Archive for 007

The Living Daylights

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

James Bond—Agent 007—is assigned to aid the defection of a KGB officer, General Georgi Koskov, covering his escape from a concert hall in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia during the orchestra’s intermission. During the mission, Bond notices that the KGB sniper assigned to prevent Koskov’s escape is a female cellist from the orchestra. Disobeying his orders to kill the sniper, he instead shoots the rifle from her hands, then uses the Trans-Siberian Pipeline to smuggle Koskov across the border into Austria and then on to Britain.

In his post-defection debriefing, Koskov informs MI6 that the KGB’s old policy of Smiert Spionom, meaning Death to Spies, has been revived by General Leonid Pushkin, the new head of the KGB. Koskov is later abducted from the safe-house and assumed to have been taken back to Moscow. Bond is directed to track down Pushkin in Tangier and kill him in order to forestall further killings of agents and escalation of tensions between the Soviet Union and the West. Although Bond’s prior knowledge of Pushkin initially leads him to doubt Koskov’s claims, he agrees to carry out the mission when he learns that the assassin who killed 004 (as depicted in the pre-title sequence) left a note bearing the same message, “Smiert Spionom.”

Bond returns to Bratislava to track down the cellist, Kara Milovy. He determines that Koskov’s entire defection was staged, and that Milovy is actually Koskov’s girlfriend. Bond convinces Milovy that he is a friend of Koskov’s and persuades her to accompany him to Vienna, supposedly to be reunited with him. Meanwhile, Pushkin meets with arms dealer Brad Whitaker in Tangier, informing him that the KGB is cancelling an arms deal previously arranged between Koskov and Whitaker.

During his brief tryst with Milovy in Vienna, Bond meets his MI6 ally, Saunders, who discovers a history of financial dealings between Koskov and Whitaker. As he leaves their meeting, Saunders is killed by Necros (Koskov and Whitaker’s henchman), who again leaves the message “Smiert Spionom.”

Bond and Milovy promptly leave for Tangier, where Bond confronts Pushkin. Pushkin disavows any knowledge of “Smiert Spionom”, and reveals that Koskov is evading arrest for embezzlement of government funds. Bond and Pushkin then join forces and Bond fakes Pushkin’s assassination, inducing Whitaker and Koskov to progress with their scheme. Meanwhile, Milovy contacts Koskov, who tells her that Bond is actually a KGB agent and convinces her to drug him so he can be captured.

Koskov, Necros, Milovy, and the captive Bond fly to a Soviet air base in Afghanistan—part of the Soviet war in Afghanistan—where Koskov betrays Milovy and imprisons her along with Bond. The pair escape and in doing so free a condemned prisoner, Kamran Shah, leader of the local Mujahideen. Bond and Milovy discover that Koskov is using Soviet funds to buy a massive shipment of opium from the Mujahideen, intending to keep the profits with enough left over to supply the Soviets with their arms.

With the Mujahideen’s help, Bond plants a bomb aboard the cargo plane carrying the opium, but is spotted and has no choice but to barricade himself in the plane. Meanwhile the Mujahideen attack the air base on horseback and engage the Soviets in a gun battle. During the battle, Milovy drives a jeep into the back of the plane as Bond takes off, and Necros also leaps aboard at the last second. After a struggle, Bond throws Necros to his death and deactivates the bomb. Bond then notices Shah and his men being pursued by Soviet forces. He re-activates the bomb and drops it out of the plane and onto a bridge, blowing it up and helping Shah and his men gain an important victory over the Soviets. Bond returns to Tangier to kill Whitaker, as Pushkin arrests Koskov, sending him back to Moscow.

Some time later, Milovy is the lead cellist in a known London performance, her music career solidified by newfound cooperation between the British government and the Soviets providing Kara with travel expenses and allowing her to perform in both countries. After her performance, Bond surprises her in her dressing room and they romantically share their mutual success together.

REVIEW:

A new era in the James Bond franchise is upon me, as Roger Moore steps down and Timothy Dalton takes on the mantle of the suave superspy in The Living Daylights. Will this change affect the character? What about the tone of the film? How will this be received? Let’s find out!

What is this about?

In this turbo-charged action-adventure, suave superspy James Bond is tasked with protecting a Soviet general from a beautiful sniper.

What did I like?

Music makes the world go ’round. As a musician, I will always be more critical and notice things having to do with music than the common movie viewer. The Bond films are well-known for the opening themes and the unmistakable James Bond motif, but this film also throws in a bit of class. You can’t have a Bond girl who is a cello player without having her playing some Mozart, can you? I just can’t see a world-renown musician of her caliber playing some hair band hit on her instrument, even if it might have sounded cool.

Time for a change. Roger Moore was nearly 60 when A View to a Kill was finished, and it showed. The man gave us I believe 7 films over 12 years, so he earned his rest. With a new Bond comes new ways to write for the actor. Take for instance when David Tennant left Doctor Who and was replaced with Matt Smith, who has now been replaced with Peter Capaldi. All have different interpretations of the same character, but each is their own, separate entity. Timothy Dalton, who is going for a darker, more realistic Bond is a far cry from Roger Moore, but perhaps that is what’s needed.

Go go gadget. Bond is known for his gadgetry, but in the films that I’ve seen, they haven’t really been a big part of the film, save for submarine Lotus in The Spy Who Loved Me. While nothing as grand as that appears in this picture, we do get to see a few more of the gadgets and gizmos than I believe we have seen before, which is a big plus for me.

What didn’t I like?

Moneypenny. This is the first film in the franchise to feature a new actress as Ms. Moneypenny. I can’t really say that I like her or not, based on her performance, but I can say that I am not a fan of what they have done, or not done with her character. In the previous films, she had a flirtatious relationship with 007, but here everything is business. WTF?!?

Climax. In the supposed climax, a confrontation with Bond and Whitaker, one would expect there to have been some sort of long, exciting battle, complete with witty repartee and such, right? Wrong! What we get is a few shots, gas, a statue falling down, and some more shots. Seriously, how is this the climax? The stuff with opium was more exciting!!!

