Posts Tagged ‘Film Reviews’

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.

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Moonraker — 30th Anniversay

June 27, 2009

It was thirty years ago yesterday that Moonraker was launched to the big screen.  The eleventh film of the series, and the fourth to star Roger Moore, was the highest-grossing Bond film up until GoldenEye. There’s a lot to like about Moonraker and a lot not to like. Though, none the less, it was worth mentioning this milestone.

Here’s my review of the film:

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

Premiere Dates & Box Office Earnings

June 20, 2009

I’ve compiled a list of Bond film premiere dates and Bond film box office earnings. Then, I summarized the relationships between them. It’s pretty interesting … check out the results:

*** Stats include domestic box office figures. All of the numbers used are adjusted for ticket price. No worldwide figures are included due to issues that would arise because of exchange rates.

[UK] PREMIERE DATES (By Month)

May:
A View To A Kill (22nd)

June:
Octopussy (6th)
You Only Live Twice (12th)
Licence To Kill (13th)
For Your Eyes Only (24th)
Moonraker (26th)
Live And Let Die (27th)
The Living Daylights (29th)

July:
The Spy Who Loved Me (7th)

September:
Goldfinger (17th)

October:
Dr. No (5th)
From Russia With Love (10th)
Quantum Of Solace (29th)

November:
The World Is Not Enough (8th)
GoldenEye (13th)
Casino Royale (14th)
Die Another Day (18th)

December:
Thunderball (9th)
Tomorrow Never Dies (12th)
Diamonds Are Forever (17th)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (18th)
The Man With The Golden Gun (19th)

BOX OFFICE EARNINGS (Highest to Lowest)

1. Thunderball: $453,095,866
2. Goldfinger: $394,367,777
3. You Only Live Twice: $262,186,956
4. Moonraker: $201,120,379
5. Die Another Day: $198,892,351
6. Tomorrow Never Dies: $196,009,738
7. From Russia With Love: $191,441,691
8. Diamonds Are Forever: $190,681,422
9. Casino Royale: $183,551,449
10. The World Is Not Enough: $179,420,403
11. GoldenEye: $175,670,569
12. Quantum Of Solace: $168,368,427
13. Octopussy: $154,754,344
14. The Spy Who Loved Me: $150,807,925
15. Live And Let Die: $143,519,092
16. For Your Eyes Only: $141,566,877
17. Dr. No: $135,719,190
18. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: $115,155,535
19. A View To A Kill: $101,790,071
20. The Living Daylights: $93,993,540
21. The Man With The Golden Gun: $80,523,508
22. Licence To Kill: $62,697,523

PREMIERE DATES v. BOX OFFICE EARNINGS (By Month)

May:
A View To A Kill (22nd) $101,790,071

June:

Octopussy (6th) $154,754,344
You Only Live Twice (12th) $262,186,956
Licence To Kill (13th) $62,697,523
For Your Eyes Only (24th) $141,566,877
Moonraker (26th) $201,120,379
Live And Let Die (27th) $143,519,092
The Living Daylights (29th) $93,993,540

July:
The Spy Who Loved Me (7th) $150,807,925

September:
Goldfinger (17th) $394,367,777

October:

Dr. No (5th) $135,719,190
From Russia With Love (10th) $191,441,691
Quantum Of Solace (29th) $168,368,427

November:

The World Is Not Enough (8th) $179,420,403
GoldenEye (13th) $175,670,569
Casino Royale (14th) $183,551,449
Die Another Day (18th) $198,892,351

December:

Thunderball (9th) $453,095,866
Tomorrow Never Dies (12th) $196,009,738
Diamonds Are Forever (17th) $190,681,422
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (18th) $115,155,535
The Man With The Golden Gun (19th) $80,523,508

OVERALL MONTHLY SUMS

January – April: N/A

May: $101,790,071

June: $1,059,838,711

July: $150,807,925

August: N/A

September: $394,367,777

October: $495,529,308

November: $737,534,772

December: $1,035,466,069


OVERALL MONTHLY SUMS: RANKED HIGHEST TO LOWEST

  1. June: $1,059,838,711
  2. December: $1,035,466,069
  3. November: $737,534,772
  4. October: $495,529,308
  5. September: $394,367,777
  6. July: $150,807,925
  7. May: $101,790,071
  8. January – April, August: N/A

Seems like the films launched in June and December have generated the most bank for EON Productions. November comes in at third. With these lists, I haven’t taken into consideration James Bond stars, seasons, or decades; therefore, you can expect more stats to come!

Special thanks to Karl Bennett and Box Office Mojo for their assistance with the numbers/statistics.

James Bond, the white secret agent…

June 20, 2009

During the past few years, the ideas of a black actor portraying James Bond have been tossed around. I believe recent ideas like this were started during the casting of Bond #6, with Colin Salmon’s supposed candidacy. Since then, “actors” like Will Smith, P. Diddy, Taye Diggs, and Jamie Foxx, have stood up and claimed they wanted to play James Bond.

Some may argue that the idea of James Bond being portrayed strictly by white actors is a racist idea. Some may also claim that with this fresh, new era that we’re living in, everything is possible – after all, look at America and their new President, right? Perhaps they’d say it’s time for the producers to break the formula. There are even excerpts from Ian Fleming’s “Live and Let Die” in which one could draw-up a conclusion about the author’s prejudices. Advocates for a black James Bond could use this against the producers to press for a change. There are plenty of possibilities, really.

