“I could not have planned this timing better. My Skyfall BluRay arrived today, just in time for me to watch it after getting thru Quantum of Solace yesterday. When I originally started the project, I wasn’t too sure how the timing’d work out. I did previously write it up after seeing it at the theater, so it wasn’t a major concern.

Looking back at that previous post, it would seem that I hit most of the important points already. I dont really think there’s much else I need to add. And I’ve got a headache that’s made unhappy by this bright shiny screen.

I’d said previously that I didn’t care too much for the opening credits. I completely take that back. On second watch, I really do like this one. It’s so much darker than we usually see. And I’m loving those close ups of Daniel Craig’s baby blues. While I do like the rock themes, bringing in Adele to try and recapture the classic Shirley Bassey-esque feel was a brilliant move.

Well that’s a wrap on 007. It’s been a fun ride. I am planning a couple of bonus posts, but they’re prolly gonna hafta wait until early next week.”

Quantum of Solace

“I got no quirky antecdote for starting this one off, so we’ll just jump right in. Quantum of Solace is unfortunately known as the black mark on Daniel Craig’s term as 007. I figured I’d approach this with that thought in mind and try and pinpoint exactly why this one is considered so bad.

The short answer is the writer’s strike. You’ve heard me talk of it’s impact before. This was yet another unfortunate victim. Major studios, in their greed, decided that it wasn’t worth suspending their work while those silly writers hashed out their issues. Lots of movies, including Quantum of Solace, were filmed off of draft scripts. They didn’t admit it at the time, of course. It wasn’t until later that the practice was admitted or at least hinted at for a few movies. Doesn’t take much to connect the dots. That’s clearly what was going on here.

With that context in mind, the film really does feel kind of unfinished. THere’s a lot of action, but not much substance. I remember being confused on the first viewing about what exactly was going on. The climax just sorta happens. Characters are underdeveloped. I went with a group of friends to the midnight premier, and we all left there wanting to say we enjoyed it. We feigned excitement, not wanting to express disappointment.

There are a few bright spots. I like that M has a snarky line or two, instead of leaving all of them to Bond (“”florists use that expression””). Here, 007 is very strongly motivated by vengence over Vesper, thus adding to the darkness that is Craig’s incarnation of the character. Oh and I do remember one friend at the midnight finding it significant how Tosca was chosen as the opera where the bad guys convened. That reference is lost on me, but maybe it means something to you.

Now about those Bond girls. We’ve got two: Olga Kurylenko as Camille and Gemma Arterton as (Strawberry) Fields. Camille is pretty bad ass. She’s one tough cookie, but also has some moments of vulnerability that we don’t see outside of Craig’s tenure (Vesper had a few scenes too). Having seen Kurylenko in Hitman not too long before, that made her the first Bond girl I was familiar with going into the movie (not counting watching old films where I knew the stars’ later work). And for those keeping track of trivial details, Camille is the first main Bond girl that doesn’t bed Bond. Whoa. Arterton’s Camille gets a bad rap. You usually see her on lists of worst Bond girls, which I feel is undeserved. I like her spunky demeanor, but after a closer look, it seems her main issue is that she was underdeveloped. She’s just kinda there and gone just as quickly (though she does get a nice homage to Goldfinger). Oh and Stana Katic (Castle’s Beckett) is there for a scene. Did not expect her.

In yet another first (cool how we’ve still got firsts after 20+ movies), the theme song is a duet. Jack White and Alicia Keys. The opening credits mostly has a desert motif. There’s still a lot of focus on Craig, but we’ve got some of the girls back. Not too much going on compared to the other ones in the CGI era. Still, vastly preferred over the pre-CGI ones.”

Casino Royale

“Well hellooooo there James Blonde, er, I mean, Bond. Daniel Craig, I have been waiting for you. Pre-project, one of the main reasons I usually named Craig as my favorite was because he was simply the one that stuck with me most. But now, having really watched his predecessors, he’s still my boy.

