Casino Royale starts at the beginning as James Bond (Craig) takes his first baby steps as a Double O agent. His first assignment is to track down a terrorist cell in Madagascar but he’s a bit of a loose cannon and things quickly go awry. Bond’s superior M (Judi Dench) is soon regretting giving the arrogant Bond the promotion. Nonetheless Agent 007 takes it upon himself to follow a lead to the Bahamas and discovers that all nefarious dealings point to Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) a nasty fellow who has money ties to terrorist organizations. Le Chiffre is planning to raise money in a high-stakes poker game at the Le Casino Royale in Montenegro—and Bond gets in to beat him at his own game. Along with a hefty bankroll M also sends the beguiling accountant Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) to keep Bond in check. They are skeptical of each other at first but as the danger escalates it becomes apparent there is a growing attraction—and affection—between them. Natch. Can these two crazy kids make it work immersed in the cutthroat world of international intrigue? Well this is Bond after all—and we know how he ends up. Craig absolutely gets it. Whatever doubts people may have had when Craig was first announced as the new Bond are washed away in the first few minutes of the film. Sure if Casino Royale was anything like the last few Bond movies then maybe the understated Craig wouldn’t have fit in as well. But this is a different Bond. The British actor plays him not as the icon we’ve come to know but as a flawed man warts and all who flies by the seat of his pants isn’t necessarily refined and yes can even fall in love. Craig also raises the acting bar. His brief scenes with the impeccable Dench for example simmer and pop unlike anything we’ve seen before in a Bond film. Danish film star Mikkelsen (Pusher) is quite effective as the main baddie with a particularly gruesome physical malady while the always good Jeffrey Wright (Syriana) shows up as CIA Agent Felix Leiter. The one weak link unfortunately is Green (The Dreamers). She certainly looks the part of a “Bond girl ” but her Vesper is supposed to be whip-smart able to engage in witty banter with 007 and the French actress can’t quite pull it off. Craig needs more of a challenge. Too bad Judi Dench isn’t 30 years younger; she would have been perfect. Casino Royale the first book in the Ian Fleming series is basic Bond 101. Director Martin Campbell--who helmed Goldeneye Pierce Brosnan’s first and probably best foray into the franchise--strips it of all the far-fetched gadgets (save for a few new-fangled PDAs) and over-the-top action sequences leaving just good clean action devoid of any invisible cars armored Russian tanks and the such. Oh wait Bond does use a bulldozer at one point but that comes briefly in the middle of a rather extensive and hair-raising foot chase. It just proves action can be just as riveting without having to completely suspend your disbelief. Casino Royale is also rare in that it shows how Bond became THE James Bond the one we’ve seen in countless movies over the years in the stylish tuxes drinking the martinis driving the Aston-Martins and bedding all the beautiful women. Casino Royale breathes new life into the franchise and one can only hope they can keep up the good work without once again lapsing into the ridiculous.
Joe Bowers (Luke Wilson) is about as average as one can get. He’s an electrician working for the Army doesn’t have any family. In other words he is perfect for playing a guinea pig in the government's new Human Hibernation Project. Joined by Rita (Maya Rudolph) a street-smart hooker who needs to hide out for a while they are to be kept on ice and revived a year later. But when they awaken they find out that they're almost a thousand years into the future. The project was forgotten and scrubbed their hibernation pods became landfill--and now Bowers is the smartest man on Earth. They meet Dizz (Dax Shepard) who's addicted to a lounge chair a bungling doctor (Justin Long) and the president/pro-wrestler (Terry Crews). Guess this means prognosticators--hoping for a better more intelligent future--are dead wrong.. Idiocracy effectively becomes a bunch of one-liners spliced together which really doesn’t do any of the comic talent justice. Still all the performers play rather believable idiots. Wilson turns on his easy-going charm as the least dim-witted bulb in the bunch (but never quite gets what Rita does for a living). The affable actor always shines brighter in a movie that doesn’t have “romantic comedy” in its description. Rudolph does her usual Saturday Night Live shtick while Long (Accepted) as the doctor who checks people in and out as if they were in a Jiffy Lube is hysterical even if the one-note hospital gag gets a tad tiresome. Crews is also pretty clever in his role as the dunderhead president who can't figure out how to save his planet from starvation. Why haven't you heard about this movie? Well that's the true Idiocracy. Fox seems to have rushed this little gem out failing to promote it in anyway much like they did with the cult hit Office Space. Ironically both are directed by Mike Judge (of Beavis and Butthead fame). Judge has put his finger on the pulse of what's wrong with this world and gives a bleak social commentary about our future. For example his version of the classic film of the future is a giant naked butt expelling intermittent gas every few minutes. That kind of fart film is the wave of this future run by live-action Beavis and Buttheads. Maybe Judge means to say that the people of Idiocracy’s future--who watch the Masturbation Channel and Fox News (yes that survives) and shop at stores bigger than small cities--are the descendants of those who run the studios today. Or maybe not.
