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The James Bond Series


sandman
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  • 4 weeks later...

My journey through Bond continued with On Her Majestys Secret Service, the first film not to feature Sean Connery. In his place we have George Lazenby. I’m sure millions of words have been written about how Lazenby got the Bond gig and the negative reception his performance received. But I wasn’t really impressed. His first appearance was a terribly filmed beech fight and a horrible knowing quip. Not a good start.

Things improve slightly when the films starts and we get into the plot (Blofeld has an evil scheme that Bond must unravel) but this one didn’t do it for me. The film was far too long, there was no good gadgets, the one-liners were terrible ('He had a lot of guts' 'Time to branch off') and the whole thing felt wrong. Like a Bond knock-off.

There were some good bits – Blofelds lair was excellent; an awesome, mountain-top building that can only be accessed by helicopter. Blofelds plot is also fun. He’s hypnotised a bunch of beautiful women and is going to send them back to their home countries to unleash an deadly virus. Needless to say Bond gets stuck with all these women and, well, stuff happens. But even this felt cheap – like the girls were just there to service Bond, unlike in the early films. There’s also an unexpectedly down beat ending that was quite sad.

The action alternated between excellent (the skiing and bob-sledge sequences) and terrible (the initial beech fight), the photograpy was good and the cast were fine. The plot was messy and it was far too long.

I’m glad I watched this one but it’s the weakest of the series for me, so far. And I can’t see myself revisiting it.

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My journey through Bond continued with On Her Majestys Secret Service, the first film not to feature Sean Connery. In his place we have George Lazenby. I’m sure millions of words have been written about how Lazenby got the Bond gig and the negative reception his performance received. But I wasn’t really impressed. His first appearance was a terribly filmed beech fight and a horrible knowing quip. Not a good start.

Things improve slightly when the films starts and we get into the plot (Blofeld has an evil scheme that Bond must unravel) but this one didn’t do it for me. The film was far too long, there was no good gadgets, the one-liners were terrible ('He had a lot of guts' 'Time to branch off') and the whole thing felt wrong. Like a Bond knock-off.

There were some good bits – Blofelds lair was excellent; an awesome, mountain-top building that can only be accessed by helicopter. Blofelds plot is also fun. He’s hypnotised a bunch of beautiful women and is going to send them back to their home countries to unleash an deadly virus. Needless to say Bond gets stuck with all these women and, well, stuff happens. But even this felt cheap – like the girls were just there to service Bond, unlike in the early films. There’s also an unexpectedly down beat ending that was quite sad.

The action alternated between excellent (the skiing and bob-sledge sequences) and terrible (the initial beech fight), the photograpy was good and the cast were fine. The plot was messy and it was far too long.

I’m glad I watched this one but it’s the weakest of the series for me, so far. And I can’t see myself revisiting it.

How can you review OHMSS and not mention the soundtrack....it's fantastic, one of John Barrys finest.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYt4XEhCeUs

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My journey through Bond continued with On Her Majestys Secret Service, the first film not to feature Sean Connery. In his place we have George Lazenby. I’m sure millions of words have been written about how Lazenby got the Bond gig and the negative reception his performance received. But I wasn’t really impressed. His first appearance was a terribly filmed beech fight and a horrible knowing quip. Not a good start.

The beach fight isn't terrible. It's a masterclass in tight, punchy editing. Seriously.

Anyway, if you think it's the weakest of the series so far, and you're watching them in order, you're in for some seriously weaksauce.

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  • 1 month later...

Diamonds Are Forever

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

I checked out the next in the Bond series over the weekend. After the disappointment of OHMSS I was looking forward to getting back to the classic Bond formula.

Sean Connery is back as JB and finds himself facing off against his old nemesis, Blofeld, again. We travel from England, to South Africa, to Holland and finally onto America as James tries to get to the bottom of a mystery involving stolen diamonds.

This was pretty bad stuff. Blofeld was once an excellent character but they ruin him here, turning him into a joke. Bumbling about the place in drag. There’s no real threat to James, I know he’s never really threatened but it gets ridiculous here. There are two evil killers (more about them later) who have TWO opportunities to just shoot James but instead they opt to try and kill him in hilariously convoluted ways. Plot twist , he escapes The two killers are one of the few good parts of the film. I think they’re meant to be gay, they walk around holding hands and they kill their targets in delightfully evil ways.

The main problem was the plot – it was a total rehash of previous stories and was kind of dull. The locations weren’t up to much and they even manage to make Vegas look boring. There’s a surreal car-chase with Bond in a moon buggy(?) trying to escape from goons on these weird little tri-cycle things. The girl, Tiffany Case, was good. You were never really sure where her loyalties were. She was also smoking hot and spent a lot of the film in a bikini. It ends with the classic shoot-out in the villains lair. But the whole thing had a camp, jokey feel to it. The theme song was excellent.

I wanted a return to the classic formula and that’s what I got. I suppose the moral here is be careful what you wish for.

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Next stop for me on my Bond journey was Roger Moores first Bond film Live and Let Die AKA Bond Vs. Shaft AKA Bond does Blaxploitation.

In this one Bond has to solve the murder of 3 British Agents his investigation takes him to Harlem, New Orleans and onto a made up Caribbean Island.

I don't know where this stands in the hierarchy of Bond films and I don't think it's aged well but I found it really entertaining.

