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Old 05-07-2009, 09:14 AM   #101
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#10

CASINO ROYALE (2006)



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Directed by ... Martin Campbell
Written by … Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Paul Haggis
Based on the James Bond Character Created by ... Ian Fleming

Executive Produced by ... Callum McDougall, Anthony Waye
Produced by ... Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson, David G. Wilson, Charlie Woebcken and Andrew Noakes
Foreign Based Produced by … Guido Cerasuolo, David Minkowski and Matthew Stillman
Cinematography by … Phil Méheux
Production Design by … Peter Lamont
Costume Design by … Lindy Hemming
Editing by ... Stuart Baird
Original Score by ... David Arnold
Title Song Performed by … Chris Cornell

Daniel Craig ... James Bond
Eva Green ... Vesper Lynd
Mads Mikkelsen ... Le Chiffre
Judi Dench ... M
Jeffrey Wright ... Felix Leiter
Giancarlo Giannini ... Mathis
Caterina Murino ... Solange
Simon Abkarian ... Alex Dimitrios
Isaach De Bankolé ... Steven Obanno
Jesper Christensen ... Mr. White
Ivana Milicevic ... Valenka
Tobias Menzies ... Villiers
Claudio Santamaria ... Carlos
Sebastien Foucan ... Mollaka
Malcolm Sinclair ... Dryden
Richard Sammel ... Gettler
Ludger Pistor ... Mendel
Joseph Millson ... Carter
Daud Shah ... Fisher
Clemens Schick ... Kratt
Emmanuel Avena ... Leo
Tom Chadbon ... Stockbroker
Ade ... Infante
Urbano Barberini ... Tomelli
Tsai Chin ... Madame Wu
Charlie Levi Leroy ... Gallardo
Lazar Ristovski ... Kaminofsky
Tom So ... Fukutu
Veruschka von Lehndorff ... Gräfin von Wallenstein

In his first mission, James Bond must stop Le Chiffre, a banker to the world's terrorist organizations, from winning a high-stakes poker tournament at Casino Royale in Montenegro.

----------------------------------------------

For many years, many fans longed to see a James Bond series actually based on the books. While some of the Bond films have been a lot of fun, most have practically nothing to do with the great Ian Fleming novels. Sadly, in a few cases, about the only similarity between the books and the movies were the titles!

In the books, Bond was a bourbon drinking, chain-smoking assassin. “Casino Royale” was the first book and Bond was his most human in it. In the book, Bond struggled with guilt over the many people he'd killed--and they were NOT killed in crazy and exotic ways like they were in most of the movies. Most were either shot or killed with his bare hands. Bond was, above all else, a killer--not quite as sexy or sophisticated as he was in the films.

While Craig isn't quite the same as Fleming's Bond (he's missing the scar down his cheek), he's much closer in personality to the novels than any prior Bond incarnation (although in my opinion, taking liberties is what paid off for Sean Connery and makes him the superior of the role). I did, however, miss that Bond in the Dalton and Brosnan films and am glad that, in part, that Martin Campbell’s “Casino Royale” finally features much of this cold-blooded and flawed character.

The film opens, of course, sans all the previous continuity. Having just achieved his 00 status, James Bond (Craig) is assigned to uncover a plot by tracking a bomber for hire. The mission could not go worse as Bond kills the man in an embassy in front of CCTV cameras. Removed from the mission by M (Judi Dench), Bond nevertheless follows the only lead he has to Miami where he finds himself working round the edges of a plot by criminal Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) to invest his clients’ money in the stock market just before an engineered event should send shares in a direction favorable for him.

After the poor CGI and overblown affair that was “Die Another Day,” the series was at risk of just throwing more and more money at the screen in an attempt to exaggerate and increase the Bond formula to keep fans happy. And, in fairness it seemed financially to be working for them…but this is not to say that the drastically scaled back feel of Casino Royale is not a welcome change of direction for the series, because for me it most certainly was.

Opening with a gritty, short and violent pre-credit sequence, “Royale” moves through a cool title sequence with a typically Bondian theme song performed by Soundgarden front man Chris Cornell. The film then immediately marks itself out as a step away from the previous film by launching on a great action sequence that is as overblown as the series requires but yet is all the better for seeming real – no quirky “Die Another Day” CGI here. Casting free-runner Foucan was a great move and this sequence was the high for me. After this the film develops nicely with a solid plot that engaged me easily enough, with interesting characters along the way.

Of course this isn't to say that the series has suddenly put out an introspective character piece, because the world of Bond is all still here. So we have superhuman stunts, gadgets (albeit a practical self-defibrillator as opposed to a mini-helicopter) and the usual types of characters going the way we expect. Those expecting this self-styled "reboot" to provide a depth and emotion that isn't there will be disappointed but regardless this does the Bond formula well – fans will enjoy it and those that were turned off by “Die Another Day” will find it a welcome return to darker territory.

With all the fanboys tired from bemoaning Craig, it is nice to actually see for ourselves what he can do and mostly he is very good. He convinces as a heartless killer and has the presence that suggests that he could do ruthless damage if he had to. I was a bit put off by how regularly he pouts but generally he brings a gravitas to the character that it benefits from. Green is a pretty good Bond girl and brings much, much more to the role than Berry did in the last film. Mikkelsen is a good foil for Bond and is given more interest by his lack of stature (he is essentially facing his last role of the dice in several ways). Dench is as solid as ever while Wright makes a shrewd move in a small character that offers more of the same for a few years to come.

Overall then this is not the brilliant, flawless film that many have claimed, but I completely understand why it has been greeted with such praise. Sitting beside “Die Another Day,” it is a wonderfully dark and brooding Bond with great action replacing some of the CGI and gadget excesses of recent times. Those upset at his blue eyes are best left fuming on the net, because Craig is a great Bond – capable of being dark with the violence and offering the potential for more if the material comes to meet him. A refreshing film with the bond formula in place but with a dark and comparatively restrained tone that makes it realistic enough to get into while still existing in the spy fantasy world.

Now I do understand that EON Productions couldn't repeat the novel completely--heck, it was set in the early 1950s and many allowances needed to be made for current events. And as far as the updates went, they generally were in the same spirit as the original movie and the cat and mouse game between Le Chiffre and Bond is essentially that of the novel.

All this does NOT mean that the movie will only appeal to those who read the books. There are still many exciting chase scenes and stunts like you'd expect to see in a Bond film but fortunately Bond didn't seem so invincible.

Daniel Craig's version of Bond could apparently do what the prior Bonds could do, but you'll notice throughout the film that he's cut and bruised--not exactly a man of steel. I loved this and it did tend to make the unrealness of the stunts seem a tad more believable. Plus, again, Fleming would be thrilled as several stories he wrote talked about the toll on Bond's body.

The rest of the casting that surrounds Craig is top notch. Judi Dench returns in gusto as M. And Eva Green’s turn as Vesper is tremendously layered, especially for a Bond Girl.

