Tag Archives: James Bond

Roger Moore’s James Bond Movies Ranked

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After rewatching the Daniel Craig, Pierce Brosnan and Timothy Dalton eras of James Bond, I went back to Roger Moore’s run as Bond. Moore’s Bond was clearly popular, with him being the actor in the most amount of official Bond movies (7 in total).

I knew going in that his movies were on the campy side, even if you ignored Moonraker, however I enjoyed Roger Moore as Bond a lot more than I thought I would. With that said, his movies are all over the place in terms of quality. With the exception of one film, his movies wouldn’t be among my favourite in the franchise, and there’s particularly a few of his films that rank among the worst in the franchise.

With that being said, I do enjoy most of these movies, and all of them have at least a couple of good aspects to them.

7. Octopussy

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I didn’t really know what to expect from Octopussy going in, but I expected something more. It started off well, establishing itself as being on the campy side of Bond but it gradually got worse over time. Yes, in its attempts to lean more towards camp it has some moments that were “a bit too much” such as Bond Tarzan swinging in the jungle, and most of the humour just wasn’t that funny. However that’s not the main issue that brings down the movie. The most surprisingly part is how dull it all felt. The script is muddled and confused, with the most needlessly convoluted plot in a James Bond movie which is very difficult to follow. There’s something about the movie that feels so thrown together, half baked and underdeveloped, as it lazily falls back into familiarity and old tropes. There’s no momentum in the plot and very little progression, making for a rather sluggish experience. Some aspects of the movie are outright bad for sure, including some of the franchise’s worse instances of racism and sexism, however it’s not like there’s any individual moments which make you give up on the movie by how outrageous it gets. Instead, it wears you down over time, and by the third act it becomes tedious to watch.

It’s unfortunate because there actually are some decent aspects to the film. Roger Moore was getting on in the years and he’s definitely had better performances as Bond, but he’s still effortlessly enjoyable to watch. Director John Glen had delivered better work with the previous film For Your Eyes Only, but he still delivers some good work here. The cinematography is solid, and while the action isn’t that thrilling and leans more into being camp, they are nonetheless quite impressive with really good stunt work. Overall Octopussy just felt incredibly boring and becomes a slog to sit through. Despite some strengths, the script just lets it all down. It’s that rare type of Bond film of being both incredibly dumb while being incredible dull. Even at their worst, its rare to see a Bond movie where it feels like a chore to sit through.

My review of Octopussy

6. A View to a Kill

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A View to a Kill is often regarded as one of the worst Bond movies. I don’t dislike it as much as a lot of other people, but I do at least agree that it’s at the lower end of the franchise. The plot feels rather routine and without many surprises, with parts that feel very tired. The first half of the movie is particularly dull, when you’re spending an hour watching James Bond investigating horse race fixing, you’re just wondering why we are here. It picks up in the second half, but only by a little. It doesn’t help that the movie is way too long at over 2 hours long, with that runtime being paced very unevenly and messily. Finally getting around to the elephant in the room: Roger Moore is too old to play James Bond at this point. Moore has come across as being on the older side since For Your Eyes Only but it’s incredibly distracting here. The worst part is how they try to convince us that he’s in his prime, while taking every opportunity to replace him with a stunt double. He comes across as tired, much like the movie he’s in. The reliance of stunt doubles for Moore is felt here more strongly than ever, this negatively affects many of the scenes (especially the action), and it just comes across like the film is trying to film and cut around him, and that’s not a particularly good feeling to have.

So the question is, why do I like it more than Octopussy? For one, the plot is considerably more comprehensible. While it’s dull and far from good, I wouldn’t call the story terrible. It works fine enough and is at least better tuned than the last film’s plot. It also has a fair number of memorable scenes, for better and for worse. Even the dragging first half still had some enjoyable aspects that kept me willing to sit through the movie to see what would happen next. Also as I said earlier, the second half does pick up when the setting changes to San Francisco, and there’s some fun to be had there. Also while both Octopussy and A View to a Kill are both campy, something about the 80s cheese feel of the latter makes it more enjoyable and tolerable. While you wouldn’t rank them among Bond’s best action scenes, the action does have its moments in spite of all the Roger Moore stunt doubles. They’re not all memorable, but some moments like a car chase in Paris, a chase in a fire truck, and a scene involving a blimp near the Golden Gate Bridge nonetheless stand out. The villains as played by Christopher Walken and Grace Jones are very entertaining and memorable, the film picks up every time they appear on screen. Walken is oddly restrained and not peak Walken like he is in the 90s, but he nonetheless shines as one of the most outwardly psychopathic Bond villains, and Grace Jones is entertaining in her role and a great physical presence. A View to a Kill is definitely one of the worst films in the whole franchise but it has its enjoyable aspects. It definitely ended Moore’s run as James Bond on a whimper, but for what its worth, it’s at least better than Octopussy.

My review of A View to a Kill

5. Live and Let Die

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From my rewatches of all of these James Bond movies, Live and Let Die was the most disappointing film. I certainly expected it to be campy, however I didn’t expect it to be boring. Live and Let Die does have an initially interesting premise, but the plot on the whole was mostly boring to watch, not helped by some rather poor and inconsistent pacing. The movie makes the interesting decision to take advantage of the blaxploitation films of the 70s, but it only uses this as a framework for the movie, and the racial politics are distractingly outdated and questionable at times. As for the campiness, it wasn’t nearly silly as I thought it would be, and the campiness itself was hit or miss. Sometimes it would be downright annoying, such as a chase scene on a boat with Bond and henchmen mostly focusing on following a sheriff named J.W. Pepper, who is now firmly one of my least favourite characters in a movie ever. However the biggest disappointment of all was Roger Moore as James Bond, especially as this is his debut as the character. He’s serviceable in the part, he’s charismatic and can deliver the one-liners, but he’s bland and doesn’t leave much of an impression.

That’s not to say there aren’t some good parts to it. The villains are underutilised to a degree but are nonetheless performed well and are very memorable characters. Guy Hamilton’s direction is also solid, there are some good action set pieces and stunt chorography, and it makes great use of the locations. It is certainly a memorable film, from the iconic main theme from Wings, to the enjoyably silly moments like Bond escaping from crocodiles. There are certainly some good elements in the film, and I do want to revisit it to see if it improves on a repeat viewing. However, for now I’ll say that its one of my least favourite Bond films.

My review of Live and Let Die

4. The Man with the Golden Gun

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I’ve seen people call The Man with the Golden Gun one of the worst movie in the franchise. While I can see why and I think its definitely in the bottom half, I still enjoyed it. However I openly admit that a lot of my enjoyment was after being very let down after Live and Let Die, and I was hoping for a silly Bond movie. I certainly got that, and I enjoyed my time watching it. However in retrospect, it has to be one of the most confused and messy Bond entries I’ve seen. The movie does have an interesting premise initially, and there’s potential in a cat and mouse game between spy and assassin (Bond and the main antagonist played by Christopher Lee). While the villain thankfully does have a presence throughout, the film still should’ve taken advantage of that setup more than it actually did. There really isn’t much of a story outside of the first and third acts, it drags in the middle with a lot of padding. Also, even with the increased camp, the tone is just all over the place. It would go from having some of the cheesiest and most absurd moments in the whole franchise, to attempting to be harder edged, and the combination just don’t really work. The biggest examples were any scene between Maud Adams and Roger Moore, which only served to make the scenes more uncomfortable to watch.

The increased silliness and camp could go too far at points (really could’ve done without Sheriff J.W. Pepper returning yet again), but it is kind of entertaining for that. Despite the plot being padded out, it is fairly straightforward. It’s clear that the producers were still figuring out what direction they were going to take Roger Moore’s James Bond, and the harder edged moments only served to make him come across as needlessly mean in this film. That aside, it does show improvement over Live and Let Die, and Moore did fare better as the character. Christopher Lee is the best part of the movie as the main villain Scaramanga. The writing for his character wasn’t particularly strong, but Lee thoroughly elevated the role and he’s compelling whenever he’s on screen. Guy Hamilton’s direction is also decent despite a few questionable decisions, with some good cinematography and action. I’m confident that if I was to go back to rewatch The Man with the Golden Gun again, I would see it in a more unfavourable light. Its definitely a messy movie but I nonetheless enjoyed my last viewing of it.

