Saturday, November 28, 2009

Better the Second Time Around

Quantum of Solace posterWhen I look at the backlog of comics, video games, movies, books, TV shows, etc. I have yet to experience, it seems wasteful to go back and reread/replay/rewatch anything at all, unless I'm introducing someone else to a fandom I enjoy. What seems even more wasteful, however, is going back to something I've already experienced that I didn't much care for the first time around.

Despite my stance on the matter, I found myself willingly rewatching Quantum of Solace, a James Bond movie that did not exactly receive glowing praise when I reviewed it just over a year ago.

In case you don't remember my review or can't be bothered to click on the link above, I stated that QoS was "A series of big action scenes strung together by just enough plot to give the film a direction," and I essentially concluded that the film was mildly forgettable and didn't do enough to establish itself as a James Bond movie instead of just another action flick.

Quantum of Solace movie stillI went into QoS expecting the same thing I expect from every 007 movie: Cool action sequences, slick spy antics, attractive women, nifty gadgets, varied locations, snappy one-liners, and a plot so twisty that it takes me three viewings just to remember the villain's name. Furthermore, Casino Royale set the bar pretty high for its sequel; I was also expecting a character-driven story and some very creative and unexpected scenes (such as any one of the action sequences from Casino Royale).

I was disappointed on several counts because I was expecting too much from QoS, and because, in part, I was expecting the wrong things: Casino Royale was a franchise reboot, and Quantum of Solace was a sequel--not just another installment in a perpetually ongoing series.

Quantum of Solace movie stillNow that I knew what to expect out of QoS, the second viewing was far more enjoyable than the first. It also helped that Casino Royale was playing on TV before we watched the movie (which is what prompted us to watch QoS in the first place); this time, QoS felt more like a continuation of the Casino Royale storyline than a standalone movie, and QoS simply doesn't hold up on its own like most of the other Bond films do.

The second time around, I saw a film that was focused on resolving the conflicts of the previous movie and setting the stage for future sequels. I saw a James Bond who was struggling with powerful-yet-subtle internal conflicts. I saw Bond girls whose primary function was to get Bond where he needed to go for the sake of his character development; being eye candy was secondary, or even tertiary, and the Bond girls' character development, like everything else in this movie that wasn't exploding, was fairly subtle.

Quantum of solace movie stillThis time I paid more attention to individual lines of dialogue because I already understood what the plot was and didn't need to devote any extra energy to brain processing. I sat a little farther back from the screen so I could make sense of all those shaky close-up shots during the action sequences. I looked more at the scenery and the people in the background than I did before.

In a way, it was like watching a much better remake of the movie.

Quantum of Solace isn't destined to become my favorite 007 film, but a second viewing greatly elevated its status from "A series of big action scenes strung together by just enough plot to give the film a direction" to "A pretty decent continuation of the storyline started by Casino Royale."

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