The case for and against... Martin Campbell

1. Martin Campbell

I often hear it claimed that Campbell is a genius and one of the great Bond directors. I find myself split on how to see him. For me GE is amongst the worst in the series and yet CR (which feels like it's by a different director) was undeniably just what was needed after DAD.

I suppose it hinges on whether or not you rate GE and CR.

Case against Campbell regarding GE:

He introduces the new Bond by having him hang upside down in a toilet.

He thinks Bond should wear a cravat.

He thinks Bond should use machine guns - a lot.

And isn't it also claimed that Campbell wanted Henry Cavill rather than Daniel Craig for Casino Royale? That's pretty damning IMO.


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Comments

  • MalloryMallory Are you ready to get back to work?
    Posts: 644
    Campbell delivered two of the Best Bond films, but they're not the best because of his direction... The quality of his films is very dependent on the quality of the script he's given (see his other works).
  • ThomasCrown76ThomasCrown76 Augusta, ks
    Posts: 757
    Who gives a shit if he wants to introduce James Bond in a toilet? He punched the guy right out and went from there. Was it any worse than roger linguini belly Moore in live and let die? Hell, no
  • edited August 2015 Posts: 11,165
    Campbell's a strong Bond director, but not a perfect one. One of his finest dramatic moments in GE is the scene in the statue park, a genuinely suspenseful sequence thanks to the lighting and the directing.



    (I LOVE the shot at 1.06)

    He always seems to make the most out of the action. Whether that's more down to the second unit than Campbell himself I'm not sure, but one of the reasons I love GE is because of it's exciting, well-staged action sequences.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited August 2015 Posts: 23,883
    Put me down as a resounding FOR

    We'll never really know the full brief that directors have to work from, but I'm quite certain that in both the case of GE & CR, Campbell realized that he was responsible for partly resuscitating a franchise that was on its last legs and giving it a new lease of life. In both instances, he succeeded

    He had to operate with a very different budget for GE ($60m) in comparision to CR ($150m) which could account for differences in the perceived quality of the films. Of course, inflation adjustments must be taken into account. Both films had far superior ROI (return on investment) than any other Bond film made in the last 20 yrs.

    GE, on that relatively low budget, did the following very well:
    1. got one of the better performances out of Pierce Brosnan as Bond (at least he didn't screw it up here)
    2. cast brilliant actors and relative unknowns (to English speaking audiences at least) in lead roles and got superb performances out of all of them, a trick he would repeat in CR as well.
    3. showcased the Bond glamour suitably well (Casino scene is a highlight, as is the helicopter theft in Monaco). Loved the throwback Aston/Ferrari chase scene which evokes Hitchcock as well as GF. It seemed refreshing after years of Glen (who I like but who was somewhat pedestrian imho).
    4. gave us probably the best Bond ending of the past 20 years with the most Adam'esque set work since........well, Ken Adam himself and MR
    5. kept Bond relatively alpha male and Bond'esque, which for a PB Bond film is saying something. "Kill her.....she means nothing to me" is a perfect example of what I expect from Bond. Not "Knew where to hurt me...."
    6. Gave us the best Bond fight since FRWL, imho
    7. Gave us great action sequences which were exciting and well filmed (tank sequence excepted)
    8. Made Bond aspirational for me again. I admit I wanted to be Brosnan as Bond.....toilet entry and all

    CR, again on a reasonable budget, did the following:
    1. got the best performance out of Daniel Craig (yes, I think this is by far his best turn as James Bond)
    2. again, cast brilliantly
    3. showcased Bond glamour again (throwbacks to TB & DN in the Bahamas)
    4. kept Bond alpha male (not difficult to do with DC, admittedly)
    5. just turned everything on its head and gave us a refreshing start to a franchise that was out of gas, evoking the spirit of its heyday in the 60's
    6. Gave us the best fight since,.....well GE
    7. Gave us the incredible Parkour sequence which has yet to be bested in a Craig Bond film imho

    Very importantly for me, Campbell has a phenomenal eye for the ladies. Janssen, Scorupco, Green & Murino are among my favourites. He may have messed up with Dench & Samantha Bond (imho), but I'll forgive those few missteps, since it was more the way the characters were introduced (coldly) that turned me off of both of them.

