Southern Scotch

Southern Scotch

Monday, February 15, 2016

Too Good to Not Be Reviled: Martin Campbell

Good morning, class. Let's begin by introducing today's featured guest, whose name is Martin Campbell.



Now, Campbell's been around a while, which means that some morons won't like him. Too old. Not hip. Blahblah, blahblah. But listen:

Campbell has worked consistently from the early 80's in both TV and film. His record, some say, has been wildly mixed. But so has the record of any consistently working director over a span of three decades. The main lows trumpeted by his detractors are these:

The Green Lantern (2011)
The Legend of Zorro (2005)--an abysmal sequel
Vertical Limit (2000)
No Escape (1994)

The highs, though, are substantial. And the really interesting thing is that they're interspersed with the films that are taken as bombs. The highs:


2006                                    1998                           1995

Edge of Darkness the Movie poster.jpgEdge of Darkness Poster

The 2010 movie         The 1985 TV miniseries


To have rebooted the Bond franchise twice is an awesome achievement in itself. Furthermore, Campbell brought an entirely different look to the Bond films, one that's still with us today. Lots of dark, elegant night settings. Smooth transitions. Stylishly done action. And yet Campbell got very little respect from the die-hard fan boys, who began to argue almost immediately for his replacement. Even after Casino Royale, which was wildly heralded as a Bond leap into greatness. But not, of course, because of Campbell. No, fanboys argued, the film succeeded because of Daniel Craig and a script tightly based on the original Fleming novel. The most popular charge against Campbell on one Bond site was that he was a 'hack' who always followed the money. As a matter of fact, Campbell follows the work...and takes great work when he can get it. Still, the fan boys got their wish with subsequent Brosnan films that declined in quality after Campbell's departure. And, call me a heretic, I'd argue the same for the Craig Bonds.

Compare the train wreck that was Quantum of Solace or the bloated, sullen mess of Spectre with the quick, lean, muscular style of Campbell in either of his Bonds. But don't stop there. As far back as 1985, he directed the original Edge of Darkness--still widely regarded as the greatest TV miniseries ever...though, naturally, not because of Martin Campbell's work. And twenty-five years later he directed a top-drawer movie version.

Today, after a couple of TV movies--follow the work, kiddos, and persevere--Campbell has two films in the works: The Foreigner, now filming, with Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan...and Across the River and Into the Trees, once again with Brosnan and based on  a Hemingway novel.

Image result for jackie chan the foreignerImage result for jackie chan the foreigner

If the films fail, Martin Campbell will be held to blame. And if they succeed, it will be despite him...have I got that right?

While I wait, I'll replay GoldenEye, Casino Royale, the Mask of Zorro, Edge of Darkness. Hell, I may even enjoy the good parts of Vertical Limits.

Rock on, Martin Campbell.

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