Special Kudos to Mikkelsen for crafting a believable and believably creepy Bond villain (maybe the most creepy since Yaphet Kotto in “Live and Let Die”)

The technical side of “Casino Royale” ranges from fairly standard to brilliant.

I love the production design, courtesy of Peter Lamont…specifically of Casino Royale itself, with its vibrant reds and exquisite architecture.

The cinematography is splendidly gorgeous, especially during the action sequences in Madagascar and the Bahamas.

The action sequences themselves have an obvious ‘Bourne’ influence, which is where that ‘standard’ statement comes in. I’m not the biggest fan of shaky cam, but it’s not as persistent here as with “Quantum of Solace.”

The big chase scene with Bond on the scaffolds ranges into the rather ‘over the top’ function…I mean seeing Bond jump and leap like Spider-Man or smash through walls like George Reeves’ Superman is still kind of cool…but it doesn’t fit with the more plausible approach the film is attempting to take.

But all in all, “Casino Royale” is easily one of the better films in the series, and one of my favorites.

Here’s hoping that Craig gets even more development for his third outing…it might be difficult to top his first though.

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Old 05-07-2009, 09:26 AM   #102
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I hated You Know My Name when I first heard it but by the third or forth time I loved it, one of my fave Bond songs.

I did thing Casino would be top 5, either #1 or #2, good to see that you didn't go for that because of all the hype but #10 seems low.

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Old 05-07-2009, 09:55 AM   #103
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Hm.. #10 seems considerably low for CR.

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Old 05-07-2009, 10:01 AM   #104
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I think it seems just right.

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Old 05-07-2009, 10:08 AM   #105
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Casino Royale is from the same writers as Die Another Day.

I don't think it is a good movie. It's boring and uninspired. And it doesn't feel like James Bond. Watched it two times, will probably never watch it again.

The new Bond is stillborn.

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Old 05-07-2009, 11:56 AM   #106
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I'd put this one in my top 3 with Goldeneye and Goldfinger. The beating Bond takes throughout the film really helps it, as I find Bonds invincibility is getting really tiresome. Seeing a guy take a beating like that, then stand up- that's badass. The girl and him had great chemistry in this movie too.
The Villain was one of my favorite bond villains, maybe even my top pick. The blood tears, the eye scar, his voice appearance- everything about him was perfect, awesome, menacing, and screaming Bond villain.
Good action and story.

*You Only Live Twice, is one of the Bond films I really think could've been a lot better. I like Donald Pleasance's Blofeld. Anyone know why he never returned to the role?

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Old 05-07-2009, 01:36 PM   #107
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Quote:
Originally Posted by -Arya- View Post
Hm.. #10 seems considerably low for CR.
Agreed.

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Old 05-07-2009, 03:10 PM   #108
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Originally Posted by The Sarge View Post
I'd put this one in my top 3 with Goldeneye and Goldfinger. The beating Bond takes throughout the film really helps it, as I find Bonds invincibility is getting really tiresome. Seeing a guy take a beating like that, then stand up- that's badass.
that's even more unrealistic than comical action.

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Old 05-07-2009, 10:59 PM   #109
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Clocking in at #2 or 3 on my own ranking, Casino Royale came as a huge breath of fresh air in November 2006. Finally turning back to the pages of Ian Fleming, the film feels so true to the book, but made cinematic and contemporary in the most satisfying way.

Daniel Craig comes onto the scene in an initial performance that's confident and just about fully-formed; the change from Brosnan to Craig isn't as dramatic as the move from Moore to Dalton, but Craig is much more a man of action, more vulnerable (Brosnan, for instance, would leave a major action scene and straighten his tie; Craig leaves cut up and limping) and more closed-off (which would only grow by the end of the film). He's excellent in the action-hero way, but unlike Dalton, he's probably even better in the romantic scenes. Bond and Vesper's meeting on the train is reminiscent of the first moments between Bond & Pussy (Goldfinger) and Bond & Anya (The Spy Who Loved Me), but more than that, it takes on the great romantic comedy writing, like His Girl Friday, and is one of the highlights of the story. Sure, it's a little much that instantly they can read everything about each other, but that's the point: both are drawn to the fact that one sees right through the other. Eva Green, for my money, is the most stunning Bond girl of the franchise to date, and actually a great actress too. Her Vesper is enigmatic in a similar way to Fleming's, but she's more clever and independent. She and Craig have a chemistry (getting so sick of using that word, but it does fit) that makes her death resonate deeply. Mads Mikkelsen stands out too, as the highly creepy and cunning Le Chiffre; what I love about him is that he's not trying to take over or destroy/remake the world, he's not trying to launch WWIII, he's not trying to rule the drug trade, he just wants to make his money back so some very scary people don't come after him...and unluckily for him, they do (a touch I always enjoyed, having a higher-up shadowy villain take down our big bad). I do have a nitpick, though, and that's that the weeping-blood thing feels like a desperate move to give Le Chiffre some neat physical thing that'll make him more memorable. (It does, however, inspire a good one-liner: "I won't really feel I'm in trouble 'til I start weeping blood.") And again, Jeffrey Wright is the best Felix Leiter to come around, so I hope he's given some actual material at some point.

In terms of action sequences, I find that nearly all of them drag on a bit long, but most are still top-notch; I especially like the brutality of the stairway fight. (The aftermath moment with Bond comforting Vesper lingers in the memory too.) It was a bold move to open with two stark black and white, intercut scenes featuring Bond's first two kills, but it definitely paid off; it reflects (along with the poser-tough delivery of "well, I wouldn't be very good at my job if I did" later on) the regret Bond has at the beginning of his position, of the license to kill and what it represents. The parkour/free running set piece is a totally fresh idea for the series, and that's also pretty compelling.

I'll admit, moving the gunbarrel to after the pre-credits sequence jarred me at first, but it fits. Daniel Kleinman's main titles are the most stylish in a long time, set to a Chris Cornell theme that took a bit of getting used to but stands as a new defining Bond anthem (in terms of the character himself, that is). David Arnold's score is my personal fave of his, very Barry-like in the way it weaves the theme throughout, and holding the signature piece 'til the very end.

No, it's not a perfect film, but Casino Royale is tremendous entertainment and a fine reinvention.

