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So “License to Kill” never happened?

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Please ignore that last comment. i have been struck on the head a few too many times, and missed that it was mentioned. However, “For Your Eyes Only”, “Octopussy” and “A View of a Kill” were left out.

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I’m one of those people who think “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” is the most underrated Bond movie. It had the definitive Blofeld (Telly Muthafuckin Savalas), some great action sequences (the assualt on Blofeld’s villa and the bobsled chase are amazing)and overall it is the most true to the books out of all the Bond movies. Add to that one of those incredible closing moments in film that leaves you with you’re jaw hanging open!

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Cordialatron said on December 15th, 2010 at 11:29 pm

A View to a Kill is definitely underrated as well. It has great villains: Christopher Walken and Grace Jones, a great Bond theme song by Duran Duran (I seriously believe this competes with the Goldfinger theme for best Bond intro song), an amazing ridiculous plot about horse racing and steroids that leads into Christopher Walken in a blimp trying to flood Silicon Valley. The horrible campy intro is pretty cringe inducing, but the movie is nothing if not entertaining. Better than Moonraker, at least.

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Aussiesmurf said on December 15th, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Really, you have different categories :

The best ‘early Bonds’ :

From Russia With Love
Goldfinger
You Only Live Twice

The funniest Bonds :

Goldfinger
The Spy Who Loved Me
Thunderball

The Best villains :

Licence to Kill (yes, really)
The Man With the Golden Gun
Thunderball (Fiona Volpe)

The Best quasi-realistic Bonds

For Your Eyes Only
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Casino Royale

The best Bond Girls :

From Russia With Love
The Spy Who Loved Me
Casino Royale

The most ‘missable’ Bonds

Diamonds are Forever
Octopussy
Quantum of Solance

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ImperatorMJ said on December 16th, 2010 at 12:19 am

I’ve never understood why nobody ever seems to like ‘Diamonds are Forever.’ It’s not ‘From Russia With Love,’ which gets my vote for the best of the Connery Bonds, but it’s fun, the space-laser is classic villainy, and Jill St. John is easy on the eyes.

And good call on ‘Thunderball’ being mediocre — the stakes are raised higher than anything we’ve seen Bond deal with before, so you’d think that would make it that much more exciting, but it drags like crazy .

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I like them all.

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I think the goofy fun of “The World is Not Enough” tops the muddled mess of “Tomorrow Never Dies” for me. TWINE was implausible, as you say, but aren’t they all? In the case of TND, I just felt confused, though Jonathan Pryce was awesome. Brosnan also lent his voice, along with Willem Defoe and Shannon Elizabeth, to “Everything or Nothing”, a game that was at least as good as most of those movies.

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It has been my experience that Bond fandom is one in which there is very little fan consensus of any kind. You’d think everyone would agree that Connery was the best Bond, but I’ve seen a sizable contingent name Moore as their favourite. Same goes for best movie, best song, best any damn thing really.

I offer myself as a case in point: I liked Quantum of Solace and don’t understand why nobody does.

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@J.H.: I almost called Savalas the definitive Blofeld, but then remembered that he’s competing with Donald Pleasence, whose performance became pretty much not just the definitive Blofeld, but arguably the definitive villain, full stop. The scar, the clipped British accent, the understated menace disguised as politeness, the Nehru jacket, the cat…every element of what you see on-screen in ‘You Only Live Twice’ has been copied dozens of times elsewhere. As great as Telly Savalas is in ‘OHMSS’, I can’t say it’s “definitive” next to that. But you’re right, he’s awesome.

@Uber Geek: If I left a Moore Bond movie out, you can assume I thought it was skippable (although I really should have included ‘Octopussy’ under the “cringeworthy unintentional racism” section, my apologies to India. Along with those of the film-makers, I hope.) For the record, though, ‘Octopussy’ is nigh unwatchable except for the backgammon scene, ‘For Your Eyes Only’ is a decent low-key Bond film that wastes its best twist (and legendary character actor Julian Glover), and ‘A View To A Kill’ has a great performance by Walken, but is unfortunately notable for being the point where it becomes obvious that Roger Moore got too old to play the part about three films ago. :)

@TMBF: Shocking confession time: Never saw ‘Quantum of Solace’. ‘Casino Royale’ proved such a disappointment that I let ‘Quantum’ slide through theaters without making an effort to see it. I’ll pick it up on DVD eventually, though. (Maybe I’ll get it for Christmas!)

