Friday, December 18, 2020
The Mandalorian: Season 2
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special
Aw this was fun!
I very very much enjoyed this special, it's a fun and even a bit sweet Life Day special but honestly it screamed Christmas more than anything hence why I waited a month to review it. Well our story takes place after episode 9 with Rey training Finn but is having some difficulties leading her to a unusual item that takes her on a journey through time and space, no police box required! I have been a massive fan of Lego Star Wars since the original game came out and I try to play every single Lego game I can, so I knew the humor they were going for and it worked incredibly well for me. This special has no reservations and pokes fun at Star Wars which I know is heresy unto every Star Wars fan in existence, and I could rant about that all damn day but you know my stance and relationship with Star Wars, so everything worked for me. The animation is simple but done well, the voice cast does really well and a few familiar voices pop up which is of course a big treat, the story was a bit predictable but it still gave me some cool stuff and good laughs so I can't hate it too much, it was just something small but fun that any fan young or old can enjoy. I may not watch it every year around the holidays like I do with Tokyo Godfathers or A Very Murray Christmas, but I don't regret watching it at all and totally would see it again. 4 stars, 8/10! And well if you've been keeping up on your Star Wars, Friday is a big day so I'll see you then. May the Force be with you.
Monday, December 14, 2020
On The Rocks
Sofia! God dang it Sofia!
Did you really think for a fraction of a second I wasn't gonna review this movie before the end of the year? F*** off. I loved it! God flippin' jumping hell on a trampoline, I adored every second of it. This is the most serendipitous film I've reviewed, cause it is such an obvious bridge between Lost In Translation and A Very Murray Christmas, making a sublime continuation. The heart and emotion of Lost In Translation has taken the next logical step with several nice and cute nods to the Christmas special here and there, and I cannot get over it. I'm going to quote this to you if I may, because it is very amazing to me and it's something to think about while you're watching this movie, "It gets a whole lot more complicated when you have kids....your life as you know it, is gone, never to return. But they learn how to walk, and they learn how to talk, and you want to be with them. And they turn out to be the most delightful people you will ever meet in your life." and that line from Lost In Translation makes so much more sense now. Because the plot revolves around a young wife and mother Laura who's stuck in a bit of a rut and suspects her husband is having an affair, leading to her dad Felix to try to get to the bottom of it while they get a lot off their chest and delve into their relationship. It's a very real, very human story with very human characters, no one is perfect but that's not a bad thing and I appreciate that kind of writing. Humans are complicated, I've lived among them for a long time and they are out there man. The performances between Rashida Jones and Bill Murray is wonderful to say the very least, their chemistry is undeniably good and they have such good conversations. I knew exactly what this movie was going for when I walked into it and it didn't disappoint me for a single second. The writing is excellent without trying to say something, the acting feels genuine and real, the cinematography is gorgeous at times, the musical score is everything that I love, I just really can't say anything bad about this movie. It's clear Sofia wanted to take the next step that we brought up from Lost In Translation and do it right, with that same passion and effortless introspection and she nails it. I'm beyond happy I got to see this, I'm going to buy it, I'm even gonna try to hunt down the soundtrack, yes it may not objectively be a grand or great movie but I'll be damned if I don't praise it because I thought it was grand. The user scores can rot in hell for all I care across the interwebs, I got everything I wanted and I love everybody who made it get finished. I know I don't have enough material for a top 10 of this year but screw it, I can do a top 5 and this is a major consideration. For all I care this movie was made for me, you don't have to love it, because I love it and your personal enjoyment for any film is what matters at the end of the day. For the last week of reviews for 2020, what an exquisite way to start. 4 stars, 9/10! I don't even care anymore, this really and truly was the film I needed right here and right now. Ugh, Sofia! You keep doing this to me and I never want you to stop! I have to go, I appreciate you all, see you next time for a bit of fluff from my favorite movies.
Thursday, December 10, 2020
Blackadder Goes Forth
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Blackadder The Third
Excellent series if I do say so.
Jumping forward to the time of the Prince Regent, Blackadder is now a not so humble butler in the service of Prince George as he lives the life of luxury in the company of idiots, a cruel fate which I understand well. That's one aspect of this entire series that I enjoy, not only is each series 6 episodes meaning a short but sweet experience but the story itself is hardly ever complex and built more around a situation than overarching stories which means easy and fun viewing. I'm not as literate in british government and history as I would love to be, but it has never been a hurdle to cross while watching any of the series, sure I know these are all very real periods of history and know bits here and there but the fact that the show is crafted so well without having to have the audience be a wellspring of knowledge on the times just shows that the writers had their priorities straight. Comedy first, with the backdrop of history. I know Blackadder was a real treat in the second series but I think this is my favorite ever. The sarcastic and dry wit could never be better in no short part due to the supporting cast. Hugh Laurie makes this series for me, the man is brilliant and yet can play an utter prat with such ease and expert comedic timing, he is half the reason you should watch this! Tony Robinson has his moments too but I would say Baldrick from either the first or second series is my favorite but of course we have just one more after this so who knows. And as always we have our sterling cast crop up again in small parts, delightful as always. Something I noticed about the production design here is that while the sets are really quite small they don't skip out on the detail and the costuming is spot on so I must give expert props to the production team this time around! Plus I am thrilled there wasn't such a downer ending, I really hate being bummed out at the end of a comedy series but this one breaks from that and all for the better I say. But is this better than the last? Well my enjoyment factor was much more than last time and to be fair all the stories are so well done whereas even in the second series there were some I could say is worth skipping on repeated viewing, but here they are all on point and good fun to watch again. I may have to rate this a smidge higher. 4 stars, 8.5/10! Can the fourth and final series top this score? It is quite possible at this point, nothing surprises me anymore. See you next time when we go over the top.
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
This is the one that will be the hardest to top.
Years back when I first sat down to watch the entire run of Blackadder, series 2 was my absolute favorite. The plot is somewhat similar to the first with Edmund Blackadder living under the rule of Queen Elizabeth The First, but instead of trying to usurp control of the throne, he's constantly battling the idiocy of the times. Where the first series was still trying to find it's footing, the second is on top form with an amazing cast and simple but fun concepts for episodes. Easily the best performances are from Rowan Atkinson and Miranda Richardson, they just crack me up with Rowan being deadpan and sarcastic to the Nth degree and Miranda for lack of a better word, being very simple. It's just so damn funny seeing Queen Elizabeth acting like a silly and spoiled child, and precisely nothing like any other sort of regal performancein media. It's an absolute joy. Tony Robinson and Tim McInnery return as Baldrick and Percy, this time playing the oafs to Blackadder which they handle perfectly. The writing for this series is where the most praise should go, you can tell they put effort into the scripts and it really does work and really the writing is why this series is so highly regarded in the comedy world. It's difficult to pick a favorite episode, it's a toss up between Potato and Beer. One has a fun cameo by Tom Baker, and the other is the perfect storm for poor Edmund to be in but it is outstanding. This is a definite improvement for the series and one thing I noticed is that they really don't shift the cast up, nearly every supporting cast member from series 1 makes an appearance here and thusly the supporting cast from this in some small way makes their way to series 3. So there's always this tight knit sense of community both on screen and off screen, which makes it even more enjoyable. 4 stars, 8/10! And next time we get to see Hugh Laurie shine before he became a big name doctor here in the States.
Monday, December 7, 2020
The Black Adder
Happy Christmas to me.
One more week of reviews after this and I refuse to be party to any merriment or all around joy to humanity, so join me as we visit cynical Britain once more as we see all iterations of the classic Blackadder series. It's very humble beginnings for the series as we enter the 15th century following the ascent of King Richard IV and not historically Henry Tudor, and we encounter the meek and backstabbing Edmund who tries every trick he can to take the throne. Not the most involved of plots but nevertheless a very entertaining and fun series, obviously with many a nod to Shakespeare. I will fully admit of all the subsequent entries in this show, the first season is definitely weakest in terms of comedy. But don't let that stop you from watching it, it's a good start and still has it's moments. Any scene with Brian Blessed is glorious, Rowan Atkinson has some genuinely funny moments, no doubt the more historically knowledgeable will get a kick out of the narration, but I think it's more satirical of the time period. To poke fun is not neccessarily always funny, but wit is always wonderful. And any chance I get to feel good about myself by recognizing Shakespeare dialogue without reading any of his works is awful nice. This is one of the more lavish BBC productions I've seen at that period in time, there was a lot of on location filming at a proper castle and it's subsequent grounds, with more than just leftover period costumes, the whole nine yards, and it does look good. One aspect that must be addressed, because this is the oldest BBC show I've reviewed though I've seen many from the 60s to the 2000s, is the fact that location shooting or really anything outside the studio is shot on film and not all film stock is the same so it does have a grainy look to it whereas the studio footage had those proper big three lensed cameras so it looks really good. It's actually really interesting to sort of chart the character progression between all the series, because a good chunk of this cast gets brought back each time even if they don't play the same characters. Queen Victoria from the christmas special is the Spanish Infanta in this series and is marvellous to say the least for example (Bit out of sync but hey welcome to the timey wimey show!), so we'll compare notes on each. I don't actually think any sort of future series was even spared a thought of at this point, and could have very easily been just a one shot but it flourished throughout and could arguably be said that each series is better than the last. But of course more on that, in time. I give it 3 stars, 7.5/10! And we'll time warp tomorrow to the age of Queen Elizabeth I for Blackadder II.