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Old 05-08-2009, 02:37 PM   #110
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#9

GOLDENEYE (1995)



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Directed by ... Martin Campbell
Story by ... Michael France
Screenplay by ... Bruce Feirstein and Jeffrey Caine
Based on the James Bond Character Created by ... Ian Fleming

Executive Produced by ... Tom Pevsner
Produced by ... Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson
Consulting Produced by ... Albert R. Broccoli
Cinematography by ... Phil Meheux
Production Design by ... Peter Lamont
Costume Design by ... Lindy Hemming
Editing by ... Terry Rawlings
Original Music by ... Eric Serra
Title Song Performed by ... Tina Turner

Pierce Brosnan ... James Bond
Sean Bean ... Alec Trevelyan / Janus
Izabella Scorupco ... Natalya Fyodorovna Simonova
Famke Janssen ... Xenia Zirgavna Onatopp
Joe Don Baker ... Jack Wade
Judi Dench ... M
Gottfried John ... General Arkady Grigorovich Ourumov
Robbie Coltrane ... Valentin Dmitrovich Zukovsky
Alan Cumming ... Boris Grishenko
Tchéky Karyo ... Defense Minister Dmitri Mishkin
Desmond Llewelyn ... Q
Samantha Bond ... Miss Moneypenny
Michael Kitchen ... Bill Tanner
Serena Gordon ... Caroline

James Bond teams up with the lone survivor of a destroyed Russian research center to stop the hijacking of a nuclear space weapon by a fellow agent believed to be dead.

----------------------------------------------

By the 1990s, a lot had changed since the inception of the Bond series in 1962. What started off as a knockout franchise cooled off in the 70s, with 5 films that went from mediocre to arguably terrible…

Still, the public was willing to grant Bond limitless amnesty that decade, even as his escapades grew less and less exciting and more and more campy with each new film. The 70s came and went, ushering in the 80s, which kicked off well with 1981's "For Your Eyes Only." However, it went all downhill from there as the public finally stopped tolerating the bad movies and his popularity tanked in favor of superior competition. Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger became mega stars during that time, and the emergence Indiana Jones was making Bond look dull and decrepit by comparison. Tim Burton's summer sweep of the cinemas with "Batman" in 1989 exacerbated Bond's woes, and when legal disputes arose between the production company and the studio shortly thereafter, it appeared that Bond had finally died his horrible but well deserved death.

When the legal issues were finally put to rest in 1994, it was announced that another Bond film was going to be made…but not with latest Bond actor Timothy Dalton in the lead. After being forced to reject the role back in the 80s, Pierce Brosnan was finally given his shot.

Production commenced and the success of the film was crucial. If it lacked spark or came across as campy, it was likely that Bond would be finished forever. With the stakes in mind, the Broccoli family (the Bond producers) hired an all-new creative team and set to work re-establishing 007 in a new era.

The film opens in the eighties, ironically, with a scene depicting the Bond and Agent 006, real name Alec Trevelyan, being detected inside a Soviet chemical weapons factory. This section also introduces the character of Ourumov (Gottfried John), who murders Alec seemingly on a whim.

Nine years later, Bond meets an appealing young lady (Famke Janssen) while driving...make that playfully racing, near Monte Carlo. Suspicious, he follows her to a nearby casino where he finds out that her name is Xenia Onatopp and she carries ties to the Janus crime syndicate in St. Petersburg. He chases Xenia when he suspects an imminent crime, but is not in time to avert her theft of the Tiger--a helicopter that is hardened to all forms of electronic interference.

Back at MI-6 headquarters, the Tiger is spotted via satellite at Russian satellite control facility, and it soon becomes obvious that the copter is merely part of a grander scheme to steal a scary satellite weapon called GoldenEye. What it does can be described with words, but not with as much clarity as seeing it in the movie (there are lapses in the visuals here, but the sight is so impressive that they hardly matter). Bond then departs for St. Petersburg to find the Janus head man (Sean Bean) and stop him from using GoldenEye on a more vulnerable target. Eventually the identity of Janus is revealed to be a shocker, but Bond has to put his own feelings aside and carry on his mission.

Several key factors play both into “Goldeneye”s success and why it’s among my more preferred entries in the series.

The first is the tone, which has ushered out all of the giddy goofiness of Roger Moore's films and assumed one reminiscent of the earliest Bond films. The sets, the camera work and the dialogue all come across as subtle, subconscious reminders of why Bond became so beloved to begin with. There are light moments in "GoldenEye," as there should be, but the correct tone is never compromised.

The only problem is that there is a little too much padding in the middle. The story is well told, although there is a meeting with Bond and Valentin Zukovsky (reprised by Robbie Coltrane in "The World is Not Enough") that has no significance to the advancement of the story. It is unnecessary and causes the film to drag some. After Bond meets Janus, though, prepare for the film to take off, as there will be little rest from there on out.

Just like in the early Bonds, the acting transcends the genre.

Pierce Brosnan is the clear focal point, and is mostly successful. He seems too reserved at times, as if he is a little timid at acting his best for fear it might look bad. He does not lack charm, though, because there is something about Pierce that makes him the ultimate ladies man on screen and off.

More successful is Sean Bean as James's opponent. Bean brings cold, subtle intensity to the role that shows off the acting skills that got him cast in "The Fellowship of the Ring." General Ourumov, who is in bed with Janus, provides a second bad guy. Gottfried John portrays him as a demonstrative brute, and his style provides a fine foil to Bean's controlled anger. Alan Cumming plays an evil computer nerd who provides most the light moments I referred to earlier.

Then of course there’s Fellow X-Man Famke Janssen…oh boy…her character is downright demented, and thanks to her uniquely erotic way of killing people…she will not be forgotten easily. I mean I know it sucks to be squeezed to death by a woman’s thighs…but what a way to go!

With Bernard Lee's sad passing, Judy Dench made a brilliant replacement as M, all balls and bravado. Similarly, Moneypenny is now a strictly new-age secretary admonishing 007 for his sexual harassment of her good self! Dearest of all, Desmond Llewelyn still shines as "Q" berating 007 for his behaviour and telling him to "grow up."

Action wise, the film is pretty hefty. "GoldenEye" opens with probably one of the most stunning pieces of stunt-work seen in the series - a 722 ft bungee jump down the face of a massive dam - that's almost as mind-blowing as the cargo-plane fight in "The Living Daylights".

Then of course there’s the chase that finds Bond behind the controls of a tank (!!!) which is arguably the epitome of bad ass. And there’s the plane and helicopter sequences which are wonderfully choreographed and beautifully shot.

As for the music…I now it is criticized a lot but I really like Eric Serra's musical score (he also composed the scores for “Bulletproof Monk” and “The Fifth Element”). I certainly wouldn't mind him scoring more Bond films. And Tina Turners’ title song is absolutely dynamite. What a voice! It’ll quickly get your pulse pounding if you let it.

Ultimately, “Goldeneye” acts as a welcome return to form. Having lumbered through Timothy Dalton's two downbeat adventures, Bond comes back in style with a flashy, stylish and inventive adventure. And most of all, it restores a sense of fun to the series.

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Old 05-08-2009, 02:52 PM   #111
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GoldenEye is a great movie, and much better than Casino Royale. It deconstruced Bond, but just a little bit and not with a big sledgehammer.

Second best Bond movie IMO.

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Old 05-08-2009, 04:55 PM   #112
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Definitely should be ranked higher, but good review.

