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2013-06-22: Transfered all of my 2011 "My Year in Music" posts from Facebook.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Superficial Bond Reviews --- #17: Goldeneye

* The party starts with 007 making an insane bungee jump off a dam.
There's already gadgets in play, wires 'n' lasers 'n' shit, and we still haven't seen Bond's face. Instead, there's an almost expressionistic shot of his eyes, instantly reminding me of the shot of Lazenby's eyes in the rear view mirror from On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
Then our new James Bond, Pierce Brosnan, shows himself. Ta-daaah! Good start, man. Welcome!
And, as if I weren't happy enough already, Sean Bean pops up as 006, and we finally get to know another 00 a little better. Not only that - did I mention it's Sean Bean!? I love Bean!
The next second, everything explodes in an insane action scene, 006 eats a bullet, and Bond drives a motorcycle off a cliff and dives into an airplane.
As a wise man once said: Shit, meet pants!

* The title sequence is more elegant than I've seen in years - since Goldfinger, I guess.
Tina Turner is this year's artist, and tries to outdo Shirley Bassey in every way, belting out the title tune like a rabid camel moaning through a broken tuba: Gooooooaaaaalldeeehhhhnnnnnneeeeeeyyyyyyyyeeeeeehhhh!!!
Can't say I blame her.

* Goldeneye is on a roll from early on - and we can thank chicks and cars for that, to a large extent.
Before the temporary deafness from Tina Turner exposure has fully dissipated, we are treated to some kind of sexual car duel between the ever-so-suave Brosnan and this movie's villainess, played by Famke Janssen. It's a brilliant scene, and every element in it reflect the characters' identities, even the cars (Bond owns an Aston Martin DB5 privately now - I'm guessing that MI6 pays him vast sums).
After this dramatic encounter, 007 immediately bangs his shrink. She's way below his league, but she can give him a clean bill of mental health - so he whores himself out. No lovvie-dovvie bullshit here, just straight ol' prostitution.

* Famke Janssen's Xenia Onatopp should be more thoroughly discussed, I feel, as she's definitely the best femme fatale in the entire Bond series.
Having a character who gets a joygasm whenever she kills someone, and whose favorite assassination method is crushing her victim with her thighs during sex, is a recipe for success. The scene where she and 007 have... uh... intercourse?... is simply a fantastic blend of humor, hanky-panky and hand-to-hand combat.
So on second thought: She's hot, she kicks ass, and she makes you think "aaaaawwwyeaaaahhh!" about the prospect of being assassinated. What's to discuss?
Too bad that Janssen completely overshadows good Bond girl Isabella Scorupco. She's doing a good job with what she has to work with, and she's not horrible to look at, but... sorry, not enough.

* At this point, you may think that I have a major hard-Walther for Goldeneye (and you may be right), but all is not well in Bond Town.
- Bond still can't connect with his women - this is a perpetual Bond problem - and having some kind of looong, tiresome chick flick scene with emotions on the beach won't fix that. Everybody's just thinking about Xenia's thigh muscles anyway.
- For all the finesse in writing and direction that's introduced here, we are still treated to another ludicrous death trap scene. "I must kill you, mister Bond, so I - ha ha! - let you live and put you in this thing here, where I'm sure you can't escape, ever! Goodbye, mister Bond!"
No wonder that Canadian guy had to make fifteen Austin Powers movies. Too much material!
- Oh, and there's the car.
I've been complaining that too many Bond movies has left our hero without a car, but when it's time for Goldeneye to present its choice... it's a stinky, rotten, metrosexual, blue BMW Z3! Christ - a German car!? Is that the way you communicate the ultra-Englishness of James Bond? And you communicate 007's suave and cool nature with a blue convertible? No! That's communicating "I'm a dot-com billionaire with a receding hairline and a small penis"!
You have to consider that James Bond is a brand... and this choice urinates on that brand by being wrong. You may think that it's "just a car", but that's because you're an idiot.
The bitter irony of it all, is that Bond never gets to use the car for anything special. Maybe it's Q Branch's sick idea of a joke.
Hey, guess what. I'm thinking that maybe Bond shouldn't have a car anyway.

- "My name is Bond. James Bond. IT consultant."

