Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by mr_spenalzo, Mar 12, 2018.
The John Glen Bond films are the toughest for me to rank. As mentioned here, he seems more suited to action than the story and his films have this drab greyness that may have to do with the era, plus 3 of the films seem to be trying for a down to the earth Bond which isn't the one I favor. However, there are some great stunts/action contained although each film has its deficiencies.
The Brosnan Bond films are also tough for me to rank. Yes, Goldeneye is the likely peak, however there are times while watching Tomorrow Never Dies that I feel it his most quintessential Bond film. The action in that one is relentless, but my opinion depends on how awkward the shift feels after Paris's death. TWINE is the one I want to love, but there are just so many things that go astray by the end with a SUBstandard climax. It also has a bit of a soap opera feel in the interaction scenes. Die Another Day is the one people seem to all throw to the garbage pit, but this is the one where like Moonraker fanaticism kicks in. It may be the most fun for me to watch of all of Brosnan's films. The detriments are Halle Berry (oscar winner?), some too fast editing and the obvious CG in some shots. Some say the movie starts well then goes on a tangent after the fantastic swordfight and I feel that is when the movie really gets going. Easily Brosnan's kitchen sink Bond film.
The World Is Not Enough
if you want to see James Bond on Christmas.
I think Christmas came more than once a year?
The Spy Who Loved Me was my first Bond in the theaters. The pre-title sequence the Carly Simon song “Nobody Does It Better” hooked me as fan!!!
Now, I did a ranking years ago and gave Moonraker another viewing! Dolly and Tchaikovsky’s Romeo & Juliet music aside (so many thought she had braces. It would make more sense if she did to make her fall in love with Jaws as they have big smiles looking at each other), the double taking pigeon, the smirking dog, the gondola car, the Star Wars cash in, the product placements throughout (my one gripe about it now), I loved it!!! Moore still looked great! He aged noticeably after this. The next film he was in his mid fifties.
For Your Eyes Only. This one has not aged well. It was Roger Moore’s gritty, cold blooded kill Bond portrayal. Carole Bouquet gave a terrific performance. The mountain climbing scene is very suspenseful. But, Lynn-Holly Johnson fawning over Bond was cringe worthy. The Blofield knockofff beginning “steel delicatessen” seemed jarring and out of place as was the Maggie Thatcher being fooled by a parrot? And the Bill Conti disco score dates the film. John Glen’s movies feel made for TV.
I love both films but I would find myself reaching for Moonraker quicker and more often than For Your Eyes Only. Yes, my opinions on both films have changed dramatically.
Best looking? Oh, yes! Add the Spy Who Loved Me to You Only Live Twice and Moonraker (all Lewis Gilbert films and all the same film redone). Pure eye candy! Rio looks beautiful as does Venice! I had it near the bottom years ago, but it has risen dramatically! If I put it on, I can’t shut it off. The centrifuge scene being my favorite. Bond looking messed up, pushing Holly Goodhead to one side.
Moonraker is a children's movie. James Bond was not supposed to be a
children's series. If you turn Bond into a children's movie you're doing it
all wrong. The film is mind-numbing and staggeringly stoopid. It would
make better sense if they had thrown out the script and started over again
with a lean mean savage semi-surreal thriller.
My fan edit of For Your Eyes Only fixes all the things that bother you,
insofar as they can be fixed. Blofeld and Thatcher are gone, and 9/10's
of the ice-skater. The sinking of the trawler and Bond being called to
service from his wife's graveside are now the pretitle sequence as
originally intended. After the titles, Bond shows up at his office and the
attack on the yacht happens while he is enroute there. Some things can't
be fixed because they're missing. The idea that Bond feels spooked and
vulnerable that he may not survive the mission is one of those things
that can't be recovered because it was never emphasized in the shooting
like Richard Maibaum intended. I still haven't figured out how to replace
Conti's inappropriate jazz score but I know it can be done and I'm working
on it. Have chosen the Barry cues that work best (none from Thunderball,
in case you're wondering).
His heart was on the wrong side.
That must be kind of rare.
Does the toppling of missiles really compensate for having no hands. Lol
Thank you for insulting my opinion. Though with trends on the forum, I’m not surprised. You hate it for the reasons mention, I’m not going to criticize your opinion for dismissing it. You could have stated this separately. You chose to quote my opinion with your posts.
The tone of this forum makes me unwatch threads where I feel my posts are disrespected.
OHMSS is still the most well-written/well-casted one imo. Doesn't feel out of place like some of the others either. Believable.
