Category Archives: Action

Diamonds Are Forever (1971) Review

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Diamonds Are Forever

Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Sean Connery as James Bond
Jill St. John as Tiffany Case
Charles Gray as Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Lana Wood as Plenty O’Toole
Jimmy Dean as Willard Whyte
Bruce Cabot as Albert R. ‘Bert’ Saxby
Director: Guy Hamilton

James Bond masquerades as Peter Franks to uncover a diamond smuggling conspiracy. He must also deal with his old rival, who wants to use the diamonds to build a giant laser.

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Diamonds Are Forever follows on from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which quickly became one of my favourite Bond movies. Going into my rewatch of Diamonds of Forever I did hear some things about it, first of all that Sean Connery returned to play Bond, and second of all that it was one of the worst films in the series. Before my rewatches of Bond, I didn’t remember much of the movies, so I was curious to see what made this film particularly terrible. So I watched it again and I quickly found out.

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Notably, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service ended with James Bond’s wife Tracy being killed by SPECTRE on their wedding day, so you’d think that the movie would immediately follow on from that. Diamonds Are Forever opens with an over-the-top scene where Bond roughly interrogating people, demanding to know where Blofeld is. This silly cold open seems to serve the purpose of just getting that whole business dealt with immediately, concluding with Bond supposedly killing Blofeld (even though it is so obvious that he’s not dead). However, Tracy is not mentioned once throughout DAF, nor the events of OHMSS, so you really could’ve jumped into the movie after watching You Only Live Twice and not realise there was a movie in between. I get that this is par for the course for Bond in terms of feeling loosely connected. However, it feels like wasted potential that they didn’t capitalise on the events on the last movie. The plot itself was boring, drawn out and nonsensical. This incredibly convoluted story has Bond trying to uncover a diamond smuggling ring. After the opening, scene the first thirty minutes seemed promising, but any hope for it being good gradually fades away. At times it is pretty clear that the plot is not the main focus, as it jumps from one goofy setpiece to another silly setpiece in which hijinks ensue. James Bond is no stranger to camp elements but Diamonds Are Forever dials it all the way up, it particularly stands out when you compare it to OHMSS. Diamonds Are Forever is definitely one of the most over the top and silly Bond movies, continuing in the direction that You Only Live Twice was moving. However here, its at the point where it feels like it is parodying itself. It feels like they tried to put some form gag into almost every scene, even the puns and one liners were bad. In some of the worst Bond movies, I wished that they leant more into its silliness so it could at least be fun to watch. DAF definitely did this but to the point where it made the movie worse, even occasionally painful to watch. Despite all that, those moments aren’t enough to prevent the plot from being dreadfully dull. There are some fun moments, including when Connery is driving around a moon buggy. I also think that the setting of Vegas is at least different for James Bond, if not as interesting. However on the whole, the writing is just really bad, surprising considering that it’s the same people who worked on the previous movies.

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Following George Lazenby’s departure from the role of James Bond, Sean Connery played his iconic character once more. Reportedly he was paid a large sum of money ($1.25 million) to return, and you can definitely see that, in the sense that this was really clearly a paycheck role. In all the other Bond movies, you can at least see the Bond actors putting a lot of effort into their performances, even Roger Moore in the later movies was at least trying. But Connery does not feel like his Bond from years ago. He really phones it in despite having some charm to him. It really is a shame because this is his last official outing as James Bond. I will say this though, had they not cast Connery, it really could’ve been the end of James Bond as a franchise considering the overall film. Diamonds of Forever has some of the worst Bond girls in the franchise, the main one being Jill St. John as Tiffany Case who feels really out of place here. Really though, the female characters are all terrible here, and in fact just about all the characters are bad. The role of Ernst Stravo Blofeld as previously played by Donald Pleasence in You Only Live Twice and Telly Savalas in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was recast yet again. The next person to play the head of SPECTRE is Charles Gray, who interestingly already played a Bond ally in You Only Live Twice. This is very much a campy version of Blofeld and quite possibly the worst version of the character, really not adding anything at all. However he is occasionally funny in a over the top way. I guess he does briefly disguise himself in drag at once point, you can’t say that the other Blofelds ever did that. There’s a duo of random hitmen that the film keeps cutting to named Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint as played by Putter Smith and Bruce Glover, who are heavily implied to be gay. I feel like they might’ve worked better in a Roger Moore movie. While they are at least unique and memorable, they aren’t good here. All their scenes feel like an unwanted detour and distraction, just another unfunny gag.

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Diamonds Are Forever is directed by Guy Hamilton, who made Goldfinger. This should inspire confidence, it’s just a shame that his work here is disappointing. Much of the production design and similar technical elements are solid. However, there’s just a lack of energy throughout. The action scenes aren’t necessarily bad but are boring, lazy and on autopilot, as if it was just going through the similar motions of the previous movies. Even the car chase scene in Vegas and another chase scene involving a moon buggy somehow manage to feel devoid of energy. I will give props to one legitimately good scene in which Bond fights someone in an elevator, that was actually well done. As far as other technical praises go, the John Barry score is decent and the title track Diamonds Are Forever as sung by Shirley Bassey is really good, among the best songs in the franchise.

