I’m always still a little bit excited when a new James Bond film is coming out. I know many of them are terrible, I’ve seen them all over the years, but I can’t shake the feeling. I’m not sure if it’s because I spent so much time as a child watching them (when there seemed to be an unlimited number of them, though there were only 16 then) or if it’s because it’s because the series is a kind of British tradition or institution, despite these being huge American productions. Breakfast television in the UK used to frequently cover the making of these films and posters seemed to be everywhere in Belfast for rubbish like Tomorrow Never Dies and Die Another Day.
There’s an impetus to watch each new film, even if I might know long in advance that it is going to be awful. However, after Casino Royale, I don’t feel I can take for granted that the movie is going to be so poor or not. I was sceptical of the project, for a re-launch it certainly sounded like a lot of the same old, but was pleasantly surprised with how entertaining it was, despite any flaws. Might they have really got back on track? Or was this another case of GoldenEye leading to Tomorrow Never Dies, simply getting back to the top of the slide only to go whizzing back down again? The next film will tell us.
So after being away from movie news for a few days, I was hungrily clicking on links this afternoon for the trailer of the new picture Quantum of Solace. You can find it on the front page, where Nick has posted a link and wrote a word or two about it. Now perhaps I’m getting old but I’ve watched the trailer a few times and I’m still not entirely sure what happens in it. Oh, I get the part where they are interrogating the man from the end of the last picture. But everything else is seemingly trying to pull the eyes out of my head.
I’ve decided there are two philosophies at work in this trailer which are trying to melt my brain. One is this idea that trailers ought to start with a slow section and then spend the last half flashing quarter of a second images at you of action sequences. Why do they cut in the trailer much faster than they would cut in a film? What about that speed of editing which would be irritating in a full feature isn’t annoying in a trailer? They should just make a trailer that is 15 seconds of flashing images and have a big voice scream “JAMES BOND!” over the top of it and be done with it. Sometimes they do this rapid cutting technique and you aren’t expected to follow it, but I think here you are, because they jump around within the same action sequence.
The second philosophy is that action should be filmed in close up with hand held cameras, as if it’s a brawl on the deck of a stormy pirate ship, or everyone is steaming drunk. Even Greengrass himself struggled with this technique in The Bourne Supremacy, though he got a much better grip on it with The Bourne Ultimatum, so what chance does someone knocking him off have? When done badly, as in parts of Batman Begins, it’s very frustrating to watch. But on it’s own, not likely to lead to a physical malady.
These two things, epileptic cutting and mad close-up shaky camera work, are bad enough separately, but when combined it’s absolutely evil. It’s not in any way effective at hyping me up for the release of the film. The most impressive moment in the trailer for me was the shot of Bond leaping the motorcycle on to a boat (shades of Supercop) and that is one of the only parts of the trailer that holds a shot for more than a second. It took me a couple of viewings to work out just what the hell James Bond did at the end of the trailer.
Please don’t misconstrue this as a hate for trailers. Sometimes watching all these interesting clips of films which have yet to disappoint you is much more entertaining that the film you are about to watch. And I don’t even mind trailers that give everything away. I wish they wouldn’t, but I don’t hold it against them. The trailer for The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is great fun though it gives the whole game away. It’s just that I actually love trailers so much, I want to see one for a film, not a subconscious drug dream panic attack of images that seems designed to sell Advil as much as sell the movie.