My review of The Man with the Golden Gun

3. Moonraker

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From this point in the ranking it really picks up, as we get into what I call Roger Moore’s middle peak trilogy, the 3 movies in the middle of Moore’s run as Bond which were his best films in the franchise. Today, Moonraker is often looked at as a joke, given that it’s the moment where Bond goes straight into self-parody by going into space. Despite its bad reputation, I actually enjoyed it quite a lot. Its definitely not without its issues, the pacing can be a little slow at times, especially in the first half where not much happens. It does lean more into humour than the previous film The Spy Who Loved Me, but it isn’t overblown, despite having the odd moment like the double taking pigeon.  It doesn’t have one of the strongest Bond plots, but the movie is a lot of fun, and the story is outlandish and silly even before Bond goes into space. When that final happens in the third act, it becomes a real joy to watch as it essentially becomes a B-rate Star Wars movie.

Roger Moore as usual is charismatic and entertaining as Bond, and helps to ground the movie with his passive self-awareness and reactions to the absurdity all around him. Moonraker is also elevated by some memorable villains. Along with the return of Richard Kiel’s Jaws as henchman from The Spy Who Loved Me, there’s the lead villain in Hugo Drax. While he’s similar to the villain in the previous movie (Stromberg in The Spy Who Loved Me), the mix of an absurdly over the top character with a serious and straight faced performance and delivery goes a long way to make him both menacing and hilarious to watch (in a good way). Lewis Gilbert’s work here as director is solid, there’s some very good cinematography with great locations and amazing set design. There’s a lot of fun and over the top action scenes that are well done and entertaining with terrific stunts. When it does get into space, it’s not much like Bond but it’s nonetheless a blast to watch. One could say that Moonraker isn’t silly or goofy enough given that this movie is where the franchise reached peak ridiculousness, but there’s nonetheless a lot of fun to be had with it.

My review of Moonraker

2. For Your Eyes Only

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After reaching peak ridiculousness with Moonraker, the next Bond film would be by far Roger Moore’s most grounded and serious movie. The gadgeteer is reducing, making Bond more vulnerable and forcing him to rely more on his own skills. Even the campiness is downplayed, while still having its fair share of cheesy moments. The plot was more complicated than the average Bond film, but refreshingly so despite some convoluted moments. This is John Glen’s first Bond movie as director, and this is the best of his Moore-led films. For Your Eyes Only is really a globetrotting spy film, it’s very well shot and takes advantages of its locations. The action is one of the highlights of the film, with memorable set pieces, from a chase involving skis, motorbikes and bobsleds, to Bond climbing on the face of a cliff. Roger Moore is also great once again here as a slightly more ruthless James Bond and surprisingly delivers on those harder edged moments very well.

Not to say that there aren’t some notable issues with the movie. The pacing was a bit inconsistent and the plot isn’t always engaging, although it picks up in the much stronger second half. While half the supporting cast and characters are good with the likes of Carole Bouquet and Chaim Tolpi in their parts, the other half don’t work quite as well. The movie has one of the most irritating characters in a Bond film in of Bibi Conti, whose addition is one of the most bizarre decisions in a Bond film (and that’s saying something), and the villains are rather forgettable, with Julian Glover making for a very boring if passable Bond villain. There are also some strange choices made, like the opening having the death of an unofficial Blofeld-like character, and the ending featuring a talking parrot and Margaret Thatcher. With all that said, I do think that For Your Eyes Only is one of the most underrated Bond entries and would’ve been the perfect movie to end Moore’s Bond-run on.

My review of For Your Eyes Only

1. The Spy Who Loved Me

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The third of Roger Moore’s Bond movies, The Spy Who Loved Me is widely known as one of the best Bond movies, and it’s easy to see why. After two very disappointing Bond movies with Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun, the filmmakers made a genuinely great Roger Moore James Bond movie. Compared to the last movie, The Spy Who Loved Me is tonally consistent, with a balance between the spy and espionage as well as the campiness and light-hearted elements. The comedy and gags are well executed and genuinely funny. At the same time, the story is great and keeps you riveted, with never a dull moment. The plot is predictable and follows the Bond formula for sure, but it nonetheless delivers it really well.

This is also finally the movie where they figured out what take they wanted for this version of James Bond. Moore nails the charisma and humour and is witty and charming, while being serious when he needs to be. Both this and For Your Eyes Only are his best performances as Bond. The direction from Lewis Gilbert is strong and polished. It’s large scale, greatly shot and stunning to watch. There are also plenty of memorable action sequences throughout, and the practical stunts and special effects work are great. The only lacklustre aspect is the main villain in Stromberg, while his big plan is memorable, he’s rather dull and lacklustre by the end of the film. However, in a way this issue made up by the iconic henchman Jaws, who is sprinkled throughout the movie to provide an intimidating physical antagonist for Bond to struggle against. Overall, The Spy Who Loved Me is one of my favourite James Bond movies, and it’s by far my favourite of the Roger Moore era.

My review of The Spy Who Loved Me

What do you think of Roger Moore’s run as James Bond? How would you rank his movies?

Octopussy (1983) Review

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Octopussy

Time: 131 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Roger Moore as James Bond
Maud Adams as Octopussy
Louis Jourdan as Kamal Khan
Kristina Wayborn as Magda
Kabir Bedi as Gobinda
Director: John Glen

James Bond (Roger Moore) sets out to foil a nuclear attack on the NATO. However, in order to do so, he must enlist the help of a circus group and its obscure leader, Octopussy.

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Roger Moore’s previous Bond movie For Your Eyes Only ended up being quite a surprise, one of the more underrated entries in the franchise. The next Bond movie for me to revisit was Octopussy, another Bond movie I have a very limited memory of. I went in open minded but unfortunately I found the film rather lacking. It’s not only silly and badly done in parts, it’s just dull to sit through.

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Octopussy starts off well. Right from the get-go, it’s very clear that after the last Bond being relatively serious, the producers wanted to get back to campy Bond. It’s fun and hilarious, if not very original for a Bond opening. Even the initial premise started out pretty interesting. I was expecting some campiness and I certainly got that. There were parts of it I liked, such as when it gets to the circus and Bond dons Bond dons clown makeup. However there are also some parts where it gets a bit too much, like when Bond does a Tarzan yell as he’s swinging through the jungle. On the whole, it does border into being a bit too stupid and juvenile in parts, and it wasn’t even funny for most of it. When you look at some of the things that happen in this movie, it sounds interesting or at least entertaining. Unfortunately, its surprising dull despite its ridiculous moments. To put it bluntly, I was bored through much of the movie. The script is very muddled and confused. The plot involves Faberge eggs and somehow connects to nuclear weapons and a Russian general, and at a certain point I stopped trying to follow what was happening because the story was incomprehensible. Its surprisingly complicated and hard to follow, and not in a top tier espionage spy thriller way. The story felt half-baked, underdeveloped, formulaic and familiar, even lazy as it falls back on old tropes. It might be strange to say but this movie has just about no narrative momentum. Things definitely happen in the movie, but none of it builds on each other. Individual scenes are fine to watch on their own, but there’s no connection holding them all together and it makes for a very uneven experience. The pacing itself is rather sluggish too, and my patience really only lasted as long as the first act.

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Roger Moore plays James Bond once again, and he’s definitely had better performances as the character. He is sleepwalking at times but he’s effortlessly charming and fun to watch. With that said he’s definitely on the older side, and this should’ve been his final Bond movie (or more preferably For Your Eyes Only). Maud Adams plays the role of Octopussy, and all of her memorable aspects of that character begin and end with her name. While it makes for a title that not’s easy to forget, I do wonder why its named after her considering that the character doesn’t have much to do here. I feel like even Adams’s considerably smaller part in earlier Moore film The Man with the Golden Gun left more of an impression than in here. The main antagonists are quite weak, not terrible but forgettable. The Bond villain Kamal Khan is played well by Louis Jourdan but isn’t threatening at all. Kabir Bedi fairs a little better as Khan’s bodyguard.

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John Glen returns as director after For Your Eyes Only. The direction in this movie is mostly fine, if not as impressive. However there are definitely some good aspects here. The cinematography is solid, the camera makes great use of the locations (especially in India), and it captures the action very well. The action sequences aren’t as thrilling compared to For Your Eyes Only, but here’s still some solid stunt works and impressive work here. There’s fights, plenty of shootouts, chases, and more, the highlight being a long sequence on trains in the third act. The action isn’t that thrilling and leans more into camp, but there’s good work there.