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Diamonds Are Forever is easily the worst film of the Bond series. There are moments of enjoyment, some of the over-the-top scenes can be fun to watch, and there are some genuinely good aspects like the elevator fight or the title song. However, its just all around bad on the whole. The writing is terrible with a dumb yet dull plot, incredibly goofy moments that rank amongst the franchise’s lowest points, and disappointing direction. While there have been other bad movies in the series’ Sean Connery’s phoned in performance as Bond is ultimately what cemented it for me as the absolute worst. It is honestly a miracle that the series just didn’t end here.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) Review

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On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Time: 133 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
George Lazenby as James Bond
Diana Rigg as Countess Tracy di Vicenzo
Telly Savalas as Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Ilse Steppat as Irma Bunt
Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny
George Baker as Sir Hilary Bray
Bernard Lee as M
Director: Peter R. Hunt

James Bond sets out a mission to defeat Blofeld, who hypnotizes beautiful women to fulfil his evil motives. Meanwhile, he also falls in love with a crime lord’s daughter.

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Out of all the James Bond movies I was rewatching, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was one of the films I was most looking forward to. From its reputation, I had heard that it was very different for a Bond movie (even beyond it being the only George Lazenby Bond movie). Not only that, but the latest instalment No Time to Die apparently took a lot from this film, so I was curious to see the similarities. Having watched it, I can confirm that it is now one of my favourites in the series.

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The plot is engaging and suspenseful, and one of the best plots in the franchise; it really is one of the only instances in a Bond movie where the story is really the main focus and importance of the film. It does seem to shy away from some of the silliness and tropes of the previous Bond movies, especially considering that it is after one of the most outlandish instalments in You Only Live Twice. OHMSS feels more grounded at times, while having some of the over the top nature of the past movies. It still follows the formula and is in line with the past movies, yet is handled with a mature sensibility and with some interesting changes. There is a greater sense of emotional weight here, and it adds a surprising amount of depth to Bond. The writing does have its issues, there is a long section with Bond infiltrating Blofeld’s clinic which goes on for a bit too long. The film is paced steadily over the course of the film and while it won’t work for everyone, I liked it generally. That said, it does slow down at times, the Blofeld clinic section being an example. It is a long movie at 2 hours and 20 minutes and outside of a few moments like the aforementioned section, I do generally think it works. For all its starts and stops, the final hour of the movie is so great and satisfying. There’s also the ending which I won’t elaborate on for those who don’t know about it, but it is certainly one of the most unexpected endings for a Bond movie and is surprisingly impactful.

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In 1967, Sean Connery quit the role of James Bond, leading George Lazenby to be the next Bond. Being the next actor to play Bond following Connery is not easy by any means. It doesn’t help that this is Lazenby’s first acting role, and this is his first and only time playing Bond. A lot of people’s biggest issue with OHMSS is George Lazenby as Bond, with many finding him to be wooden. I can certainly see that, and there are definitely some issues with his performance. He’s not quite as charismatic as Connery, and while he’s great in some scenes, there’s definitely others where he comes across as rather stiff. That said, I still think Lazenby is good overall. At the very least he doesn’t try to do an impression of Connery, his take on the character is more relatable and sympathetic in comparison He does very well at the drama; he’s convincingly vulnerable and empathetic, yet suave. That’s not to say that Connery couldn’t pull off the more vulnerable scenes, but it is admittedly hard to imagine his Bond playing the more emotional scene, or indeed genuinely falling in love like Lazenby’s Bond does here. Additionally, I think he is even better than Connery with the action and fight scenes on a physical level. I’d probably place him as the worst actor who played Bond, but he’s not bad by any means. A great aspect of this movie is its Bond girl Tracy, as played by Diana Rigg. She’s not only one of the best Bond girls especially with how she’s written and her involvement in the plot, Rigg’s performance is great and really adds a lot to the character and movie. The romance between her and Bond is very believable and is a highlight. Another notable aspect of the movie is Blofeld, with Donald Pleasence not reprising his role after playing him in You Only Live Twice, instead casting Telly Savalas in the part. It does make sense however since Blofeld is very physical and hands on in this movie, so it required a more physically capable actor. While I might be in the minority on this, I think this is the best version of Blofeld. It is a little weird when you consider the general portrayal of the character, here Blofeld even repurposed himself as a count. However, he is formidable and threatening despite his absurd plan, and I thought he was great.

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Peter R. Hunt directs OHMSS and his work here is strong, the style is very different to the other movies in the franchise in a great way. It is one of the best-looking Bond films, at the very least it is the absolute best looking up to this point in the series. The action sequences are exciting, featuring some of the best fight scenes in the series up to that point. The ski chase scenes have a sense of scale and a lot of energy. The stunts are great, and the climax is very satisfying. As usual, John Barry’s score is excellent. The main theme is particularly great, which plays over the opening credits. Also the use of Louis Armstrong’s “We Have All The Time In The World” was incredibly effective.

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On Her Majesty’s Secret Service has its issues for sure. The middle act can be a little slow and while I think George Lazenby made for a good James Bond, there definitely was some room for improvement regarding his performance. Otherwise, I think it’s definitely one of the best James Bond movies, best Bond movie at that point in the series at the very least. The more personal and emotional take with the story and characters, the direction and action all comes together to form a very satisfying and unique Bond film.

You Only Live Twice (1967) Review

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You Only Live Twice

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] 
Cast:
Sean Connery as James Bond
Akiko Wakabayashi as Aki
Mie Hama as Kissy Suzuki
Tetsurō Tamba as Tiger Tanaka
Teru Shimada as Mr. Osato
Karin Dor as Helga Brandt/No. 11
Donald Pleasence as Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Bernard Lee as M
Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny
Desmond Llewelyn as Q
Director: Lewis Gilbert

An American space capsule supposedly gets abducted by a Russian spaceship. However, as James Bond discovers that SPECTRE is responsible for it, he embarks on a mission to unearth the motive behind it.