I’ll say, though, that the idea of Bond being white is not a racist idea. It’s simply to preserve the essence of the character, and the creativity of the legendary Ian Fleming. Making him into a black man would simply put Fleming to shame and put his character to shame. Why? Well, not just because he’s black. Simply because that’s just how Fleming wrote his character, and that should be respected.

It’s obvious that EON has thrown around Fleming’s works like confetti, as far as the EON Bond series goes. However, making Bond a black character would be the icing on the cake – as if falling houses, surfing tidal waves, and Blofeld in drag weren’t enough.

One who sides with the idea that Bond should simply be a white character is not racist either. If you turned this around and made a prominent black character into a white character, then that’s when people would be yelling “racism!”, also.

On the subject of Fleming’s use of derogatory words to represent black people, I think that’s just how the world worked back then. I think a lot of evidence proves that Fleming was no ignorant, white-trash, black-hater. The words “nigger” and “negroes” were often used through out the years before, and after, the publication of Fleming’s “Live and Let Die”. Hell – there’s a poster for the cinematic “Dr. No” that reads, “Featuring negro film star, John Kitzmiller”. And over time, the words like that, I believe, have evolved into something much more serious than many thought they were in the 50’s. Today, the media [and associated terrorist organizations] will blow you out of the water for ever saying the word “nigger”, even if it’s not used in a derogatory form. The only way you can get away with saying it is if you’re Oprah or Steven Spielberg.

I think people look too hard at this issue, and try to find any slight bit of evidence just to shout “racism!”. If the production team were to release more information regarding this issue to the media [and associated terrorist organizations], they would have a field day with it. Fleming — a man that I’m sure that many people have NEVER heard of before — would line the entertainment world, briefly. He’d be stepped on, and spat on by political activists or celebrity activists who think they know what’s going on in the world. “Racist” would no doubt pop up, and Fleming would be made out to look like the bad guy, just because he wrote Bond as a white character, and uses the word “nigger” in one of his novels. Following this, due to pressure from radicals, EON would have to cast a black actor as Bond, just to make themselves look good. If they didn’t, you’d have P. Diddy, Dr. Dre, Fifty Cent, Jamie Foxx, and Bill Smith all over the entertainment news world, claiming how “it’s just not right”.

I’m surprised this hasn’t happened already, as a matter of fact.

And if you want to call me a racist for this, then so be it.

Tell that to all of my black friends, too…

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

Top 5 – Quintessential Fleming Thrillers

June 19, 2009

Below I’ve listed the top 5 Bond films that qualify as quintessential Fleming thrillers. In my opinion, these five films capture the essence of Fleming’s novels and legendary characters.

I’ve provided a small blurb for each, regarding why I consider it to be “quintessential”.

1. From Russia With Love – Perhaps one of the finest Cold War thrillers ever made. The second film of the Bond series, and also my second-favorite. This features another cast of brilliant characters, with an even more interesting plot than “Dr. No”. This is not only a must-see Bond film, but also a must-see espionage film.

2. Dr. No – The first Bond film, and what I consider to be the best. This Bond flick is made in true Fleming fashion. It contains some great espionage and detective work, a wonderful cast of characters, and a solid plot.

3. The Living Daylights – Though Fleming was long-gone in 1987, “The Living Daylights” pays a wonderful tribute to the Bond author. Timothy Dalton’s portrays Fleming’s character brilliantly, in a great Cold War thriller. If you take your Bond seriously, this is surely the one for you.

4. For Your Eyes Only – Moore’s finest Bond flick. Most of the film is taken seriously. The only downfall is its score. Otherwise, the film proves to follow Fleming’s short story, “Risico”, quite well. Great characters, and a very down-to-Earth and interesting plot. This is certainly a fresh, new start, following Moore’s out-of-this-world adventure, “Moonraker”.

5. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – George Lazenby’s first and final Bond flick surely makes for a great Fleming thriller. Though I’m not keen on Lazenby’s acting, the other actors in the film make up for what he lacks — especially Diana Rigg. The film preserves many aspects of the novel and also features one of the best John Barry scores of all time. It’s surely a refresher from the over-the-top “You Only Live Twice” and takes a more realistic approach.

Licence To Kill — 20th Anniversary

June 19, 2009

Twenty years ago, “Licence To Kill” graced silver screens all over the world.

The 16th James Bond film premiered in the UK on June 13th, 1989. The US were given “Licence To Kill” a month later, on July 14th, 1989.

For me, “Licence To Kill” is a very important film, in regards to the world of Bond.

If you’ve read the “About” section of this blog, then you’ll know that “Licence to Kill was my first James Bond film experience. I was in 6th grade when I saw the film – around 11-years-old or so. I ended up taping it on TBS because it was aired past my bed time. The day later, which I believe was a Saturday, I watched the film, and became an instant fan of James Bond. From this point on, I began buying the films on VHS. My second film viewing was Dalton’s first adventure, “The Living Daylights”. Within months, my Bond film collection was complete, and I moved on to conquer the music of the Bond universe. On the topic of Bond music, during the past twenty years, composer of the “Licence To Kill” score, Michael Kamen, sadly passed away at the age of 55.

Coincidently, “Licence To Kill” was released not-too-far after my date of birth, also.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of “Licence To Kill”, I’ll be providing an in-depth review of it next month, on the anniversary of the film’s US premiere (July 14th).

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

Follow “Licence to Blog” on Twitter!

June 18, 2009

You can now stay updated with “Licence to Blog” on Twitter.

Simply go to my Twitter link, and click “follow”:
http://twitter.com/Licence_To_Blog

Every time there’s a new blog post or update, I’ll launch the news on Twitter.

Thanks!