Archive for the ‘Film Reviews’ Category

Double o’ nothing reviews “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”…

March 8, 2010

Last week, double o’ nothing reviewed “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”.

Below is the link to the review. You should definitely give it a read…

“From Big Fry to the small time, George Lazenby in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Well done, Dublo.

Film Review ::: The World Is Not Enough

December 6, 2009

Pierce Brosnan’s third James Bond outing proves to be one of his finest. But is that saying much?

The story for “The World Is Not Enough” had plenty of potential. But, the way that Purvis and Wade handled the story was quite poor; helicopters with buzz-saws attached to them made for quite a laugh (no more than an invisible car, though — but that’s for another review). The funny part is that Eon Productions still hires these men to write Bond films for them.

Before my viewing, if I had read a brief description of each character in this film, I would’ve been optimistic. But after seeing how under-developed and poorly played they were in this film, I was disappointed. I will say that Elektra King and James Bond are the two most interesting characters of this film. Sophie Marceau’s portrayal of Elektra King is fantastic. At first, she plays the character as an absolute victim, causing the audience to sympathize with her and the loss of her father. However, it is later revealed that she is quite a sadistic villain, bent on getting revenge by teaming up with her former captor, Renard. Though, I think the filmmakers wanted Renard to be the central villain of this film, Marceau’s character really took that title. To me, it’s a shame that Marceau’s talented could not have been put to use in a better Bond film.

Pierce Brosnan also excels in this film. While I admired his performance in “GoldenEye”, I think this film showed his true colors. Not only was Brosnan looking fantastic in this film, but he also captured the essence of Ian Fleming’s James Bond. This wasn’t the “I’ll fight off an entire army in a steath boat”/generic action-hero James Bond that we had seen in the previous film. Unfortunately, Brosnan never had the chance the reprise the role like this again — his following Bond film was a complete atrocity that left him playing a character that para-surfed on tidal waves. After that, he was dropped for Daniel Craig. His most Fleming-esque scene had to be Elektra’s demise. Bond was able to put his feelings aside and carry on with the mission, even if this meant putting a bullet in his lover’s head.

The other Bond girl in this film was played by Denise Richards. Her performance was terrible and, in my book, goes down as the worst in the history of the James Bond franchise. Luckily this film had Sophie Marceau to make up for it in both beauty and acting ability. The other characters and performances were all rather limited. Robert Carlyle’s Renard was supposed to be a main villain of the film, but it more or less seemed that he just sort of hung out in the background. To boost his Bond baddie appeal, they gave him the inability to feel pain. This still didn’t do anything for me. Judi Dench really didn’t take M to another level from the last film, but Colin Salmon boosted the appeal of the Mi6 staff/cast. We also see Valentin Zuckovsky return, portrayed by Robbie Coltrane. I didn’t mind Zuckovsky’s appearance in “GoldenEye”, but in this film, it bugged me. He left too much room for the writers to add in more ridiculous one-liners and jokes.

While the cast of “The World Is Not Enough” may not seem too promising, I have to say that it does hold some historical significance within the Bond franchise. Desmond Llewelyn graced our screens as the beloved Q for the last time in this film. Sadly, shortly after the release of the film, he died in a car accident.

David Arnold’s score for this film was mediocre, at best. More orchestrations infused with synthetic sounds and beats really made for music that doesn’t go easy on the ears. Garbage’s theme song was well-done for an altertnative rock song, but I much prefer Tina Turner’s “GoldenEye” and even Sheryl Crow’s “Tomorrow Never Dies”.

The locations in this film were promising. Bond goes from Spain, to Scotland, to Azerbaijan, to Turkey. As a matter of fact, one of the greatest scenes of the film included Bond driving his BMW Z8 to Baku, Azerbaijan. Arnold’s music and the camera work just worked well together, believe it or not.  I also enjoyed part of the pre-titles sequence that took place in the bank at Bilbao, Spain.

Overall, this film had quite a bit of potential, but was thrown off by poor pacing, uninspired action sequences, a shoddy Purvis and Wade script with poorly-written characters, and some bad performances. I place this film at the bottom of my Bond rankings.

