Saturday, October 02, 2010

James Bond--The Best And The Worst

Okay, so I've been sick as a dog most of the week, and I don't know whether it's the medication, or the boredom, or the exhaustion, but for some reason my mind chose this week to think about James Bond movies.  I thought it might be cool to make my personal list of the best and worst that the canon has to offer.  Despite a few givens, Bond flicks generally give rise to intense argument--pro--Moore, pro-Connery, the odd pro-Dalton heretic etc.  So here's my list, in no particular order:

  1. Goldfinger: Oh like I have to explain this one at all.  Next...
  2. Live And Let Die: The opening scenes gave me nightmares when I was a kid. This one manages to be cooly  retro without being too dated.
  3. You Only Live Twice: Hated this the first time I saw it, now it's one of my favourite.  For a Bond movie, it's very quiet, understated and restrained. But it has a very strong story, and that's why it works.
  4. On Her Majesty's Secret Service: George Lazenby's singular and much-maligned entry into the series is unfairly snubbed, I think.  Despite Lazenby's somewhat wooden performance, OHMSS actually represents one of the strongest scripts ever for a Bond film.  Plus Diana Rigg looks ravishing, as always.
  5. For Your Eyes Only: The hidden gem of the Moore era.  Sure it's a tawdry remake of Thunderball.  Sure it has that really cheesy theme song.  But it is also a compilation of everything good about a Bond flick--the underwater stuff, the skiing stuff, the humour, the action, the gadgets.  It just works, and yet everyone forgets about it.  Shame, really.
  6. Diamonds Are Forever: This is Connery's campiest outing, and one of the most fun.  The two assassins are just a joy to watch throughout.  Along with Thunderball, DAF served as a template for many furure Bond efforts
  7. The World Is Not Enough: The movie where Pearce Brosnan hit his stride. Goldeneye took itself too seriously, Die Another Die didn't take itself seriously enough, TWINW struck just the right balance.
  8. From Russia With Love: Dr. No may have been the first, but FRWL was the true start of the franchise.
  9. Thunderball: So good, they've recycled it time after time after time.
  10. The Man With The Golden Gun: This one's all about the bad guy.  Christopher Lee manages to exude both class and menace in this otherwise light bit of fluff.
And the five worst:

  1. A View To A Kill: A perfect example of everything that was wrong with filmmaking in the 'eighties. Shallow, lazy, cheesy and sloppy.  I read an article in Cinefantastique where the writers basically admitted writing a crappy movie to sabotage Roger Moore. It made me mad at the time.  That being said, I still do enjoy watching this one from time to time.  It's bad, but it's still fun
  2. Dr. No: Maybe I'm a heretic, but I find that the first Bond movie hasn't aged well.  It's dated, slow-paced and to be brutally frank, boring as hell.
  3. Quantum Of Solace: I'd give detail reasons why this is so bad, but to be honest after the initially interesting parkour chase at the beginning, I lasted about 15 minutes before turning it off and therefore have never seen the whole thing. That pretty much sums it up.
  4. Octopussy: It's a lot of fun, and it's still great to watch.  The reason why it's on the "worsts" list is because there are so many continuity errors, technical gaffes and just plain sloppy filmmaking that it's obvious that the director didn't give a shit.
  5. Moonraker: remaking The Spy Who Loved me immediately after The Spy Who Loved Me was just an insult to the fans.  It's not a bad movie, per se, but for chrissakes at least they had the decency to leave gap of a few films before churning out Thunderball clones
You'll notice that Timothy Dalton's outings don't make either list.  That's because it wouldn't be really fair to judge them because Dalton was never really allowed to play Bond--The Living Daylights was basically written for Bond as portrayed by Moore, and License To Kill wasn't a Bond movie in any real sense of the term.

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