Posts Tagged ‘ James Bond in film ’

Live and Let Die (1973)

Live-and-Let-Die

Terrible Roger Moore Bond flick that left me angry and shaken and wanting revenge. Just awful on every possible level. I mean, magic and voodoo? In a Bond flick? Really? Whose idea was it exactly to turn the next installment of the series into a cheesy 1940s supernatural horror film? Who, I ask? WHO?!?

Terrible editing, acting, story, music choices, you name it. The only sort of okay actor here, other than Moore who really, really tries despite the god awful material, was Jane Seymour who played the ridiculous fortune-teller character. Idiotic and totally out of character for a Bond film, yes, but she does a good job in the role and, frankly, is quite easy on the eyes, as they say.

But no, awful. Stay away.

Watch this one instead. Way, way  better.
(Yes, I’ve sold out. Extended periods of unemployment will do that to you.)

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Quick Reviews: Marie Antoinette (2006), Iron Man 3 (2013), The Living Daylights (1987), The Iceman (2012), The Unknown Woman (2006), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), Licence to Kill (1989), Man of Steel (2013), This Is the End (2013)

photo posted on post-gazette.com

Marie Antoinette (2006)

Brilliantly funny hipster period piece. Extremely well shot, directed, acted, everything, especially the first two-thirds. Loved it. Sofia Coppola is a female Kubrick in a way; truly the best mainstream female director working today, and one of the best directors to come out in a long, long time. Better than her father, at least, who’s certainly no slouch himself.  The woman has such a strong filmmaking voice, maybe even a born filmmaker. She’s not for everyone, I’m sure, but man, to those who get her, what a treat. Who says women can’t make good films? Not this guy. Not anymore, at least. Strongly recommended.

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Iron Man 3 (2013)

Wacky action film that doesn’t always work. Weird plot, kind of goofy, stupid. Guy Pierce is good, as is James Badge Dale who plays his second banana, and the little kid, and Ben Kingsley of course, despite the SHOCKING BIG REVEAL in the second act. It’s entertaining and has its moments, but I didn’t like it as much as I enjoyed the second one. It’s just silly when you get right down to it, especially compared to the sort of realism the series established in the first two films. And what was with the “fire-breathing” scene? Dumb. Eh.

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The Living Daylights (1987)

Awesome, epic Bond. Romantic and sweeping; really takes the series to a whole new, totally unexpected level. It’s the Lawrence of Arabia of Bond films. Great acting all around too, especially from Timothy Dalton who certainly looks the part. He’s not as good as Roger Moore, but he’s definitely very good in the role. Better than Connery, that’s for sure. And the Bond girl is actually not just the eye candy for once, not totally at least, and the plot is so easy to follow. And what a great ending action set piece! Just a truly great piece of filmmaking, and one of the reasons I’ve fallen in love with this series. Strongly recommended.

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The Iceman (2012)

Decent, very well acted film with a premise that keeps things interesting enough despite the thing’s lack of conflict and plot for almost half its running time. Michael Shannon is brilliant as the sociopathic hit man, as are Ray Liotta and Chris Evans. Just extremely well acted all around. The editing is a bit odd at times though, and could have used some more stationary shots, and the dialogue is kind of clunky here and there, but nothing too terrible. The film is just a simple, solid, straightforward story with no big surprises or revelations or insights of any kind. It could have been deeper, sure, but it works as it is, I guess. Good, but not great. Watch for the acting.

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The Unknown Woman (2006)

Disturbing, rape and violence filled film I knew nothing about going into that left me crying and shaking in a corner by the time it was all said and done. The main character is really good here, especially considering what she’s put through. Granted it’s all movie “make-believe,” but man, those must have been quite the hellish scenes to shoot. The story itself is sick and disturbing, yet full of passion and immense, almost overwhelming sadness and longing. And it’s all held together by a strong emotional backbone that helps elevate the thing to a state well above what would otherwise be little more than exploitation.

