Archive for Spectre

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In Portugal, James Bond – agent 007, sometimes referred to simply as ‘007’ – saves a woman on the beach from committing suicide by drowning, and later meets her again in a casino. The woman, Contessa Teresa “Tracy” di Vicenzo, invites Bond to her hotel room to thank him. The next morning, Bond is kidnapped by several men while leaving the hotel, who take him to meet Marc-Ange Draco, the head of the European crime syndicate Unione Corse. Draco reveals that Tracy is his only daughter and tells Bond of her troubled past, offering Bond a personal dowry of one million pounds if he will marry her. Bond refuses, but agrees to continue romancing Tracy under the agreement that Draco reveals the whereabouts of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the head of SPECTRE.

Bond returns to London, and after a brief argument with M at MI6 headquarters, heads for Draco’s birthday party in Portugal. There, Bond and Tracy begin a whirlwind romance, and Draco directs the agent to a law firm in Bern, Switzerland. In Bern, Bond investigates the office of Swiss lawyer Gumbold, and learns that Blofeld is corresponding with London College of Arms’ genealogist Sir Hilary Bray, attempting to claim the title ‘Comte Balthazar de Bleuchamp’.

Posing as Bray, Bond goes to meet Blofeld, who has established a clinical allergy-research institute atop Piz Gloria in the Swiss Alps. There Bond meets ten young women, the “Angels of Death”, who are patients at the institute’s clinic, apparently cured of their allergies. At night Bond goes to the room of one patient, Ruby, for a romantic encounter. At midnight Bond sees that Ruby, apparently along with each of the other ladies, goes into a sleep-induced trance while Blofeld gives them audio instructions for when they are discharged and return home. In fact, the women are being brainwashed to distribute bacteriological warfare agents throughout various parts of the world.

Bond tries to trick Blofeld into leaving Switzerland, so the British Secret Service can arrest him without violating Swiss sovereignty; Blofeld refuses, and Bond is eventually caught by henchwoman Irma Bunt. Blofeld reveals that he identified Bond after his attempt to lure him out of Switzerland, and tells his henchmen to take the agent away. Bond eventually makes his escape by skiing down Piz Gloria while Blofeld and many of his men give chase. Arriving at the village of Lauterbrunnen, Bond finds Tracy and they escape Bunt and her men after a car chase. A blizzard forces them to a remote barn, where Bond professes his love to Tracy and proposes marriage to her, which she accepts. The next morning, Blofeld attempts to kill Bond by causing an avalanche and captures Tracy.

Back in London at M’s office, Bond is informed that Blofeld intends to hold the world at ransom by threatening to destroy its agriculture using his brainwashed women, demanding amnesty for all past crimes, and that he be recognised as the current Count de Bleuchamp. M tells 007 that the ransom will be paid and forbids him to mount a rescue mission. Bond then enlists Draco and his forces to attack Blofeld’s headquarters, while also rescuing Tracy from Blofeld’s captivity. The facility is destroyed, and Blofeld escapes the destruction alone in a bobsled, with Bond pursuing him. The chase ends when Blofeld becomes snared in a tree branch and injures his neck.

Bond and Tracy marry in Portugal, then drive away in Bond’s Aston Martin. When Bond pulls over to the roadside to remove flowers from the car, Blofeld (wearing a neck brace) and Bunt commit a drive-by shooting of the couple’s car that kills Tracy. A police officer pulls over to inspect the bullet-riddled car, prompting a tear-filled Bond to mutter that there is no need to hurry to call for help by saying, “We have all the time in the world”, as he cradles Tracy’s lifeless body

REVIEW:

Netflix and I are about to have some words. About a month or two ago, they put many of the Bond films back on instant streaming. I’ve been a bit busy the last few weeks and haven’t had time to get to them. Well, guess what is about to go away come Monday. Yes, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and the rest of the Bond flicks they had available. Oh well, eventually, I’ll get them in the mail. In the meantime, let’s get to my thoughts on this film.