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I didn’t know how they would hold up today, but I found myself pleasantly surprised with the Sean Connery era. However with the fourth movie Thunderball, I was rather disappointed and found it okay at best. I wasn’t sure about how the next movie You Only Live Twice would fare. Having seen it, I would not call it a good movie; it is really silly and I would not place it as the better half of James Bond, but I got a lot of enjoyment out of it.

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This script (co-written by Roald Dahl of all people) is undeniably silly. Goldfinger and Thunderball leaned into the silliness and camp, but YOLT takes it steps further. It is one of the goofier James Bond movies for sure, and was by far the goofiest at that point in the series. You can definitely tell the early signs of the series moving towards the Roger Moore era. YOLT is less of a political spy thriller and more of a silly action adventure; While this won’t work for everyone and might get too crazy for some in the second half, I found it entertaining in the wackiness and absurdity, even if it borders on self-parody. It helped that You Only Live Twice is self aware, it doesn’t play it straight faced by any means. The tone feels lighter, rather than having a serious spy plot with out of place humour. It also benefits from tight pacing and a lot of creative and ambitious moments within. Out of the Bond movies, the Austin Powers movies definitely took the most from You Only Live Twice, and it kind of makes sense when watching it.

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Although I thoroughly enjoyed You Only Live Twice, it is far from being problem free. Despite its enjoyable silliness, the story really is lacking, especially when compared to some of the previous Bond movies. There are certainly sequences and parts that are memorable, but I can’t say that the movie is memorable on the whole. Finally getting to it, You Only Live Twice is very problematic, in fact it’s probably one of the most problematic of the Bond movies and that’s saying something. There are some very weird undercurrents with its racial and gender policies. Despite being considerably less rapey here compared to Bond’s appearance in Thunderball, there really is an air of misogyny and sexism throughout that is prevalent. Then there’s the very weird racial politics. It’s pretty clear that the producers were fascinated with Japanese culture in this instalment, and wanted to make the most out of the setting, and with that came with all the stereotypes including ninjas, sumo wrestling, and Japanese-face. There’s no nice way of putting it, Bond does yellowface, which strangely makes him look more like a Vulcan than actually Asian. It is by far one of the most embarrassing moments of James Bond, and again that’s saying something.

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While Sean Connery is enjoyable to watch as James Bond as usual, compared to many of the previous films his work isn’t all that special here. He seemed a little bored and worn down, and it makes total sense that another actor played Bond after this movie. Still, he has his moments. Some of the returning Bond actors are good, like Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny, Desmond Llewelyn as Q, and Bernard Lee as M, and some of the other main supporting actors in the film are decent too. However the highlight for me is Ernst Stravo Blofeld, the main villain and the recurring antagonist for Bond as the head of SPECTRE. From his first appearance in From Russia with Love, the leader of the criminal organisation has had his face obscured, now we finally get to see the man, and the payoff was strong. Now I wouldn’t call Blofeld one of the all-time best villains by any means, I wouldn’t even say he’s the best Bond villain, however I do really like him. Part of it has to do with Donald Pleasence’s wonderful performance, who is riding a fine line. He is perfectly over the top and cartoonish (fitting for a character who has an evil lair in a volcano with a piranha pool death trap), yet still menacing. He is a memorable character, and you can definitely see why tat Dr Evil from Austin Powers was based specifically off this version of Blofeld. In some ways he is underutilised in the movie, you only see him in the final act. But I don’t think he would’ve been as effective otherwise.

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Lewis Gilbert directs You Only Live Twice, it is the first of three Bond movies he would make. It definitely loses the grounded aspects from the past movies to focus more on the action, and considering the absurd plot, it was worth it. The action set pieces are pretty good, there are some large scale sequences, including a mini helicopter chase and an elaborate set piece at Blofeld’s rocket base. The setting of Japan was a good change for a James Bond movie, on a visual level at least. There are some great locations and environments, and the film definitely takes advantage of them. It’s quite visually impressive, helped by the amazing set design. The look of the volcano lair in particular is immaculate and impressive, ranking among the best production designs for the Bond movies. The visual effects can be very uneven, but then again, it’s a 60s Bond movie, so that’s to be expected. Finally, John Barry’s musical score is typically great.

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You Only Live Twice is not exactly one of the most beloved of the James Bond movies. The plot isn’t the best, it’s a bit too silly for its own good at points, and it is undeniably problematic with its racial and gender politics. However, I still found it to be very entertaining. I enjoyed it more than Thunderball at least, especially with how over the top and absurd it is, and there are some enjoyable set pieces. I would probably place it as being mid-tier Bond, but nonetheless fun to watch.

Thunderball (1965) Review

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Thunderball

Time: 125 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Low level violence
Cast:
Sean Connery as James Bond
Claudine Auger as Domino
Adolfo Celi as Emilio Largo
Luciana Paluzzi as Fiona Volpe
Rik Van Nutter as Felix Leiter
Director: Terence Young

A SPECTRE agent steals two atomic bombs from a NATO plane. James Bond is assigned a mission to recover the warheads and put a stop to the evil plans of the criminal organisation.

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I have some memory of watching Thunderball for the first time many years ago. I knew it as the Bond movie with a lot of water and sharks, but I couldn’t remember much beyond that. I was pleasantly surprised by the first three films, so I went into my rewatch of Thunderball with an open mind and came out of it feeling a bit let down.

