Apr 24 2013

Review: Casino Royale

Welcome to my review of Casino Royale, the twenty-first part of my challenge to review all of the James Bond films. I’m watching each film in turn and trying to figure out which one is my favourite. For more information, see my introduction here. You can read my review of the previous film, Die Another Day, here. Spoilers follow.

Casino Royale
(dir. Martin Campbell, 2006)

Casino Royale trailerI didn’t realise this back when the film was first released in the cinema, but Martin Campbell directed Casino Royale. Campbell has—so far—only directed two Bond films. What is interesting is which two he has directed: Goldeneye and Casino Royal.

The Bond franchise has tried this tactic before. After the critical drubbing of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Guy Hamilton—director of Goldfinger—was brought in to revitalise the series with Diamonds Are Forever. Hamilton then went on to direct Live And Let Die and The Man With The Golden Gun.

Goldeneye was very clearly created as a revitalisation of the Bond franchise, and it turned out to be a very successful one. It removed both the high camp of the Roger Moore films and the overwhelming seriousness of Timothy Dalton’s Bond, creating a film that—007 franchise aside—worked as a great action movie in its own right. Pierce Brosnan was a charming Bond with a temper that only erupted under the greatest of duress, and so he retained audiences who were previously divided about which types of Bond films they preferred. It was just a shame that the subsequent Brosnan films each took a further step down in quality before climaxing in the puddle of piss that was Die Another Day.

Casino Royale is another obvious revitalisation of the franchise; in fact, it takes one step further in that it’s a full-on continuity reboot (albeit with some confusingly familiar elements, such as Judi Dench reprising her role as M). Just as Moonraker took notes from Star Wars and Die Another Day from xXx, Casino Royale takes its inspiration from the excellent The Bourne Identity. Unlike those examples, Casino Royale turns out to be a brilliant film.

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Apr 10 2013

Review: Die Another Day

Welcome to my (much delayed) review of Die Another Day, the twentieth part of my challenge to review all of the James Bond films. I’m watching each film in turn and trying to figure out which one is my favourite. For more information, see my introduction here. You can read my review of the previous film, The World Is Not Enough, here. Spoilers follow.

Die Another Day
(dir. Lee Tamahori, 2002)

Die Another Day trailerI remember watching Die Another Day at the cinema, and coming out thinking that the Bond franchise had hit an all-time low.

Of course, this was before I saw Moonraker, so perhaps this was unfair of me. Die Another Day is nowhere near as bad as Roger Moore’s trip into space. In fact, when I first started watching the film this time around, I even started to think it was a pretty good film—at least, I did after James Bond stopped surfing. James Bond doesn’t surf, you see—not in my opinion. He is a suave, sophisticated spy who likes gambling and fast cars. Yes, he parachutes; yes, he climbs mountains; yes, he even jumps off man-made constructions with bungee cord tied round his legs. He does not—should never—catch waves.

The problem, of course, is that Die Another Day came out in 2002, which was the same year another spy was introduced into the world: xXx, starring Vin Diesel,  was billed as a Bond-beater, with a central character who partakes in extreme sports. xXx turned out to be terrible—but clearly the Die Another Day filmmakers felt they had some competition.

Anyway, I started to watch Die Another Day, and aside from some curiously bad decisions (the aforementioned surfing and the credits music as performed by a computer called Madonna being the most heinous examples), I started—against all expectations—to enjoy myself.

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