The quick reason is that I like how much darker his films are. He’s more ruthless. He’s got his sense of humor, but it’s much more biting and sarcastic. He unapologetically defies authority. His storylines are more personal. There’s more at stake for him, and thus you see his defenses are up. Every other Bond took a few films to distinguish themselves. Craig nailed his own completely different interpertation right away, while at the same time staying true to some of the basics of the character.

I remember the first time I saw Casino Royale. It would be the first 007 I saw in the theater. It was Thanksgiving day, and I had just enough time to run to the movies before I had to get my green bean casserole in the oven before dinner with friends. I expected to find the place filled with dads and their kids, trying to keep the kitchen clear for mom. There weren’t quite as many as I’d expected, but those familial units were certainly present.

Something else that struck me when I first watched this back then was that it seemed that the people behind 007 finally realized something: girls watch these movies too! Let’s face it. James Bond is very much a man’s man. The way he kicks butt and beds women, there’s no denying that it’s been all guys running the show. For once, they threw a little eye candy our way, again with an obvious nod to Honey Ryder. He’s also not as blatant of a womanizer. Sure, he has the affair with the married girl (unhappily married, I might add), but you at least start getting some background on him and understand why he has these tendencies. But his relationship with Vesper is a lot more real, than any we’ve seen except maybe with Tracy in On Her Majesty’s… It had been getting annoying how quickly girls would throw themselves at him (especially in Connery’s time). Nice that he’s actually gotta work for it a bit now. Also, did you notice that except for the quick image of Vesper, there’s no women prancing around in the opening credits? More on that later.

Til this point, every time we’ve changed actors, we’ve just sorta picked up the story where we left off. Casino Royale is the first reboot the franchise. Or really, you could argue that it’s not actually a reboot, more of a rewind. We never really did get an origin story. Even then, it’s only a partial origin story in that it’s his first mission. We don’t know how he got there, but then again it’s maybe better that way. We don’t get a “”Bond. James Bond”” until the last seconds of the film, but that point, he is definitively Bond. James Bond. And it’s beautiful.

Now that we’re past 20 movies in, there’s so many pieces to the franchise, and I love seeing all of the winks to the audience. Some more obvious than others. Obvious: “”Would you like that shaken or stirred”” “”Does it look like I give a damn””. Less obvious: Have you noticed he has a favorite brand of champagne? That would be Bollinger. Or the throwback to the silly Bond girl names by trying to give Vesper the alias “”Stephanie Broadchest””.

I love Eva Green as Vesper Lynd. She doesn’t have a flimsy, based on intense experience connection with him. Instead she really does get thru and connects with him. Their first interaction might be my favorite scene. Such sharp dialog back and forth. Skewered.

I’d been saying how much I love Judi Dench as M. With Brosnan, I just liked her for the fact that she was more hands on. But with Craig, I love the kind of relationship that they have. He’s so insubordinate and arrogant, but at the same time there’s a deep level of mutual respect. I’m really excited to watch the next couple (Skyfall especially) with these interactions fresher in my head. Also, here’s where we “”first”” meet Felix Leiter of the CIA. The first time I saw this, I got the sense that he was important, I just didn’t know my 007 history enough to know how. Now I get it.

Been throwing around the phrase “”one of my favorites”” when talking about the various theme songs. However, I figured out how to narrow it down. If I could only listen to one theme ever again, which would it be. Immediately my brain went to Chris Cornell’s “”You Know My Name””. Yes, this one is definitely my favorite. I may even think so about the credit sequence as well. It plays on the whole casino theme and instead of featuring dancing naked girls, there’s some really cool stylized fight sequences. I like it because A)it’s different and 2) it brings the focus to James. Makes it feel like it’s more a part of the movie and not just an afterthought.”