Thursday, December 3, 2020
Thursday, November 26, 2020
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
It's only fitting. We did Halloween and Christmas, and really Thanksgiving is the only other one I celebrate.
While there are many Peanuts specials, this one occured about 7 years after The Great Pumpkin so we're fully into the 70s here and the quality in my opinion hasn't diminished. The animation style is just as classic and still carries that exquisite fall atmosphere, the cast while different still does very fine work and we actually get to see a lot more of Peppermint Pattie and Marcie who are underrated characters to me, the music is still good ol' Vince but a lot more funky and shockingly we even hear him sing in this one which is awesome, it's just a simple but still entertaining special. Charlie Brown is feeling a bit depressed and overwhelmed after several of his friends invite themselves over for Thanksgiving dinner leading to a bit of a mad rush to make sure everyone is happy and fed, but instead of a usual menu of food they come up with stuff like jelly beans, pretzel sticks, popcorn, and toast. Sign me up, that sounds great! And once again the stand out moment goes to Linus with a very heartfelt grace before they eat, and it's happy endings for all. I know this isn't one that gets brought up a lot, but a Charlie Brown special is always going to be a bit of fun and since they're short, it's quick and easy entertainment for kiddos when they come over to visit and eat. Very simple, but very good. 4 stars, 7.5/10 from me! I'm gonna watch some Mystery Science Theater and no doubt fall asleep from the itis. See you next month everybody!
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Spider-Man Into The Spiderverse
Yeah after all the hype and seeing the new Miles Morales game I figured this was the first stop to better understand it all.
I mean, for a character that hasn't even been around for a decade and yet even for a non-Marvel fan to know how beloved such a character is like Miles Morales is kind of rare. But how was the movie? Pretty good. I still say Isle Of Dogs should have won at the Oscars, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't like this movie. It's just such a fresh take on the superhero genre and if anything fun and light to where people of all ages can enjoy it. I have to say it already got me just by bringing up so much of the Sam Raimi movies which I watched as a kid and was my first exposure to the character, and after that I was rolling with everything. So our story starts with Miles as he goes about his daily life before the ususal radioactive spider, yadda yadda, you know this but things get crazy and things get nuts, when a cross dimensional experiment occurs and pulls 5 parallel universe spider people into Miles' world and they have to go save the day and get everyone not so far from home. Fun plot, but still has it's moments. It's a lot for Miles sometimes and the movie doesn't shrug off the emotional bits for any of the characters, I mean after all that was kind of the main thing about Spider-Man, a superhero with a relatable life and dilemmas, to which this movie sticks with. I'm not entirely sure how they picked the incarnations of the various web slinging crimefighters but I like it. We got Spider Gwen which is cool, easily my favorite of the bunch the all black trenchcoat wearing Spider Noir, friggin' anime girl with mech suit included (Nice!), and the pig. I don't think I need to say much more about the pig. We also get a good medley of villains, with Kingpin who I know zero about and Doc Ock who I know a bit about and is voiced by complete wife material Kathryn Hahn. Oh my. There's a lot to talk about in this movie so I'll keep it brief but there's at least 2 more points I want to make. I dreaded the animation style, the first time I ever experienced this dropped frame rate style was in Tron Uprising, because of course it was, and...I hated it. I could not for the life of me get over it. It looked so stilted, unnatural, and a touch lazy if I was being unusually cruel. Yet surprisingly, I barely even noticed it here it looks so fluid and has that rich comic book look to it, text boxes and all so I am honest to God thrilled I didn't hate it and maybe it will grow on me in other media. The soundtrack while very modern and almost entirely unknown to me still worked, though you can bet your ass when Biggie Smalls and the f***ing St. Elmo's Fire theme started playing I was jammin' like nobody's business. And yeah, we have to talk about Stan. Turns out I was wrong about the Teen Titans Go movie and this was the last one he had, and holy hell even to a person like me it still cut a bit. Just because I'm not exactly the biggest fan of Marvel or the MCU doesn't mean that I don't like Stan Lee, I have too much respect and admiration for the man to do such a thing. He always said that anyone could wear the suit, and the message at the end that anyone can be a superhero is incredibly true even if you're not inspired by the stories superheroes have. One of my favorite reviewers, like ever, said that superheroes are the modern day knight errants. They go out and do good deeds, help people, and right wrongs. And I will fully say there is not enough stories out there about the positive impact of superheroes, it's either about heroes punching one another or some ultra super mega earth shattering event, and that just isn't the right thing to focus on. This movie did it right though. And really and truly, it has my deepest respect for that. 4 stars, 8/10, I'll see you tomorrow.
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Something different but 120% worth your time.
My third film from director Satoshi Kon and there's only one more to review after this, but I will go on the record and say this nearly toppled Tokyo Godfathers as my favorite of his. You know how much I love that movie. But Millennium Actress very much like Perfect Blue is such a different and unique beast in the spectrum of anime and movies period, centering around an interview of an acclaimed actress named Chiyoko from a now bygone studio as we see her career and thusly her life while she tries to find the one who got away and took her heart with them. It sounds like a movie that could be made just as easily in live action but there is no way in hell that it could have an ounce of the character, style, and visuals potrayed here. Sweet beautiful gods, directors wish they could have transitions as good as this movie! I mean, wow. And really that's the biggest reason to watch this movie though the story is engaging and the characters work incredibly well, this movie has such a visual flare and zest. The interview crew consisting of just two people are interwoven in her story, you see this JVC tape camera in the 1940s, you see the interviewer interact with Chiyoko and influence the flow of the story. But it's not all literal, you see that they just go off on tangents and make believe like kids would do as she tells chapters of her life. I can't name another movie that has ever done that before or since and this movie came out in 2001 so it's nearly 20 years old and it could have been released last year, it looks that good. The animation style is grounded but still has those dashes of color and movement that warrant it to be animated, which lends more personality to the film. The score is sublime, very rarely used but when a big moment happens and something important occurs it is excellent, like buy that on a CD right damn now! The voice cast is on point, with 3 different actresses playing Chiyoko and all bring a new edge to the character as it should be since we see her from a very young girl to a silver haired woman. The film even ended perfectly just like I wanted it to, that never happens very often. I may give this a 10/10. Yes, Tokyo Godfathers is my favorite but the quality and storytelling has to really be given gold stars across the board. I can't think of even a single thing that seemed off to me let alone a bad element of the production. Screw it, 10/10! 4 stars, check it out! I have such an appreciation and love for this movie, and I genuinely hope others do too. Sometimes a walk down memory lane is a journey of a lifetime.
Friday, November 20, 2020
Die Another Day
It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but that ain't saying much.