* Having gotten that out of the way, I can get back to praising Goldeneye. Not necessarily the satellite itself, I mean the movie. Because honestly, the titular piece of space junk doesn't exactly offer anything new to the Bond saga (although I do have to admit that special effects have gotten so good by 1995, that the camp sci-fi factor has diminished).
What this movie does have, is scale: The EMP-firing space cannon, the huge satellite dish in the jungle, the insane tank chase through Soviet streets! It's proper Bond scale, not chasing down some lame drug dealer in Mexico or whatever.
Goldeneye even has the balls to introduce epic qualities to its dramatic scenes as well - just watch the scene where 007 confronts the Beanmeister in the park with the broken statues. "Beautiful and poignant" is something I never thought I'd say about a Bond movie, but there it is. It's official. Goldeneye has made me into a limp-wristed, pompous douche who uses words like "poignant". That's how powerful it is.

* And then we end up at the heart of the movie - 006.
Played with cutting intensity by His Royal Beanship, the fallen agent holds up a dark mirror to James Bond and shows him what he could've become. It's a real valuable experience, if you go for all that psychobabble shit, to see it play out - but it also raises the question "why the hell did it take them 17 (seventeen!) movies to come up this?"
After the talky parts that those fruity film theory geeks care about are finally over, we are even treated to one of the most awesome fight scenes in Bond history, when 006 and 007 put words into action. Throwing, kicking, punching, chains, shooting and the kitchen sink - it's intense enough to short-circuit your brain into thinking that Bond might get his head bashed in by a plank.
Until Beansky gets squished, that is.

* Bold statement alert!
Goldeneye is the best Bond movie of them all, and it's not even a close race.
In no other movie do all the elements that are needed for a James Bond adventure blend together so perfectly and give us what we've waited for for such a long time. We, the fans, have seen these elements and always knew that they could come together some day - and that's why we've suffered through so many shitty movies. Hope. Perseverance. Single malt.
Too bad that I think this is going to be the only time everything clicks and that all that's left for us is boredom, repetition and the occasional flash-in-the-pan "reinvention" that does absolutely nothing for the series.
Remember this in fifty years - when you've just seen Bond #45, and you wonder how the hell you can get those two hours back that you just lost.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Superficial Bond Reviews --- #16: Licence to Kill

* So Licence to Kill opens with a rather bland scene, involving a drug bust. I'm thinking "drug bust? So what?" when OMFG! Holy crap! Talisa Soto!
It's nice to know that even if the movie should suck, there's always something to cheer you up (if you're a heterosexual male/homosexual female, that is. Otherwise, Timothy Dalton is a total babe).

* The Miami Vice villain who's stumbled into this Bond movie, Franz Sanchez, captures Bond's buddy Felix Leiter, and makes shark food out of him as a thank-you for busting up his drug operation.
007 later arrives, and finds Leiter's dead wife and Leiter himself - eaten, but somehow alive. Bond gets all serious and swears revenge... heyyy, wait a minute! Drug baron? Revenge? Isn't this Chuck Norris territory? I'm thinking maybe Steven Seagal, as James Bond decides to go rogue and punches out some MI6 people who try to stop him.
Oh, and the MI6 dudes return the favor by shooting at Bond! I didn't know that this was standard practice at MI6 - what if they actually hit him? "Yeah, see, he punched us, so I thought it was OK to kill the highest-ranking agent we have. After all, he said something about murdering a drug lord out of revenge, and we can't have that, now can we?"

* This whole vengeance thing has turned LtK very American, somehow. There's even a ridiculous, Western-style bar fight in it. All that's missing, is the cowboy hats (Maybe there are cowboy hats, I dunno - I'm too busy being annoyed to pay attention).
Carey Lowell, the other Bond girl in this installment, is also more worthy of attention than the stupid fight. Soto + Lowell might be the most attractive pair of Bondettes in the entire series. Enough eye candy to give your retinas diabetes.

* Following that whole direct-to-video, Chuck Norris vibe, LtK has tons of stupidity to go with the good action elements.
- There's waterskiing behind an aeroplane! But there's also a harpoon fight, where the bad guy grabs hold of Bond and cuts the line to his oxygen tank. Hey, mr. Henchman! If you're close enough to do that with your knife... why not try the throat instead!?
- There's a camera gun! But it's never used as a camera, making the presentation of the whole gadget completely useless. Might as well have a gun shaped as a gun, then!
- There are friggin' ninjas again! Who turn out to be Hong Kong narcotics agents! Whose leader later kills himself with a cyanide capsule rather than spill his guts to Sanchez! What!? Cyanide capsules on narcotics agents? Does the DEA give out the same to their agents?
- My favorite is when 007 complains that Sanchez is too hard to kill where he sits behind his fortified glass window - "I need a cannon to get to him!" Yeah, that, or you could go up the stairs and kill the two useless bodyguards who stand between you and the bad guy. I wonder who issued you that licence to kill in the first place, Bond.
At this point of time, I'm actually more amused than angry at the incompetence involved in coming up with this crap.

