Monday, November 24, 2008

Bits in short supply, get them while you still can!!

I just contacted Sprint customer service via an online chat. After the chat session ended, I was asked to take a short customer survey. After that was finished, I was rewarded with a free ringtone. The qualifications for getting my ringtone are posted below. Pay special attention to the final bullet point.

* Valid only with Sprint Vision or Sprint PowerSource phones
* Not for use with Nextel phones, Windows based phones or PDA phones
* If you do not have a data pack with your plan, then a data transfer fee of 3 cents per 1KB will apply when your download your free ringer
* A service credit will be applied to your account within two billing cycles
* One free ringer per phone/device
* Offer good while supplies last

Monday, November 17, 2008

Quantum of Solace review

There aren't many films that will get me to the theater on opening weekend. I like as few distractions as possible, so I usually wait until the crowds die down. My two exceptions this year have been Dark Knight and Quantum of Solace. I saw a 3:15 showing of Quantum of Solace on Friday afternoon. Immediately two things distracted me from the movie. One, on opening day, the film already had scratches. Most of the first reel was noticeably scratchy, I didn't notice anything on subsequent reels.

Unfortunately, the second issue was consistent throughout the film. The opening chase was filmed in two distinctive styles. External shots of the cars were smooth with stunning visuals. Shots from inside the cars used a shaky camera technique intended to emphasize the action. Instead, it made the action unknowable. Combined with quick cuts, the shaky camera made it nearly impossible to see what was happening. In the car chase scene this was mildly disappointing. In the scaffolding fight scene (featured prominently in trailers for the film) the shaky camera again made it impossible to follow the action.

Which is a shame, because this Bond film is really just an action film starring James Bond. The story picks up right where Casino Royale ended, with Bond in pursuit of those responsible for Vesper Lynd's death and the leaders of a shadow organization with the power to topple governments and replace them with regimes more to their liking. Bond pursues relentlessly and adds a few notches to his double-0 status.

There are, however, several essentials to a James Bond movie that Quantum of Solace lacks. James Bond drives a fast, classy European car that exudes cool and may shoot missiles. His wears a chronometer that can detonate bombs and has a garrote built in*. Bond boldly walks into the arch villain's lair, defeats him in a verbal sparring match and steals his girlfriend's affections.

This film was missing all of these. Bond drives an Aston Martin DBS in the opening chase scene, but for the rest of the film, he drives an SUV. The only gadget Bond carries is his cell phone, which admittedly takes really good pictures, but my Treo can send and receive images, so I was less than impressed. (MI6 does use something like a Microsoft Surface, but again, it's nothing new and creative). And the
scene with the arch villain was completely absent. In Casino Royale, Bond played poker against Le Chiffre, their verbal exchanges making it clear that each knew more about the other than he should. In Quantum of Solace, Bond rescues a girl at a party, but the dialogue was just basic machismo with no flair.

Coming on the heels of Casino Royale, this was a disappointing film. It could have worked as a straight action film with different camera technique. It would take a lot more to make it into a good Bond film.

*I realize that the original Ian Fleming works did not contain the more spectacular gadgets of the Roger Moore films, but at least a tip of the hat to the spy genre is expected in a movie about the ultimate spy.