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I was taken off guard by how little I enjoyed Octopussy. I’ve seen Bond movies that are absurdly silly, I’ve seen Bond movies that are boring, but I haven’t seen a Bond movie that’s depressingly both. It’s not without its strong points, Roger Moore has been better in other movies but is charismatic as always, and some of the technical work and action is solid. However the script drags everything down, uneven, unfocused, dull, and tedious to watch. Very likely the worst of Moore’s Bond films and is one of the worst Bond movies in general.

Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond Movies Ranked

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After the release No Time to Die, I decided to watch through the James Bond movies in reverse Bond actor order. I also decided to rank each actor’s Bond films, excluding Timothy Dalton and George Lazenby of course given that they made 2 movies max.

Pierce Brosnan was the James Bond actor right before Daniel Craig, and had a 4 movie run as Bond in GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, and Die Another Day. In some ways, Brosnan’s run as James Bond is a little disappointing. He was a perfect fit for the role, he has the charisma and smoothness, he can deliver the one liners, he is believable in the action, and he is convincing as a cold blooded assassin. However, the movies were a little mixed and some of the movies underserved Bond and Brosnan’s performances. It certainly didn’t help that Brosnan’s run was at an unfortunate point where the Bond series needed to reinvent itself.

With that being said, I do find stuff to enjoy in all of them, and even though the non-GoldenEye films don’t have the best of reputations from most people, generally I enjoy them all.

4. Die Another Day

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Unsurprisingly, Die Another Day makes it at the bottom of the list. It’s definitely known as one of the worst Bond movies, and for good reason. The plot is absurd and goes to new ridiculous heights, even by Bond standards. Essentially the premise of DAD is about Bond going up against Graves, who’s really a Korean colonel who changed himself into a white British billionaire, from using his diamond encrusted satellite which shoots out a solar laser beam. That sounds like it has a lot of potential to be cheesy fun from beginning to end. However the most disappointing part is how dull the movie feels on the whole. It does have some cheesy one liners and dumb moments like the previous films, but there’s something that’s so lazy and low effort in this. The acting is also mostly not the best, mostly ranging from disappointing (Halle Berry) to bad (Toby Stephens). Even Pierce Brosnan suffers from it, he does have his moments but he’s not got the best material to work with, especially when compared to the previous three movies. So much of the direction is poor, with 2000s editing with an overuse of slow-motion and bad CGI which haven’t aged well. Throughout the film is just full of bad decisions.

With that being said, I won’t lie and say I dislike the movie. As bad as Die Another Day is, there’s still some enjoyment to be had with it. The opening is good with a much darker tone  and a good idea, even if the rest of the film doesn’t take advantage of it. Most of the acting isn’t that good but there’s a few performers that work, Judi Dench is once again great as M, John Cleese makes a decent Q in his 1-2 film appearances, and Rosamund Pike and Rick Yune made for decent supporting villains. As messily directed as many of the action sequences are, you can’t deny that they are memorable and entertaining in a way. The battle over ice with cars with weapons, the hand to hand fight dodging lasers spinning around, the sword fight at the duelling club, the action in the other worst Bond films aren’t this memorable. The silliness can be entertaining, even if it’s at the film’s expense. The poor decisions, the goofiness of the villain and plot can have some enjoyment in it. Again though, I get the issues. It is entertaining in parts but not on the whole. It is disappointing that this is essentially the film that stopped Brosnan from reaching his ideal Bond film.

My review of Die Another Day

3. The World is Not Enough

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The World is Not Enough is definitely not the worst of the 4 Pierce Brosnan movies, but it is the most frustrating. It really had a lot of potential to be one of the best Bond films, let alone Brosnan’s best. Despite all that, by the end it just ends up being a formulaic action flick, with a MacGuffin in the form of a nuclear weapon. It’s also quite forgettable compared to the other movies, from the plot, to some of the characters, to the action. Despite its attempts at a darker story for this version of James Bond, the movie feels over the top and silly, and as a result it felt very tonally inconsistent. The particularly bad one liners, the aspect of the villain being strong and impervious to pain because of a bullet lodged into his brain, they all feel very out of place within the story. And yes, Denise Richards plays the least convincing nuclear physicist as Christmas Jones but she’s not the reason why the movie underwhelms.

With all that being said, I still think that The World is Not Enough is decent on the whole. Aside from some one-liners and bad attempts at humour (and yes, Christmas Jones), there aren’t many outright bad things about the film. The plot had me intrigued for at least the first half, I liked some of the ideas they had, and I was always entertained in some way. Sophia Macreau as Elektra King was also not only the most interesting character in this movie, but also one of the most interesting characters of the 4 Brosnan movies. While the movie doesn’t utilise the character the best, it’s a good performance and character which definitely elevated the film. While most of the action scenes aren’t as memorable compared to the other 3 movies, they are still generally well filmed and were entertaining. Also I think that this is probably Pierce Brosnan’s best performance as James Bond, if only because he’s given the most emotional material to work with here. I would not call The World is Not Enough one of the best Bond films by any means, but it’s not one of the worst either, there’s still some good stuff here.

My review of The World is Not Enough

2. GoldenEye

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The most controversial opinion in this list is that I don’t consider GoldenEye to be Pierce Brosnan’s best Bond film, nor do I consider it one of the all-time best Bond films. For a while I hadn’t been able to pinpoint why but I think I figured it out with my most recent viewing. The plot is simple enough, but I don’t find it to be that great or interesting really, which might be the biggest problem for me. Outside of the action scenes, I don’t find myself very invested with what’s happening with the story or characters. Even GoldenEye seems to suffer from tonal inconsistency, a problem that most of Brosnan’s movies seem to suffer from (more on that later). For context, it was in the awkward phase of moving Bond from the Cold War of the 80s into the 90s. The film tries to have some of the grittiness of the Timothy Dalton Bond films but isn’t grounded enough to do that, and it also tries to be on the more over the top silly side (leaning towards Roger Moore Bond) at points but is too serious to achieve that. Not that it isn’t possible to find a happy medium between the two, but the end result in this film feels a little messy.

With all that being said, I do understand a lot of the praise that GoldenEye receives. The biggest strength for me was the direction by Martin Campbell, specifically with the action. From the opening sequence in the 80s, the tank battle, to the third act climax, the action is filmed and put together really well. That’s something that GoldenEye has over the other Brosnan Bond films, all the action is great. The actors are also quite good in their parts, Sean Bean and Famke Janssen make for memorable villains, Judi Dench made her first appearance as M here, and although Pierce Brosnan would have better performances as James Bond, he is solid here. While I don’t consider GoldenEye to be amongst the best Bond films, it is good overall.

My review of GoldenEye

1. Tomorrow Never Dies

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Tomorrow Never Dies is often regarded as the second best of Pierce Brosnan’s Bond movies, but it’s my favourite of his. I do understand the criticisms for sure. It is very goofy and over the top at times, and it does lose itself in its overblown climax. They also could’ve done much more with its unique central concept with the media, they don’t execute it in the best way. Parts of the direction do feel a little lacklustre, especially after Martin Campbell’s direction of GoldenEye.

With all that being said, I couldn’t help but thoroughly enjoy this movie from beginning to end, despite its faults. One of the biggest praises I have is the tone, rather how consistent it is. Instead of wavering between silly and gritty like GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies leans in with the 90s action cheese and makes for a thoroughly entertaining film. The aforementioned plot concept involving the media is also quite unique, and while the film doesn’t make use of this idea fully, it still makes for a memorable film. Pierce Brosnan had a better showing as Bond compared to GoldenEye, Michelle Yeoh was a scene stealer and overshadows Brosnan at points, and Jonathan Pryce is scene chewingly enjoyable as the villain. The action is overblown but thoroughly entertaining. While there are certainly better movies in the franchise, Tomorrow Never Dies is one of the most entertaining Bond movies for me.

My review of Tomorrow Never Dies

What do you think of Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond? What did you think of his movies?

Die Another Day (2002) Review

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Die Another Day

Time: 133 minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond
Halle Berry as Jinx Johnson
Toby Stephens as Gustav Graves
Rosamund Pike as Miranda Frost
Rick Yune as Tang Ling Zao
Judi Dench as M
John Cleese as Q
Michael Madsen as Damian Falco
Director: Lee Tamahori

James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is sent to investigate the connection between a North Korean terrorist and a diamond mogul, who is funding the development of an international space weapon.