Ho-hum. I was warned that Timothy Dalton’s Bond films weren’t going to appeal to me, but I at least thought this would be interesting. I had to catch myself twice from falling asleep! Dalton just doesn’t do it for me as a Bond. I think he does his best work as a villain, anyway. Perhaps the next film will change my mind.

Final verdict on The Living Daylights? It is a definite departure from the Roger Moore era 007. We get a darker Bond, more realistic plot, and the return of the Aston Martin. Does this make this a good film? No, but it doesn’t hurt. What does hurt, though, is the fact that there is no real excitement in this picture. For a good chunk of it, things just seem to be going along with no rhyme or reason. How can the audience get invested in that? With that in mind, I cannot recommend this, unless you are a completest who must see all the films in the franchise.

3 out of 5 stars

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A View to a Kill

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

MI6 agent James Bond is sent to Siberia to locate the body of 003 and recover a microchip originating from the Soviet Union. Upon his return Q analyses the microchip, establishing it to be a copy of one designed to withstand an electromagnetic pulse and made by government contractor Zorin Industries.

Bond visits Ascot Racecourse to observe the company’s owner, Max Zorin. Zorin’s horse wins a race but proves hard to control. Sir Godfrey Tibbett, a racehorse trainer and MI6 agent, believes Zorin’s horse was drugged, although tests proved negative. Through Tibbett, Bond meets French private detective Achille Aubergine who informs Bond that Zorin is holding a horse sale later in the month. During their dinner at the Eiffel Tower, Aubergine is assassinated by Zorin’s bodyguard May Day, who subsequently escapes, despite being chased by Bond.

Bond and Tibbett travel to Zorin’s estate for the horse sale. Bond is puzzled by a woman who rebuffs him and finds out that Zorin has written her a cheque for $5 million. At night, Bond and Tibbett break into Zorin’s laboratory learning that he is implanting adrenaline-releasing devices in his horses. Zorin identifies Bond as an agent, has May Day assassinate Tibbett and attempts to have Bond killed too.

General Gogol of the KGB confronts Zorin for killing Bond without permission revealing that Zorin was initially trained and financed by the KGB, but has now gone rogue. Later, Zorin unveils to a group of investors his plan to destroy Silicon Valley which will give him—and the potential investors—a monopoly over microchip manufacture.

Bond goes to San Francisco where he learns from CIA agent Chuck Lee that Zorin could be the product of medical experimentation with steroids performed by a Nazi scientist, now Zorin’s physician Dr. Carl Mortner. He then investigates a nearby oil rig owned by Zorin and while there finds KGB agent Pola Ivanova recording conversations and her partner placing explosives on the rig. Ivanova’s partner is caught and killed, but Ivanova and Bond escape. Later Ivanova takes the recording, but finds that Bond had switched tapes, leaving her with a recording of Japanese music. Bond tracks down the woman Zorin attempted to pay off, State Geologist Stacey Sutton, and discovers that Zorin is trying to buy her family oil business.

The two travel to San Francisco City Hall to check Zorin’s submitted plans. However, Zorin is alerted to their presence and arrives, killing the Chief Geologist with Bond’s gun and setting fire to the building in order to both frame Bond for the murder and kill him at the same time. Bond and Sutton escape from the fire, but when the police try to arrest Bond, they escape in a fire engine.

Bond and Sutton infiltrate Zorin’s mine, discovering his plot to detonate explosives beneath the lakes along the Hayward and San Andreas faults, which will cause them to flood, resulting in Silicon Valley and everything within to be submerged underwater forever. A larger bomb is also in the mine to destroy a “geological lock” that prevents the two faults from moving at the same time. Once in place, Zorin and his security chief Scarpine flood the mines and kill the mine workers. Sutton escapes while Bond fights May Day; when she realises Zorin abandoned her, she helps Bond remove the larger bomb, putting the device onto a handcar and pushing it out of the mine, where it explodes, killing her.

Zorin, who had escaped in his airship with Scarpine and Mortner, abducts Sutton as Bond grabs hold of the airship’s mooring rope. Zorin tries to kill Bond, but he manages to moor the airship to the framework of the Golden Gate Bridge. Sutton attacks Zorin and in the fracas, Mortner and Scarpine are temporarily knocked out. Sutton flees and joins Bond out on the bridge, but Zorin follows them out with an axe. The ensuing fight culminates with Zorin falling to his death, whereupon Mortner attacks Bond using sticks of dynamite, but drops a stick in the cabin, blowing up the airship and killing himself and Scarpine. General Gogol awards Bond the Order of Lenin for foiling Zorin’s scheme.

REVIEW:

This is a little bittersweet for me, as we say goodbye to Roger Moore as James Bond in A View to a Kill. That’s right people, the next Bond flick will have a new actor in the lead role. Before we get to that, though, let’s see if this film lives up to the lofty standards of the 007 franchise and sends Moore out with a bang.

What is this about?

Agent 007 must stop a French industrialist aiming to corner the world’s microchip supply by triggering a massive quake in California’s Silicon Valley.

What did I like?

Duran Duran. My boss and I have been talking Bond lately and actually have had a bit of a disagreement over some of the music that has been selected for these films. He really hates the 80s stuff, saying it feels dated. This coming from a child of the 80s. Me, I like it. To me, yes it is dated, but that is what makes it so special. If this were made with today’s music, it would be crap. HAHA Seriously, though, it would probably be that dubstep stuff that gives me a headache. Thank goodness that wasn’t around when this was made and we had the greatness of Duran Duran to deliver a worthy theme that screams 80s theme song. It was the perfect choice for this film.

Aged like fine wine. When this was made, Roger Moore was getting on up there in age. Not to be mean, but it shows. However, you really cannot tell with all the action. Yes, those are stuntmen, but the point is that Bond is ageless and despite Moore’s advancing years, James bond is still able to be a kick-ass, suave spy who all the guys envy and the ladies want to be with.