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Old 05-09-2009, 12:19 AM   #113
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I feel Pierce Brosnan delivered his best performance in The World Is Not Enough, but the best film of his tenure was GoldenEye. It had been a while, but now Bond was stylish again, exciting again, fun again. Once more, a Bond movie was an event.

He's a bit unsure at times, but Pierce's take is consistent through the film and the subsequent three: somewhere in between Sean Connery and Roger Moore - he's believable in action, charming but not smug or awkward, and can acknowledge the inherent humor without saying "this is all just a joke really." I find his standout moment is the meeting between he and (Dame) Judi Dench's M. And she's marvelous: prickly, stern, and razor-sharp. M and the writers call him out as a "sexist misogynist dinosaur, a relic of the Cold War" so he can be established later as an action hero for the '90s. The relationship between these two was really compelling to watch over time (that's now holding true for Dench/Craig). As the new Moneypenny, Samantha Bond is underrated to me. She stands toe to toe with him, not letting her life go by and pining away for him. Plus, she had some nice double entendres over the Brosnan era. Sean Bean, playing former onetime 006 Alec Trevelyan, is a fresh sort of adversary, one facing 007 on a much more personal level, and he has some sharp dialogue himself. Izabella Scorupco is beautiful...and completely outshone by Famke Janssen, clearly having a ball as the dangerously sexy Xenia Onatopp (best Bond girl name since Pussy Galore). She's a blast to watch. As is Robbie Coltrane as the wonderfully slimy, untrustworthy Zukovski; wise move bringing him back for TWINE a few years later. Finally, Alan Cumming is solid comic relief as toady nerd Boris. Tremendous ensemble.

Other points:
-The action/stunts are well-executed overall, but things peak right up front with that jaw-dropping dive into the dam.
-Eric Serra's score...I'm not a fan. It's too spare and synthetic for my liking. And "The Experience of Love" is without a doubt the worst song ever featured in a Bond film.
-Tina Turner's "GoldenEye," however, is awesome. She belts that one out like no one since Shirley Bassey.
-Daniel Kleinman proves he's a worthy successor to Maurice Binder with a title sequence that's the sort of classic/modern mixture the entire piece is.
-How impressive is it that Martin Campbell has greatly reinvigorated this franchise not once but twice? This is a little off-topic, but let's hope the fact that he made so many people care about both James Bond and Zorro again means that he'll do right by The Green Lantern too.

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Old 05-09-2009, 12:23 AM   #114
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Brosnan is a good actor but I don't think any of his Bond movies can compare to CR, let alone the great Connery ones. IMO.

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Old 05-10-2009, 12:51 PM   #115
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Hey guys...just to give you a heads up, my personal computer with all my reviews is currently being worked out to disinfect (my Anti-Virus software was outdated)...

Once it's good to go, I'll have all the necessary reviews up.

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Old 05-10-2009, 04:54 PM   #116
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EDIT: Ah, nevermind, LoL.

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Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song,
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Old 05-11-2009, 08:26 AM   #117
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Goldeneye's my favorite Bond movie, with 006 as my favorite Bond villain.

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Old 05-11-2009, 08:48 PM   #118
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My favourite Bond villain is Red Grant (Robert Shaw) in From Russia with love.
My favourite Bond girl is Barbara Bach in the spy who loved me (lucky Ringo Starr).

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Old 05-16-2009, 07:23 PM   #119
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CFE View Post
1: Connery
2: Lazenby
3: Craig
4: Brosnan
5: Moore
6: Dalton
Lazenby, really ? I thought OHMSS was pretty bad except of course for that awesome Louis Armstrong/John Barry song "We have all the time in the world."

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Old 05-18-2009, 12:39 PM   #120
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Well i finally got my computer fixed, but it lost my remaining reviews...so I'll be writing and posting all 8 remaining critiques tomorrow in order.

in the meantime, you can read my two part review of "Star Trek" in the "Star Trek Reviews" thread

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Old 05-19-2009, 11:02 AM   #121
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#8

THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977)



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Directed by ... Lewis Gilbert
Written by … Christopher Wood and Richard Maibaum
Based on the James Bond Character Created by ... Ian Fleming

Produced by ... Albert R. Broccoli and William P. Cartlidge
Cinematography by … Claude Renoir
Production Design by … Ken Adam
Costume Design by … Rosemarry Burrows
Editing by ... John Glen
Original Score by ... Marvin Hamlisch
Song Performed by … Carly Simon

Roger Moore ... James Bond
Barbara Bach ... Major Anya Amasova
Curt Jürgens ... Karl Stromberg
Richard Kiel ... Jaws
Caroline Munro ... Naomi
Walter Gotell ... General Anatol Gogol
Geoffrey Keen ... Sir Frederick Gray
Bernard Lee ... 'M'
George Baker ... Captain Benson
Michael Billington ... Sergei Barsov
Olga Bisera ... Felicca
Desmond Llewelyn ... Q
Edward de Souza ... Sheikh Hosein
Vernon Dobtcheff ... Max Kalba
Valerie Leon ... Hotel Receptionist
Lois Maxwell ... Miss Moneypenny
Sydney Tafler ... Liparus Captain
Nadim Sawalha ... Aziz Fekkesh
Sue Vanner ... Log Cabin Girl
Eva Reuber-Staier ... Rubelvitch
Robert Brown ... Admiral Hargreaves
Marilyn Galsworthy ... Stromberg's Assistant
Milton Reid ... Sandor
Cyril Shaps ... Dr. Bechmann
Milo Sperber ... Prof. Markovitz
Shane Rimmer … Commander Carter

James Bond investigates the hijacking of British and Russian submarines carrying nuclear warheads with the help of a KGB agent whose lover he killed.

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Welcome to the most successful film on release in Britain in 1977. Over in the U.S.A., 'Star Wars' was breaking box-office records, but would not be seen here until the end of the year. The new Bond therefore had the summer blockbuster field all to its itself.

Following the disappointing (yet underrated, in my opinion) 'The Man With The Golden Gun' in 1974, something drastic was needed to save the franchise. Cubby Broccoli, now sole producer of the series following Harry Saltzman's departure, made 'Spy' a throwback to the '60's Bond blockbusters such as 'You Only Live Twice' and 'Thunderball'. Various writers worked on scripts, amongst them Anthony Burgess and John Landis, until Christopher Wood ( of the 'Confessions' series ) came up with a workable screenplay. This was the first Bond to boast an entirely original storyline, not based on anything written by Ian Fleming. The novel of the same name was rightly deemed unfilmable. Wood later adapted the script into a novel which, in my view, was better than any of the John Gardner/Raymond Benson works.

'Spy' opens with a British submarine disappearing at sea. Bond is sent for and, in an exciting ski chase, is pursued by gun-toting Russians, among them one Sergei Borzov ( Michael Billington ). Bond kills Sergei and makes a spectacular getaway by skiing off the edge of a precipice. This opening was cheered by audiences worldwide.

