007 Chatter: (Ian) Fleming’s Bond – The James Bond of the original novels compared to the 007 movies Part 2

Welcome to another edition of 007Chatter!
Just because Skyfall has been released in the US now, doesn’t mean we can’t continue talking about Bond. So this is the second part of Marcus’ post where he compared the Ian Fleming’s Novels to the Bond Films. In this post, Marcus takes a closer look at what is going on inside Bond — his relationships to the two important women in his life provide a great contrast to his movie image.

Check out PART I if you haven’t already.

Thanks again to Marcus Clearspring for these two-part posts!
Check out his movie blog Cinesprit and his writing blog.

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My introduction to Bond movies were double features at our small town cinema. Two Bonds on the big screen for half the price of one blockbuster ticket in London. Once I discovered that deal, I was eagerly opening the weekly listings to see when the next double feature was showing. Like most people who were happy with the movies, I wasn’t really aware of the books. Then I discovered several Bond books on the family bookshelves which changed my view of the Bond character completely.

Only five of the movies really follow Fleming’s novels closely. Dr No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. All the first movies made, with the exception of You Only Live Twice, which mixes in so much new stuff that it greatly differs from the novel.

The novel would be difficult to adapt to the screen. The first one hundred pages consist largely of Bond and Tiger Tanaka, head of the Japanese Secret Service, talking about cultural differences between British/Western ways and Japanese/Asian perspectives. The final showdown does not take place in a hollowed-out volcano as in the movie. You Only Live Twice is an exception, a very strange novel in many ways. The final showdown is quite literally fantastic. Definitely to be recommended if you are open to a different kind of 007 narrative.

In general, the movies liberally mix and match individual scenes and characters from the novels. The best example is Live and Let Die. The movie has very little to do with the novel except for Bond chasing Mr. Big’s drug ring and visiting Harlem. However, some of the most memorable action scenes from Live and Let Die are mixed into other movies. For example, the scene in For Your Eyes Only with Bond and Melina, the woman  with the crossbow, being dragged as shark bait behind a boat.

Then two scenes in Licence to Kill. The one where Felix Leiter has been fed to sharks and has a classic Fleming line attached to him saying “He disagreed with something that ate him“. The other is when Bond breaks into the warehouse belonging to Crest. The scene is much longer in the novel and has far more suspense. As I said in my first post, its surprising that many action scenes are more engaging in the novels.

I’d like to focus on two topics which generally put Bond’s character in a negative light. His relationship to women and the perception from the movies that he’s merely a blunt instrument, an assassin with no introspection. Both topics are different in the novels.

There is a common perception that Bond is a misogynist and only sees women as “disposable pleasures.” Particularly for the movies of the 1970s that is often true. The phrase, I believe, is from Fleming’s Casino Royale and quoted in the movie. However, in the novels, I would argue that’s only a setup by the author to get Bond more emotionally involved.

It’s like in romantic comedies and dramas. In the beginning, the male or female lead declare to their best friend how they are totally finished with serious relationships because men/women are so awful. We all know that’s a setup, that they will hook up at the end with the person they disliked the most in the beginning. The greater the distance created, the greater they can fall in love later on. I think Fleming does this too. Only, it’s not served as a fluffy romance, so many people don’t seem to recognize it behind the rough and tumble macho disguise. Why else would Fleming have Bond literally call  himself a misogynist, then have him fall in love? Bond gives a simple explanation. It’s because he has never met a woman he could have an interesting conversation with. Surprising insight, if you only know the movies.

Bond only falls in love twice in the novels. That is with Vesper in Casino Royale and Tracy in On her Majesty’s Secret Service. Vesper, the sphinx, is the first woman he can talk to with ease. Tracy, a woman with “issues”, becomes Mrs Bond.

These are some of the most fascinating parts in any of the Bond novels. It’s this very tough character, an assassin, being caring and tender, able to relate to another person. Mixed with action and imminent danger this delivers a great result. It goes far deeper than the stock “hero getting the girl” because Fleming adds so much interior to Bond’s character.

Bond’s introspection is what sets him apart from many other action heroes. He will question what he needs to do and what he has done. He will ponder the moral and ethical sides of his actions, question the service he works for. There is an entire short chapter in Casino Royale, where, while recuperating in the clinic, Bond speaks to Mathis about his job, pondering whether he should quit. He questions whether his actions are any better than those of the villains he hunts. Some interesting thoughts and answers from Mathis which are worth reading and thinking about.

One thing to keep in mind is that the novels were written in the 1950s and obviously do not reflect what’s considered politically correct today (see note below on Live and Let Die). It’s a post World War II era. The onset of the Cold War.

Here’s a brief personal ranking of the novels.

Best:

  • On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
  • From Russia with Love
  • You Only Live Twice
  • Dr No
  • Thunderball
  • Goldfinger

Mediocre:

  • The Man with the Golden Gun
  • Live and Let Die*

* Caution: “Live and Let Die” contains many racial references considered highly offensive today.

Weak:

  • Diamonds are Forever

Special mention:

The Spy Who Loved Me is an exception in the series, written entirely from the perspective of a woman. James Bond only has a short appearance. You can’t really count it as part of the normal Bond novels. It is interesting though and I plan on re-reading it.

There would be lots more to say. I can only encourage anyone interested in Bond, to check out the novels and discover a depth of character not present in any of the movies to date.


So that concludes the two-part post on how the Ian Fleming’s Bond books compare to the Bond movies. 

What are your thoughts on this topic?

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007 Chatter: Musings on Bond Villains and Top 7 Picks

It’s the last day of the Bond month, the 50 year anniversary of the first Bond film, Dr. No, which opened in the UK on on October 5, 1962. These 007 posts are also part of the Skyfall countdown which will open on November 9 here in the US! As I don’t cover the horror genre on this blog, I figure it’d be fitting to do a post on those wicked Bond villains on Halloween.

Special thanks to Raul Marin of The Movi3 Lounge for this guest post!
Three of his picks actually match my own top five I posted two years ago :D


Just as the day turns to night, the month celebrating the 50th anniversary of the James Bond franchise comes to a sudden end. However, this is only the beginning of more to come! There is another film to look forward to in a few days, as Daniel Craig will once again play the iconic role in Skyfall.

As we all anticipate this next film with great excitement, I invite you to think about the villains that we have seen in the franchise over last 50 years. There are six men who have had the pleasure of playing this amazing role. They have dazzled us with their strength, charm, and bravery to save the world against impossible odds. Before we can appreciate the amazing acts of this extraordinary British agent, we have to recognize the worthy adversaries he has encountered before saving the world. Before you can have a hero, you need a villain that can challenge him or her to overcome adversity. After winning many battles, you become a hero with your good deeds and amazing courage. When life is on the line, there has been no one better than James Bond to save humanity from chaos and destruction. The beauty of this franchise has been that someone with the talent and abilities of Bond has been needed to bring down the most dangerous and criminal-minded villains on the planet.

The role of villains in this franchise is something special. To put this in a better perspective, Bond has what it takes to be a devastating villain in any film. He is a strong, determined, and fearless agent that will do what it takes to save the world. The villains on the other hand, use their abilities and resources to establish world order and domination under their control. They also share the same characteristics as Bond. Which brings up a great point: it is not about the strengths and abilities that you have; it is about what you choose to do with them. Since we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of this incredible franchise, it is only fitting to recognize the seven best Bond villains. Of course, there have been many villains throughout these 23 films, but there are seven in particular, who went beyond the expectations of a great villain.