4.0 / 10

Film Review ::: Octopussy

September 11, 2009

Following the down-to-Earth, Fleming thriller, “For Your Eyes Only”, “Octopussy” seems to relax a bit, and reverts to the jolly, humorous Roger Moore Bond film style — but this time, in moderation.

The film starts off with some great espionage and action. James Bond uses a disguise to infiltrate an air base and plant a bomb. The plan ends up falling through, and Bond comes face to face with the man he’s imitating. After being captured, Bond is able to escape from the back of a military truck with the help of his attractive, fellow agent. Cleverly hidden within a horse trailer, Bond hops into his AcroStar Mini Jet and flies off — only to come into contact with some opposition. After dodging a heat-seeking missile, and performing some amazing stunts, Bond casually lands near a gas station. After pulling up, he lightheartedly says, “Fill her up, please.”

The characters in this film aren’t of the high quality of the characters in “For Your Eyes Only”, however, they work well with the material. I’ve never really been amazed by Louis Jourdan’s performance of the villain Kamal Khan. He certainly doesn’t rank up there with Wiseman’s Dr. No, or Sheybal’s Kronsteen, or even Savalas’ Blofeld. On the other hand, though, he’s not a terrible character. I just never found him to be menacing. On the other hand, Kabir Bedi’s performance (as Gobinda) was quite menacing; I consider him to be a henchman to match the might of Oddjob. I like how the character was taken rather seriously, instead of being turned into a joke like Jaws. Perhaps that’s what added so much menace to the character. The knife-throwing twins, Mischka and Grischska, and the power-hungry General Orlov held these similar characteristics. As far as allies go, Vijay was pretty standard. He wasn’t as amazing as Jack Lord’s Felix Leiter, but he wasn’t as terrible as, say, Rosie Carver. The Bond girls seemed standard to me, also. Maud Adams returned to play Octopussy — but, Bond’s been there and done that. Kristina Wayborn (Magda) played a minor Bond girl, but I seemed to think that she wasn’t much of an actress, and more so an object to please the average male viewers’ eyes. It was fun to see Q in the field, though, landing a hot-air balloon on top of some of Khan’s goons.

John Barry did a favorable job with the film’s score. Though, I don’t consider it to be as legendary as the scores to “You Only Live Twice” or “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, it still beats the hell out of Bill Conti’s dated, cheesy score to “For Your Eyes Only”. Rita Coolidge’s theme song was decent, also, but surely doesn’t match some of the classic themes of the series. Again, I prefer it to that annoying, sappy theme to “For Your Eyes Only”.

As far as locations go, India worked well in this film. The locations in Germany seemed grim, but worked well, also. The rest of the film tends to stay pretty serious, although we do get some ridiculous scenes that tend to take an audience out of “the moment”. For example, there’s a scene where Bond tells a tiger to “sit”, a scene where Bond swings across some vines and the Tarzan jungle-cry is heard, and then just plain-old cheesy lines like “That should keep you in curry for a few weeks”. Though Roger Moore was nearly 60-years-old at the time of the film’s release, he still held up pretty well, and looked pretty damn good.

Overall, the film is a laid-back successor of “For Your Eyes Only”. There are some scenes/aspects in which “Octopussy” tops “For Your Eyes Only”, but there are also some scenes/aspects in which “Octopussy” reverts back to the old, ridiculous nonsense that plagued Bond films like “Moonraker”. Roger Moore’s Bond era tend to catch a lot of harsh criticism, but sometimes for good reason. This film, however, doesn’t deserve any of that. It’s serious, yet fun. And most of all, it’s Bond. This is one of Moore’s best portrayals, I’d say.

7.5 / 10

7.5 / 10

Film Review ::: Licence To Kill

July 14, 2009

Timothy Dalton’s second James Bond film outing certainly doesn’t match his debut.

The film takes bits and pieces from various Ian Fleming and patches them together, to create an action-packed 80’s thrill-ride. You can certainly find bits of Fleming’s “Live And Let Die” and “The Hildrebrand Rarity”, most of all.

