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James Bond

asterixsmeagol

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Craig's Bond will truly stand as something unique in that it's the first cinematic Bond where the films of one actor form a full Bond narrative with a strong character arc. Prior to Craig's go at it, Bond existed as this sort of nebulous continued story of different actors across an impossibly long and blurred timeline, the character had no real beginning or end, just more and more adventures with sometimes recurring other characters and villains.

Seeing Bond have a beginning, middle and end where actions/choices from each film compound and come together in the final appearance by that actor.. I just hope that this film lives up to what their campaign is implying.

The Connery movies sort of did as well, but it's more just a continuous middle without quite having a beginning or an end.

I haven't watched it yet, but @DigModiFicaTion made a TV series out of the first four Craig films. I'm hoping he finishes it with No Time to Die when it's out on Blu-ray.
 

Moe_Syzlak

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So whether they set out to do this, or it was a wonderfully happy coincidence, Craig's Bond will truly stand as something unique in that it's the first cinematic Bond where the films of one actor form a full Bond narrative with a strong character arc. Prior to Craig's go at it, Bond existed as this sort of nebulous continued story of different actors across an impossibly long and blurred timeline, the character had no real beginning or end, just more and more adventures with sometimes recurring other characters and villains.

Seeing Bond have a beginning, middle and end where actions/choices from each film compound and come together in the final appearance by that actor.. I just hope that this film lives up to what their campaign is implying.

Personally I would love future Bond entries to fall into this line where they plan out a multiple-story map for the character. They don't have to literally have each one mapped, but select an actor, make a general path and then give films to do it. It would allow each one to be a 'what if' scenario using Bond as template to apply again and again and again, sort of the way WB has stumbled around Batman but with far less planning or nuance.
I’ve really enjoyed the Craig Bond films, but I feel this decision to build the story also led to some of the most unfortunate story choices. I’m hopeful that this final chapter will stick the landing. Casino Royale is still my favorite by far.
 

Moe_Syzlak

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I must admit I miss the stand alone Bond adventures of past times. Nowadays mainstream cinema has an exaggerated obsession with continuities and arcs and universes. I prefer the "graphic novel" approach over the "on-going series", personally.

I think it all depends on if the story is served. If it makes narrative sense to continue the story, by all means do it. But to your point, there’s an obsession now with cinematic universes. And it more often than not is the driving force rather than the narrative and I feel good story telling suffers for it.
 

asterixsmeagol

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Diamonds Are Forever (1971)]
A return to Connery and a return to form. Not the best in Connery's role, but still infinitely more enjoyable than Lazenby's attempt. It does strike me as odd that part of Blofeld's plan in this movie involves plastic surgery to make a minion look like him, when they made no attempt to make Charles Grey look like either Donald Pleasence or Telly Savalas in the previous two movies. Strangely, in my memory of this movie, I remember Blofeld as bald and scarred like Donald Pleasence's version. My favorite scene in the whole movie is when Bond just hangs up on Q when he decides to track down Franks. Although Bond's German accent in the following scene with Franks is embarrasingly bad. I am a bit confused by Tiffany Case announcing that Bond had killed "Bond", knowing exactly who a secret agent is by name. The cop chase scene is also hilarious. The things that put this further down in my ranking are poor performances from Mr Wint, Mr Kid, and Tiffany Case. They all seem rather bored in their roles.

Since this movie doesn't really play at all on the developments from On Her Majesty's Secret Service and styles don't change much from 1969-1971, the next time I watch through all of these I'll probably either skip OHMSS or put it after DAF to keep Connery in one run.
 

Dwight Fry

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Different strokes for different folks: I think DAF is awful. Bottom 5 Bond for me. A lot of the fault is in Connery's performance, which feels like he is being forced at gunpoint to be there. He is my favorite Bond and one of my favorite actors in general, but he's just terrible here. And the movie itself is the first really goofy Bond film. It is frequently described as a Roger Moore Bond starring Sean Connery, and I sort of wish Moore had done this one. Even in his worst ones, he felt like he was enjoying himself. Sean looks like he's begging to take the root canal instead.
 

asterixsmeagol

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I do also enjoy the goofy Moore movies, but you're right this is kind of a transition from the slightly more serious early Connery movies. I wonder if it is in part a reaction to the totally straight OHMSS not doing well, so they shifted hard in the other direction.
 

Dwight Fry

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The irony is that OHMSS is the kind of character-driven Bond movie that Connery desired, after leaving the series after YOLT because he felt it was becoming more and more about the gadgets (and for pay disputes, but that's another story), and when after OHMSS they got him to return, albeit reluctantly... he got this. Maybe that's why he looks so displeased all through.