Die Another Day

“Well, the T was still suspended most of today. The “”oh yeah we’re working sorta”” announcement came after I’d already resigned myself to yet another day at the Cave of Wonders. It’s now been 68 hours since I’ve left the building. So instead of trying to squish in one of my usual double features, we’re back with more Bond. If you’d asked me a few days ago, I would have said I prolly wouldn’t get to the Brosnan films til this coming week. Now, he’s wrapped with Die Another Day.

Something about being resigned to my fate finally made me relax and actually enjoy the movie today, instead of trying to find something to calm my busy and anxious mind. I think Brosnan really found his groove, so it does bum me out that this is his last one. Though I’m not too bummed because I think I can now definitively say that Daniel Craig is my favorite (but we’ll get there). Die had a lot of that over the top action that I love, but it did have a more absorbing plot than we’d been seeing. Brosnan also had a bunch of those “”clever”” one liners that 007 loves to throw out at borderline inappropriate moments. He finally looked comfortable delivering those.

Just a note on movie watching in general. I find it funny (funny huh not funny haha) how a movie can influence or educate you in something without realizing it. Blood Diamond is a favorite of mine, and without that movie I’d have never known about conflict diamonds. Yet it’s something that seems to come up in film often, such as here in Die Another Day. I’m sure I’d have just quickly dismissed the term without the background info, but its kinda nice actually knowing what people are talking about sometimes.

Since I like pointing out random details that we either see used very often or hardly ever, Die brings us the incredibly rare “”shaggy Bond”” also known as the “”scruffy James””. Okay so keeping up appearances prolly not so much a priority while spending 14 months being tortured in a North Korean prison.

John Cleese officially took over as Q after being introduced as the original Q’s trainee in the previous film. He had a few kind words to say about his “”predecessor””. But my favorite bit in the whole film was him giving James a new gadgety watch, guesstimating that it was probably his 20th watch. Die Another Day is the 20th official Bond film, and yes, Q does bequeath James with a watch in most movies.

While we’re talking about names we know well, our main Bond girl is the lovely Halle Berry as the playful Jinx. I really liked her. She’s one of the few that’s a true equal to Bond. She’s tough and sexy and fun. She’s awesome enough that they gave her an homage to original Bond girl Ursula Andress.

Another great sequence I loved was the sword fight at the fencing club. It’s nice to see Bond go back to some basics at a point when the action keeps getting bigger and bigger. However, bigger does not always equal better. I’d been wondering why this movie had a less than good rap (not quite a bad one). Goldeneye is usually considered the best Brosnan. Then we got to the tsunami surfing. This is Roger Moore era ridiculous with CGI bad enough to make Jar Jar Binks toss his cookies. Thankfully it’s over quickly, but that one hurt me.

Our theme song comes to us from Madonna. Tidbit of trivia, Madonna is the only theme performer to appear in the film as well. She’s got a small role as a fencing instructor. I like the song, but it’s kind of jarring in the credit sequence. We usually have very smooth songs to go with our very suave secret agent. It just felt off. What I did like, however, was that in between all the fire and icy girls (which looked really cool) we had a bit of a montage of Bond’s aforementioned 14 months in Korean prison. We’ve had clips of the movie in the opening before, but it’s never been anything that’s part of the story at that moment. I liked that.”

The World is Not Enough

“Ah yes, The World is Not Enough. Arguably the most infamous of Brosnan’s tenure as Bond, and not for any of the good reasons. For the good, we’ve got John Cleese starting his training under Q. Judi Dench’s M actually going out into the field (again, still love the fact that she’s not behind a desk in an office). Sophie Marceau’s Elektra is an interesting and different character. But she’s not the Bond girl this film is remembered for. Oh no. That would be Denise Richards as Dr Christmas Jones, nuclear physicist.