I agree but think what OHMSS would be like if there hadn't been
two years of delays (waiting for snow to return to the Alps) and
the film had gone ahead with its original, contracted cast:
Sean Connery is James Bond.
Yul Brynner is Blofeld.
Bridgette Bardot is Tracy.
Daisuke's currently on a James Bond Discussion Live Stream. Tonight it's Casino Royal ('67):
Picking up where I left off, now hopelessly after the fact of the main thrust of the thread.
Directed by Martin Cambell. Written by Jeffrey Caine & Bruce Fierstein.
Starring Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco, Famke Janssen, Joe Don Baker, Judi Dench, Robbie Coltrane
1995, 130 minutes, Color, Rated PG-13, Panavision 2.35:1
There was a six year gap between LICENSE TO KILL (1989) and GOLDENEYE (1995). The reason for this began all the way back in the 1960's. Producer Kevin McClory worked with Ian Fleming in the late 1950's on a proposed James Bond movie that was not based on any of the books. When the movie didn't materialize, Fleming used the plot in the 1960 novel THUNDERBALL, without acknowledging (or paying) McClory. This led to a lawsuit that resulted in EON Productions (the owners of all the other stories except for Casino Royale) and McClory joining forces on the 1965 THUNDERBALL film. Additionally, McClory retained the rights to the story and certain elements that were introduced in it, notably Blofeld and S.P.E.C.T.R.E.
Flash forward to 1990, where MGM/UA was sold and the new owners decided to put the rights to the Bond franchise up for sale. This began a series of legal battles over who had the rights (due to both issues with CASINO ROYALE and THUNDERBALL) that were resolved when MGM/UA was again sold and the new owners decided to keep the franchise. Work began on the next Bond film finally began in earnest in 1994, at which time Timothy Dalton announced that he was stepping away from the role. A search for a new Bond was started and the role was ultimately offered to Pierce Brosnan, who accepted it.*
GOLDENEYE represented something of a new beginning for the series since many of the faces behind the scenes were different. Richard Maibaum, who had a hand in writing 13 of the Bond films up to that point, died in 1991. Martin Campbell ware hired to direct meaning the 5 film streak by John Glen was ended. Campbell brought an entirely new energy to the series, straddling the line between escapism and realism better than most directors tasked with helming a Bond film. John Barry was either unavailable or not asked so the music chores were handled by Michael Serra, who brought a decidedly 90's sensibility to the score. The script was handled by two new writers, Jeffrey Caine and Bruce Fierstein, and they concocted a tale that contains equal parts realism and escapist fun.
GOLDENEYE has an exceptional cast. Brosnan excels as Bond, bringing a truckload of charisma and presence to the role. He's more reminiscent of Sean Connery's physicality than any of the other three actors who had played the role up to that point. He could not quite pull off the physical presence that Connery had, but he brought a real swagger back to the role and is always believable in the fight scenes**. He also is shown frequently doing many of the stunts. Sean Bean makes for a different kind of Bond villain, and the backstory between he and Bond works well for the film. The film also features two attractive female leads in Izabella Scorupco and Famke Janssen. Janssen especially is a memorable villain and brings real panache as Xenia Onatopp. Lastly, this was the film that introduced Judi Dench as 'M'. She would go on to appear in the next six Bond films.
With the "Goldeneye" killer laser satellite, the plot brought a global threat back to the series for the first time since OCTOPUSSY and it was a welcome return. The visual effects, incorporating both miniature work by Derek Meddings and some early CGI helped sell the story immeasurably. (The CGI effects have dated far worse than Meddings' work, which I think is outstanding. Of course, I am partial to such miniature work so your mileage may vary.)
Also welcome is GOLDENEYE's humor, which is somewhat more sophisticated than had been seen in the most recent Bond films. Bond's interactions with Onatopp are especially humorous. Played down are the pithy one-liners that Moore made famous (and that Dalton could never quite bring off), with most of the humor being decidedly situational in nature. It's a welcome change, although this too would change as the Brosnan years progressed.
All in all, GOLDENEYE seemed to hint at greater things to come. Unfortunately, the Brosnan films (for me) never quite live up to the potential on display here.
GOLDENEYE was a late-era special edition laserdisc that featured a number of extra features that would be used on subsequent DVD and Blu-ray releases, including the "World of 007" television special with Elizabeth Hurley, a commentary track with director Martin Campbell and Michael G. Wilson. Up until the 4k digital versions, every release used the same video master. The Blu-Ray tweaked it somewhat but it still showed its age. The 4k version is noticeably better.
