Quantum of Solace | Uncharted: Drake's Fortune Remastered
Relics of the (recent) past.
MOVIE REVIEW /// Quantum of Solace
Movie summary: James Bond descends into mystery as he tries to stop a mysterious organisation from eliminating a country's most valuable resource. (IMDb)
Quantum of Solace is a tricky movie to write about, because of both when it was made and also how it fits into the Bond series as a piece of that franchise. First off, there was a writer's strike at the time in Hollywood, which explains the relatively mundane plot and characters, but also the fact that the Bourne movies were still the top dog of espionage-action movies at the time.
This means lots of shaky-cam and quick cutting, which can make action scenes more of a blur than anything meaningful, meaning it's no surprise that the quieter moments where characters simply talk are the best scenes in the film. It's not quite as bad as some offenders, and actually works quite well when the fighting gets legitimately chaotic, but it might still be just enough to put some viewers off.
As for the action choreography, there's a moment near the end when Bond begins his final attack on the antagonists that really reminded me of the John Wick series, although Daniel Craig's brute physicality as Bond makes it feel more real to the point where I'd actually prefer to watch this again over the second or third Wick films.
Olga Kurylenko gets her moments to shine too, although her character, Camille, isn't the best-written and means that she won't be the most memorable Bond girl - if she even counts at all considering she and Bond only kiss. At least Camille fairs better than Gemma Arterton's Strawberry Fields (yes, that is her character's actual name), who must be one of the most inconsequential and disposable Bond girls in the series' history.
As for the plot, it's pretty basic, proving to be competent if also nothing that will stick in your memory, but it's interesting to see how much the villain of the piece, Mathieu Amalric's Dominic Greene, is a wealthy businessman taking advantage of climate change to line his own pockets. Back when Quantum of Solace was released, it seemed like such a poor idea for an antagonist, but feels remarkably true to life now.
Then again, that could be seen as this movie's biggest failure: it doesn't feel like a James Bond film. There's little to no humour and the whole tone of the movie comes across as joyless and mean-spirited. As a direct follow-up to the incredible Casino Royale and where Bond's head it at, it feels appropriate for 007 to act the way he does, but it does mean this film suffers quite a bit both in contrast to its predecessor as well as an enjoyable experience in its own right.
Despite all the issues stated, I have to admit that I still enjoyed Quantum of Solace more than I was expecting to. It's definitely grittier and more grounded than a regular Bond movie, but the dour tone lends the action greater weight - including a fantastic opera sequence in Austria, matching Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation in that regard; a villain who feels very real right now; what should've been a role that turned Kurylenko into an action star (the MCU might offer that opportunity now after Black Widow); and a resolution to the Bond/Vesper relationship from Casino Royale - not bad overall.
Quantum of Solace might be a pretty poor James Bond movie, lacking the humour and heart of the series' better entries, but it's still a decent action film even if it does suffer from some of the trends of the time, such as shaky-cam and over-editing the action to near-incomprehensibility at times. Craig remains excellent as Bond however, ably assisted by Olga Kurylenko as Camille, and a villain who seems more and more plausible by the day.
[6/10 - Decent]
GAME REVIEW /// Uncharted: Drake's Fortune Remastered (The Nathan Drake Collection)
Game summary: Treasure hunter Nathan Drake, embarks in the adventure of his life searching for the legendary treasure, El Dorado while fighting a group of mercenaries. (IMDb)
Another tricky title to write about here too, having played and completed all the other games in the series before finally getting around to the first in the series, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, thanks to the Nathan Drake Collection that contains the first three in the series. And I've got to say that I'm surprised it ever made it to a sequel based on how much I disliked this game.
One thing I should state clearly is that my impression is based just on this remastered version and I have no knowledge of how the original version of this game played, looked or sounded when originally released - so if I say something that doesn't apply to the original, that's why. The thing is, why would anyone - Bluepoint Games in this instance - make the game worse when remastering it?
I'm fine with how it looks, accepting that it's an older game that's effectively been given a fresh coat of paint, so that's not an issue for me and neither is the audio design. Hell, the lighting in this game looks incredible at times and surely must be one area that's improved considerably over the original, right? On the other hand, some areas are so dark that it's near impossible to see anything at times too...
The single biggest issue I have with Drake's Fortune Remastered is that it's just too repetitive to play. Much like Quantum of Solace, this is a relic of its time and you can tell how much Naughty Dog must've borrowed from other games because this is pretty much a straight cover-shooter rather than the action-adventures of the sequels. The pacing of the story is thrown off as a result, with it advancing only incrementally between each bout of combat.
The lack of variety to the surroundings doesn't really help either and I had deja vu more than once, with some of the 'arenas' feeling recycled from earlier and only included to pad out the game's length - which is too long for how slowly the plot progresses. Honestly, you could cut out half of this game and it would be massively improved, both from reducing the repetition and giving some real impetus to the story.
There are the climbing and jumping sections that you'd expect from an Uncharted game, but the controls seem to switch between character-relative and camera-relative at random. There were multiple occasions when I had to make two consecutive jumps in the same direction and so would just hold for Drake to continue in the same direction, yet he'd jump in a different direction for the second one because...?
I can definitely say I didn't enjoy my time with Drake's Fortune Remastered, although I'm looking forward to the sequel and beyond because I already know how good they are. If you're new to the series, I'd actually advise watching a play-through on YouTube or even a video with a story summary and leave it at that - at the bare minimum, just keep in mind that this is by far and away the worst in the series, so don't let this poor beginning put you off the greatness to come.
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune Remastered is not a fun game to play and it actually surprises me that a sequel ever got made with how little fun there is to be had here. The core gameplay is just that of a repetitive cover shooter and there's little of the charm or variety to come in later instalments of the series. I think this game is just for completionists and I'd definitely advise starting with Uncharted 2: Among Thieves otherwise.