Diabolical. I cannot recall a villain as diabolical as Christopher Walken’s Max Zorin that Bond has had to face. Wait, there was the one played by Christopher Lee in The Man with the Golden Gun. Excuse me for not remembering his character name at the moment. Walken gives a new brand of villain in this franchise. One that is has no regard for other lives, as shown when he is flooding the mines, which are filled with his own workers, and then proceeds to gun them down. Zorin is a villain for the changing times, as I’m sure the villains that follow him will be, as well.

What didn’t I like?

Forget the horses. What seems to be a big plot point in the first half of the film, horses achieving far beyond their potential, seems to be forgotten in the second half. Now, if you have the choice between horses on some kind of steroid or some madman who wants to destroy Silicon Valley so that he can be the only producer of microchips (in my estimation), you choose the latter. It would have been different to see something with the horses, though. It seems that every Bond flick involves world domination through technology, but what if someone used animals to accomplish this goal? Just a  thought.

One-liners. Bond is known for one liners. These add a bit of levity to these films and make them more enjoyable. At least that is what they are intended to do, but something in this film went awry. The one-liners here just don’t work or feel forced. The worst culprit comes from Walken and/or Grace Jones’ character when they are flying over the Golden Gate Bridge and are say something about it being a beautiful view…a view to a kill. *SIGH*

Young Walken. Christopher Walken is on up there in age now and, much like I did with Sean Connery, I find it weird to see his younger self. I really shouldn’t since he looks about the same as he does in Batman Returns, but for some reason it just wasn’t right to see his younger self. The guy does a fantastic job playing the evil Zorin, that’s not my issue. I just couldn’t get past the youth. Just a personal thing, I suppose.

Once again I find myself pondering whether I should continue with this franchise. A View to a Kill did nothing spectacular. It has a place in Bond lore as the last picture with Roger Moore as 007 and is considered the weakest entry in the franchise. For me, I found it average entertainment. There are ups and downs but, truth be told, I’m already starting to forget what I just watched. Do I recommend this? If you’re a Bond fan, then this obviously is a must-see. For those just looking for a random Bond flick, this isn’t the one to watch, unless you’re into mediocrity and disappointment.

3 out of 5 stars

Octopussy

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

British agent 009 is found dead at the British embassy in East Berlin, dressed as a circus clown and carrying a fake Fabergé egg. MI6 immediately suspects Soviet involvement and, after seeing the real egg appear at an auction in London, sends James Bond—agent 007—to investigate and find out who the seller is. At the auction Bond is able to swap the real egg with the fake and engages in a bidding war with exiled Afghan prince Kamal Khan, forcing Khan to pay £500,000 for the fake egg. Bond follows Khan back to his palace in Rajasthan, India, where Bond defeats Khan in a game of backgammon. Bond escapes with his Indian colleague Vijay, evading Khan’s bodyguard Gobinda’s attempts to kill them both. Bond is seduced by one of Khan’s associates, Magda, and notices that she has a blue-ringed octopus tattoo. Magda steals the real Fabergé egg fitted with a listening device by Q, while Gobinda captures Bond and takes him to Khan’s palace. After Bond escapes from his cell he listens in on the bug in the Fabergé egg and discovers that Khan is working with Orlov, a Soviet general, who is seeking to expand Soviet control into Central Europe.

After escaping from the palace, Bond infiltrates a floating palace in Udaipur, India, and there finds its owner, Octopussy, a wealthy woman who leads the Octopus cult, of which Magda is a member. In Octopussy’s palace Bond finds out that Orlov has been supplying Khan with priceless Soviet treasures, replacing them with replicas while Khan has been smuggling the real versions into the West via Octopussy’s circus troupe. Orlov is planning to meet Khan at Karl-Marx-Stadt (Chemnitz) in East Germany, where the circus is scheduled to perform. After evading Khan’s assassins, who kill Vijay, Bond goes to East Germany.

Bond infiltrates the circus and finds that Orlov replaced the Soviet treasures with a nuclear warhead, primed to explode during the circus show at a US Air Force base in West Germany. The explosion would trigger Europe into seeking disarmament in the belief that the bomb was a US one that detonated by accident, leaving its borders open to Soviet invasion. Bond takes Orlov’s car, drives it along the train tracks and boards the moving circus train. Orlov is shot dead by GDR guards while trying to cross the border. Bond kills the twin knife-throwers Mischka and Grischka in revenge for 009’s death, and, after falling from the train, commandeers a car in order to get to the Air Force base. At the base Bond disguises himself as a clown to evade the West German police. He attempts to convince Octopussy that Khan has betrayed her by showing her one of the treasures found in Orlov’s car, which she was to smuggle for him. Octopussy realises that she has been tricked and assists Bond in deactivating the warhead.

Bond and Octopussy return to India and launch an assault on Khan’s palace. Khan and Gobinda flee the palace, capturing Octopussy in the process. Bond follows them as they attempt to escape in an aeroplane, clinging to the fuselage and disabling one of its engines. Gobinda dies after falling off the roof of the plane and Bond rescues Octopussy from Khan, the pair jumping onto a nearby cliff moments before the plane crashes into a mountain, killing Khan. While M and General Gogol discuss the return of the jewellery, Bond recuperates with Octopussy aboard her private boat in India.

REVIEW:

So, here I am returning to the Bond franchise with Octopussy. Isn’t that just a dirty sounding title? Arthur Fleming must have been a dirty old man, I tell you. Aside from coming up with characters like Pussy Galore and Octopussy, he makes his lead character, as one of my friends put it, “a cooz hound.” Still, I don’t think there are many men on this planet that wouldn’t trade places with James Bond in a heartbeat, let alone the scores of women who would line up to be a Bond girl (some have preferences to which Bond, though).

What is this about?

Agent 007 springs into action after uncovering a terrorist plot hatched by a renegade Soviet general and an exiled Afghan prince to launch a nuclear attack — financed by the sale of Fabergé eggs — against NATO forces in Europe.

What did I like?