You prolly groaned or maybe even threw up in your mouth slightly. She’s generally regarded as the worst Bond girl in the history of Bond. Now, I’m not trying to just talk smack. Let’s actually take a look at why. It’s not all Denise’s fault, but it’s also not entirely the fault of the writers. “”I thought Christmas only came once a year”” is pretty par for the course as far as the one liners, and not nearly as punny as what Connery always spewed. It’s just sort of a perfect storm. Where to start? Her dialog is some of the worst that was ever given to a 007 companion, or really anyone in a 007 film. Most of it is just “”science””. She’s given little personality and a lot of big words and long explanations. And Denise, poor thing, whose character is supposed to be a genius, prolly doesn’t understand the words she’s saying. Or at least not those words when they’re constructed into those sentences. It takes all of her effort to get the phrases out that there isn’t much room for acting. Yet she still manages to try too hard. Another argument I hear against her is “”what nuclear physicist is going to look like that?”” Well, having known some nuclear engineers (if not physicists) they don’t necessary need to fit the visual nerd stereotype. They actually can clean up pretty good. The problem here is that they’re not gonna go out into the field looking like she does. They save it for the rare moments when they’re amongst so called real people.

Sad how much that really overshadows the whole movie. As I was saying before, I do like the storyline with Elektra. The whole pseudo Stockholm Syndrome, which side is she playing for. Also worth noting, because I’ve pointed this out in previous movies, it’s Brosnan’s turn to fake his death. Although it was a quick charade, just to fool a bad guy. Not the usual long con to escape duty.

As the movies get more present day, we also get to more familiar names involved with the theme songs. This time, Garbage. I was actually kinda obsessed with the music video (I can only find a remix on YouTube) back in the day. Mostly because MTV had a “”Making the Video”” special on it. I do like the music video more than the opening credits but only because that is a killer video. The credits are still pretty awesome. The whole liquid metal thing. Still not quite enough to make up for what happens later in the film, sadly.”

Tomorrow Never Dies

“So the storm raged on thru the night, dumping piles and piles of snow. Travel was prohibited in MA and RI which means that American Idiot tonight was cancelled. Boo. I guess that equals more time for more Bond. Although I was kinda mopey, which equals distracted.

We’ve long since learned that plot, not so much a thing with 007. We know the formula by now. Usually a big convoluted mess of crazy evil guys from different countries causing uber havok. There’s usually a girl he meets early on thats in league with the baddie. She usually switches teams just long enough for her to get killed. Enter main Bond girl who, for whatever contrived reason, is attached to 007 for the rest of the film. Where these movies get good is when you have someone that stands out within the formula. Here, we’ve got a pretty good main Bond girl in Michelle Yeoh.

There’ve been some tough girls before, ones who know their way around guns or can at least make it so that they’re not constantly in need of being rescued. I don’t think we’ve met one who can really kick ass. As in martial arts trained, taking out the random nameless bad guys herself.

Speaking of the girls, anyone else notice the awkward lack of chemistry in this Bond/Moneypenny pairing? She’s clever and quick, but you don’t get the sexual tension. This was much more brother/sister. Just wrong.

Oh and going back to the subject of the formula, I did appreciate the kinda throwback ending. How many times did Connery’s films end with him evading his rescue team for some Bond girl time? Usually there was water involved.

Opening credits best ones we’ve seen so far. I love how they’re getting really stylized (yay computer technology that wasn’t available with previous Bonds). Here we’ve got x-ray vision on guns and changing backgrounds and much more complexity. I think having gone thru all of the low tech credits that brought us this far, it makes me appreciate these all the more.”


“There’s a nonzero chance that this weekend’s movie plans are completely out the window. In case you didnt know, there’s a big blizzard out there today, so instead of heading down to the theater, I’m staying in for an #ExpDel007. Now I’m hoping this snow-pocalypse ends in time for me to get down to Providence for American Idiot tomorrow. Otherwise, I might end up tearing thru Pierce Brosnan’s tenure as Bond.