The characters in this film are more or less “hit or miss”, as the saying goes. I would have to say that Sanchez and James Bond are the two most interesting characters of this film, alongside Desmond Llewelyn’s more involved role. Robert Davi’s Franz Sanchez is a very nasty Bond villain. Davi captures the intimidating and brutal characteristics of a ruthless drug dealer. Through out the film, he proves to be a worthy nemesis for James Bond. As for Timothy Dalton’s performance as James Bond, he shines once again. It’s a shame though that his second film couldn’t have improved upon his first film, and it’s a shame that this was his final James Bond outing. Once again, Dalton portrays a Fleming-esque James Bond; probably more so than any actor of the series. The rest of the characters were rather bland, or flat. Carey Lowell’s Pam Bouvier was an average Bond girl. Talisa Soto’s performance as Lupe was not anything superb, either. Anthony Zerbe’s Milton Krest seemed like an uninspired character, too. It was nice to see David Hedison reprise his role as CIA agent Felix Leiter; however, some of the scenes featuring Hedison were laughable (specifically, the scene where Hedison is running alongside the two DEA agents).

Michael Kamen’s score for this film usually goes unappreciated, but I have to admit that I enjoy it. Supposedly, Eric Clapton added a few guitar pieces to the score, which makes it even more interesting. Some of Kamen’s score drags on, but his rendition of the James Bond theme is fantastic, and quite memorable. Gladys Knight provides some great vocals for the main theme, too, but the lyrics are of poor quality.

The locations are rather bland, also. The most interest location seems to be Key West, which is only featured in the film for a short amount of time. The fictional Isthmus City and the deserts of Mexico are nothing memorable, but do provide as quality stages for some of the film’s major action and suspense sequences. As for the style of the film, it stands out as “just another 80’s film”. By this, I mean the film has a dingy quality, and seems grainy at times. There are no stand-out camera angles or innovative shots. John Glen filmed this pretty straight-forward.

Overall, this film seems like the “Die Hard” of the James Bond series. It’s mainly an action-driven story, featuring low-key performances. It’s a shame that Timothy Dalton had to finish off his short James Bond career with this film. I wish they would have done a film more like “The Living Daylights”, instead. The action is admirable, at least, and I do enjoy the score quite a bit. The two lead performances are fantastic, too.

With this being my first James Bond film, I have to hold it in some high regard. It was enough to get me interested in the series. Had it not been as interesting as I thought, then perhaps I wouldn’t even be posting this right now.

8.0 / 10

8.0 / 10

Film Review ::: Casino Royale

June 23, 2009

This film does a great job of grasping the audience right from the beginning. The pre-titles sequence doesn’t follow the normal formula, either. First and foremost, it doesn’t start off with the traditional gun barrel and, instead, ends with it. The pre-titles are also in grayscale – something we had never seen before in a James Bond film. Finally, the scenes take place in James Bond’s past. The crew involved with these scenes did an outstanding job. In noir-fashion, we see James Bond earn his legendary double-oh number. The bathroom fight brought me back to the Dalton era. In this scene, James Bond is in his most brutal form. Between slamming the enemy into the urinals and drowning him in a sink, these flashbacks certainly deliver thrills. We also see how cold James Bond can really be when he shoots Dryden (the 00-section chief). A quickly-cut shot shows a family photo on Dryden’s desk as the bullet strikes him. And at last, we also get an idea of how the gun barrel sequence came to be.

As great as that all may sound, I think this is the first and final solid aspect of the film. Once again, in true cinematic James Bond fashion, this film loosely adapts the classic Ian Fleming novel.

Perhaps one of the better aspects of the film includes the characters. Vesper Lynd and Rene Mathis were portrayed quite well, in my opinion. Eva Green did a great job of playing James Bond’s lover. She was certainly the best Bond girl we’ve been given since Sophie Marceau or Izabella Scorupco. Giancarlo Giannini’s portrayal of Rene Mathis was exceptional and the character ranks up there with the greatest allies of the series. On the other hand, the fates of each character were poorly written. With Vesper, the masterminds Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Paul Haggis turn Fleming’s sleeping pill suicide into a drowning in an elevator. They also (pointlessly) turn Mathis into a potential informant for Le Chiffre, and therefore he is tasered and taken off for imprisonment by the end of the film. As far as Mad Mikkelsen’s performance as Le Chiffre goes, I could take it or leave it. It was certainly a more glamorized, MTV-generation version of the character. In the novel, Le Chiffre was not model material. I would prefer Peter Lorre’s version of the character any day. The producers also introduce Felix Leiter in this film, portrayed by Jeffrey Wright. I saw this performance as very limited, thanks to the writers. Wright did not have much to work with here, and therefore, was not able to shine as he has done in some other films that he’s been in. Judi Dench is also brought back as M – which is another disgrace to Fleming’s novel. Instead of acting as Bond’s boss in the film, she more or less acts like his mother. It gets annoying after a while, to be honest. Other performances in the film were limite; none of them come off as memorable or worth a mention.