There’s even a book dedicated to the evil masterminds of the Bond franchise

It is not enough to simply have the role of a villain in a film; it is something that should be earned in the eyes of the director and the audience. What makes these seven villains stand out more than the rest are a couple of characteristics; mainly the possession of power. In their respective films, there is no question of the power, influence, and authority that they have over the people that work for them, and the fear they have caused in the world because of that. Another characteristic that they all share is style. This can be interpreted in a lot of ways, but the reality is, they each demonstrate their personalities with great charisma, elegance, and even a sense of humor. Above all, they each demonstrate a relentless, diabolical, and cold-hearted hunger for killing Bond, and destroying whatever gets in the way of their dreams.

Many, if not all, villains in this franchise have had evil henchmen whose jobs are to make killing Bond easier them. They may not be complete villains, but if you still cringe at their presence on screen, they have done their job well. Jaws and Oddjob did the best jobs of that in my humble opinion. Soon, Javier Bardem will add himself to the list of actors that have graced fans everywhere with their on screen presence as a villain in Skyfall. It may be too early to say that he belongs among the best, but there is certainly great excitement and expectation for him to be among the ranks of the most evil men that Bond has had to face.

It is with great pleasure that I list my top seven Bond villains:


Dr. Julius No (Dr. No) – played by Joseph Wiseman

Hugo Drax (Moonraker) – played by Michael Lonsdale



Frank Sanchez (Licence to Kill) – played by Robert Davi



Aris Kristatos (For Your Eyes Only) – played by Julian Glover



Le Chiffre (Casino Royale) – played by Mads Mikkelsen



Emilio Largo (Thunderball) – played by Adolfo Celi



Red Grant (From Russia With Love) – played by Robert Shaw




Special Recognition:

  • Jaws – Moonraker, The Spy Who Loved Me
  • Oddjob – Goldfinger


Now your turn! Who are YOUR picks of top Bond villains?

007 Chatter: (Ian) Fleming’s Bond – The James Bond of the original novels compared to the 007 movies Part 1

October is Bond month as the producers are celebrating the 50 year anniversary of the first Bond film, Dr. No, which opened in the UK on on October 5, 1962. In addition to the Skyfall countdown, here at FlixChatter we are taking an in-depth look into the world’s most popular movie franchise and its origins.

Special thanks to Marcus Clearspring for this two-part posts in comparing how the original novels of Ian Fleming compared to the Bond movies.

Check out Marcus’ movie blog Cinesprit and his writing blog.

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Fleming’s Bond

When you think James Bond, you probably think Martinis-and-bikinis, “shaken not stirred” and of course “Bond, James Bond”. The James Bond of the movies is a kind of superhero. However, Ian Fleming’s original novels show far more depth of character and certainly no superman. He may actually have a few things in common with some of the darker superheroes, only he has no superpowers. Although he has gadgets, they rarely spring him from danger in the novels.

The complete collection of Ian Fleming books – photo courtesy of ebookee.org

Fleming’s Bond is a character with doubts, who is vulnerable and expresses his fears. The most extreme example is when Bond falls into a long depression for several months after the death of his wife Tracy. The story begins with Bond visiting her grave, and his boss M back at the office, telling Bond to shape up or ship out. This is the beginning to Thunderball in the novel. Bond is not sent to the health clinic to work undercover. It’s an ultimatum. He goes there because he is too depressed and out of shape to work. He discovers the bad guys by chance. It is surprising how dark the beginning is, but it’s also very memorable.
The movies have so far never portrayed Bond like this. We saw him place flowers on his wife’s grave in For Your Eyes Only, but that was followed by an action-comedy sequence with Blofeld at times so camp it was close to Austin Powers. The Thunderball remake Never Say Never Again had Bond sent to the clinic because he was supposedly out of shape, but that was all. It too was upbeat, almost comedic, with no mention of any other trouble.

The possibly closest portrayal of Fleming’s Bond in the movies for me is Timothy Dalton in Licence To Kill, and to some extent Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. As of the Daniel Craig era you can imagine the producers using a downbeat opening like in Fleming’s Thunderball because attitudes have changed. It’s okay now for Bond to be vulnerable and the story to have some gravitas. When they tried that with Timothy Dalton in Licence To Kill, audiences were not yet ready. It was 10-15 years too early.
Fleming’s Bond is always focused and very rarely distracted. There’s a scene in Goldfinger where Bond sees a pretty girl in an open sports car and is tempted to follow her. Then he smiles and mutters to himself that he needs to keep shadowing Goldfinger. You may recall that scene from the movie. It’s an exception in the novels rather than something you would expect, as you do in the movies. Likewise, you won’t find scores of bikini-clad girls sunbathing around swimming pools. No five-star hotel concierge greets Bond after several years by name and announces that a Martini is waiting. Not in the books.

What makes Fleming’s Bond so interesting?

[ruth’s note: I found this illustration by Gabriel Hardman above from this site, inspired by this description from Fleming’s Casino Royale novel: As he tied his thin, double-ended black satin tie, he paused for a moment and examined himself levelly in the mirror. His grey-blue eyes looked calmly back with a hint of ironical inquiry and the short lock of black hair which would never stay in place slowly subsided to form a thick comma above his right eyebrow. With the thin vertical scar down his right cheek the general effect was faintly piratical.]
There have been many new authors who have written Bond novels since Ian Fleming. Make sure to start at the source, with the real deal. There may be some good 007 novels by other authors but I have not heard of any to surpass Fleming’s originals. When I refer to “the novels” from here on, I mean solely Ian Fleming’s books.
What I find particularly interesting in Fleming’s novels is the way we get to see and feel everything that Bond does from inside Bond’s head. That’s a totally different perspective to the movies. We get a multitude of thoughts and emotions racing through Bond’s head. Doubts, strategies, fears, next moves. All this is mostly told as a running commentary.
Many action scenes in the novels are better than in the movies. I know that sounds odd because movies are normally better at action than books, but this is one of Fleming’s strong points. A good example is the car chase in Casino Royale. It has far more detail and suspense than the movie, which only shows Bond catching up, then the final rollover of his car. The novel manages to put you inside Bond’s head, with him in the driver’s seat, following his every move and thought. He sits there thinking about how Vesper got herself caught. Complaining about her and worrying at the same time as he shifts gears and his thoughts race. These are some of the best moments in the books because you get both the internal and external action.
I would never have thought it could be exciting the way someone shifts gears and moves along serpentine roads, but it is the way Fleming writes. I know someone who used to drive rallies and they thought Fleming’s descriptions were great. Especially if you are bored by the fast cuts of current movie chases which abbreviate so much, you will appreciate the detailed and engaging way Fleming writes his action scenes.

Focus and Purpose

The fight scenes are full of precision and purpose. Often brutal, but never for show. Bond often considers each move in advance. However, not as in many movies where the hero recites a bunch of moves to show off how easy it’s going to be and how cool he or she is. If there’s any comparison in movies, Fleming’s Bond takes the approach of a Clint Eastwood type character. Someone who gets straight down to business when he has to and takes the shortest, most effective route without any showing off.
The skiing scenes in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service are another great example. The movie’s ski scenes are great due to Willy Bogner’s amazing photography, but the novel has the advantage of putting you inside Bond’s skin as he tries to escape from Blofeld’s mountain lair.

The movies are glamorous, mainstream action entertainment. The books get inside Bond’s head and under his skin. It’s a very different perspective. It’s the main reason to read the books. In the next post I’ll take a closer look at what is going on inside Bond. His relationships to the two important women in his life provide a great contrast to his movie image. His introspective side shows how critical, and at times cynical, Bond can be of his own job.


Well, that’s it for Part I. Is there anything you miss in the movies, or which you think might be better in a novel?

Five for the Fifth October 2012: Spy Edition

Hello folks, since October 5 2012 edition of Five of the Fifth happens to fall on Bond’s 50th Anniversary, all the questions have a SPY theme in honor of our super spy 007.