Yeah, that’s right. We’re on to Brosnan now. This is the Bond I grew up with. Not that I’d seen any of the movies at the time, but if you said the name James Bond to me in at least the first 20 years of my life, Brosnan’s is the face that I would see. Although, it would be ages until I stopped thinking of him primarily as Stu from Mrs Doubtfire. Incidentally, Goldeneye is the first Bond movie I ever saw, and it wasn’t until I got to college. I’m MIT class of 2007, so our orientation freshman year had a 007 theme to it. I skipped most of the orientation stuff in favor of getting an early in with the Musical Theatre Guild, but the one event I do remember going to was a screening of Goldeneye in Kresge auditorium. I still couldn’t believe how long I’d gone Bond-less. I’d been getting into action movies for a few years already, but I somehow never got around to this one.

Watching it now, it does have that classic 90s action feel. The type of movie that I’d always walk in in my daddy watching in the family room. Brosnan’s taking the game from covert espionage to hands dirty fighting in the thick of everything. This is certainly much more my style. Again, it’s indicative of the type of film that I grew up with. I only have so much attention span for older movies.

Another benefit to more recent movies? Recognizing more actors that I know and love. Alan Cumming stole the show for me, as henchman baddie under Sean Bean. Of course, Sean Bean has Bond villain on his resume. That just makes sense. This film also serves as the introduction to Judi Dench as M. Damn what an entrance. Unlike previous M’s that just sat behind a desk, she was much more active. And oh my God, the verbal smackdown she gave Bond before sending him out on his mission. The irony is not lost on me how Dench is the only M with real balls. She will forever be the ultimate Bond girl.

Speaking of Bond girls, we’ve got one of our best bad Bond girls with Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp. First off, it’s been a while since we’ve had the suggestive type female names that the franchise is well known for. We’ve also never seen a femme so fatale, completely ruthless and out of her mind. After a string of not too memorable leading ladies, she’s one that sure to stay with you.

Yesss! We’re finally starting to get to the really good opening credits that I love oh so very much. They’re starting to look so much more polished than before. I like that we’re also starting to get some variation with the girls on screen, instead of just having the same one repeat an action. Like the sledgehammer thing towards the end of this one. It makes it a lot more interesting to watch. See, I knew that I liked this part.”

License to Kill

“Looks like Timothy Dalton kinda got the short end of the stick when it comes to my attention span. I wasn’t feeling too well for Monday’s Living Daylights, and today I was preoccupied thru much of Licence to Kill. I really was digging him as Bond, and I hadn’t realized until I dove into this project that he only got to play Bond twice. It seems like such a big deal that Lazenby only got one, but somehow one more movie equals infinitely more street cred.

I actually do wish I could have been in a better state to watch this one. The premise intrigued me with how it incorporated Felix. When Felix had been introduced in Casino Royale, I certainly had the sense that he was a part of the franchise. I just hadn’t known who he was at the time. Going thru the project, I tried to make a point to keep an eye out for him. Wikipedia told me somewhere along the line that I’d missed his first couple of appearances, but I since got pretty good at perking up whenever he was on screen. For Licence to Kill, Felix and his newlywed bride are attacked by bad guys. He barely survives. She doesn’t. Bond goes for vengence.

One thing I catch that I found interesting is that we have yet another mention of Bond’s incredibly shortlived marriage. I guess Lazenby’s legacy does get to live on since I can’t think of any other events that get mentioned as much as that one. Roger Moore had a poignant nod at the beginning of For Your Eyes Only, and here Dalton has a moment of reflection for her.

And for a point that’s neither here nor there, apparently “”Licence”” is the British way of spelling “”License””. I did not even realize we spelled the two differently. That explains why it took me a while to find this movie listed on some of the pages where I cross post my write ups. Silly Brits.

For another out of nowhere point: Benicio Del Toro whaaaaa? Yeah he was one of the lower level bad guys. I was typing away at something on my computer when he first appeared on screen, but I knew his voice the second I heard it. The visual (and IMDB) confirmed it.

I still have yet to be impressed with an opening title sequence. I used to always love watching them, but now that I’m sorta scrutinizing them, their magic is kinda lost. This one had a very “”modern”” feel to it. Idk, that’s just the word that ran thru my head the whole time. Still nothing that’s really exciting me. I know that the Craig titles will be kinda cool. I’ve got high hopes for Brosnan’s as well. It’s his turn next!”