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The thing about Bond is, even a bad one has it’s moments–“Thunderball” the song might be more memorable than the movie–or at least remind you of other better Bond films; so it’s not like they’re hard to watch.

That said, I’m still confused by the end action sequence of Quantum…if you haven’t seen it, I won’t say. And I love “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” without reservation.

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Goldfinger is the ur-Bond film, and what more or less every one since has lived in the shadow of.

License to Kill (which QoS felt like a retread of) is the other really genuinely essential bond film, although plenty of others are definitely enjoyable.

[The thing you missed out about Brosnan is that his films all featured excellent chase scenes, which unfortunately had the same “getting ridiculous as time passes” as all else Brosnan.]

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Diamonds Are Forever suffers from a level of campiness that hampers 1) an unusually complex plot up until the final third, 2) rather good acting from the Bond ladies, 3) genuinely funny and iconic battle with Bambi and Thumper, 4) very good theme song that ranks up there with Goldfinger, Nobody Does It Better and View to a Kill.

A lot of Bond movies do NOT stand up well to time. They are obviously a product of the era they’re made in. You have to be a fan of history in a way to be a fan of Bond movies…

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Die Macher said on December 16th, 2010 at 9:14 am

Glad to see props for T-Dalt!

It’s so true about “View to a Kill”… RM looks about 110 years old in it, and far too frail to actually do anything (or anyone, least of all Grace frikkin Jones). It’s a shame they couldn’t have saved Walken for a better film.

Oh, and I loved Casino Royale, so there. :-)

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I offer myself as a case in point: I liked Quantum of Solace and don’t understand why nobody does

Problems with QoS:
1) The major villain (the faux environmentalist) was a wuss.
2) Plot holes you could drive an Aston Martin through.
3) Not enough Leiter.
4) The unsettling feeling this was meant to be a linking story to a follow-up Bond movie where a full-out war against Quantum (the SPECTRE replacement) would occur… but it ends up more a running-in-place going-nowhere mess, as though we’re waiting for Mr. White to pop back up and get things moving again.

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I don’t understand why the novels get short-shrift. Yes, they’re dated and are pretty pulpy, but they’re great propulsive reads, and they make for really good audiobooks. It takes great skill as a writer to make a blow-by-blow of a card game a gripping sequence in a book that features shootouts and Russian assassins.

Flemming had a great eye for detail and local flavor, and a great deal of the Bond novels are mid-20th century travel logs of places and cultures that just don’t exist anymore. Now, a lot of it is a bit awkward from a modern perspective (try not to cringe during the ‘briefing’ sequences in Live and Let Die or Man With the Golden Gun. Homosexuals can’t whistle? Really?), but they were products of their time, unfortunately.

And, John, to borrow one of your own ideas, Bond coming off as unlikeable is a feature not a bug. He cops to being nothing more than a hired killer in England’s employ. “Blunt instrument” is how he puts it. He’s not sociopath, like, say, Red Grant, but it’s part of his job.

And the actors who have copped to this in their performances, like Dalton (and to a less extent Craig) get criticized for it. This is mostly because of Connery who was just so charming and charismatic it’s impossible NOT to like the guy.

So I would recommend the books. Specifically Casino Royale, Moonraker (noting to do with the movie), Dr. No, From Russia With Love, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (he kills a man with a Rolex!), and the short story collections (but avoid Quantum of Solace, it’s not really a Bond story). Diamonds Are Forever and Live and Let Die are both pretty good. Avoid The Spy Who Loved Me (I like the movie, cheesey as it is).

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Moonraker, Mr. Seavey? The movie where James Bond drives a tricked-out gondola through Venice while a pigeon does a double-take? Where Jaws falls in love?

Sometimes the conventional wisdom is conventional for damn good reason.

For Your Eyes Only is the only Moore movie that holds up well, IMHO, largely because it’s the only one that strips out the gadgets and gags and tries to take the Bond genre seriously.

But obviously there’s pretty much no consensus on any of the Bond movies. I’m stunned to see the high regards for License to Kill–are we thinking of the same movie? Timothy Dalton quits MI6 for all of about three minutes and Wayne Newton plays a televangelist? And I had no idea that nobody liked Quantum of Solace until I read this thread–Daniel Craig alone carries that movie well above the level of any of the Moores except maybe FYEO.

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Thunderball might be a bit forgettable, but it does have that hilarious underwater harpoon gun battle royale, as well as the first “swimming pool that is also a shark pool.”