As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here. So let’s get started, shall we?
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1. Well, now that Adele’s Skyfall theme song has been officially released, I’m quite pleased to see the classic ballad is back again. I’ve listened to it half a dozen times now and the melody easily gets stuck in my head. I like that there’s a trace of the Bond theme in it, and it doesn’t hurt that I’m a big fan of Adele’s voice. She’s channeling Dame Shirley Bassey, though I don’t think anyone could match the Welsh singer’s powerful pipes. So take a listen below…

Now on to the two-part question: Thoughts on Adele’s song AND which singer/band do you wish would sing the Bond theme song next?

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2. James Bond might be the world’s most famous spy character, but Ian Fleming isn’t the only popular British spy author. This article on Word and Film site lists all the films based on English author John le Carre’s classic British spy and espionage novels. I have only seen three of them on the list: Tinker Tailor Solider Spy, The Constant Gardener and The Tailor of Panama, and they’re all very good.

I’m curious to check out the rest from that list, especially The Spy Who Came in from the Cold starring Richard Burton. That sounds really intriguing.

Are you a fan of Le Carre’s work? Which of his books is your favorite?

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3. A few days ago I came across this Best Bond Movies poll that the MI6-HQ site conducted late last year. Below are the results of the ‘most favored’ James Bond films by the fans:

Rank Film Actor Score
1 Casino Royale Daniel Craig 75%
2 Goldfinger Sean Connery 54%
3 From Russia With Love Sean Connery 53%
4 On Her Majesty’s Secret Service George Lazenby 46%
5 GoldenEye Pierce Brosnan 37%

The Living Daylights made the top 10 at #8 (which makes me happy), but what I find most interesting is that On Her Majesty’s Secret Service made the top 5!

So even though people didn’t like George Lazenby, apparently they still love the film. That’s one of the Bond films I really want to revisit again, I might do it yet this month as I don’t remember much about it aside from that heartbreaking finale. I’m even more curious as Christopher Nolan said it’s his favorite Bond film, so who knows, perhaps a remake is in order with a more capable Bond actor?

What’s your thoughts on the poll and/or OHMSS film specifically?
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4. Now switching gears from MI-6 to CIA… Americans’ got our own super spy too, y’know :D The name is Ryan, Jack Ryan. Ok it doesn’t have the same catchy ring to it and the franchise is not nearly as lucrative, but the Tom Clancy’s character has quite a fan base.

And the reboot coming up next year seems to be going back to basics, titling it simply Jack Ryan, and casting the young and hip Capt Kirk Chris Pine in the role. Interestingly enough, he’s surrounded by Brits: Kenneth Branagh is directing and starring as the villain and Keira Knightley as his wife. But hey, he’s got Kevin Costner as his CIA mentor.

For me, my favorite Jack Ryan actor is Harrison Ford, but it could be because Patriot Games was the first movie I saw of the franchise. I know most of you probably love Alec Baldwin most as he’s the first in The Hunt For The Red October, and I might revisit that movie at one point, but I quite like Ford’s intensity. He might appear curmudgeon, which somehow I find endearing, but to me he captures that hard life and being constantly on edge as what I imagined his job would entail.

So, who’s your favorite actor portraying Jack Ryan?
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5. Now, back to Bond again as today is Global Bond Day after all. As the franchise keeps going on and on, let me turn to the one who started it all: Ian Fleming. I’d love to see the creator of Commander Bond gets a proper biopic treatment on the big screen. Well, last May there were reports circulating that Duncan Jones (director of Moon, Source Code, etc.) is going to be at the helm. As The Guardian article says, Fleming’s fascinating life story seems to be worth telling and no doubt inspired his creation, inspired by his years in the British naval intelligence during WWII. He reportedly lived a hard life too, smoking and drinking (60 cigarettes a day??!), and was also quite the playboy.

I haven’t heard of who’d be cast as Fleming. I think I heard James McAvoy was rumored at some point, which would be a good choice I think, aside from the fact that Fleming has Scottish roots. Now if they decide to do a biopic on his later years though, I’d love to see Geoffrey Rush play him. I mean, I even found this photo when I was searching on Google, so obviously I’m not the only one who think of their uncanny resemblance!

Thoughts on this biopic, now who would you like to see portray Ian Fleming?


Well, that’s it for the Special SPY edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! :D

007 Chatter: Discussing the enduring appeal of James Bond

In case you didn’t know, October is Bond month as the producers are celebrating the UK premiere of Dr. No on October 5, 1962. So, as part of Bond’s 50th Anniversary, I thought I’d invite two of my friends and fellow Bond fan Michael from It Rains… You Get Wet and FC’s staff Ted S. to discuss the enduring appeal of this ultra-popular franchise. Now, on to the Q&A…
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What’s your first introduction to the world of 007? Did you read the Ian Flemming’s books?

Michael: I have my mother’s younger brother, my uncle, to thank for the introduction to the world of OO7. He took me to the movie theater, decades ago during my childhood, for my first ever James Bond film, which turned out to be the third in the series. I’d not heard of the character, nor had I ever read any of Ian Fleming’s novels to that point in time. I wouldn’t read my first Bond book for a couple more years, when I turned teen. That first novel would be From Russia With Love.

Ted: I think it was my father who introduced me to the Bond films, he used to watch them when we were living in the Far East, I was pretty young then.

I read many of the Bond novels, couldn’t name them all but the first one was Casino Royale, I started reading the books after I saw the films.

Ruth: I’ve got to admit I never read any of Ian Fleming’s novels [gasp] I got my first introduction to Bond through the movies, which I’m guessing most people are in my camp. I might take up one of the novels at some point though, I might start with On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.


What’s your earliest experience watching a Bond movie? What age and which Bond movie?

Michael: I was age 11 when I saw Goldfinger, and I documented this particular memory in a TMT from last November.

Ted: I don’t remember when I first saw a Bond film but I think it was in my early teens, the first movie I saw was Dr. No and the scene that I always remember was the introduction of Ursula Andress‘ character when she walked out of the water and in that swimsuit, I was instantly in love with her. It’s reason why I tend to date voluptuous women. :)

Ruth: I think I was in Junior High when I first saw a Bond movie. I can’t remember the exact movie though, my memory isn’t as good as Michael’s ahah, but I think it was a Roger Moore movie, perhaps Moonraker? So I grew up watching Moore’s Bond movies and to this day, his movies are still fun to watch for nostalgia’s sake.
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This Guardian article said … the key to Bond’s evergreen appeal is that, as well as some enjoyable nostalgia, he delivers the reader a harmless slice of old-fashioned adventure in a readily digestible form.

What do you think about that? Now what appeals to you most about the Bond franchise?

Michael: I think there is some validity to that, but I think there’s more to it. The Ian Fleming novels and short stories that employed the character created a rather iconic niche, primarily with men, when they first came out. The hooks (espionage, gadgets, and sex) being rather obvious. Heck, even JFK read them. Here’s the thing, though. When the character and series were adapted to film, well, both men AND women discovered a lot to their liking. So much so, the appeal became instantly more universal from that point (with Dr. No) forward.

To such a degree you can ask just about anyone, no matter their gender (or age), who is their favorite Bond, or what their favorite flick is, and they will have an opinion. And in 50 years, it’s likely to be long-standing.

Ian Fleming with Connery on a Bond movie set

Ted: The reason I love the Bond franchise is because it’s a fantasy for most if not all men want to live, saving the world from the bad guys; dates beautiful women, wear expensive suits and drive super expensive cars. Travel all over the world and eat at fancy restaurants. It’s pure escapism.

Ruth: I think there’s certainly an escapism aspect that makes Bond movies so fun to watch. I mean, real spies are likely closer to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy‘s George Smiley, so they don’t lead a glamorous life, driving fast cars and wooing women all over the world. What appeals to me most is the adventure and awesome scenery we’ve come to expect in each film. I get to live vicariously through his globe-trotting lifestyle fighting bad guys!