I was incredibly shocked at how much I was slightly enjoying Die Another Day, some of the dialogue was really good, some bits of action were pretty damn cool, and while the movie is an absolute hot mess it's not my most hated Bond film. The plot is a bit mad but it has elements that were taken and done correctly in the Craig films, with Bond being captured and tortured for well over a year in North Korea before being traded for an army official that Bond is quite strongly feeling like going after though his 00 status has been cut, he soon meets up with a NSA agent named Jinx as they try to stop the powerful businessman Gustav Graves and his solar lazer called Icarus. I honestly don't know where to begin with this movie. It has some real stupid stuff in it, but there are a few elements which aren't half bad. Yes the CG is laughably terrible almost Spy Kids level quality, but the car chase on the ice with two gadget filled cars is pretty amazing if criminally short. Yes the plot and characters are absurd at times, but the actors don't do a bad job and look like they're having a bit of fun. It's such a mixed bag. Brosnan could have went out on a stronger note but he does okay in this last movie. Halle Berry isn't terrible and genuinely looks happy to be in a Bond film and I quite liked her character, she seemed to be so much more the spy than James oddly enough. Toby Stephens is actually really good in this movie but his character just makes you want to...drink. Rick Yune does pretty well as the henchman and has a cool look if nothing else though again it's bizarre. This film gets brutal though man, I mean daaamn people got all up in arms over Licence To Kill but this movie makes that look like the friggin' Care Bears. Licence To Kill had a quick shot of an exploding head and a shooting of a corpse, but this movie has dismemberment, throat stabbing, lazers blasting through people's heads, it's pretty gruesome and dark at times. Why though, I don't know. God I have such conflicted opinions on this, on one hand it's way too out there for a Bond film and severely hurts the series, but on the other hand it has some decent moments and isn't a complete dumpster fire. So the big question right now is, do I like it more than Thunderball? Well Thunderball got a 5/10 from me and to be perfectly honest Die Another Day gave me a bit more entertainment. So I will give what many consider to be the worst Bond film a 5.5/10, 2.5 stars, you can skip it and I won't blame you but at the same time it has a few highlights. I will however say that after hearing Queen Elizabeth II attended the premiere of this movie, even I feel I have to apologize to Her Majesty for this and I didn't do a thing on this movie. I remember when I rented this from Blockbuster back in the day one night, and I got maybe 10-15 minutes into the movie and I fell right asleep, I had to have been 7 maybe even 8 years old and I don't think I really watched it again after that the next morning and I couldn't remember a damn thing that happened in that movie. So this has been my first viewing in 17 years, and I feel I can go a lot longer than that until my next viewing of this movie. Annnnd that's where we will stop, I hate it too but until the week that No Time To Die premieres this is the end for the James Bond reviews and really the Daniel Craig films are a reboot anyway so it works that way as well. It was a real blast to go through all of them and finally talk about a series that I've been watching just as long as Star Wars or any Jim Carrey movie so I hope you've enjoyed it. I shall attempt to get something out before the month is over and I'm giving myself a personal Christmas gift this f***tacular year, and I'm not reviewing a damn thing in December that has anything to do with cheer, joy, or good will toward men. There will only be dark music in my domain.
Thursday, November 19, 2020
The World Is Not Enough
Better than the last?
Eh, it's kind of a toss up. Tomorrow Never Dies is just a bit of action entertainment to watch on a lazy afternoon this one is more standard Bond fare. It's very well done and story wise is the best of the Brosnan era, with Bond protecting an oil tycoon's daughter after he is murdered by a rogue criminal only to slowly fall for the woman and hunt down her father's killer. I would say this is Brosnan's best performance, mainly because he has more material to work with and can occasionally prod more emotional levels while still having his classic Bond persona present. Sophie Marceau is great as Elektra King, sort of a combo of Tracey and Tania with a dash of Fiona Vulpe, she is lovely in this movie and has a big impact on the series' standards. Robert Carlyle makes for an interesting villain as Renard if only because of his relationship with Elektra and I do quite like the whole backstory that he got shot in the head but didn't die and the bullet is killing off all his senses slowly while making him stronger, that's kinda cool. I may get some good grief over this but I don't hate Denise Richards as Christmas Jones, yeah it's silly to think she could be a nuclear physicist and her line delivery isn't always top notch but I've seen worse in this series and she's barely in the movie until past the halfway mark. She never annoyed me or made me roll my eyes, she was just there so I never took great issue with her. I quite like how M has a more prominent role in this and actually gets dragged into the danger, it helps up the stakes and get you more invested near the end. The action is more lax this time around though that pre-title sequence is great, but it's really not that kind of Bond film and it's more about Bond and Renard's relationship with Elektra which is handled very well. It's never dull and I guess I do enjoy it more than the last movie. I'd give it a solid 8/10 this time around. I somehow doubt the next movie will do as well, if good at all but we shall wait and see as I review the movie that put the Bond franchise on hold for many years, Die Another Day.
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Tomorrow Never Dies
Another fine addition.
I think I liked Tomorrow Never Dies more than the next movie, not that I hated The World Is Not Enough by any means but when I was younger this or Goldeneye were always my first picks if I wanted to watch a Bond movie. It certainly had enough action to entertain me for two hours, and I really like the characters and plot too. Bond is quickly assigned a mission to investigate a sunken british ship and soon connects it to a media mogul intent on starting World War 3 between China and Britain which he would capitalize on with his media group. Certainly a very different type of Bond villain, more Rupert Murdoch if anything but still quite a lot of fun to watch, in no short part due to Jonathan Pryce's wonderful performance. We add yet another favorite Bond girl with Wai Len played by Michelle Yeoh, who is all sorts of badass and awesome in this movie and makes a great ally for Bond. Pierce Brosnan does fine work yet again but honestly he kind of already cemented his Bond in the first movie. Really every actor whether main player or side bit is awesome, with particular favorites going to Dr. Kaufman played by Vincent Shiavelli who is just so funny to me but you can still treat him very seriously, and Admiral Roebuck played by Geoffrey Palmer and the only reason I loved seeing him is because he was in one of the best BBC series created ever, As Time Goes By starring right alongside with Judi Dench and I just had my little fan moment with them on screen again and I can safely say I was beyond devastated hearing of his passing. The action is still very high like in the last one while still having time for story and character moments, it's so far been a perfect balance act between the two with the pre-title sequence and the newspaper building pursuit easily being my favorite action scenes though the climax is pretty good as well and the car chase tops them all in this movie. It's very well made despite the reported madhouse of production after the unfortunate death of Cubby Broccoli and MGM pushing hard for the next Bond movie to come out, the product is still high quality and while releasing in close proximity of Titanic did very well. It's another high ranking movie for me, and I'd give it a solid 7.5/10, another 3 star picture. Next time the last Bond movie before the new millenium began.
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
My first James Bond film.
Am I going to be biased? Yep! I can't help it, I have such fond memories of this movie and even arguably more so with the game, but this is a mighty fine entry in the Bond series and is loved by countless individuals. After the 6 year hiatus, we got a big overhaul with an all new cast, producers, director, and the end of the Cold War made a huge impact to say the least. Pierce Brosnan was already familiar to a spy role in the hit television series Remington Steele, and is my personal favorite Bond but his performance is just the right blend between sly quips, espionage, and action. Izabella Scorupco is one of my favorite Bond girls as Natalya Simonova, and could be the best match with Bond for this era. Sean Bean is one of the best Bond villains, having a more strong connection between Bond and easily has one of the best scenes in the whole flippin' series. Hell all the villains are god tier henchmen in this movie, each with a colorful and fun personality. Gottfried John is more the straight man to the more crazy henchmen but has a great screen prescence, Famke Jannsen is...Jesus I cannot believe I got away watching her in this movie when I was a kid but she does look like she's having the time of her life playing Xenia, and Alan Cumming is always awesome and is probably my favorite of them all. Even the MI6 regulars got switched up, mainly with M being played by Dame Judi Dench, and yes she was my M so it will be endlessly great to see her in more movies to come, Samantha Bond is wonderful as Miss Moneypenny but I can't decide if I like her or Lois Maxwell more just yet, thankfully Q is still the same and in my opinion is at his absolute best in this era. It's a wonderful, even glorious roll call of actors. It's way more the action movie this time around but when am I ever gonna complain about that? From the pre-title sequence to the end credits, the action is incredibly executed and keeps the pacing of the film perfect. But what's the story? Well Bond is brought in to investigate the use of a Soviet satellite known as Goldeneye by a criminal organization and must stop it before it is put to use against London. The film really takes advantage of the post Cold War climate and fully brings the series into the modern age, with great settings in Russia and well crafted sets throughout. This is an amazing Bond film and is the contender for the best Bond film ever once I get to my list making, every aspect of the production is great, the story is fun and interesting, the cast is a dream, and I am very nostalgic for this movie. I'm such a geek I busted out my VHS tapes for Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, and The World Is Not Enough which were the only Bond movies I saw or owned for quite a good few years before I saw Connery or Moore's films, so I'm incredibly biased towards this era but honestly I've taken grievance with "official" Bond movie rankings and no doubt mine will be viewed in a similar light but it's my reviews and opinions, and I fully respect a difference of opinion. Nevertheless 4 stars, 10/10, I am such a fanboy for this movie and am proud of it! Join me next time for Tomorrow Never Dies.
Monday, November 16, 2020
License To Kill
Ooh this is a tough call.