Eggs. When I was growing up and would be dragged halfway across the country to visit my grandmother every summer, one of the things I remembered were these fancy eggs she had in her bedroom. As it turned out, they were Faberge eggs. Imagine how tickled I was to see the same things pop up in this film, albeit a much fancier and expensive version…not to mention not pink (long story, but my grandmother’s house was Pepto Bismol pink inside and out…ugh!)

Secret Agent Man. The last few Bond films I’ve seen, well all of them really excluding Dr. No, haven’t exactly showcased Bond’s spy ability. This is the first one that I can recall that we see him don disguises, sneak into offices, seduce the girls, escape nefarious captors, etc. Sure, he does a combination of these in all of the films, but for some reason, at least to me, it was more prominent with this film. Whatever we think of James Bond, he is a spy, first and foremost.

Humor. In the research I did before I hit play on this film this afternoon, I read that critics denounced it for not having humor. Now, as I have been making my way through this franchise, I have learned that humor is not the major selling point for 007. Leave that for Austin Powers or some parody. However, there is a place for it. When these films start to get too serious, they drag on and get rather boring. The powers that be behind this film knew that and threw in a few moments of levity, such as 007 give the Tarzan yell when he’s swinging through the jungle, the adolescent behavior he showed when talking to Q, or some light jokes here and there that just break up the monotony. Can you imagine life without someone funny in your life? Neither can Bond, I would imagine.

What didn’t I like?

Cold consequences. In comics, when Batman, Iron Man, Daredevil, Green Lantern, or whoever puts away the villain, they tend to break out after some time, but that’s life in comic books. These Bond films are meant to be more real life, so how is it that the Soviets can basically attempt to frame the US for trying to blow up the world (I am exaggerating with this plot, btw), and don’t even get a slap on the wrist? Something is quite unsettling about that to me. Maybe I am just not up to speed on my history and there was some kind of alliance between the UK and the USSR, or this is a plot device for a future film?

Theme. Aside from the grand compositions of composers like John Williams, James Horner, and the like, as well as the great songs that have come from Disney movies, the most popular film music tends to be the themes songs to 007 films. I mean, here we are about 2 or 3 years removed from the latest entry, Skyfall, and people are still humming it and requesting it on the radio. With that reputation to live up to, I have to say that this film didn’t deliver. The theme song is ok and passable, but I couldn’t tell you who sings it or hums it and I haven’t been long hit stop. Hopefully the next Bond film won’t have that issue.

KHAN! Another disappointment for me was the film’s main villain, a man named Kamal Khan. Louis Jourdan’s performance is actually solid, for what they gave him to do, but this film isn’t named Khan. Octopussy should have been the villain, if you ask me, or Khan’s chief bodyguard, whose name escapes me at this moment. That guy seemed to do more damage and serve as more of a threat to Bond than Khan, who was basically just another rich guy in a suit with delusions of grandeur. Typical for a Bond villain, but not threatening enough, as many of his predecessors have been.

I was telling one of my buds from college who is a Bond buff, that Octopussy will go down as one of my favorite in the franchise so far. He laughed it off and is currently telling my why it shouldn’t be, but whatever! Everyone has their own opinion, right? For me, this was quite the enjoyable ride, a return of sorts for 007 to his action/adventure roots and not relying so much on the gadgets and gizmos, though a few more of those would have been nice. Do I recommend this? Yes, I doubt that anyone will just hate this film, so give it a shot!

4 out of 5 stars

For Your Eyes Only

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 10, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The British spy boat St Georges, which holds the Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator (ATAC), the system used by the Ministry of Defence to communicate with and co-ordinate the Royal Navy’s fleet of Polaris submarines, is sunk by a naval mine in the Ionian Sea. MI6 agent James Bond, code name “007”, is ordered by the Minister of Defence, Sir Frederick Gray and MI6 Chief of Staff, Bill Tanner, to retrieve the ATAC before the Soviets, as the transmitter could order attacks by the submarines’ Polaris ballistic missiles.

The head of the KGB, General Gogol has also learnt of the fate of the St Georges and already notified his contact in Greece. A marine archaeologist, Sir Timothy Havelock, who had been asked by the British to secretly locate the St Georges, is murdered with his wife by a Cuban hitman, Hector Gonzales. Bond goes to Spain to find out who hired Gonzales.

While spying on Gonzales’ villa, Bond is captured by his men, but manages to escape as Gonzales is killed by an arrow. Outside, he finds the assassin was Melina Havelock, the daughter of Sir Timothy, and the two escape. With the help of Q, Bond identifies a hitman in Gonzales’ estate as Emile Leopold Locque, and then goes to Locque’s possible base in Italy. There Bond meets his contact, Luigi Ferrara, and a well-connected Greek businessman and intelligence informant, Aris Kristatos, who tells Bond that Locque is employed by Milos Columbo, known as “the Dove” in the Greek underworld, Kristatos’ former resistance partner during the Second World War. After Bond goes with Kristatos’ protégée, figure skater Bibi Dahl, to a biathlon course, a group of three men, which includes East German biathlete Eric Kriegler, chases Bond, trying to kill him. Bond escapes, and then goes with Ferrara to bid Bibi farewell in an indoor ice rink, where he fends off another attempt on his life by men in hockey gear. Ferrara is killed in his car, with a dove pin in his hand. Bond then travels to Corfu in pursuit of Columbo.

There, at the casino, Bond meets with Kristatos and asks how to meet Columbo, not knowing that Columbo’s men are secretly recording their conversation. After Columbo and his mistress, Countess Lisl von Schlaf, argue, Bond offers to escort her home with Kristatos’ car and driver. The two then spend the night together. In the morning Lisl and Bond are ambushed by Locque and Lisl is killed. However, before Locque can kill Bond, he is captured by Columbo’s men; Columbo then tells Bond that Locque was actually hired by Kristatos, who is working for the KGB to retrieve the ATAC. Bond accompanies Columbo and his crew on a raid on one of Kristatos’ opium-processing warehouses in Albania, where Bond uncovers naval mines similar to the one that sank the St Georges, suggesting it was not an accident. After the base is destroyed, Bond chases Locque and kills him.