Stuff To Like:
Great special effects add immeasurable scope to the proceedings. This would prove to be Derek Meddings final film, and he went out on a high note.
Brosnan brings an entirely different energy to the part than Timothy Dalton. Dalton was never cool, but Brosnan is.
Action scenes are well handled. Especially the tank chase.
Famke Janssen steals every scene she is in, in a good way.
Humor veers away from the puerile.
Stuff to Dislike:
Bond is seemingly always confronted by bad guys who can't aim well. While not as bad as the subsequent Brosnan films, GOLDENEYE nevertheless set the path towards the increasingly laughable action scenes for Brosnan in the role. The escape from the Russian prison is ALMOST too much...almost.
CGI really dates the film to the mid-1990s.
Eh, not really a fan of Serra's music score.
*Brosnan had been offered the role in 1986 but NBC refused to release him from his Remington Steele television contract. This was a dick move since NBC had previously announced that the series had been canceled. However, when Brosnan star heated up due to the Bond talk they un-canceled the series and held him to his contract. In hindsight, this was probably a good thing as he may have been too young for the role in 1986. Nine years later he was aged both in years and personal tragedy, and both worked well for him in the role.
**This is notable because Brosnan is not a muscular guy. There is the odd shot in GOLDENEYE where you see how slight a build he really has.
TOMORROW NEVER DIES
Directed by Roger Spottiswoode. Written by Bruce Fierstein.
Starring Pierce Brosnan, Joanthan Pryce, Michelle Yeoh, Teri Hatcher, Joe Don Baker, Judi Dench
1997, 119 minutes, Color, Rated PG-13, Panavision 2.35:1
Coming quickly after GOLDENEYE, TOMORROW NEVER DIES is not one of my favorite Bond films. It does have some redeeming qualities, but by and large, I consider this a misfire. It is tempting to chalk this up to miscasting, as the villain and one of the leading ladies are woefully ineffective in their roles. However, I think the film's screenplay is more to blame. Bruce Fierstein, one of the two credited writers on GOLDENEYE, was brought back to do the sole honors on this film, though one gets the sense that the film was constructed by committee, so maybe it's not fair to lay the blame on him. The film's production seems to have been more chaotic than usual for a Bond film, and this more than anything else probably resulted in the final film's shortcomings.
We know right off the bat that something is amiss, as the pre-credit sequence is rote, lifeless and utterly lacking in tension. Bond's superhuman ability to avoiding bullets is possibly at its worst in TOMORROW, and it is on full display in the opening. Whereas GOLDENEYE spent some time building character arcs, TOMORROW just throws action at the screen hoping that no one notices that there is not much story to be had. Once we are shown that the film will largely be a paint by numbers affair, it has to work all the much harder to try and surprise us.
I am aware that everything I've said so far could be leveled at MOONRAKER, another chaotic production with a surfeit of character development and an overabundance of mindless action, which I've previously called an enjoyable Bond film. The difference--for me anyway--is in the details. MOONRAKER has a majestic John Barry score, quality widescreen photography, and is edited for maximum impact. TOMORROW looks decidedly cheap in comparison.
Jonathan Pryce is surprisingly ineffective as the villain in TOMORROW, partially because of how he plays him--breathless and impatient--but mostly because his plan makes little sense. With a nonsensical plan it becomes pointless watching him try to achieve it.
Terry Hatcher is likewise ineffectual, and this is one hundred percent due to the writing. Playing a past love of Bond's, there is not enough screen time spent building their history. We are supposed to be moved by her story, not because the film has done anything to support that, but because the film tells us we are supposed to. This is essentially the film's greatest flaw--it takes for granted that we will be invested in the story.
For me, the film finally starts to work when Michelle Yeoh becomes a co-lead. It is only during the scenes she shares with Brosnan that film finally generates the tension that had been lacking up to that point. This is because she is decidedly NOT rote and uninteresting. She is presented as very much the equal of James Bond, and the chemistry between her and Brosnan show up how poor the chemistry was between Hatcher and Brosnan. How disappointing that the film ultimately relegates her character as needing to be saved by Bond.
For me, TOMORROW NEVER DIES was a crushing disappointment after GOLDENEYE, which while not perfect, was a lot of fun. This film is only sporadically fun.
Stuff To Like:
Motorcycle chase is well done, apart from the ridiculous helicopter shenanigans.