I honestly kind of like Licence To Kill just a tiny bit more than The Living Daylights, and I really enjoy that movie! I have no issue saying this is one of the best Bond stories, it's like For Your Eyes Only but incredibly commited and even better. We meet up with Bond on Felix's wedding day after they arrested a drug lord but he escapes and comes after Felix and his wife, leading Bond on a full fledged revenge mission as a rogue agent from MI6. Oh my God. I am so onboard with this story, you don't need to do a thing. I am there and I am loving it. It's a shame Dalton never got one more crack as 007 because he is really really good in this movie, and I know some say his intense attitude was occasionally off in the last movie which is somewhat true, but here I totally buy it. He friggin' wants this guy dead and will do anything to avenge his longtime friend. It kind of cut me a little seeing Bond show such love and kindness to Felix and his wife Della just to have this horrible thing happen to them, and the fact they brought up Tracy made me get misty eyed a little. He just loses friend after friend, ally after ally, and it really makes you get behind Bond's actions all the way through. I think this is a great story and one that was worth telling! The performances really sold me on this story, as I said Dalton is damn good in this movie and I feel people focus too much on the violence to really appreciate his performance. Robert Davi is such a good villain, he does downright gruesome things yet still has an air of charm and likability at times and his death is perfection honestly. Carey Lowell is a very good Bond girl in my eyes, kind of a more action more than words type of character though she certainly doesn't mind calling bullshit when she sees it, she's one of the finer Bond girls of the series. There's a handful of people you may kind of recognize in the story, we have two Mortal Kombat actors in this movie specifically Katana and Shang Tsung which is kind of cool to see, Benecio del Toro is the main henchman and it's really neat to see him in one of his earliest roles, but strangest of all Wayne Newton the famous singer plays a minor part in this movie and I swear to God I couldn't believe it was him even with my own two eyes. The action is pretty great at times, in particular the big rig truck chase at the end I mean damn guys, good show! So well done, and people throw a fit over, "Oh this movie's too dark and violent, I can't take my 7 year old to see this James Bond movie!" yes because clearly the James Bond series was created for pre-teen audiences. I was watching Goldeneye when I was 4 years old, and yes my parents and even grandparents were slightly concerned about that but they let me watch it anyway because I loved the movies for everything they did and not just certain, uh...elements. My point is, the violence should not take away from your experience unless you are really squeamish around blood. It's telling a very realistic and very serious movie, and I applaud the producers for taking that chance and doing something daring with a very formulaic movie series at this point. You need to shake it up occasionally! There was no harm done by this movie, but the production problems made this the last Bond film for 6 years and good God did they make that comeback worth the wait! Next time, this is where the fun begins. 4 stars from me, with a sterling 8/10!
Sunday, November 15, 2020
The Living Daylights
I think people are a bit too hard on Tim.
I never really got the dislike for him, and I totally understand and respect the producer's decision to make the next Bond a radical departure from the last. James is more close to how Ian Fleming wrote him in the books, and considering how popular Daniel Craig's Bond potrayal is I feel it's time to give Dalton another shot. And his first story isn't a bad one, with James working his way up through a KGB arms operation after several agents have been killed, as he soon meets a young orchestra player Kara who is caught up in all the double crosses and plans. I quite like Timothy Dalton and always have but it is sort of a toss up as to which movie of his I like better, he plays Bond with a more rough around the edges view like, problems with authority, not hesitating to threaten or kill to complete the mission but still have the charm and gadgets that we know the character so well for. Connery had those qualities too but the films never took themselves too seriously, where as this one does though it still has humor and a touch of silliness. But it works for me, and this is one of my favorites so far. Maryam d'Abo is lovely as Kara, a kind and quite innocent figure that gets swept up in all this spy business and yeah she's a bit of a klutz but neither is she a brainless fool and I quite liked the chemistry she had with Dalton, granted they bicker like a married couple at times but it's nice to see Bond actually spend time with her and get to know her before the adventure really begins which is a rare occurence in this series but when it's done they do it right. I will say that I'm happy Joe Don Baker got a much better role in the Bond series, cause his character Whitaker is so blah he's just a fanboy for war and weapons, and doesn't have an interesting plan though it's probably the most realistic villain plan ever, exchanging weapons for opium and diamonds to further supply his arms dealing. It's really the only weak point of the movie. But the rest is pretty good! The action scenes start strong from the beginning, and I have to give credit for Dalton wanting to do all his own stunts because not many actors are that commited to a role, and it has my favorite gadget laden car chase so far. It feels very new in terms of production, slowly shifting gears from the 70s to late 80s Bond to more modern cinema. It doesn't really feel 80s though A-Ha of Take On Me fame did the main theme which is one of my absolute favorites of the whole series, it just feels like a well made Bond film that I can safely say tops A View To A Kill. 4 stars, 7.5/10, you should definitely check it out, and next time we look at my favorite of Dalton's films. Will it hold up? Only one way to find out as we view Licence To Kill.
Friday, November 13, 2020
A View To A Kill
Yeah this movie is a bit weird.
Roger Moore's last bow as James Bond is set amid a strange yet still kind of enjoyable movie. The plot is somewhat akin to Goldfinger, Bond is investigating an electronics tycoon with intents to level Silicon Valley and create a monopoly on the microchip, and while the story isn't half bad the devil is in the details. Even Roger said he didn't very much like this movie and felt it was way out of left field for the series at that point and I do have to agree, and said he was far too old to play the part which I sort of see. Granted yes, the stunt doubles are so prevalent you could start a drinking game, it is odd to see Roger get in bed with such young women but honestly the man could charm anything and anybody, the villains though great are just bizarre, and I feel this would have made a fantastic first Bond film for Timothy Dalton. Regardless Roger does fine work in his last installment and it is a shame to see him go but what an impact he left which is still felt even today. Tanya Roberts is...not teeth grindingly annoying as some would suggest and she does have a nice moment here or two but the character was missing something for me. Honestly I would have loved this movie ten times more if we stuck around with that Russian spy, she seemed quite fun and had some history with Bond. Now let's get to the best part, Christopher Walken as the villain and flipping Grace Jones as May Day. Oh God it is simultaneously a stroke of genius and one of the most weird casting choices in cinema. But aside from the neverending fun that is Christopher Walken, I do genuinely dig Max Zorin's backstory of a product of nazi experimentation and that he worked for the KGB is endlessy fascinating and is a pretty great origin especially for a Bond villain. Grace Jones is not out of place in the weirdness that is A View To A Kill, and is a matchmade in heaven with Walken but I just don't know what to make of this character, but I'll be lying if I said she isn't fun to watch at times. The action is okay this time around but it certainly picks up in the next few movies but I can't blame it, Moore was 57 when they were shooting and I'm not going to say he should have doubled down on the physical aspects of the role. The whole film just feels off, not bad but off, if they changed two or three aspects of the film including our main star I wouldn't mind it a bit but the way the production feels is like they just wanted to make another Bond movie and not the next best Bond movie. It doesn't feel like an appropriate end to Roger Moore's tenure, whereas Octopussy ended just right. Despite the issues it has I don't hate the movie, and would give it 2.5 stars, 6.5/10, but would only really recommend it for the hardcore Roger Moore fans or if you're having an all out marathon of the series. Tune in next time for Timothy Dalton's The Living Daylights.
This might be my favorite Moore movie of the series.
This is one of the easiest Bond movies to watch, it returns to the more lighthearted and fun tone of the Moore era and is never a dull watch. 007 is issued a case after the death of 009 where honestly a lot of threads are strewn together but basically is investigating a smuggling organization run by the mysterious woman only known as Octopussy. It's not a difficult plot to follow but there are several parties with their hand in the smuggling ring, but it's all laid out clearly and each has a resolution. Roger Moore is a lot of fun in this movie with tons to do in both action and humor and this particular movie has always been a favorite of mine. Maud Adams returns as a Bond girl, which makes me beyond happy to see her in another role and I'm just gonna say it Octopussy and James are the best combination of the Moore era. Not necessarily to say I hated the other Bond girls of this stint of movies, but the chemistry that Moore and Adams have is simply the best and feels like it could genuinely go deeper than just a fling like so many other women. I'm just glad to see her have more of a role and stake in the story, and needless to say the woman is a work of art she is so beautiful. Louis Jourdan is excellent as Kamal Khan our main villain of the story, his screen presence is strong and is just a lot of fun to watch. Alongside him we have Kabir Bedi as Gobinda, a memorable henchman that has a lot of screen time like Jaws and Oddjob, and while not having much personality is still a strong point of the movie for me. I think a small reason I love this movie so much is because we actually get Q out in the field, a rare occurence for the series but always a highlight for me, in fact Q is my favorite of all the MI6 personnel and Desmond Llewelyn is a treasure in my eyes. I just love him to bits and pieces. The action has a stronger stance in this movie with a great pre-title sequence, good chases, good shootouts, acrobatic asskicking women who work for Octopussy, it's easily one of the most fun and enjoyable watches of the series much like Goldfinger, Live And Let Die, and a few more yet to be seen. I enjoyed myself very much with this movie, and it kinda makes me sad Roger Moore only has one more movie but if memory serves he certainly didn't leave on a bad note. 4 stars, 8/10, definitely recommend even if just to watch it on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Next time, the most strangely awesome villain and a farewell to Roger Moore in A View To A Kill.
For Your Eyes Only
It was better than I remembered.