What is this about?

George Lazenby takes over the role of 007 as James Bond tracks archnemesis Ernst Blofeld to a Swiss mountaintop retreat, where he’s brainwashing a bevy of beautiful women to do his bidding. Along the way, Bond falls for an Italian contessa.

What did I like?

Tone. Coming soon with these Bond films are the cheesy ones, so it was a nice change of pace to get this more serious take on Bond that what we were getting from the Connery version, and what will come from future versions. I’m not sure which will be more my speed, but I appreciate mixing things up.

He’s back. Blofeld returns, this time played by Telly Savalas of Kojak fame. Savalas just seems to have that look that screams villain, especially one in the vein of Blofeld. Why did he replace the previous actor? I’m not sure, but I think it had something to do with this being a more physical role. I didn’t see it, but perhaps those scenes got cut or it was an exaggeration.

Doce. The thought of having a brainwashed army of 12 beautiful women appeals to me immensely. I believe that they could have been put to better use either as part f the master plan or as a way to get to Bond. His libido is perhaps his greatest weakness, after all. That being said, Blofeld knew what he was doing when he came up with this nefarious plot.

What didn’t I like?

Downgrade. Maybe it is because of the familiarity with Sean Connery as Bond, but George Lazenby did not work as Bond for me. He doesn’t possess the charm and charisma required to portray this complex character. When the film started, it seemed like he would have done a decent job, but that just crashed and burned. The fact that they didn’t let him do his own impression of another character should have been a sign. There was a good thing, though. At the beginning of the picture, after the fight, he makes the comment to the camera, “this never happened to the other guy”. A nice bit of a self-effacing humor, just not enough to redeem his take on 007.

Green screen. I love the cheesy effects in most films from this era, however, during the skiing scene it is so obviously green screened that it was sickening to watch. I’m not sure if the technology was around back then to film a scene like tis actually happening on the slopes, but it would have been so much better, than this. Cheesy effects have a place, and this wasn’t one of them.

Girls. No offense to Diana Rigg or the 12 deadly angels, but there wasn’t that one Bond girl in this film whose beauty and/or body stops traffic. Perhaps that has something to do with the winter setting as opposed to the tropical locations that were prevalent in the previous films. Personally, I was missing them this time around, but every now and then you need a change of pace.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a rather weak entry into the Bond franchise, if you ask me, but I’m not sure if it is the film, or the new Bond that is the cause of its mediocrity. Perhaps I was just so frustrated with Netflix that I couldn’t get into the film. That being said, this isn’t a horrible film by any stretch of the imagination. It just doesn’t stack up to its predecessors. I recommend this to anyone trying to get into Bond, but not as the one to start with. Give it a shot!

3 1/3 out of 5 stars

You Only Live Twice

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

An American spacecraft is hijacked from orbit by an unidentified spacecraft. The US suspect it to be the Soviets, but the British suspect Japanese involvement since the spacecraft landed in the Sea of Japan. To investigate, MI6 operative, James Bond, agent 007, is sent to Tokyo, after faking his own death.

Upon his arrival, Bond is contacted by Aki, assistant to the Japanese secret service leader Tiger Tanaka. Aki introduces Bond to local MI6 operative, Dikko Henderson. Henderson claims to have critical evidence about the rogue craft but is killed before he can elaborate. Bond chases and kills the assailant, disguises himself and gets in the getaway car, which takes him to Osato Chemicals. Once there, Bond subdues the driver and breaks into the office safe of president Mr. Osato. After stealing documents, Bond is chased out by armed security, eventually being picked up by Aki, who flees to a secluded subway station. Bond chases her, but falls down a trap door leading to Tanaka’s office. The stolen documents are examined and found to include a photograph of the cargo ship Ning-Po with a microdot message saying the tourist who took the photo was killed as a security precaution.