Afterwards, Bond meets with Melina, and they recover the ATAC from the wreckage of the St Georges, but Kristatos is waiting for them when they surface and he takes the ATAC. After the two escape an assassination attempt, they discover Kristatos’ rendezvous point when Melina’s parrot repeats the phrase “ATAC to St Cyril’s”. With the help of Columbo and his men, Bond and Melina break into St Cyril’s, an abandoned mountaintop monastery. While Bond is climbing, Apostis attacks him, but is killed. As Columbo confronts Kristatos, Bond kills the biathlete Kriegler.

Bond retrieves the ATAC system and stops Melina from killing Kristatos after he surrenders. Kristatos tries to kill Bond with a hidden flick knife, but is killed by a knife thrown by Columbo; Gogol arrives by helicopter to collect the ATAC, but Bond destroys it first. Bond and Melina later spend a romantic evening aboard her father’s yacht.

REVIEW:

After a little bit of a shuffle in the order of Bond films, I’m back on the right track with For Your Eyes Only. After the past two lighter faire films, this returns the character to his roots as a serious spy, but does that work for the series, and this iteration? Is the picture entertaining? These are a couple of questions I hope to answer for you.

What is this about?

This entry in the überpopular film franchise finds the indomitable James Bond tasked with recovering a top-secret device capable of directing ballistic missiles from nuclear submarines — before the Soviets get their hands on it.

What did I like?

Action. For all the sneaking around, drama, and lack of getting with the ladies that is going on in this film, there is a good deal of action. Many of the critics have praised that action, which is truly the best part of this film. One review said that it was a break from the long and boring film this ended up being. For me, while none of the stunts stand out, they are quite the sight to see, especially once things

Under the sea. Almost anytime you see an underwater scene, it takes your breath away. Now, it would be easy for me to say that this is another in the long line of those scenes, but there is something a little more to it than that. Aside from the underwater beauty, we get an underwater city that is in ruins. The gorgeous remains, coupled with the music that was used in this part of the film made for the perfect mixture of elements.

Parrot. A talking parrot on a boat and no pirates around? What madness is this?!? Ha! Seriously, though, a parrot that serves as a recording device of sorts in not something new, but it is some comic relief that this film is in serious need of. The parrot wasn’t a major character, by any stretch of the imagination, but it does play an important part in the film, and that is something worthy of note.

What didn’t I like?

Bond girls. Once again, I must bring up the Bond girls as a negative in a James Bond film review. Yes, they are beautiful, as is prerequisite for the job, but they don’t live up to the standards set by their predecessors, nor do they do anything spectacular. The French girl, Carole Bouquet, is out for nothing but revenge and gets in the way more than anything. The young ice skater is like a school girl who has a crush on her teacher, finally turned legal, and can now act on her impulses. To me, these girls seemed second-rate, but I guess they can’t all be Ursula Andress, can they?

Non-action. As I mentioned earlier, the action is the best part of this film, but the parts that aren’t action-packed will all but put you to sleep. A good action film has great action and interesting non action scenes. It is rather disappointing that this film doesn’t do that, making one of the weaker entries in the franchise, according to those that are more learned in Bond than I.

Walks on ice. This is a small thing, but I can’t just let is slide. When Bond goes to visit the ice skater chick while she is practicing on the ice, he just walks on the ice. For any of you familiar with ice, you know how slippery it is. It is possible, however tricky, to walk on the ice without skates, but you can’t just walk normally out there. Bond just seemingly strides on the ice, and then fights hockey player assassins with ease. Isn’t this supposed to be a more realistic, grounded Bond film?!?

You know, the more of these Bond flicks I watch, the more I am starting to think this is a franchise that just isn’t for me. The entries that I like the best are the two that seem to be the most reviled by most, and For Your Eyes Only didn’t really do anything for me. No worries, though, my OCD won’t let me get this far into the franchise without finishing things up. So, do I recommend this film? I guess. I mean, there really isn’t anything inherently wrong with it, but there also isn’t anything to get excited about, either. It’s just another entry in the Bond cannon, no more, no less.

3 out of 5 stars

The Spy Who Loved Me

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

British and Soviet ballistic-missile submarines mysteriously disappear. James Bond—MI6 agent 007—is summoned to investigate. On the way, he escapes an ambush by Soviet agents in Austria, killing one during a downhill ski chase, and escaping via a Union Flag parachute. Bond learns that the plans for a highly advanced submarine tracking system are on the market in Egypt. There, he encounters Major Anya Amasova—KGB agent Triple X—his rival for the plans. They travel across Egypt together, tracking the microfilm plans, meeting Jaws—an unnaturally tall assassin with steel teeth—along the way. Bond and Amasova later team up, due to a truce supported by their respective superiors, and identify the person responsible for the thefts as shipping tycoon, scientist, and anarchist Karl Stromberg.

While travelling by train to Stromberg’s base in Sardinia, Bond saves Amasova from being killed by Jaws, and their rivalry changes into affection. Posing as a marine biologist and his wife, they visit Stromberg’s base and discover that he has a mysterious new supertanker, the Liparus. After they leave the base, Jaws and other armed men, including a helicopter pilot named Naomi, chase them, but all attempts fail due to Bond’s driving skills and fact that his car – a Lotus Esprit from Q Branch – can convert into a submarine. Jaws retreats once again while Naomi and her other allies are killed. Bond later finds out that the Liparus has never visited any known port or harbour, and Amasova learns that Bond killed her lover in Austria; she promises Bond that she will kill him when their mission ends.

Later, while aboard an American submarine, Bond and Amasova examine Stromberg’s underwater Atlantis base and confirm that he is operating the tracking system. The Liparus then captures the submarine, just as it captured the others. Stromberg sets his plan in motion: the launching of nuclear missiles from the submarines, to destroy Moscow and New York City. This would trigger a global nuclear war, which Stromberg would survive in Atlantis, and subsequently a new civilisation would be established. He leaves for Atlantis with Amasova. Bond frees the captured British, Russian and American submariners and they battle the Liparus’s crew. Bond reprograms the British and Soviet submarines to destroy each other, saving Moscow and New York. The victorious submariners escape the sinking Liparus on the American submarine.

