Sunday, 16 December 2012

ANOTHER VIEW TO BOND (Golden Anniversary Edition)

The James Bond series celebrated the 50th anniversary this year, so, for the first time in his life, our editor Nicolás Suszczyk did a chronological marathon with his Ultimate Edition DVDs to rank all the 23 films. Here he starts from Best (#1) to Worst (#23).


Well, it should be obvious by now. If not, why do I have a site called THE GOLDENEYE DOSSIER.  I find GOLDENEYE the perfect Bond film. It has two beautiful girls (Izabella Scorupco and Famke Janssen) that mind blinded a seven year old boy by 1998, a cynical villain (Sean Bean) who comes from the same place as Bond and spectacular action scenes like the bungee jump and facility escape, the tank chase scene, and the antenna showdown between gladiators 007 and 006. Yes, okay, Eric Serra’s music is very far from John Barry and David Anold, but I like it. Just hear “We Share The Same Passions”, “For Ever James” and “Run, Shoot and Jump” - lovely! No film I think will ever erase from my mind GOLDENEYE, from the white dots from the gunbarrel to the “Darling, what could possibly go wrong” line. 10/10

Even when lots of people applauded it back in 1997, not it seems TOMORROW NEVER DIES is hated. I can certainly agree with those who said it’s a plagiarized plot, with much of previous Bond films. Yet I think it’s great: David Arnold’s music recovers the “Bang! Here’s Bond” style missing from Eric Serra’s music, Jonathan Pryce makes up a weak, but wonderful charismatic villain, the one liners are great (“They’ll print anyone these days”). It’s a fully pyrotechnical Bond film, yes, but we need some escapism on Bond from time to time. 10/10

I love it because it’s innovative and at the same time classic. It dealt with a new Bond like George Lazenby, who was a model and not an actor, who had to fill Sean Connery’s shoes. Still, director Peter Hunt and his team made it: adapted the romantic and dramatic nature of Fleming’s novel, made Lazenby a Bond you wouldn’t dare to fight, and brought the first and most incredible ski scenes in the whole series - all without re-adapting the Bond formula repositioning elements like the gunbarrel or the James Bond Theme. And, of course, John Barry’s score is the best work he did in the whole series! 10/10

When you read in the credits “directed by Martin Campbell”, you know anything could work wrong for sure. He and his team brought to the 21st century a 1953 novel taking in account its darker nature, with special emphasis in Bond’s physical and emotional sufferings, and also including a terrorist subplot with wonderful characters like Mollaka, Dimitrios and Obanno, and chases in the Miami Airport or the Madagascar shanty towns, making the basic Fleming plot of “Bond beating Le Chiffre in a card game” more exciting and visually rich. David Arnold does a great job and Chris Cornell’s “You Know My Name” song works perfectly throughout the film. The reboot from the original series was made for good, even when that means not starting straight with the gunbarrel and using the icon to finish the black and white teaser, where James Bond becomes 007. 10/10

SKYFALL is perhaps the first “classic” Daniel Craig Bond film, because it reintroduces classic characters and the Aston Martin DB5 (this time it’s a real introduction of it, and not just because of the BMT 216A plate). It is the most emotionally deep Bond film in years, much thanks to Judi Dench’s exceptional acting, and, unlike CASINO ROYALE and ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, the two hours twenty minutes length is not boring at all. Javier Bardem is a great villain, not as distinguished as Robert Davi and Sean Bean perhaps, but menacing in a certain way. We get some discrete gadgets, and of course, Roger Deakins’ cinematography is second to none! Sam Mendes did a wonderful job. My only complaints are some plot holes I’d like to be better explained (Bond “enjoying death”, Silva’s past, etc) and the gunbarrel at the end in the QUANTUM OF SOLACE fashion. In a way, it fits there, but, no, I can’t stand it anymore at the end. Period. 9.75/10

Accused of being a MIAMI VICE style Bond film, and yes, it may well be. But this is a true Timothy Dalton film, with nice touches of humour in spite of Dalton’s dramatic nature. Robert Davi makes a wonderful Franz Sánchez: he can be charming and debonair, but he won’t think a second before sending you to a horrendous death if you double cross him. It is the most violent film in the series and I think Bond faces real threats in this film – he’s living with the enemy and chased by his own people for disobeying M’s direct orders of not messing up with Sánchez, responsible for torturing and kidnapping Felix Leiter and killing his wife right after his wedding. Michael Kamen did a great job with some latin flavor in the soundtrack. 9.75/10


Look up, look down, look out! Why in hell the so called “boring Bond film” is now between my ten favourites? Perhaps by Ted Moore’s cinematography and John Barry’s music including Tom Jones’ powerful “Thunderball” theme song, with instrumental interpolations during the underwater action scenes. It has some boring scenes (most underwater stuff), but it’s a colorful film with full action in comparison of the three first films of the series. This mark goes specially for the technical efforts that deserved an Oscar in 1966. 9.75/10