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After Goldfinger, James Bond was a lot more famous and well known. Naturally, everything including the scope and stakes are increased for the newest installment. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t quite work for me on the whole. Although there’s some enjoyment to be had, I just felt like it didn’t have the charm and fun of the first three movies. There is a sense of blandness to the storyline and most of the characters. I didn’t find myself very engaged or excited, and it was an underwhelming experience. The stakes may be grander, but you don’t really feel them. It doesn’t help that the movie slowly moves, so much of it meanders with a sluggish pacing. Also, as the first Bond movie to be over 2 hours, it manages to feel overlong. The first 40 minutes don’t have much to do with the main plot and wastes time with James Bond at a massage parlour, which in itself was a painful sequence to watch. In terms of treatment of women in Bond movies, I thought the worst instances would be in Goldfinger for a few bad moments, but Thunderball is by far the worst case, just for the opening act alone. There’s a scene where Bond sexually harasses a nurse and later blackmails her into having sex with him. This whole segment hangs over the rest of the movie and it’s hard to look past. It doesn’t help that the whole massage parlour sequence doesn’t have much to do with the rest of the plot. With all that said, Thunderball does have some entertaining moments, and occasionally there are some interesting scenes. It definitely leans more into campiness at points (including a jet pack in the opening scene) and is enjoyable for that. Some aspects are hard to take seriously like the tank full of killer sharks and the mysterious SPECTRE meetings since they’ve been parodied to death. However, it makes the movie more fun to watch at least.

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Sean Connery’s James Bond is confident and charming as usual, and thankfully gets more focus in this compared to Goldfinger. I especially loved his interactions with Desmond Llewelyn’s Q. The main Bond girl Domino as played by Claudine Auger works well enough, but was a little forgettable. Alfodo Celi plays Emil Largo, one of the most recognisable Bond villains with an eye patch and a pool full of sharks. Unfortunately, that’s all that’s going for him. He’s very forgettable and dull, and he doesn’t really feel that threatening or dangerous. Luciana Paluzzi as Largo’s henchwoman Fiona Volpe fares much better, definitely one of the highlights from the movie.

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Dr No and From Russia with Love director Terence Young returns to the franchise after Goldfinger was directed by Guy Hamilton. It is impressive on a technical level; you really feel the increased budget compared to the past 3 movies. It is very well shot, and the production design is great. The action is certainly larger, but for the most part they aren’t that thrilling. You can tell that much of the budget went into filming the underwater scenes, and to be fair it is commendable that they pulled them off. However, something I noticed when watching all the Bond movies is that even if it’s good on a technical level, it struggles with underwater sequences. Tomorrow Never Dies had one, For Your Eyes Only had one, and Thunderball is based around a lot of water so unfortunately there’s more than just one. These underwater scenes are too long, boring and slow, even during action scenes. The underwater action scenes may be impressive for the time but could get messy and can be hard to make out what is going on, with some bad camerawork and editing.

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After the solid first three James Bond movies, Thunderball feels like a notable step down. I liked some of the performances and there is fun that can be had with it. However I just couldn’t get invested in the story, not helped by the dragging pacing. It’s not bad, but outside of some key moments, I think it is rather forgettable and on the lower end of the Bond movies.

Goldfinger (1964) Review

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Goldfinger

Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]Medium level violence
Cast:
Sean Connery as James Bond
Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore
Gert Fröbe as Auric Goldfinger
Shirley Eaton as Jill Masterson
Director: Guy Hamilton

MI6 agent James Bond investigates a gold-smuggling ring run by businessman Auric Goldfinger. As he delves deeper into his activities, he uncovers a sinister plan to attack Fort Knox’s gold reserve

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Goldfinger is one of the most iconic James Bond movies, some people have even declared it as the best Bond movie of all time. While I wouldn’t quite say that it’s one of my all-time favourites in the franchise, I do think that it’s a good movie, along with being an incredibly important Bond movie.

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The James Bond series started with Dr No, which was an espionage spy thriller. From Russia with Love was similar to that, but succeeded more and had a slight step towards becoming like the James Bond movies we all know today. Goldfinger however was the first movie that was fully in the James Bond formula, and in fact established it. It has a sequence in which James Bond gets gadgets from Q (Desmond Llewelyn) while plenty of other spy gadgets are in the background, along with the familiar Bond and Q banter. Q in From Russia with Love makes an appearance just to give Bond a suitcase, but here they have the classic back and forth. This even has the introduction of the Aston Martin. In terms of tone, it definitely is lighter and more humorous than the first two movies, leaning more towards camp, killer laser beams and all. It is definitely self-aware of its absurdity, the introduction scene of Pussy Galore being an example of this. At the same time, it takes itself seriously when it needs to and doesn’t come anywhere close to reaching the absurdity of the Roger Moore movies. Bond gets thrown into plenty of thrilling situations, and it starts off with a bang in the energetic opening scene. While I generally like the movie, it has its fair number of issues. It is definitely outdated, especially with the treatment of women (a particular scene with Bond in a barn with Pussy Galore sticks out). However, it still has its issues that are unrelated to when it was made. The script can be a bit expository at times, and the pacing can drag a bit, especially in the second half.