As a woman, obviously there’s also a certain eye-candy element to the franchise, I mean Bond is the quintessential dream guy. I mean he’s good looking, stylish, sophisticated, etc. and what girl hasn’t dreamed of being swept off their feet by a man who obviously knows how to woo a woman, even if it’s just for one night! ;)
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How many Bond movies do you own and which one(s) do you watch most often? If you have a Bond memorabilia, do share!

Michael: All of them, for sure, via the Ultimate Edition volumes on DVD. My Blu-ray collection is far from complete, though. My wife can back up  those statements, and perhaps not happily, since she has to live with me (and them) ;)

Ted: Currently I have about 8 or 10 on Blu-ray, I’ll be adding to my collection once more comes out on BD next month. The ones I watched often are Casino Royale, The Living Daylights (on DVD), License To Kill, Thunderball, From Russia with Love, For Your Eyes Only, Tomorrow Never Dies, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (on DVD) and Quantum of Solace (yes I really like this film).

I just bought The Living Daylights and Tomorrow Never Dies on Blu-ray this week so now I have 12 Bond films on that format.

I’m picking up GoldenEye and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service later this weekend and then my Bond collection is complete. I don’t want to get the complete collection because I couldn’t sit through some of the awful ones like A View to a Kill, Live and Let Die, Diamonds Are Forever and so on.

Ruth: I actually don’t have very many of them: I only have Octopussy, For Your Eyes Only, The Living Daylights on DVDs and Casino Royale and Licence To Kill on Blu-ray. That’s it!

I know that over the years my brothers and I probably have bought the same movies several times over in different format, starting with those darn VHS! I’m glad I haven’t bought any of the DVD sets though, as I’m hoping to get those glorious 50th Anniversary Blu-ray set one of these days! I know there are some awful Bond movies I don’t like in that collection but I figure I can watch the special features on them, I’d think those are still fun to watch. Speaking of memorabilia, I wish I could get a hold of all those GQ Bond issues below, and this book on the making of Licence to Kill!


Who’s your favorite Bond actor and why? Feel free to rank the five Bond actors if you so choose.

Michael: It’s who it has always been since that one night back in January of 1965. Sean Connery. I do agree with you that someone like Timothy Dalton was closer to the character Ian Fleming devised and wrote about. But, it’s still Sean blessed Connery for God sakes were talking about! I firmly believe he’s been the most charismatic of all the actors who’ve portrayed this character on film. Plus, he had an aura of physicality that matched his persona (best evidence of that would be the classic fight on the train between him and Robert Shaw as ‘Red Grant’ in From Russia With Love and John Kenneth Muir’s recent piece on The Top Five: James Bond Fight Sequences). This facet only recently approached by another — that someone being Daniel Craig. In other words, Sean remains the yardstick all others are measured against (at least by those of us a certain age, that is).

 And since you asked, here would be my ranking:
1. Sean Connery
2. Daniel Craig
3. Timothy Dalton
4. Pierce Brosnan
5. Roger Moore

Ted: This is kind of a tough question for me, as for film version of Bond I’d have to go with Connery BUT I believe Timothy Dalton is truer to what Fleming wrote in his novels.

My Ranking:

  1. Sean Connery
  2. Timothy Dalton
  3. Daniel Craig
  4. Pierce Brosnan
  5. Roger Moore

I don’t think we can really judge Lazenby since he’s only appeared in one film.

Ruth: Anyone who’ve read this blog long enough knows who my all time favorite Bond is ;) In fact I just paid a tribute to him just last Friday. I think as time goes by I like Dalton more and more, and perhaps the fact that he’s so criminally-underrated makes me like him more. I mean he epitomized what I envision a super spy would be (and apparently he’s what Fleming envisioned in his books, too): gritty but NOT thuggish, sophisticated and confident without being cocky, relentless yet loyal to a fault, and his Bond appreciates a beautiful woman but not in a lewd way. Plus he’s just so darn good looking! I mean he’s the ONLY Bond that makes my heart goes pit-a-pat, not to mention Dalton is the tallest Bond with the BEST voice.

I could go on and on but here’s my rating:

  1. Timothy Dalton (natch)
  2. Daniel Craig
  3. Sean Connery
  4. Roger Moore
  5. Pierce Brosnan

Note: I’m not saying I dislike Brosnan, as I like his first two Bond movies. It’s just as time goes by, his portrayal of Bond just seems too cocky to me that it rubs me the wrong way. Plus his Bond movies seems to be the most sexually vulgar (especially his sex scene with Halle Berry) that I find repulsive. Moore might be whimsical but his movies have nostalgic value to me so I just can’t put him as least favorite Bond.


What would you like to see in future Bond films? Or in other words: What’d be your ideal Bond movie be?

Michael: This is both an easy and hard one to answer. Easy because of the likes of actors like Idris Elba, Karl Urban, and your favorite Gerard Butler. Hard due to the fact that someone else, totally unknown to us all, will arrive somewhere down the line and make the iconic role their own. The point is, it’s the character of OO7 that makes the series. What’s obvious is that not one actor has carried the series for all of five decades. It’s Bond that is the brand.

If I could somehow manipulate the space-time continuum, I’d remake one particular James Bond film from the 60s to produce my ideal Bond movie. I’d have Sean Connery star in what I and others consider to be the best story of the entire series, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. I mean, Connery paired with who I consider the best Bond girl ever, Diana Rigg. There’d be no words to suffice.

Ted: I would love to see someone like David Fincher or Chris Nolan directing a Bond film. Bring his character more to reality and well make the film quite violent and brutal; I know that will never happen since the franchise is so lucrative for the studio, they will never risk doing a hard R-rated Bond film.

Ruth: I know we’re supposed to let bygones be bygones… but just looking at the poster below I found the other day, well, ideally Dalton gets to do one more Bond movie! I’d have LOVED to see him in something like Casino Royale where he gets to display his gritty as well as vulnerable side.

But ah well, I better learn to just let it go. Now, for the future, in line with what Ted said, I’d like to see quality directors tackle a Bond movie and put a fresh spin to it whilst still keeping the elements of a Bond film we’ve come to know and love. I don’t know if making it more violent is the answer, I mean it could still be PG-13 but have a really intriguing storyline that puts Bond in a different light somehow.

Well it’s more like a fantasy Bond movie… that is to see Clive Owen, someone I’d have liked to see as Bond, play a Bond villain. For once it’d be nice to see a Bond villain who might look as cool as the super spy himself, ahah. He’s in my actors wish list I’d like to see as a Bond villain.

Another fantasy of mine would be seeing Dalton himself as a Bond villain, that’s never been done before but I think he’d be perfect. And also Alan Rickman, as he could easily play an elegant baddie like Moonraker‘s Hugo Drax. I’d LOVE to hear him utter the words “So long, Mr Bond” in that iconic voice of his! :D



Thoughts on seeing Daniel Craig in at least five more Bond films AFTER ‘Skyfall?’ Is this a good idea you think or should the producers find someone new after say, 5 years?

Michael: I’ve certainly enjoyed Daniel Craig as the most recent incarnation of Bond. But, I think an actor can overstay their welcome in the role (cough *** Roger Moore). More than two more, beyond Skyfall, and that might be too much ;)

Ted: I wouldn’t mind seeing Craig in one more film but after that the producers should look for a new actor, get a new face and have that actor create his own version of Bond.

Ruth: I definitely think Craig should just do two more Bond movies after Skyfall, tops. As much as I like him, I feel that he already looks so old now that I can’t imagine five years from now. We might get another Never Say Never Again conundrum that Connery faced when he looked more like an AARP rep than a suave super spy!

So yeah, my take is: I want to see a fresh face in a few years. Anyone on this list (save for that guy in the show Revenge) would be a fine choice in my book!