Someone has developed a means of tracking submarines. The Russians have lost one too. Bond goes to Egypt to make contact with Fekkesh, who represents someone wishing to sell the blueprints. Bond is not alone in his quest. An impossibly tall and strong henchman with steel teeth, who goes by the name of 'Jaws', has orders to kill everyone who comes into contact with the microfilm.

Bond meets his opposite number - a highly desirable agent called Major Anya Amasova ( Barbara Bach ), codenamed 'Triple-X'. They decide to join forces to recover the microfilm...

After a lukewarm start, audiences finally warmed up to Roger Moore in the role of 007 with ‘Spy’ and his charisma clearly holds up a strong foundation for the picture.

The plot is just as standard as in any other Bond film; this one involves a psychotic billionaire planning to wipe out life as we know it in order to start a new world under the sea. Bond is on the case, as is a Russian agent, Triple X, or Major Asamova (Barbara Bach); at first they are against each other, but soon their governments see it might work better for both their advantages if they joined forces. There's one snag; only recently, Bond killed Amasova's fellow spy and lover during a mission....

The good things about this film are plentiful; as mentioned before, Roger Moore has relaxed in the role of Bond very nicely. Even those who shudder at the thought of later, more light-hearted instalments such as Octopussy and A View to a Kill shouldn't find much to grumble at here. Moore displays the humour that was his trademark, but keeps any larking about to a minimum. Richard Kiel is a great lackey as Jaws; a funny and fearsome foe, his method of dispensing victims is closer to a Dracula movie than in anything resembling Bond! There are some fine early scenes, such as the apartment block fist-fight between Bond and the short but deadly Sandor, a classic 'it was you who betrayed me' moment where evil Stromberg reveals how he punishes those who turn against him, complete with elaborate set-design and great use of classical music. Caroline Munro could have been a contender as another great minor villain; unfortunately, she's a little too minor, barely being in the film at all!

As the villain, esteemed German actor Curt Jurgens was cast as Karl Stromberg, an ideal choice, as the actor, with his bulging eyes, 'fit' the role of a fish-like megalomaniac. Playing his henchman, Jaws, in an inspired piece of casting, giant Richard Kiel, complete with 'bear-trap' steel teeth, would provide Moore with the greatest danger he'd ever face as Bond. Kiel was, in fact, so good in the role (possibly the most popular villain of the entire 007 franchise), that he would return in MOONRAKER, to bedevil Bond some more. Less successful, dramatically, but still astonishing to watch would be Stromberg's 'hit woman', Naomi, played by voluptuous Caroline Munro.

In an effort to 'update' Bond into an era of feminists, the strongest, most independent love interest to appear in at Bond film to that point was introduced. Major Anya Amasova, played by Ringo Starr's wife, the exotically beautiful Barbara Bach, was Bond's opposite number on the Russian side, an equal to 007 in every way. In a pivotal scene, she would display a knowledge of Bond's past that even included his dead wife, Tracy (the first time Bond's marriage had been mentioned since “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”). Moore's reaction to her comment would be both emotional and abrupt, and demonstrated that he could do far more than just deliver witty one-liners.

The featured music is great too! Often unfairly listed as one of the film's lower points, Carly Simon's fun opening song "Nobody Does It Better" and Marvin Hamlisch's Oscar & BAFTA award nominated score are very enjoyable pieces of the film. Hamlish's score in particular is one of the better scores of the Bond series, complete with mellifluous orchestral tones and definitely the best use of a wa-wa pedal in any Bond film!

"The Spy who loved Me" is without a doubt one of the best crafted Bond films to this day: there's lots of action, and typically Bondian mayhem, combined with a couple of genuinely chilling villains, and a more convincing love interest than is common. Of course, the film is not without it's faults - as usual, the screenplay is far too overly obvious, and stuffed with a surprising number of one liners, and acting is decent at best, and in many cases, worse. But keep in mind that this is, after all, a James Bond film, and we can't really expect any of these things to improve much. For once, a film's tagline actually properly represents the film - for "The Spy who loved Me" succeeds in proving that when it comes to James Bond... "Nobody does it better".

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Old 05-19-2009, 12:11 PM   #122
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#7

FOR YOUR EYES ONLY (1981)



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Directed by ... John Glen
Written by … Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson
Based on the James Bond Character Created by ... Ian Fleming

Produced by ... Albert R. Broccoli and William P. Cartlidge
Cinematography by … Alan Hume
Production Design by … Peter Lamont
Costume Design by … Eilzabeth Waller
Editing by ... John Grover
Original Score by ... Bill Conti
Title Song Performed by … Sheena Easton

Roger Moore ... James Bond
Carole Bouquet ... Melina Havelock
Topol ... Milos Columbo
Lynn-Holly Johnson ... Bibi Dahl
Julian Glover ... Aristotle Kristatos
Cassandra Harris ... Countess Lisl von Schlaf
Jill Bennett ... Jacoba Brink
Michael Gothard ... Emile Leopold Locque
John Wyman ... Erich Kriegler
Jack Hedley ... Sir Timothy Havelock
Lois Maxwell ... Miss Moneypenny
Desmond Llewelyn ... Q
Sir Frederick Gray ... Minister of Defence
Walter Gotell ... General Anatol Gogol
James Villiers ... Bill Tanner
John Moreno ... Luigi Ferrara
Charles Dance ... Claus
Paul Angelis ... Karageorge
Toby Robins ... Iona Havelock
Jack Klaff ... Apostis
Alkis Kritikos ... Santos
Stag Theodore ... Nikos
Stefan Kalipha ... Hector Gonzales
Graham Crowden ... First Sea Lord
Noel Johnson ... Vice Admiral
William Hoyland ... McGregor
Paul Brooke ... Bunky
Eva Reuber-Staier ... Rublevich
Fred Bryant ... Vicar
John Wells ... Denis Thatcher
Janet Brown ... The Prime Minister (Margaret Thatcher)

Agent 007 is assigned to hunt for a lost British encryption device and prevent it from falling into enemy hands.

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Hands down my personal favorite Moore film. 1981’s “For Your Eyes Only” gets back to the grit basics following the over-abundant extravagance of “Moonraker.”

When a secret UK military spy ship (disguised as a fishing boat) is sunk in a Warsaw pact country's waters the Government fear that another power will recover their ATAC device and render their current submarine control system useless or allow others to order their weapons to be fired on the UK. Bond is dispatched to recover the device with the help of Havelock. However when Havelock is killed his daughter Melina is set on revenge and Bond must get the device before she kills those involved.

After all that messing around with special effects in space, Bond comes down to earth (figuratively and literally) for the new decade. This sees the comedy added to be a nasty streak that sees Bond pushing people off cliffs – even the opening scene is very cruel when you think about it! It also means the film is a lot tighter and has plenty of good action scenes from start to finish.