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Sean Connery is once again enjoyable to watch as James Bond, especially with the charisma, the physicality, and the one liners. With all that said, I think his performances in the previous two movies were better. Bond is just not that interesting to watch here, the vulnerability he had in From Russia with Love just isn’t here. It doesn’t help that around the middle point Bond just doesn’t do much within the plot. Nonetheless, he is good in his part. Name aside, Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore was certainly a step forward in terms of what a Bond Girl was for the series. There’s definitely some writing issues, her motivations are a little all over the place especially in the third act, but she plays the role well. Gert Fröbe makes for a memorable villain as Auric Goldfinger, despite some noticeable ADR and dubbing. Unlike Dr No., where the titular villain appears in the third act and From Russia with Love where its major villains are mostly in the background, Goldfinger is the villain from beginning to end. In a way, he is very over the top especially with his plans but both the writing and performance gives him enough qualities and moments to make him feel relatively human, preventing him from becoming a full on cartoon character. Even his henchman Oddjob, who doesn’t speak and kills people with his hat, is entertaining.

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Instead of Terence Young who directed the first two James Bond movies, Goldfinger has Guy Hamilton directing, and he did a good job. Goldfinger gets even larger in terms of spectacle compared to the last couple of movies. The action scenes are very effective and well filmed, and the set design is particularly strong. There is an increase in Bond gadgets over the last two films, and the film utilises them well. The musical score from John Barry is strong as to be expected. There’s also the Goldfinger song as sung by Shirley Bassey, which remains one of the most iconic opening Bond songs.

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Goldfinger does have some issues and I don’t quite love it as much as everyone else. Despite its problems though, it has a charm to it. The cast are pretty good, it’s quite entertaining, and it established the Bond formula, for better and for worse. There are better movies in the series, and in terms of the Connery era, I still think From Russia with Love is better, but it is still a good film.

Jurassic World: Dominion (2022) Review

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Jurassic World Dominion

Time: 146 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Pratt as Owen Grady
Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing
Laura Dern as Dr. Ellie Sattler
Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm
Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant
DeWanda Wise as Kayla Watts
Mamoudou Athie as Ramsay Cole
Isabella Sermon as Maisie Lockwood
Campbell Scott as Dr. Lewis Dodgson
BD Wong as Dr. Henry Wu
Omar Sy as Barry Sembène
Justice Smith as Franklin Webb
Daniella Pineda as Dr. Zia Rodriguez
Director: Colin Trevorrow

Four years after the destruction of Isla Nublar, dinosaurs now live and hunt alongside humans all over the world. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history’s most fearsome creatures.

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I was going into Jurassic World: Dominion only mildly interested. I’m not the biggest fan of the Jurassic Park franchise. The first movie is known as a classic and was highly influential for cinema, I liked it but wasn’t in love with it like many other people are. At the same time, I like all the movies in the series. The sequels are definitely flawed and aren’t as good as the first or even second movies, but I found some enjoyment in them. So I went into Dominion fairly open minded and expecting to like it, and I did.

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I had fun watching Jurassic World: Dominion but I had some issues with it, mainly the writing. You can tell that it really pitches itself as this grand and epic conclusion of the Jurassic Era, by that I don’t mean that it feels epic, but rather that it is trying to feel epic. Despite all that, Dominion doesn’t seem like a conclusion to the Jurassic World trilogy let along the whole Jurassic “Saga”, and it doesn’t feel like much has happened by the end. It is also very long at around 2 hours and 30 minutes, and by the end it just felt dragged out, messy and bloated. I think it does have a very weird plot for a Jurassic Park movie, even more so than Fallen Kingdom which had one half about saving dinosaurs from an erupting volcano and the second half a suspenseful mansion sequence with a killer raptor. Instead of it being isolated to one location full of dinosaurs, Dominion has a globetrotting and at times convoluted plot with so many subplots and too many moving parts. The characters don’t go through much development, it is just them moving from one place to another. The movie itself didn’t get off to a great start with its opening 30 minutes. 4 years had passed since the events of Fallen Kingdom and in its first scene it attempts to recap what happened since then. Whether it be with the returning Jurassic World characters, the original Jurassic Park characters, and the overall world, it just feels rushed and messy. The recap of what happened with the world is worst of all with a montage and a narration flat out telling you, the worst part is that they made it in the form of a NowThis video. The movie is pretty bad at exposition dumps, even if nothing is as bad as that opening monologue. Exposition aside, the dialogue is awkward much like the previous Jurassic World movies. The worst cases are with some of the dialogue between Ellie Sattler and Alan Grant (Laura Dern and Sam Neill) because its them having to say really bad lines. I really could’ve done without Laura Dern having to deliver the line “he slid into my DMs”.

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Dominion takes a lot from the previous Jurassic movies and can be repetitive, not really covering new ground. The main theme once again is about how humanity shouldn’t meddle with nature, there’s yet another story of an amoral billionaire using science to profit (and going full Umbrella Corporation). Without getting into too much depth, the movie even ends up having its own ‘park’ despite the world now being established as having dinosaurs roaming free. Instead of taking advantage of the end of Fallen Kingdom, it introduces this random plot about locusts which ends up being a central part of the plot. One plotline that is continued into Dominion however is the one focussing on the character of Maisie and her being a clone. It’s still weird and crazy considering that it is in a Jurassic Park movie, but I liked it more than I expected. At the very least there was more going on with her compared to some of the other characters (especially Owen and Claire). Dominion does lean into some absurdity thankfully, especially with a sequence in Malta. It really picks up in the second half and it is nonstop action in the third act. Of the Jurassic World trilogy, Dominion tries the hardest for nostalgia, which you could probably expect considering that they brought back the main trio of Jurassic Park characters into the plot here. I don’t think it earns the nostalgia, but I don’t dislike their inclusions.

