Sunday, 26 January 2014

You Only Live Twice

Sunday 26th January

Bond begins this film in Hong Kong faking his own murder with the help of the British Navy. No sooner as body is ceremoniously plopped into the sea a couple of sneaky individuals take it to a nearby submarine where the body bag is opened to reveal Bond completely fine and wearing an oxygen mask.  After a brief chat with M and Moneypenny he’s spat back out again near the Japanese coast, no rest for the wicked.

He tracks down the quite strange Mr Henderson, and while I was slightly disappointed not to find my old chemistry teacher on the other side of the door the disappointment didn’t last long as he’s quite literally and remarkably quietly stabbed in the back. Cleverly James catches the killer, disguises himself as him to use the getaway vehicle to try and gauge the enemy’s identity. Instead he manages to crack a safe jump in a getaway car with a random girl and end up being caught by the person he was trying to meet in the first place – all terribly confusing if you ask me.

Despite being a long way from England Q does not disappoint as he brings Bond a mecano helicopter; for someone pretending to be dead this is quite a stupid move, not only is it bright yellow it’s also extremely noisy attracting a stupid amount of attention to such a unique machine.  It can therefore not be considered surprising when four normal sized helicopters arrive with the apparent aim of shooting Bond out of the sky.  Proving size doesn’t matter James and his tiny flying machine prevail bringing them all down.

Back once more with his cat is number one; his love of fighting fish has moved on from goldfish to piranhas, though I can’t see his feeding this to the cat and although they do give him a new way of disposing of agents I believe they are further proof that the execution branch of SPECTRE is being to get bored and uncreative.
In an interesting racist twist; Bond must become ‘Japanese’ which apparently involves wearing a wig and a partial face mask to cover his eyes. He’s also forced to marry, as apparently this makes the whole thing less suspicious. A strange triple wedding where the minister reads from a take away menu before presenting the couples with lunch which since its Japan that have to eat with chopsticks.

Finally we get to see the face of the elusive number one who has been kept from the viewer since film two. Not only do we get to see him but he also reveals his real name and it’s not surprising he prefers to go by number one. Only a minute and a half away from starting the next world war Bond is seemingly powerless to stop the evil scheme; and the rocket launches. What number one and his rather bored looking cat haven’t planned on is the ninja army approaching to save Bond and destroy number one’s little hideout.

Honestly, I’m starting to tire of the concept of SPECTRE now; initially the idea that this film would be based around space related things was promising but I actually found it quite tiresome and difficult to maintain interest in this film.  Though since number one is still alive I can only assume there will be at least one more SPECTRE related adventure, unless the cat snaps and attacks him before number one can come up with a new plan.

Friday, 24 January 2014


Friday 24th January 2014

We begin with James in France attending a funeral; for a transvestite, that isn’t actually dead.  Either extremely judgemental of the man’s lifestyle choice or annoyed by the fact that he’s still alive Bond proceeds to kill him and escape using a jet-pack which I believe raises the question. Was the whole thing just an excuse to finally use the jet-pack?

Thunderball sees the return of SPECTRE and its many numbered members.  Maybe Dr No gave me false hope of the intelligence of the members of SPECTRE but number one seems determined to slowly kill off the agents in albeit rather inventive fashions – surely this will eventually lead to two problems, firstly a lack of people and secondly having to assign increasingly larger numbers which is just going to get confusing for everyone. Even though this film was made in the sixities I still feel that number two’s eye patch is probably a little out of date; unless channelling you’re inner pirate at a child’s birthday party. What did intrigue me was the mention of SPECTRE’s execution branch which given its previous inventions of the blowing up chair and poisoned spike must be quite the creative workplace.

Once again Bond does not disappoint on the clichéd seducing of every woman he runs into, except for poor Miss Moneypenny.  Firstly he seduces a nurse, initially against her will but like so many before her she quickly becomes needy and clingy; maybe woman have been missing a lot of relationship advice subtly offered by Bond films because if one thing is standing out its playing hard to get works – very well but as soon as you get clingy James will lose interest and very quickly and conveniently get called away to do very important work things. Later in the film he also claims to have only slept with SPECTRE agent Fiona for King and Country – what a hard life!

