Quantum of Solace
Director: Marc Forster

As the first acknowledged sequel in the 007 series, Quantum picks up where Casino Royale left off, with James Bond (Daniel Craig) seeking payback for the demise of his lover Vesper Lynd. Several secondary characters from the last film also return, and prior knowledge of their modus operandi is a definite plus.

But even fans with photographic recall may have trouble with this new mission, because Quantum offers little solace for anyone seeking Bond pleasures of old.

Gone are the trademark jests, the clever gadgets and the outsized plots to blow up the world. The girls are harder to bed and the locales are less exciting.

Director Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball) has taken independence and innovation a bit too far, but news is not all bad. In the case of Craig’s sophomore outing as Bond, it’s entirely good. He adds layers of emotional and physical substance to a character that had nearly become a cartoon.

The disappointing extras in the double-disc and Blu-ray sets include several making-of featurettes (ho-hum) plus the Crew Files blogs that have already been posted online.

Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter
Director: Zack Snyder

Anyone who complained about the nearly three-hour running time of Zack Snyder’s Watchmen obviously didn’t appreciate the expert trimming that kept it from clocking over four hours.

The original graphic novel by writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons included two grand digressions: Tales of the Black Freighter, a concurrent comic strip that tangents off Watchmen with an allegorical pirate theme; and Under the Hood, the tell-all tome about the Minutemen, who proceeded the Watchmen as masked vigilantes.

Rather than try and jam them into the film, Snyder has spun them as a separate DVD, with plans to integrate them into a director’s cut version of Watchmen later this year.

It’s essential viewing, and in some ways even more faithful to the source material than Snyder’s film triumph.