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I reached the end of my rewatches of Pierce Brosnan’s Bond movies with Die Another Day. It is widely known regarded one of the worst Bond movies, if not the worst. However I remember watching it a lot when I was younger, so I was curious whether my opinion would change sharply, or if I’d be more lenient on it. In a way, both happened. I definitely don’t hate it like a lot of people do, I do find parts of it I enjoy, even when most of it is ludicrously silly. However, it’s not a very good movie, it has a ton of issues and easily ranks as one of the worst Bond films.

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The strangest part of Die Another Day is that it starts off pretty good, at least the first 20 minutes or so. James Bond is on a mission in North Korea, and the opening set piece is entertaining (if darkly lit), and even goes to some dark places. Bond is captured, tortured and interrogated before being released. The opening was new ground for Bond and the tone seemed like it was where Brosnan wanted to take Bond for the longest time. Even with some weird inclusions such as a CGI bullet flying towards the screen in the opening Gunbarrel sequence and the Madonna opening song, it had a good start. You really notice a change from the point where Bond escapes from the hospital by faking a cardiac arrest by lowering his heart rate by will. This dark tone and opportunities from the start of the movie aren’t capitalised on at all, any potential given by the start of the movie fizzles out quickly. MI6 and M initially don’t trust Bond after he’s released, believing him to have given up vital information during the torture. However that doesn’t last for long and soon enough he’s back on a mission with them. The opening being that dark is very strange considering that on the whole it is one of the silliest Bond movies. The plot is straight out of a Roger Moore Bond movie, especially with the inclusion of a solar laser beam being shot out by a diamond encrusted satellite. There’s even a plot point where the main villain played by Toby Stephens (a British white guy) turned out to be a Korean guy who used gene therapy (ironically this isn’t even the most racist moment in Bond’s film history). Being silly isn’t going to bother me, many of the Moore movies are absurd and people mostly gave those a pass. Die Another Day would make for an enjoyable campy Bond movie if they were aiming for that. Unfortunately it is not self aware, in fact it takes itself pretty seriously, which makes things tonally strange. Also despite the very silly things that happens, on the whole it feels strangely dull with not a whole lot of energy. The attempts at humour are bad but somehow also feel low effort, and the plot is rather predictable. So while there are individual moments that are goofy, its not the kind that keeps you endlessly entertained throughout the entire runtime.

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The acting is a bit of a mixed bag. Pierce Brosnan has been gradually been improving as James Bond with every subsequent film but his work here is rather disappointing, feeling a little lazy and on autopilot. The opening with the torture in North Korea certainly provided an opportunity for a much darker journey for the character but unfortunately the film didn’t take advantage of that. However I wouldn’t call it a bad performance, Brosnan is still charming and fun to watch, and effortlessly delivers the (mostly cheesy and bad) one-liners written for him. Halle Berry plays the main Bond girl named Jinx. Berry was disappointingly underutilised and forgettable, delivering a rather boring performance and having basically no chemistry with Brosnan. Toby Stephens plays the villain, and the character is rather silly given that his name is Gustav Graves. The character is rather boring, however Stephens seems to be acting so hard to be the villain that he’s kind of entertaining. He is just sneering throughout the last half of the movie as he tries to be menacing, and as that he’s kind of fun to watch. Still, he’s a strong contender for the worst Bond villain. Rosamund Pike is in this movie in an early role for her. While there are issues with the writing of her character, she leaves a strong enough impression (more than Berry or the main villain), and is overall one of the film’s stronger performers. Rick Yune also made for a decent henchman, working better than the main villain too. John Cleese is the new Q after his introduction in The World is Not Enough. He’s decent enough but a bit underutilised, definitely not as memorable or effective as Desmond Llewyn or Ben Whishaw. Michael Madsen is very out of place in this movie as the head of the NSA, and it feels like he should be in a completely different movie, he’s not believable at all in his part.

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Lee Tamahori is the director of Die Another Day, and in the nicest possible terms, his work is a bit mixed. It’s one of the three Bond movies released in the 2000s, but DAD is the only one which really feels dated and very much in the 2000s. Specifically, the style uses a lot of slow motion and shots being sped up, especially in the action scenes. It’s like it was trying to imitate John Woo’s style from Mission Impossible 2, but even that movie seemed to have some level of energy, while Die Another Day has none. There’s also an overreliance on CGI and green screen, more so than most of the past Bond movies, and the CGI just looks clunky today. The gadgets in the Bond films have never been what you’d call realistic at the best of times, but this film takes it to a new level. The biggest example that everyone points to is an invisible car, and while that is firmly a step into the sci-fi territory, given the other stuff that also happens in the movie I would not call it the most silly part of the movie. The action scenes are ridiculous, there is a chase scene between two cars on ice, and most infamously there’s a scene where Bond windsurfs, making use of horrible green screen and an obvious stunt double. However there’s still fun to be had with some of the action. There’s a fight scene that makes use of multiple laser beams spinning all over the place and its just so absurd and hilarious for it. There’s also a fight scene between Bond and the main villain in their first encounter in a duelling club where they fight with swords, that was entertaining too. The production design is solid, the ice palace in the middle of Iceland particularly makes for a memorable setting for a Bond film, and not necessarily in a bad way. I don’t usually mention Bond songs in reviews but Madonna’s song for Die Another Day is so atrocious I don’t know how it ended up being used. The title sequence actually advances the story showing Bond’s torture, but it feels very out of place that Madonna’s song is played during this. Speaking of Madonna, she has a cameo in this, and somehow is even more out of place than Michael Madsen was, which is rather impressive. There are also some weird song choices, like how they literally needledrop “London Calling” by The Clash as James Bond is travelling to London. However I will give great praise to David Arnold’s score, which is really the only consistently good/great part of the movie.

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While I’d say that Die Another Day is definitely one of the worst Bond movies, I don’t dislike it that much, at the very least not as much as other people. It is certainly memorable, even if it’s for the wrong reasons. However it’s just as well that after DAD they rebooted the franchise, and that if anything is the film’s greatest contribution, as it would result in the Daniel Craig Bond era. The most disappointing thing about this movie is that you could swap out the Bond name and it would’ve fitted alongside other generic action flicks around that time. There are certainly some fun moments but the movie on the whole is surprisingly dull. As bad as it is, if you watched the first three Pierce Brosnan Bond films you might as well watch this one too, even just for completion.

The World is Not Enough (1999) Review

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The World is Not Enough

Time: 128 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Low level violence
Cast:
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond
Sophie Marceau as Elektra King
Robert Carlyle as Victor “Renard” Zokas
Denise Richards as Dr. Christmas Jones
Robbie Coltrane as Valentin Zukovsky
Desmond Llewelyn as Q
Judi Dench as M
Director: Michael Apted

James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the daughter of an oil tycoon. While on his mission, he learns about an even more dangerous plot.

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Continuing my rewatches of the James Bond movies, I now move onto The World is Not Enough, one of the latter Pierce Brosnan films. Despite it being one of the more recent Bond films, I only remember some aspects like the characters and certain moments. I did notice that a lot of people didn’t really like it, so I was curious as to how I’d feel about it. As it turns out, I am now one of the people who does like it, however its probably the most frustrating Brosnan Bond film. It comes so close to greatness but it really misses out on that.

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The World is Not Enough starts off pretty good with a solid (if strangely overlong) opening. It did have me in the first half despite some stumbles, with an intriguing plot and characters. I’d say its nearly great, with lots of potential and especially with the character of Elektra King (Sophie Marceau). It also looked like an emotional journey for Bond, so I was liking where it was going. However, it eventually loses momentum. By the time it gets to the second half, I started to lose track about what was happening with the plot. Even after the movie ended, I found it to be quickly forgettable. This movie is still packed with some pretty good stuff with some twists and turns of its own, and I appreciate some of the directions they went in. However it does feel like a story with wasted potential, and resolves its plotlines and characters in unsatisfying or generic ways. It even feels a little formulaic, ultimately the big MacGuffin of this film is another nuclear weapon. Despite attempts at grounding itself and attempting to go for a darker story, the film still feels over the top silly, and as a result it does feel very tonally inconsistent. This is the movie where one of the villains has a bullet lodged in his brain and as a result he is impervious to pain. It also did feel like there were an increase of jokes and innuendos over even Tomorrow Never Dies and GoldenEye, they don’t really hit at all and feel more distracting than in those movies.