- "'Licence to kill'? No, baby. I said 'Licence to rape'."

* Anyway - the movie kinda trots along. It is pretty entertaining all the way, although never really thrilling. I'm having a hard time stringing my notes together, because few scenes in between the start and the finish seem really important to me.
Then there's this huge drug bust towards the end, where Bond raids Sanchez' headquarters. Action, action, action!
I'm marveling at the sight of Sanchez' main henchman - a young Benicio Del Toro (!) - and how wiry, fit and dangerous he looks (Today's version of Del Toro, by comparison, looks like if the old version has been soaking in water since 1989). He falls into some kind of shredding machine and gets mashed into a bloody pulp. Oh well - maybe he survives it, like Felix Leiter survived his shark attack. If not, he's tied for the #1 "horrible death" spot in this movie. Some other guy's head explodes in another scene, and I'm wondering whether I'm watching a Bond movie or Big Trouble in Little China.

* After the bust: More action!
Now there's the obligatory chase - and it's in huge tanker trucks! Honk! Now that's actually pretty cool. There are stunts, rockets, huge explosions, you name it.
James Bond finishes his revenge mission by acting like a badass and setting Sanchez on fire with his cigarette lighter. I cringe, and half-expect 007 to say "hasta la vista", or something equally profound.
It also strikes me that Bond has just avenged... his friend's... injury? And his friend's wife's death? Uh, OK. It's not exactly "this is for murdering my brother!" is it?
Also - it's just some lameass drug lord he's killed. Not exactly Blofeld.

* Really nailing that campy 80s vibe in the end, Bond and his squeeze jump in a pool together, deliver a vomit-inducing callback line, and make out while shitty music assaults the one sense that isn't already scarred.
I'm all the while thinking that Licence to Kill isn't a Bond movie, just like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom isn't an Indiana Jones movie. They're both serviceable action movies - but that's the category they belong in... not in the part-of-a-relatively-homogenous-series category.

* Taliiiiissssaaaa Soooootoooooo!

[remember to insert witty comment to justify the picture of Talisa Soto]

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Superficial Bond Reviews --- #15: The Living Daylights

* Now this is a good start:
Two 00 agents get killed, and this - as I've previously stated - is a good thing. Our new James Bond, Timothy Dalton, immediately chases after the assassin on top a burning jeep full of ammo, kills him and parachutes off to a yacht to bang some chick he's never seen before. On top of that, he's deliberately late for work.
This may be the best opening in Bond movie history.

* The Norwegian 80s pop deities a-ha [sic] provide this year's bond tune, and it's great.
It's incredibly catchy, unbelievably well-made and... I can't possibly describe how good it is. Best Bond tune ever.
No, this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I'm Norwegian, myself. How dare you question my objectivity!?

a-ha: the glue keeping the Living Daylights - and possibly the World - together

* In an early scene, we see 007 about to perform an assassination, and I really, really like the idea of that - Bond sniping the crap outta someone on Her Majesty's orders. It's edgy, it's kinda provocative, and it gives great depth... oh, never mind. Bond misses his target deliberately, and says something like "stuff my orders!" which makes me collapse with disappointment.
So he's the headstrong cop who won't take orders from his boss, eh? Guess we're still in the eighties, then. Yawn.

* If Bond actually blew his target's brains all over the wall, the way he was supposed to, I wouldn't have to put up with brainless bond bimbo Maryam d'Abo.
She's a walking pout with stupid hair attached to it - she's like Diane from Cheers, with no sex appeal or humor. Yeah. Diane from Cheers, then.
Seeing that Timothy Dalton is such a babe, and that he's so cool (he smokes and everything!), I'm having a hard time believing that he'd nail her, unless it were strictly in the line of duty.
Every scene with those two lovebirds, is like some sort of artificial, half-assed opera, where they bolt after one another across the room and go "oh, James!" and "you can't come with me - it's not safe for you" and all that kind of dreary crap.
Next time, 007, you follow your damn orders!