In fact one of the most noteworthy things about this film is that the action scenes were either very well done overall or they were incredibly realistic. For Your Eyes Only is one of the only Bond films with ski scenes that don't only avoid coming off as plainly ridiculous, but that are actually very good. There is a particularly excellent scene involving Bond on skis being pursued by a motorcyclist that has a cool climax on a luge track. There was a good scene with dune buggies, where one of the brief Bond girls in this film suffered a death that was disturbingly convincing. There is an excellent scene in which a Mercedes falls off a cliff, and as it lands on the rocks below, you can see the villain's body fall out the driver's side window.

The scene where the villains dragged Bond and Medena over the coral reefs, intending to make them bleed into the water, thus attracting the sharks which were meant to finish them off, was very good, and also involved one of the more intelligent escape scenes of the Bond series. There was excellent tension created by the rock-climbing scene near the end of the film - as Bond scales a ridiculously tall cliff in order to gain access to a ridiculously out-of-the-way hideout – particularly when there is a bad guy above Bond, trying to cut him loose and cause him to fall to his horrible, bloody death below.

Moore was reportedly unhappy with the 'toughening' of his character, particularly Bond's killing of 'Locque' ( the late Michael Gothard ). But it remains one of his finest performances in the role. A major innovation was the concealment of the villain's identity for much of the picture. It looks as though its going to be Greek smuggler Columbo ( Topol ) but no, its Ari Kristatos ( after years of menacing 'John Steed' and 'Simon Templar', Julian Glover had graduated to 007. He gives a splendid performance here ).

Among the fine supporting cast, Lynn-Holly Johnson's ice-skating nymphet 'Bibi Dahl' made more of an impression on yours truly than Carole Bouquet's 'Melina'. As Bernard Lee had died, James Villiers was drafted in to play the 'Chief Of Staff' - his only appearance in the role. A young Charles Dance can be spotted as one of the bad-guys.

After going to extremes to kill off Blofeld as a throwaway joke at the beginning, it is remarkable that no effort was made to give “Eyes” even a vaguely interesting villain. Playing games about who the real bad guy is has a minor interest, but it hardly matters whether it is a mildly amusing Topol or the totally banal Julian Glover, who pulled off a far superior antagonist as Walter Donavan in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” With no strong central villain, the film lacks focus, though it does gain an element of mystery…which is actually refreshing for what it’s worth.

This was the first Bond to be directed by John Glen, who like Peter Hunt before him, started on the series as an editor/ second-unit director. 'Eyes' has, at times, the look and feel of one of the I.T.C. shows he worked on in the '60's, such as 'Danger Man' and 'Man In A Suitcase'. “For Your Eyes Only” is my sole favorite of Glen’s films, which is saying something since he’s my least favorite Bond director and his other 4 films are nothing to brag about (though he has the longest track record in the series, so that’s something).

“For Your Eyes Only” does everything that most other Bond films did before it extremely well, and in some cases it does them even better. It includes one of the best Bond theme songs ever (performed by Sheena Easton), beautiful opening titles, and a great and unfairly hated Bond score by Bill Conti. Conti's score is one of the best scores of the Bond series, making great use of Sheena Easton's theme and including some flat-out fantastic melodies peppered throughout the entire film. The humor aspect of “For Your Eyes Only” is also handled very well. Too many times throughout much of the Roger Moore Bond era, the so-called "humor" aspect takes away from the enjoyment of a film. But For “Your Eyes Only” is the example that proves the rule, having many hilarious lines and situations - some of the funniest lines and scenes of the entire James Bond film series is found in this film.

Filled with amazing action sequences, “For Your Eyes Only” particularly features one of the best car chases in film history, an exciting chase on skis, a sub-marine face-off, and a nail biting rock climbing scene all of which are superbly filmed by director John Glen in his Bond film directorial debut. But one of the biggest reasons “For Your Eyes Only” is one of my favorite Bond films is the fantastic look of the film. With so many breath-taking locations, sharp picture, and a simply brilliant use of light and color throughout, “For Your Eyes Only” has its own brilliant look that is different from all the other Bond films.

”For Your Eyes Only” is one of the few prestigious Bond films that breathed new life in the series (alongside the likes of “On Her Majesty's Secret Service” and “Casino Royale”). Instead of returning to the worn out familiar Bond scenarios of extravagant fantasy, "For Your Eyes Only" is less imagination and more reality - delivering an exciting and authentic espionage adventure.

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Old 05-19-2009, 12:58 PM   #123
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#6

DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1971)



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Directed by ... Guy Hamilton
Written by … Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz
Based on the James Bond Character Created by ... Ian Fleming

Produced by ... Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman
Associate Produced by … Stanley Sopel
Cinematography by … Alan Hume
Production Design by … Ken Adam
Costume Design by … Elsa Fennell, Ted Tetrick and Donfeld
Editing by ... Bert Bates and John W. Holmes
Original Score by ... John Barry
Title Song Performed by … Shirley Bassey

Sean Connery ... James Bond
Jill St. John ... Tiffany Case
Charles Gray ... Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Lana Wood ... Plenty O'Toole
Jimmy Dean ... Willard Whyte
Bruce Cabot ... Albert R. 'Bert' Saxby
Putter Smith ... Mr. Kidd
Bruce Glover ... Mr. Wint
Norman Burton ... Felix Leiter
Joseph Fürst ... Dr. Metz
Bernard Lee ... 'M'
Desmond Llewelyn ... 'Q'
Leonard Barr ... Shady Tree
Lois Maxwell ... Moneypenny
Margaret Lacey ... Mrs. Whistler
Joe Robinson ... Peter Franks
David de Keyser ... Doctor
Laurence Naismith ... Sir Donald Munger
David Bauer ... Mr. Slumber
Lola Larson … Bambi
Trina Parks ... Thumper
Denise Perrier ... Marie
Valerie Perrine ... Shady Tree's Acorn

A diamond smuggling investigation leads James Bond to Las Vegas, where he uncovers an extortion plot headed by his nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

----------------------------------------------

With all the elements in place, I find it shocking how much undeserved hate 1971’s “Diamonds are Forever” receives.

To me, more than several (if not all) of the subsequent Bond films that followed did not have nearly as much iconography as what was established here.

Connery and Hamilton are back, we’ve got a delightful location in Las Vegas, in-arguably Bond’s greatest villain…Bambi and Thumper, Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, Bond driving on two wheels for the first time. There’s so much Bond mythology that’s started and stated at work here.

Opening up with a dynamic and full throttle pre-title sequence that finds Bond traveling the world in his quest to kill Blofeld, Bond returns triumphant, only to discover a case waiting for him: a large amount of diamonds has been stolen from the South African mines and two offbeat assassins are killing everyone in the smuggling ring one-by-one. Bond goes undercover as Peter Franks, diamond smuggler. What he discovers shocks him: the head of the smuggling ring is none other than Ernst Stavros Blofeld! Now, Bond must resist the wiles of a beautiful smuggler and survive the machinations of Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, Blofeld's two best assassins so that he can uncover Blofeld's sinister plot.