In general, the early 70s were awkward years for Bond. The series wasn't really sure about which direction to take. As we'll see in the next two films, it went from setting trends to following existing ones (blaxploitation in LALD, chop-socky in TMWTGG), before reinventing itself yet again.
 

asterixsmeagol

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Live and Let Die (1973)
Roger Moore definitely brings a change of pace to the series. I know a lot of people don't like the sillier tone of his run in the role, but it doesn't really bother me. Maybe that's because I saw these movies as a kid when that kind of thing isn't a problem. One thing that does help smooth the transition is the return of Guy Hamilton, who directed the previous movie as well as Goldfinger. Many of the scenes in this movie were familiar to me, but many were not, so this must have been one of the movies I've only seen bits and pieces of on TV. Probably my favorite part was Mrs. Bell's flying lesson, and my least favorite was the overly-long boat chase. I know some hate the exploding Kananga scene, but it's so ridiculous that I was laughing out oud. But the craziest part to me was all of the '70s fashion: huge cars, awful curtains/upholstery, shag carpet in the bathroom! I also don't much like their treatment of CIA Agent Rosie Carver. Constantly scared, leaving the gun safety on, etc. I guess it's just the '70s chauvinistic view of women's weaknesses, but it rubbed me the wrong way in 2021 (not that we don't still have bad representations of women in media). Overall, I would still say that Moore's first outing doesn't live up to Connery's run, but I did still like it more than Lazenby's outing.

Side note on music: I am a big Beatles fan, but I never really got into Wings. The theme song to this movie is really the only song of theirs that I liked. I do, however, like a lot of McCartney's solo work after Wings, especially his 2007 album Memory Almost Full. There's also a good new Hulu miniseries about him called McCartney 3,2,1.
 

Dwight Fry

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While I feel LALD is an improvement over DAF, it's one I don't care much for either. We're still in the awkward phase and the series is still unable to find a consistent tone. Moore doesn't yet find himself comfortable in the role, and here he's dry, like trying to ape Connery. And the movie itself is all over the place, anything goes, even zombies (Baron Samedi's head being blown and he not dying). Then there's the blatant racism of a movie which is basically about every black person in the world being part of an evil conspiracy. That paired up with the then trendy blaxploitation tropes, this feels like the only blaxploitation movie ever made specifically for white people. The highlight of the film, though, is Yaphet Kotto, a fine character actor that hasn't always been acknowledged enough.
 

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The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
Another step down in quality. The acting is slightly better than in Live and Let Die, but the story is just not compelling. The main focus is the assassin Scaramanga, who has a golden gun that shoots golden bullets, but really, who cares? At least Christopher Lee brings some gravitas to the role, but it just isn't enough to make the character or the movie interesting. I thought the low point in the movie came when the sheriff from the last movie shows up as a side character during another boat chase in Bangkok just so he could drop in some casual racism, but I would have to wait just a bit... Things were about to improve when the focus shifted to the Solex Agitator, but no. It just turned into another extended car chase scene, and inexplicably the awful sheriff makes yet another appearance! Then we got to the real nadir when Bond and the sheriff do a Dukes of Hazard style jump and barrel roll to a literal slide whistle effect. At least we got Q back for this movie, even if he doesn't really have anything to do. Are there even any gadgets in this movie? If so, I totally forgot all of them the minute they left the screen. The only thing that would maybe count is Scaramanga's car/plane, but since it didn't come from Q branch, I don't think it really counts.
 

Dwight Fry

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This is a deeply flawed one, but one I like way more than I probably should. The reason is both Christopher Lee and his character. The actor because I am a massive Lee fan, and the character because it's basically a darker and freelance Bond, so a perfect nemesis for 007. I just wish the film had been more about Bond vs. Scaramanga (in the style of Bond vs. Red Grant in FRWL) and less about yet another generic doomsday device. The negative part comes in the form of the silly characters and moments (that damn sheriff, yes), the pointless use of the day's trend (in this case Kung-Fu movies), and a contender for the absolute worst Bond girl of them all. Currently I have Mary Goodnight tied with Christmas Jones from TWINE as the worst, for different reasons (Christmas Jones due to hilariously wrong miscasting, Goodnight for how she's written, dumb as a brick is an understatement). I've long wanted to fanedit this one. Maybe some day.
 

lapis molari

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Enjoying the reviews but I definitely agree with Dwight re: Thunderball, it starts out good imo, but man.. does it drag.

Thunderball definitely has too much water. Fortunately we have a solution: The Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Cut. :)

Apologies for the shameless plug, but I really am quite proud of that edit. Which makes me wonder: @asterixsmeagol, are you only watching Theatrical releases or also fanedits in your current 007 marathon?
 

asterixsmeagol

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Just theatrical for now, but once I get through and figure out what I like and don't like it the series, I'll read through the fanedit descriptions and load up for the next time through.
 