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malakim2099 said on December 16th, 2010 at 10:02 am

Do I expect you to reply?

No, Mr. Seavey, I expect you to die! 😉

Ahem. But yes, For Your Eyes Only was probably the best Moore-Bond to me, because it came along before it became too camp. Also, it ties directly into the ending of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which is great if only for the line, “I’LL BUY YOU A DELICATESSEN!”

But I think Dalton was way underrated, and the Living Daylights is one of the better Bond films.

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Stressfactor said on December 16th, 2010 at 10:05 am

As a female who actually likes Bond movies I actually kind of like [i]Tomorrow Never Dies[/i] since it’s one of the few Bond films where you essentially get a female, butt-kicking version of Bond in the form of Michelle Yeoh.

As to Roger Moore’s tenure — I actually thought “For Your Eyes Only” was one of the more interestingly complex Bond movies. Many of the supporting characters are compelling and there are more shades of gray. It also felt to me to have some real emotional heart to it instead of being automatic pilot stuff blows up and other exciting things happen.

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Patrick Rawley said on December 16th, 2010 at 10:11 am

Timothy Dalton always sounded like he was in a hurry, like he was waiting impatiently for a bus when he delivered the line “My name is Bond, James Bond.” (Also- what kind of a crap secret agent uses his real name?) The original Casino Royale is awesome. And you’re also wrong about Thunderball being crap. And no love for Doctor No?

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Maybe the reason there’s so little concensus is that Bong films are not very good. Or rather, never as good as they should be.

We all know how awesome Bond ought to be but somehow he never is, part of it is the inherent friction between the fairy-tale spy world of tuxedos and sex and gadgets, and the real one of tedium, deception and death. It’s hard for a film to include both. So usually we just get camp.

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The spy Who Loved me is my personal favorite Roger Moore Bond movie. Hell it is hands down Moore’s best acting gig as Bond as he actually dials down the humor and actually delves into “badass” territory.

The Bond Breakdown By Actor:
Connery – Just as likely to smack a woman as seduce one

Lazenby – Rugged but sensitive

Moore – Suave, “nude nidge wink wink” Bond (He actually plays it up that he knows the audience is watching)

Dalton – Hardcore asskicker

Brosnan – Roger Moore 2.0 and not anywhere near as entertaining

Craig – Closest we get to Bond as blunt instrument that Fleming intended. Craig is hardcore!

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In my opinion, both Dalton AND Brosnan were better than their scripts. But I feel more injustice was done to Brosnan than to Dalton in that regard, despite Dalton having, I feel, the better acting chops.

Brosnan was basically BORN to play James Bond. Anyone who watches basically any role he’s ever been in, ever, can see that. And then he comes out of the gate and gets Goldeneye, a movie that had people talking about how he could eclipse Connery.

The problem there, of course, was that Goldeneye was a bit of a one-trick pony. Once you’ve established that Bond is operating in a post-Cold War world… well, what then? Doing proper international intrigue means stepping on sacred cows; you’ll notice that the closest they come to a legitimate international foe there is North Korea. China is an ALLY. So, nominally, is Russia.

That leaves supervillains. Fair enough. But TND, TWINE, and DAD have… weak-ass supervillains, cast badly, doing implausible things implausibly. They never fully embrace their genre tropes; you whipsaw back and forth between things like some fairly brutal examinations of being tortured long-term to ice cars and gadgets and off-the-cuff break-ins and Bond going rogue BUT NOT REALLY.

Craig sort of pulled us back from that. I miss Q as much as anyone, but with Desmond Llewellyn dead… playing it as a straight-up spy movie, with just a bit more action, kind of works.

And for people worried about Bond languishing in limbo until Craig is too old to reprise the role again… hey, who knows? By that time, John Barrowman will be exactly the right age.

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Pretty much matches my opinion of the series (haven’t seen the Craig Bonds so I’ll reserve judgment on them). I would disagree only slightly re FRWL; I think it ranks as the 2nd best Connery bond after GOLDFINGER (and Brosnan’s last Bond outing was the best of his series, IMO).

I think YOLT, while enjoyable in and of itself, is where the series jumped the shark (or at least the pirhanna tank). It made the elephantine excesses of the Moore Bonds possible.

And speaking of which, OCTOPUSSY is the Worst. Bond. EVER. They put 007 in a mammy-jammin’ c*l*o*w*m s*u*i*t, f’r cryin’ out loud!!!

