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James Bond Movies: your most and least favourites

Author Topic: James Bond Movies: your most and least favourites  (Read 2928 times)

Offline Sketchley

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Re: James Bond Movies: your most and least favourites
« Reply #30 on: March 29, 2011, 12:08:48 AM »
Tomorrow Never Dies

By rights, this movie should've been great.  It's got all the right elements and the right tone for a Bond movie, but...

The first time I saw it, in theatres no less, I didn't like it.  I thought maybe it was because I was in a bad mood at the time.  Now, the second time I've watched it (not including catching parts of it on the movie channel of course), I realized why I don't like it: I just don't care what happens.

This boils down to incomplete direction, sloppy editing and a bad script.  As the first two are probably mostly due to the last one, we'll focus on the last: after watching these Bond movies, I read some of the reviews and the Wikipedia article on them.  I was surprised to read that there were a lot of script troubles, and basically the script was rushed to be completed by the start of filming.

Always a bad sign.  But at least it explains the sloppiness in the plot, the weakly developed characters, and the overall lack of concern for the outcome.

Anyhow, what I did really like is Vincent Schiavelli's Dr. Kaufman.  He's the most original character, the most unique character, and the character most in-line with the tone of the preceding Bond movies.  He's also the assassin that's come the closest to killing Bond - if it weren't for his incompetent employers. ;)

After that, it was seeing Dame Judi Dench verbally sparring with her cast-mate from "As Time Goes By", Geoffrey Palmer - an interesting twist as they are lovers in that sit-com.  Dare I say that there was more than meets the eye going on during their time on-screen together?  Or is that another thing that's all in my head?

Anyhow, the mobile phone-remote-controlled car and Michelle Yeoh's secret hideouts are neat.  Michelle Yeoh's butt-kicking martial arts is awesome as always.  Some critics have said that Bond and her character's relationship develops unforced, but I feel that it was an inevitability, and was simply waiting for when they'd get together (it would've been a bigger twist if they did NOT, eh?)

Well, if you like decent action sequences with weak plots stringing them together and little character development, this is the movie for you.  Otherwise... go watch "Goldeneye" again, it's much more rewarding on all levels.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2011, 09:46:10 AM by Sketchley »

Offline Sketchley

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Re: James Bond Movies: your most and least favourites
« Reply #31 on: March 29, 2011, 09:47:34 AM »
Fixed Tomorrow Never Dies review.

The movie definitely did not have a realistic megalomaniac - maybe an unrealistic one?  Anyhow, its probably why I didn't really like the movie and can't really recommend it.

The bad guys truly make or break these kinds of movies...

Offline Sketchley

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Re: James Bond Movies: your most and least favourites
« Reply #32 on: April 16, 2011, 11:24:41 PM »
The World Is Not Enough

Excellent movie.  It's got all the right elements in all the right places, is an interesting and thought provoking ride from start to finish, and there are a number of unexpected plot twists that keep the viewers that are paying attention on their toes.  In the end, the two best things about the movie are that it stays limited to what one man (OK, one Bond) can do, and the excellent acting by Sophie Marceau.  Heck, all the main actors and a bunch of the supporting actors deserve kudos, as there are a plethora of subtleties in their acting that make the movie all the more rewarding for viewers that pay attention to those things.

The only thing that didn't work in the movie is the casting of Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist.  Yes, the onscreen appearances of the character didn't give her very much to work off of, but she could have done a lot more with what she was given.  For this one reason alone, I have to rate Goldeneye higher.

One of the strongest memories from my first viewing (when I was living in Seoul, no less!) was the introduction to Robert Carlyle's character, Renard.  I strongly felt that this is the way a Bond villian is supposed to be done (take that, Tomorrow Never Dies!).  During the final passages of the film, I thought Carlyle hadn't played the character as over the top as a Bond villain should be portrayed.  However, with this rewatching, I still feel that Renard's introduction is the way it's supposed to be done (nat. 20 on TND!), but, I realized how much the movie is striving to be realistic, and applaud Carlyle's more realistic and subtle portrayal of Renard.