We hope you enjoyed reading our Bond Q&A. Now we turn it over to you… what are your thoughts about this franchise’s enduring appeal?

Spotlight on My Favorite Bond –Timothy Dalton in Licence to Kill

I have James Bond in my mind today, and in case some of you didn’t know, this coming October the Bond franchise is celebrating its 50th anniversary. So for Bond month we’ll have some related posts to mark the festivities. A few sites have started a Bond-related series, such as the Bond-a-thon that MTV Movie Blog is running right now and just yesterday, the movie they highlighted was Licence to Kill, woo hoo!

I’m glad they had something positive to say about it: Unlike the majority of the movies in the series, Bond has a believable motivation. We’ve known Felix Leiter since “Dr. No,” and when something genuinely awful happens to him, we care, and we care that Bond cares, especially when it kicks off a journey for vengeance.

But what got me overjoyed was last Friday my friend Michael sent me a link via Twitter to John Kenneth Muir’s appreciation post on Licence To Kill. I have intimated in more than one occasions that Timothy Dalton is my all time favorite Bond, as you probably have read in this post, but Mr. Muir absolutely nailed the reason why I love him so…

Beyond the stunts, Timothy Dalton absolutely excels as Bond in this film. He’s called upon to undergo a series of personal crises here, and gives the audience a fully human Bond who pushes himself to the limits of human endurance, both in terms of injury (as in the finale) and in terms of control over his emotions.  Some people worried that this Dalton Bond was “too sensitive,” but his is — pretty clearly — the Bond of the Ian Fleming books.  He smokes too much, drinks too much, and when he lets himself feel his emotions, he’s absolutely off the rails.

Oh my! I couldn’t say it better myself! I have seen this film recently and it absolutely renews my appreciation for it. Here’s the Bond resigning clip that shows that Bond has a heart… but still very much a bad ass!


So today I feel like indulging a bit and turn the spotlight on the Shakespearean-trained Welsh actor in his second outing as Bond… in pictorial… because sometimes, pictures speak so much louder than words!

Now, if you think the movie is devoid of humor, then you’d be wrong. Though Licence to Kill is by definition a much darker, grittier tale that’s a departure from the Roger Moore’s Bonds, but there are some fun, lighthearted moments scattered throughout, such as this one when Q shows up in Bond’s hotel room:

How Dalton came to play Bond

Director John Glen on set with Dalton

And for those who ever thought that Dalton was a ‘back-up’ Bond (like one Variety writer said in their recent post), well they need to do better research. The actor had said in The Living Daylights documentary that Albert Broccoli had offered him the role as far back as 1968 when he was only 24! It was Dalton himself who turned down the role, saying he was far too young for the role, “Originally I did not want to take over from Sean Connery. He was far too good, he was wonderful. I was about 24 or 25, which is too young. But when you’ve seen Bond from the beginning, you don’t take over from Sean Connery.”

Wikipedia also noted that he was approached again in the late 70s but he wasn’t keen on the direction the films were taking (this was Roger Moore’s era, natch!). It’s true that he finally accepted the role in 1986 when Pierce Brosnan couldn’t get his contract out of the TV series Remington Steele, but it didn’t mean that he was the producer’s second choice as Dalton was already considered before Brosnan even entered the picture!

In any case, it really is a shame Dalton only got two Bond movies under his belt. I like Daniel Craig, I mean Casino Royale is one of my favorite Bond movies now and you know I’m looking forward to Skyfall. But Dalton’s performance, which was way ahead of his time, will always be the one I remember most fondly. I’m sure glad that it seems that more people seem to appreciate Dalton and his Bond movies more as time goes by. Rightly so!


That’s it folks. Thoughts on Dalton and/or Licence To Kill? Well, let’s hear it!

007 Chatter: Best and Worst Bond girls of each Bond actor

In anticipation for Bond 23, a.k.a. Skyfall (view trailer) coming on November 9th, 2012, Ted and I are starting a new monthly series called 007 CHATTER… look for it sometime in the first week of each month.

I’ve also added a new category for this, so click on 007 Chatter on the category drop-down menu for all Bond-related posts.

Two and a half months away until Skyfall arrives so the countdown continues. This time my pal Ted and I set our sights to the Bond girls! They’re as essential to a Bond movie as his Walter PPK, and they have quite an enduring appeal. Once a Bond girl, always a Bond girl. I subscribe to IN STYLE magazine and within the 600+ pages of the September issue is a segment on guess what, Bond girls!! It marks the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first Bond film, Dr. No. I like the intro they wrote:

It’s the most exclusive sorority in the world — a sisterhood of desire, bikinis and deadly weapons.

I also saw this amazing info-graphic created by CableTV.com that shows every single Bond girls from the 23 Bond movies, yes including Skyfall.

Click to see the full infographic

Well, not every Bond girl is cut from the same cloth however, so here’s our picks of the best and worst from Connery all the way to Daniel Craig [we purposely skip George Lazenby’s single Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service]. I do think that Diana Rigg as the ONLY Bond girl that the playboy super-spy married would belong in the BEST list.

So here we go:

TED’s LIST

BEST WORST
Connery Honey Ryder Tiffany Case
Moore Solitaire Mary Goodnight
Dalton Pam Bouvier Kara Milovy
Brosnan Natalya Simonova Christmas Jones
Craig Camille Strawberry Fields

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Sean Connery

It’s a challenge to choose the best and worst Bond girls from all of Connery’s films, but I believe many people will agree with my choices.

Best: Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder in Dr. No – the scene where she emerged out of the beach is still the best intro to a beautiful woman ever filmed. I instantly fell in love with her as a young teenager and maybe it’s the reason why I tend to date blonde ladies with curves :)

Worst: Jill St. John as Tiffany Case in Diamonds Are Forever – In my opinion this was one of the worst Bond films ever produced and it has probably the worst Bond girl in Jill St. John. Her is a perfect example of damsel in distress, even she spent most of the movie in a bikini, I just found her character annoying.

Roger Moore

Let’s face it most of Moore’s Bond films were pretty dreadful but many of the Bond girls were quite beautiful.

Best: Jane Seymore as Solitaire in Live and Let Die – The first time I saw this film and her character appeared on screen, I thought she’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. I think she’s only the reason why I can watch this Bond flick again and again. This was one of the worst Bond films ever made.

Worst: Britt Ekland as Mary Goodnight in The Man with the Golden Gun – Another bad Bond flick, unfortunately it also have one of the worst Bond girls. Ekland’s character is another damsel in distress and not much else.

Timothy Dalton

He’s only done two Bond films so this one was easy to choose.

Best: Carey Lowell as Pam Bouvier in License to Kill – She’s a sexy lady who can fire a shotgun and flies an airplane. With her long legs and beautiful eyes, yeah I’m in love with her.

Worst: Maryam d’Abo as Kara Milovy in The Living Daylights – I hate to keep repeating myself but again her character is another damsel in distress and not much else.

Pierce Brosnan

He starred in four Bond films, two good ones and two very bad ones.

Best: Izabella Scorupco as Natalya Simonova in GoldenEye – I think her character is more of a sidekick to Bond than just another eye candy. She actually helped Bond get out of trouble in some tight spots.

Worst: Denise Richards as Dr. Christmas Jones in The World Is Not Enough – I mentioned this on an earlier article so I’ll mention it again: Denise Richards played a doctor, Denise Richards played a doctor! Richards’ so unbelievable in this role that I have to wonder if she’d slept with the producers to get the job!

Daniel Craig

He’s the current Bond and so far we’ve only seen two of his films but here are my best and worst.