Brosnan is adept at the role, but an aloofness has crept into his performance.
Stuff to Dislike:
Bond is seemingly always confronted by bad guys who can't aim well. How lucky for him.
The story tries to parlay a manufactured history into meaningful emotional story points. It didn't work in LICENSE TO KILL with Bond and Leiter's best buddy routine, and it doesn't work here.
Jonathan Pryce is a good actor, but I don't like his breathy delivery in this role. It also doesn't help that the character is pretty one dimensional.
I like GoldenEye a lot — but I have always been bothered by the opening scene, which begins with Bond descending into a facility at the bottom of a dam and ends up coming out at... a snowy peak at the top of a mountain?
I just noticed that my current ranking has 2 from each actor (+ Lazenby) in the top 10, except Dalton whose films sink to my bottom 8. Brosnan is the only actor where my 2 favorites are his first 2. Goldeneye is often ranked highly but I feel Tomorrow Never Dies is almost as good, and has some of the best action of the series. Some say too much action, but whereas Live and Let Die feels like one long chase sequence this one has some hills and valleys. TND is also Brosnan's YOLT or TSWLM, with the added bonus of the villain's motive being curiously timely.
My current ranking:
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) - epic action, epic drama, and Sean's SOB Bond wouldn't have sold the romance as well as George IMO.
You Only Live Twice (1967) - Beautiful, tightly edited and the most Bond of all Bond films. Just ask Dr. Evil.
GoldenEye (1995) - Pierce hit it out of the park, a well balanced film. Not as rewatchable as you might think though.
Goldfinger (1964) - Short runtime and classic elements help us through the "captive in Kentucky" section.
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) - YOLT redone with a fun theme park feel, but it gets waterlogged towards the end.
Casino Royale (2006) - Well done serious Bond, although it overstays its welcome a bit.
Moonraker (1979) - This one is just sheer fun, sometimes stupid, sometimes rather poignant, but too busy moving to get bogged down.
Skyfall (2012) - This one has risen, if you like serious Bond then maybe this is it, but is Bond really supposed to be so serious?
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) - Ticks all the boxes, but it rises or fails based on how you respond to the 2nd half's noise.
Octopussy (1983) - On rewatch under-rated. Great villains, great action, okay climax, boring theme. "No Ma'am, I'm with the economy tour."
From Russia with Love (1963) - Never know where to put this. More Hitchcockian than Bondian, doesn't get going until the train.
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) - Cheap looking with ample weirdness bordering on bad, like the theme song. But colorful and with a great villain.
A View To a Kill (1985) - Some coked out weirdness here, an awful lot going on, but weirdly drab all the same.
The World Is Not Enough (1999) - Raised recently. Soap opera Bond, but in the right mood hits the spot.
For Your Eyes Only (1981) - Moore's serious film has a subpar villain and motive, some good action.
Live and Let Die (1973) - This is all one big (sorta racist) chase film, not sure how it is considered one of Moore's best.
Die Another Day (2002) - This one sank recently. I like a lot of this film, but the editing and CG kills it at times, and Jinx is kind of a jinx.
Thunderball (1965) - Too much fat, too much talking, and I can't think of any action I long for.
The Living Daylights (1987) - I guess it should get points for trying some new things, but the ending (starting with the Taliban) is not very good.
Dr. No (1962) - Set the character, but being first means it is also too simple and not enough action.
License to Kill (1989) - Just not Bond. Even if I remove that, the action does little for me, even the tanker chase.
Quantum of Solace (2008) - Maybe one day someone will re-cut the film to be watchable, until then...
Diamonds Are Forever (1971) - A Bond parody really, but unlike Moore's sillier films this one has bad action and is stuck in the desert.
Spectre (2015) - Holy cow, is there a Bond film with a worst last third? Blofeld's presence should not suck so bad. WTF
My current rankings after my 2021 marathon:
The Spy Who Loved Me
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
You Only Live Twice
Licence to Kill
From Russia with Love
The Living Daylights
For Your Eyes Only
Live and Let Die
Tomorrow Never Dies
The World Is Not Enough
The Man with the Golden Gun
A View to a Kill
Diamonds Are Forever
Quantum of Solace
Die Another Day
I might have mentioned this before, but I re-watch On Her Majesty’s Secret Service with some regularity, and I am always pleased with Lazenby’s physical fighting style. He really winds up a punch with his whole body and lands it. It’s distinctive and satisfying.
I wish there was only one, but unfortunately Christmas came again.