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Huh. I’ve been having this very same conversation, because I’m actually watching selected Bonds with my daughter.

I pretty much agree, spot on, except Moonraker.

Connery: Goldfinger, YOLT, and I included Thunderball because it’s nuclear blackmail for one hundred meeeeelion dollars and a giant underwater fight with fifty guys carrying harpoon guns.

OHMSS for ski chase and bobsled.

Moore: too old for the role when he started, and degenerates quickly into self-parodying comedic farce. Even that otherwise fantastic parachute scene in Moonraker ends with Jaws flapping his arms while silly music plays and then he crashes into a circus tent. We watched SWLM: ski off the cliff opening, underwater car, a properly Bondian supervillian (literally Blofeld with the name changed due to legal wrangles), and the camp is kept to a minimum. Other Moores are just… no. Gorilla suit. Seriously. No.

Dalton: I *like* Dalton. I like him a lot. Unfortunately he was in one Bond movie and one Dirty Harry movie. So, Living Daylights.

Bronsan: Goldeneye is terrific. Probably TND, because it’s got a female spy who is actually Bond’s equal (unlike SWLM, where Moore makes smarmy jokes about Barbara Bach’s inability to drive a stick shift), and that amazing motorcycle vs helicopter sequence. After that: which is more stupid, Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist or an invisible car? Tough call.

Craig: Best thing to happen to the franchise in 40 years.

So, my list:
Goldfinger
Thunderball
YOLT
OHMSS
SWLM
Living Daylights
Goldeneye
TMD
Casino Royale
Quantum of Solace

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While I am not one of those that thinks a movie HAS to be strictly faithful to the book (especially when dealing with a long-running series), for the most part the more a Bond film sticks to an original Fleming story, the better it is.(Of course, that may just be because Fleming didn’t write about invisible cars or submarines disguised as icebergs with bachelor-pad interiors).

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Casino Royale is probably my favorite Bond movie (I haven’t seen them all, though), but man, was Quantum of Solace a disappointment. I think poor Daniel Craig had less than a dozen lines of dialogue in that one.

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I firmly believe that, had TWINE eliminated Renard and Denise Richards’s characters entirely (or at least greatly reduced the role of the former and minus making him the European Mr. Manslaughter from that one Spidey story where he meets Crusher Hogan again), it could have been one of the best Bond movies ever. As it is, it’s almost exactly 50% excellent and 50% mediocre.

Also, I move that Everything Or Nothing be considered a Bond film, and that it be viewed as Brosnan’s last. This Die Another Day you speak of? IT NEVER HAPPENED.

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I find “Goldfinger” severely overrated; it’s got a bunch of iconic Bond moments, but as a story it’s really dumb (Bond spends an absurd amount of time completely in the villain’s power, for instance).

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Die Macher said on December 16th, 2010 at 3:15 pm

I think “The Matador” should be considered Brosnan’s last and best Bond film.

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@Die Macher: If you think that you need to see Tailor of Panama.

The Matador is Brosnan’s anti-Bond film (like ffolks is Moore’s anti-Bond and The Terrorists is Connery’s anti-Bond. I’m not sure about Dalton, but I’m going to guess hsi villian role in The Rocketeer, since he’s playing Nazi-sympathizing actor and I can’t bring myself to watch the movie he did with The Nanny.)

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Stressfactor said on December 16th, 2010 at 4:50 pm

@John 2.0

I would vote Dalton as Rassillon in the Doctor Who Special “The End of Time” as his anti-Bond role.

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@Stress: You know I thought of that, but a Time Lord was just too far outside of the context of the Bond character to be anti-Bond (same goes for his self-pittying role in The Lion in Winter). Same reason I didn’t suggest Zardoz for Connery.

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The modern Bond films are to be cherished if only because they are pretty much the only place you can find big-budget moviemaking with old-school practical effects and very, very little CGI [mostly limited to removing cables]. Which is a good thing for me, considering that CGI scenes literally put me to sleep (no matter how otherwise compelling the plot behind them is) on any screen smaller than 30″ or so. So it’s mostly just Bond or Parkour-based european films if I want to watch action on my portable…

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Quantum was terrible.

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@John 2.0: I’m in total agreement with you, Bond is designed to be a blunt instrument. I’m just saying that some people might not like that, and that the novels appeal to a more limited audience for that reason. I never meant to suggest it to be a flaw, though. (Connery actually does a far better job of playing that element of Bond than he’s given credit for; he’s superficially charming, but the thug is never far below the surface. Craig does a good job with it as well, and even Brosnan has his moments. “I’m only doing my job.” “So am I.”)