Managing to avoid being sent to Canada Bond once again finds himself in a tropical climate, and once again everyone is dressed in suits!  We also see Bond back at the blackjack table demonstrating his questionable card counting abilities to impress women.  This film’s main bond girl ‘Domino’ tells the audience her tragic tale of how when she was young she fell in love with a pirate with pet sharks but now finds herself trapped and scared; controlled by number two – who does in fact have a real name! Making it all so easy for Bond to swoop in and steal her innocent affections.

Everyone’s favourite geek, Q also is back in this film, unfortunately backing up the stereotype that geeks dress badly by getting into full holiday mode with a rather garish Hawaiian shirt.  Though once again it would appear that money has been poorly spent as they seem to have run out halfway through making James’ wetsuit; leaving him trouser-less.

Things look like they might start to get exciting as Fiona and various SPECTRE lackies chase an injured Bond through a parade of the characters from It’s a Small World to a secluded bar for casual dancing and shooting the wrong person by accident, poor Fiona; all she wanted was to be given a higher agent number.

With this being the longest of the films I’ve watched so far I was starting to loose attention towards the end. However on the whole, I like the sharks and the underwater fighting – much quieter and much more entertaining to watch than the typical on-land fights. Leading to my conclusion that we need more underwater fight scenes in films, and if not completely underwater we should make people just wear the flipper and snorkels for sheer amusement factor.

Friday, 17 January 2014


Thursday 16th January

Firstly it should be pointed out that Goldfinger’s first victim, Jill did sort of have it coming; after all if the man which is paying you is getting chased by the British secret service, don’t run away with the agent tracking him, no matter how refined his taste in champagne is.  Also, despite the suggestion of the opening titles she's the only person to actually end up gold.

Once again Miss Moneypenny continues to harass James, this time even proposing marriage to him; one might think that given the money that seems available to be spent on cars and gadgets what they really need to invest in is a decent HR department.

Given the continual theme of disposal women throughout the films so far it obvious that one of the benefits of sleeping with Bond is that there’s no need to stress over the possibilities of STIs, since you probably won’t be alive long enough to notice you have one.  Someone with better priorities might have noticed the connection between their romantic involvement with a woman and their untimely demise but obviously golf is very important.

Hands down this film wins the award for most unrealistic car crash, after having both her passenger side tyres slashed in a cruel display of road rage on Bond’s part Tilly Masterson slides quite gracefully off the road, with absolutely zero panic or distress.  Though what is realistic is Bond’s annoyance at his albeit primitive satnav, whilst at no point does he ask him to take a u-turn in the middle of  motorway or pull over into a river its incessant beeping must be just as irritating.

Whilst the organisation behind the operations can't really be faulted there must be better ways of smuggling gold besides in the bodywork of a Rolls Royce, perhaps wait until Christmas time and pretend to be transporting large amounts of novelty confectionery. Surely the transportation costs of continual trips and the labour costs of paying people to take apart fake cars makes this a very expensive hobby.

Pussy Galore; possibly one of the most clichéd Bond girl names yet to be thought of; and how original that they should mark her out as ‘different’ by having her save James at the crucial moment and what better job for our strong female lead than to make her the head of the blonde airplane army.

Watching the character of Goldfinger I couldn’t help but imagine he’s how Augustus Gloop from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory might have ended up if he’d of developed a cocoa intolerance; continually trying to fill the gaping hole that chocolate left behind with gold, golf and making everyone else in the US suffer the way he has suffered simply because he has nothing left to live for.  To enter the financial stronghold of the continent and not touch a thing also screams ever so slightly of Aladdin.

I have to say this was a vast improvement on From Russia with Love, possibly since it moved away from the frustratingly ominous SPECTRE.  All round more enjoyable, better characters, some very questionable acting and an ever so slight bit of humour.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

From Russia With Love

Film two - Thursday 9th January

It seems old habits die hard so we’re introduced to the main villain’s voice early on, without seeing his face - again; all the viewer has to go on is his love of cats, violent fish and giving people numbers instead of names, including himself who he seems to have given the rather presumptuous title of ‘number one’.

One of his associates, number five is introduced while playing a game of chess, we can only assume from how tired he looks that this game has been carrying on for several days; despite this he wins the game and is next seen in the office of number one discussing a plan which he guarantees will not fail – it’s fairly obviously from that line of the film that whatever the plan may be its defiantly going to fail.  With this inevitability in mind its slightly harsh that later in the film number five is killed for things not going quite according to his brilliant plan; though I was amused by the rather original, “kick him in the shin with a venom powered spike” method.  This method is revived later by number three in a last ditch attempt to kill Bond; unfortunately she doesn’t seem to have been taught how to kick and end up getting shot.