I was mainly bothered by the fact that Brosnan's face as Bond could be seen for the first time in a toilet
What a debut!
My last post on this thread was back in October of 2019. Somehow the pandemic took away my interest in continuing with the viewing of the Bond films.
My last write up was Goldeneye. I skipped Tomorrow Never Dies (I'll get to it soon) and went right to The World Is Not Enough. This thread inspired me to purchase the Bond box and I have been working my way through the films chronologically. Aside from a few of the Connery films, Tomorrow Never Dies is the only Bond film I owned before buying the box, so I have seen it many times. The release of the new Bond film has rekindled my interest. So I skipped the familiar and viewed The World Is Not Enough, which I last saw in the theater upon its release. So its been a long time.
Pierce Brosnan was a great Bond. He's very charming, impossibly handsome and moves like a dancer. A very compelling screen presence. The very first shot of The World Is Not Enough is him, donning spectacles, crossing a street in Bilbao, Spain. And he immediately commands the screen. The pre credit sequence is quite long, so long, in fact, that when the credits finally appear I'd forgotten that it as "only" a pre credit sequence. Unlike most, it doesn't stand alone but introduces the plot of the film. The opening action/fight sequence in the Swiss bankers office is tense but feels somewhat anticlimactic, until you realize that it is only the prologue to the extended pre credit sequence, which features an elaborate and exciting boat chase through London.
Which brings us to the travelogue aspect of the film. It's an odd one as it takes place primarily in Eastern Europe, so it is not vacation picturesque but, rather, grey and foreboding, but highly cinematic. It serves its purpose by taking us places we rarely see. For example, driving through the oil rigs, while not beautiful in the traditional sense, was very visually striking.
The sequences in London and the skiing sequence were beautiful. The action sequences were all well done and very exciting.
I found the theme song to be unmemorable. Even the sexy and Bond worthy voice of Shirley Manson couldn't elevate it. And the credit sequence was rather dull as well. It started out with typical silhouettes of beautiful women but morfed into a CGI strangeness. Unfocused and not sexy at all.
The plot was fairly coherent. A woman fakes her kidnapping in order to kill her father to take over his oil pipeline business, then plots the destruction of Istanbul to give her a monopoly in the global oil market. Not particularly strong but it does make sense.
The tone of the film was mostly serious with some humor, which suited the film well. In fact, the first half of the film ranks up there with the best of the Bond films in that aspect. Unfortunately, the second half feels almost like a different film to me. And, aside from some baffling writing/plot choices, that has mostly to do with the two lead actresses.
So, onto the Bond women. We first meet Maria Grazia Cucinotta, credited simply as "cigar girl" in the opening sequence in the bankers office. She is later revealed to be an assassin. A strikingly beautiful woman who isn't given much to do in the way of acting, but displays a compelling and sexy confidence.
Sophie Marceau plays Electra King. A lovely woman and and, again, a compelling screen presence. ******SPOILER ALERT***** During the first half of the film she plays the sympathetic victim of a kidnapping and suffers the loss of her father. In the hands of a lesser actor (which Bond films seems to cast all too often) that character wouldn't have nearly the same impact. Her best scene is where Bond accuses her of presenting a false face and she indignantly defends herself - and you completely believe her. It's because Sophie Marceau can act. I bring this up for two reasons. Firstly, once her character is found out, she becomes the gleeful villain. And the character becomes a cartoon. Such a pity that the writing suddenly takes a lazy, cliche ridden turn. The actor is given very little to work with for the final third of the film and it undermines what was supposed to be a shocking death sequence.
The second reason I make such a point of acting ability is the terribly misguided casting of Denise Richards as Christmas Jones. All of her readings are wooden and amateurish, with a touch of suburban valley girl - all of this from a nuclear physicist. She displays none of the sophistication or education that such a character must have. And the entire film suffers for it. It is a significant role and demands an actor, but she comes across as little more than eye candy. I can't help but wonder what the film would have been had they cast "cigar girl" in that role.
Robert Carlyle and Robbie Coltrane were good as you would expect but both underutilized. The idea behind Robert Carlyle's "superpowers" was preposterous but fun and it made him a formidable villain, until the plot twist is revealed and he becomes this strange victim of puppy love. Like I said, the second half of the film falls apart in so many ways.
I have to mention another example of poor writing. The fact that Bond somehow cannot resist sleeping with Electra after explicitly promising that he wouldn't is completely out of character for him. All it does is give Electra a reason to feel she has bested him later in the film when she claims to be irresistible to men. Silly and lazy writing.