@Marc: Yes, the pigeon does a double-take. Clearly, that five seconds invalidates the entire rest of the movie. :) Any Moore Bond movie is going to have bits of comedy “business”; ‘Moonraker’ has fewer than most, and also has some great action sequences. And I unabashedly love Jaws, and I don’t care who knows it. I honestly believe that he’s the main character in an entire series of films about an amoral, unkillable cyborg, and we just didn’t get them in this universe, having to settle for the two Bond cameos. (And I love Drax’s reaction on the phone. “Oh! Well, if he’s available…”)

Oh, and I will momentarily give props to one sequence in ‘Die Another Day’; when they go to R’s storage facility, you can see gadgets from all 19 previous Bond films. It’s a nice little Easter Egg, especially when (as I did) you watch the whole series back-to-back-to-back.

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Great to see some love for Hugo Drax on MGK’s part. I love his louche and laid-back take on supervillainly; chillin out with a cup of tea.

Also: I well know “Never Say Never Again” is not canonical, but I love it.

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Dalton’s Anti-Bond is clearly his recent guest run on Chuck. Dalton in End of Time was RTD’s primer in how to waste an amazing guest star, which I believe was chapter four of his work “How to make the worst Doctor Who episode ever.”

I was lucky enough to pick up the first 20 Bond films when they went on sale on Amazon a while back, and my wife and I sat down and watched them in order over the course of a year or so. I really wish Dalton had gotten to make more Bond films; as good as he was, The Living Daylights was hampered with far too much Moore-era silliness, and License To Kill, while featuring an iconic performance, had its own problems.

The reason I rank Diamonds Are Forever as my least favorite Bond movie (yes, below Moonraker and, well, all of Brosnan’s movies) is that it took a past-his-prime Connery and plopped him into a Moore film. Honestly, if they’d had Moore in DAF, I would have been fine with it, but bringing back Connery, who always managed to carry the menace and violence of Bond along with the suaveness and wit, and putting him into a slapstick farce just left a horrible taste in my mouth. There was no gravity to anything in the film, even the teaser sequence of Bond getting revenge for the death of his wife.

I agree that OHMSS deserves far more credit than it generally gets, but I can see why Lazenby gets the ire that he does. He tried to show the gentler, more sensitive side of Bond but really neglected the hard, cold, lethal side of the character. There was no contrast there, and his performance ended up coming off to me as tepid. It’s a shame, because OHMSS is otherwise one of the best adaptations of one of Fleming’s best stories. And Diana Rigg: god *damn*, people. Smart, nuanced, and mouthwateringly sexy.

I just can’t hate on Moore, as corny as his movies often were. Maybe it’s because I also listened to the commentaries that he made for the DVDs, and he just comes off as delightfully likeable. On the other hand, I was horrified at how bad Brosnan’s movies were, and how terrible Brosnan’s acting was. The scripts were uniformly rotten, but I’d forgotten that Brosnan’s range contained exactly two emotions: delivering-a-one-liner smug and insufferably angsty.

Okay, that’s all I’ve got energy for for now.

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Goldeneye is one of my favorites…maybe THE favorite…because it IS sort of The Last Bond Movie, for the reasons Murc describes. 007 vs 006 is a good note to go out on. After Goldeneye, I’m not really sure how you COULD successfully pull off a “modern Bond.”

Well, I mean, the answer is “gritty reboot” and do Casino Royale of course, but that movie was no fun at all, man.

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The scripts haven’t lived up to Daniel Craig? Boooo. Casino Royale is, for my money, the best Bond movie. Yes, of all of them. The Connery movies may have been fun in their day but they’re now dated and clunky and static–I say that as a guy who can appreciate various elements of the movies but just doesn’t “feel” them as any kind of viscerally entertaining experience (and they sure don’t work on any other level). As a kid I loved some of the Roger Moore movies, on the same level that I loved Wile E. Coyote cartoons. I suspect that if I rewatched some of the Moore movies they’d now fall far below ol’ Wile E. And while Goldeneye (my second-favourite Bond movie) did a good job of bringing the ludicrously comic-booky Bond into the modern era, the remaining Brosnan movies somehow managed to be bland and embarassingly silly at the same time, and they got there REALLY fast. Like, opening-credits-of-Tomorrow-Never-Dies fast.