One of the better things about this installment in the James Bond series is that the film gets interesting almost immediately, despite the below average opening sequence. Bond unleashes a vat of stuff on a guy who was being made into a clone, and I guess he drowned in it, or something. And what was that that he aimed at Bond, a squirt gun? Not a very good opening, and the theme song, by the way, was also one of the worst of the entire series. And of course, as is the tradition with Sean Connery's James Bond, he is drinking within the first few minutes of the film. But soon after this, Bond ends up trading identities with a man named Peter Franks, and this is where it really starts to get interesting.

“Diamonds Are Forever” deals with a villain (Blofeld, back for more) who is smuggling huge quantities of diamonds with the ultimate goal of using them to create a super powerful `laser' with which he plans to hold the United States hostage, demanding whatever ransom he wants. I don't think that they specified a dollar amount, but it was probably around ‘one MILLION dollars!' While it is surprisingly entertaining the way that Bond switches identities, resulting in the belief that he is dead (but that mistake has been made before, hasn't it?), some things about the premise of this film bothered me. For example, for such a physically small quantity of diamonds being transported, I'm not sure I understand the need for the tremendously elaborate methods by which it is transported. They are stuffed into a teddy bear and awarded at a rigged carnival game, they're put into a dead man's coffin, cremated, and delivered in the urn, etc. Why don't they just throw them into the trunk of a car and drive them to where they're going? I guess it's because if they did that, there would be no movie.

Some of the humor falls flat (seeing Charles Gray in drag for instance?) but thankfully it’s few and far between compared to the charming wit of Sean Connery, which carries the film rather well.

As far as the cast, well…c’mon…it’s Sean Connery he’s BACK! Connery’s my favorite Bond by far and he has such a twinkle in his eye, even here.

The Bond girls are fantastic, particularly the focal point of Jill St. John as Tiffany Case. And…drag aside…Charles Gray makes for a formidable Blofeld (I liked Donald Pleasance better though). Then we get Jimmie Dean…yes, Sausage King Jimmy Dean…as Willard Whyte in an over the top parody of Mr. Howard Hughes.
The remainder of the cast molds well enough. I mean who doesn’t love Bambi and Thumper in their memorable fight against James?

Once again, there is an abundance of ineffective day for night photography (which is seen in most of the early Bond films, and it never works), as well as plenty of bad acting and people getting killed who just should have known better. The guys in the helicopter that exploded early in the film, for example, died because of their own stupidity. Here's a lesson, if someone hands you a box and starts quickly backing away, it may be a good idea to achieve some distance from that box yourself. Also, the two inseparable thugs Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint delivered some of the hammiest acting I've ever seen in a Bond film, which increased the morbid satisfaction felt during their horrible deaths. Not only were they uniquely bizarre as Bond foes, but they spoke almost exclusively in clichés – `If God had meant man to fly, he would've given him wings,' `Strange how everyone who touches the diamonds winds up dead.' Oh, and another thing - in one scene in the film, Bond is managing an escape, and he jumps into a `moonbuggy,' driving off to eventual safety.

It’s a cool and fresh chase sequence but uh…What the hell was going on there? Were they faking a moon landing? Making a movie? Or just waiting for James to come along and borrow their buggy to drive to safety? At any rate, the ensuing chase scene was entertaining enough, particularly the hilarious three wheelers.

Despite all of the many shortcomings of this film, however, “Diamonds Are Forever” still stands as an above average Bond film and one of my personal favorites.

Sean Connery is just as effective as ever in the title role, and the story, while not wholly probable, was more realistic than some of the other films (see: You Only Live Twice). Also, the ever-present one liners were better than usual, and every single one was better than every one-liner that Pierce Brosnan ever delivered.

While they are clearly connected to the sexual innuendos that constantly surround Bond in his films, some of them are downright funny – `Providing collar and cuffs match,' `That's a nice little nothing you're wearing. I approve!' and of course, after having been introduced to the beautiful Plenty O'Toole, `Named after your father, perhaps?'

It's good to see that there was some thought put into the story for Diamonds Are Forever, but some parts were clearly not thought out at all. For example, there is a scene where the idiotic Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint drive out of a cave in the desert, and after they drive out, a door closes, covering the cave and making it look like just another piece of desert. Sure, the cave's opening is hidden, but there is also a road leading right up to it. Seems that the road might give something away. Also, when Bond finally gets to Willard Whyte's location, he pretty much stands still and lets a couple of scantily clad women smack him around for a little while. And speaking of which, why are there women in bikinis all over the place? The vast majority of these costumes are completely unnecessary and only serve to lower this film to the level of the cheesy B-movie that relies on nudity to drive its bonehead plot. Luckily, the plot in this film is interesting enough to be able to overcome these things.

This is also the film that made me think about starting a list of how many Bond films end with him on a boat at sea, after having obviously gotten the girl, which you know will happen from the moment you pick the film off the shelf at the video store. We know Bond's going to get the girl, but they could at least come up with a different way to end it.

The music is fantastic, once again helmed by John Barry and with a lovely title song from “Goldfinger” songbird Shirley Bassey (who also provided the theme for “Moonraker.”) I especially love Barry’s material for the thrilling Vegas strip car chase.

Overall, “Diamonds Are Forever” might be a heavily flawed film, but it also has a great many strengths that revive interest and make it worth watching.

So underrated.

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Old 05-19-2009, 01:02 PM   #124
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The Spy Who Loved Me is one of my favorite Bond movies as well.

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Old 05-19-2009, 01:40 PM   #125
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#5

ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE (1969)



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Directed by ... Peter R. Hunt
Written by … Richard Maibaum and Simon Raven
Based on the James Bond Character Created by ... Ian Fleming

Produced by ... Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman
Associate Produced by … Stanley Sopel
Cinematography by … Michael Reed
Production Design by … Syd Cain
Costume Design by … Marjory Cornelius
Editing by ... John Glen
Original Score by ... John Barry
Song Performed by … Louis Armstrong

George Lazenby ... James Bond
Diana Rigg ... Tracy Di Vicenzo
Telly Savalas ... Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Gabriele Ferzetti ... Marc Ange Draco
Ilse Steppat ... Irma Bunt
Angela Scoular ... Ruby Bartlett
Lois Maxwell ... Miss Moneypenny
Catherine Von Schell ... Nancy
George Baker ... Sir Hilary Bray
Bernard Lee ... 'M'
Bernard Horsfall ... Campbell
Desmond Llewelyn ... 'Q'
Yuri Borionko ... Grunther
Virginia North ... Olympe
Geoffrey Cheshire ... Toussaint
Irvin Allen ... Che Che
Terence Mountain ... Raphael
James Bree ... Gumbold
John Gay ... Hammond
Julie Ege ... The Scandinavian Girl
Mona Chong ... The Chinese Girl
Sylvana Henriques ... The Jamaican Girl
Sally Sheridan ... The American Girl
Joanna Lumley ... The English Girl
Zara ... The Indian Girl
Anouska Hempel ... The Australian Girl
Ingrid Back ... The German Girl
Helena Ronee ... The Israeli Girl
Jenny Hanley ... The Irish Girl

James Bond woos a mob boss's daughter and goes undercover to uncover the true reason for Blofeld's allergy research in the Swiss Alps that involves beautiful women from around the world

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1969’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” is one of the most personal Bond stories in the series, filled with explosive action and ultimately gut-wrenching heartache for the seemingly invincible secret agent 007.