I seriously didn't like this movie much when I first saw it some few years back and truly dreaded seeing it again, but looking at it now it's actually pretty good! I appreciate the producers wanting to go for a more small scale personal story, and I have to say it works great! Bond is on the hunt this time for a missile communique machine which leads him to cross paths with a woman named Milena who is on her own personal vendetta, as they work together for simultaneous different and similar reasons. Something I never thought I would see in a Bond movie, in this case a more personal story about revenge is done amazingly in my opinion with Milena seeing her parents gunned down and is hell bent on finding the person who ordered them to be killed, is genuinely interesting and actually segueways with Bond's recent actions in the pre-title sequence where he finally gets vengeance on Blofeld after visiting his wife's grave. I simultaneously like that opening and hate it, Diamonds Are Forever should have been the revenge story but they tried to distance themselves so far from Lazenby's film and it's a shame. I see what they try to do, to make a compelling and grounded story about how vengeance is not really the answer, and while it does have it's moments it's not really touched on too deeply. This film and The Spy Who Loved Me were Roger Moore's favotite Bond films and I can see why, he just has such good material and situations to work off on, including a downright ruthless killing that may not suit the Moore era greatly but is still such a good scene I honestly don't mind. Carole Bouquet is damn good in this, though I will say her personality flip flops from stone faced dead eyed killer, to a charming yet broken woman still grieving for her family, but she handles both sides very well. Julian Glover though a fantastic actor has nothing to really play off with the character of Kristatos, now I'm not sure if that's just the fact we've had so many colorful and full of personality villains that he just pales tremendously in comparison, or if it's just not a well defined character that while suiting the more grounded reality of this film just isn't terribly interesting. Again, I know Julian Glover is fantastic and I'm always happy to see him in a new movie but the character just had nothing going for him. Surprisingly most of all, Charles Dance appears with this being his first theatrical film and I couldn't even believe it. It's sad he didn't have much to do in fact he's really in a blink and you miss him scene, but just the fact we have two great actors from Game Of Thrones appearing in a single Bond film is really neat. There's not much action in this one, but it has the best car chase in the series so far! I'm serious this car chase floored me, and the fact that it's not in Bond's Lotus Esprit but a little dinky car that looks like a mix between a Volkswagen Beetle and a 1940s mafia car just makes it even better in my opinion. This movie had an awful lot that I enjoyed and really shot up in my estimation this time around, I just had a blast with this movie. It's going to be tough ranking each individual Bond movie collection, especially with Roger's cause I've enjoyed every last one of them greatly. I give this movie, 3 stars, 7.5/10! Next time, Roger Moore's penultimate Bond movie Octopussy.
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
It's not a Star Wars ripoff. Everyone says it but they're full of it.
I know for a fact I am in the small majority that likes Moonraker, I don't see it as that big of a leap that Bond goes into space. It's not like he's dogfighting TIE Fighters or facing the Gorn, yes there's lazer guns but this is the same series with a guy with metal hands, a guy with metal teeth, a voodoo cultist who is quite possibly undead, and some of the most ludicrously awesome gadgets in history. I think I'll cut it some slack. It's pretty decent in quality, and the space scenes are handled with logic and reservation. So how does Bond travel to the final frontier? Well an american space shuttle has vanished without a trace leading James to meet with the developer Hugo Drax, and shock of all shocks uncovers a dastardly plan that must be foiled. To spaaaaaace! Is it wrong I kind of like this movie better than the last? Come to think of it, there's a handful of similarities between the two. Crazy genius builds a personal fortress and seeks to recreate the world with his own people, Jaws appears in both films, and both movies open with a parachuting stunt, some people say it's just a more out there remake of The Spy Who Loved Me but I strongly doubt it. Though Roger Moore poked fun at the movie for decades after it was complete, he does very well with the material and treats it seriously like any professional actor would. Now I could seriously bash on Lois Chiles as Holly Goodhead for her deadpan delivery and complete blazae attitude when it comes to acting, but I won't. She's not great, and I hate to bash actors especially if they try so I'll just leave it at that and move on. Michael Lonsdale is the best actor in the entire movie, and is the most underrated Bond villain ever. I'll fight you on that. He plays the part eloquently, and goes for the more soft spoken background villain but when he gets to shine, man does he just kill it. They gave him a bloody speech for crying out loud, not a monologue but a speech. Why? Because he's amazing and deserves a place next to Blofeld, Goldfinger, and Scaramanga (with many more on the way). Jaws is back, yay! More comedic than last time but I don't even mind, and yes I do love the fact he gets a total little cutie pie girlfriend and I ship it perhaps a little too hard, but damn it they're cute together and I am living for it! That alone gets this movie a point or two. But all the aspects of the production are done really really well, special effects are executed almost flawlessly, the action is very strong at the climax and of course is peppered in throughout, some of the sets are outstanding, and even the music is better than it should be with one particular track that rivals the love theme from OHMSS for most beautiful Bond music. I really do enjoy this movie, yes the producers said it was a way to capitalize on the success of Star Wars but they showed great restraint and didn't do anything that would seem out of place for Bond, and just used the space backdrop as not only a new villain setting which was crafted around the plot but also to let viewers see something new and create incredible sets and special effects. And I don't think I need to quote a certain somebody on the use and importance of special effects, so I'll just do my final rating. 4 stars check it out, 8/10, I may have lost some credibility but when haven't I, I'll see you next time!
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
The Spy Who Loved Me
I don't know why I always thought this was the first Bond movie of the 80s, the soundtrack clearly states otherwise.
Roger Moore's best outing as 007? More likely than not. After the less than positive reception of the last movie, the producers took a 3 year hiatus to create the best Bond movie of them all. Did they succeed? Well I can safely say this is the best film of Roger's era so far, and it does indeed rank up there with Goldfinger so yeah. Roger Moore returns in top form, as Bond is looking for any leads on both soviet and british submarines as he encounters a severe marine obsessive man by the name of Stromberg bent on creating a world war so he can rebuild human society from his underwater lair. It's the perfect blend of realistic spy thriller, and entertaining tongue in cheek cinema. I will say the pre-title sequence is one of the best in the entire series ending on one hell of a high note. All elements of the series have been executed wonderfully in this installment, with damn good action, memorable characters, an interesting story, and the highest production values we've seen to date. Roger Moore is wonderful as always, being the cheeky secret agent many have said to be the best Bond (and I'm so far agreeing with them). Barbara Bach is one of the most unique Bond girls, being an opposing secret agent from Russia that has to work with Bond, and while their chemistry and different characters work very well, her acting is incredibly wooden. Is this what people saw with George Lazenby? Cause this, this is not good. Though I have seen far far worse in my time so I can't be that rough on her. Stromberg is a surprisingly dull villain despite an amazing lair, and while the performance is by no means bad at all there just really isn't that much to work with, he's just an evil capitalistic crazy person. Gee, what a new and inspired character for the James Bond series. I heard it was originally meant to be Blofeld, now that would have been interesting to see! However with the disappointing villain of Stromberg, we gain the most recognizable henchman in the whole series, Richard Kiel as the metal mouthed killer Jaws. He is one of my most favorite characters in these movies, and whether he down right scared the living daylights out of me or made me have a good laugh in this movie, I can't express in words how awesome he is. Richard Kiel, you are the man and I cannot wait to see more of him in the next movie! This is one of the better films for sure, and it was a favorite among the producers, Bond actors old and young, and the public even today. 3 stars, 8/10 from me, and we will join Bond in a very underrated adventure next time with Moonraker.
Monday, November 9, 2020
The Man With The Golden Gun
I know this is one of the lesser good James Bond movies but I still like it a bit.
I will admit the movie has problems, some making absolutely no sense whatsoever but it is more smaller things. The story is told well with Bond having to face off against the world's deadliest assassin for a solar device which could end the energy crisis which was a very real thing for Britian at that time. It's a decent movie in the series, it has issues yes but the good stuff still stands strong. I somewhat pin the issues of plot and character on the straining relationship between Albert "Cubby" Broccoli and Harry Saltzman the producers of every single James Bond film up to that point, and the fact that a lot of the elements of the production were rushed, this movie released just one year after Live And Let Die. Now granted the first four Bond movies were released one year after the other but it had adverse effects on the main star, and now the producers of this empire were falling on hard times. For better information than I could ever give I absolutely recommend the documentary Everything Or Nothing released in 2012, it is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen and a heartfelt telling of the history of the series. Yet through all the issues, they still gave us a decent story with a damn good cast. Roger Moore still delivers his own style of James Bond but takes on a bit of a rougher edge, more akin to how Sean Connery would act the scene in some circumstances and it just doesn't work for Roger. I certainly don't blame him for it but it was a misstep regardless. Christopher Lee is practically god-tier Bond villain for me as Francisco Scaramanga, able to play both the ice blooded killer and yet shows great levity and joy in certain scenes, giving us something of a window into how Lee really was in life, a charismatic, lovely, full of life gentleman known the world over. He is the reason I hold this film highly, and damn it I really want that golden gun. Not only is it geniusly crafted but I've been familiar with that weapon years and years before I saw the film, so thanks Goldeneye for the N64 you still rock today. Anyway, Britt Eckland is more of a bubbleheaded Bond girl as Mary Goodnight and was obviously showcased more for her looks than acting talent, but I still appreciate her for being a part of this series. And whatever faults I take with Goodnight are almost washed away by the character of Andrea played by the stunning Maud Adams who brings such a tragic light to a character and while not in the film for long still left a big impression on me, and I was thrilled to know she is in another Bond film but all in good time. Herve Villechaize is yet another memorable henchman and has some good personality that adds just that bit more to the screen. The action is more subdued in this one, with yet another instance of throwing their hat into the ring and having some martial arts fighting which was growing popular at that time, but it really is all about the final duel between Bond and Scaramanga and it does incredibly well! The pacing, editing, and setting are practically flawless and really was the best scene in the movie for me. All in all, I enjoy this movie and while I can acknowledge the faults it has it never detracts from my enjoyment. 3 stars, solid 7/10, and we'll be back for what could be Roger Moore's best movie of the series, The Spy Who Loved Me.