I appreciate Bond as a cultural icon, but the movies just don’t click with me for the most part. Casino Royale was a possibly unrepeatable phenomenon that walked the perfect line between amped-up action antics and plausibility. I’d love it if Bond could do that again, but there are so few action directors as talented as Martin Campbell.

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I think the Brosnan movies don’t get enough credit for trying to shake up the Bond formula. Each of them had a very simple idea behind them that were meant to deal with Bond in fresh ways:

GE: What if the villain was a Bond gone bad?
TND: What if a former Bond girl came back into his life?
TWINE: What if the Bond villain was the Bond girl?
DAD: What if Bond finally got caught by the bad guys?

Of course, save for GE, none of these were explored to any satisfactory degree, and I think it’s because the producers always tend to gravitate towards the campy and cheesy. They followed up OHMSS, perhaps the most emotionally wrenching movie, with DAF, a complete 180 in terms of tone. It’s clear watching the Brosnan Bonds that there were people behind the scenes trying to make him serious, but it’s the folks that thought the Moore era was Bond done right that won that battle.

Fortunately, the pendulum swung back with CR, but after the poor reception to QOS, I’m terrified that the next Craig Bond will be another DAF.

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@Prankster: I liked ‘Casino Royale’…until the last 45 minutes. Then it lost me bad. Starting with the poker game–seriously, screenwriter? Seriously? You spent the entire second act setting up the importance of tells, setting up that Le Chiffre has a fake tell, getting Bond knocked out of the tournament by the fake tell and staked back in by Leiter, having a sequence where Bond risks death to see Le Chiffre under genuine pressure so that he can find out that his real tell is the bleeding eye thing, and then you get up to the climactic poker game…and Bond just has a better hand than Le Chiffre when they go all in? After all that work to set up a dramatic poker sequence, the best you can do is, “I have good cards!” “I have better cards!” “Well, I have…the best cards!”

Then we get the super anti-climactic car chase. Bond sees the bad guys. He kicks it into gear…and crashes after about twenty feet. I realize he had to get captured there, but after the le parkour sequence at the beginning, I was expecting a really good, fresh take on the Bond chase sequence…and felt cheated when I got nothing.

And then Le Chiffre gets killed while Bond is tied to a chair. Fair enough, that’s from the source material, but after two anti-climaxes in a row, seeing the hero fail so completely exacerbated that feeling of, “But…but…” from the previous two sequences.

And then…the movie just…keeps…going. And going. And going. It’s obvious by this point that Vesper is a traitor, even if you haven’t read the book, because if she wasn’t a traitor then the credits would have rolled fifteen minutes ago. But instead we get something like twenty minutes of a slow build to a shocking revelation that every goddamn person in the audience has already figured out, which a) makes for twenty dull fucking minutes, and b) makes Bond look like a chump for not noticing that Vesper started acting insanely twitchy and asking about the money and wanting to get the hell out of town and generally acting like she had a neon sign over her head that said, “I AM A DOUBLE AGENT!” By the time we got to the final action sequence, I had mentally checked out.

(The book did that part a lot better, to be honest. Still a little bit of a slog, but there’s a strong gut-punch aspect to Vesper committing suicide that wasn’t there when she just got shot trying to get away. In the book, she’s a tormented soul that hid everything beneath the surface and Bond didn’t find out until it was too late. In the movie, she’s a traitor who failed to get away with it.)

Don’t get me wrong; I read the novel, and I understand that it’s a very difficult thing to adapt to the kind of action movie that modern Bond audiences require. But it seriously feels like they gave up about 2/3rds of the way through, and I wanted them to carry the movie across the finish line.

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Stressfactor said on December 17th, 2010 at 9:35 am

I do like that line in… “Moonraker” I think it is about Jaws. Where Roger Moore’s Bond simply says: “His name is Jaws, he kills people.”

It’s a great line and a fun (and accurate) summation of the character.

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How come no one is springing to the defense of the 1967 Casino Royale? That’s probably my favorite Bond film of them all. (Of course, I hate Bond films as a rule, so take that as you like.)

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Prankster: go back and watch FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE again; it’s a template for what the series SHOULD have been.
One the other hand, although it gets dismissed because of it’s relative lack of polish compared to it’s bigger budget sequels, in many ways DR. NO is STILL the “definitive” Bond Film- all the ingredients are there, in roughly the right proportions.