Also, having M brought into danger makes zero sense. Zero. It was such a left turn in logic that it actually took me out of the film as I was watching it. Why?
What started as a very promising Bond entry, became a big disappointment to me.
The best Bond films are able to find that balance between serious and fun. The films I think are the best tend to be the serious ones. My pick for the best Connery film is From Russia With Love. My pick for the best Moore film is For Your Eyes Only. My pick for the best Brosnan film is Goldeneye. All three are the most serious of the bunch. But the fun films are, in many instances, my favorites. Goldfinger, Octopussy and Tomorrow Never Dies. All three find that balance. They are fun but don’t fall into silliness.
In the case of Tomorrow Never Dies, it’s success is mostly due to the chemistry between its two lead actors.
The plot, a commentary on the monopolization of the media, is kinda dumb and not Bond worthy. A media mogul uses technology and his power to shape the news in order to start a global war. And launch a cable news network. And he has a cool drill machine thingy. And a stealth boat. Really? Oh, I don’t know . It’s so much nonsense but it doesn’t matter as it only really acts as the structure to hang cool action sequences upon.
The pre credit sequence, both on the base and in the air, is absolutely thrilling. The ejector seat gag is a blast.
The X-ray credit sequence is visually interesting and just as sexy as it needs to be. Unfortunately the song (performed by the wonderful SherylCrow) is forgettable.
As a travelogue this film works pretty well. Hamburg and Saigon are featured.
Saigon is the setting for the films best action sequences - a fall down the side of a high rise building and a handcuffed motorcycle chase through the streets and over rooftops. Very creative and loads of fun.
The action sequences are all good. The free fall skydiving sequence has been done lots of times since but it's still thrilling.
There are those who think Brosnan is too slight to play Bond. I refer them to the brief fight sequence at the Network unveiling party. Brosnan moves like a dancer and is completely convincing, not displaying brute force but out maneuvering his opponents.
The film really kicks into gear when Michelle Yeoh is on screen. In my opinion one of the great Bond women. Although she shows up briefly during the Network party, she steals the first action sequence she appears in, in the newspaper pressing plant. Bond does a lot of running, jumping and shooting, while she casually walks sideways down the side of a wall, immediately establishing herself as Bonds equal. Very cool.
The remote controlled car chase is wonderfully outrageous fun. Although we have seen free fall skydiving sequences since, the one in this film is still pretty spectacular. Michelle Yeoh's martial arts fight is great.
The film's climax is very You Only Live Twice. Lots of shooting and explosions in the villains lair, the aforementioned stealth boat. I feel silly just typing those words.
As to Bond women, what makes Michelle Yeoh so great is that she is Bond's equal and is treated as such. The flirty energy between them is delightful. She's the most bad ass woman in any Bond film.
Teri Hatcher did a good job with what little she was given. Unfortunately there was no chemistry to speak of between her and Brosnan. She is a lovely lady but didn’t bring any heat into what was supposed to be an existng relationship. But her character was ultimately little more than a plot device to demonstrate how ruthless her husband could be.
In a small but memorable role, Cecilia Thomson plays a danish language professor. There are a great many peek a boo butt cheek shots which I found very sexy. But maybe that's my problem.
Although not a Bond woman, Judy Dench really shines in her role as M. She projects great authority. Inspired casting.
The villain, played by the otherwise fantastic Johnathan Price is a cartoon and not threatening. His henchman is also a cartoon but one with a nice peroxide job.
Not a film to be taken too seriously, but a fun thrill ride.
I’d only seen Die Another Day once, back during its original theatrical run. I remember little about it but for the silly invisible car. So I admit to having a somewhat negative memory and dismissive attitude of the film, therefore my viewing experience may have been colored by that. What I didn’t expect, upon this second viewing, is just how poor a film this is and how I would become bored before it was over.
First, the pre credit sequence was, oddly, slightly difficult to follow. If there’s anything that the Bond films excel at, it is maintaining the geography of an action sequence. In this one, every so often I lost track of where a character was in relation to the action being performed. Not for long but just for a moment. I found this opening sequence pretty by the numbers. I couldn’t help but feel that an arms dealer should have better aim, which bothered me because I was distracted within the first few minutes of the film.
I know that a lot of Bond fans dislike the title song, but I think it’s a pretty good track. It doesn’t feel Bondian, but I think it works just fine.