The Living Daylights

“Kinda cheating here a little bit. The movie’s still going, but I’m not feeling so great. I just wanna crawl into bed, but I’ve gotta get the post up. However, it’ll likely be short. Won’t be the first time.

With The Living Daylights, it’s Timothy Dalton’s turn to take on Bond. I was running around getting dinner together during the first bit, so I didn’t quite catch the set up. IMDB tells me that they intentionally got actors that looked like George Lazenby and Roger Moore to kinda play with the “”who’s the new Bond”” thing. I kinda like Dalton. So far, he seems the most grounded out of our 007’s. After some rather over the top characters, it’s a nice change to have him be a bit more subtle and sincere.

Okay, John Rhys-Davies has to be one of the coolest actors ever, or at least he has one of the most enviable resumes. Sliders, Indiana Jones, LOTR, and now apparently he was a Bond villain? We don’t really see too much of him though, or at least I didn’t notice. There’s still 20 min to go though.

Oh, so one of the cool gadgets that Q gives James this time around is this key ring that can explode or emit gas when it’s triggered when whistling certain notes. One thought bugged me: what if Bond couldn’t whistle? I know I’d be \m/ if I were the one given those toys.

Also worth noting, we have a new Moneypenny. Up until now, it’s always been Lois Maxwell, but now Caroline Bliss will be seeing Dalton thru his reign.

This film’s theme comes to us courtesy of A-ha. Given that my playlists are sorted by artist, this tends to be the first song that shows up. So the poster image is pretty clear in my head. Nothing too remarkable here. Starts off with a lot of projection and then we’ve got a lot of more 3D feeling women. THe one thing I did appreciate was that the girls actually appeared clothed. I was getting annoyed at how many obviously naked silhouettes and wide shots we were getting in the previous ones. At least song wise its up with my favorites.”

A View to a Kill

“Today, we bid farewell to the month of January for the year 2013. We also bid farewell to Roger Moore in his role as Agent 007, Bond James Bond.

What stands out to me for this one is the cast. As a big fan of The Pretender, Patrick Bauchau caught my eye. I spied his name in the credits and the moment I first heard his voice (I was looking away at the computer screen), it was unmistakable. The other voice that was quickly recognizable to me was Tanya Roberts as our leading Bond girl Stacey Sutton. It did take me a second to place where I’d heard that ditzy squeak before, til it hit me That 70s Show. Speaking of, I saw something the other day that said if they made the equivalent of That 70’s Show today, set the same interval of time in the past, it’d now be That 90’s Show set in 1991. Whoa.

Okay okay, you Bond fans are prolly thinking that I’m missing one rather large name from the credits. Christopher Walken. Yeah, he was a Bond villain. Strange how that doesn’t come up as often as you’d think it would. Also, Walken is in Wayne’s World 2 which I’m watching now. How did that fact slip past me before? But yeah, as expected, he’s a rather bad ass bad guy. Not as overtly crazy as the other baddies have been, but still that twinkle of psychosis in his eye.

I’d been commenting about how overly ridiculous the Roger Moore films had been getting. Its seems that at the end, they decided to let him go with a bit more dignity. The antics were kept to a minimum, and a lot had to do with Stacey being a girly girl or henchgirl May Day being um special. The downside is that you’re also stuck with a less than memorable movie. I guess that leaves the question of would you rather be respectable but forgetable or memorable for all the wrong reasons? I did however have a special appreciation for this one because of the whole geology thing. That was my major in college. Not that I do anything with it now. Huh, maybe if I’d stuck with it I could be a real life Bond girl? Why didn’t they tell me that earlier?

The opening credits OMG so totally 80s! Blacklight and neon is the gimmick here. Neon facepaint, neon guns, strategically placed neon 007 logos. With Duran Duran jamming the title track, you really can’t 80s out any futher. If only those dancing girls had better choreographers though…”