When Bond's usual intelligence sources fail, he enlists the aid of crime boss Draco (Gabrielle Ferzetti) to track down Ernst Blofeld (Telly Savalas), head of the evil S.P.E.C.T.R.E. organization. The trail leads to the mountains of Switzerland, where Bond goes undercover in Blofeld's hi-tech headquarters. He encounters a bevy of seductive women, but none more beautiful than Draco's daughter Tracy (Diana Rigg), who wins 007 over with her fervent independence, caustic wit and love of adventure. Bond pledges his eternal devotion to her, but there are more immediate concern: Blofeld is poised to unleash horrific germ warfare weaponry, that will endanger every living thing on earth.

Arguably the most ambitious and difficult to shoot of ALL the Bond films (at least to that time), it's a miracle ANYTHING works in “Majesty’s.” Much of the time it works VERY well, though the shaky underpinnings of the first hour frequently threaten to undo it. There is so much choppy editing and dubbed dialogue, one begins to suspect he is watching a foreign film. The second hour plus works much better, all the more surprising since it was shot first. One reason may be that the film went WAY over both shooting schedule and budget, and there was enough made up `bad' press to put a great deal of pressure on the producers, first time director, Peter Hunt.

But for all the troubles that befell the production, it works to make arguably one of the absolute best in the series.

Now answer me this…why in god’s name was George Lazenby only in one Bond film? Sure, Lazenby is no Sean Connery (yeah, but NONE of them are, remember?), but he still did an excellent job in his only effort as the great James Bond. Of course, probably the main thing that made Lazenby so effective in the role is that he resembled Connery in so many ways. They were built the same, they had the same hair, the same eyes, they even talked a lot alike. And there can be no doubt, by the way, that this had a significant role in securing the part for Lazenby.

One of the things that is unique about “On Her Majesty's Secret Service,” besides being the only installment that starred the man who was only in one of the films, is the excellent editing. In the opening sequence, for example, during the spectacular fight scene on the beach, there is some of the fastest and most effective editing that is seen in the entire series. And it's a good thing, too, because the opening sequence was otherwise over dramatized. For example, Bond saves a woman from drowning herself in the ocean, and after grabbing her as she waded slowly and calmly into the water, he carries her back to the beach and lays her down on the sand, inexplicably unconscious. What happened there, did she hit her head on Bond's shoulder and knock herself out? Luckily, this pathetic discrepancy is quickly forgotten as the remainder of the scene secures itself as probably the best opening scene so far.

There are dozens of unique qualities of On Her Majesty's Secret Service that really set it apart from the other Bond films. For one thing, there are no words in the theme song, which is unusual because most of them are written specifically for the respective films (and most are absolutely awful, as well). And thank God, too, those theme songs are killing me. The endless flirting with Moneypenny actually proceeds to the point of a kiss here, which I believe takes place just after James resigns from the secret service, another peculiarity of this film. I could go on and on about these things that are totally uncharacteristic of a James Bond movie.

There are about ten Bond girls, instead of the usual one. After having resigned, James goes through his old gadgets, some of which are recognizable from previous films, and also note the song that plays during this scene – `Underneath the Mango Tree,' the same song that was playing when we were first introduced to the Beautiful Honey Ryder in Dr. No. James Bond utters the words `I love you' as well as `Will you marry me.' There are dozens of things that are different from the rest of the series. The skiing scene was actually done well, as was the car chase on the racetrack. And at one point in the film, Bond actually impersonates a man who doesn't like women!

And yes, you heard right, Bond got MARRIED! While this may have been the one step too far in coming up with original material (a married Bond would spell disaster for later films), the almost immediate death of his new bride not only creates pretty impressive emotion (when did that ever happen in a Bond film?!), but it also begins to legitimize the promiscuity that Bond has always displayed. It made his womanizing behavior seem less adolescent and exploitive.

The story of “On Her Majesty's Secret Service” is also fairly unique to a certain extent, but it's really still the same old thing about some super villain holding the world hostage and it's all up to Bond to save the day. But in this case, rather than the usual nuclear weapons hijack, the villain is threatening the world with bacterial warfare, or an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, to be exact. While this is indirectly destructive toward humans (it threatens the economy rather than directly endangers peoples' lives), it is still good to see something a little bit different once in a while. As this essentially normal Bond plot unfolds, we see lots of impressive stuff. Notice that the main Bond girl (after the one-after-the-other romp with lots of them early in the film) strangely resembles Shirley Manson, the singer for Garbage and the performer of the excellent theme song for “The World Is Not Enough” 30 years later, and that movie's title originates in THIS film. Weird, huh?

The camera work is fairly impressive as well, especially the set pieces in the snowy Swiss alps (beautiful cinematography here on Michael Reed’s part).

The sleek action relies on pure stunts and long chases, making "You Only Live Twice" seem quite cumbersome with all its huge sets and weird gadgets. Here, we see Q in the very first scene rambling on about some silly radioactive lint as the only hint of gadgetry, besides a safe-cracking copy machine later, and Bond isn't even present. The fights, while exciting, also have a frenetic, souped up quality, almost spasmodic, due to the quick editing and style; seeing these for the first time might cause eye strain, but they're fun to watch now, with Bond's fist usually whipping around at sonic speed and opponents sent flying.

The chases on the skis are great and there's even an avalanche for an epic touch.

“On Her Majesty's Secret Service” is clearly one of the Bond films that really has a lot of stuff to look for, particularly if you are familiar with the other Bond films. The story itself is not exactly a point of interest by this point in the series, but the action is still very impressive and it is made even better by the amazingly well done editing. The fast paced luge scene at the end of the film is a good action sequence, as is the very convincing avalanche, but when Bond crash lands at the end of the luge scene, a big slobbery dog immediately runs up and starts licking his face, which is just entirely too convenient. They may as well have had him land in a big easy chair.

Luckily, the film did not end here, but rather with the tragic death of Bond's new wife which, rather than hamper interest in Bond films to follow (which would be the case, had he remained married), makes you want to rush out and watch the next one to see the killers brought to justice, Bond style!

It’s this horrible act that sets the film apart from the others. Or being such a womanizer, it’s already refreshing and unique to see Bond wish to settle down. But then to have her die just as quickly!

There can be no mistake about “On Her Majesty's Secret Service.” This is definitely one of the best Bond films, regardless of the lack of Connery. Any fan of James Bond or just quality action films is sure to love this one.

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