Best: Olga Kurylenko as Camille in Quantum of Solace – I’m sure many people would’ve gone with Eva Green in Casino Royale but I like Olga better. She and Bond had the same agenda and will do whatever it takes to get it. I really dug the scene where she told Bond what happened to her family and then Bond apologized to her for messing up her attempt at killing General Medrano.

Worst: Gemma Arterton as Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace – I don’t even know why the filmmakers decided to include her in the film, she served no purpose whatsoever to the story. Maybe halfway through filming, they realized they only have one pretty girl so they had bring in another one just to please the audience.

RUTH’s LIST

BEST WORST
Connery Pussy Galore Kissy Suzuki
Moore Octopussy Stacey Sutton
Dalton Pam Bouvier None :)
Brosnan Elektra King & Wai Lin(tie) Christmas Jones
Craig Vesper Lynd Camille Montes

Sean Connery

I have to confess that my memory of Connery’s Bond films are a bit hazy, and I had just seen Dr. No for the first time recently.

Best: Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore in Goldfinger – Not only does she have THE most memorable name in the history of Bond girls, she also has one of the best introduction. Bond’s response “I must be dreaming,” always makes me laugh, I mean it’s just perfect! She’s also a pilot and knows Judo, and though there are hints that miss Galore is gay, Honor Blackman said in the Bond Girls Are Forever documentary that she played the role as if she had been abused in the past.

Worst: Zena Marshall as Miss Taro in Dr. No – Since I just saw this recently, it’s still fresh in my mind. I can’t stand it when Hollywood used to employ Caucasian actress to play an ethnic character. In this case she’s supposed to be a Chinese girl and Zena was made up with heavy eyeliner to make her eyes appear smaller [roll eyes] On top of it, her character is just lame. I’m glad Bond girls have come a long way since then, well most of the time anyway.

Roger Moore

I grew up watching Moore’s Bond films so I remember them fondly. Though I prefer the grittier Bond like Dalton and Craig, Moore’s Bond flicks are guilty pleasures for me. They’re preposterous fun!

Best: Maud Adams as Octopussy in Octopussy – The film is kind of a guilty pleasure of mine, but I really like seeing a Bond girl not only get the title role but she’s also a powerful business woman who’s beautiful as well as shrewd. Swedish-born Adams is the only Bond girl (besides Eunice Gayson as ‘Trench, Sylvia Trench’) who appears in two Bond films. I quite like the way she speaks, sounds seductive and elegant, without sounding like a bimbo.

WorstTanya Roberts as Stacey Sutton in A View To a Kill – For a geologist, Stacey just doesn’t seem that bright to me and unlike Maud, the girlish way Tanya talks annoys the heck out of me. It’s a terribly-written Bond flick to begin with, and having her as the Bond girl certainly doesn’t help matters. She doesn’t seem able to do single darn thing without Bond’s help!

Timothy Dalton

My favorite Bond somehow got a bad rap for being way ahead of its time… and also for being the least promiscuous of them all [in the 007 universe apparently it’s a bad thing] as the film comes out in the age of AIDS and safe sex.

Best: Carey Lowell as Pam Bouvier in License to Kill – I like her spunk and as a CIA agent, she definitely doesn’t need Bond’s help to take care of the bad guys. I like the fact that Bouvier has her hair cut short when Bond hints that she needs a makeover. She looks sexy and in control in that sparkling dress and bright red lipstick, no wonder Bond did a double take when he saw her!

Special Honorable Mention: Talisa Soto as Lupi in License to Kill. As the girlfriend of Bond villain Sanchez, no doubt Lupi is pretty much just there for eye candy. But I think she’s quite memorable and she definitely looks stunning in that red lace dress at the casino.

Worst: None. Controversial I know but I quite like ALL of Dalton’s Bond girls.

I know people don’t like Maryam d’Abo as Kara Milovy in The Living Daylights, but to her credit, I don’t think she’s as much a weak Bond girl as people think. The more I watch this movie the more I grow fond of her, yes even her delirious cooing to Bond “You were fantastic. We’re free!” to which Bond replied, “Kara, we’re inside a Russian airbase in the middle of Afghanistan!” But then she redeemed herself and proves her mettle when she’s left behind with the Mujahideen, fighting her way to finally get into the plane with Bond. I also like that she’s the only Bond girl who actually has a legitimate career as a concert cellist.

Pierce Brosnan

I enjoyed the first two of his Bond flicks, but the last two leave much to be desired. Now that I think about it, I’m not too keen on Brosnan’s style as Bond either. He’s just way too smug for his own good, but he does have some terrific Bond girls cast in his movies.

Best: Sophie Marceau and Michelle Yeoh (tie). I can’t pick which one I like best between these two. I like Sophie’s elegance and her background as an heiress who falls for her kidnapper is quite intriguing. The film is crap yes, but I have a soft spot for Sophie as a Bond girl. Michelle is one of those tough girl who could practically kill Bond with her martial arts skill. I like her earlier chase scenes between her and Bond in Carver’s secret lab in Hamburg, Germany.

Special Honorable Mention: Famke Janssen as Xenia Onnatop in Goldeneye. She’s more of a Bond villainness but I think she deserves a mention as who could forget the cigar-smokin’ beauty with killer thighs? I’ve always liked Famke, especially as Dr. Jean Grey in the X-Men movies. I can’t believe she’s now relegated to a damsel-in-distress role as Bryan Mills’ ex-wife in Taken, you’d think after such a bad-ass role she could almost get a role as a female superspy!

Worst: Denise Richards as Dr. Christmas Jones in The World Is Not Enough – Even with our ‘suspension of disbelief’ radar turned on at full force, it’s still hard to take in someone who looks and talks like Denise Richards, dressed in tank top and short shorts, as anything requiring an advanced degree, let alone a nuclear scientist!! Plus, Bond’s quip at the end about ‘Christmas only comes once a year’ is just sooo cringe-worthy!


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Daniel Craig

Though Craig’s only got two movies so far, but one of his Bond girls has become one of my favorites Bond girls of all time. We’ll see how Naomie Harris and Bérénice Marlohe would fare when Skyfall is released.

Best: Eva Green as Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale – I just love her from the moment she appeared on the train to Montenegro. Her banter with Bond is one of my all-time favorite scenes, and not just from a Bond movie. Vesper is no bimbo, but she’s also more than meets the eye. Eva plays Vesper in such a bewitching way that it’s easy to see why even someone like Bond who could have any woman he wanted would give it all up just for her.

Worst: Olga Kurylenko as Camille in Quantum of Solace – Sorry Ted but I just don’t like this movie and though Olga is beautiful, she makes for a boring Bond girl to me. Yes she’s got her own personal vendetta so she has no time to make love with Bond, and that’s completely fine by me, yet she just isn’t a charismatic character. It’s not her fault though, I think the film is just poorly-written.



Well that’s our list. I’m sure every Bond fan has their own pick of best and worst Bond girls, so let’s hear it!

Weekend Roundup: Comic-con, 007 & Despicable Me

Happy Monday all!

Well I *survived* the Comic-con weekend, that is I haven’t exploded from jealousy from reading all those tweets and coverage of those who were lucky enough to be there!

Dan Fogarty of FogsMovieReviews had an extensive coverage of the event, check out this awesome costume gallery and his thoughts of why Comic-con is so world-renowned. He was kind enough to send me these two pics via Twitter from Hall H where both The Hobbit AND Man of Steel‘s panel were held.

Armitage starring as Thorin in The Hobbit

The unbelievably gorgeous Man of Steel himself … Henryyyyyyyy!

Oh my, I tell you, if I had already been screaming at the top of my head seeing Andrew Garfield last year, they might have to carry me off in a stretcher seeing those Richard Armitage and Henry Cavill back to back! [swoon…]

So thanks Fogs!!

***

Well, this week is rather lackluster movie-watching for me but hey, we did secure The Dark Knight Rises IMAX tickets for next Saturday night at 7PM, woo hoo!!

