Friday, November 17, 2006

Phunwin as Movie Geek

You've seen movie geeks before. We all have. For example, the guy who dresses up as an Imperial Stormtrooper on the opening night of Star Wars VII: The Phantom Cash Grab, or the legions of people who attend Star Trek conventions in hope of bedding the one chick there who actually bears a fleeting resemblence to Seven of Nine (while being perfectly willing to settle any of the dozens of women who look like Worf).

I believe on some level, we all have movie geekishness (is that even a word? No? Screw it, I'm moving on) over some movie series. Well, tonight, my inner movie geek comes out.

From the moment I heard that "Casino Royale" was hitting theaters on 11/17, I was counting the days. In fact, I couldn't wait any longer and went to the North Pole and froze myself with strict instructions for my wife to come get me on the morning of the 17th. Instead, she left me there, had me declared dead, cashed in my 401(k), collected on my life insurance and moved to Hawaii. I was unfrozen 500 years in the future (bad news: Eric Cartman STILL hasn't gotten to play the Nintendo Wii), but fortunately, they had the technology to send me back to today. Yup, my plan worked flawlessly.

I am, to put it mildly, a James Bond geek. I know more Bond trivia than is healthy. I'm fairly confident that little bits of knowledge like "who are the only two people to play different characters in Bond movies?" have pushed out more important stuff like "how does the Rule Against Perpetuities work?". (The answer to the first question is "Charles Grey and Joe Don Baker", the second is, "I haven't got the first damned idea.")

In the style of the guys I mentioned in the first paragraph, I am perfectly willing to show up at the premiere of Casino Royale with a tuxedo and a replica Walther PPK, although I'm somewhat less than willing to pay $100 for a rented tuxedo and another $200 for a replica pistol. Still, I'd do it if the opportunity arose. That's how much of a geek I am for Bond movies.

I'm looking forward to Casino Royale more than any Bond movie before. The Bond series has been careening downhill for sometime now. They're still entertaining movies, of course, but the penchant for gadgets and special effects has gotten out of control, as has the need to suspend disbelief, and not for the first time (who can forget "Moonraker"?). The breaking point came when we saw Bond tooling around in an invisible car, inside an ice palace, trying to chase down a North Korean colonel who somehow accumulates enough money and technological know-how (despite being from a country with a per capita GDP of $1700) to build a massive laser capable of wiping out whole batallions.

Mercifully, MGM opted to hit the reset button and do a prequel. And prequels, of course, are all the rage. As we all know, Hollywood has run out of ideas. But by doing a prequel, they can tell what appears like a new story, when in fact it's a way of admitting that they screwed up the movie franchise and want to start over. It's very clever, and it works. Look at how the Batman franchise (another favorite of mine) has been reinvigorated by a darker, tougher Batman and a more down-to-earth story. They're hoping to do the same thing with Bond in "Casino Royale": there's no grand S.P.E.C.T.R.E. plot to blow up the entire world, just a storyline about targeting a guy who finances terrorists. That's perfectly plausible (and timely, too).

We'll see where they go from here, but I'm looking forward to nourishing my inner movie geek tonight.

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