David Arnold also offers us another uninspired score. I consider the score to be one of the worst of the series. It’s dull, lifeless, unoriginal, and doesn’t even come close to the works of John Barry or Eric Serra. That said, I think I’ve given the score to this film more attention than it deserves.

Chris Cornell’s theme song was decent; made in more of “Live and Let Die” style, it certainly provided for an interesting title track. The vocals are great (coming from a Cornell fan), but the lyrics are pretty simple. It’s not the worst of the series, and not the best either. It works well with the film, though.

My major problem with this film is the ridiculous action and the poor adaptation of the novel – they go hand in hand. The story seems to be propelled by lack-luster action. The only scenes that stand up to the film’s opening include the casino scenes and the moments before the end titles. Other than that, the rest of the film carries that MTV-generation appeal. I really can’t find the difference between this James Bond film and the films of the supposedly “out-of-control” Pierce Brosnan era. When you shred away the thin, outer coating, they’re still the exact same things – generic action films made to generate loads of cash. The most outrageous scene of “Casino Royale”, though, has to be the falling house in Venice. If this house were made of ice, it would really be no different than one of those scenes in “Die Another Day”.

The brutal take on James Bond goes a bit too far, also – to the point in which it seems to mimic Jason Bourne, rather than Ian Fleming’s character. You can really notice this at Miami International with Bond’s attire. Jason Bourne can wear blue jeans and casual jackets – not James Bond. And what was with the sadistic smirk after killing Carlos? It made Bond come off as some sort of psychopath. What was with the deliberate disobedience? Had a fresh agent thoughtlessly killed a suspect against the instructions of his superior, I doubt he’d be in the service for much longer. While Bond can be a cold assassin at times, there has to be a line drawn. He is not some psycho on a killing spree.

The first few viewings of “Casino Royale” were satisfying, I must admit. It was a new Bond, and a new take on Bond, too. After a while, though, this film started losing its appeal with me, and the flaws started standing out a bit more. If you’re into generic action and cringe-worthy love scenes, then this is the film for you. However, you could also get that out of a random Arnold Schwarzenegger film if you wanted to. Though the series does not have a reputation for faithfully adapting Fleming’s novels, I think the writers could have at least made an honest attempt. Instead, this is not Ian Fleming’s “Casino Royale” … it is Eon Productions’ “Casino Royale”. They maintained the basic plot, and changed mostly everything else. Even that genital mutilation/torture scene from the novel was turned into a joke.

I do not see how this is any more of a James Bond film as “Moonraker” or “Die Another Day”. It provides ridiculous action and trend-following, rather than trend-setting.

In the end, an official, faithful adaptation of Ian Fleming’s classic novel went to waste. What a shame.

4.0 / 10

4.0 / 10

Film Review ::: Moonraker

June 19, 2009

“Moonraker” brings the fantasy of the James Bond films to a whole different level … a level that I don’t care much for.

The film’s story hardly resembles Fleming’s classic novel. As a matter of fact, it’s simply another lame rehashing of the story from “The Spy Who Loved Me” (courtesy of Christopher Wood) … which was essentially a rehashing of Roald Dahl’s story for “You Only Live Twice” – quite original, eh?