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The returning Jurassic World characters aren’t that great, mainly Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, despite some decent enough performances from both. The highlight of the whole movie for me were the returning Jurassic Park trio: Laura Dern as Ellie Sattler, Sam Neill as Alan Grant, and Jeff Goldblum as Ian Malcolm. It’s definitely a play for the nostalgia crowd but I can’t deny, it is so great to see them back. A lot of the time they’re not really given great material to work with, but their presence added a lot to the film and I would’ve liked the film a lot less without them. There are some new characters, DeWanda Wise is my favourite performer of the movie outside of the aforementioned Jurassic trio, and I really liked her. The villainous characters are quite generic and over the top but not nearly as silly as the ones from Fallen Kingdom. The central antagonist is the main corporate billionaire played by Campbell Scott who seems like he’s basically playing Tim Cook. Scott is clearly enjoying playing a goofy biotech mogul and it’s a fun performance at least, making the cliched character more enjoyable to watch.

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Colin Trevorrow’s direction isn’t great but I do think its an improvement over his work in Jurassic World. The visuals are fairly nice, the dinosaurs look great and fun to watch too. It seems that they finally found the right balance of practical and special effects. There are some enjoyable action sequences too, from the sequence in Malta involving a motorcycle chase with raptors, to the thoroughly enjoyable third act. I actually think the moments of horror are really well done, there are some good scenes of suspense.

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I would say Jurassic World: Dominion is probably one of the worst movies in the series, but it’s at least better than Jurassic Park III. It has some entertaining moments and aspects I really liked. Still, I think a lot of the other films achieved what they were setting out to do a lot better. The plot is very bloated and strange and there’s fun to be had with that, but for a film aiming to be an epic conclusion, it was underwhelming. I can’t tell who’ll like the movie, but if you disliked the previous Jurassic World movies, I’m pretty sure you won’t like Dominion. As someone who generally likes all the films in the series however, I enjoyed it.

From Russia with Love (1963) Review

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From Russia with Love

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Sean Connery as James Bond
Pedro Armendáriz as Ali Kerim Bey
Lotte Lenya as Rosa Klebb
Robert Shaw as Donald “Red” Grant
Bernard Lee as M
Daniela Bianchi as Tatiana Romanova
Director: Terence Young

James Bond searches for a Lektor cryptographic device that has the potential to wreak havoc in the world and stops SPECTRE, a secret crime organisation, from acquiring it.

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In my rewatches of the James Bond movies, I was looking forward to From Russia with Love, that’s because of the official Bond movies, that’s the only one I never watched. I did hear some people declare it as one of the Best Bond movies, especially of the Connery era. I finally watched it and liked it, at the very least it is definitely a level above the previous movie Dr No.

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Dr No was a very lowkey Bond movie compared to many of the later movies in the series, with heavy emphasis on the spy aspect. From Russia with Love is similar in that regard, but is better in every way. The plot is a Cold War mission, focussing more on espionage and spycraft than world ending schemes. There aren’t many Bond-esque gadgets, but James Bond does have a suitcase with many tricks, which proves to be useful. From Russia with Love isn’t quite like the Bond movies that you would expect yet, but it is definitely steps closer to the formula in the series. Plotwise, it can be a bit convoluted, but it made for a good movie and was well constructed. Also, whereas parts of Dr No’s story can be shaky, FRWL feels a lot more confident, they upped the scope and scale here. I found the plot to be interesting, mysterious and intriguing. It is a slow burn, it’s quite Hitchcockian in parts with some tense sequences, especially with a particular section on a train. The tone is serious and the film is fairly grounded, but also has some good moments of humour. It definitely has outdated aspects in the writing, but it mostly works.

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Sean Connery returns of the role of James Bond and once again is great, he’s even better here than in the last movie. It’s a more confident performance, he’s charismatic, convincingly deadly, and has plenty of witty one liners. His interpretation of the character definitely has limitations given the writing, but for what it is, he’s good. There is a better cast of characters compared to the last movie, it even has the first appearance of Q as played by Desmond Llewelyn. Daniela Bianchi is the Bond girl this time, playing Tatiana Romonova. While her story arc doesn’t have much to it (especially considering that this is an early 60s Bond movie), she’s integral to the plot, endearing and felt like a real person, along with sharing good chemistry with Connery. There’s not much depth to the villains but they are better than in the last movie. In the last movie, the antagonist Dr No mentions he’s a part of SPECTRE and that criminal organisation gets more presence here. The secretive leader Blofeld is barely seen but still has a strong presence in his scenes. The main two villains are memorable in their parts; Lotte Lenya as Rosa Klebb as a higher up of SPECTRE, and Robert Shaw as the first Bond henchman Red Grant, who hunts him down over the course of the movie. The latter particularly shines when he finally meets with Bond.

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Dr No director Terence Young returns to direct, and his work is definitely a step up from the last movie. You can tell that he has a much higher budget here. The action set pieces are grander and feel more fleshed out. There’s particularly a fight on a train that feels very real and is likely one of the best fights in the series. The editing and cinematography are also improved here. Some technical aspects are flawed like the ADR and some continuity errors, but that’s mostly to do with it being a movie from the 60s, you can expect little things like those.