Sunday, November 8, 2020
Live And Let Die
Man, if I could pull off that Baron Samedi look I would.
Roger Moore's first outing as 007 is a pretty good one in my eyes, now you might be thinking how does Bond and a somewhat blatant Blaxploitation format mix? You'd think it would be an oil and water situation and fail miserably, but it turns out to be a pretty good movie. Bond is quickly assigned a new case after three agents have died, and investigates the prime minister of the fictional country San Monique, where he quickly discovers a heroin organization, voodoo cults, and a woman able to tell the future through tarot cards. It quickly sets the tone for Roger's tenure, able to have a bit of fun and joke while still being a credible spy movie and while I'm all for a serious spy thriller, the James Bond series has always been a bit bonkers since the beginning. The cast is one of the best we've had so far, Roger Moore though not being the Bond of my childhood grew on me very quickly and I love his performance more so than Connery and Lazenby. He has a cool, almost laidback personality, always with a witty retort or quip to ease the tension and to show his character, he can be serious when he needs to be but it's definitely a different interpretation of this character. Jane Seymour does well as Solitaire and I will admit her character is one of the most interesting in Bond history without even counting the foresight she has, she's a sheltered woman under the thumb of a cruel villain and is very conflicted when she meets James, she's a good character. I absolutely love Yaphet Kotto as Dr. Kananga, he's menacing, intelligent, charming, and even a bit fun but he never loses the edge throughout the film, he does damn fine work and I appreciate his hard work to make Kananga something different. In fact all the villains are class with every last one of them memorable and fun, Whisper though not used much is unsettling, Tee Hee poses a physical threat while still being very fun, and the master of the dead himself Baron Samedi played to honest to God perfection by Geoffrey Holder is a marvel to behold, he doesn't do much and is yet another criminally underused villain but the impact he leaves is undeniable. I fully believe he is an undead fiend, they straight up kill him twice and he still is around, the perfect mix of downright creepy and incredible fun I can almost recommend the movie on just him alone. The action isn't half bad either, with the highlight being the speedboat chase in the bayou's of Louisiana and while some say it's like proto-Smokey And The Bandit with some pretty good stunts, an emphasis on comedy, and the inclusion of fan revered or fan reviled Sherrif J.W. Pepper, I enjoy it nevertheless and it's great to watch but this movie came out first about 4 years before Smokey And The Bandit so I like to think it might have inspired something. I know this is one of the devisive entries in the series, some people love it and some people don'tgo for it, but I lean more toward loving it and do recommend seeing it. 3 stars, 7/10, a fine beginning for Mr. Moore. Next time though we get even more divisive so join me next time when we pay a visit to The Man With The Golden Gun.
Saturday, November 7, 2020
Diamonds Are Forever
Oh boy do I wish this wasn't Connery's last outing.
After the great You Only Live Twice and the excellent On Her Majesty's Secret Service, this movie feel like 2 steps backwards. It's not horrible, but off the heels of the last movie it just doesn't fit. Which is odd because the movie begins with James hunting down Blofeld starting in Japan, with not even a slight mention of Tracy, so one could argue the last movie happened later on after this one. But anyway after that, Bond is tasked with a more simple case dealing with diamond smuggling in which he is accompanied by one of my favorite Bond girls Tiffany Case, while the pair are being hunted down by the devilishly fun Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd. This film is...problematic. There's quite a bit I enjoy, Jill St. John is wonderful as Tiffany Case and you know me and redheads, but she really is class in this movie and a lot of fun to watch. Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd are so good I kind of wish there was a movie just about them, Bruce Glover and Putter Smith are wickedly menacing in that camp sort of way, and the fact that they're a couple is just the icing on the cake. I love them to bits and pieces. And of course there is the most weird casting choice I think I've seen in awhile, Charles Gray as Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Now let me be clear, I friggin' loooove Charles Gray in this movie, but dear lord would this casting only work in this movie, it is something that must be seen to be believed. Which is odd because he already was a character in You Only Live Twice but then again, in both From Russia With Love and Thunderball Blofeld was played by the same person as Professor Dent in Dr. No so it's kind of a theme in this series. And there is stuff I hate, like the most ridiculous excuse for continuity I have ever seen in a car chase, the plot is boring to the point I was nodding off to sleep, every character besides the ones I pointed out are dull and unmemorable, the moon buggy scene is nearing weeping hilarity, and I'm honestly wishing Sean Connery never returned to the series because he quite honestly deserved a better reprisal than this. Oh God, this movie is a hot mess. Like that's pretty much all the good things I can say about it, the rest is just sort of blah with even Connery delivering an even less than good performance than his last appearance. I'm not sure if it's the plot, or the directing, but this movie falls very flat for me and I would only recommend watching it if you were having a marathon like me. I like it ever so slightly more than Thunderball but I think even Dr. No is better than this. If I am venturing to Las Vegas and attending the Circus Circus, I will be breathing some devil ether thank you very much. I still say Thunderball is the weakest of the Connery era but this barely scraped above it, by a fun cast, an emphasis on camp, and a semi-decent climax. 2.5 stars, 5.5/10, Roger Moore please help me learn to laugh and love again.
Friday, November 6, 2020
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
I don't think George Lazenby is bad.
Most everyone can agree that this movie is great but Lazenby is the weak link, I politely disagree and say George Lazenby does a fine job and I couldn't imagine the film any other way. I couldn't see Connery settle down, Moore quite possibly but never Connery, so I'm happy Lazenby got his one Bond film and is it one of the greats. Set two years after the volcano lair siege, James has been relieved of tracking down Blofeld and subsequently resigns from MI6 and decides to go after Blofeld as a rogue agent. Meanwhile he meets a young lady named Tracy who he is very intrigued by and a romance begins to bloom over time and James Bond has finally found the woman he can call his wife. That's all you need to know story wise, and they handle it so incredibly well giving ample time for both the espionage and the romance. Previous editor of the series Peter Hunt directs this installment with a more cinematic and visual style, coupled with fast paced frenetic editing that accentuates the action quite well, though I could see why some people would say it's choppy and scattered. Cast this time around could not be better, George Lazenby though having no former acting parts holds his own incredibly and is able to make Bond his own and not simply walk in Connery's shadow, with a penchant for heavy handed combat and an entirely believable romance with Tracy. Some people say he is quite wooden in certain scenes, but I see a lot of charisma and many of the Bond characteristics in him that we will continue to see for weeks to come. Diana Rigg is perfection as Countess Teresa de Vicenzo or Tracy to her friends, I cannot ever look anywhere else when she is on screen the sheer magnetism and acting chops she has is no doubt what makes the film so highly regarded amongst fans, I cannot love her performance more. Telly Savalas is an interesting choice for Blofeld after the dead eyed, accentuated Pleasence but has a menace and surprising charisma of his own which again suits the film quite nicely despite the continuity issues it creates. Ilse Steppat has to get a mention, for a henchwoman that doesn't do much villainous things I simply could not forget her performance, bringing humor and a subtle uneasiness to the location of Piz Gloria. Speaking of which, you can totally visit the mountain top restaurant used as the primary base for Blofeld in this movie and I for one love the design and set pieces for each room. I noticed a hell of a lot more action this time around, running the whole gambit of fist fights, car chases, shootouts, and even throws in a thrilling and quite impressive ski chase for good measure, all of which done superbly. And I want to talk about the ending, I really really want to talk about the ending, and I should because it's a very moving and shocking end to an already great movie but I just refuse to spoil it for those that haven't seen it. I will however say the mood and ending is practically assassinated by the choice of music as the credits roll, I mean really? Really?? Could you imagine if they just picked a different song? That is the one major problem with this movie, and I hate it with the fury of a million suns. Oh God, it is the worst thing. Maybe not in the history of the world but it's pretty bad. We were on the verge of greatness, we were this close. Moving on now, do I like it more than You Only Live Twice? Yes. Do I like it more than Goldfinger? Oooh, I don't know. Yes Goldfinger is a solid movie, but this one has impact on the series and it did what other Bond movies couldn't truly do for decades. While it may not be as iconic as Goldfinger, it's a diamond in the rough, and if I'm judging them one to one I have to go with OHMSS. If only by a tiny smidge. 4 stars, 8.5/10, I probably upset some people but I feel the way I feel. So Lazenby left his multi-picture deal unsigned and took his agent's advice that James Bond was heading out the door, and departed the series. So what could you possibly do now? Well
, it's just a jump to the left...