But man is some of it hard to watch, especially the horrific flashback scenes of…I don’t even know what they were exactly. And that’s what makes the thing so frightening; you don’t know what happened to her exactly, or how she ended up where she did. You just get a few glimpses of it, some pieces of the puzzle, but you’re never told exactly what or why or how. I also really enjoyed the film’s distinct style and pace, and what a great, suspenseful first act. The ending didn’t make a whole lot of sense, what with the whole **SPOILERS** jail aspect, **END SPOILERS** but whatever. Pretty damn good film, but really hard to watch. Recommended, if you have the stomach for it.

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Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Pretty damn good, brainless sequel to a movie I hated. Yes it’s stupid and the plot makes little to no sense, like **SPOILERS** how the hell there wouldn’t be any space ships to provide security around Earth to prevent the kind of thing that happens at the end of the second act of this movie from happening, **END SPOILERS**, but so what? It’s fun and entertaining and well acted, and it has some pretty great moments of action, like the **SPOILERS** warp drive chase sequence where the Enterprise is blown apart and people get sucked into hyperspace. **END SPOILERS** Awesome. And so much running. Everything is frantic and fast paced and flashy, like living in a world run entirely by Apple, and that Benedict Cumberbatch, man, what a villain. Just mindless fun. Not sure why I enjoyed it way more than I did the first, but it was a definite improvement. Recommended.

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Licence to Kill (1989)

Violent, brutal Bond that reminded me a lot of Scarface. It’s very different, but not in a bad way, though it did take a while to get used to. It’s just a lot more grisly and violent and downright gory than most other Bond movies, with lots of mutilations and scenes torture and dismemberment. A sign of the times, I guess. There’s also a lot less sexism here, which I imagine is another sign of the times. And what a great end battle. Pretty good Bond, though very different.

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Man of Steel (2013)

An okay, overwhelmingly chaotic film with a few good moments here and there and some great action, though way, way, WAY too much destruction and death for a PG-13 film, especially at the end. And what was with all the 9/11 imagery? What the hell, Hollywood? Stop using tragic real life imagery to infuse your dumb, otherwise lifeless action movies with a sense of unearned emotional gravitas. It’s manipulative, lazy, and, frankly, a bit immoral. This isn’t a historical piece, folks, it’s just a stupid Superman movie. The guy flies around in a pair of tights, for crying out loud. No need to bring September 11th into it.

The editing too is quite terrible; it’s just too quick, and makes the whole thing feel like a two and a half hour commercial. There’s no sense of pause, no moment for any of the characters, and, in turn, the audience, to breathe. As a result, every scene of this movie feels exactly the same. Everything is shot at you at breakneck speed, faster than a speeding bullet, you could even say, har har. But seriously, there’s no tension, and very little suspense. Terrible, terrible editing. And such a stupid plot.

But it’s not a terrible movie, not completely. Like I said, it has its moments. It’s also very dark, especially at the end when Superman does something to someone you don’t quite expect a benevolent superhero to do. It definitely plays around with the mythology of the character, and I can see why some people would be angry with it, though I thought most of the changes it made were for the better. Still, it’s not a great movie. Not the worst thing in the world, but it certainly could have used a hell of a lot more work, namely with its editing.

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This Is the End (2013)

What the hell did I just watch? Ridiculous and clunky and way too long and self-indulgent. Very little of the film works once it kicks into gear after about minute 20 or so, and what does work makes very little to no sense. The film feels like it was written by a bunch of 12 year olds, and shot on a budget of $500. The cinematography/editing is awful and the mythology the thing tries to establish is spotty at best and highly inaccurate at worst, as much as a comedy about a bunch of celebrities stuck in the middle of the apocalypse can be inaccurate, that is. But, it has its moments. It’s very funny throughout, and some of the acting is pretty damn good, not just from Danny McBride who of course steals every scene he’s in, but also from lead Jay Baruchel who’s actually a pretty damn good actor. Why don’t people put him in more stuff? And the CGI actually doesn’t look half bad for a comedy. Not half bad at all.