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This might be Pierce Brosnan’s best performance as Bond given this is the most emotional that his version of the character has gotten. There are tons of emotional moments for Brosnan to act out. I also feel like this is the closest that Brosnan’s Bond has come to being fully realised as a character, which is a shame because his character still has issues in this film. In this movie he keeps delivering goofy one liners, and I feel like Brosnan wasn’t able to go all the way with his portrayal. Sophie Marceau as Elektra King was the most interesting character in the movie. I won’t get into her character for those who don’t know about her part in the story, but she was quite good and shared an interesting dynamic with Brosnan’s Bond. I just wished that they went further with her character and was utilised a lot better. Judi Dench gets to have a lot more screentime as M compared to the past two Brosnan Bond films, I liked that she actually plays a notable part in the plot. Robert Carlyle plays a Bond villain role quite well however I did wish there was more to him. He is said to be dangerous and while he has something of a presence, he doesn’t really feel like a threat. So he’s not that memorable overall. Denise Richards has been widely criticized for her performance in The World is Not Enough, so I didn’t want to rag on her even more since a lot of people had already been down on her acting. Unfortunately, I have to say that the criticism is understandable. She really seems out of place in this movie, and although it would be too far to say she brings the movie down (the movie has enough problems without her), she is very distracting whenever she’s on screen. Her role is to be a nuclear physicist, deliver exposition dumps, and to have something of a romance with Bond, and she isn’t convincing at any of those. On top of that, her character’s name is Christmas Jones, and of course that’s only so that Bond can deliver a really bad one-liner at the end of the film. This performance and character is one of the only unambiguously bad things in this movie, but isn’t the source of all of its problems.

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The World is Not Enough is directed by Michael Apted and his work is mostly good here. There are some fun set pieces, though they seem to oscillate between being genuinely good to absolutely ludicrous. Also they aren’t really as memorable as the other Brosnan Bond action. It doesn’t help that Bond never really feels like he’s in danger, Tomorrow Never Dies had this issue too. David Arnold returns as composer from Tomorrow Never Dies and again does a good job here.

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I find myself in the minority of people who actually quite enjoyed The World is Not Enough but there are definitely some issues holding it back. It does feel very conflicted, it tries to have the more darker and emotional aspects, but it also tries to have the one liners and jokes that are out of place. It’s probably the most disappointing of Brosnan’s run as Bond because there are some great ideas that had potential to make for one of the best Bond films ever. What we are left with however is a decent enough yet forgettable action flick with a mix of great and terrible aspects. With all that being said, if you’ve watched some of the other Bond movies, I do think it is worth a look. It still has some very good parts to it.

Daniel Craig’s James Bond Movies Ranked

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With No Time to Die out in cinemas now, I decided to rank the 5 movies in Daniel Craig’s 15 year run as James Bond.

I will admit that although I like most of the movies, I’m not a massive fan of James Bond. My favourite version of Bond however was always Daniel Craig’s. While there’s only three of the five movies that I love, I just really liked this version of Bond, both the approach to the character and Craig’s performance.

This list is going to contain some minor spoilers, since these movies link into each other.

5. Quantum of Solace

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For the longest time I was trying to decide which I considered to be worse, Quantum of Solace or Spectre. They are both flawed for incredibly different reasons, but I gave Quantum the edge, if only for its messiness. With that said, I surprisingly liked the movie noticeably more upon recent rewatch of it in the lead up to No Time to Die. It’s quite a different James Bond movie, with it acting as the first direct sequel to the last Bond movie, and does try to be more of a political thriller taking inspiration from real world events. Its known at this point that this movie was made during the writer’s strike and was heavily affected by it, and you can really feel it. The writing felt like it needed more work and fleshing out. With that said, I did like the attempt at grounding itself even more in reality, and although the story is lacklustre compared to Casino Royale’s, I was interested in where it was going. I especially liked the portrayal of James Bond being a ruthless loose cannon, as he’s searching for revenge. The villain in Dominic Greene is underwhelming and doesn’t feel like a real threat compared to many of the other Bond villains, but I think he worked well enough for this story, and the performance was good. The action is also a mixed bag. Aside from a scene involving a plane, all the action has a lot of quick cut editing, making some of them hard to follow. For whatever reason I also enjoyed these more on the more recent viewing. I definitely feel like they could’ve laid off the quick cuts, but I like how gritty and brutal the action was.

I thought the acting was all quite solid. Daniel Craig again puts everything into the role of Bond, and he’s especially great here. The supporting cast, both returning (Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright) and new (Olga Kurylenko) did solid jobs in their part too. I also liked the direction of the movie on the whole, there are some genuinely great moments, such as a sequence taking place at an opera. Overall, I wouldn’t call this one of the best Bond movies by any means. However there’s something about this chaotic, brutal and angry mess of a movie that I genuinely enjoy. At the very least, there’s a lot of this movie I appreciate and admire, even if it’s by no means anywhere to being close to the level of its predecessor.

My review of Quantum of Solace

4. Spectre

Spectre might not be the worst of the Daniel Craig Bond films, but it is the most frustrating of the 5. Director Sam Mendes and co. did such incredible work with Skyfall that it’s quite disappointing to see that their follow up didn’t come anywhere close to being as good. With that said, my more recent rewatch did put things in perspective for me. For the most part, Spectre is a solid film that just happens to not work as well as Skyfall. Skyfall did such a good job at paying tribute to the older Bond films, while making it work on its own. Spectre on the other hand was all over the place with what it wanted to do. It tried to tie together all the other Craig Bond films and trying to go into Bond’s past, while also trying to throw back to the classic Bond films, with over the top scenes, and ‘classic’ Bond moments. The two tones just didn’t work together at all. The plot is intriguing and solid, though it’s a little predictable and could’ve been better. Despite the long runtime, a lot of the plot and characters could’ve been fleshed out more. The cast are decent, especially with the returning actors like Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw, and some of the newer additions like Lea Seydoux. However, some actors like Monica Bellucci, Andrew Scott and Christoph Waltz don’t really get to do much in their parts. The action is generally well filmed and entertaining, although missing a level of intensity that was present in the previous 3 movies. However, the opening action sequence and the fight between Bond and Dave Bautista’s henchman on a train were genuinely great. In fact, the film is quite good on a technical level, visually stunning, well edited, and greatly put together.

Where the film starts to go downhill is when it enters into its third act, specifically once it gets to Christoph Waltz’s second onscreen appearance. While the prospect of Waltz as a Bond villain sounded exciting, his character and his writing just didn’t work all that well for the story. Had it not been for Waltz’s appearance in No Time to Die, I think that even Dominic Greene from Quantum of Solace would’ve been better. Not only that, but trying to tie all the previous Bond movies together in Spectre just felt misguided. Then it moves into its rather baffling and underwhelming climax. It manages to be silly yet boring at the same time. From the Sony email leaks it seems that the filmmakers didn’t know what to do for the end, and it certainly showed on screen. It is borderline terrible and definitely brought the movie down for me significantly. Spectre is good for the most part, but there’s also a lot here that doesn’t work. I do rank Spectre higher than Quantum of Solace if only for consistency in quality for the first two acts, before it collapses in the last act.

My review of Spectre

My retrospective review of Spectre

These next three are very close together and are interchangeable.

3. No Time to Die

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The most recent film on this list, No Time to Die is the latest James Bond film and the conclusion of Daniel Craig’s run as James Bond. At a whopping 2 hours and 45 minutes there was a lot to take in with this film, especially from the one viewing I had of it. However, I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. The story itself is the closest to a classic Bond movie with some of the tropes and aspects you’d expect, an over-the-top villain with a plan that affects the whole world, gadgets, cheesy one liners, you name it. It was quite an entertaining ride and despite the length, it never really dragged for me. It also has an emotional core, and worked in tying up all the characters and storylines, better than Spectre did at least. It even made some of the elements from Spectre work better retroactively. Cary Fukunaga’s direction was great, delivering an energetic, well-paced, and vibrant film. The action was great and memorable, very well shot, and definitely rivals the best action scenes from the previous 4 films.

Everyone in this ensemble cast is great, from the returning actors like Lea Seydoux and Ralph Fiennes, to newer actors including Lashana Lynch, Ana de Armas and Rami Malek. However, it all comes down to Daniel Craig, and while he’s great in all of these movies, this is his best work as James Bond. He delivers the one-liners and the action, but also gives his most emotional performance as the character. Despite the global stakes involving a dangerous weapon, No Time to Die’s main story is Bond’s story and above all else, it gives him a great sendoff. Again, the film was a lot to take in, so I will need to watch it again. However at the moment, I’m prepared to say that I loved it.