Thursday, November 5, 2020
You Only Live Twice
It's sort of a toss up between this and Goldfinger as my favorite Connery film.
You Only Live Twice is a amazing entry in the series despite the behind the scenes drama and this being the last we'll see of Connery in the role...kinda. The story follows Bond as he fakes his death for reasons I'm not entirely sure of, and starts working more undercover to find out exactly how and why several spacecraft from both America and Russia have disappeared which leads him to Japan to face off against SPECTRE one more time. The film already gets brownie points for being in Japan but regardless the story is one of the finer early entries in the series, with very good pacing, characters, and a true sense that it attempts and succeeds the climax of Thunderball. Before we talk performances this has to be brought up, Sean Connery gives a very muted performance and it was during the production of this film that he decided not to return again as James Bond. He became very disillusioned with the role and hated he didn't have any privacy during the shoot in Japan, which I can fully understand and I hold no grievance or ill will towards him for his decision. Even when you can tell his heart is not really in the performance this time around, he still has good shining moments and as his currently last bout as 007, he still does very fine work. We have a double dose of Bond girls with Akika Wakabayashi as japanese agent Aki, and Mie Hama as Bond's wife (more on that later) with both actresses doing very good work despite not being fluent in English at the time and work very well alongside Connery. Tetsuro Tanba as Tiger Tanaka is another highly welcome addition to the list of allies in this series and is a joy to watch bantering with James. We have another Fiona Vulpe-esque villain this time played by Karen Dor who while not having much screentime is still memorable and fun to watch, with special love going to her acting with a certain white cat loving mastermind. Yes, this is the movie where we finally come face to face with SPECTRE #1 Ernst Stavro Blofeld, played to perfection by Donald Pleasence, and it sort of further pushes the fact that this feels like a finale to the series in some ways as we finally face off with the villain that has been plaguing James since 1964 and I love everything about it. What I do not love is the filmmaker's decision to make Bond undergo plastic surgery to look like a japanese fisherman. I can't even believe what I just wrote. Why?? It serves no purpose, he has plastic surgery done to him which apparently comes right off after a dip in the ocean, takes a "wife" who is just Kissy another agent working for Tanaka, it makes less than zero sense and it's filler if I've ever seen it. However on a more positive note, the film looks great as we sample both urban and rural areas of Japan, with plenty of little touches of their culture throughout. Apparently Ian Fleming grew quite fond of the country and had a great curiosity and affinity for japanese culture while he was writing the novel of the same name, and you get a good sense of that in this film which of course I love. Plus it doesn't hurt that not only does this film have one of the most incredible sets ever produced in cinematic history but the volcano lair siege is most likely the best and most large scale climax we'll see for the entire series. Everything about that set was real, no matte paintings, no models, no trick photography, just a legit massive set with working monorail, simulated rocket takeoff, and control center that cost one million pounds then but would cost lord knows how much if they did it the same way. It is astounding, and I feel it was a crime tearing down Ken Adam's remarkable set after filming wrapped. The script was written by Roald Dahl who some might know for Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and James And The Giant Peach, who I felt did incredibly well and the director Lewis Gilbert knew how to shoot this movie with both excellent action sequences and gorgeous scenery. Excellent movie with only two hiccups in the grand scheme of things, and despite Connery's clear lack of caring at certain points his performance is really good. A slightly flawed movie that still rivals the gold standard. 4 stars, 8/10! So this was it for Sean Connery, the man who countless individuals claimed IS James Bond, so what do you do after the star has left to pursue other parts? Well we'll find out next time with the one hit wonder James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
Wednesday, November 4, 2020
I'm not entirely sure why people say this is the best of all Bond films.
Not to say it's bad, the production values are higher than ever, the story isn't half bad, the performances are good, but it just doesn't have a lot of punch for me. We once again encounter SPECTRE as they hijack two nuclear warheads and hold the world ransom for 100 million pounds which springs our dear James into action, trying to track down the nuclear devices before the countdown ends. It's probably the most basic plot SPECTRE has concocted, but I've always had a soft spot for villainous organizations and it does lead to interesting elements in the story. This time we trek into the Bahamas and while it does look dazzling, there isn't much time to appreciate it since we're always on the trail of the warheads. This isn't bad by any means, the stakes have been significantly raised since the Lektor decoding device in From Russia With Love, and there is a larger scale climax no doubt due to the biggest budget yet in the series. I don't mind the underwater fight scenes, it's certainly a nice change of pace, but it does sort of drag. Serious props to Ricou Browning for the direction of those scenes, I mean who the hell else would you get besides Gillman from Creature From The Black Lagoon to help in crafting underwater combat? The cast this time is hit and miss, Sean Connery does fine but this was only the beginning of the end for him which we will cover more next time. Claudine Auger is not the most compelling of Bond girls but I do appreciate the character they do give to Domino and she does fine work. Though I personally wish we could have seen more of Paula, an american agent that James works with, mainly because you see there is history between the two and it really seems like they've worked time and again in the past which is something I would love to see more of. They genuinely have great chemistry together though all of their scenes together I could count on one hand, and it's just such a shame. Villains on the other hand are more miss than hit, Adolfo Celi as the eyepatch wearing second in command of SPECTRE does well with the material but there's hardly any intrigue in his character though I chalk that up more to the script than the actor. The shining star of this movie is the mesmerizing Luciana Paluzzi as the glorious Fiona Vulpe, not only is she ridiculously gorgeous but she proves to be a capable, cunning, and endlessly fun villain to watch, think of her as a proto-Xenia Onatopp. I won't actually delve into the behind the scenes of this film, partly because it is a very involved and very complicated matter that would take up so much time, and also partly because I have very strong feelings on the matter and I do not wish for this to deteriorate into a rant because I have 20 other movies to review. You can find the information just about anywhere, and all I will say is this was the most ridiculous thing that caused problems for the entire series for decades to come and I feel great sympathy for Ian Fleming during this time. I like it just as much as Dr. No if a bit less so I give it...2.5 stars, 5/10, I sometimes wonder why this was the most popular and loved film for a time. But the next movie is better I promise.
I highly recommend the review of this film by Calvin Dyson, a growing Bond reviewer on YouTube. I strongly agree with his opinions and his content is very well done so check it out!
Tuesday, November 3, 2020
I'll try to not make any gold quips in this review.
Goldfinger is one of my absolute favorite Bond films and is easily my favorite of Connery's films, but why that is it's difficult to pinpoint. Granted the story is more grand in scale with James being tasked to investigate the totally british Auric Goldfinger which soon leads him to know of one of the most ingenious villain plots in history and one hell of a climax in Fort Knox. Most of the Bond movies are told loosely with meandering and intermediate action scenes throughout, but I think this film is one of the best, 99% of the scenes have a reason to be there and further either the story or the characters and all of it is interesting. You wouldn't think a golf game between James Bond and one of his more illustrious villains would be very entertaining but it is. Apparently Robert Shaw got Sean Connery hooked on golf during From Russia With Love and Connery's affinity for the game got into the script which is pretty neat. I'm positive at this point Sean Connery was undoubtedly James Bond, the evolution is complete and he just exudes coolness and charm in all of his actions, but when he needs to act like in say the lazer room scene he pulls it off brilliantly. I was stunned to learn that Gert Frobe was actually dubbed in his role of Goldfinger, it's such a perfect voice for his physicality and he really is the standard of Bond villains for others to match later on, and you can really tell he's having a lot of fun acting this role. Honor Blackman is a welcome change as the infamously named Pussy Galore, very capable and independent but regardless great fun to watch and easily matches Bond one to one. Harold Sakata is just possibly the most famous henchman in cinematic history, either it's him or Richard Kiel as Jaws, I mean the steel rimmed hat is iconic but his performance as this mute strongman is constantly fun to watch though in reality he was one of the nicest people you could meet. There's just so much to love in this movie, the action is wonderfully shot, we get the glory that is the Aston Martin DB5, Desmond Llewelyn has his first true Q scene which I have no problem saying that I will be looking forward to every last scene he is in for all the movies to come, the characters are as iconic as you can get in this series, there's plenty of intrigue and entertainment, the opening titles are amazing with Shirley Bassey rocking the ground I walk on, and is one of the easiest movies to watch on a lazy day. Seriously, if Goldfinger is on TV I will sit and watch it, it's always just a great joy to watch time and again. The only bad thing I could say about it is that barn scene, I mean...Jesus, talk about extremely uncomfortable. I mean yes it turns into something consensual but geez I feel like I need some disinfectant spray after watching that. Harassment aside, it wouldn't surprise me if this made it in my top 5 James Bond movies. It's an excellent movie that even if you're not a Bond fan you have to see! 4 stars, 8/10, and yes I would even give it a gold sticky star. So how in the hell do you top one of the highest grossing and most popular films ever? Well tune in next time for the fan worshipped epic, Thunderball.