The casual racism does grate after a while. Some examples: the pimps and pimpmobiles that are used for transport by all black people, the voodoo, the Southern Cop calling all black people 'boy' and so much more.

The plot makes no sense really and I was never sure why Bond was doing half the things he was doing. The villain is good but afte r Blofeld he was a bit pedestrian and his big scheme was to smuggle loads of heroin into America - not exactly super-villian stuff. It was well shot and the action was good, although I'm beginning to think the films set in America don't have the same exotic feel as the ones set elsewhere. Jane Seymour was excellent as a psychic working for the baddie who loses her psychic powers after she shags James and the song was excellent.

I thought Roger Moore was fine and was I think it was a good call to play the whole thing with one eyebrow arched. Some of the wardrobe choices for James are funny; double denim over a wife-beater?

It descends into the standard ending; underground lair, shark tank, battle with henchman, unnecessarly complicated method of killing James etc

A good start to the reboot of the franchise.

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One of the greatest stunts in movie history, and they felt the need to add a comedy whistle to the shot.

I like LALD quite a bit. Seymour is gorgeous, the locations are exotic, and Moore appears to be enjoying himself. Kotto's disguise is brilliantly terrible and his demise is amazing. Whenever anyone criticises Skyfall for its plot, remind them that this is a series in which a guy swallows an air pellet, inflates, flies into the ceiling and explodes.

I think the entire river chase sequence exists because the filmmakers felt white guilt about having black villains, so they overcompensated with the redneck pisstaking.

Prepare yourself for the next one. It's fucking terrible.

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Licence to Kill

It's been a long time since I last watched Licence to Kill, that most '80s-ish of the '80s Bond movies. In my memory it's always been one of my least favourite entries in the entire series. I'm pleased to say that upon today's rewatch, I enjoyed it a lot more, and can now honestly say I like it - even if I still don't think it's anywhere near as good as Dalton's preceding film The Living Daylights.

The plane-hooking opening sequence is fun (just look at that shot of Felix Leiter and his DEA allies' slow-mo charge forward - see, told you it was oh-so-'80s!), but the movie doesn't really start to get good until Bond discovers the very brutal thing that happened to Felix Leiter and his new wife. The idea of Bond going rogue on a personal mission outside of MI6 is a good one, but not enough is really made of it. Unlike something like the later Mission: Impossible, it doesn't feel like Bond's former allies could be just as much of an obstacle as the bad guys: a while after Bond's "with one bound he was free" escape in the scene with M, one agent turns up angry at him, then immediately dies, and that's pretty much it. Bond's licence to kill is revoked, but this has absolutely no effect on his ability to proceed to kill just as many people as ever. He even still gets to have Q helping him - in one of that character's biggest roles, in fact!

Having said that, it's not quite true to say that this might as well be an officially sanctioned mission: I really like the neat plotting of the way Bond's solo quest for vengeance screws up two other groups' attacks on Sanchez. The way 007 effectively fuels Sanchez's concerns about betrayal within his organisation is also good, and the length of time Sanchez remains oblivious to the fact that Bond is his enemy makes for an extremely unusual Bond movie. Overall, perhaps because so much of the movie is kept relatively grounded and low-key, the plotting generally (with a few exceptions) progresses more logically than it does in most Bond films. (Everyone: for some excellent commentary on story structure points like this, go and read Andrew Ellard's Tweetnotes on the movie. It is indeed the "knifiest Bond ever"!)

The sequence with Bond sneaking around Krest's operation is a good one; the "maggot coffin" is a fun baddie takedown, and the scene has a satisfying conclusion thanks to how Bond kills Felix's betrayer. (The way Sanchez dies at the end of the movie - hey, it's a Bond film, it's not a spoiler to say that! - is also one of the most satisfying in the entire series.)

The film contains two very good action sequences, the harpoon-plane-waterskiing (featuring gunfire to that da-dada-da-da Bond theme rhythm!) and the concluding tanker chase. They easily make up for the crap bar brawl (noteworthy only for the swordfish bit) and ninja attack. (Ninjas... who are Hong Kong narcotics agents? Mixing up your nations of the Orient a little bit there, aren't you, writers?) The section inside Sanchez' smuggling base ranks somewhere in between: the conveyer belt fight against Benicio del Toro is nice and tense, but the setting seems even more Made Of Explodium than the hotel in Quantum of Solace.

As it's a revenge story, it's understandable that Timothy Dalton's performance would be more downbeat than it was in The Living Daylights. But, combined with a general lack of memorable dialogue for him, it does mean that I find him much less fun to watch in this movie than in his first one, which may be a big part of the reason why I like it a lot less. The two Bond girls are also far from the greatest of characters or performances.

(A ridiculously minor nit-picky point, which doesn't really belong in a review but I want to moan about it anyway: one of the baddies kills Bond's DEA ally and says, "Guess what? His name was Sharkey!" The emphasis in that sentence has always felt like it's on the wrong word, as if he's simply confirming that his name was what he already thought it would be, rather than drawing attention to the irony of his cause of death. It's the same reason I get similarly disproportionately annoyed with a line in The Matrix: "The image translators work for the Construct program...")

3/5

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I'm really convinced of this:

The first film (except for Connery) which there's a new Bond introduced are the strongest in the franchise

My favourites

Moore - Live and Let Die

Dalton - The Living Daylights

Brosnan - Goldeneye

Craig - Casino Royale

agree?

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