My review of No Time to Die

2. Casino Royale

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The James Bond franchise rebooted yet again after 2002’s Die Another Day, with GoldenEye director Martin Campbell releasing Casino Royale in 2006. This is where Daniel Craig’s James Bond was introduced, focussing on a Bond who just became a double 0 agent. By James Bond standards, it stays relatively grounded, with the lead character never relying on gadgets. It’s a comparatively refined and mature Bond film, and everything from the intriguing story to the well-developed characters are all on point. It’s quite something watching Casino Royale again 15 years after its release, it still holds up really well.

Daniel Craig gave his own take on Bond, with his incarnation being the best version of the character to date. Both his performance and the writing provided to him is very strong and for made for him being more human and a more interesting character. The supporting cast is also strong, with the likes of Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench and others playing their parts greatly. Martin Campbell’s work as a director is also excellent and helped the film succeed as well as it did, especially when it comes to the outstanding action sequences. Nearly a decade and a half later, Casino Royale still holds up very well as a James Bond movie, an action movie, and a movie in general.

My review of Casino Royale

1. Skyfall

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It was pretty hard deciding between Skyfall and Casino Royale as my favourite Craig-era Bond film, ultimately I gave Skyfall the edge. After the first two movies being more grounded and Bourne-esque, Skyfall brings it closer to more what people picture when they think of Bond, while also delivering a personal and emotional story for the character. Both elements are balanced incredibly well, delivering an intriguing and riveting film. Despite it being closer to classic Bond than the previous 2 movies, whether it be a hacker villain, gadgets, larger action scenes and the like, the stakes are smaller and personal. The climax is particularly strong on both an entertainment and emotional level, and one that’s very different for a Bond film. While the first half is definitely strong, it’s the second half which really solidified it as my favourite of Craig’s run.

The characters and acting were also great, Daniel Craig delivers as Bond as always, but it was many of the supporting actors that stood out. The new interpretations of Q and Moneypenny with Ben Whishaw and Naomie Harris, along with the eventual next M in Ralph Fiennes, were all welcome additions. Javier Bardem ranks among the best Bond villains, with a very memorable performance and character. And of course, there’s Judi Dench’s last performance as M, who gets to shine the most here out of all her Bond film appearances. Sam Mendes directs Skyfall, and his work here is fantastic. From the fantastic cinematography from Roger Deakins, to the phenomenal score from Thomas Newman, and the outstanding action, its so great on a technical level. Skyfall has held up incredibly well over the past near decade it’s been released, and still remains my favourite Daniel Craig James Bond film.

My review of Skyfall

How would you rank Daniel Craig’s James Bond films?

Goldeneye (1995) Review

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond (007)
Sean Bean as Alec Trevelyan (006)/Janus
Izabella Scorupco as Natalya Simonova
Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp
Joe Don Baker as Jack Wade
Judi Dench as M
Gottfried John as General Arkady Grigorovich Ourumov
Robbie Coltrane as Valentin Dmitrovich Zukovsky
Alan Cumming as Boris Grishenko
Director: Martin Campbell

When a powerful satellite system falls into the hands of Alec Trevelyan, AKA Agent 006 (Sean Bean), a former ally-turned-enemy, only James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) can save the world from an awesome space weapon that — in one short pulse — could destroy the earth! As Bond squares off against his former compatriot, he also battles Trevelyan’s stunning ally, Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen), an assassin who uses pleasure as her ultimate weapon.

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I have watched most of the James Bond films (even though I don’t seem to remember most of them) however there were a few I haven’t watched: From Russia with Love, Goldeneye and Never Say Never Again (and the Jerry Lewis Casino Royale if you want to count that as a Bond film). Goldeneye has been called one of the best James Bond movies and having finally seen it, I can see why that is. I’ll be honest, the James Bond films don’t really do much for me, even though I do like most of them. It’s only the Daniel Craig era that has great James Bond movies (and really only 2 of them are great). Goldeneye has the typical tropes, clichés and structure of typical Bond films but it does the best with those aspects. Martin Campbell does deliver an entertaining flick that works really well.

The movie is set after the Cold War era (with it being the first Bond movie made after the end of the Cold War) and the film fully embraces that time period. The opening scene starts off the movie well, it’s simple and straightforward and completely Bondlike. From that point onwards, it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a Bond movie. The movie has much of the same structure and tropes as most Bond films. However, when it comes to James Bond movies this is one of the better ones and it does rather well with it. You don’t get very invested in the story plot but its straightforward and easy to follow, easy to be entertained by. The movie is 2 hours and 10 minutes and the pacing does work quite well, it’s always moving in some way and doesn’t give you a chance to draw bored at any point. You’re generally entertained throughout.

Goldeneye is Pierce Brosnan’s first outing as the new James Bond after Timothy Dalton’s two film run. His version is a lot more charismatic and charming than all the other James Bonds’ and Brosnan really excels at that aspect. I don’t really buy him as a spy as much as the other James Bonds but he’s still pretty entertaining to watch. The ‘Bond Girl’ of Goldeneye is played by Izabella Scorupco, and I can’t really tell if she’s a good actor or not because her character once again falls into the typical Bond girl category of not really having anything to them as a character. You never really buy the relationship between her and Bond, but I guess it’s kind of something to look past because it’s a Bond movie. Sean Bean plays the villain of Alec Trevelyan, a former double 00 agent gone rogue. Though the character really isn’t anything special (a rogue agent in a spy isn’t really anything special), he does serve the movie really well, and Bean does play up his villainous role and is entertaining. Famke Janssen also does well as Xenia Onatopp (yes, that’s the character’s name). However the character is a little too over the top, with her trademark kill being crushing people with her thighs and there are even times when she is literally moaning with pleasure after killing people. It just comes across as being really goofy more than anything, and that’s saying a lot considering the James Bond movies as a whole. While in a smaller role, M this time is played by Judi Dench, who would do a fantastic job in both the Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig Bond eras. She’s only given a couple scenes here but she makes the most of these scenes to make a real impression. Alan Cumming is in this movie as a Russian hacker and while I get the feeling that his character is meant to be over the top, I think it was a little too over the top.

Martin Campbell starts off this new version of James Bond (not the first time he’d do this, see a decade later with Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale) and he does a great job. Campbell particularly does very well with the action scenes, with a lot of practical effects along with the digital effects. The fight scenes are great, especially the final confrontation between James and Alec, Bond actually seemed like he was somewhat in danger. There’s also some large scale and entertaining action sequences, including one with Bond chasing people in a tank. Some visual effects like blue lightning, satellites and some explosions look fake now but they probably worked greatly for 1995. The score by Éric Serra is different and stands apart from the other Bond scores, it really works.

Goldeneye is one of the best James Bond movies for sure. It’s very much a Bond film and has many of the familiar aspects and formula, but its really entertaining. Much of the success goes to Martin Campbell, who did a great job directing this movie and introducing a new James Bond with Pierce Brosnan. If you like the James Bond movies but haven’t gotten around to Goldeneye (which was me until recently), I’d suggest watching it, it’s a lot of fun.

Spectre (2015) Retrospective Review

Time: 148 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Daniel Craig as James Bond
Christoph Waltz as Franz Oberhauser/Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Léa Seydoux as Dr. Madeleine Swann
Ben Whishaw as Q
Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny
Dave Bautista as Mr. Hinx
Andrew Scott as Max Denbigh/C
Monica Bellucci as Lucia Sciarra
Ralph Fiennes as M
Rory Kinnear as Bill Tanner
Jesper Christensen as Mr. White
Director: Sam Mendes

A cryptic message from the past leads James Bond (Daniel Craig) to Mexico City and Rome, where he meets the beautiful widow (Monica Bellucci) of an infamous criminal. After infiltrating a secret meeting, 007 uncovers the existence of the sinister organization SPECTRE. Needing the help of the daughter of an old nemesis, he embarks on a mission to find her. As Bond ventures toward the heart of SPECTRE, he discovers a chilling connection between himself and the enemy (Christoph Waltz) he seeks.

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In my initial Spectre review, I called it a solid James Bond film with some problems holding it back quite a bit. I still like the movie but having seeing it a couple of times since then, even more problems are apparent to me, with regard to the balance of the usual Craig Bond stuff and the classic Bond elements, the painfully underwhelming third act and way too many issues to fit into one sentence.