The title sequence is an odd one. It continues the pre credit sequence which, unusually, does not stand alone. As it is essentially a torture sequence, it is decidedly not sexy. And I have come to expect a certain amount of sexy from a Bond title sequence.
Bond is imprisoned and tortured for over a year. Then is suspected of treason by his own people. In order to escape his prison hospital room he wills himself into cardiac arrest. The heart monitor, which we saw in the previous sequence, is NOT attached to his body, sends out an alert. I guess he willed the heart monitor to function. A beautiful doctor gives him mouth to mouth instead of using all of the technonology of this high end hospital room. Bond wills himself back to life and escapes. WTF? Up until this point, it looked like this film might be presenting a tougher, grittier story. But it also asks the audience to swallow outrageous bits of lazy writing - he wills his heart to stop and then startup again. Com’on. Just 15 minutes in and this film cannot decide what’s it wants to be. Having said that, the sequence of Bond strolling into the lobby of the Hong Kong Yacht Club is charming and funny.
Which brings us to the travelogue aspect of the film. Hong Kong, Cuba, London, Iceland. As a travelogue it works very well.
Ok. The plot. Um, Bond is betrayed by someone from inside of his organization. Meanwhile the villain gets a DNA transplant so that he looks like someone else. Ummm, and he has a satellite that acts as a laser to attack the earth. Or something. Honestly, I wasn’t ever really certain what the heck was going on. But, I can’t really hold that against the film as many very good Bond films have muddled, nonsensical plots.
The cast were a mixed bag. Rick Yune as Zao was a cool villain with a great look. Embedding diamonds into his face was very creative, although ten minutes with a fork would have removed them. Toby Stephens really chewed the scenery as Gustav Graves, a man child. How could someone who so easily loses all control over getting tagged in a fencing match (and nearly destroys the fencing club in the process) be a frightening villain? He was a big baby and not to be taken seriously. A poor villain can sink a Bond film but, in this case, the film was already pretty bad. A substandard villain only added to the mix. Rosamund Pike is a lovely woman and a talented actress. She did as much as she could with the underwritten role of Miranda Frost. The same could be said for Halle Berry as Jinx. She was a lot of fun but the role itself was kind of a cartoon. Having said that, she is a compelling screen presence and a joy to watch.
The women in this film were given what we now call “agency” in that they were competent, strong women. Unfortunately, they were so underwritten that their strength was not anything more than lip service to feminism.
There were quite a few callbacks to Connery’s Bond films in Die Another Day. Firstly, of course, there’s Jinx’s bikini, straight out of Dr No. At the clinic, Bond enters through a window into someone’s room, nonchalantly excuses himself and takes grapes on his way out. Very Connery. Then there’s the sequence in the weapons lab where we see the jet pack from You Only Live Twice and Lotte Lenya’s dagger shoes from the film From Russia With Love. The tiny mouth oxygen tank is from Thunderball. And a bunch of borrows from Goldfinger - the laser, the bullet depressurizing an airplane and, of course, the Aston Martin.
Which brings us to the action sequences. I prefer my Bond NOT to rely on gadgets but, rather, on his wits and strength. But this is a gadget film. Some were used to great effect, like the fight sequence amid the lasers. That was the best action sequence in the film and, perhaps, the only time I felt some tension - some sense that Bond was in danger.
The sword fight, while exciting, was also ridiculous. But this film has no problems with ridiculous.
Bond was given a ring whose sole purpose was to shatter shatterproof glass. Of course he just happens to require the breaking of shatterproof glass to save his life. Good thing he had that single purpose ring.
The Aston Martin has the missiles and other gadgets that one would expect. I don’t know why the invisibility feature bothered me so much. Why is this one stupid moment so much more damaging than the many stupid moments in this film? Somehow, that was a bridge too far for me.
And that is the problem I have with this film, it makes the leap from silly to dumb. I dislike the silly Bond films. I prefer my Bond to be serious. But I can handle a certain amount of silly if it’s fun and well done. If the film earns it. Unfortunately, too many Bond films are just not of a high enough quality to support silly. But rarely does a Bond film veer into “dumb”. This is one of them.
By the time the invisible car was driving about the “ice palace" I was done. I no longer cared and was no longer entertained. I guess that the climactic action sequence on the plane was exciting and well executed but, who cares?
I do like Brosnan as Bond but, in rewatching his four films, only half are worth viewing. At this point, the series was in dire need of a rethink.
With the recent release of the new Bond film, and the fact that it is being publicized as the closure of the Daniel Craig storyline, it is fortuitous timing that I have made it to the Craig films in my viewing.