* Thank God for the Aston Martin. Sorry, I mean - the ASTON MARTIN!
In tLD, they finally decide to give Bond a car again, and what a car! The Aston Martin V8 Volante - it's as if an American muscle car from the 70 met with a classic, English automobile and made a beautiful, beautiful love child together.
Of course, it comes with the "optional extras" too, and we get a few great scenes involving missiles and carved-up Soviet cars and stuff... but come on: Making Bond's car carve a hole in a frozen lake with its wheels, so that his pursuers fall in? Nobody thought that might not belong in a movie for grown-ups?
Obviously not - this is the same movie where 007 and Diane from Cheers go tobogganing in a cello case.

* The Dangerous KGB Henchman in this movie, Max Headroom, has gotten the right balance of silliness/violence, though.
Granted, there's a looot of silliness in throwing explosive milk bottles and rigging a sliding door to crush someone, but the sheer brutality of it makes it very fun, and very Bond. By not even showing the body of the guy being slammed by the door, the movie suggests that the results are awful; and the exploding milk bottles really pack a punch and send dudes flying around like meaty rag dolls. Got milk, bitches!?

* Then, for some reason, Bond et al end up in Afghanistan - and that part of the movie is a train wreck. (A boring train wreck, if such a thing is possible. A remote-controlled cargo train full of pillow cases derailing at 20 mph, falling sideways onto grass).
First of all, the Afghanistan sequence has that foul stink of writers trying to make a political statement without actually knowing anything of substance. Second of all, it's all the dumb scenes I have to suffer through.
In one scene, Bond escapes a nasty little jail with a nasty little jail guard. As he's leaving, some bearded dude asks Bond to help him get out, and Bond throws him the keys. What? Really? How the hell does Bond know what he's in for? For all he knows, he's releasing a cannibalistic serial child rapist! That it's an "evil jail" doesn't mean that everyone who's locked up there is good.
In another scene, Bond escapes a dangerous situation and gets hold of an AK-47, which he fires into the air - to scare people from following him, I guess. Why's this so bad? Because most of the bad guys are standing right in front of him! He has the chance to absolutely, positively blast everyone into little pieces, but chooses to shoot air instead.
Is that one of your "judgment calls", like when you refused to puncture Diane from Cheers' skull with a bullet? Explain that one, 007!

* When everyone's finally left Afghan soil, there's a fantastic action scene to behold. Here, James Bond fights Max Headroom on a huge net full of drugs, hanging on the outside of a cargo plane.
Spoiler warning: Bond wins.

* There's a showdown between Bond and the fat main villain, and Bond manages to annoy me for one last time before the movie ends. The bad fat guy has a bulletproof shield mounted on his gun, something that 007 discovers when he tries to shoot him in the face. Completely puzzled by the existence of bulletproof glass, and forgetting that he had such glass in the Aston (and even pointed that out to Diane) earlier in the movie, he proceeds to shoot more bullets into the glass. No, not into the cubic mile of fat torso under the glass. That would be too easy.
As usual, the main villain is totally forgettable. Even the people involved in the Bond franchise realize this, and will later get that same actor back to play a completely different, good guy character in Goldeneye, eight years later. Nobody on Earth give a shit.
I fear that Blofeld might have created an impossible void to fill after his unworthy demise. I, for one, miss a good nemesis for James Bond.
Nemeses certainly don't grow on trees, but at least I get a chance to show everyone that I know the plural form of "nemesis", like the dick I am.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Superficial Bond Reviews --- #14: A View to a Kill

* All alarm bells are ringing when A View to a Kill starts off with another bloody ski sequence.
I've completely lost count how many there are now - and this time, the lack of originality goes so far as to rip off the whole continuing-on-with-just-one-ski routine from On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Sad.
Then it gets even sadder, as 007 uses a makeshift snowboard to escape his enemies - subtly accompanied by the sound of the Beach Boys. Yes, we get it. It's a board. Much like a surfboard. But on snow. Thank you!
You might think that's as sad as it gets... but no! Bond escapes this dangerous situation in a motorized iceberg (I'm not making this up!) with some chick who's a full thirty years younger than him. Our action hero is now 58 years old, and sucks his mummified lips onto this poor young thing, in what has to be an attempt to drain life force out of her and be around to plague the Bond franchise for a few more years.