Now, after having seen Carlyle in Stargate Universe and become familiar with his portrayal of Dr. Rush character in that show, I am strongly impressed by his acting abilities.  Despite Renard not being the most memorable of Bond villains, the portrayal is so different from Dr. Rush, that I didn't even realize that they are played by the same actor!  This is the bar that I have basically set that defines good acting: are their faces different in different roles?  (And by this, I don't mean prosthetics over there faces!  Gary Oldman and Cate Blanchett are the two that come to mind first and foremost.)  Anyhow, I found myself paying a lot more attention to Renard, and deliberately listening for Carlyle's Scottish accent (highlighted in SGU), and was quite surprised at how rarely it appeared (something about the curled Rs in some words or something.  You know, first language artifacts that speakers can never completely lose.)

On top of Carlyle's acting, we have Sophie Marceau.  Alas, because I don't want to give away any spoilers to those that haven't seen the movie, I can't say too much about her character, Elektra King, other than that Marceau portrays King at a level where it is next to impossible to guess her true or ultimate goals until King decides that they should be revealed!  IMHO, Marceau's acting inspired the other main actors, Pierce Brosnan and Judi Dench among others, all excellent actors in their own rights, to portray their characters with even higher levels of acting than in the standard Bond movie.

This movie cannot be recommended enough.  If you haven't seen it, you'll be in for a wild ride, full of some of the richest, subtlest acting in a Bond movie since...?  On top of that, there are a lot of genuinely unexpected twists and turns in the plot.  This, and Goldeneye are the two movies that cemented Pierce Brosnan as "the Bond" in my eyes.  Though, after having watched all the other Bond films consequentially, at the time of writing I'm of the opinion that Brosnan's and Connery's Bonds are roughly equally matched - both with their strong points, but neither truly outdoing the other.

Offline Jet Jockey

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Re: James Bond Movies: your most and least favourites
« Reply #33 on: April 17, 2011, 04:05:25 PM »
I think that film was underrated and doesn't get as much credit as it deserve from Bond fans.   
"Why would Anglia Jolie adopt my son when I offered to make one with her the natural way?"

Offline Sketchley

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Re: James Bond Movies: your most and least favourites
« Reply #34 on: April 20, 2011, 12:51:42 PM »
Die Another Day

I've been dreading rewatching this one since the start of watching the films consecutively due to complete dislike of it when I first viewed it in the theatre.  It's not as bad as I thought it was, BUT there are way too many cringe-worthy moments and the entire 3rd act is extremely poor.  In short, I was extremely disappointed because I went in with a cute chick hoping to make a convert to JB (like I had with 2 friends who I saw Goldeneye with) and ended up with a Triple-X influenced no-brainer that overstayed it's welcome.

At first, I thought Pierce Brosnan was on crack when he said that the movie goes back to the roots of Bond.  With this 2nd viewing (yes, I've been avoiding it) I understand where he was coming from.  There are a number of scenes that have the flavour and essence of earlier Bonds (HK, Cuba, England), and there's the Q-Branch storeroom scene FULL of props from the earlier movies (almost worthy of a freeze-frame.  The cheesy crocodile from Octopussy brought a smile to my face).

The highlights of the film are the first and second acts (post opening credits), and they positively breeze by.  They are a whirlwind of energy and fun, and I wished that energy wasn't completely obliterated by the 3rd act.

Anyhow, what I didn't and still don't like: the pre-credits sequence.

THAT'S NOT KOREA.  Period.  End of story.  Full stop.

I've lived there.  For a year.  Travelled around.  There are no big-Hawai'ian surf waves.  The countryside doesn't look like the USA's mid-west.
The whole subplot about a spoiled North Korean general trading weapons for blood-diamonds is just wrong, wrong, wrong on so many levels that I'm not going to go into it.  Same for the general's son with import sports cars on display.  You need hard currency to get those.  Something North Korea has only in very short supplies.