Heaven. Hell. Us humans in the middle. It's all very complicated. But John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) seems to have a handle on it. Born with a gift he says no human should ever have he has the ability to see what he calls "half-breeds"--angels and demons that walk the earth in human skin (and apparently there are a lot of them). Of course the horror of it is too much to bear and Constantine tries to take his own life. But he fails. Now having been to hell and back again quite literally Constantine is marked as an attempted suicide with a temporary lease on life. He patrols the earthly border between heaven and hell acting as an exorcist of sorts. Of course the guy isn't doing it because he feels empathy for the human race or anything. It's for purely selfish reasons. He hopes that if he sends the devil's foot soldiers back to the depths he'll gain some kind of redemption a free get-out-of-jail card so to speak. Constantine's attitude changes however when a skeptical police detective Angela (Rachel Weisz) enlists his help in solving the mysterious death of her beloved twin sister. They end up uncovering a twisted master plan brewing between the demons and angels which could bring about a catastrophic series of otherworldly events. Perfect.
John Constantine is a little like The Matrix's Neo--an ultra-cool but tormented man of little words with a sardonic fatalistic outlook on life who kicks a myriad of nasty-looking demons (instead of a myriad of nasty-looking machines) back from whence they came. Yes Reeves has done this before but that's because he's good at it. You can't blame him for sticking with something that works. Weisz also holds her own as the devoutly religious Angela who nonetheless has a hard time believing there are actual angels and demons running around among us. That is of course until she spends about 10 minutes with Constantine and sees just how real they are. As far as the rest of the humans in the film Shia LaBeouf (Holes) does a nice comical turn as Constantine's sidekick and protégé while Djimon Hounsou (In America) works his voodoo mojo as a witch doctor who has a long-standing if strained relationship with Constantine. The not-so-human counterparts are equally intriguing. Peter Stormare (Fargo) delivers a somewhat over-the-top but devilishly eccentric performance as Satan. Tilda Swinton (The Deep End) dons the wings of the arch-angel Gabriel to whom Constantine is always asking for a reprieve but who has got her own agenda.
Based on the DC Comics/Vertigo comic-book Hellblazer Constantine is demonic eye candy. Obviously inspired by the many music videos he's helmed in the past director Francis Lawrence making his feature film debut paints a pretty dark and moody world with shadowy wet rat-infested (or cockroach-infested) corners that hide the horrific demon half-breeds as well as all other kinds of terrible baddies. Then when we get into Hades itself where the demons and seplavites--a sub-genre of the damned who are sightless mindless soul eaters--prowl it's an apocalyptic landscape. Lovely place. Unfortunately the script isn't nearly as stimulating. It must be an arduous task adapting a series of comic books so to his credit screenwriter Kevin Brodbin does do a nice job introducing us to Constantine and his world. But Brodbin seems to have incorporated too much. As the action escalates more and more plot points and characters are thrown in complicating matters. By the time the long-winded climax is over you're exhausted.
Puerto Rico's Chayanne and Mexico's Pilar Montenegro were the big winners at the Billboard Latin Music Awards in Miami Thursday night, taking home three awards each.
Spanish trio Las Ketchup, Mexican group Mana, Argentine-Mexican duo Sin Bandera and Mexico's Los Temerarios and Lupilla Rivera all walked away with two awards each.
Latin stars Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Enrique Iglesias, Luis Miguel, India and Juanes picked up one trophy each at the ceremony.
For the first time in the show's history, awards were also given for label of the year in various genres. Sony Discos led the way as the top label on six Billboard charts, including Hot Latin Tracks, Top Latin Albums, Latin Pop Airplay, Tropical/Salsa Airplay, Latin Pop Albums, and Tropical/Salsa Albums.
This year's event included two special award presentations. Mexican composer/singer Armando Manzanero was honored with the Billboard Hall of Fame Award for his contribution to Latin music.
Panamanian rapper El General, meanwhile, received the Spirit of Hope Award for his work with Ninos Pobres Sin Fronteras (Poor Children With No Borders), the Panama-based foundation he created and supports.
Ricky Martin, who performed the song "Tal Vez (Maybe)," was honored with Telemundo's Star award.
Other performers included Chayanne and Montenegro, who performed their hit songs, and Mexican star Thalia, who won the female pop album of the year for Thalia and the Telemundo Viewers Choice award. A.B. Quintanilla, Alexandre Pires, Gilberto Santa Rosa, India Kumbia Kings, and Lupillo Rivera also performed at the ceremony.
Below is a complete list of winners at the 2003 Billboard Latin Music Awards, presented May 8 at the Miami Arena.