Bond insists on rescuing Amasova before the submarine has to follow its orders and destroy Atlantis. Bond confronts and kills Stromberg but again encounters Jaws, whom he drops into a shark tank. Jaws escapes from the shark tank (after fatally biting the shark) and swims off into the sunset. Bond and Amasova flee in an escape pod as Atlantis is sunk. In the pod Amasova reminds Bond that she has vowed to kill him and picks up Bond’s gun, but admits to having forgiven him and the two make love. The Royal Navy recovers the pod, and the two spies are seen in intimate embrace through its large window, much to the consternation of Bond and Amasova’s superiors.

REVIEW:

My OCD has been driving me crazy lately because, as it turns out, The Spy Who Loved Me preceded Moonraker, which I watched a few weeks back. I go into this film hearing some mediocre reviews, so we’ll see what becomes of it all. Hopefully, this will be worth the time and won’t totally turn me off the Bond franchise before I even get to the Pierce Brosnan Bonds.

What is this about?

In this rousing 007 adventure, sly spy James Bond teams with a shapely Russian agent to foil a millionaire industrialist who plans to rule an underwater empire — by wiping out the surface world.

What did I like?

Jaws. One of the most popular henchmen in the franchise, Jaws, played by Richard Kiel, makes his debut in this film. Compared to his appearance in the following film, he isn’t that much of a factor. However, he was enough of a factor to return in completely unrelated film, which says something for the character.

Car. A spy has to have a cool car, right? How many, especially in the late 70s, had one that could turn into a submarine? As I was watching that first scene when the car changed, I e-mailed my friend, Wes, and said we need to build our own versions. HA! Seriously, though, Bond is well-known for his gadgets, among other things, but this is one of his best of all time. I can’t wait to see what will top it, if anything, in successive films.

Humor. I keep hearing how the current Bond films are dark and serious, which isn’t my favorite tone for a film. Give me a Bond that can throw a punch, kill a thug, flirt with the secretary, and then bed down the token “Bond girl”, over some brooding mass murderer any day. I know that I’m probably alone with that opinion, but that’s how I feel. Roger Moore seems to be getting a bit wary of the Bond role, but he’s still able to throw out a few quips here and there that, coupled with the action, make him quite the enjoyable figure to watch.

What didn’t I like?

Length. At over 2 hours long, I figured this was just going to be your basic spy action film, but as it turns out, after awhile the film just started to drag on causing the audience to lose interest. Cutting about 5-10 minutes, at least, out of this would have made this work so much better, as all it needed was some trimming, and it would have been just fine.

MI-6. In the previous Bond films, MI-6 has been at least a presence. Not so much this time around. As a matter of fact, they make a quick cameo and that’s it. Maybe it is just me, but I miss the interaction between Bond and M, as well as the playful flirting he does with Moneypenny. What is the reason for not having that this time around, I wonder?

More snow. Starting with some exciting ski action captures the attention of the audience. Great action is not something to take lightly, and Bond delivers in spades. I just wish the rest of film would have been able to live up to the opening, rather than falling a bit flat as it does.

I can’t tell if I just wasn’t in the mood or if The Spy Who Loved Me was just a big disappointment. At any rate, this just didn’t do anything for me I would love to sit here and gush over how good it is, but that isn’t going to happen. Still, the question on the table is whether or not this is worth watching? I believe it is, but I believe that there are better (and worse) Bond films out there. Give it a shot one day, why don’t you?

3 out of 5 stars

Moonraker

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

A Drax Industries Moonraker space shuttle on loan to the United Kingdom is hijacked in mid-air and MI6 operative, James Bond, agent 007, is assigned to investigate. En route to England in a small charter plane, Bond is attacked by the pilot and crew and pushed out of the plane by the mercenary assassin Jaws. Bond survives by stealing a parachute from the pilot, whilst Jaws lands on a circus tent.

Bond proceeds to the Drax Industries shuttle-manufacturing complex where he meets the owner of the company, Hugo Drax, and henchman Chang. Bond also meets an astronaut, Dr. Holly Goodhead and survives an assassination attempt via a centrifuge chamber. Bond is later aided by Drax’s personal pilot, Corinne Dufour, as he finds blueprints for a glass vial made in Venice. Bond then foils another attempt on his life, using a hunting shotgun to shoot a sniper. Upon discovering that Dufour assisted Bond’s investigations, Drax has her killed.

Bond again encounters Goodhead in Venice where he is chased through the canals by Drax’s henchmen. He discovers a secret biological laboratory, and by accidentally poisoning the scientists there, he learns that the glass vials are to hold a nerve gas deadly to humans, but harmless to animals. Chang attacks Bond and is killed, but during the fight, Bond finds evidence that Drax is moving his operation to Rio de Janeiro. Rejoining Goodhead, he deduces that she is a CIA agent spying on Drax. They promise to work together, but quickly dispense with the truce. Bond has saved one of the vials he found earlier, as the only evidence of the now-empty laboratory, giving it to M for analysis, who permits him to go to Rio de Janeiro under the pretence of being on leave.

In Rio, Bond meets his Brazilian contact Manuela. Drax hires Jaws to finish Chang’s job of eliminating Bond. Bond meets Goodhead at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, where they are attacked by Jaws on a cable car. After Jaws’ car crashes he is rescued from the rubble by Dolly, and the two fall in love. Bond and Goodhead are captured by henchmen, but Bond escapes and reports to an MI6 base in Brazil and learns that the toxin comes from a rare orchid indigenous to the Amazon jungle. Bond travels the Amazon River looking for Drax’s research facility and again encounters Jaws and other henchmen. Bond escapes from his boat just before it hits the Iguazu Falls, and finds Drax’s base. Captured by Jaws again, Bond is taken to Drax and witnesses four Moonrakers lifting off. Drax explains that he stole the Moonraker because another in the fleet had developed a fault during assembly. Bond is reunited with Goodhead; they escape and successfully pose as pilots on the sixth shuttle. The shuttles dock with Drax’s space station, hidden from radar by a cloaking device.

