Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Royale Rebirth of the Action/Spy Movie

"The job is done, and the bitch is dead." One of the most famous lines from Ian Flemming's James Bond novels, and it does make it into the new new film of that novel: Casino Royale.

I saw the film on its first showing at my local multiplex last Thursday. You may remember that I strongly disliked the last 007 film at the time I saw it, and wrote an article about it on this site (or the precursor of this site). My main problem with it was that the women were all totally unfeminine and unbelievably athletic. Well, I'm happy to say that Casino Royale totally ditches the fantasy world in which women are stronger than men and can perform all manner of athletic action moves without ever breaking a sweat (a trend in action movies over the last decade - but a happily disapearing one since several female-led action movies bombed over the last few years, including Tomb Raider 2, and Catwoman).

Casino Royale also ditches the recent trend for computer generated action, and fancy computer annimations - such as the ones we've seen at the start of the more recent 007 films, this one does have some computer-assisted annimation in the title sequence, but its also very retro-looking as it uses an animation form called roto-scoping, which is basically where they film real people moving, then use that film to make an animation trace. The combination of these makes it look totally new, yet very classical, like nothing you've really seen before. Anyway, the main action sequences in the film are really well done, and have returned to what made the action of the bond films so special and exciting in the first place: everything is done for real.

As well as the lack of unrealistic female action heroines, we also even have a female who is genuinely feminine in behaviour (at least some of the time, she displays some sarcasm too), and a leading man who has been variously described as jug-eared and putridly ugly. This has to be good for men in general. After all, don't we all want men to be judged according to their skills and actions rather than their looks? The fact that the lead in this film series is now NOT a pretty-boy actor is a good sign, I believe.

What I'm getting too is that all of this feels to me like we've turned a corner in action films now, and, with some reservations, things are improving.

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