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From Russia with Love is an improvement over the first movie in every respect, with the writing, characters, performances and the directing. It’s an effective espionage spy thriller with some great sequences. It’s a really good movie and definitely on the better side of the Bond movies.

Dr. No (1962) Review

Dr. No

Dr. No

Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] contains low level violence
Cast:
Sean Connery as James Bond
Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder
Joseph Wiseman as Dr. Julius No
Jack Lord as Felix Leiter
Bernard Lee as M
John Kitzmiller as Quarrel
Anthony Dawson as Professor R.J. Dent
Zena Marshall as Miss Taro
Eunice Gayson as Sylvia Trench
Director: Terence Young

Agent 007 decides to battle against an eccentric scientist, Dr No, who is determined to ruin the US space programme. For this purpose, he journeys to Jamaica to nip in the bud this megalomaniac peril.

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After No Time to Die I decided to rewatch the pre-Craig James Bond movies in the most illogical order, going backwards from Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan all the way back to Sean Connery and George Lazenby. Going to the Sean Connery movies was interesting, especially with seeing how the franchise started. The first film, Dr. No, is definitely very dated and I wouldn’t call it among the best Bond movies by any means. However it is pretty good and held up better than I expected.

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Having watched the post Connery Bond movies, it was interesting seeing how the Bond trademarks began on film. The James Bond movies are known for being over the top but Dr. No is not that overly campy. In fact, it is surprising how low key and simple its beginning is, Bond’s first movie is more of a proper espionage spy thriller more intrigue than large explosions. Many of the Bond trademarks aren’t here, no Q, no gadgets (outside of a gun), and no globetrotting (it takes place largely in Jamaica). As such, it was very interesting to watch. It also has a 60s old school charm to it which made it endearing to watch, even if it is outdated in many ways. I will admit that I wasn’t fully invested in the story. The pacing is all over the place, the plot can meander quite often, and the middle part of the movie is generally boring. Also, I found the conclusion to the movie to be rather disappointing.

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Sean Connery makes his debut as James Bond, he was the first actor to play him. He makes a strong impression; he is suave and delivers the witty lines excellently. At the same time, he is very believable as a dark character and cold blooded killer, being particularly realistic in the action scenes with his physicality. Connery also benefits from being front and centre in this movie. Generally, the rest of the cast are pretty good if underutilised. Ironically the weakest link is Dr. No himself, as played by Joseph Wiseman. Problematic casting and yellowface aside, the main villain shows up with 30 minutes left of the runtime. While those types of villains can work, Dr. No doesn’t leave much of an impression outside of having metal hands and apparently being really smart. Even some of the side villains like the assassins pretending to be blind are fairly weak as antagonists go.

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Terence Young directs Dr. No, and his work is pretty good. They definitely had a lower budget here compared to the later Bond movies, but they still pulled off a fair amount. Some of the technical elements still hold up well surprisingly. The green screen is definitely dated but otherwise it has good production designs and makes use of the locations in Jamacia. There are also some impressive set pieces with good action scenes. This movie also introduces the iconic James Bond theme by John Barry. The one problem is that the theme is used a bit too much throughout the movie, almost to the point of parody.

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I wouldn’t call Dr. No by any means one of the best Bond movies. It is definitely dated from a technical and writing perspective, and it can be pretty slow and boring at times, especially in the second act. However, it is definitely one of the most unique entries of James Bond considering its before it became a large and successful franchise. It’s interesting seeing it as a relatively gritty spy thriller with a focus on espionage. Additionally, it was directed well, and Sean Connery is great as James Bond.

Moon Knight (2022) TV Review

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Moon Knight Season 1Cast:
Oscar Isaac as Marc Spector/Moon Knight, Steven Grant/Mr. Knight
May Calamawy as Layla El-Faouly
Karim El Hakim and F. Murray Abraham as Khonshu
Ethan Hawke as Arthur Harrow
Ann Akinjirin as Bobbi Kennedy
David Ganly as Billy Fitzgerald
Khalid Abdalla as Selim
Gaspard Ulliel as Anton Mogart
Antonia Salib as Taweret
Fernanda Andrade as Wendy Spector
Rey Lucas as Elias Spector
Sofia Danu and Saba Mubarak as Ammit
Creator: Jeremy Slater

Steven Grant and mercenary Marc Spector investigate the mysteries of the Egyptian gods from inside the same body.

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I was interested in the upcoming Moon Knight show. I had no knowledge of Moon Knight except that he’s a major character in the Marvel comics. Oscar Isaac would play the titular role, and Ethan Hawke was cast as the villain. Also from the trailer, Moon Knight looked very different from the rest of the MCU, even just stylistically. So I was going into it open minded despite the mixed reactions. I have to say that I was disappointed, even thought I liked the show overall.