The characters don’t have much going for them. The most complex character of the film is probably James Bond, which is really no surprise. Roger Moore portrays him elegantly and humorously as he did in the past three films. Lois Chiles’ character, Dr. Molly Goodhead, is quite bland, to say the least. Michael Lonsdale portrays Hugo Drax in an interesting fashion, but hardly comes off as menacing or diabolical; he’s more or less a wealthy and extravagant nut case. “Jaws” unfortunately returns in this film and adds more ridiculous nonsense, also. However, this time around, the ingenious writer had the audacity to incorporate a half-witted love story amongst the metal-mouthed henchman and a petite, pig-tailed blonde named Dolly. By the end of the film, Jaws realizes that the odd couple isn’t fit for Drax’s superior race and rebels. This would’ve been a nice cash-in, made-for-TV, spin-off flick.

The greatest aspect of this James Bond film has to be John Barry’s score. If there’s one man behind-the-scenes of a Bond film who always does his job well, it’s John Barry. Somehow, Barry was able to add some sort of redeeming quality to even the cheesiest scenes of the film. One of his best pieces of music for the film is “Corinne Put Down”, which is played during Corinne’s death. The strings and winds really add emotion and depth to the scene. Shirley Bassey’s title track for the film was also great although it was wasted on such a shameful Bond film. The mellow and lovely style of the track really didn’t fit the style of the film. The locations of the film were admirable, also. Bond travels to California, Rio de Janeiro, Venice, and Brazil. The only undesirable location was outer space.

Overall, I think that “Moonraker” starts off just like the previous Moore films, however, it gets out of control as it moves on. It’s obvious that the success of George Lucas’ “Star Wars” films helped to blast this Bond film into outer space. However, while “Star Wars” succeeded as a science-fiction/action/adventure film, “Moonraker” failed as a science-fiction/action/adventure film. Actually, I’m not even quite sure what genre “Moonraker” falls under, as it’s more like a science fiction/action/adventure/espionage/comedy.

I think Bond films like this took the main character off of the path of “secret agent”, and took him onto the path of “generic action hero”. While a Bond film should have a sufficient amount of action, the character must never enter the realm of “generic action hero”. Bond is a trend-setter, not a trend-follower. Bond’s an elegant secret agent, but also a cold killer, if need be. James Bond isn’t a man who flies around outer space and blasts poison pods with lasers, as one would in a Space Invaders video game.

I think it’s safe to say that James Bond should wield his Walther PPK on planet Earth, rather than wielding a laser gun in outer space.

4.5 / 10

4.5 / 10

Film Review ::: Live and Let Die

June 19, 2009

To start off, “Live and Let Die” has one of the worst pre-titles sequences in the history of Bond franchise. There’s not much to it; just a couple of deaths – one being brought upon by a fake-looking, rubber snake. In my opinion, the producers should’ve introduced Roger Moore’s James Bond with a little more flair, rather than having M and Moneypenny walk in on him while he’s fooling around with an “associate”.

In true cinematic James Bond fashion, the film hardly follows Ian Fleming’s novel of the same name. However, many will say that racism litters the film, as it supposedly does in Fleming’s novel, also. In both cases, my opinion is that those who say such things just need to get off their politically-correct high-horses.

The characters of this film aren’t as well written as the characters in “Diamonds Are Forever”, but they suffice. Roger Moore’s debut act as James Bond is surely memorable. He’s not quite the humorous Bond as he later turns out to be, yet he’s not 100% like Fleming’s Bond either. It’s definitely his own breed of Bond, and in this film, it works well. The seriousness of the character balances well with the humor and cheesiness of the film. Yaphet Kotto plays the “two-faced” villain, Dr. Kananga. I think this is the best performance of the film, as Kananga appears to be a menacing, unpredictable villain. Kananga’s henchmen are mediocre, though. We’re given Julius W. Harris’ “Tee-Hee”, who sports a mechanical arm, with a claw at the end. That’s about as interesting as he gets, and certainly doesn’t rank up there with Red Grant or Professor Dent. There’s also “Whisper”, played by Earl Jolly Brown. The character looms around in the background of most of Kananga’s scenes, and has a very low, near-inaudible voice. Jane Seymour’s portrayal of Solitaire isn’t anything special, but it works. She more or less plays a quiet, virgin, tarot card reader, and that’s about as deep as the character is. Throughout the film, you’ll also run into some annoying characters, such as Rosie Carver, and J.W. Pepper. Gloria Hendry’s portrayal of Rosie Carver is over-the-top. After a while, you may find yourself hoping for her death. Clifton James’ J. W. Pepper is a bit more tolerable, but that stereotypical “Billy Bob”/redneck/half-witted Southerner act gets old after a while. The shame is that EON will bring him back in the next film – “The Man With the Golden Gun”.