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Having watched all of the Bond films and read all of the Fleming Bond novels in the past 10 months, I’ve been fascinated reading the discussion here.

I don’t think I’d agree that Bond is unlikeable in the novels, but he’s definitely not the same character we get in the films. The plots are tremendously different, as are the perspectives of each novel. As I read them, I wondered how well film adaptations of the books would do if they were set in the same era as the books, in the late 50s and early 60s.. They wouldn’t be Bond movies as we know them, but Bond might actually classify as a spy if they did that. He certainly isn’t one in the movies we have now.

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Agreement on who the best Bond is is like agreement on who the best Doctor is. A person’s first is generally their favorite, as that actor defines the role for them. Connery fans either started with Connery, or found Moore to be too comedic. Moore fans either started with Moore, or found Connery too dry. Pierce and Brosnan fans appear to either start with those actors, or (as with late-coming Connery fans) they started with Moore but found him too comedic. At least some of Craig’s fans come from those who simply found the Bond franchise to have been run into the ground for decades, and a breath of fresh air was enough to win them over.

As for Casino Royale, I found several scenes made more sense after reading the book. The movie’s biggest faults (other than the last 30+ minutes feeling tacked on) come from little moments that diverge from the book. The high speed car chase with the girl in the road seems more sensible as a lower speed chase with a tack strip. Finding a chair in a sewer(?) to torture Bond makes more sense when LeChiffe simply takes Bond to his house (as does the follow-up rescue.) Vesper’s end works better in the book, more so when the movie is cut so that it looks like Bond gets the door only moments too late. The Bacarrat game is more tense than the poker tournament, largely because Bond doesn’t know how much LeChiffe needs, and LeChiffe can quit at nearly any moment. With the tournament, you know it isn’t over until it is over. Stuff like that is all through the movie.

Quantum of Solace is just bad. All action, no logic, or at least full of gaping logic and plot holes. If the third Craig film would have followed QoS’ style, perhaps Bond being in limbo is an improvement.

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The book for Casino Royale is also interesting because that is Bond before he got caught up in the license-to-kill archetype. That is back when Bond didn’t want to be a double-0 agent, as he saw it as a death sentence. It was a Bond who didn’t want to kill, and was bothered by killing, unlike the cold-hearted Craig portrayal.

It was also a Bond who would have been the easiest to turn. Running off with Vesper makes sense, as he’d been questioning his role as an English secret agent. Things like realizing that if he were in action 50 years earlier, he’d have been fighting to protect England from the radical type of government that he was now serving, so who’s to say he isn’t now working to prevent a better future government from coming into existence.

(The loyalty to England thing is pretty much dealt with in the first book. The reluctance to kill is altered later, only after already starting to rack up a body count.)

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LightlyFrosted said on December 17th, 2010 at 2:43 pm

In fairness to the movie of Live and Let Die, it somehow manages to be less ‘accidentally racist’ than the BOOK for live and let die.

Still racist, just, y’know…
less.

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Well, LF, that’s because Ian Fleming was a big ol’ racist.

Controversial opinion: The theme to “Goldfinger” was, and remains, terrible.

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Another great “Bond as blunt instrument” moment from Brosnan (and my personal favorite) comes from TWINE: “I never miss.” I only wish we could’ve seen more of that in his movies.

Also, I actually was really underwhelmed by the Craig movies. They’re not bad per se (or at least Casino Royale wasn’t; Quantum was mediocre at best), but they just don’t feel like Bond films to me; Craig’s Boond is Jason Bourne minus the amnesia and plus government funding. Where are the potentially world-destroying plots? The gadgets? The cool villains? Granted, both as an adaptation of the novel, and as a reboot towards a more grounded/realistic Bond, CR (and QOS) had to dispense with those elements, but without them, the newer Bond films just don’t feel big enough; they’re just one more action film. I feel all of the above can be reincorporated into future Bond films while avoiding the weaknesses and camp of past entries.

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On the Pleasance v. SAvalas argument… Pleasance never felt threatening when face to face with Bond, more like a bumbling mad scientist who had to resort to suing a gun face to face. Savalas Brought the physicality to the role that Blofeld needed to be a credible threat to Bond i na one on one scenario and still have that sense of menace an ex-Nazi should in dealing with his henchmen.

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Mark Temporis said on December 18th, 2010 at 2:52 am

I don’t get into favorite Bonds, but I’ll chime in that ‘Living Daylights’ is my favorite theme song, and OHMSS, while boring had two things going for it: Diana Rigg as a Bond girl and some guy being fed into a woodchipper during the ski chase.

