Bond and the Evil Shaky Cam

I saw Quantum of Solace last night, and as someone who wasn’t wild about Casino Royale – good but overrated – I enjoyed it a surprising amount. Craig’s Bond is still an unbelievable badass and Quantum is set up as a cool Illuminati-cum-terrorist group that could become an awesome adversary over the next couple of films.

But, as the title of this post suggests, my biggest problem was how the bane of the modern action movie has infiltrated Bond. The last two Bourne films in particular were horrible for it, and Casino Royale, despite cribbing an awful lot from that series, thankfully managed to resist it, ending up looking classy and old-school for it. Bourne is rough around the edges, but despite the new rugged look Bond is supposed to be like that; Bourne wouldn’t look right in a dinner jacket and bow tie just like Bond wouldn’t look right with the cameraman having a seizure.

Quantum of Solace, though, has a new director who apparently couldn’t resist. There’s a fight early on between Bond and someone else in a suit, and because the brief for the cinematography apparently consisted of “point the camera at them and wave it around”, I literally couldn’t tell who was hitting who for most of it. Yes, it might look ‘kinetic’ and be more down with the kids, but I like to enjoy the excellent stunt work and fight choreography more than MTV music video editing. The sooner this rubbish goes out of fashion and they remember how to use a steadicam the better.

Unsurprisingly, the only time the camera stayed still in this one was when it was showing off another Sony phone.

Still, I enjoyed it and will be seeing it again this week. I want one of those tables that MI6 has more than anything, and when you see it I’m sure you’ll be the same.

Some Thoughts on LittleBigPlanet

Angry Sackboy

So I finished LittleBigPlanet yesterday. Yes, yes, finishing the story mode is only a part of it, but I think we’ve got a while to go before the community levels are even close to the standard of Media Molecule’s later stages, so I’m working on the assumption that I’ve seen the best that the game has to offer for now.

When I dabbled with the beta I complained about the floaty and imprecise controls, and in fact they did end up getting me killed more times than I’d have liked. But despite that, I still came away with a very positive impression of the story mode. The level design is often exemplary, full of secrets and with some incredibly creative use of the same tools that anyone can use. It’s been a while since I played a good old-fashioned platform game and when I was in the zone with this one it was a wonderful game. The fact that everything in the single-player was made with essentially the same tools that ship with the game shows what potential is in there, and I’ll certainly be revisiting the game down the line.

Now admittedly these are early thoughts, based on about five hours spent working on my themed level – more on that when I’ve got something presentable – but I’ve been disappointed by certain limitations of the toolset. There are clearly more functions than can comfortably fit on a controller, and as such it felt clumsy a lot of the time. Just go a few menus deep and see how often the function of the right stick changes as you move from menu to menu – if you’re modifying something and want to rotate the camera for a better look you have to quit out of the PopIt completely, then make sure you’re in hover mode, which is the one situation in which the right stick can control the camera. Continue reading Some Thoughts on LittleBigPlanet