George Martin – famous for producing The Beatles albums – provides his first [and last] score for the Bond series. While the score isn’t the worst non-Barry Bond score, it certainly doesn’t rank up with Barry’s past scores, either. I do quite enjoy the motif that uses the film’s theme song, though. Regarding the theme song, which is performed by Paul McCartney and Wings, it has to be one of the best of the series. It’s very different from the past themes we were offered, and introduces the new Bond era in a rocking fashion. The vocals are great, and the instruments are fantastic. It’s an all-around awesome, memorable, and iconic James Bond theme.

As far as locations go, the EON team doesn’t fail to impress. James Bond travels to my stomping-grounds of New York, then to New Orleans, and to Jamaica, which doubles as the fictional country of San Monique. The locations in this film were quite admirable. I’d like to see Bond head to New York once more, actually.

I thought I’d mention that this film tends to mimick “Dr. No”, in a way. The scene in which Bond, Leiter, and Quarrel, Jr. are planning to infiltrate San Monique reminds me most of “Dr. No” – it’s very much like the scene in which Bond, Leiter, and Quarrel attempt to infiltrate Crab Key. I think it was a good homage to “Dr. No”, even if it wasn’t intended.

Overall, “Live and Let Die” works decently. There are plenty of cheesy aspects of the film, a lack of characterization in some areas, but a relatively down-to-Earth plot. The score was decent, and the locations were satisfying. Roger Moore does well in his debut Bond film, but I don’t think it ranks anywhere near Sean Connery’s debut. I think this is definitely one of Roger Moore’s better Bond films, though.

7.0 / 10

7.0 / 10

Film Review ::: Diamonds Are Forever

March 8, 2009

Regarded as one of the worst Bond films, perhaps- or at least one of the films that isn’t as liked as much as others. Well, I’m not sure what to think of DAF; I’ve never been sure, actually. The film has a very dirty mood to it, in my opinion. The whole film seems exhausted, if you will. There’s just something about the colors, the tones, the music, the acting, and the story that reminds me of the scent you’d smell in a funeral parlor, or something- which fits well with Slumber, Inc. I suppose. You probably have no idea what I’m talking about, but I sure do! All I’m saying is that the mood and style of this film makes me rather uneasy, in some parts; however, funny bits, intentional and unintentional, clear that up throughout the film.

The locations are rather bland. The film certainly isn’t as vibrant as it’s predecessors, YOLT and OHMSS. As I mentioned, everything seems dirty. It’s got that brownish / sepia look to it in the Nevada scenes. Probably the prettiest place in this film is the pool, outside of the house they keep Whyte in. Nothing’s all that beautiful about a barren desert, I suppose. Or the 1970s’ Las Vegas, for that matter.

At first, I didn’t care for Barry’s score to this film. However, after a few more listens, I’ve realized that it’s a great score – actually, one of his best Bond scores. The music compliments the sleazy, dirty style of the film. Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd’s theme is my favorite track here. Very dark and original.

On the subject of Ernst Blofeld, I think Gray had potential.
However, with this film, that’s thrown out the window. Had this been another Bond film, where he was given a decent role, and not having to dress as a woman, I think he would’ve done a fine job. But, in DAF, Blofeld was hardly intimidating.

What’s with the oil rig scene, after Bond lands? Blofeld treats Bond as a drunken brother who stumbles across his hideout, and decides to let him hang out a while. He shows Bond around his little control room… lets Bond fiddle with the controls… has his guards carry Bond away… in which, Bond causes a little quarrel, and yet, nothing’s done about it. Then he’s just wandering around the rig, and Tiffany comes up to him to talk about the tape, and the guards don’t even move.

Connery made the film, in my opinion. His humor and delivery of certain lines made the film worth watching.

