Posts Tagged ‘ james bond ’

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.)

Never Say Never Again (1983)

NSNACreamSuit

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.

NeverSay10

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.

neversayneveragain-surprise

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)

Spy2

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.

Spy1

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.

Spy3

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)

View2

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.

View1

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.

For Your Eyes Only (1981) – 4/5

Above average James Bond film full of the usual explosions, car chases, shootings, and casual sex the series is known for, but with a few extra touches of artistic flair here and there to keep things interesting. And Roger Moore is pretty good here as Bond; suave, charming, intelligent, though a bit old for the role, especially given some of the stunts he manages to pull off and the ages of the women he can’t seem to keep himself from effortlessly seducing. What a charmer.

The story here is typical confusing and complicated Bond stuff, (something about a sinking ship and a missing square-shaped computer-looking nuclear device that could end the world, or something), but there are enough simple scenes here and there that it doesn’t get in the way too much. The stunts/action scenes here are really great too, especially the skiing one, the underwater one, and the great, suspenseful rock climbing sequence. The underwater section especially reminded me a bit of The Abyss. Great stuff, and all done in the early 80s, wow.

Overall, yeah, really good film. The second half is better than the first, but it’s a good, solid entry into the franchise overall. And sure, not all of it makes sense, but whatever; it’s a fun action adventure film full of humor and excitement and terrible looking 80s cars, featuring a guy in his 50s who thinks he’s still in his 20s beating up bad guys and seducing women one-third his age. A typical Bond film, in other words. And what a great opening song.

Worth watching, definitely.

From Russia with Love (1963) – 4/5

Slow first half gives way to a pretty good rest once things start kicking into gear and people start dying/things start exploding. The plot is also more complex than what I’d been getting used to from Bond films. Much more complex, actually, almost too much so at times, hence the slow first half. I didn’t quite understand it all, frankly. The film does pick up eventually though, managing to deliver quite the one two punch by the end.

Not much happens in the first half other than a whole lot of talking, which I normally don’t mind but it really slows down the film here, especially considering how tense and action driven the second half turns out to be. It’s too much setup, I think. They should have maybe spread out the action a bit more, given the film a few scenes of early tension here and there rather than waiting until all the characters **SPOILERS** are on the train **END SPOILERS** before upping the ante. Once they are, though, things take on this eerie, almost sinister quality to them, with some confrontations, especially the ones between Bond and **SPOILERS** the blond villain guy who looks suspiciously like Daniel Craig **END SPOILERS** being downright disturbing at times. The villains here too seem so heartless and evil. The stuff they do to one another in the name of power, man.

Overall, not a bad film. Not the best Bond, naturally, and not wholly enjoyable, but decent enough. The plot is too complicated for its own good at times, and the first half is, as I’ve said several times now, slow, but it makes up for it with a thrilling, violent second half. Nothing great, but nothing terrible. Watch if you don’t mind a slower Bond than what you’re probably used to.

You Only Live Twice (1967) – 4/5

 

An entertaining, but relatively predictable and often hilariously sexist Bond film full of explosions and half-naked women and deformed guys sensually stroking fluffy cats. It’s a ridiculous movie, no doubt, with a silly plot that barely makes sense, but whatever; it’s fun and exciting, though it does go on a bit longer than it should. And I really don’t see what the big deal with Sean Connery is. He’s a decent actor, but he’s old and not very attractive; he simply isn’t very believable as the charming, large than life super spy that the character of James Bond is supposed to be. But maybe he just wasn’t in his element here.

The plot is okay, kind of silly, like I said before. The idea of moving the action to Japan was a nice touch: the country is beautiful and the culture seems to really rub off on the film, to an almost racist extent at times, especially during the scenes where **SPOILERS** Bond has surgery to look more “Asian,” complete with straight Asian hair being attached to his head. **END SPOILERS** Ugh. And the sexism here, god. Women serve only two purposes in this film: to look good in skimpy clothing, and to have sex with/be romantically attracted to Connery. I understand that women never really have much else to do in these types of films, but this movie doesn’t even try to hide that fact. Definitely a product of its time.

Overall, I liked the film. Sure, it’s outdated and silly, and occasionally offensive to just about everyone that isn’t white and male, but it has a few decent moments, and some iconic scenes/characters that have been stolen by a number of other films/shows over the years. The film is typical Bond: predictable plot, cool action, evil villains, attractive women, etc etc. And it’s funny at times, sometimes intentionally, sometimes otherwise. Not great, but good.

 

Diamonds Are Forever (1971) – 4/5

A violent, silly, but strangely effective James Bond film that also happens to be one of most unexpectedly hilarious action movies I’ve ever seen. I’m talking laugh a minute kind of stuff. One liners, slapstick, you name it. And it’s all very, very funny, and, most importantly, it works despite the relative seriousness normally associated with this franchise. It’s strange and off-putting at first since it flips everything you’ve come to expect about Bond on its head, but once you realize this and become comfortable with it, the film becomes quite the enjoyable ride. Just make sure to go into it with an open mind.

The film’s plot is also pretty good. Better than Goldfinger, at least. Sure it’s wacky and over the top, but it’s over the top in the way James Bond plots should be. Wild and zany and preposterous, but fun. I especially liked the fact that you don’t quite know how the villain’s evil plan comes together until the end. And the whole body double thing was a neat touch. Not sure why they don’t do it in films of this kind more often. Oh, and the two gay assassins here were great. Hilarious and creepy, they reminded me of something out of a Neil Gaiman novel, strangely enough. Inspiration, perhaps?