I figure it might be less crowded than Friday night, but so far about half of the tickets are sold for Saturday so I think it’ll be as busy. I heard from my buddy Ted that the Man of Steel trailer WON’T be in front of the IMAX showings of the latest Nolan’s trilogy because the film itself is already too long at 2 hrs and 44 minutes. Bummer!! I hope that isn’t true!

Ah well, I can’t wait for Saturday already. This is gonna be an epic weekend alright! So did you all get YOUR tickets yet?

***

I’ve also been in a Bond mood as I had just finished another post for the 007 Chatter series. So I re-watched The Living Daylights, one of my favorite Bond movies is Timothy Dalton’s debut. After all these years I still LOVE this movie (yes despite Joe Don Baker as a lame villain) solely because of Dalton’s performance. Right from that rousing opening sequence and the clever way he’s revealed the first time as the then new Bond, I was done for. I like my James Bond dark and gritty, but Dalton is also such eye candy. Now why wasn’t there a gratuitous scene of him emerging from the water like Craig did in Casino Royale?! :) I even like the sub-plot with the Afghan Mujahideen, that last half hour is exhilarating-ly action-packed and the plane fight scene shows Dalton’s physical prowess.

Then after that, I started watching Dr. No…. the film that started it all. I saw it ages ago but have forgotten much about it. I do remember liking Connery in the role. I was reading the EMPIRE 007 special edition and there’s an article on Dr. No. One of the producers was saying how when Connery left their office, they’d go to the window and watch him walk. They all loved the way he moved and I’d have to agree. There’s such inherent machismo and playfulness that’s so effortless, it’s not manufactured in any way. I LOVE the scene when the famous line ‘Bond, James Bond’ was introduced.

Wouldn’t you know it, it was all inspired by a woman! ‘Trench, Sylvia Trench.’

Anyway, here’s my mini review of…

DESPICABLE ME

Truth be told, I wasn’t all that interested in seeing this movie. The trailer looked fairly generic, and even with the great reviews (81% on Rotten Tomatoes) I kind of forgot about it. But then I saw the trailer for the sequel with those adorable minions singing ‘Ba ba ba ba ba banana… ‘ and I just couldn’t wait to see it!! So yeah, the main draw for me is really those yellow minions in denim overalls and they did not disappoint.

Starring Steve Carrell as Gru, a criminal mastermind whose grand mission is to steal the moon with the use of a shrink rays weapon. His life takes an unexpected turn when he adopts a trio of orphan girls as pawns against his main nemesis, Vector (Jason Siegel). The story itself is nothing special, in fact it’s pretty predictable all around but still it’s quite entertaining. Some reviews compared this to a Pixar movie and though there are some tender emotional moments between Gru and the girls, the plot in this one is far more frivolous and not nearly as tightly-written as say, Toy Story.

I’ve always loved Steve Carrell and his brand of humor shines here in his voice work, even though his Russian-ish accent sounds odd at times. The three orphan girls are such darling and you truly feel for their desire to be loved. In fact, I teared up during such of those moments, yes even despite its predictability that beneath the cold-hearted exterior, Gru is a softie. But to me my favorite characters are those minions!! They didn’t quite overpower the story but definitely a delight every time they appear on screen. Seems like the way the sequel’s trailer is centered solely on them, they might have more screen time in Despicable Me 2? I certainly don’t mind it, I could watch those helium-voiced yellow creatures all day!

Final Thoughts:

I think the idea of villains vs. villains is quite fresh and boasted by wonderful, endearing characters, it makes for quite a pleasant movie for both kids and adults alike. Whoever think of those minions is a genius, I can’t get enough of them! :D

Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels


Well, what did YOU see this weekend, folks? Anything interesting?

007 Chatter: Our picks of six worst Bond villains

In anticipation for Bond 23, a.k.a. Skyfall (view trailer) coming on November 9th, 2012, Ted and I are starting a new monthly series called 007 CHATTER… look for it sometime in the first week of each month.

I’ve also added a new category for this, so click on 007 Chatter on the category drop-down menu for all Bond-related posts.

Ted’s Picks

In my opinion there has never been a great villain in a Bond film, there were some decent ones but I’m still waiting for the Hans Gruber or The Joker type of villain to appear in a Bond flick. With the upcoming Skyfall, I do hope Javier Bardem can pull off a great villain that I’ve been craving in a Bond film since well forever.

That being said, there were so many bad Bond villains throughout the franchise, below are my top three worst Bond baddies and henchmen/women.

Max Zorin and May Day from A View to a Kill

This was a tragedy, how could you have Christopher Walken playing a villain in a Bond flick and yet his role was so badly-written? I mean come on, it’s Christopher Walken, he could’ve been the best Bond villain ever had the writers came up with a better concept for his character. Instead what they came up with was to have him play a mad industrialist who’s trying to monopolize the tech world by destroying Silicon Valley, really? I think Steve Jobs has done a better job of that and he didn’t even have to kill millions of people to accomplish it. Then they decided to include a henchwoman played by Grace Jones; she’s one scary woman and not in a good way. I’ll leave it at that.

Maximilian Largo and Fatima Blush from Never Say Never Again

There were so many things wrong with this remake of my favorite Bond film, Thunderball. First, Sean Connery was way too old to play Bond, it was creepy watching him romances the very young Kim Basinger. Then somehow they decided not to make the movie exciting, seriously try watching this flick and not fall asleep. In an interview, Irvin Kershner (yes the same director who made The Empire Strikes Back) said he didn’t want to include too many action scenes in the movie but was forced by the studio to shoot a couple of additional of action set pieces. If you saw the movie then you know how lackluster those sequences looked on the screen, Kershner flatly admitted that he just didn’t care for those scenes and decided not to put much effort into directing them. Well Mr. Kershner you accomplished your mission.

But the worse offense to me was the casting or should I say miscasting of the main villain. In the original film, Largo wasn’t a great villain but the actor who played him did a decent job with it. In this remake, Klaus Brandauer was cast as Largo and he might be the least intimating Bond villain ever. I remember the first time I saw this film, when his character appeared on screen, I tried hard not to laugh because he’s such a dorky looking person that I thought, really he’s supposed to be Bond’s main antagonist? Now I thought the casting of Barbara Carrera as the henchwoman Fatima was a good idea but he character was so boring that she didn’t add much to the story, she’s no Xenia Onatopp. To be fair though, the character from the original film wasn’t that strong either.

Dominic Greene and Elvis from Quantum of Solace

I’m one of the few people who enjoyed this film but again they totally miscast the main villain. Mathieu Amalric played the CEO of the mysterious Quantum organization and he was just wrong for this role. He’s not a bad actor by any means but for a Bond villain, I wanted to see someone who’s intimating and can actually kick Bond’s ass. Now I understand that most CEO of big companies look more like Mathieu Amalric, for example Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates came to mind. But in a film world, I want to see a bigger than life person not some dorky looking dude.

To add insult to injury, the filmmakers thought hey why not include a henchman who looks like pedophile and not have him doing anything except looking creepy throughout the movie. The role of Elvis was played by Anatole Taubman, I had to look it up on imdb to make sure since his name was never utter in the film. Of all the henchmen in the Bond franchise, he’s probably the least intimating of the bunch.

HONORABLE MENTION:

Mr. Big/Kananga from Live and Let Die


Ruth’s Picks

Now, my picks are focused on the main villain. They’re agonizingly-bad enough on their own without the *help* of a henchman.