The entire third act.  Yes, there are some good points, but it just drags on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on.  The ice-hotel sequence should've been half as long, and Bond should've not only rescued Jinx before she drowned, but also have been able to outsmart the bad guys (he IS Bond after all).  Oh, and if you want to see how a real movie deals with someone being brought back to life after drowning, go see "The Abyss".

The laser beam... at first I shook my head as it was one-too many giant laser guns in space for me at the time (let's see, Gall Force Earth War, check.  Final Fantasy the Spirits Within, check...)  Now, I can see the allusion to the space laser in Diamonds are Forever, BUT, in this day and age, the way the thing fired should've been a lot more punchier (able to make big booms).  In the end, the effects are laughable - as a few nights after seeing the movie, I was watching a show on the Discovery Channel that had a bunch of mirrors focusing the suns rays, and able to melt through heavy duty steel like... well, FASTER, and more efficiently than a hot knife through butter.  And utterly quietly too.  (That was my mind-blowning video of the year).

Anyhow, cringe-worthy moments:
- a number of completely unnecessary helicopter establishing shots during the car chase.  Yeah, they look great, but not only do they bloat the sequence, they're distracting.
- Toby Stephens butchering the Korean language.  No excuses.  Your costar is a Korean!  Get him to coach you!
- a power suit that just looks silly...
- ... with tazors for hands.  Uhm, no.  You're opponent would be KOed with just a touch...
- a bunch more that I can't be bothered to type up
... and the invisible car.  Uhm, no.  There's no basis for the technology in the JB universe (and if there were, wouldn't there be other stepping-stone applications?)


So... in conclusion, nit-picking aside, the fatal flaw of the movie is the poor editing and directing in the third act.  Cut half of it, inject some IQ points of intelligence, leave out about half the gadgets, change the weapons used in the fights to something else, and I swear, you'll have a great movie.

I can't recommend the movie, though, the movie is good for something: two really awesome sword fights.  Heck, they are the only times in the movie where I felt that the heroes could get seriously mangled.

Offline aythati

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Re: James Bond Movies: your most and least favourites
« Reply #35 on: April 21, 2011, 01:08:45 AM »
Being a fan of bond movies I wonder how I missed this!

You definitely take watching Bond movies to a whole new level, I do love reading your take on the movies. 

I'm not nearly as critical when watching this movies. I do have one thing to chime in on, its that I feel the recently the actors that play Bond, namely Mr. Brosnan and to a lesser degree Mr. Craig feels less British than they should, to me they seems to lack that, how should I say "British Superiority".

To me its just doesn't seem right when Bond no matter how horrible a situation he is in, does not continue too look down on well everyone. Hmm that came out kinda wrong, but the more recent Bonds don't seem to have the "Britishness". I suppose it could be in part cause by the script writer, but I feel Mr Connery or Mr Moore would have kept that attitude no matter the lines they have to say.

Just like to give my thought your reviews are a great read. Made me dig up my collection and started to watch them all again.

Offline Sketchley

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Re: James Bond Movies: your most and least favourites
« Reply #36 on: April 21, 2011, 10:10:55 AM »
That's an interesting point.  I believe it stems from an actual cultural change that's ongoing in Britain.  That being the change to a class-less society.  I think the only time that the class differences are really expressed (albeit subtly), is the exchange between Bond (Sean Connery) and Red Grant (Robert Shaw) in "From Russia With Love".

Of course, concurrent to that change, there has been a generalized change in movies produced for the North American market - specifically the dumbing down and simplifying of things.

That said, it may just be the producers aiming for a more generalized, every-man type Bond and/or the way the actors have decided to portray the character.


I must say that in all the reviews of the Bond films, your point is a new one!  (Yes, after every Bond movie (heck, after every movie I watch), I invariably read Roger Ebert's review, and almost always a smattering of reviews on IMDB).

Thank you for the feedback, and I'm glad that the reviews are interesting reading.