Once on board the station, Bond and Holly disable the radar jamming cloaking device, resulting in the United States sending a platoon of Marines to intercept the now-visible space station. Jaws captures Bond and Holly and brings them to Drax.

Drax plans to destroy human life by launching fifty globes containing the nerve gas into the Earth’s atmosphere. Before launching them, Drax also transported several dozen genetically perfect young men and women of varying races, to the space station. They would live there until Earth was safe again for human life; their descendants would be the seed for a “new master race”. Bond persuades Jaws and Dolly to switch their allegiance by getting Drax to admit that anyone not measuring up to his physical standards would be exterminated and Jaws attacks Drax’s guards.

A laser battle ensues both inside and outside the space station, in which Drax’s guards and his master race are all killed. During the battle, Bond shoots Drax with a cyanide-tipped dart, then pushes him into an airlock and ejects him into space.

In order to destroy the three already launched globes and return to Earth, Goodhead and Bond use Drax’s personal shuttle, while at the same time observing Jaws and Dolly escape from the disintegrating space station.

REVIEW:

As the 70s were coming to a close, it seems as if films were changing to show the influence of a little film you may have heard of, Star Wars. Moonraker features James Bond…in space. Given that Bond is a spy, going to space isn’t something that seems plausible, at least to me, but perhaps this film could offer some entertaining surprises.

What is this about?

Agent 007 blasts into orbit in this action-packed adventure that takes him to not only Venice, Italy, and Rio de Janeiro but to outer space as he investigates the hijacking of an American space shuttle by a power-mad industrialist.

What did I like?

I go to Rio. The Bond films that I’ve seen up to this point have all be showcases for great locations, but I think this one takes the cake. Ever since I got into Assassin’s Creed, I’ve been noticing how accurate the locations are. Part of this film takes place in Italy, which doesn’t seem to have changed any since the 15th century. Also, there is Rio during Carnival. The party atmosphere is captured, as well as some of the natural beauty of the country when they aren’t enjoying the festivities.

Tone. When the film began, it seems as if this was going to be a more serious film…then we get to boat chase in Venice. If you’ve ever seen a chase in pretty much any 60s sitcom, then you know there is a comedic look to them. Well, the boat chase, while exciting, has a comedic tone to it, including some Scooby-Doo-type gags with gondola drivers (or whatever they’re called). The rest of film follow through with this shift in tone from serious to over-the-top, and I was eating it up, much in the same way that I hear it does in The Spy Who Loved Me. (somehow I skipped that one in chronological order).

Musical cues. Out of nowhere, some popular scores were used throughout the film. First, there is 5 note sequence from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which is used as a lab entrance code. Quite inspired use of the theme if you ask me. Also used is “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, perhaps best known as the theme to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Finally, and this one came out of the blue, the theme to The Magnificent Seven is used as Bond is riding up to MI6 headquarters, strangely enough looking like Clint Eastwood’s “Man with No Name”. As a film and music fan, I appreciated the homages to earlier masterpieces.

What didn’t I like?

Girls. If there is one thing that James Bond has consistently been known for, it is the super hotties known as Bond Girls. For some odd reason, I didn’t find the girls in this film to be anything more than above average, at best. No, they weren’t ugly by any stretch of the imagination, but they just felt rather plain. The only one that was memorable was the girl in Rio, and that was only because of her exotic beauty.

Villainous wood. With a name like Hugo Drax and the prerequisite Van Dyke style of facial hair that often signifies the villain, one would imagine that this guy would be a great villain. I don’t believe any statement could be further from the truth. Of all the Bond baddies I’ve come across up to this point, this guy is the most wooden, and he is upstaged by his replacement bodyguard, Jaws, who really isn’t on screen for more than 5 minutes, tops.

Pew. Pew. One of the most made fun of tropes in movies and television is the sound and look of lasers. Well, guess who decided to have henchmen in space shooting lasers? If you said this film, then you would be correct. I can’t believe they sunk to that level, but they did, and it wasn’t done effectively, either. This didn’t even looked like they tried and was almost offensive it was so bad, but at the same time, I can appreciate the cheesiness.

How does Moonraker stack up to the rest of the Bond franchise that I’ve seen so far? It is somewhat enjoyable, but I can’t get over the fact that they “jumped the shark” and put Bond into space. Thankfully, this didn’t last long, and Bond returns to normal in the next film, from my understanding. Not surprisingly, this film was not well-received by critics and fans, but still ended up being the highest grossing of the films until the release of GoldenEye. Do I recommend this film? Yes, even though it is a bit over the top and the space stuff just doesn’t fit a character like James Bond, it is still an enjoyable film. Check it out if you get the chance!

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

The Man with the Golden Gun

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In London, a golden bullet with James Bond’s code “007” etched into its surface is received by MI6. It is believed that it was sent by famed assassin Francisco Scaramanga, who uses a golden gun, to intimidate the agent. Because of the perceived threat to the agent’s life, M relieves Bond of a mission revolving around the work of a scientist named Gibson, thought to be in possession of information crucial to solving the energy crisis with solar power. Bond sets out unofficially to find Scaramanga.

After retrieving a spent golden bullet from a belly dancer in Beirut and tracking its manufacturer to Macau, Bond sees Andrea Anders, Scaramanga’s mistress, collecting golden bullets at a casino. Bond follows her to Hong Kong and in her Peninsula Hotel room pressures her to tell him about Scaramanga, his appearance and his plans; she directs him to the Bottoms Up Club. The club proves to be the location of Scaramanga’s next ‘hit’, Gibson, from which Scaramanga’s dwarf henchman Nick Nack steals the “Solex agitator”, a key component of a solar power station. Before Bond can assert his innocence, however, Lieutenant Hip escorts him away from the scene, taking him to meet M and Q in a hidden headquarters in the wreck of the RMS Queen Elizabeth in the harbour. M assigns 007 to retrieve the Solex agitator and assassinate Scaramanga.