The funniest bits of the film have to be:

The Moonbuggy Chase
Completely cheesy and un-exciting, but made for a good laugh. And I love when the ATV rider falls off, and gets back on. He starts up the ATV, and waits about 5 seconds, followed by Bond kicking him off.

The Mouse Scene
Well, one of us smells like a tart’s handkerchief. [sniffs]
I’m afraid it’s me. Sorry, old boy.

Just the way Connery said it- made for a good laugh.

Other memorable lines from Connery:
That’s a nice little nothing you’re almost wearing.

(To Tiffany while he’s in bed with her)
Presumably I’m the condemned man and obviously you’re the hearty breakfast.

Man: I got a brother.
Bond: Small world.

Plenty: Plenty O’Toole.
Bond: Named after your father perhaps?

Certainly, this is one of the most quotable Bond films, if nothing else.

Before I wrap this review up, I’ll mention Jill St. John, and Wint and Kidd.

Jill St. John was gorgeous in this movie, but just not a good Bond girl. She had the looks, but it seemed like she was as dumb as a box of rocks. Wint and Kidd were good henchman. Very mysterious, and always kept the audience on their toes, because they were so dangerous. Too bad they were in a film like this though. Had it been a better story, I think they would have been more highly regarded.

Very humorous Bond film, that strays away from Connery’s more classic Bond… however, none-the-less, the film still holds certain Bondian traits.

This is my least favorite Connery Bond flick, but overall, not completely terrible.

5.5 / 10

5.5 / 10

Film Review ::: "On Her Majesty's Secret Service"

November 23, 2008

Many seem to hold this film in their number 1 Bond spot. I, on the other hand, cannot do this. While there’s a steady amount of good in this film, I think it has its fair share of bad, too. 

The Good: 
The story; I thought it was outstanding. One of the greatest Bond stories, for sure. Very Bondian, and I think the whole film stuck pretty close to Fleming’s novel, though I haven’t read it for years now. 

Diana Rigg; One of the most beautiful Bond girls, for sure. At first, she came off so genuinely harsh. It was great. But later on, as she fell in love with Bond, she was a very sweet Bond girl. My favorite meeting with her in the film is after Bond’s 1st escape from Piz Gloria. As Bond’s sitting near the ice rink, a girl with blades on comes up to him. We move from the feet, to her face, revealing it’s Tracy- with a beautiful smile on her face. 

The main titles; loved them. They rank up there with “Goldfinger”. 

The soundtrack; My 2nd favorite Barry score. My only complaint about this score is the use of synthesizers. Had they been left out, I’m sure this would tie with my #1 soundtrack spot (alongside “You Only Live Twice”). My favorite cue of this soundtrack is Bond’s escape from Piz Gloria and his chase after Blofeld. The music begins as Blofeld shoots at the world map that Bond is taking pictures of- the music complemented this chase sequence so well. 

This film also had plentys of Bondian traits. It certainly has Bond written all over it, as far as style goes. The visuals are also gorgeous in this film- not as great as locations from “Dr. No” or “You Only Live Twice”, however, I think this ranks up there with them. This film also had some top-notch Bond action. 

The Alright: 
Telly Savalas played an OK Blofeld. I kept thinking of Kojack, but it’s alright. Savalas played the part pretty well. I still like Pleasence’s character more, however. As a side note: everyone says “Can you imagine Pleasence on skis in OHMSS?” To that, I’ll say that Savalas on skis was hardly a pleasure for my eyes. Irma Bunt was quite the henchwoman, too. Very tough, and fit right in with the head of SPECTRE. I’ve got no complaints about her. Reminded me a bit of Rosa Klebb.

The girls at Piz Gloria- they were all beautiful. They weren’t exceptional actresses, however. Overall, they made for quite a sight. I’d say even that Ruby Bartlett, to my own surprise. I took quite a liking to her during this viewing. When you set that mat on her head aside, she’s a gorgeous girl. 

The Bad:
My major dislike- this film’s editing was absolutely atrocious. I thought it seemed like a mess, and was quite disappointed by it. 

The James Bond theme used during the attack of Piz Gloria. It worked when Draco’s men and Bond were moving in, however, it played mostly during Tracy’s fight scene? That didn’t make sense to me. They should’ve used more of Barry’s source music. There was plenty to go ’round. 