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The previous MCU shows were heavily linked in with the wider MCU simply by being led by a notable MCU character, Hawkeye, Loki, etc. This is however Moon Knight’s introduction into the MCU and doesn’t feature any side characters that return from the established cinematic universe. I don’t recall many references to the wider MCU either. So I for one at least appreciated that it was different and felt unrelated, it was very much its own thing. Even the tone is quite dark and different from the entries that came before. It has a portrayal of dissociative identity disorder (which the show’s subject has) and while I’m not an expert on the topic, it does have a sensitive take on it at the very least. As for the writing itself, it has to be the most unevenly written MCU show thus far. It has some strong moments and well done sections, and then it has some very messy parts with some sluggish or rushed pacing. The highlight of the show for me was episode 5 in which it goes into Marc Spector’s (Moon Knight) painful past and we learn how the split personality came to be. It was much like the penultimate episode of WandaVision in which Wanda is shown her past. There are some incredibly effective stuff in this episode, with the right amount of emotional impact. By far the best episode of the show, and it didn’t even have Moon Knight doing any Moon Knighting. A typical failing of the MCU shows (aside from Loki) is that it fails in the finale, especially with a rushed and a typical climax. That’s very much the case with Moon Knight; it was mostly just action with no room to breathe and felt rushed despite the 6 episodes. The ending itself is very abrupt, even when taking the credits scene into account. Its particularly sad because right after the amazing stuff in episode 5, it snaps back into formula for the final stretch. Much like most of the other MCU shows, Moon Knight feels like a show that really could’ve been a movie, and probably would’ve been much better as such. At the same time, it doesn’t feel like enough time was given to it. There aren’t many moments where I’ve outright disliked it, but I wish I liked it more. By the time it reached the end, I felt let down.

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One of the biggest selling points of the show is Oscar Isaac in the lead role. His character has DID and plays two separate personalities, Steven Grant and Marc Spector. Isaac has had better performances, but he’s really good here and carries much of the show. The show starts out following Steven and despite the very rough start, he makes the show watchable. He’s likable to watch and easy to root for, even Oscar Isaac’s over the top British accent made him endearing in a way. I especially liked the contrast between the two roles, the Isaac does well at making them clearly different beyond the accents. If nothing else, he’s is clearly committed to the roles, and that goes a long way. Ethan Hawke is also in this show as the main villain, a cult leader named Arthur Harrow. I wouldn’t say that it’s one of his best performances and the show could’ve been given him more to work with, but its more than a lot of other MCU villain actors are given. It helps that Hawke is pretty good here too. The rest of the performances are pretty good too, including one of the major characters Layla, played by May Calamawy.

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The direction is a bit of a mixed bag from beginning to end. The action scenes are fun to watch, and makes use of Moon Knight’s abilities quite well. The suiting up scenes for Moon Knight are very satisfying and fun to watch. I like the design of the suits (Moon Knight/Marc Specter and Mr Knight/Steven Grant). I also quite like the musical score from Hesham Nazih, especially the main theme. On the other hand, the CGI can vary, occasionally looking pretty good, other times bad and distracting like it is from a 90s comic book movie. Even on a visual level, it can look disappointingly bland at points.

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Moon Knight is down there with Hawkeye as one of the worst MCU shows. The writing is messy and uneven, with a story that isn’t that compelling, as well as some flawed CGI and visuals. It’s unfortunate because there’s some good stuff here, and things that make me want to like it more. I liked the performances, especially Oscar Isaac as the lead, and it has some genuinely great moments. I guess if you like the MCU, you’ll probably want to watch it regardless. I do like the show, but I wish I liked it more than I did.

The Lost City (2022) Review

The Lost City

The Lost City

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & nudity
Cast:
Sandra Bullock as Loretta Sage
Channing Tatum as Alan Caprison
Daniel Radcliffe as Abigail Fairfax
Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Beth Hatten
Brad Pitt as Jack Trainer
Director: Aaron Nee, Adam Nee

Reclusive author Loretta Sage writes about exotic places in her popular adventure novels that feature a handsome cover model named Alan. While on tour promoting her new book with Alan, Loretta gets kidnapped by an eccentric billionaire who hopes she can lead him to an ancient city’s lost treasure from her latest story. Determined to prove he can be a hero in real life and not just on the pages of her books, Alan sets off to rescue her.

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I had been seeing trailers for The Lost City, an adventure rom-com starring Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum. Although I didn’t watch it in cinemas, I did want to check it out because it looked enjoyable at the very least. I’m glad I did watch it, The Lost City was a simple, cliched and flawed yet fun adventure.

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The writing really isn’t much to ride home about. This plot really could’ve been auto generated by a bot, and contains multiple romantic comedies and adventure tropes. There’s plenty of predictable moments, and these types of movies have definitely been done before and better. But that doesn’t matter a whole lot if the execution is good enough, and that is the case. The story is straightforward, but that works for this movie, it is easy to follow and it never gets needlessly complicated. It functions well enough for this sort of movie. The humour can occasionally be hit or miss, but works for the most part.

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Ultimately, it is the solid cast that makes The Lost City work as well as it did, the actors play off each other very well and a lot of their charisma and chemistry carries the film. Even the humour is helped a lot by the performances, and had the acting not been as good, I wouldn’t have found the film to be as funny. Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum are really good in the lead roles, they have a nice relationship with good chemistry between them. Daniel Radcliffe plays the villain who kidnaps Bullock to find a sacred treasure, he’s gloriously over the top and having fun in this role, very enjoyable to watch. Then there’s Brad Pitt in a brief but memorable role. He’s very much a cameo in the movie but is nonetheless very funny.

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The Lost City is decently directed. The visuals can be a little generic and typical of a movie of this genre these days, but its shot well and there’s some good production design. I also liked that they used some real locations sometimes, especially with the jungle environment. While its not the highlight of the movie, there are some genuinely good action moments here too.

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The Lost City is a typical rom com meet adventure flick, and it doesn’t necessarily do anything new. Nonetheless it is good for what it is, and it is fun to watch and entertaining. It’s carried by a strong cast who are enjoyable to watch and are quite funny. It is pretty much the kind of movie you’d expect from watching the trailer and if you think it looks fun to you, I’d say it is worth checking out.