Since I already did a spoiler free review of Spectre, I’m going to delve into some spoilers here. With Skyfall, director Sam Mendes managed to balance a lot of the modernised Bond elements with some classic Bond elements, to deliver one of the best films in the series. With Spectre he goes further with the latter aspect, with a clear cut Bond Girl, more gadgets, a fast car filled with gadgets and a lot of the classic Bond tropes. It’s even the first of the Daniel Craig James Bond films to open with the conventional gunbarrel opening scene that almost all of the Bond films have at the beginning of the movie. Unfortunately, the blend of the old and new didn’t quite work this time around. I actually like how Spectre tries to be a continuation of the Craig Era tone and rebooting the classic Bond villain organisation SPECTRE for this rendition of James Bond. The problem is that it also tries to homage some of the much earlier Bond films, with cartoonish humour and having action scenes that don’t challenge Bond (some Roger Moore era things unfortunately), and it really doesn’t fit together. In all the prior Daniel Craig Bond films, Bond is challenged to some degree. Despite all the personal connections that James Bond have to this story however, it feels like a typical run of the mill job for him. Nothing challenges him physically (aside from Dave Bautista), nor as a character mentally, psychologically or whatever. Spectre ties together all the previous Craig movies and while on paper I liked that idea, the way it was done really just didn’t work (I’ll go into that when I talk about Christoph Waltz and his character).

A lot of the things also don’t fit with the established tone of the newer movies, such as the humour. For example, early in the movie, Bond falls from a crumbling building onto a couch, which would work well in a Roger Moore Bond film but it comes across as too silly for Daniel Craig’s Bond. On another note there is also a subplot featuring Andrew Scott’s character trying to take over MI6 because he feels like it’s outdated and trying to replace agents with technology and surveillance. This plotline really falls flat, we’ve seen this happen in other movies, and we’ve seen it done better. It feels like it was pushed into Spectre just to appear somewhat relevant to today but it only just ends up slowing down the plot even more and makes things feel even more dull. I think it might’ve worked and be made more interesting if Andrew Scott’s character didn’t turn out to be a villain and this was only a red herring, however this is not the case. It feels like the movie kept cutting to this subplot because it would later be integral to the plot and it feels forced and distracts more than anything. The third act is both ridiculous yet really underwhelming and filled with a ton of problems, and considering the issues that Spectre has, that’s saying a lot. The film cuts between two things going on at the same time, James Bond with his ‘confrontation’ (in the loosest sense of the word) as well as M, Q and Moneypenny working to stop Andrew Scott, and it’s not that great. There are some implausible things like all the effort that Blofeld no doubt put into setting up things in the old destroyed MI6 building, placing pictures of Bond, Vesper, Silva, Le Chiffre, Greene, M and others throughout the place, writing on the walls and much more, which comes across as just unbelievable and funny considering the gritty tone that these movies have been having. Probably the most unrealistic and preposterous yet extremely underwhelming moment however is when James Bond shoots down a helicopter with a pistol while on a high speed boat in the complete dark, I don’t even think the previous Bond movies would attempt to do something like that and I don’t mean that as a compliment. The only thing going for the third act is that it looks good and the actors are trying, outside of that it’s borderline bad. It really brings down the movie a tremendous amount, some of the rushed things that happen come across as being really lazy, and leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The movie is long, about 2 hours and a half, and you really feel the length. There are some moments of drawn out nothingness happening, and a lot of the movie can feel rather uninteresting at times. It’s a shame really, because many of the scenes are actually well handled, and the movie has some ideas that had potential, but it doesn’t come togther well.

Despite a lot of faults with the characters, the cast do the best they can with what they have. Daniel Craig is once again the best James Bond yet and does try his best here. In terms of performance however, I’d have to say this is Craig’s worst performance as Bond. I don’t fully blame this on him though, as I said despite some of the personal elements in play in the story, James Bond doesn’t feel conflicted or challenged throughout the entirety of the movie. There are plenty of moments when he should be really invested in what’s going on, but Craig doesn’t really react that much to them. While this might pass for a Roger Moore or Pierce Brosnan James Bond performance, it doesn’t work for Daniel Craig who spent 3 movies being a rougher and grittier Bond set in some form of reality and an actual character instead of an archetype. It certainly doesn’t help that he has no clear arc through the movie like the other Craig Bond movies, save for some vague things from his past thrown in and a meaningless therapy session, even Quantum of Solace had a solid character arc. Lea Seydoux is good as another ‘Bond Girl’, unfortunately there’s not a ton of interesting things to her character, she basically only ends up doing two things over the course of the movie (despite being established at one point as being somewhat capable), and feels like she could’ve been played by basically anyone. The romance between her and Bond does come out of nowhere and it’s not really believable, however this could go for almost all of the Bond Girls in the Bond series. It’s only made worse by the ending, which seems to imply that she’s someone special now to Bond even though nothing in the entirety of the movie indicated that to be the case (hopefully No Time to Die fleshes that aspect out a lot more). Seydoux does her best though. Monica Bellucci is another Bond girl who shows up in the first act of the movie and essentially does nothing after like 5 minutes of being on screen. She does provide some exposition but that’s it, almost like you could’ve cast anyone in the role and not try to make them a Bond girl. Maybe that should’ve been done, because it would’ve at least removed the really bad love scene between her and Craig, which came across as being really awkward and creepy. The returning Bond supporting cast do a great job. Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Ben Whishaw as Q and Ralph Fiennes as the new M are all great in their roles. It is nice seeing them get to do stuff and get involved with the plot (especially Whishaw’s Q) though they did feel a little out of place in the climax.

One of Spectre’s most notable problems (and that’s saying a lot) is that the movie doesn’t do great with the antagonists. First of all getting the minor antagonists out of the way, we have Andrew Scott and Dave Bautsista. The moment that Andrew Scott appears on screen, you can tell that he’s going to end up being a villain. Sure, it doesn’t help that he was already known for Moriarty in Sherlock, but the worst part is that he feels really unnecessary to the plot. As I said earlier, the whole plotline was really not needed and Andrew Scott was tied to it, so he really didn’t have much to work with. Scott definitely has talent but he doesn’t get much to do except to be a generic ‘surprise’ villain. Dave Bautista is a Spectre assassin who at times tries to kill James Bond. While he won’t rank among the best James Bond henchman, out of all the Bond villains in this movie he does his job the best, he served his purpose adequately. Of course the main villain however is Christoph Waltz as Franz Oberhauser. Everyone speculated that with the movie being called Spectre, that Waltz would be playing the head of Spectre, Ernst Stravo Blofeld, who appeared in some of the older Bond movies. There was so much denial that this was the case but it was even more predictable than the villain name reveals for Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness and Talia al Ghul in The Dark Knight Rises. Having that name was so forced that they really shouldn’t have tried it, and if they really wanted to stick with that, they shouldn’t have tried to make a surprise twist. One of the many issues that Waltz has is that we don’t get enough of him, we see him once at the end of the first act, the end of the second act and then again in the third act. However, that’s not the only issue. Blofeld isn’t just the head of the Spectre organisation here, it’s revealed that he was also the adopted brother of Bond, who was involved with his father’s death and faked his own death after being jealous that his father liked James Bond. On top of that, everything that happened to Bond, Le Chiffre, Vesper’s death, Dominic Greene, Silva, M’s death, all that was planned by Blofeld… because of childish jealousy or whatever. Hearing all this, and hearing him talk about all this doesn’t make him sound crazy or psychopathic, it makes him sound petty and a little difficult to take seriously, it just sounds so ridiculous. There’s nothing more to his character, he’s not particularly interesting or entertaining and worst of all he’s forgettable. The thing is that he was supposed to be like a big deal, the ultimate villain to Daniel Craig’s James Bond, I mean they gave him the name of Blofeld, a classic Bond villain when they could’ve just kept the name of Franz Oberhauser. And so with all that hype, it really makes him work even less and fall even flatter. To his credit, Christoph Waltz does try his very best and he does add some menace to the character although he does play it like a lot of his other villain roles, really only Quentin Tarantino has manged to utilize Waltz as a villain excellently, in other villain roles he ends up playing rather cliched antagonists. On top of that, Waltz feels trapped in the role, like he’s just on autopilot through the whole thing. They keep his character alive at the end, and thankfully he gets another chance in the upcoming last Craig Bond movie.