* I have to admit that I enjoy the intro tune from Duran Duran. If you disagree, that's OK, but you can put it into perspective by listening to, say, the For Your Eyes Only tune first. That'll make you wanna kiss Simon John Charles Le Bon's feet and thank him.

* Some people seem to be weirded out by the fact that Grace Jones is in this movie, since she's so... well, weird. I think she's excellent because she's weird.
You know those odd figurines of half-naked black women that some people seem to think it's OK to own and display? She's like one of those, if it came to life, grew to full-size and wanted to take revenge by raping you to death. I know, I know: this is what everybody thinks - but I had to say it anyway.
What I do not appreciate, however, is the mental image of Roger Moore and Grace Jones having sex. I picture some kind of humanoid version of a night stick being flung repeatedly against a pink bean bag. Ebony and ivory it ain't.

Grace Jones

* James Bond encounters May Day (Jones) in Paris, and there's an action scene on the Eiffel Tower. That's nice - I like it when the Bond movies utilize landmarks. If done properly, it enhances the feeling of being somewhere real, and also provides a spectacular backdrop. Too bad that I keep breaking out in laughter when the movie tries to fool me into believing that Roger Moore can run up more than three flights of stairs without breaking his hip.

* For some ungodly reason, there are a lot of horses in this movie, and scenes involving horses. Since I'm not a 12 year old girl (or a cowboy), I don't care.
I zone out and amuse myself by exchanging the word "horse" with "whores" in popular movie titles, bands and such. Neil Young & Crazy Whores. The Whores' Whisperer.
I'm not pulled back into the movie until there's an actual action scene with horses. The reason I snap back isn't that this scene is good, but rather that it's so idiotic that I can't help being amazed.

* Again, the Bond villain potential is largely wasted in aVtaK, although the mighty mighty Christopher Walken tries as hard as he can to infuse some nasty fun into the part. The character Max Zorin is just too poorly written - and we end up with something as rare as a boring homicidal maniac.
Blah blah microchip. Blah blah Silicon Valley. Blah blah some plot thing that reminds me of Superman the Movie. Blah.

* Zorin and his band of idiots also get to the finals in the "Who Tries to Kill James Bond in the Stupidest Way?" competition.
Just listen to this: After discovering 007's identity, they choke his associate Tibbett to death and shove his fat carcass into the backseat of their Rolls. Cool. They then confront 007... and do not choke, stab or shoot him. Nope, they knock him unconscious and put him in the backseat with his dead pal, before they drop the car in a lake and watch for a couple of minutes. Yeah, he must be dead by now. Go home and watch some TV.
So there's no plan to make it look like an accident, no reason to rush, and no prolonged murder method to get a sadistic kick out of the kill. It makes no. sense. at. all.

Strange figurine

* There are long periods of time where my level of interest is so low, I almost ignore what happens on screen altogether.
Not the fire truck chase, though. Good piece of eighties action, that is - blasting a huge vehicle through city streets and generating massive havoc.
Note how, in one moment, Bond descending a ladder is treated like a herculean effort (when you see that it's Moore performing his own "stunts"), and in the next, he's dangling and swinging acrobatically from the fire engine at full speed through traffic.
Well, I guess that a fire truck is a good substitute as any... when you still have no damn car of your own! How many times do I have to say it? Get Bond a car! Damn!

* The grand finale is atop the Golden Gate bridge, where Bond and Zorin finally duke it out.
OK, so I said nice things about using landmarks, but once for each movie is enough. Otherwise, you start questioning how plausible it is to always end up somewhere instantly recognizable when you fight. You better justify that shit properly, at least.
This is my last chance to make fun of how perversely old Roger Moore is, so I'm going for it: At first, I thought 007 was swaying back and forth in the strong wind, but then I realized that it was Roger Moore's geriatric version of "fighting". He moves a bit like a man in a space suit.
Goodbye, Roger!
Now what am I going to ridicule?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Superficial Bond Reviews --- #13a: Never Say Never Again

* If you're wondering about the numbering here, 13a, there's a long story surrounding Never Say Never Again, and that it's not an "official" Bond movie and what have you. I won't bother explaining it - if you're interested, you can read about it here.
All you really need to know is that it's sort of a weird stepbrother to the other movies, and a remake of Thunderball.

