to endure. And today is the big day...

Half religious, half overly-commercialised and completely annoying, this holiday has sucked up a lot more of my time this year than previous years, yet for some strange reason I'm not as angry at Christmas compared to previous years. This is all without any hints of sabotage, either!

Maybe I'm mellowing out in my old age, perhaps I've been distracted by other things or it might even be that I'm clearly not trying hard enough to rage against one of the following:

  1. the machine
  2. The Man
  3. the Jesus
  4. the horrible puns

Either way, merry Christmas peoples...

 

And yes, my NFS:Carbon review is still not here.
Hopefully the Christmas-themed Brazilian supermodel
to the right will distract you from my laziness... ;)

: Cashino Royale (With Cheese)

Warning:
The following Pants update may contain spoilers, of either the sports car or the film reviewing variety. If you do not wish to have details of a film ruined and/or you'd prefer your car to be less maneuverable at high speeds, please avoid this article...
December 8 2006

Warning:
Contains nipples.

Over the weekend I made my annual trip to the local cinema complex. It was 13 months and 6 days earlier when I saw the laugh-fest that was Doom, a cinematic tour de force that could only be possibly improved by a Dean Cain cameo...

It's fair to say that the Doom experience scared me away from the movies for quite some time, but I thought it was time I overcame my fears. The new Bond flick, Casino Royale, would act as the proving grounds to determine whether I'd ever return to the cinemas again. Thankfully, I enjoyed it.

When I originally heard of the film and how it would show Bond's beginnings as a 00-Agent, I wasn't particularly excited. While watching the film though, it was clear that Casino Royale wasn't really a prequel to the other 20 Bond films, but instead it was a (much-needed) reboot of the Bond franchise.

Although breaking continuity with the other films, it's a brilliant way to reimagine a character such as Bond. It just takes a little getting used to — for example the fact that in this parallel universe M (Judi Dench) really shouldn't have been there. Despite this being the "Bond gets back to his roots" film, there's also the subtle canon-breaking issue of Bond driving modern sports cars and using mobile phones & GPS systems.

All of this didn't matter one bit, though... Casino Royale feels like a a grittier, down-to-earth spy thriller instead of the flukey gadget-filled films that the Brosnan era ended up as. The new Bond, Daniel Craig, fits into the role well, still showing the trademark Bond charm but losing the posh, private-schooled manicured act from the recent films. The action scenes are done quite well with a lot less emphasis on gadgets and CG effects, and it's refreshing to see Bond appear increasingly beat-up (with bruises, scars, etc.) as the film progresses.

The film isn't without its issues though, but they didn't really detract from my enjoyment that much. The editing in the film leaves a bit to be desired, with the pace slowing down to a crawl at around the two-thirds mark. The role of gadgets has been severely toned down in Casino Royale (and an appearance by the bumbling Q/John Cleese could've easily ruined the film), but I have a gripe with one of the key gadgets that didn't get cut from the film — I mean who would think of keeping a poison-curing defribulator in your car's glovebox? Seriously?!?

There was also the problem of foreshadowing; as soon as Bond said "I love you" to the leading lady (played by Eva Green), you knew that she was going to die. Combine that with the last mystery thread of the story ("Is there a traitor among us?") and bingo, that's how the film is going to end.

Although a problem for some, I actually enjoyed the amount of blatant (and not-so-blatant) product placement in the film. Whenever I saw something that was probably 'placed', I couldn't help but make a mental note and giggle.

From my memory of the film, here's a list
of Casino Royale product placements:

Although some of these 29 products and services are a little more dubious than others, there's enough stuff here to warrant a Top 3 list of my favourite Casino Royale product placements.
In no particular order, my product placement highlights are:

  • Richard Branson
    Early on in the film, as Bond is following a henchman through an airport, there is a very brief cameo appearance by Richard Branson, who is being padded down at a security checkpoint.
     
    Although he is only on screen for less than a second, I spotted him immediately and so did a fellow Bransonite I was sitting next to, obviously a fan from his XTC days. Damn you, Branson...
     
  • FedEx
    Branson's split-second appearance tied in with the Virgin Airlines placement (unless he was pimping Generals & Majors?), but there's a level of abstraction. The same applies to this FedEx placement.
     
    In the middle of the film Bond goes to a hotel lobby and says to the concierge "You're holding a parcel for me" — unrelated to this, in the background you can see another person carry a stack of small boxes with the FedEx logo on them.
     
    Quite subtle, associating "parcel" with the FedEx brand like that. It's a smart and calculated attempt at subconscious product placement...
     
  • Eva Green's nipples
    OK, this isn't really a product placement per se, but it's proof the French can do something right...
     
    To see more of Eva Green (in every sense of the word), you'll definitely want to check out her 2003 film, The Dreamers. Wowsers... :)
     
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