Monday, November 2, 2020
From Russia With Love
Definitely improved since last time.
From Russia With Love is regarded by many to not only be the best James Bond film but one of the best movies in the spy genre period, and yes I do somewhat agree with that. Our story follows Bond as he is wrapped in the web of SPECTRE, attempting to obtain a decoder device with the help of a young woman named Tania who works for the Russian consulate in Istanbul, while one of SPECTRE's top agents is in pursuit of Bond across Europe to get revenge on the death of Dr. No and SPECTRE losing their favorite vacation spot. I do greatly like this film, no doubt it will be a contender for the top 10 when I summarize the whole series, but I think it's mainly the story and production that have had the best treatment this time around. It really does build this world of espionage so well, done in no small part due to introducing Kerim Bay played by Pedro Armendariz, one of Bond's allies who has a world of subterfuge which we learn in detail and it's one of my favorite things from the movie and Kerim is such a warm and friendly person it's difficult not to genuinely adore him. Not as rugged as Quarrel, but endearing in his own right. The story is very well told, with enough intrigue and surprises to entertain but not to the point where you lose track of the story which is something I appreciate. There's no exposition dumping here, just a well crafted spy thriller that I do enjoy more and more each time I watch it. Sean Connery delivers another great performance, given more to do this time around and comes more into his own with the character. Daniella Bianchi is lovely, though perhaps a bit too infatuated with James but nevertheless charming and has her own stand in the story. Robert Shaw is great in this movie, even though he hardly speaks a line but then again he doesn't have to, his physicality speaks for himself and is a formidable match for our dear James with one of the best close quarters action scenes in film history. I'm serious this fight is everything you've heard it to be, so well shot and edited, such palpable force in each punch and hit, and mad respect for both the stunt performers and Connery and Shaw in that scene. Once again the location shooting is excellent, and production designs while not grand are done very well, and it feels more like a well thought out production with everything done splendidly, and Terence Young proving his salt in the director's chair. Bit of trivia for you, originally the now famous gunbarrel sequence wasn't meant to be in this film at all but was added to let the audience know when the film began, so much thanks to this for setting the standard. Also, Ian Fleming the author of the James Bond series has a supposed cameo but I take that with more salt than I do the codename theory. All in all, this is a damn good movie in the series and one I can fully recommend to even casual fans and may even make you want to dig deeper into the franchise's history. 3.5 stars, 7.5/10, but next time dear ones we hit gold.
Sunday, November 1, 2020
Screw you 2020.
Yep, the new James Bond movie hits theaters next year (whee) and regarding the fact I have zero income and f*** all planned after that inevitable change, I figured it was time to review every James Bond movie by EON Productions, starting of course with the 1962 movie Dr. No. As first films go in the longest running film franchise in history, it's not half bad though of course not having it's fully realized identity as it will in about two movies time. I will admit the story is a bit basic, concerning James Bond investigating the disappearance of a government agent in Jamaica which soon leads to the discovery of a shadowy villain intent on further advancing the organization known as SPECTRE's agenda in destroying american space probes. This very much is the quintessential James Bond adventure, charming rogue-ish hero, gorgeous girl swept up in the adventure, megalomaniacal villain with lavish lair, it's everything you would ever expect from a Bond film. Not to say it's bad or basic though, Sean Connery practically cements his role as James Bond in just one movie let alone the superior films coming up, Ursula Andress could quite possibly still be the most famous Bond girl 50+ years later, though our villain Dr. No is in my opinion criminally underused and I found Joseph Wiseman to be excellent and sets the bar very nicely. There's not as much action in this one and what passes for suspense with a tarantula is laughable nowadays, but I kind of chalk that up to a less than big budget, though the assets they do have are handled very well with gorgeous location shooting in Jamaica, excellent set design by Ken Adam, and the effects are very 60s but they still do the job. Quite possibly most prevalent in the opening titles which start of strong with the Bond Theme blasting accompanied with epileptic visuals before strangely switching to rotoscoped dancers and conga music, it's so damn bizarre like they couldn't make up their minds so they did everything. It's still an enjoyable film with certain things that I still love to this day. I think John Kitzmiller is one of the absolute best allies in the entire series as Quarrel and I enjoy every second he's on screen, there's a good little scene where Bond essentially rigs his room to where he can tell if people have been there which I really kind of wish we had more of in the series and it really does show his character, he's not paranoid but he is cautious in his line of work. The only bad thing I could say about it is the fact we have no real time with our main villain, we don't see or hear anything from him until the 40 minute mark in this hour and fifty minute film and don't even see him until there's about half an hour left of screentime which is a real shame because I genuinely think Dr. No is one of the best villains and the performance is what sells it for me, though the metal hands certainly don't hurt. It is very dated I will give you that, but that was just the style of film at that point and you simply just had to use the tricks of the trade that you could but it is sort of a running theme in the early films where it feels very, well...60s in terms of filmmaking. Absolutely no disrespect to Terence Young, but it is something unavoidable to talk about and could potentially disrupt the enjoyment of the film for some but it honestly doesn't bother me. It's a simple no frills first outing into the spy world of 007 and does a decent job with it. 3 stars, 6.5/10, but don't let my rating fool you because this was a massive hit, but where do you go from there? Well after President Kennedy named From Russia With Love as one of his favorite books the choice was clear. Until next time.
Friday, October 30, 2020
Tales Of Halloween
In a world where we don't get many anthology movies let alone horror anthologies I was very interested to see Tales Of Halloween, and reading through the cast list gave me hope. We get Adrienne Barbeau, Lin Shaye, cameos from John Landis and Joe Dante, and of course Sam Witwer. Sign me up and throw me in, hell yeah! But. But....it was mostly forgettable. And dude, that sucks to say. But it's true, it's a collection of 10 stories over the course of 90 minutes which already is a red flag because with such limited time for these stories there's simply no meat on the bones, what you see is what you get. Which may satisfy some but for me it was a rollercoaster of quality, with only the last two stories being my favorites! Now does that mean there is no artistic, stylistic, well made concepts and executions? Of course not, but that's sort of the catch with anthology movies. You never know what you're gonna get, and it could be a tonal and quality mess. Akira Kurosawa's Dreams is an outstanding anthology, with a handful of stories told with breathtaking visuals, well written stories, and enough substance for the audience to infer and enjoy. But it all came from one source, he directed all the segments and wrote them thus creating a better film. With 10 stories in Tales Of Halloween they had 11 directors and 12 writers. That is a f***ing problem. You get many wildly different stories in concept and execution, some looking like horror movie fluff and some bordering on student film arthouse, all of which are happening in the same town again very much like Trick r' Treat. And there ain't much entertainment value from it, the actors do fine and none are really bad at all, but the stories have no time to grow and breathe to create atmosphere and give us likable characters, it's quantity over quality. I called the twists for about 90% of these stories because I've watched way too much Twilight Zone and a bit of Tales From The Crypt, but even I know if you or someone you know who hasn't watched those shows are smart enough to figure this shit out. Sam Witwer alone saved this movie from being a forgettable and unremarkable film, I just appreciate that man so much already, the handsome devil, but he has such great screen presence and comedic timing that he made me excited to watch this movie. But he's the second to last story. And the last story was my other favorite, again down to the main character this badass cop who gets all these crazy stories down at the precinct and she goes out to try to deal with it. Beautiful! Perfect! That's all I need! Go forth and wreck shit babe. But! Again! We had 15 minutes of film left and surprise asshole, it ends on a cliffhanger and there is literally 6 minutes of credits so have fun with that shithead! And things were starting to look up for me. I just...God I had hope, I had hope it would be good but sometimes the IMDB stars don't lie. 2.5 stars, 6/10, what a f***ing bummer to go out on the day before Halloween. But I got nothing else, no extra reviews, no tricks up my sleeve, no further horror reviews in November. You get nothing! You lose! I hate it. See you in November, happiest of Halloweens to all and to all a good night.