* NSNA opens with an action scene, and I must admit that it's thrilling to see Sean Connery in action again. He looks strikingly more vital than he did twelve years ago in Diamonds are Forever, and he gets to choke the shit out of some bad guy before my ass has even settled properly in the couch. Good stuff.
Later, it becomes clear that the whole thing was some kind of training exercise, to determine whether Bond can still work his mojo at such an advanced age. So they're going with the "I'm too old for this shit" approach, eh? I actually think this is a great choice - facing the fact that your protagonist is at an advanced age is better than just running around pretending to be young, when your joints are creaking and the liver spots are starting to show.
Know what I mean, Roger?

* Seeing that this is an 80s movie after all, there's lots of gratuitous sex and violence. I'm fine with that - it feels kind of refreshing, and it's done with more youthful energy than I'm used to in the EON Bond movies.
I'm not sure whether it being the 80s justifies that weird and insanely long fight 007 ends up in at his spa (to name but one thing), but at least he's not doing it in a clown suit.
(If you don't get that last in-joke, you can go screw yourself, because then you haven't bothered to read my previous Bond Reviews).

* The scene where the bad guys steal nukes is very good. Efficient and smooth, where Thunderball bored me to heavy drinking with its glacial pace. Performing an underwater nuke heist is supposed to be thrilling - not just vacant and pretty, like when you're gazing like a drooling stoner into an aquarium at the pet shop.

* The women here are a real asset, too. NSNA features a young Kim Basinger, who is so hot that she makes you feel dirty and guilty, no matter what you're thinking while she's on screen.
To match her, Barbara Carrera does an excellent job portraying the psychopathic femme fatale assassin character (a performance that isn't surpassed until Famke Janssen steals the show in Goldeneye more than a decade later).
The fact that Carrera is that weird blend of scary/attractive helps to draw attention away from the fact that she's as stupid as any other Bond villain. Well, at least the writers are stupid: assassination by predicting how a person will react at having a snake thrown into his car while driving, is not a proper way of assassination. What if the guy just flipped out and threw the snake out on pure reflex? You wouldn't be able to blow up his car, stupid! No assassination for you!
The women are young, but they're women, not girls. That means that when it is time for Connery to bang them (inevitably), you can actually watch the scene without retching. This can partly be attributed to Connery's physique. He's in such good shape at 52, that he can even strip off his shirt without shame (something Moore could hardly do, even at 45).
You may think that my man-crush on Connery has gotten too far, but him looking as fit as he does serves two important purposes: It a) makes it credible that a gorgeous thirty-something woman would want to do him and b) makes it believable that Bond can do what he does, since even the young men in the audience realize that a fifty-plus Bond could beat them to a pulp.
I love you, Sean Connery!

Fatima fondles and kisses the snake, while Sigmund Freud spins in his grave

* It's a shame, but some of the 80s flava that lends the production zest, is also hopelessly dated and/or stupid.
The fascination with computer games at the time obviously prompted the filmmakers to let 007 have a computer game duel with the movie's main bad guy. Granted, it's still very early in gaming history, but they should have realized that watching others play a computer game is boring. And watching others play in a movie is meaningless. And watching James Bond play a video game, is meaningless, boring and incredibly wrong.

* The action scenes are all over the place when it comes to quality, but they're never boring, and there are many awesome sets to gape at.
- The prerequisite chase scene is on a motorcycle this time, and can only be described as stupid/good - complete with stunt jumps 'n' all.
- 007 pilots some kind of jet-powered hat rack as well, making him look completely ridiculous. Of course, this is not restricted to the 80s.
- And there's an honest-to-god castle rescue by horse here, where even the animal gets to make an insane stunt jump. Woo hoo, 80s!

* I'm actually in a good mood towards the end of the movie, when Kim Basinger suddenly harpoons the bad guy in way that is both predictable and shit (Blowing someone to smithereens with the excellent pen gun is much more fun).
I lament the wasted talent of Klaus Maria Brandauer in this movie, who does what he can with an almost useless part. You won't be alone, Klaus - there's a whole club for poorly used Bond villain actors that you can join.

* All in all, it's a product that fits right in with what you expect from an action movie from that particular period of time. It smells a little of direct-to-video, and it has moments of craptasticness.
Worth a watch, then, if you're really hung over and can't move far enough from your couch to get to the remote.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Superficial Bond Reviews --- #13: Octopussy

* So the film starts... there's a racetrack and some old fart... oh, dear god, it's Bond! [Insert joke about how ridiculously old Roger Moore has gotten].
After that initial shock of ancient 007, I settle down and actually enjoy the whole scene with the mini-plane. It's everything that Little Nellie should've been way back in From Russia with Love - i.e. exciting.