asterixsmeagol

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The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
This was the longest break between movies up to this point, even longer than the break between any of the various Bond recastings, and I think that let the screenwriters actually take some time to take a few extra passes through the script to make it actually enjoyable, even if it's not as good as any of Connery's run. We got a bit of a shift back into a more Connery-like plot, starting with two nuclear submarines (English and Soviet) disappearing in the cold open, but then any hope of that tone was lost with the shift to a heavy-handed double entendre about pulling out and Bond green-screen skiing down a mountain (nowhere near the quality of Lazenby in OHMSS) before jumping off a cliff and the famous scene of him parachuting down in a Union Jack parachute. That transitions into some great opening credits, with lots of excellent gymnastic choreography superimposed onto Moore holding guns in various poses (although this is one of my least favorite songs). We do get a weird off-brand Blofeld (Stromberg) in this movie due to some legal issues with the screenwriter for Thunderball (more on that later!), but we still get a shark tank and some fun henchmen, most notably the first appearance of Jaws! This movie reference Bond having been once married, and I think that might be the only reference any movie in the series makes to Lazenby's movie, but I could just be forgetting. It may just be my love of Egyptian architecture, but I really love the sets in this movie, and it has one of my favorite shots in the franchise:
tGkMZewi07jnu3UUVvCmuZ4snG6HVNSaXfIFHzZn3Yl6XyTFr99BlZ7cPMeBK5qvRXQURrNuiPEe86UeVqB84c3ml8F0L5JBJJaGvQGStPHqYlKQxp68XwImX-V8MrjzcMqlnEnNI0R6vBygYVoComKSNxnGA3-_OqlI7VQbZPFWsOaY7e4WcI6SEtuxMkrmFN88qs74BQvb4PTS450fk2FdDha00DjdEUy_yic7rNtpXXmTMc-eexshcR0eMjFUmQwergrsjyt64CnHaKasWRxuJR-abcSjCoEqfZbDfozBGjQFtPFTs2b9pgPX_3RNk4c13Iyp_ZgU49Inye-47n4I_lVPYoJEZJJKlGf0K9vmxXwPEwKt1U9rjjUPcbLcJ-DJj0_wRc4U-mSfxROpC8t7iIdy16CFi0LWSq3iDFibFUKvjm5xKSfrGXSnQguWNRFcHGl-J8eNwq9mAy7FgIf6BlPZHDmWBBO968nIj_OrDXcZg3gsDae1vYKdY4a0zNIm8iDxxz8rUN0WDmC8vr5cjj6rPwVPnD0NFTSsBVRzL8fpHe8ayooVRpINR2ZsebytD1EKOTTOuckwHjPM7LANsU3Hm7JHPE-1qV0xPFMvTdiV8k7bF-hjc8gv4YK9h3rgy6NCrnS1Df6v6_6VzD0qxchi1e0QqEiEs0-3RMuk7RX0XuRlyFntZY-WnM0qV-a0KflFTPKSi8SAy2oom1M=w1366-h581-no
As I said, the movie isn't quite up to quality of the earlier films, but it is a step up in Moore's run. If not for the overabundance of quips, I might even put this over Diamonds Are Forever (my least favorite of his tenure), but as it stands it's just below. Other than my quibble with quips, and the disappointing theme song, the only other real letdown is the totally bland performance of Agent Triple X. I enjoyed Bond blowing of Q's explanation of the car's features for two reasons: first, I love Q and even more I love Bond's disregard for him, and second, it made the transition to submarine that much more exciting!
 

Dwight Fry

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I think this is Sir Rog's best overall. He finally feels comfortable in the role, and the movie (plot-wise pretty much a YOLT rehash, but I think it's better and more compact than YOLT) is fun and light-hearted without being overly cheesy or silly. And we get a Bond girl that's a great character and not just window dressing. The only flaw for me - Stromberg just isn't a very memorable villain. He's pretty much Blofeld-lite, and not as charismatic as any of the Blofelds. But otherwise, the best Bond of the 70s.
 

asterixsmeagol

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I took a bit of a break, but got back into things this afternon.

Moonraker (1979)
This movie is 100% bonkers from start to finish. Absolute trash, and unrecognizable as part of the same franchise that Connery left behind. But despite how bad it is, I kind of love it. It moves into the "so bad it's good" category for me. Awful one-liners, an assassin popping up out of a coffin for no reason, just to be replaced by more assassins who actually have guns which leads to a gondola chase and ends with the gondola driving onto the bank as a car with a pigeon doing a double take, then a second boat chase later in the movie, before the eventual climactic space battle. The space battle is totally insane. They have a gravity control switch, which the writers kind of know is related to rotation of the space station (which was somehow built in secret?), but then gravity shits room to room, and they often forget whether it's currently on even in the same scene, and they don't consider the control being in the center of the rotation would mean it has no "gravity" at any time. As a said, total garbage, but it somehow represents both a low and high point in the series for me simultaneously.
 

Racerx1969

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Good to see this come up again. Since the last time I commented, I bought the white box BD collection and have started going through the movies myself. I'm taking a while because I'm also watching again with the commentary track, and all the documentary stuff (lots I hadn't ever been aware of before). The stories behind the movies are as interesting as the movies themselves. I'm just missing the two not in the box--and I've never seen the '67 Casino Royale which I would love to out of perverse curiosity.
 
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