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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Mar 9 2013

Review: The World Is Not Enough

Welcome to my review of The World Is Not Enough, the nineteenth 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, Tomorrow Never Dies, here. Spoilers follow.

The World Is Not Enough
(dir. Michael Apted, 1999)

The World Is Not Enough trailerI’m going to assume that anyone reading this has heard of the phrase, “willing suspension of disbelief”.

The Bond franchise is built on the suspension of disbelief. The fact that we can swallow the scenarios it throws at us is the key to its success. In the course of this challenge, I’ve watched—and, for the most part, accepted—that a man with metal teeth can bite through steel cables, that MI6 really might weaponise an Aston Martin or a Lotus Esprit, that an army firing machine guns can’t hit a man running across an open field, that the easiest way to steal a spaceship is to build an even bigger spaceship that can eat it.

No matter how hard I try, I cannot accept Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist.

Look, I’m sure that there are—indeed, I really hope there are—female nuclear physicists. I’m willing to accept that some of them have big round breasts and full lips, because beauty is no barrier to brains. But Richards is a different creature altogether. With her vacant eyes and mouth that tends to hang open when she’s thinking, she looks like a blow-up doll.

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Mar 6 2013

Review: Tomorrow Never Dies

Welcome to my review of Tomorrow Never Dies, the eighteenth 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, Goldeneye, here. Spoilers follow.

Tomorrow Never Dies
(dir. Roger Spottiswoode, 1997)

Tomorrow Never Dies trailerTomorrow Never Dies has an interesting plot. The central villain, Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce), is not trying to destroy the world or rob a bank. He’s not taking revenge for past injustices or carting drugs across borders. Not that he’s against any of these things—far from it. He just wants exclusive media rights when the story breaks.

I’ve had a morbid curiosity on the lengths that the media will go to when looking for news. Back when I used to write for www.iwilldothatformoney.com, now sadly defunct, I wrote an article that broke down the UK papers in a simple guide as to their slants and intended audiences, and four years working for a clippings agency back when I first moved to London gave me some insight as to just how much bullshit can make the front page. Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies is the ultimate media baron, however, because he takes the news cycle a step further: in the absence of a good news story, he creates his own.

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Mar 2 2013

Review: Goldeneye

Welcome to my review of Goldeneye, the seventeenth 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, Licence To Kill, here. Spoilers follow.

Goldeneye
(dir. Martin Campbell, 1995)

Goldeneye trailerSean Bean would have made an excellent James Bond. Think about that for a moment. It’s okay; I’ll wait.

Okay, so he could never actually be Bond because he’s contractually obliged to die before the end of every film he’s in. But apparently he was in the running to be Bond before Pierce Brosnan finally got the job, and I think he would have been awesome.

It wasn’t to be, but at least we got to see him playing a double-0 agent in Goldeneye. He’s billed as a villain equal to Bond: the same training, the same skills. Having watched the Bond films in order, that’s not as effective a threat as the filmmakers intended; all of the double-0 agents we’ve seen to date have been mildly ineffective at best. Apart from the meeting of agents way back in Thunderball, all of them have died within minutes of appearing on the screen, 007 excepted. With that track record, 006 should be the easiest villain to defeat in the whole series.

Actually, he technically dies before the opening credits, but it’s an obvious feint. Not even Sean Bean usually dies that quickly. If it had been John Hurt, it might have been more convincing.

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