Brad Whitaker in The Living Daylights

I was watching The Living Daylights the day I wrote this. I like this movie, mind you, but man, what the heck was the casting manager thinking casting Joe Don Baker as the shady arms dealer. Up until then, I actually quite like the double-crossing General Koskov (Jeroen Krabbé) and Pushkin is played by the always-watchable John Rhys-Davies. But Whitaker is just sooo cheesy, I mean, even Art Malik as the as the Afghan Mujahideen leader is a thousand times cooler than this guy. The moment he appears I swear this movie just stoop down a few notches to become a barely B-movie action flick!

Such a shame considering how classy Timothy Dalton is as Bond. Even his death being pinned under a giant Wellington statue is rather lame, though his personal war museum of himself dressed up as historical military leaders like Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, even Attila the Hun is preposterous fun.

Elliot Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies

I think the idea of a media mogul as a Bond villain is quite clever and timely for the beginning of the 21st century, now if only they cast someone remotely interesting. Johnathan Pryce had zero charisma and his overacting didn’t help matters. I find it hard to believe him in the role of a headlines-obsessed, power-hungry megalomaniac.

I find him to be a weak villain in every sense of the word, he never even fight Bond or anyone in a hand-to-hand combat, and he manages to mock Michelle Yeoh’s Wai Lin’s Kung Fu moves. I mean she’s a skilled Chinese spy, I kept wishing she’d just break his neck in one swift kick!! When Bond finally offed him with his own sea drill (ouch!), it wasn’t a moment too soon.

Renard in The World in Not Enough

Now, unlike the two I mentioned above, Renard is actually played by a capable actor, Robert Carlyle. So it’s a pity that he’s written up to be such a feeble character. It had so much potential, I mean the guy has a friggin’ bullet in his brain which makes him immune to pain as it destroys his senses. You’d think he’d be this cool, bad-ass baddie, but he barely has any screen time and ends up playing second fiddle to his lover Elektra.

Now, I actually like French actress Sophie Marceau in the role of an oil heiress who falls for the man who abducts her. Interesting story if it had been explored a bit better, but the whole two-villains idea falls flat here. Poor Carlyle, not only does he have to put up with having this constipated look throughout the movie, he also has to put up with Denise Richards playing a nuclear scientist!!

HONORABLE MENTION:

Nick Nack (Hervé Villechaize) in The Man With the Golden Gun

Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens) in Die Another Day


Now that you’ve read our pick of the worst Bond villains, check out my wish-list of actors I’d like to see as 007’s nemesis.



Well, those are our choices, folks. Now, who’s YOUR pick of the worst Bond villain ever, let us know in the comments.

007 Chatter: Seven Things I’m Excited about Skyfall

This was originally written back in June inn anticipation for Bond 23, a.k.a. Skyfall coming on November 9th, 2012, Ted. Well, today is the day so I think it’s fitting to resurrect this post as I’ll be seeing SKYFALL tonight!

I’ve also added a new category for this, so click on 007 Chatter on the category drop-down menu for all Bond-related posts.

Well folks, in lieu to a Bond list or review, this month’s 007 chatter is a quick update on the upcoming Bond 23, Skyfall. I’m obviously excited for this movie, hence my 007 Chatter [which will continue post the movie release btw] and I’ve also bought the latest EMPIRE magazine with Daniel Craig on the cover. He looks dashing and cut with that Tom Ford suit, floppy ears notwithstanding :)

EMPIRE got to visit director Sam Mendes and crew to the Pinewood Studios where they were filming. Mendes revealed that “Casino Royale woke me up again to the possibilities of Bond. It seemed for the first time to be a real person in a real situation.” I definitely agree that Martin Campbell did a smashing job rejuvenating that franchise and Craig’s gritty, no-nonsense performance was right for the time. I’ve always been a believer that Timothy Dalton was ahead of his time as he would’ve garnered the same kudos had his Bond films were released a decade later.

Anyway, here are just 7 (+1) Things I’m excited about Skyfall based on that article, on top of all the awesome things one can expect from a Bond movie, such as exotic locations and all the action stuff of course.

• Not only has Mendes assembled an awesome Oscar-caliber cast, he’s also got an amazing crew for his film. Most notably cinematographer Roger Deakins, whose work in Road to Perdition, The Village, etc. are absolutely beautiful, so we can count on Skyfall being a gorgeous looking film. In fact, EMPIRE itself admitted that the scene of Bond’s arrival scene in Shanghai below as one of the most beautiful Bond scene they’ve ever seen.

Chris Corbould, the SFX expert who did Chris Nolan’s Batman films and Inception, will be doing the special effects work on Skyfall. Mendes praised his work in those movies and he realized how important it is to get the action right in a Bond film. At the same time, being a director known for his dramatic work, Mendes also knows that all the actions means nothing without a compelling story, “Thrills and action are what’s necessary here, and that’s what I intend to supply, as well as a kind of emotional engagement that maybe you haven’t seen before in Bond. You’ve got to give him an arc, not just a mission.”

Javier Bardem as Bond villain Silva. Most people know Bardem can do menacing, but he told MTV that his character is more than just Bond’s enemy, “I think the character — it’s complex — he’s not an easy guy. He’s not only a villain, it’s more than that, hopefully, that’s what we tried to achieve.

I really think Bardem will be a formidable foe for Bond and the Oscar winner will likely bring something fresh to the table than what we’ve seen in any Bond villains of the past. I think if he has some history with Bond it’ll make it more complex and threatening rivalry than simply a deranged maniac trying to rule or destroy the world.

• We will see Craig’s more playful side as Mendes suggests that the film is ‘more playful than the last two’ as in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, with more nods to classic Bonds like Goldfinger. Considering how dark and dull ‘Quantum‘ was, a lighter tone in Skyfall is definitely welcome, I mean Bond has got to have brawns AND wit!

• Two of Bond’s trademark elements are back: The Aston MartinDB5 will return, after being replaced by BMWs and FORD Mondeo (??) in previous films. Of course this new one Craig will be driving will be more fully-equipped than ever now that Q is also back!

Photo courtesy of Huffington Post

Yep, the gadget guru is back in the form of a younger but certainly just as talented Ben Whishaw. The actor’s got indie cred with films like I’m Not There and Bright Star, but he’s also been in Knight & Day and Layer Cake, the latter perhaps is the connection to the Bond film as it starred Daniel Craig?

• The saying ‘clothes make the man’ seems like words that James Bond lives by. So the producers naturally hired the perfect man for the job,TOM FORD as the designer of choice. Skyfall’s costume designer Jany Temime is working with the American fashion icon in coming up with the dapper but fluid look of Bond, “They wanted that the suits moved with him and he does have a great body so it would be a pity not to show it. Check out the video journal below on their style inspiration:


Gorgeous, but kick-ass Bond girls! You know I can’t stand lame, whiny or ridiculously implausible Bond girls like Tanya Roberts and Denise Richards [sheesh, even typing her name makes me cringe!] So I definitely welcome the casting of relatively unknown beauties like Naomie Harris and French/Cambodian Bérénice Marlohe. I’ve never heard of the latter, but Harris was good in 28 Days Later and she projects intelligence and strength on top of being drop dead gorgeous.

Location. Location. Location. It’s not just a real estate mantra. I think Bond producers realize that the exotic location are part of the Bond films’ charm. Check out the production videoblog below that takes us behind the scenes of some of the film’s major shooting locations, including China and Turkey.

I’m also glad to see Bond’s home city being featured prominently in Skyfall. As quoted by MTV blog, Craig said, “Sam and I wanted to make it British… And it’s not some flag-waving thing that either one of us is interested in. It’s just about basing Bond in Britain…It was very exciting just to get out on the streets and show London for what it is. We made it look very beautiful and very dark and sinister at times, but it’s Bond’s home.” 

I LOVE London! It’s one of my favorite European cities out of over a dozen I’ve visited all my life! From the trailer I think Mr. Deakins has captured the city beautifully!


Ok, so those are just some of the latest updates on Skyfall. Are you as excited about this movie as I am?