A lot of our friends would be surprised that Victor and I often see James Bond movies opening weekend, placing us more as the kind of people who would go and see Synecdoche, New York or Happy-Go-Lucky the first chance we got.
Victor reminds me that I brought James Bond into our lives. When we met, Victor inclined more towards the art house and revival house stuff. I did, too, but I grew up with James Bond movies and wouldn't miss a new one. There's something nostalgic and satisfying about an entertaining Hollywood action movie.
There's nothing particularly nostalgic about the new James Bond movie, though. For one thing, there's nothing nostalgic about Daniel Craig. I enjoy his Bond, but the character he's created is a very different quantity than the sly charmers portrayed by Sean Connery and Roger Moore. Craig's Bond is all subtext--he delivers on the action, but you might wish he weren't so sad about it.
The newest iteration of the Batman series shares this broodiness. I happen to enjoy it (being fond of heroes with consciences); I can understand, though, the disappointment of those who prefer their fun unadulterated by qualms.
The shift in the emotional tenor of blockbuster action movies may be due in part to our living in a more thoughtful time, I suppose (wouldn't it be pretty to think so). It is likely more directly due to the enlistment of serious creative talent--Marc Forster (Monster's Ball) directing a James Bond movie?
And the writers include Paul Haggis (Crash)?
Yes and yes.
As long as Hollywood keeps recruiting indie talent into blockbuster projects, blockbuster projects are going to keep delivering angst-ridden heroes along with spectacular explosions.
After all, audiences seem to like it.