The second Bond film from the series respects most of the novel aspects: the elaborated plan to kill Bond by SPECTRE (SMERSH in the novel), by seducing him with a naïve but sexy cryptographer officer and then killing him. Good action scenes, particularly the Orient Express fight between Bond and Red Grant. Actors like Pedro Armendáriz, Lotte Lenya and Robert Shaw were great in their roles. John Barry also did a great work here. 9.50/10

In a way, I like it because it is one of my childhood Bonds, but in a sense the Bond effect fades away. David Arnold’s music fails to be exciting as TOMORROW NEVER DIES, even when Garbage’s main title song and its instrumental variations throughout the score (Bond arriving to Azerbaijan) are quite energic and melodic. Robert Carlyle, despite having an amazing introduction, fails to be a strong villain. And well, Denise Richard’s efforts are not quite remarkable.  As for the strong points, I really enjoyed the chemistry between Sophie Marceau and Pierce Brosnan, the return of Robbie Coltrane as Valentin Zukovsky from GOLDENEYE and the Caviar Factory scene. And let’s not forget Desmond Llewelyn’s farewell with a lesson.  9/10

Another childhood favourite. It introduces Jaws, a quite stupid but in a way terrifying villain, and wonderful action scenes: the ski escape with the Union Jack parachute, the underwater battle between Bond’s submarine Lotus and the Stromberg forces, the spectacular Liparus battle, and many romantic and comic touches I love. The photography and locations stand out particularly after the quite sub-urbane locations from LIVE AND LET DIE and THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, and Marvin Hamlisch brings a very nice disco rendition of the James Bond Theme, as well as some emotive instrumental versions of Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better”, one of the best main title songs in the whole series.  Low points: Barbara Bach is a terrible actress.  9/10

The best Roger Moore film from his Bond-farewell trilogy. It has the perfect amount of clever action scenes and exotic locations, with a touch of Cold War nostalgia in the plot. John Barry makes a memorable soundtrack and the inclusion of Vijay Amritraj as Bond’s ally is a great point. But of course, Bond disguised as a clown, yelling “Sit!” to a tiger (and succeeding in making him obey) and yelling like Tarzan, is quite heady to see.   9/10

Nobody can ever discuss this is a great one, but still it has some little flaws: The plot is quite light, and the golf match is quite long. Anyway, a Bond film with a strong John Barry score, a luscious and unforgettable Shirley Bassey theme and dozens of beautiful girls, all this with the memorable Oddjob, Sean Connery’s wit and slight sense of humour and a well excecuted precredits sequence is a winner! 9/10

Where all the other Bonds end, this one begins? I’m not sure since the film’s climax is way too slapstick and sci-fi for a James Bond film. But well, think of an audience in 1979 watching Bond being pushed out of a plane without parachute! Brilliant! And Bond really surprised us with the arsenal concealed in his gondola, as well as with some references to contemporary films I wouldn’t criticize (despite others do), like listening to the theme songs from THE MAGNIFICIENT SEVEN and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. I’m not half disappointed with scenes like the Bond vs Chang fight in the Venetian museum or the cable car fight against Jaws, without forgetting 007’s hang gliding stunt avobe the Iguazú falls between Argentina and Brazil. Out of this world! 8.50/10

Timothy Dalton’s debut as Bond is excellent during its first hour: looks like a classic Cold War movie, with a man living absolutely on the edge. Much of Fleming’s Bond here, as Bond following his intuition more than his mind. But the climax in Afghanistan is quite dull and the villains are quite funny to meet their match with Dalton. During the Rebels vs Soviet battle stands out, of course, the fight between Bond and Necros inside a Hercules plane about to blow away by a hidden bomb. Of course, John Barry’s last work on the series is great, as well as The Pretenders’ “If There Was a Man” making a melancholic sound for the film’s finale. 8.50/10

Another much criticized Bond film, although with very good points: John Barry’s music and Shirley Bassey’s theme, Ted Moore’s cinematography of the Las Vegas scenarios, and Connery bringing the best acting he did as Bond. What’s wrong with it? Having Blofeld as a villain (Charles Gray was a terrible choice, too) and no proper continuation with the ending of the previous film (where Blofeld killed Bond’s wife), a lame world domination plot, and many americanisms troughout the movie (Tiffany Case’s “Blow up your pants!”).    8.50/10

Many Bond fans call it “the worst Bond film ever”, and I was about to rate it that way. Why didn’t I? Because for some strange reason I saw it wasn’t a terrible Bond film after all. Look at the opening ski chase –ski, snowmobile and improvised snowboard included-, the San Francisco chase, and Christopher Walken’s Max Zorin playing a psychopath killer, and of course, John Barry’s soundtrack helps a lot as well as the Duran Duran song –note to self: remember Simon Lebon and Roger Taylor signed my soundtrack LP in 2005-. Weak points, of course: GOLDFINGER like plot, ridiculous Chief Wiggum-like cops during the San Francisco chase, and… sorry, I’m afraid Tanya Roberts is way beautiful to mention her here.  8/10