I previously owned Casino Royale before I purchased the box set, so I am pretty familiar with it and already consider it one of the better films in the Bond series. Although I like Brosnan and think he made a good Bond, the last two films were pretty poor and new blood and a new approach was welcome.
The pre credit sequence is different from any other. Most obviously, of course, it is in black and white, a first for a Bond film, and it’s beautifully shot. It’s also not a stand alone action sequence but more of an introduction to the character. All in all, a different tone than we are used to. Gritty, not glossy.
The title song is okay. I like the sound, very dramatic, but I don’t find the song itself memorable.
The title sequences in recent films have been moving further away from the traditional peek a boo nudity. This sequence doesn’t even have a woman in it at all. A clear indication that this isn’t your standard Bond film. It feels like the filmmakers were doing everything they could to distance themselves from the tropes of the franchise.
Which brings us to Daniel Craig. First impression is that he doesn’t LOOK like James Bond. He’s not traditionally handsome. In fact, my wife says he’s not handsome but he’s very sexy. So there you go.
We’ve seen him make the kill that he requires to become a double O. So we are at the beginning. Which, I suppose, is appropriate as Casino Royale was the first of the original books. A new double O. A new actor. A new credit sequence. A new look.
As a travelogue, this film works hard. It starts in Prague, then moves to Uganda, Madagascar, the Bahamas, Miami, Montenegro and, finally, Venice. Vey satisfying in that regard.
The opening chase sequence, or running sequence is spectacular. Perhaps one of the most exciting sequences in any Bond film. It is ridiculously fast paced. Outrageous but with both feet planted firmly in reality. No gadgets. Just wits, and agility and strength. The next big action sequence, at the airport, was very exciting, if a bit less original. Either way, it was well done. The fight sequence on the stairs displayed complex but solid geography. The cardiac arrest sequence was as tense as anything I’ve ever seen in a Bond film, including the wonderful time bomb sequence in Goldfinger. Then, of course, there’s the naked chair torture scene. In a film full of memorable sequences, this one is perhaps the most impactful to watch. It shows Bond more vulnerable than he’s ever been portrayed before. And if that wasn’t enough, the crumbling building in Venice was astounding. I recall seeing that in the theater upon its release and thinking I’d never seen anything like it before. As far as action sequences are concerned, this might be the most exciting of all of the Bond films. So much powerful stuff here.
Interestingly, the first Bond woman in this series, the breathtakingly beautiful Caterina Murino (as Solange), is not a conquest. Bond leaves her bed to pursue the villain. Of the three Bond women there is only Ivana Milicevic as Velenka who is a villain. She’s beautiful but not memorable. Unfortunately both she and Solange are underwritten, just plot devices. But the stunning Eva Green as Vesper Lynd may be the most fully drawn female character in all of the Bond films. Brilliant casting as you needed a real actress who was beautiful but memorable, and Eva Green is a spectacularly beautiful woman but in a non traditional way, which makes her so much more interesting. As Bond's love interest, for real, she is the only woman that he sleeps with.
The rest of the cast is great, even the smaller parts: Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright & Giancarlo Giannini are all fine. Also, look out for a very young Tobias Menzies.
The film displays its confidence, or maybe it’s arrogance, by making an hour long poker game the centerpiece of the film. Somehow they managed to keep the audience fully engaged. Granted they broke it up with two great action sequences but still. Much of that is due to the primary villain. Some great actors have played mediocre Bond villains. But most superior Bond villains have been played by strong actors. Mads Mikkelsen plays Le Chiffre. I’ve seen him in other films, including last years fantastic Another Round, Rogue One and the television show Hannibal. A very strong villain.
For a Bond film, Casino Royale displayed a surprising amount of emotion. I believed the scene where Bond and Vesper commit to each other. It was emotional, powerful and it worked. It was more than I expected from a Bond film and exactly what On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was unable to deliver. And I also believed Craigs grief when they lost each other.
Ultimately, this was an origin story. It demonstrates how Bond became Bond both professionally and emotionally. He started the film by stating his preference for married woman as it keeps his life simple. By the end of the film he is both heartbroken and betrayed. His anger is just a way to protect himself from his grief. And it informs his character for the rest of series. Imagine that - a Bond film with a character arc.
In summary, this film is firing on all cylinders. It succeeds in it’s plot, in it’s action, as a travelogue and in it’s casting. Is this the best Bond film so far? If not, it’s among the top five for certain.
Separate names with a comma.