Anyway, overall, I enjoyed the film tremendously. Sean Connery is smarmy, the girls are sexy, the plot is interesting, and the action is pretty good for the most part. Sure, the effects look dated, and some scenes are really god dang goofy, but the film has plenty of great set pieces, including a brilliantly violent scene in an elevator that’s about as brutal and intense and well shot/edited as anything I’ve seen in an action film. And the ending shots in the oil tanker were pretty great too. All this, and the film is side-splittingly funny, more so than most comedies even. It’s probably one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen, mostly because I wasn’t expecting it to be so and was taken by complete surprise.

So yeah, I understand that this film gets a lot of crap, but I don’t care: I liked it. A lot. It’s by far one of the most enjoyable Bond films I’ve yet seen, and probably one of the most entertaining action/comedies ever made, whether intentional or otherwise. Strongly recommended.

Goldfinger (1964) – 3/5

 

Stupid James Bond action film with a dumb, illogical plot and some of the goofiest characters/villains I’ve ever seen in a Bond film, and that’s saying something. I mean, a guy who kills people by throwing his hat at them? What is this, a screwball comedy? Who in their right mind genuinely thought that that would make for a cool ability for a villain to have? Come on.

I get that it’s iconic now and all that, but it’s stupid and doesn’t make any sense, even within the context of the movie. How is throwing a hat at someone even the slightest bit threatening, let alone deadly? It just doesn’t make sense! This is supposed to be a James Bond film, full of explosions and gunfights and action based at least in part on the laws of reality. Where does hat throwing fit into all this, exactly?

Same with the Goldfinger character; what a ridiculous, poorly developed villain. So he’s obsessed with gold for some reason and, despite already being filthy rich, chooses to participate in petty con games to screw random people he meets at resorts out of money. Or so I gathered from the beginning. Okay, seems somewhat risky and needless, but maybe it’s a hobby of his, who knows? But the whole “kill via gold paint” thing is just ridiculous. It’s a cool visual, sure, but how does painting someone gold cause them to suffocate exactly? And why do it to the harmless woman and not, gee, I don’t know, James Bond, who you happened to have **SPOILERS** knocked out and placed in the perfect position to injury/kill at will? **END SPOILERS**

This happens a number of times, actually, where the villain has Bond in his grasp and can, and, logically, should, kill him, but doesn’t for whatever stupid reason. Yeah I get that it’s a staple of the series, but such scenes are so obviously contrived in Bond’s favor that they really stand out here. Just kill Bond and go on with your stupid plan already! And what a stupid plan it is. Goldfinger’s brilliant scheme is to **SPOILERS** detonate a dirty bomb in Fort Knox and render all US gold radioactive so his gold will increase in value? **END SPOILERS** Are you kidding me? That’s about the dumbest god damn plan I’ve ever….%#*^%#(#%! … *dies*

Overall, argh, stupid. Stupid, stupid film with some dumb, ridiculous villains and a plot thin enough to slice through butter. It’s not even particularly interesting or engaging or unique as far as action films go. Maybe it was at the time, but I don’t know. It’s pretty standard, run of the mill fare, only much dumber than it ought to have been. I don’t understand what all the praise for this thing is; this is supposedly the best Bond film of all time? Are you kidding me? I understand it caused quite the uproar at the time it was released, but man has this thing not aged well.

It has its moments here and there, though: I enjoyed the laser scene, the only real moment of tension in the film in my opinion, and some of the visuals were unique, and the women were pretty, though shallow and obviously just there to serve as eye candy. Everything else, though, is a stupid, illogical, uninteresting mess. Sean Connery isn’t even given all that much to do here. Best of Bond? Not by a long shot.

Definitely a product of hype, and ultimately extremely overrated.

 

Quantum of Solace (2008) – 4/5

Pretty good action sequel to “Casino Royale” that trades the thrills, gloss, and excess of the much heralded first in favor of some pretty intense violence and some rather grim subject matter, which, despite the odds, makes for an even better movie in some respects. Bad reviews be damned: I enjoyed this film. Even more so than Casino Royale, which was good but somewhat clunky and overstuffed. And the women here were hotter. There, I said it.

The movie is far darker and more psychological than the first. Replacing the glitz and shiny pretty things are blood and dirt and grit, and I can see why people who enjoyed the first and were hoping for more of the same were disappointed. But the movie is just better told overall, and realistic and much more psychological. The characters aren’t just there to smile and look pretty; they do, but they also have scars, both physical and emotional, and their presence often has purpose beyond what’s immediately apparent i.e. they’re attractive and they know how to wield a gun. I’m mostly talking about the female interest here and how much richer a character she is than I was expecting, and gorgeous as all hell, man, even though she looks way too tanned in the earlier scenes.

The film is also shot beautifully and is very clever at times with its action set ups. The opening in particular is pretty intense, and the one with the **SPOILERS** guys hanging on ropes falling and smashing through glass **END SPOILERS** sets up the gritty, violent nature of the film, and Bond’s psychological state, perfectly. And sure, the action is crazy and hard to follow at times, but so what? You still get the gist of it, and I think it was purposely edited in a confusing manner to show Bond’s careless, chaotic nature throughout the film. He’s brash and impulsive, and acts before really thinking about what he’s doing or how it will affect him and those around him, much like the action in this film. It works, and it works well.

Ultimately, I really liked this film, more so than Casino Royale. It’s much more psychological than the first, and, some could argue, less fun, but I found the added depth to be pretty refreshing in what could otherwise have been a pretty run of the mill action film. Sure, it has its problems, and some of the tamer scenes of just two characters talking feel kind of goofy for some reason, and there wasn’t enough of Gemma Arterton for my taste, but these are small quibbles. This is a solid, criminally underrated Bond film. It’s enjoyable and entertaining and, at times, a bit disturbing. All the more reason to see it.