First, the positive points: as usual, John Barry’s music over the neon lights of Tokio and the Eastern sunrises part of Freddie Young’s sharp cinematography. What’s wrong: the exaggerated and boring (and somewhat repetitive) space sequences, as well as a little serious plot that broke the dark nature of the first four Bond films (with the exception of GOLDFINGER). The girls aren’t memorable either. And you could notice Sean Connery was, at this point, bored of being James Bond. 7.50/10

I wouldn’t call it a bad film, particularly since I enjoyed this one very much as a child. Screenwriters Michael G Wilson and Richard Maibaum did a god job adapting two Fleming stories (For Your Eyes Only and Risico) into one film. But there’s an excessive 80’s atmosphere that causes me headaches, starting with Bill Conti’s music and the overall tone of the film. Roger Moore was getting too old, too, and the threat and villains are really lame: except muscle-bound Eric Krieger and cold as ice neurotic assassin Locque, no-one here’s a challenging villain. And the inclusion of a 20 year old ice skater as Bibi is there to remind us Roger was indeed too old! 7.50/10

How did one of my “childhood” (VHS, that is) Bond films came here to the top? Here’s the reason why: the cinematography is really poor, far away of the colorful Bond films like THUNDERBALL or SKYFALL. The locations are exotic indeed, but it seems Ted Moore hasn’t exploited them good enough, and I’m afraid this time John Barry’s soundtrack is a little repetitive. I still can see Christopher Lee as a positive point, even when a darker and ruthless side of Ian Fleming’s literary Francisco Scaramanga could have been there. The film’s Scaramanga is too refined to be a hitman who enjoys killing people, but the “fun-house” game and the 360 astro-spiral jump Bond does with his AMC Hornet are really enjoyable moments. 7.50/10

Again, what’s this “childhood” film I loved doing here? Well, the locations are way too urbane and dirty, Blaxplotation and gangs are all around, and all Bond does is caring about drug dealing. It features beautiful stunt scenes, as the escape of Kananga’s death-trap and the alligator jump, and Jane Seymour is way beautiful and innocent as the book’s Solitaire. But the film looks cheap for Bond: where is the colorful Jamaica? And I think a lovely spot like New York should have looked better in camera. Still, the film contains two things I adored and still adore: George Martin’s soundtrack and Paul McCartney & Wings’ unforgettable main title song. 7/10

21. DR. NO
Call it blasphemy, but I say DR. NO was just a good film to start the series and a good way to introduce James Bond, nothing more. It’s very poor in action scenes and during the first half of the film 007 is seen doing tiresome detective job. Monty Norman’s soundtrack isn’t a lot of help precisely, except for the Jamaican flavor of the Bryon Lee Band songs as source music (“Under the Mango Tree” and “Kingston Calypso”). There are images you’ll never forget, as the “Bond, James Bond” moment and 007’s escape from his cell, and of course Honey Rider getting out of the sea, but that’s it. It’s not an exciting and thrilling adventure as future Bond films. 7/10

Doubt someone gets opposition with that. The 40th anniversary Bond film, badly directed by Lee Tamahori, tries to be classic and epic at the same time, but, unlike SKYFALL that succeeds in that, it fails. We get an great epic beginning: Bond captured and tortured in North Korea, getting free after a prisoner exchange and then sent to re-evaluation by MI6. Then, all is DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER and MOONRAKER: Bond facing off super villains, photocopies of previous film situations (not references but photocopies!). And of course, Halle Berry’s Jinx is mistakenly called “a female James Bond” when she acts like a rookie agent all the time. Gustav Graves fails to be a memorable villain, looking more of a genetic madman and Rosamund Pike, even when I love her and I’d marry her, is not a very good actress – she isn’t half evil as Famke Janssen or Sophie Marceau before. The kudos here have to go to David Arnold’s score and David Tattersall’s cinematography, as well as for some work of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade in the fencing scene and the Hovercraft Chase. 7/10

This is the Bond film that doesn’t feels like a Bond film technically or literally. Following up after the tragic event that ended CASINO ROYALE, the film handles Bond trying to destroy the organization that corrupted Vesper, the girl he loved. Soon enough, in a rushed up 106 minute pace, he’s killing millions of people, getting depressed, escaping of his own people and avoiding a plan to let Bolivia without water. Marc Forster, winner of the “worst Bond director ever” prize, allowed Bourne veteran Dan Bradley to add his much loved Parkinson sufferer cameramen for the beginning that lacks a gunbarrel sequence. David Arnold’s soundtrack, Roberto Scheaffer cinematography, and Giancarlo Giannini’s and Jesper Christensen actings help the movie to be a little better, but it still fails to have the richness of a Bond film. Oh, by the way, the gunbarrel sequence is there at the end to remind us this was still a James Bond film. 6.50/10

Nicolás Suszczyk

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