The Hilary Bray dubbing. Actually, this whole aspect of the film didn’t make much sense to me either. It seems as if Bond automatically learns to mimic Bray’s voice. 

George Lazenby as James Bond: 
I’ll be frank- I didn’t care for Lazenby’s Bond performance all that much, which is one reason why I can’t rank this film too high in my Bond rankings. I think Lazenby had potential and the looks. However, to me, it seemed like he forced himself to be Bond. It didn’t come on naturally, as it seemed with Sean Connery, Roger Moore, or Daniel Craig. Something about the way that he delivered lines bothered me too. There were quite a few witty quips in this film, but when delivered by Lazenby, they didn’t have any flare about them. 

All in all, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” certainly proves to be a decent Bond film, but in my opinion, has some major flaws. It’s certainly better than Brosnan’s films, and most of Moore’s… but it’s just not my cup of tea, I suppose. On the other hand, it makes for a great holiday Bond film. 

 

6.5 / 10

6.5 / 10

Film Review ::: You Only Live Twice

November 22, 2008

While some people throw this on the same page as “Moonraker” and “Die Another Day”, I’m not sure if I agree with that. Certainly, it’s probably the most “out there” of the Connery Bond films, but still carries a lot of the Bond elements we know and love.

First of all, the beautiful locations: Japan looks like such a wonderful place, and the people working on this film made sure to capture that beauty. It’s best scene, in my opinion, while we’re at Tanaka’s place. This is usually when we see Bond, Aki, and Tiger sitting outside discussing something or other. The beautiful architecture of Japan, along with the fantastic mountains and vegetation paint a vibrant background to many of the scenes in this film. The streets of Japan also make for interesting location, also.

The music, in my opinion, is the best Bond soundtrack of them all. It complements the film well, though I don’t think it was used as properly as it should have. However, Barry captures the essence of Japan, the treachery of SPECTRE, the suave and cool nature of James Bond himself, and the romance between Bond and his couple of lovers in this film. Barry also enhances the action in many scenes of this film.

Ernst Blofeld, portrayed by Donald Pleasence, was, in my opinion, the ideal villain of the Connery years; he certainly put a very definitive face on Blofeld- the arch enemy who had been so mysterious in the films before. Pleasence is a great actor, and had he been given another film to fully show off his true colors as Blofeld, I think many people would hold him high up in their villain rankings.

Now, perhaps this was one of Connery’s most laid back roles as Bond, but it not anything less of greatness. He’s still as cool as ever, still as humorous as ever, and still as handsome as ever. Though, his earlier performances were superior to his role in “You Only Live Twice”, I don’t have anything to complain about with Connery here. I thought he did a lot better than Lazenby in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, to be honest- but after all, he’s Sean Connery. Who isn’t he better than?

Now, the production design for this film was brilliant. I hold Blofeld’s volcano lair on top of my favorite villain’s lair list. To put it simply, no other villain lair in this series has been as well done or as unlimited as this. It had a tram system, it housed a rocket ship, it contained an army of guards, it has a control room, a prison, and even a personal room for Blofeld, equipped with a pool of piranha; on top of all that, it was hidden in a volcano. Atlantis didn’t have that – Piz Gloria wasn’t as unlimited as that – and any of those Brosnan villains couldn’t match it; absolutely brilliant on Ken Adam’s part.

My favorite scene in this movie was at the Kobe Docks. When Bond gets to the rooftop, and we have an aerial view of him fighting off a bunch of thugs, along with Barry’s action score playing to it- I think it was awesome. It pretty much spelled out Bond right before our eyes.

So… that’s all the good stuff.

The bad?

Well, I think there were a few weak performances by some of the Japanese agents. Tanaka was dubbed the whole time, wasn’t he? There’s that continuity error about Bond “never going to Japan before”. The film wasn’t as realistic as some of the ones before it.

Overall, “You Only Live Twice” makes for a very fun Bond adventure. I think that’s about as far as people should look when criticizing “You Only Live Twice”. Certainly, it doesn’t hold up to “From Russia With Love”, “Goldfinger”, or “Dr. No”, but it certainly is entertaining.

7.0 / 10

7.0 / 10