    So he's the best director for Bond outside of Terence Young and Lewis Gilbert, from my perspective. I like Guy Hamilton too, but some of his films are a little quirky. The jury is still out on Mendes as far as I'm concerned, but I think he will join the upper pantheon soon.
  • The toilet entry could have been worse... it could have been Brozzer sat on the bog instead, taking a dump.

    I just don't like Campbell really, his action is very good mind, unlike really all the other directors who relied on the second unit guy.

    Main con is that he sets things up badly for the next guy. GE deals with the end of the Cold War... but then what? They have to start again, find new enemies. Ditto CR, I mean there's no sense of who Bond is up against, so QoS drops the ball. When I say he's not an easy act to follow, that's not a compliment.
  • Posts: 10,376
    The toilet entry could have been worse... it could have been Brozzer sat on the bog instead, taking a dump.

    I just don't like Campbell really, his action is very good mind, unlike really all the other directors who relied on the second unit guy.

    Main con is that he sets things up badly for the next guy. GE deals with the end of the Cold War... but then what? They have to start again, find new enemies. Ditto CR, I mean there's no sense of who Bond is up against, so QoS drops the ball. When I say he's not an easy act to follow, that's not a compliment.

    I think those are harsh criticisms. That's definitely not where I see his weaknesses.
  • StrangwaysStrangways London, England
    edited August 2015 Posts: 21
    For

    Best Bond film of the Brosnan era, Best Bond film (so far, at least) of the Craig era.

    Bonus points for having the difficult task of introducing a new actor in the role in each of his films.

    Double bonus points for not only introducing a new actor in the role but having to completely relaunch the series in each of his films and doing so very effectively.

    Cambpell had more pressure on him for both his films than any director since Terence Young for DN.

    A very good all-rounder (and I don't mean that as a backhanded compliment) in that he balances drama, humour, narrative, action and effects very well. (Gilbert overdid humour, Glen was excellent at action but poor at drama and not great at humour, Apted really misfired on action and Tamahori fell very flat on narrative and effects.)
  • Posts: 532
    For me Casino Royale is now at the top of my list of Bond films. The more I watch it the more I enjoy it. In particular, I love the direction in the parkour sequence. Compare that to the dizzying editing of the car sequence that opens QoS. The smash cut editing of QoS doesn't allow us to focus on the images. They fly by too fast. Now compare with CR.
    The entire sequence, the camera is constantly moving. Look at something as insignificant as the alarm blaring in the embassy. The camera races up to that horn.
    The action in CR leaves you breathless and it's done without editing that makes it impossible to focus on or enjoy what we're looking at.
  • echoecho 007 in New York
    Posts: 3,265
    He blends action and character moments well.

    If Mendes opts out, Eon definitely should let Campbell close out the Craig era with Bond 25.
  • Posts: 232
    bondjames wrote: »
    Put me down as a resounding FOR

    We'll never really know the full brief that directors have to work from, but I'm quite certain that in both the case of GE & CR, Campbell realized that he was responsible for partly resuscitating a franchise that was on its last legs and giving it a new lease of life. In both instances, he succeeded

    He had to operate with a very different budget for GE ($60m) in comparision to CR ($150m) which could account for differences in the perceived quality of the films.

    60 mil was a very healthy budget for that year. We're not talking Cameron-level dollars here, but that's over 20 mil more than LTK got. and the TREK movie from 94 was under 40 mil and TREK from 96 was under 50. Plus the GE BMW promotion supposedly was worth 8 figures too.

    I think Campbell wasn't squeezed on either film; consider, for comparison's sake, the HBO film he made in 1991, CAST A DEADLY SPELL. That was six or 6.5 mil (Cameron's ex-wife produced it), and on that it really shows. I've read the script and talked to a lot of people who worked on it, and the reason that movie just peters out at the end is that the biggest aspect to the finale was dropped on the last day of shooting when they ran out of money. That suggests he wasn't too smart about conserving his resources, because, as anyone who has seen TREK 5 knows, you don't scrimp on the big FX ending.