* The good start gives me the stamina to endure the awful Bond tune. That marks four tremendously shitty Bond songs in a row. Amazing.

* After the credits, there's a guy in a clown costume (again with the clowns! Didn't I do this on Moonraker!?) who gets a throwing knife in his back and ends up seriously dead. He turns out to be none other than 009. I like. Killing a 00 always ups the stakes.

* Bond plays Backgammon in a scene, and that's nice. Traditional, good game, and and excellent choice, instead of just exploiting whatever game is popular at the time. Good way to play characters off each other, cute scene.

* Some kind of femme fatale-like chick pops up, and I start to laugh. This is because the movie tries to tell me she's beautiful, but in reality she's a colossal forehead, with a skinny skank attached to it. It's the Sarah Jessica Parker Principle all over again.

"that which we call a skank
By any other name would look as hideous"
- William Shakespeare

Later on, we're introduced to Octopussy herself, and it's the same thing! She's a moderately attractive woman, if you squint really hard and tilt your head a little... but certainly not Bond Girl material.
I guess I'll just have to be glad that Bond gets to play around with someone of his own generation this time.

* The prerequisite chase scene is completely unhinged, with Tuk-Tuks, a shitload of sight gags and a bunch of Indian ninja-like henchmen who come from out of nowhere.
I'm sure I could find a lot to hate about this scene, but the carnage has overloaded my brain, and I can't think of anything.
Well played, mister Bond.

* There's lots of fun stuff to watch here, but it doesn't take long before it dawns on me how many damn jokes there are in Octopussy. Holy crap, so many lame jokes - one worse than the other. Infantile food jokes (later "borrowed" by Indiana Jones, perhaps?), a Tarzan gag that's beyond embarrassing, and Bond inside a fake crocodile. (No, not "inside" like that, you perverts).
Wow, what a dangerous, awe-inspiring agent! He might as well wear a duck on his head.

* But let's not be too negative. Like I said: there are lots of good things about Octopussy as well.
There's a henchman with a circular saw yo-yo in a pretty good fight scene, there's an sweet action sequence on a train, an outrageousfunny thing with a Mercedes on train tracks, and Bond crushing a twin with a cannon.
Confused? Watching the movie won't help at all.

- "That's Sir Roger Moore. No, really."

* Although a charismatic main villain is absent, there's at least a proper threat in this movie: A nuke is always good, and a ticking clock is great, to heighten the sense of urgency.
In fact, 007 feels such an intense time pressure to disarm the nuclear device that he disappears into a wagon and puts on a detailed clown costume - complete with professional clown makeup and all - to be able to sneak into the circus tent where the bomb is located. Way to choose the most time-saving method, Bond.
And seriously - what's with all the clowns!? Enough with the clowns!

* The finale, with James Bond hanging on the outside of a plane, is an excellent action scene. It strikes me that this is the second time this movie applies this method. Boring train - done before? Take it outside!
Think carefully before applying this method to a space shuttle or a submarine.

* So... all in all, Octopussy is really good. And really crap. Mostly crap. But also good. Depends on what minute you're watching, honestly, which makes it very uneven. And that's bad.
I guess I just want to cut out a bunch of scenes from this movie and glue them into other movies.
One day, when I have the time, I will.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Superficial Bond Reviews --- #12: For Your Eyes Only

* We start off on the wrong foot with For Your Eyes Only. Really, really wrong.
We're immediately re-introduced to the awesome Blofeld, who tries to kill James Bond with a remotely controlled helicopter, cackling with glee, and who ... hey, wait a minute! Why don't we see Blofeld's face? We se Bond's nemesis sitting in a wheelchair, bald head filmed from the back, before he's dropped down a chimney, and... that's it?
We've gone through a few movies, several actors and face-changes, and indeed decades, where the closest thing to an arch enemy to Bond has been built up... and they finish him off as an afterthought, before the title sequence?
Hey - this is the guy who killed Bond's wife, you goddamned idiots! You don't do that! If all the other actors who portrayed him are busy, find a new damned Blofeld, and make a whole movie with him as a bad guy again before you let 007 finish him off properly in the end! Make it poetic, even - where it seems like Blofeld has escaped, but right at the end, Bond drives up to his parked car and kills the shit outta him, like how it happened with his wife?
Do I have to do all the thinking here!?