Bond then travels to Bangkok to meet Hai Fat, a wealthy Thai entrepreneur suspected of arranging Gibson’s murder. Bond poses as Scaramanga, but his plan backfires because Scaramanga himself is being hosted at Hai Fat’s estate. Bond is captured and placed in Fat’s dojo, where the fighters are instructed to kill him. After escaping with the aid of Lt. Hip and his nieces, Bond speeds away on a khlong along the river and reunites with his British assistant Mary Goodnight. Hai Fat is subsequently killed by Scaramanga, who replaces Fat as the “new Chairman of the board” and takes the Solex.

Anders visits Bond, revealing that she had sent the bullet to London and wants Bond to kill Scaramanga. In payment, she promises to hand the Solex over to him at a boxing venue the next day. At the match, Bond discovers Anders dead and meets Scaramanga. Bond spots the Solex on the floor and is able to smuggle it away to Hip, who passes it to Goodnight. Attempting to place a homing device on Scaramanga’s car, she is locked into the vehicle’s boot. Bond sees Scaramanga driving away and steals a showroom car to give chase, coincidentally with Sheriff J.W. Pepper seated within it. Bond and Pepper follow Scaramanga in a car chase across Bangkok, which concludes when Scaramanga’s car transforms into a plane, which flies him, Nick Nack and Goodnight to his private island.

Picking up Goodnight’s tracking device, Bond flies a seaplane into Red Chinese waters, under the Chinese radar, and lands at Scaramanga’s island. On arriving, Bond is welcomed by Scaramanga, who shows him the high-tech solar power plant he has taken over, the technology for which he intends to sell to the highest bidder. Whilst demonstrating the equipment, Scaramanga uses a powerful solar beam to destroy Bond’s plane.

Scaramanga then proposes a pistol duel with Bond on the beach; the two men later stand back to back and are ordered by Nick Nack to take twenty paces, but when Bond turns and fires, Scaramanga has vanished. Nick Nack leads Bond into Scaramanga’s Funhouse where Bond poses as a mannequin of himself: when Scaramanga walks by, Bond takes him by surprise and kills him. Goodnight, in waylaying a Scaramanga henchman into a pool of liquid helium, upsets the balance of the solar plant, which begins to go out of control. Bond retrieves the Solex unit just before the island explodes, and they escape unharmed in Scaramanga’s Chinese junk, later subduing Nick Nack who challenges them, having smuggled himself aboard.

REVIEW:

Returning to the Bond franchise, we have The Man with the Golden Gun, the film that is known was one of the worst in the series particularly because of its reliance on comedy. Personally, I like the comedic elements that were added in, despite the fact that Bond purists seem to have a major disdain for them, saying that they were a mistake. Aside from that, one has to wonder, what makes this worth watching besides that Bond name recognition?

What is this about?

With his sights set squarely on James Bond, the world’s deadliest assassin — Francisco Scaramanga — isn’t playing by anyone’s rules as their cat-and-mouse game of death takes the two from the Far East to Scaramanga’s island lair.

What did I like?

New Blood. Unless I missed something, there is no mention of SPECTRE in this film, and we get a brand new villain in Christopher Lee’s Scaramanga, who is a ruthless, mysterious assassin with a penchant for the overdramatic. I guess there was a time when Christopher Lee was a young man, and his youth did nothing but prove how far he has come since this film, in term of villainous roles. The guy doesn’t command the same amount of screen presence as he does when you seem him today, but when he appears, you pay attention, because this is a guy that will shoot you just as soon as have an elegant meal with you, and he’ll do so with his golden gun, as the title informs us.

Hideout. In these Bond films, there have been some impressive lairs, but Scaramanga island hideout is one that has to be pretty high up on the list. No, it isn’t anything super fancy or technologically advanced, but rather it is like a rich person’s dream home housed on an island, complete with many things that the maniacal assassin wishes for, including a fun house, in which he plays games with various opponents, controlled by his manservant.

Comic relief. As I mentioned in my opening, this is the Bond flick that seems to be, at least to my knowledge up to this point, the start of the cheesy, comedic Bond flicks. Returning from the previous Bond flick, Live and Let Die, Louisiana sheriff J.W. Pepper makes a funny cameo in a couple of scenes. Also, the bubble headed blonde assistant Bond has is the very definition of the slang word tomato. On the one hand, I was wondering why they even used her, but on the other hand, she was a nice change of pace from the usual Bond Girl.

What didn’t I like?

Buried. In everything that is going on with this film, the message about solar power and the energy crisis gets buried. Sure, the solar paneled machinations near the end brought it to the forefront, but for the majority of the film, only in passing is it even brought up, such as when we first see Bond and M tells him to take on the Scaramanga assignment. Maybe it is just me, but I felt this should have been a bit more included in the plot, even if Scaramanga wasn’t an environmental villain.

Theme. The previous 8 James Bond films have had memorable theme songs, be they instrumental or vocal. Once the opening credits begin, you know you are going to hear a musical masterpiece, unless you’re watching this film. This film doesn’t offer such greatness, as this theme sounds like some kind of soft disco that doesn’t really fit the film. It has its moments and is exciting enough, but pales in comparison to its predecessors and those that have yet to come in this franchise.

Bond girls. Another thing that didn’t impress me are the Bond girls. Now, don’t misunderstand me, these women are just as gorgeous as one would expect, but in comparison they just aren’t as curvy or sexy as one would expect. I liken this to expecting a thick, juicy steak, but instead getting leftover McDonald’s. I trust the level of Bond girl returns to the norm in the next film, The Spy Who Loved Me.

I was actually about to give up on the Bond franchise before watching The Man with the Golden Gun this evening. I just haven’t really been able to get into these films as much as I would like. Thankfully, my faith in Bond has been reestablished, as I was actually into this outing. Sure, some have labeled this as one of, if not the worst Bond flick, but I enjoyed it. Issues abound in it, but good golly is it fun. So, do I recommend it? Yes, I do. Maybe it isn’t a high recommendation, but it is worth a viewing or two.

4 out of 5 stars