    I love the graveyard of statues in GE and a few other scenes there, and give the first ZORRO a rewatch every five or 7 years, but CR doesn't work for me at all. I think if Campbell had been able to hold out for Cavill it may have worked better for me, as the character's maturity level in CR suggests 'top gun' Bond, somebody youthful and relatively inexperienced, which Craig does not come close to resembling.
  • BondJasonBond006BondJasonBond006 on fb and ajb
    Posts: 9,029
    Martin Campbell of course is the best thing that happened to the Bond franchise.

    He introduced not one but two Bond actors to the public with two of the most loved films of the franchise. And both with great success.

    That really says it all.
  • I really love Martin Campell as a director for his Bond films, I like GE more than CR personally, but I don't think he is amongst the greats like Terence Young, an Peter Hunt, I'd probably put him on par with John Glen if not slightly lower.
  • talos7talos7 New Orleans
    Posts: 4,116
    Casino Royale is my #1 Bond film with Goldeneye in a floating position in my top 10.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    edited August 2015 Posts: 15,910
    Martin Campbell is my idea of a great director. Look what he did with that mess of a production on Green Lantern- he turned out a perfectly acceptable product when others would have failed miserably.
    Edit to add: I just ordered the Green Lantern Blu Ray- thanks for the impetus!
  • mcdonbbmcdonbb deep in the Heart of Texas
    Posts: 4,119
    Its odd CR is my second best Bond film and GE down at the bottom. Campbell did such a better job with CR imo. I really didn't care for GE and I guess for purely subjective reasons. Brosnan's best performance for btw was TND.. he matured nicely into the role and way more confident in that film (witness the BJB line in both films.)
  • Posts: 232
    LIke a lot of Broz' stuff in other roles where he is well-directed, but in Bond I think he always blew the 'Bond James Bond' line reading, way too mild in GE and TND, and then of course the 'comic book' reading in TWINE.

    Of course I also HATE, that "the name's" part -- Connery sure didn't need that, it is "my name is ... "
  • w2bondw2bond is indeed a very rare breed
    Posts: 1,818
    I love how both GE and CR are directed, whether it's due to the direct involvement of Campbell or the work of 2nd unit, both films have a great fluidity to them unmatched by any other entries in the series. My love of GE is slightly waning due to that horrendous score which dates the movie heaps
  • mcdonbbmcdonbb deep in the Heart of Texas
    Posts: 4,119
    GE needed a harder edge like CR.. silly car chase silly lines poorly edited hand to hand with 006. Craig seemed to be the Bond that Campbell could more relate too. And yes I remember Campbell saying that Cavell was a close second but all preferred the older Craig. I could be wrong.
  • Posts: 10,376
    mcdonbb wrote: »
    GE needed a harder edge like CR.. silly car chase silly lines poorly edited hand to hand with 006. Craig seemed to be the Bond that Campbell could more relate too. And yes I remember Campbell saying that Cavell was a close second but all preferred the older Craig. I could be wrong.

    I thought Campbell wanted Cavill but Babs wanted Craig
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    Posts: 23,883
    Getafix wrote: »
    mcdonbb wrote: »
    GE needed a harder edge like CR.. silly car chase silly lines poorly edited hand to hand with 006. Craig seemed to be the Bond that Campbell could more relate too. And yes I remember Campbell saying that Cavell was a close second but all preferred the older Craig. I could be wrong.

    I thought Campbell wanted Cavill but Babs wanted Craig

    That's what I heard.

    The silliness in some scenes in GE were a direct response to the poor box office reception of the harder edged (and much more serious) LTK and the time that had elapsed between Bond films. EON were unsure what would work with Bond since their brave experiment had failed to catch on 6 years earlier, and so took the safe route.

    CR, conversely, was a direct response to the excesses of DAD.