But man, what a terrible story, and so poorly directed. Ugh. Felt like I was watching a student film at times. At least we get to see **SPOILERS** stupid James Franco and fat ugly untalented overrated Jonah Hill **END SPOILERS** bite the dust in a series of gruesome and twisted ways, the latter especially. Certainly didn’t see that coming. Not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, but not terrible. Has its moments, but not something I’d recommend going to see immediately. Or ever if you’re not a fan.

Never Say Never Again (1983)

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What the hell was this? A monstrosity masquerading as a James Bond film, with an ancient looking Sean Connery going to a wellness center at the beginning of the film, or was that a retirement home? What in god’s name were they thinking? A Bond movie that starts off with him being shipped off to a retirement home for being too old? Is this a joke? Not only that, but by sheer coincidence the retirement/wellness home happens to be the same place where the main villain is beginning to hatch his evil plan! Wow, what are the odds? And it only gets worse from there.

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God, I can’t even… This movie was so bad, so bad. I just about gave up once Rowan Atkinson showed up. And then the shark sonar, god, why? WHY?  Just awful and cheap and terrible in almost every respect. And Connery is so old and sleazy looking, and yet all the women just can’t get enough of him. And such a promising story too. How could you screw up something like this, and so badly? I don’t understand it. They didn’t even use the proper 007 title sequence for god’s sake. It was almost painful to keep watching, but I gritted my teeth and hung in there, hoping against hope for something, anything worth hanging on to. But nope. The villain is good, but everything else is a complete disaster.

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It’s almost intentionally terrible. It must have been. A clear punishment to the fans for their clear abandonment of Connery and their loyal devotion to Roger Moore, maybe. Well, consider me disciplined. Traumatized even, from Bond films, forever. It’s so bad. Words don’t do it justice.

Overall, stay away. Stay FAR FAR AWAY. Never Say Never Again indeed. NEVER EVER AGAIN.

 

 

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

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Decent Bond with a very slow first act that seems to go on forever, but eventually takes a turn for the better once the plot sort of kicks in and the world is thrust into sudden danger yet again, I think. I don’t really remember. The plot escapes me, though I think it had something to do with nuclear weapons and a submarine, I don’t know. It wasn’t entirely preposterous, just somewhat so, which is rare for a Bond film given their tendency to have really ridiculous, over the top plots full of crazy schemes that would never in a million years happen in “real life.” The plot isn’t too zany here, though not too memorable either, I guess. Everything else is okay for the most part.

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Not much to say about this one. Other than the meandering first third, it’s typical Bond. The action set pieces are okay, though the first one with the parachute was somewhat impressive, if a bit tired. And yeah there are plenty of half-naked women all over the place, more so than in most Bond movies come to think of it. There’s even some actual brief nudity here and there, which was somewhat surprising. Bond films have always given the illusion of nudity, but to outright show it like they do here? Wow. Bold. And so much sexual innuendo. Individual moments do feel a bit recycled though, especially near the end with the **SPOILERS** villain’s indoor fortress rail system **END SPOILERS** looking suspiciously like the one Dr. No has at the end of one of the films he’s in. What happened, guys, did you run out of evil villain layer ideas? The romance was a nice touch, though, especially the predictable yet nonetheless creative “twist” in the second act where she **SPOILERS** promises to kill Bond once the mission is over. **END SPOILERS** Made for some nice moments.

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Overall, not a bad Bond. Certainly not the best, just good, barely. The plot was good but the execution is stale at times, though mostly because it feels like a rip off of what other Bond films have done in the past. And the first half hour or so is so slow, ugh. Roger Moore is good at least, though he doesn’t have as much to do despite being the main character. But the romance was interesting, and the ending battle is **SPOILERS** surprisingly quick and brutal. **END SPOILERS** No big epic battle there, strangely enough.

So, not a bad film, just nothing special. Worth watching if you’re a completist.