The regular viewer will be pleased to see the return of previous Bond girl, Sylvia Trent, who still likes golf and is still a clingy psychopath and once again is deprived of spending time with James as he’s dragged away to save the world again.  Nonetheless it was nice to see a small reference to the otherwise seemingly forgotten prequel.

If it’s at all possible Bond puts even less effort into seducing the women of this film, one case they are quite literally given to him. Unfortunately all women have their flaws, for example, Tania, thinks her mouth is too big and she’s too tall to be a ballerina – these negative body images issues are proof that older films are still very much relatable to a modern day audience.

We also get the introduction of the Bond’s first gadget, a suitcase with built in tear gas, money and shotgun; proof if needed that airport security has improved somewhat over the years; it does however come in extremely useful when fighting off Grant, a hand selected murder machine.  Grant plays his part well, attempting to pass himself off as a cultured well-rounded gentleman only to fall down at the obvious hurdle of what wine to drink with fish.

It seems that a lot of this drama could be avoided by Bond simply getting on with the job he’d been commissioned to do, all this waiting around in Istanbul making friends and fighting with gypsies just gives everyone more time to decide how to kill each another.

I have to say this was much more of a forced viewing than the last, although I think this is possible more reflective of my own mood than the plot which was just a bland as the last film.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Dr No

Film 1 - Monday 6th January 2013

The film opens to the song three blind mice, three men who then proceed to kill two people, with extremely good aim with shotguns for blind people. However the fake blood used in these scenes was extremely poor quality, being far too orange to be passed as realistic.

Moving into a casino where we first meet Bond showing off his blackjack skills leading us to question whether the character is autistic, unfortunately this matter is never addressed, though he’s difficult to spot amongst all the Brylcreem being used so the viewer is almost thankfully for his ever clichéd personal introduction.

Primarily, I would question Mr Bond’s poor choice in women, his first, conquest of the film, Miss Sylvia Trench starts by breaking and entering into Bond’s hotel room only to proceed to parade round in Mr Bond’s clothes, play with his golf set and ultimately delay him in his important trip.  Secondly Miss Moneypenny, a character quite easy to sympathise with, if she had more about her she could sue for sexual harassment in the workplace but instead she will remain forever besotted.  The third young woman he then gets arrested, presumably for her bad acting skills but only after he ruins her nail varnish, there can be little surprise as to why she proceeded to spit in his face. The fourth female Bond encounters, Honey Ryder, has a very rare and powerful skill, keeping her makeup and hair in pristine condition; despite the hot climate and a fairly traumatic change to her usual routine, her makeup remains perfect even when forced through a powerful shower; though instead of using this to her advantage she has chosen to concentrate her life looking for shells.

At one point we see Mr Bond trying to sleep when he discovers a spider, which we can only assume is not expected to be present at that moment.  Dramatic music ensues, surely this spider must be trained to kill, it seems all James can do is wait for the spider to decide when to administer the fatal blow.  When suddenly in a highly dramatic unexpected twist the spider makes his move, onto the other pillow only to be killed mere seconds later by shoe – how heroic.

The elusive Dr No is not met by the viewer until the final portion of the film, supposedly designed to build an air of mystery around the character. A seemingly intelligent individual with a flair for interior design with a good grasp on his personal priorities and the value of materialistic goods; one can only wonder that if under the influence of better parenting he could of done a lot of good in the world.  Clearly his main motivation for world domination is lack of much needed attention as an infant.

Overall I found the plot lacking somewhat with several loose ends left unresolved.  Being my first viewing I found it to be watchable, keeping my attention throughout; however I will not be rushing towards a second viewing of this film.

The James Bond Challenge

Until a week ago I had only ever seen 3 of the Bond films - all the new Daniel Craig ones if you were wondering. This came up in a recent conversation at work which in turn lead to being set my own James Bond challenge.  Perhaps I'm mis-using the word challenge here .

The requirements are, quite simply watch all the Bond films in order during 2014, in addition to prove I was paying the films due attention I also need to write 500(ish) words on each film.  That what this is for - a digital record of each analysis/review/critique (delete as appropriate).

So watch this space for more Bond related thoughts.