Posts Tagged ‘ Sean Connery ’

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)

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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.

 

 

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.

Dr. No (1962) – 4/5

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Slow, but well paced and suspenseful Bond with an engaging, trademark confusing plot and a winning performance from Sean Connery who finally somewhat lives up to his reputation. It was the man’s first outing as Bond here and he had something to prove, and he pulls it off for the most part. He’s young(ish) and athletic(ish) and charming, yet believable as this trained killer not afraid to get down and dirty when circumstances require him to. He’s still not the best, in my opinion, but he’s certainly better here than he’s been in later films in the series.

The plot is okay, a bit confusing. Something about blowing up a space shuttle with a satellite? And there’s an island full of radiation for some reason that Bond and Co. are exposed to for several days yet don’t seem to suffer any long-term effects from as far as we know. Ah, ignorance of the dangers of long-term exposure to heavy radiation: the 60s were truly a magical time. But the plot is okay for the most part; nothing great or unique, but it kept my attention. The editing was a bit wonky at times, though, probably due to the filmmaking limitations of the time, and there were a few moments here and there that felt cheap, namely the **SPOILERS** way Bond escaped from his prison through a conveniently placed air duct that just happened to be with him in his cell. **END SPOILERS** But whatever; it’s a Bond film, not exactly the most realistic of movie series.

Overall, a solid Bond film; exciting and suspenseful and well acted by Connery, finally. And the women in this actually have personality traits that go beyond “dumb” and “easy,” though calling them fully fledged characters would be a stretch. I was impressed, though, with the fact that the main Bond girl here finally has a good, legitimate reason to be in a bikini for most of the second half of the picture. It’s gratuitous and silly, yes, but it makes sense in terms of who she is and what she’s doing at that particular moment in the story, and, frankly, she looks damn good in it. Can’t argue with results, I say.

So yeah, good movie, recommended.

The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) – 3/5

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Goofy Bond film with an initially promising plot that’s quickly mired by silly sight gags and lame, borderline slapstick humor. What in god’s name were they thinking? To fuse such a potentially serious story with such ridiculous scenarios, especially the whole head-slappingly moronic bit with the **SPOILERS** overweight Southern police officer that just goes on and on and isn’t funny in the slightest. **END SPOILERS** Who’s bright idea was it to turn Bond into a buddy cop film? And a lame one at that. Granted it’s only for a few scenes, but man are they awful and inappropriate.

That aside, the film just isn’t all that interesting save a few bits here and there. The notion of Bond being tailed by **SPOILERS** the world’s greatest hit-man **END SPOILERS** is great, but what they end up doing with it feels really uninspired, especially given all the inappropriate humor they jam in there whenever they get a chance, which is often. What a waste of Christopher Lee, a great actor who’s pretty good here, but not given all that much to do most of the time. And I never quite understood what the deal with the golden gun was: is it that he charges one million dollars per hit, or that his bullets cost a million dollars, or both? I didn’t get it. Not that it matters all that much, but still, it was confusing. I did like his little henchman there, though, played by Hervé Villechaize; he’s silly and ridiculous and obviously just there to serve as yet another inappropriate pre-80s politically correct era sight gag, but the actor brings a certain much-needed charm to a film that is otherwise lacking in it.

Overall, not a great Bond by any means, probably one of the worst, actually. It’s silly and dumb and more of a goofy comedy than an action thriller type film. The action set pieces aren’t even all that great, come to think of it. Yeah, the **SPOILERS** car flipping and landing in the same shot **END SPOILERS** is kind of cool, but it only lasts like 3 seconds and is arguably the only memorable moment in the thing. Lame. It’s not a terrible film, just not very good by other Bond standards. I do like Roger Moore as Bond, though; he may just be my favorite Bond so far. Blasphemy, I know, but at least he both looks and speaks the part, unlike Sean Connery. Watch if you’re a fan of the series and don’t mind being disappointed. Otherwise, avoid.

Thunderball (1965) – 4.5/5

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Nearly perfect Bond movie full of old-timey thrills and chills and cool underwater fight scenes and a plot that actually isn’t all that difficult to follow for once. And, of course, Sean Connery’s chest hair. Most important of all, though, the movie is quite entertaining and enjoyable despite its predictable formula, which I barely even noticed for the most part. A Bond film that feels fresh and new despite it essentially being a rehash of stuff we’ve seen dozens of times before? Well damn, I’m impressed.

The film is of course still an older Bond movie, and, as such, is amazingly sexist, especially at the beginning when Bond **SPOILERS** practically blackmails a girl into having sex with him in a sauna. **END SPOILERS** Yes I know it’s played off as a joke of sorts, but wow, can you imagine the main character of an action film today doing something like that? He’d be tarred and feathered. Granted the film isn’t as blatantly sexist as past Bonds have been, but wow, they were truly living in different times back then. Now sexism in film is a lot more subtle, and aimed mostly at men, and usually in comedies. Ah, how times have changed.

The story is pretty good for the most part, though it falls apart a bit at the end. As with most movies, this one is too long by about 20 minutes, with the latter half of the second act taking the brunt of what could have been avoidable had they cut more of it out. It’s not terrible, it’s just not as good as everything that came before it; it feels too stretched out at times, like the filmmakers wanted to squeeze one or two more action beats in before wrapping things up. But the pace is solid until then, the underwater action great and probably groundbreaking for its time, the cinematography/editing controlled and intelligent, the writing smart, and the acting dead on, especially from Connery who didn’t annoy me for once.

Overall, I really enjoyed this a lot. It’s probably one of the best Bond films I’ve seen, full of excitement and action and attractive, scantily clad women, with some nice bits of humor sprinkled here and there to keep things light where appropriate. And the story is so much easier to follow than previous Bond films; it felt good to finally know what the hell was going on for once. Sure, some of the things that happen are silly and require a great deal of suspension of disbelief, like when Bond **SPOILERS** magically spots a sunken underwater plane buried in nearly perfect camouflage, **END SPOILERS**and there are a few technical faults here and there, which is jarring given the polish of today’s films. But those are easy to dismiss.

Great film. See it if you’re a Bond fan, or a fan of action adventure films in general.

 

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.