Guys fed into woodchippers: COMEDY GOLD.

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@rbx: I agree, we need a new Q. And we need that Q to be played by a younger man, instead of an old boffin, because modern tech-heads in pop culture are all young guys who are inventing crazy shit before they even finish college instead of eccentric old men inventing stuff in their basement. But he should still be funny, because Q is always meant to lighten up what could otherwise be an overly grim movie. (The problem with the Moore movies was that he lightened up an already-light movie. :) )

In short, Q needs to be played by Simon Pegg.

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CommenCzar said on December 18th, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Best movie? Double Double-O-Seven. Come on now.

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Not only is OHMSS my favorite of the entire series, but it’s one of my favorite films, period. Its script is SO good, it has the strongest cast, and you know what? Aside from a handful of wooden line readings early on in the movie, Lazenby does a terrific job. The emotional heart of the film — the scene in the barn, when Bond realizes he loves Tracy enough to quit the only job he knows how to do — is done so, so well. I don’t think any of the actors in the series could have done that scene any better than Lazenby did. And the film LOOKS stunning, to boot.

I also think that “From Russia With Love” is terribly underrated, and that “Goldfinger” is terribly overrated. Roger Moore was a better actor than many give him credit for, but it took him until FYEO to get a script that didn’t play things for laughs. Still, he had a couple of lethal moments in, say, TMWTGG, but the coldness in the way he dispatches an assassin in FYEO is as good as anything Connery ever did.

I love both of Dalton’s films — LTK is underrated, in my view — and Brosnan’s were pretty uneven. TWINE would have been really good, if the producers had had the guts to not have Denise Roberts along for the ride — it could have been the first Bond film to have “the girl” turn out to be a villain, and have NO other girl at all, but I think they chickened out and wrote in a horrible, horrible character.

Craig is great — CR is a terrific film, and I liked a lot about QoS, but that movie needed another pass at the script and a better director of action sequences.

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Black Rabbit said on December 18th, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Best songs:
1. Live and Let Die, Paul McCartney
2. Goldfinger, Shirley Bassey
3. Diamonds Are Forever, Bassey
4. Thunderball, Tom Jones
5. Nobody Does It Better, Carly Simon
6. Tomorrow Never Dies, Sheryl Crow

Bond songs are great. They kind of constitute their own mini-subgenre, with a distinct sound that’s stayed remarkably consistent over the years, spanning Lulu to Tina Turner, Nancy Sinatra to Garbage, Duran Duran to Jack White & Alicia Keys.

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I’d add Living Daylights to the above theme song list list (it’s my personal favorite, actually).

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From Russia With Love is my favorite because the script is tight, the locations are great (except for some unfortunate rear-projection), and Lotte Lenya just rules.

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There’s actually a history (going back to the very first film, actually)of the Bond producers changing the theme songs at the last minute; usually there’s a giveaway sign in that the ORIGINAL theme song is still buried in the film somewhere (frequently intergrated into the instrumental score).
IMHO, at least TWO of these “replaced songs” (K.D. Lang’s version of TOMMORROW NEVER DIES and the Prentender’s theme for LIVING DAYLIGHTS) are VASTLY superior, both as songs AND “Bond Themes”, than the ones used.

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Black Rabbit said on December 20th, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Thanks for the tip, Doc; I’d never heard those two songs before. However, even though k.d. lang owns one of my favorite set of pipes in the business, even she can’t save that terrible song (it is not the same song as Crow sings, with only the movie title in common). Its melody is flat and the arrangement is everything bad about latter-day Bond songs–overdone, uninspired, and full of gratuitous electronica. lang almost manages to save it (she can never sound bad in front of a horn section), but not quite. I now really wish she’d done the title instead, with its old-school, noir-ish dramatics; Crow is okay, but imagine lang’s soaring vocals in front of strings, guitar, and tympani…damn.

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Black Rabbit said on December 20th, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Oh, and the Pretenders song? A bit out of character for Chrissie Hynde, but she sells the living shit out of it.

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I have a CD of all the Bond theme songs. Nothing drives home how long this series has lasted as realizing it runs from when Tom Jones and Nancy Sinatra were in vogue through Carly Simon, Duran Duran, Tina Turner and Madonna.

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That’s a good point on the alternative songs, actually. The Straw version of “The World Is Not Enough” is indeed significantly cooler than the Garbage version.

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