A View to a Kill (1985)

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Entertaining Bond film with a suspenseful, though ultimately ridiculous plot that fortunately doesn’t fully reveal itself until the last half hour or so, not that it’s necessarily all bad once it does. It’s a traditional hair-brained Bond villain scheme, full of big explosions and mass destruction and something about making lots of money through the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, all helmed rather admirably by Christopher Walken who is arguably one of the best Bond villains I’ve seen yet. Man can that guy act evil when he wants to. And Roger Moore is of course great as always, though so very, very old. How old was he here, 60? Man. But fun movie.

Like I mentioned earlier, the real strength of the film is its suspense. You’re not really let in on what the “big evil plan” is until the last half hour or so, you only get pieces of it here and there, which makes for quite the engaging mystery. You know it’s going to be something big, you just don’t quite know what it is, and it works. An engaging mystery in a spy film? Who’d a thought? The film is also smart; not always mind you, but some scenes and plot points here and there are very clever and well written. Don’t get me wrong: the film is also chock full of really dumb moments, but it’s a Bond film so some occasional silliness is to be expected. You just hope the smart moments outweigh the dumb ones, which in this case they kind of do. But man was the opening scene with the skis stupid. Poorly shot, edited, and so ridiculous, especially given Moore’s age. It’s arguably the lowest point in the film, but it comes in hard and fast and quick, and is over before you know it. That’s what she said, har har! Ugh.

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Overall, very enjoyable Bond. Sure, some of it is stupid, especially the overall “plan” which is kind of a mix of the intelligent and the ridiculous, but, again, that’s to be expected of a Bond film. And yeah the direction is kind of lame and the action sequences kind of flat save the last one. But it’s a fun movie, it’s suspenseful, it’s engaging, it’s well acted, especially from Walken, and I was surprised to see the lady from That 70’s Show, Tanya Roberts, as the Bond girl here. Man was she gorgeous back in the day, and it was interesting to see that her annoying, nasally voice was just as ear-splitting then as it is now. I was also a bit disturbed by a scene near the end of the second act where **SPOILERS** Walken guns down dozens of innocent construction workers trying to keep from drowning after he floods their tunnel. **END SPOILERS** I understand he’s supposed to be a psychopath and all that, but man was that brutal and violent, even for a Bond film. And the crazed, gleeful look on Walken’s face as he does so certainly didn’t make the scene any easier to handle. It was almost like something out of another movie.

Anyway, good Bond film, very entertaining. Strongly recommended.

Octopussy (1983)

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Extremely enjoyable though occasionally goofy Bond flick with a traditionally kooky plot that is nonetheless fun and exciting and full of great action scenes and an almost obscene amount of sexual innuendo, starting with the title. And what a great performance from Roger Moore in what has to be his best Bond yet, and that’s saying something. He’s just so dead on, so smooth and elegant and charming, and his facial expressions whenever a character says the word “octopussy” are downright hilarious. Truly the best Bond ever, despite his age here. Sean Connery who, I ask.

Though the film is one of the stronger of the series, with a plot that’s not entirely difficult to follow and one of the best final action set pieces I’ve ever seen in a Bond movie, it suffers from the same issue a lot of the other Bond films do in the action department, namely, that they’re all extremely silly. Not sure why so many Bond films of this era do this, where the deadly serious, relatively realistic tone is momentarily given the heave-ho in favor of ridiculous scenarios and/or slapstick the moment an action scene or a chase sequence starts. **SPOILERS** Tarzan scene, I’m looking at you. **END SPOILERS** What gives? Just keep the film tonally consistent throughout, damn it! It’s very distracting and almost ruins the film at times. Fortunately it always bounces back, but man, totally unnecessary. The action scene in the last third of the film, though, is truly spectacular, starting with **SPOILERS** the race to stop the bomb and ending in one of the most nail-biting fight scenes on top of an airplane I’ve ever seen, made even more intense by the fact that it was all done by filming actual stunt people hanging off the airplane. No green screen or CGI here, at least where the main actors weren’t involved. **END SPOILERS** Yikes. Brilliant. And not goofy at all. Why couldn’t all the other action scenes have taken themselves this seriously?