    So they both were made to some extent to respond to their predecessor. Campbell did a great job imho with two quite different Bond actors and two quite different tones.
  • mcdonbbmcdonbb deep in the Heart of Texas
    Posts: 4,119
    Yea I think you both are right with Babs wanting Craig and Campbell wanting Cavill. I remember that now. And yes @bondjames that's true both films werea reaction to the previous film. DDon't get me wrong I like both films but I left the cinema way more satisfied and pumped after seeing CR
  • BondJasonBond006BondJasonBond006 on fb and ajb
    Posts: 9,029
    mcdonbb wrote: »
    Yea I think you both are right with Babs wanting Craig and Campbell wanting Cavill. I remember that now. And yes @bondjames that's true both films werea reaction to the previous film. DDon't get me wrong I like both films but I left the cinema way more satisfied and pumped after seeing CR

    BB was the only one who wanted Craig, Campbell and MGW didn't.
    That was all around the media back then.
    It might be only rumours but it would fit BB's pattern of behaviour in such things, to put through her ideas at all cost.
  • SirHilaryBraySirHilaryBray Scotland
    Posts: 2,138
    GE and CR being both introducing a new Bond, both broke new ground. They were not just good introductions like LALD or OHMSS for example, they were GREAT introduction movies. GE and CR are packed full, the story to both flows on screen there are no lull's. 2nd only to Terence Young for me.
  • mcdonbbmcdonbb deep in the Heart of Texas
    Posts: 4,119
    I agree with you as far as Terence Young.

  • edited August 2015 Posts: 1,297
    Casino Royale has some of the franchise's best direction. Great tense moments, all actors are shining, there is not a missed beat to be honest. I feel Campbell can be given a fair bit of credit for that. GoldenEye is a conundrum for me. I actually do like the film quite a bit as it sits right around the 10 spot for me. At the same time, Pierce Brosnan is upstaged by just about everyone in the film. (This is very clear during 006's revelation in the statue park. Sean Bean acts Brosnan right off the screen.) Is that and other examples like that Campbell's fault? Or does Sean Bean just have that much more presence that Brosnan any direction withstanding? I'm not so sure.

    What is interesting to me about Campbell is that his other films aren't as sharp. The first Zorro film was decent as I remember, but Zorro 2 was no good and Vertical Limit and Green Lantern are awful, awful movies.

    And yet, Casino Royale might just be my favorite film of all time.

    I'm confused now - I have to sit down.
  • pachazopachazo Make Your Choice
    Posts: 6,349
    bondjames wrote: »
    The silliness in some scenes in GE were a direct response to the poor box office reception of the harder edged (and much more serious) LTK and the time that had elapsed between Bond films. EON were unsure what would work with Bond since their brave experiment had failed to catch on 6 years earlier, and so took the safe route.
    Personally, I don't think it's a coincidence that the PTS of GE takes place in 1986. Seems like EON had washed their hands of the (then unpopular) Dalton era. See, it's the one you all wanted as Bond back in '86! That other fella never happened! I know that's not a popular opinion but it struck me as odd back then and I'll never see it any other way.
  • BondJasonBond006BondJasonBond006 on fb and ajb
    Posts: 9,029
    SJK91 wrote: »
    Casino Royale has some of the franchise's best direction. Great tense moments, all actors are shining, there is not a missed beat to be honest. I feel Campbell can be given a fair bit of credit for that. GoldenEye is a conundrum for me. I actually do like the film quite a bit as it sits right around the 10 spot for me. At the same time, Pierce Brosnan is upstaged by just about everyone in the film. (This is very clear during 006's revelation in the statue park. Sean Bean acts Brosnan right off the screen.) Is that and other examples like that Campbell's fault? Or does Sean Bean just have that much more presence that Brosnan any direction withstanding? I'm not so sure.

    Consider this:

    Daniel Craig's acting in the lengthy scene in the train when he first meets Vesper is less than impressive. Eva Green is simply stealing the hole sequence and Craig does nothing against it.
    It's not the only scene with Craig where I feel he doesn't act really better than Brosnan did in GE.
    Is it Eva Green's fault or Campbell's?
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited August 2015 Posts: 23,883
    SJK91 wrote: »
    Casino Royale has some of the franchise's best direction. Great tense moments, all actors are shining, there is not a missed beat to be honest. I feel Campbell can be given a fair bit of credit for that. GoldenEye is a conundrum for me. I actually do like the film quite a bit as it sits right around the 10 spot for me. At the same time, Pierce Brosnan is upstaged by just about everyone in the film. (This is very clear during 006's revelation in the statue park. Sean Bean acts Brosnan right off the screen.) Is that and other examples like that Campbell's fault? Or does Sean Bean just have that much more presence that Brosnan any direction withstanding? I'm not so sure.