We can all agree that I'm not a movie expert (that would be Quentin Tarantino), but I'm a bit picky when it comes to movies.  Mainly because I saw most every major movie released to the North American market in the late '90s and early '00s in the theatre, was dismayed by how the steady increase in the use of CG resulted in a steady reduction in the amount of thought put into movies.  In the end, I came to appreciate (good) writing, and (well) developed characters over (SFX) spectacle.

[If you're wondering, IMHO, the best movie from that era was David Mamet's "The Spanish Prisoner", and the worst was Michael Bay's "Armageddon" (the only movie that I've ever come within a hair's breadth of walking out of.  Alas, I also wanted to leave "Die Another Day" right after Gustav Gray/Tan-Sun Moon's ice hotel was melted... but that's mostly because it wasn't a very good (date?) movie and was disappointed that it ended up not being on par with neither "The World Is Not Enough" nor "Goldeneye".]
« Last Edit: April 21, 2011, 10:16:13 AM by Sketchley »

Offline hegemon

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Re: James Bond Movies: your most and least favourites
« Reply #37 on: April 21, 2011, 02:31:23 PM »
I know what you mean about alot of movies suffering from poorer story line for more SFX, however its not really limited to just movies, alot of the sci-fi programs of the past 15 years that i'm aware of, (Putting me at about 10 and able to remember them) have i think slowly decreased in story quality aswell, Look at firefly, I thought for the budget and seeming lack of support it received was quite good.

One major exception to the story/char and CGi trade off in my opinion was Babylon 5, That was just pure quality.

Offline Sketchley

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Re: James Bond Movies: your most and least favourites
« Reply #38 on: April 21, 2011, 02:57:07 PM »
Agreed.  I think the best example of the trend toward CG-induced brainlessness in TV shows is the Late Show with David Letterman (LSWDL).  His Late Night with David Letterman (LNWDL) was infinitely funnier, because it had a show string budget.

Compare the following:
LSWDL: dropping a bunch of super bouncy balls from the 6th floor, dropping a bowling ball into a bathtub full of jello, giving the audience $20 each, or blowing up a NYC cab.
LNWDL: hiring an old guy to welcome people to NYC at the ferry terminal with hot towels (and the old guy was stiff and wooden), crushing stuff in an industrial press (crush something uncrushable!  (a package of uncrushable cigarettes), crush something crushed!  (crush pineapple), crush something tough!  (a Mr. T doll))


Way back when ('95? '96?), just from comparing those two shows I realized that having a large budget or the ability to use ones first idea results in mediocrity.  True inspiration and genius comes during the rethink (well, we can't do that.  What can we do for $# and get the same impact?).


Of course, I think we can all agree that there are still some good films and TV shows created on extremely large budgets and with CG.  Casino Royale is a great example.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2011, 02:59:20 PM by Sketchley »

Offline Sketchley

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Re: James Bond Movies: your most and least favourites
« Reply #39 on: May 27, 2011, 12:11:21 PM »
Casino Royale

What can be said about the movie when my one complaint is about how unrealistic the engine layout of the Skyfleet S570 prototype is, and later realizing that its as realistic as the B-52 stratofortress?

From the opening moments, this film grabs your attention, and doesn't let go.  The action scenes are the most riveting and exciting out of the past few Bond movies, probably because they are smoothly choreographed and are plausible to the point that one feels like they could actually happen in reality.  If S├ębastien Foucan can free run through an under-construction building, than Bond can certainly survive a car that flips enough times to get a Guiness World Record!

This movie goes back to the roots of Bond in more than one sense - both the first novel in the series, and the origins of the character.  Bond may not be as polished in this movie, but it's exhilarating not only getting to see how he became what he is, but also seeing *actual* character growth.  Daniel Craig's Bond is also a wonder to behold.  Above all the usual Bond traits, his performance is as ruthlessness, if not more so, than Connery, and on the flip side, he shows us Bond's sensitive and vulnerable sides to a level deeper than that of any other actor who has portrayed Bond.

