Reviews written by registered user
|5 reviews in total|
This, the second Bond film to star Pierce Brosnan, is where the Lethal Weapon-style excess really gets out of hand. Obviously in updating Bond for the '90s they forgot about Bond's Martini-swilling, licence-to-kill persona and all we're left with is some Schwarzenegger-type mercilessly machine-gunning his foes. I hear critics and Bond purists echoing the chorus of "best Bond since Connery" everywhere I look but "Tomorrow Never Dies" bears absolutely no relation to those great films. The plot is lifted directly from "The Spy Who Loved Me" and, let's face it, Wai Lin was a joke, because Bond girls are not meant to be kung fu'sters who can overshadow the great 007. Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) is not a classic example of a main villain (Randolph Hearst wreaking world havoc?). The only things I liked about this film were Bond's BMW and Dr. Kaufmann (Vincent Schiavelli). Thankfully, the producers put the style back into Bond in his latest film, "The World Is Not Enough".
No arguments, "The Spy Who Loved Me" is Roger Moore's best outing as
British superspy James Bond, 007. After the box-office failure of "The Man
With The Golden Gun", Cubby Broccoli realised the stakes were high for the
10th film in the 007 franchise. Another failure could easily destroy
Commander Bond. Did Broccoli succeed? You bet. TSWLM proved to be a
thrilling, gloriously spectacular Bond adventure, featuring ground-breaking
sets and the latest special effects.
The plot is essentially a reworking of "You Only Live Twice" - but greatly improved. Whilst in YOLT the plot was easily lost in between action sequences, in TSWLM the plot builds up gradually with the presence of a microfilm containing details of a submarine tracking device, which Her Majesty's Secret Service suspect the villain is using to capture US and British submarines. Storyline consistency is always important in a Bond film and "Spy" strikes it just right.
Note also that in this film an entirely new breed of heroine is introduced in the form of Major Anya Amasova, aka Agent Triple X, played with a stunning visual presence by Barbara Bach. She becomes 007's reluctant ally as they cross Egypt and Sardinia picking up clues, but I mean reluctant, and she certainly matches Bond every step of the way, and even gets ahead at times. No mean feat.
Speaking of Mr. Bond, Roger Moore clicks into his role and doesn't let us down. His performance here is effective in that he alternates between subtle humour and (unbelievably) seriousness. There are standout scenes such as when he lets a henchman plummet to his death from a rooftop, and at the end of the film when he kills Stromberg, when Moore displays genuine lethalness. But there is one scene in particular that sticks in my mind. In the pre-credits sequence, Bond kills Anya's lover, Sergei Barsov, who is pursuing Bond on skis. Later in Sardinia Anya confronts Bond about her lover's plight. In this scene, Moore drops every sign of light-heartedness, speaks quietly and thoughtfully, and comments on the philosophy of being a spy: "It was either him or me. The answer is yes, I did kill him." Anyone who suggests that Moore was incapable of acting seriously should pay attention to that scene.
Then there is the villain and his "master plan". Karl Stromberg (Kurt Jurgens) is a billionaire shipping magnate who is capturing nuclear submarines using his giant front-opening supertanker, the Liparus. From here he plans to use the submarines as "instruments of Armageddon" to destroy Moscow and New York, thereby creating a nuclear holocaust after which he will preside over a new undersea kingdom ruled from his underwater base, "Atlantis". Rather like Michael Lonsdale in "Moonraker", Jurgens plays Stromberg with an understated sense of fear and has plenty of ideas on how to get rid of Bond.
"Spy" also features two elements that will rank as two of the most enduring images of the series: the appearance of the gadget-laden Lotus Esprit that tends to swim, not sink, and the introduction of the seven-foot-four, steel-toothed Jaws, played by Richard Kiel, who not only uses his teeth to deadly effect but can survive ANYTHING (including a building falling on top of him)! Note: why does Bond choose to shoot him in the teeth, of ALL places?
"The Spy Who Loved Me" revived the franchise, no doubt. You look have to look at the pre-credits sequences to see that, what with Bond skiing over a cliff - a great thrill to begin to begin a Bond film with! The rest of the film is just as impressive, in no small part due to the return of director Lewis R. Gilbert. "Spy" is both thrilling and enjoyable, and even those who wrote off the series after Connery's departure should like this one.
Roll on "Moonraker".
"From Russia With Love" is a fine example of good old-fashioned Bond purism.
Because President Kennedy had named Fleming's novel as one of his favourite
books of all time, the producers decided to release this as the follow-up to
"Dr. No". Although modern (especially younger) audiences may be turned off
by the lack of action sequences, "Russia" has a fine plot about a top-secret
Soviet encoder, the Lektor, which MI6 are desperate to obtain. However,
criminal organisation SPECTRE latches on and decides to use it as a fatal
lure for 007... The film features probably the best cast in the series.