* As I boil in my own fury over the Blofeld outrage, Sheena Easton belts out what has to be the most godawful Bond tune in history. The only way I can stop myself from going mental, is picturing Sheena dancing in a pair of her righteous 80s pants.

(because I don't care enough about any image from the actual movie)

* Speaking of things that are horribly dated - the mind-raping disco soundtrack really stands out in FYEO, and makes the viewer forget what actually happens on screen. Well, this viewer, at least.
When you do notice what's going on, the directing style is often so "creative" that it's cringeworthy. Dude - Bond movies are not the place to show off your flashy directing. Go to France or something.
(Now that's a thought! A French Bond counterpart! Double-ooh-la-la or something).

* In Moonraker, I noted that Roger Moore's face skin had started to vacate his skull. Now he's completely lost control over his chins.
This has to stop. 007 now looks like an unholy hybrid between the Live and Let Die-Bond and Jabba the Hutt.
And as if he weren't saggy enough solo, he still carries out his flirtatious shenanigans with Moneypenny, who's styled like it were the fifties and makes you think of a desperate grandma. The point of heavy flirting like this, is to direct your mind towards sex - and do you really want to picture those two banging away on the kitchen table, like a couple of hairy, flesh-colored sacks filled with pudding?
Thought not. Sorry if you read this just after eating.

* Of course - the old man still has his mid-life-crisis Bond car, the wonderful Lotus. Now in this movie, there's a scene where some bad guys try to break into it, despite the fact that it's marked as "burglar protected"... and it explodes! I hope to God this is a conscious effort to be funny. If not, it's so stupid, it truly boggles the mind. Either way: it ends up being over-the-top silly, as is the norm with the Moore movies.
The Lotus will later be replaced with a newer model, which Bond will use for... nothing whatsoever.

* At least, the Lotus farce ends up paving the way for the excellent 2CV chase. When your own, proper car has just exploded, it counts as a good enough justification for driving a 2CV.
This is just the right amount of humor for a Bond movie, and it's brilliantly done, too - just a good, proper car chase.

* There's a scene with skiing in it too, if you can believe it! This one is perhaps the most pathetic of them all, because it just tries too hard: Simply applying every other winter sport in the world to the ski chase, is not guaranteed to make it interesting.
The bobsleigh part is awesome, though - and that's because you can see that it's just an incredible, shit-meet-pants stunt, instead of crappy back projection or CGI.
In fact, it's good enough to almost make me forget that a bobsleigh chase, incredibly, has already been done in the Bond franchise.

* There's a scene with diving in it too, if you can believe it! It's as boring here as it was in the other Bond movies, but there's a really good mini-sub fight as well, that I bet James Cameron has seen.

* The otherwise anonymous bad guy in FYEO seems to be the only bad guy who's found the balance between a sadistic way of murder and a plain stupid one. Leaving 007 to be eaten by 'gators while you don't stay there and watch: stupid. Dragging 007 from your boat to be eaten by sharks and/or be beaten to a pulp against a reef: sadistic and not all too stupid.
Good for you, bad guy. But you're still not interesting enough that I'll bother looking up your name.

* Towards the end, there's a really intense climbing scene that'll have you on the edge of your seat. Cliffhanger, eat your 'roided heart out.
Sadly, the film's climactic raid against a mountaintop monastery can only be described as "meh". Whenever filmmakers seem to think that lots of gunfire automatically generates excitement, I get bored. Most of the mayhem is lost on me, as I'm too busy texting my Mom. I guess the bad guy gets killed or somethin'.

* There's a Maggie Thatcher-lookalike here, too, in a scene that tries so hard to be funny that it's embarrassing. It's even worse than that weird Gorbachev appearance in Rocky IV.

* And seriously - when Bond gets the girl in the end and Moore does his trademark suck-cheek kissing, I want to gouge my eyes out.
Roger Moore is about 54 at the time. His counterpart, Carol Bucket, is about 24. It shows. Bleurgh.
Have a look for yourself - if you're one of those people who's got no problem with this, you're also one of those people who's got an entire folder marked "grandpa porn" in your bookmarks.

* Final note: James Bond seems to win a lot whenever he gambles.
Is he really, really, reallyreally lucky, or does he cheat?
This is an interesting thought to me.