Overall, I loved this film. It’s entertaining and enjoyable and funny, the various countries Bond visits and cultures he immerses himself in are portrayed beautifully, the action, at least at the end, is some of the best I’ve ever seen, Moore is even better than usual, the sexual innuendo is prominent and hilarious, and the story is actually somewhat multilayered yet not overly complicated. And, for once, **SPOILERS** no Bond girls die, nor are they even all that evil. **END SPOILERS** Wasn’t expecting that.

Just a great, great film. A touch long near the middle, but very, very good. It’s pure Bond, and one of the best ever. Strongly recommended.

Moonraker (1979) – 4/5

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Enjoyably silly Bond flick that tries to spin the old, tired formula in a new direction, and succeeds, mostly, even if some of it feels unnecessarily goofy at times. But the plot is sort of unique, the visuals are pretty nice, and the last third or so are unlike anything we’ve seen in a Bond film before, or since, probably. And the girls are pretty, the stunts are great, and Roger Moore gives yet another winning performance, further cementing him in my mind as the best Bond ever. What more could you ask for? A comprehensible plot? A consistent tone? Three-dimensional female characters? Nah, who needs ’em?

Anyway, the film is pretty good, as I said. The opening sequence is outstanding, probably one of the best stunt/fight scenes ever filmed. The action is so well done, you almost forget that there’s no way in hell a person as old as Moore is in this film could have possibly survived something like it, let alone get out of it with barely a scratch. But great, great stunt filmmaking. You just don’t see stuff like this anymore, and for good reason: someone could have died. Frankly, I’m surprised no one did. Nothing else in the film tops it in terms of action, though the last third, set on **SPOILERS** a space station ala “2001” **END SPOILERS** comes pretty close despite its complete lack of realism. The whole **SPOILERS** space fight sequence with the marines coming out of the space shuttle to battle the floating space station soldiers **END SPOILERS** was hilarious and ridiculous and unique and very enjoyable all at the same time. Ha ha!

The plot is okay: something about a stolen space shuttle owned by a crazy guy who looks and sounds suspiciously like Orson Welles. It’s not the most brilliant plot in the world, but it works, and it gets appropriately more insane as it goes along until it becomes just downright ridiculous, but whatever, it’s a Bond flick. Some scenes were shot really beautifully too, and, at times, like something out of a horror film, especially the “dog chase” sequence that felt like it could have easily fit into a Friday the 13th film. Talk about dark, geez. It wouldn’t surprise me if the director or cinematographer here had some experience making horror films in the past. An interesting choice, I think. The **SPOILERS** cable car sequence was also pretty cool, **END SPOILERS** though, again, a touch silly.

Overall, I liked this film. Not the best Bond ever, but certainly the most ambitious, even if the plot is wonky and often hard to take seriously. There’s also a lot of forced goofiness at times, like the whole **SPOILERS** gondola chase sequence, complete with pigeon doing a double-take as Bond speeds past, and the insane fight sequence between Bond and an Asian assassin inside a museum full of priceless glass artifacts they just can’t help but all smash. **END SPOILERS** There are a ton of such unnecessary moments sprinkled in, actually. I understand that this stuff was put in as an attempt to inject the thing with humor, but let’s not get carried away here. Crack some jokes or something if you want people to laugh, don’t resort to **SPOILERS** having a man with iron teeth bite through a steel cable, or having a chase sequence between a cable car and Bond as he propels himself and his love interest several hundred feet down a steel cable with only his hands. **END SPOILERS** Just plain silly.

But, I enjoyed it. And the reference to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” was a nice touch, as was the Jaws character, ridiculous teeth and all. Stupid, but entertaining and well made. Worth a watch, definitely.