    Consider this:

    Daniel Craig's acting in the lengthy scene in the train when he first meets Vesper is less than impressive. Eva Green is simply stealing the hole sequence and Craig does nothing against it.
    It's not the only scene with Craig where I feel he doesn't act really better than Brosnan did in GE.
    Is it Eva Green's fault or Campbell's?

    I personally think that was meant to be and intentional. She is supposed to impress the hell out of him and get the better of him, which she convincingly does...

    His approving and surprised glance back at her as she leaves sort of confirms it.

    I too had a new found appreciation for accountants after that scene.
  • BondJasonBond006BondJasonBond006 on fb and ajb
    edited August 2015 Posts: 9,029
    bondjames wrote: »
    SJK91 wrote: »
    Casino Royale has some of the franchise's best direction. Great tense moments, all actors are shining, there is not a missed beat to be honest. I feel Campbell can be given a fair bit of credit for that. GoldenEye is a conundrum for me. I actually do like the film quite a bit as it sits right around the 10 spot for me. At the same time, Pierce Brosnan is upstaged by just about everyone in the film. (This is very clear during 006's revelation in the statue park. Sean Bean acts Brosnan right off the screen.) Is that and other examples like that Campbell's fault? Or does Sean Bean just have that much more presence that Brosnan any direction withstanding? I'm not so sure.

    Consider this:

    Daniel Craig's acting in the lengthy scene in the train when he first meets Vesper is less than impressive. Eva Green is simply stealing the hole sequence and Craig does nothing against it.
    It's not the only scene with Craig where I feel he doesn't act really better than Brosnan did in GE.
    Is it Eva Green's fault or Campbell's?

    I personally think that was meant to be and intentional. She is supposed to impress the hell out of him and get the better of him, which she convincingly does...

    His approving and surprised glance back at her as she leaves sort of confirms it.

    Maybe, maybe not, but then one could very well say the same about the scene with Brosnan and Bean, that it was intentional to have Brosnan not much react to Bean.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    Posts: 23,883
    bondjames wrote: »
    SJK91 wrote: »
    Casino Royale has some of the franchise's best direction. Great tense moments, all actors are shining, there is not a missed beat to be honest. I feel Campbell can be given a fair bit of credit for that. GoldenEye is a conundrum for me. I actually do like the film quite a bit as it sits right around the 10 spot for me. At the same time, Pierce Brosnan is upstaged by just about everyone in the film. (This is very clear during 006's revelation in the statue park. Sean Bean acts Brosnan right off the screen.) Is that and other examples like that Campbell's fault? Or does Sean Bean just have that much more presence that Brosnan any direction withstanding? I'm not so sure.

    Consider this:

    Daniel Craig's acting in the lengthy scene in the train when he first meets Vesper is less than impressive. Eva Green is simply stealing the hole sequence and Craig does nothing against it.
    It's not the only scene with Craig where I feel he doesn't act really better than Brosnan did in GE.
    Is it Eva Green's fault or Campbell's?

    I personally think that was meant to be and intentional. She is supposed to impress the hell out of him and get the better of him, which she convincingly does...

    His approving and surprised glance back at her as she leaves sort of confirms it.

    Maybe, maybe not, but then I could very well say the same about the scene with Brosnan and Bean.

    I did feel the imbalance in screen charisma between Brosnan and Bean in GE. It was palpable, and a little discomforting to me, because it was the first time in a Bond film where I felt the supporting cast (all of them) were blowing the doors off the place in terms of screen charisma. I don't know if that was intentional or not, but it certainly was my impression.

    I thought Brosnan may have intentionally toned down his acting in GE, and I actually preferred his Bond there personally, but he amped up for the next film.
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