As villains in these movies either make or break it, this movie is blessed with not one, but two: Le Chiffre, a ruthless and creepy master gambler who puts Bond into the worst, repeat worst situation he's ever been in - one that will have any man in the audience grimacing in sympathy.  Mr White, the other villain, is ruthlessly cold, and who's stoic expression and impacting dialogue gives him an intriguing air of mystery.

One of the things that I find most interesting about this movie is that the bad guy's henchmen, despite getting no or almost no lines, still make an impression on the viewer.  Credit for that falls on the director, Martin Campbell, for spending the time exploring and developing the Bond universe in this movie.  Martin Campbell also directed Goldeneye, another Bond movie full of colourful, memorable villains and henchmen.

Aside from a few modern things such as cars, mobile phones and so on, there are hardly any spy gadgets in the movie.  Which is a good thing, as it not only takes us back to the days when Bond has to rely on his wits (which invariably results in a superior Bond movie), it gives the movie a timeless feel.

A classic.  And in this author's opinion, one of, if not THE best Bond movie.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2011, 12:24:23 PM by Sketchley »

Offline Sketchley

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Re: James Bond Movies: your most and least favourites
« Reply #40 on: May 27, 2011, 12:45:19 PM »
Quantum of Solace

Not James Bond.

Yes, Daniel Craig is a great actor, and he gives another exhilarating performance in this movie - to the point that we feel that he really has been beat up, chewed up and spit out by the bad guys at the end of the movie.  BUT... where is the set up?  The foreplay?

James Bond is a fantasy.  It's why there has been 23 Bond films and a 24th in the works.  This movie is completely devoid of the fantasy elements.  Ordinarily that's not necessarily a bad thing.  However, this movie strips out everything else - including character development - until we're left with a convoluted hyper-kinetic action movie from the Jason Borne mould.

How's that?  Well, the characters in a Jason Borne movie have no past, an impossible to grasp future and a confused now.  They're all about the confused now.  Just the now.  And they are populated with confusing action sequences.  This Bond has that.  And it's not good.  Paul Greengrass's much lamented action scene shooting technique (TM) serves a purpose.  It underlines Borne's confusion and the chaos surrounding Borne.  It's a great cinematic tool to highlight that character's mental situation.

But it's not Bond.  Bond is the opposite.  He's cool.  In control.  Knows where he's been, what he's doing, and where he's going.  The movie plays lip service to that, but then goes off the tracks.

The lack of fantasy is also painfully apparent in the bad guys.  Yes, they are truly vile real world realistic villains.  So vile, in fact, that they take us right out of Bond's fantasy world and remind us of the real world that we're trying to escape in the fantasy land that Bond resides in!  Sorry, I'd rather watch the news to get depressed about the state of the world and the future of mankind.

Now, the movie isn't entirely bad.  Daniel Craig gives another excellent performance as Bond.  It's a shame the script let him down.  Judi Dench IS the highlight of the movie, especially her grumblings to Bond.  Jeffrey Wright's Felix Leiter is also great - most likely because his character is the only one that's developed!

I'd like to recommend this movie just for the conclusion to the character arc established in Casino Royale, but as the movie doesn't involve itself in the character aftereffects and only stays focused on the action results, I can't recommend it for even that (hey, even the 3rd Borne movie put the 2nd movie's ending scene in context.  Why couldn't this movie have done the same?)

Biggest complaint: too much effort was spent on M's computerized desk, and not enough time was spent on the script!

Offline Sketchley

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Re: James Bond Movies: your most and least favourites
« Reply #41 on: May 27, 2011, 12:54:29 PM »
... well, looks like that's it for the James Bond movies until Bond 23 (24?) is released.  One of these days, I might rewatch and type a review of the first 4(?) movies that I didn't make a review of.

Hopefully my reviews have rekindled interest in Bond in the readers, and are a guide to picking out the better ones.