I started to write this last week, then never got to post it. So instead of reworking it, I'll just post it as is and tack on a new ending.
The word is out that Skyfall is supposed to be pretty darn great.
Still over a week before it's released, its Metacritic score stands at a ridiculous 83. That's Argo territory.
Which means that a semi-indifferent Bond fan like myself may be on the verge of a good polish-up before seeing it in the theater.
I didn't like Casino Royale all that much. There, I said it. The film is pretty much universally adored, so it's okay if you're looking at me like I have three heads. I had multiple problems with it, but I won't go into them here.
What's germane about not loving Casino Royale is that it means I didn't prioritize seeing Quantum of Solace -- especially after hearing that my minority negative appraisal of Royale was the majority opinion here. I could have used that information to determine that Solace might be right up my alley. Instead, I moved further away from it -- so much so that I still have not seen it.
But the words of breathless praise about Skyfall -- at least from the eight positive reviews currently tabulated on Metacritic, compared to two mixed reviews -- got me thinking that it might be time to give old Quantum of Solace a shot. I suppose I wouldn't strictly need to see it first, but I try to watch movie series in order if it's not that hard to do. And catching up with just a single movie before watching Skyfall would not be that hard to do.
Except, maybe it will be. Turns out other people are cramming for Skyfall as well.
When I added Solace to my Netflix queue a couple days ago and immediately promoted it to the #1 position, I noticed that its expected availability was characterized as "Very Long Wait." Hmmm.
Now, in this post, Don Handsome convinced me that I shouldn't read much into the ETAs issued by Netflix. He told me he frequently gets movies that are in his #1 position even when their expected availability is less than immediate. And I believe I subsequently had the same experience myself.
But it did get me wondering whether this is the actual phenomenon I'm seeing: lots of other movie fans who, like me, did not see Quantum of Solace, and feel like the narrative might confuse them without knowing which person double-crossed whom in James Bond's most recent adventure.
That's kind of a joke, since a James Bond movie is a James Bond movie is a James Bond movie. I didn't worry about the fact that I hadn't seen any of the Sean Connery movies when I sat down to see Moonraker. (It was either that or For Your Eyes Only that was my first Bond movie -- can't say for sure.) You pick up what's going on pretty quickly.
However, what's not a joke is that people who read the critical dismissals of Quantum of Solace may be deciding it's worth reconsidering the movie, now that they know there will be another Bond movie and that it might be really, really good. In case you forget, there was a time when it seemed like the Bond series might not continue. Solace came out only four years ago, but the immediate two years after its release were plenty of time for chaos to reign about the future of Bond. Solace was the last film Columbia (having bought MGM) agreed to distribute, and it was uncertain what would happen with the series after that. Fortunately, a new deal was reached quickly enough for it to barely seem like a longer break than usual between successive Bond films.
Okay, so now I have some real-world results of my uncertain success about being able to acquire Quantum of Solace from Netflix. In fact, since I started this post, I've been unusually good about watching the discs in my possession. Today, the third movie since I started writing this post is shipping to me, and it's the third straight movie that has not been Quantum of Solace. So in this case, the "Very Long Wait" really means something.
So maybe I'll just not worry about the fact that I haven't seen it. I know there are other ways I could get it, but maybe it's not worth the bother. I'm feeling an excitement for Skyfall that I haven't felt for any Bond film in years, and maybe the attempt to see Solace would only slow me down.
Who knows, maybe it could even challenge Octopussy as my all-time favorite. Stifle the giggles all you want, but that's the one I saw ten times when I was a kid, and it holds a special place in my heart. Could Skyfall top it?
Eh, probably not.