Sam Mendes does a pretty good job at directing Spectre, though there are some elements in the technical aspects which hold the movie back (along with the story). The cinematography this time is by Hoyte van Hoyte, who has done the cinematography for such films as Dunkirk, Interstellar and Her, films that were shot truly fantastically. Spectre’s cinematography is still very good but some elements don’t work as well. For example most of the colour pallet is fine except whenever the film does to places like Mexico and Tangier, because it’s suddenly like they put a brown filter over everything. A lot of the action sequences are entertaining and fun, some of them are rather underwhelming. Yes, sometimes we have Bond in a plane chasing a bunch of cars in the snow, crashing through some houses, but as I said before, you don’t ever feel like he’s in a position where he could fail, he always seems on top of things. Fortunately with the editing, unlike Quantum of Solace, you can see what’s going on, but at least Quantum of Solace had some intensity and energy in all of their action scenes. There are a number of examples of the lack of intensity on Spectre’s action scenes, one is Bond’s escape from the Spectre base by simply shooting 3 people, shooting some pipes and the base just blowing up (escaping in less than a minute, really making the Spectre organisation look incompetent), as well as the aforementioned ridiculed shooting down of a helicopter with a peashooter scene. Despite a lot of the problems, it does have some genuinely greatly directed sequences. One for example is the opening sequence, which features a long tracking shot following James Bond through Mexico during the Day of the Dead parade and a fight inside a spinning helicopter, great way to open the movie. Also the fight scene on the train between Bond and Bautistia is good and probably has the most intensity of the action scenes in the movie. The music by Thomas Newman (returning to compose the score after Skyfall) is good but it is a little too similar to Skyfall’s, it actually makes things feel really jarring. Speaking of music, Sam Smith’s song “The Writing on the Wall” played in the opening credits have proved itself polarising to some. It’s not like a normal Bond song but I didn’t mind it personally. I also didn’t mind the opening credits scene.

I still like Spectre to a degree but it is filled with so many problems that brings it down a large amount. Whereas you can see why Quantum of Solace had its issues with the writer’s strike and an incomplete script, I just don’t know what happened with Spectre. Aside from some scenes that were actually really good, much of Spectre is just a slog and is consistently underwhelming, seemingly ranging from being quite good to flat average. Spectre can’t balance the older and newer aspects of Bond, it lacks a lot of the intensity from the prior movies, the story is generally a mixed bag and ends with a very disappointing third act. We can only hope that Daniel Craig’s last Bond film takes the lessons learned from the best and worst of his films to create a great movie.

Spectre (2015) Review

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Spectre

Time: 148 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Daniel Craig as James Bond
Christoph Waltz as Franz Oberhauser
Léa Seydoux as Madeleine Swann
Ben Whishaw as Q
Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny
Dave Bautista as Mr. Hinx
Andrew Scott as Max Denbigh
Monica Bellucci as Lucia Sciarra
Ralph Fiennes as M
Director: Sam Mendes

A cryptic message from James Bond’s (Daniel Craig) past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M (Ralph Fiennes) battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.

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Spectre has been one of my most anticipated movies of the year, with Skyfall director Sam Mendes returning to deliver another Bond film. However, Spectre has been getting some pretty mixed reviews. I’ve watched the film and I can say that it is good and is worth seeing but it has some problems. The action and production value is great, as well as the performances, however there are quite a lot of problems in the script, it’s not as investing as the previous films and it doesn’t feel complete. With that said, it’s still a good movie and it’s still worth watching.

Daniel Craig stars as James Bond in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures/EON Productions’ action adventure SPECTRE.

Story wise this movie works but it does have some problems. Without diving too deep into spoilers, Spectre has ties to the previous Bond films, a lot of it is quite personal to Bond but I felt that it didn’t impact him as much as it should have. One of the notable things about this movie is the fact that tonally, it moved away from more of the character driven Bond films like Skyfall and moved onto the more classic Bond films. I felt that it worked for the movie and it’s nice to see a change of tone but I do think it would’ve been better to have a mix between the two tones. I felt that this movie was a little too predictable, there are two twists involving the villains that I saw coming from a mile away. The biggest issue that this film has was actually the way it dealt with its villains, which I’ll get to later. Also the climax felt a little underwhelming and rushed, it didn’t feel complete and it needed something extra to make it stand out. The plot had me interested but I wasn’t as invested as I should have been. Overall the story is decent enough but it could’ve been done better.

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Daniel Craig as always is a great James Bond. I also liked Lea Seydoux as the Bond girl, she shared good chemistry with Craig. It was nice to see some of the classic Bond team do stuff like Ralph Fiennes as M, Naomi Harris as Moneypenny, Ben Wishaw as Q. Christoph Waltz is good in the movie as the villain but I don’t think the film handled him as well as they should have. First of all we only see him in like 5 scenes and he didn’t feel as big of a threat as he should, especially when you find out how significant he is. One villain that I felt was handled better was Dave Bautista, who acted like the Jaws character, appearing every so often to cause problems for Bond.

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On a technical level, I think that this film is the same level as Skyfall. The cinematography is gorgeous as expected, the opening shot of the movie is incredible, it’s a 2 minute long tracking shot and it’s actually worth watching the movie, even just for that scene. Skyfall composer Thomas Newman’s score also was quite good and added to this film quite a bit. Although I was initially unsure about how I felt about Sam Smith’s bond song “Writing on the Wall” I’m starting to like it.

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Spectre is not one of the best Bond films but it is still a good one. I feel like there’s room for Daniel Craig to do one more film before he passes the role onto someone else, it definitely felt like it, when considering how the film ends (not spoiling anything). Casino Royale and Skyfall set the standard of Bond films so high so when this film doesn’t match that level, it’s going to be looked down upon. It’s still better than Quantum of Solace but it still feels a little disappointing, although it’s still a good movie, just not great.

Casino Royale (2006)

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Casino Royale

Time: 144 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Daniel Craig as James Bond
Eva Green as Vesper Lynd
Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre
Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter
Judi Dench as M
Director: Martin Campbell

Promoted to 00 status, James Bond (Daniel Craig) goes on his first mission where he must face Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), a private banker to the world’s terrorists. Le Chiffre set up a poker game a Montenegro to receive a large sum of money. The head of M16, M (Judi Dench) sends Bond, along with Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) to attend this game and stop Le Chiffre from winning.

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To me Casino Royale is the Batman Begins of James Bond. It took the series in a more realistic direction and ultimately, the best direction it could go in. Casino Royale reboots the franchise with its new tone, a new Bond and a fresh start. This is one of, if not the best James Bond movie made.

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It has been argued by some die hard James Bond fans that this movie didn’t feel like a James Bond movie. It should be known that Casino Royale is the first James Bond novel written by Ian Fleming, in many ways this is a prequel to previous and later Bond movies being released. There aren’t any gadgets being used in this movie as much as previous Bond films did. Also a good thing to know is that you don’t have to have watched any of the previous Bond films to love this one, as the formula of the film is different from previous James Bond movies. Fans of the other Bond movies need to keep in mind that this is really the first James Bond; there were no gadgets, there were no one liners; this is Bond, before he really was Bond. The story’s pacing is done right, it isn’t the same as other Bond films but it was done well and was structured out well.

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This movie’s tone was grittier than previous movies so it required an actor who could portray James Bond’s new characterisation; Craig does that here and also manages to have a naturalistic feeling as him. Each actor who has played Bond has their own take on him and in Casino Royale, he is a much more ruthless and cold-blooded character than how some of the other actors portrayed him. Daniel Craig’s performance is one that I can buy as being realistic. The supporting cast was also great especially Mads Mikkelsen as the film’s main antagonist, Le Chiffre. He was a Bond villain that managed to feel grounded in reality instead of being like some of the over-the-top villains in the franchise, as well as having a realistic motive unlike some others (like Hugo Drax from Moonraker). Eva Green plays Vesper Lynd who is a love interest to James Bond and shares great chemistry with Craig. In my opinion, her character is one of the best bond girls as she managed to actually make an impact on Bond, unlike many of the others the James would later come across (that were in the previous movies). Judi Dench returns for the 5th time as M and also stole the scenes that she was in.

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The action in this movie is filmed well; it helps that this movie is under the direction of Martin Campbell, the man behind Goldeneye which was another great Bond Movie. The stunt work is also really good, especially a scene earlier in the film when Bond is in Madagascar. Casino Royale takes place in many locations and the cinematography is done very well in those many locations. The soundtrack also is very Bond-esque and gets the mood set up at the right moments.

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Casino Royale and Skyfall are my two favourite James Bond movies. I still don’t know what I prefer but either way, because of Casino Royale, the series introduced a tone that I liked more than some of the other films had. I’m glad that the Bond franchise is going in this direction. With a new type of Bond, a story that is really good and action scenes that are really entertaining, Casino Royale gave me what I wanted in a good Bond film and overall, a good film.