Hot Latin Track Of The Year: "Y Tu Te Vas" Chayanne (Sony Discos)
Hot Latin Track Of The Year, Vocal Duo: "Por Ese Hombre" Brenda K. Starr With Tito Nieves and Victor Manuelle (Sony Discos)
Hot Latin Tracks Artist Of The Year: Alexandre Pires (RCA/BMG Latin)
Songwriter Of The Year: Estefano (10 titles)
Producer Of The Year: Rudy Perez (8 titles)
Latin Pop Album Of The Year, Male: Un Dia Normal Juanes (Surco/Universal Latino)
Latin Pop Album Of The Year, Female: Thalia Thalia (EMI Latin)
Latin Pop Album Of The Year, Duo or Group: Revolucion De Amor Mana (Warner Latina)
Latin Pop Album Of The Year, New Artist: Las Ketchup Las Ketchup (Shaketown/Columbia/Sony Discos)
Top Latin Albums Artist Of The Year: Los Temerarios (Fonovisa/UG)
Latin Rock Album Of The Year: Revolucion De Amor Mana (Warner Latina)
Tropical/Salsa Album Of The Year, Male: Viceversa Gilberto Santa Rosa (Sony Discos)
Tropical/Salsa Album Of The Year, Female: Latin Songbird: Mi Alma Y Corazon India (Sony Discos)
Tropical/Salsa Album Of The Year, Duo or Group: Confesiones... Monchy & Alexandra (J&N/Sony Discos)
Tropical/Salsa Album Of The Year, New Artist: Un Gran Dia En El Barrio Spanish Harlem Orchestra (Ropeadope/AG)
Regional Mexican Album Of The Year, Male Solo Artist: Amorcito Corazon Lupillo Rivera (Sony Discos)
Regional Mexican Album Of The Year, Male Group: Una Lagrima No Basta Los Temerarios (Fonovisa/UG)
Regional Mexican Album Of The Year, Female Group or Female Solo Artist: Libre Jennifer Pena (Univision/UG)
Regional Mexican Album Of The Year, New Artist: A Toda Onda La Onda (EMI Latin)
Latin Greatest Hits Album Of The Year: Grandes Exitos Chayanne (Sony Discos)
Latin Compilation Album Of The Year: Las 30 Cumbias Mas Pegadas Various Artists (Disa/UG)
Latin Jazz Album Of The Year: The Shadow Of The Cat Gato Barbieri (Peak/Concord)
Latin Dance Club Play Track Of The Year: "Escape/Escapar (Remixes)" Enrique Iglesias (Interscope/Universal Latino)
Latin Dance Single Of The Year: "Alive (Thunderpuss Remix)" Jennifer Lopez (Epic)
Latin Rap Album Of The Year: A La Reconquista Hector & Tito (VI Music/Universal Latino)
Publisher Of The Year: EMI April, ASCAP
Publishing Corporation Of The Year: EMI Music Publishing
Latin Pop Airplay Track Of The Year, Male: "Y Tu Te Vas" Chayanne (Sony Discos)
Latin Pop Airplay Track Of The Year, Female: "Quitame Ese Hombre" Pilar Montenegro (Univision)
Latin Pop Airplay Track Of The Year, Duo or Group: "Entra En Mi Vida" Sin Bandera (Sony Discos)
Latin Pop Airplay Track Of The Year, New Artist: "Entra En Mi Vida" Sin Bandera (Sony Discos)
Tropical/Salsa Airplay Track Of The Year, Male: "Viviendo" Marc Anthony (Columbia/Sony Discos)
Tropical/Salsa Airplay Track Of The Year, Female: "Por Ese Hombre" Brenda K. Starr (Sony Discos)
Tropical/Salsa Airplay Track Of The Year, Duo or Group: "Te Quiero Igual Que Ayer" Monchy & Alexandra (J&N/Sony Discos)
Tropical/Salsa Airplay Track Of The Year, New Artist: "Asereje" Las Ketchup (Sony Discos)
Regional Mexican Airplay Track Of The Year, Male Solo Artist: "Te Solte La Rienda" Lupillo Rivera (Sony Discos)
Regional Mexican Airplay Track Of The Year, Male Group: "Perdoname Mi Amor" Conjunto Primavera (Fonovisa)
Regional Mexican Airplay Track Of The Year, Female Group or Female Solo Artist: "Quitame Ese Hombre (version nortena)" Pilar Montenegro (Univision)
Regional Mexican Airplay Track Of The Year, New Artist: "Quitame Ese Hombre (version nortena)" Pilar Montenegro (Univision)
Latin Christian/Gospel Album Of The Year: Storm Fernando Ortega (Word)
Latin Tour Of The Year: Luis Miguel (Warner Latina)
Hot Latin Tracks Label Of the Year: Sony Discos
Top Latin Albums Label Of the Year: Sony Discos
Latin Pop Airplay Label Of the Year: Sony Discos
Tropical/Salsa Airplay Label Of the Year: Sony Discos
Regional Mexican Airplay Label Of the Year: Fonovisa
Latin Pop Albums Label Of the Year: Sony Discos
Tropical/Salsa Albums Label Of the Year: Sony Discos
Regional Mexican Albums Label Of the Year: Univision Music Group
The winners are determined by sales and airplay measured by Nielsen SoundScan and Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems, respectively, reflected in the Billboard charts for the issues dated Feb. 16, 2002, through Feb. 8, 2003.