Lotte Lenya is impressive enemy spy named Rosa Klebb, Daniela Bianchi is
memorable as unsuspecting cypher clerk Tatiana Romanova, and Pedro
Armendariz shines as 007's immortal ally Kerim Bey. And then there's THAT
assassin, Donald "Red" Grant (Robert Shaw). He is a wonderfully effective
henchmen in that unlike Jaws or Oddjob, he doesn't use a special weapon
(like metal teeth), he's just a hard-as-nails bruiser. His fight with Bond
is one of the most enduring fight scenes to appear in a Bond film. FRWL was
indeed the last film (barring the forgettable "On Her Majesty's Secret
Service") to retain the flavour of Fleming's Bond, and it survives as a
shining example of that class nowadays.
Note: cameo by Walter Gotell, who would later play KGB chief General Gogol in later Bond films.
I read the reviews here, and saw that a lot of Bond fans quite liked it,
so I opted to give it a second try. Unfortunately, I still have to say
"On Her Majesty's Secret Service" is the weakest of the series. There are
few good scenes, such as the ski-chases and the climactic battle, and the
storyline is OK, but the film is overlong and much of the first 40 minutes
is pointless, save for Bond's meeting with Draco. Things only pick up
(barely) with Bond's arrival at Piz Gloria. There's some saving grace in
Diana Rigg and Gabriele Ferzetti, but these two can't save the day. George
Lazenby was a brave choice, but he clearly lacks the suave brutality of
Connery and the refreshing wit of Moore.
OHMSS should have been a classic Bond film, but it came out wrong. Telly Savalas, although a fine actor, is terribly monotonous as Blofeld, the editing is sloppy most of the time, and the wedding scene is rather out of place. But John Barry's score is one of his best, and the shock ending is a nice, if anomalous, touch. If you want a good Bond film, pick up "Goldfinger" or "The Spy Who Loved Me", not this one as this is the bottom of the Bond barrel.
"Moonraker" is the most unfairly criticised of all the Bond films. The 11th
film in the series and the fourth starring Roger Moore, "Moonraker" works
very well for a number of reasons. As Ian Fleming's original novel (written
in 1955) had become too dated to translate to the screen, the producers
decided to capitalise on the sci-fi craze started by Star Wars, and so
created a spectacular space-age adventure where Bond himself journeys into
Whilst this film was certainly inspired by Star Wars, this is not meant to imply that "Moonraker" copies directly from the former. Don't forget that only the last 20-30 minutes of the film takes place in space. Although the laser battle looks dated by modern standards, it is still a classic slice of Bond action, that, as one reviewer has stated, compares with the underwater battle in "Thunderball". And on that level it works superbly.
What I especially like about "Moonraker" is the way it glides smoothly from one action sequence to another. This way, there's not only no shortage of thrills, but an overall level of consistency in the storyline is maintained, where Bond hops across the globe (to Venice and Rio, for example) uncovering clues as to the disappearance of the Moonraker space shuttle. On the way, he survives the customary assassination attempts by the bad guys (Drax and Jaws), and then at the end of the film all the clues piece together to complete the jigsaw. It's steady, consistent storylines like this that prove the key to a successful Bond film.
Purists often accuse "Moonraker" of being too stupid. Although there are some pretty outrageous sight gags, the film still retains its enormous appeal. Certainly, "Moonraker" is the most light-hearted Bond film, and it's quite clear that Roger Moore was enjoying himself tremendously here. His performance in this escapade certainly brought a smile to my lips.
There's also a wonderful cast. Drax is quite possibly the best Bond villain. His one-liners are great and he is certainly not short of ideas on how to dispose of Bond. The beautiful Lois Chiles proves to have the right qualities as an astronaut/CIA agent, and she is a worthy ally to 007. Bond's first romantic encounter Corinne Dufour (Corinne Clery) brings a lot to the film. Richard Kiel makes his encore performance as the steel-toothed giant Jaws. After his superhuman appearance in "The Spy Who Loved Me", Jaws plays more for laughs this time round, but his Roadrunner/Wile E. Coyote-type battles with 007 are still entertaining. There's also another henchman, Chang (Toshiro Suga) who provides more credibility if somewhat less invincibility in a superbly staged duel with Bond in a glass factory.
"Moonraker" also sees John Barry at his composing best. He provides a number of rich, atmospheric tracks that perfectly reflect the film's outer space theme. Shirley Bassey's third title song isn't quite as good as "Goldfinger" but better than "Diamonds Are Forever", and is certainly as good as Carly Simon's song for TSWLM.
"Moonraker" has often been placed at the bottom of the Bond spectrum. It doesn't belong there. It has everything a successful Bond film needs: a great plot, superb villains, exotic locations, beautiful women, brilliant special effects (for which visual effects maestro Derek meddings received an Oscar nomination) and action by the bucketful. There are scenes which generate genuine suspense and which feature awe-inspiring stunts in mid-air and on water. The space scenes are well done and all aspects of the space shuttle look true to life. In summary, "Moonraker" is a brilliant film in its own right and should rank up there with "Goldfinger" and "The Spy Who Loved Me" as one of the best Bonds ever made. I strongly urge you doubters to take a second look.