Bond goes to Osato Chemicals to meet Mr. Osato himself, masquerading as a potential new buyer. Osato humours Bond but, after their meeting, orders his secretary, Helga Brandt, to have him killed. Outside the building, assassins open fire on Bond before Aki rescues him. The assassins are disposed of via a helicopter with a magnetic grab. Bond and Aki continue driving to Kobe, where the Ning-Po is docked. After being discovered by more SPECTRE henchmen, they give chase but Bond eludes them until Aki gets away; Bond, though, is captured. He wakes, tied up in Helga Brandt’s cabin on the Ning-Po. She interrogates Bond, who bribes his way out of imprisonment. Brandt then flies Bond to Tokyo, but, en route, she sets off a flare in the plane and bails out. Bond manages to land the crashing plane and escapes. Bond then investigates the company’s dock facilities and discovers that the ship was delivering elements for rocket fuel. Bond and Tanaka learn that the true mastermind behind this is Ernst Stavro Blofeld and SPECTRE. Blofeld seems to forgive Brandt for her failure, but as she leaves, he activates a collapsing section of walkway under her, dropping her into a pool of piranha. Blofeld demands that Mr. Osato kills Bond.

After finding out where the Ning-Po unloaded, Bond investigates the area by a heavily armed autogyro, Little Nellie. Near a volcano, Bond is attacked by helicopters, which he defeats, confirming his suspicions that SPECTRE’s base is nearby. A Soviet spacecraft is then captured by SPECTRE, heightening tensions between Russia and the US. Bond prepares to conduct a closer investigation of the island by training with Tanaka’s ninjas, during which an attempted assassination on Bond kills Aki. Bond is disguised and stages a marriage to Tanaka’s student, Kissy Suzuki.

Acting on a lead from Suzuki, the pair sets out on reconnaissance to the cave—investigating the cave and the volcano above it. Establishing that the mouth of the volcano is a disguised hatch to a secret rocket base, Bond slips in through the crater door, while Kissy returns to alert Tanaka. Bond locates and frees the captured astronauts and, with their help, steals a spacesuit in attempt to infiltrate the SPECTRE spacecraft “Bird One”. Before he can enter the craft, Blofeld notices Bond, and he is detained while Bird One is launched.

Bird One closes in on the American space capsule and US forces prepare to launch a nuclear attack on the USSR. Meanwhile, the Japanese Secret Service ninjas climb the mountain to attempt to enter through the upper hatch, but are spotted by the base’s security and fired upon. Bond tricks Blofeld and manages to create a diversion that allows him to open the hatch, letting in the ninjas. During the battle, the control room is evacuated and Osato is killed by Blofeld. Bond escapes and fights his way to the control room via Blofeld’s office, where he defeats Blofeld’s bodyguard, Hans, dropping him into the pool of piranha. Bond activates the spacecraft’s self-destruct before it reaches the American craft and the Americans stand down their weapons.

Blofeld activates the base’s self-destruct system and escapes. Bond, Kissy, Tanaka, and the surviving ninjas escape through the cave tunnel before it explodes, and are rescued by submarine

REVIEW:

Widely regarded as one of the top Bond films, You Only Live Twice may actually be better known as the basis for many of the tropes used in the Austin Powers films, specifically Dr. Evil and his hollowed out volcano hideout. As entertaining as those films are, one must wonder do they stack up to the original?

What is this about?

After American and Soviet spaceships disappear, the two countries trade blame for the incidents — and as the nations edge toward war, James Bond is tasked with getting to the bottom of another international mystery.

What did I like?

Setting. The past Bond films seem to have taken 007 to more exotic settings, so for him to take jot to the Orient (which is still exotic, just not vacation porn) was something I seemed to appreciate. Not to mention this sets the stage for all kinds of things like ninjas, Asian poisons, etc.

Blofeld. The character which may best be known as the basis for Dr. Evil, is actually quite evil in his own right. We don’t meet him until around the halfway mark, but boy, was it worth the wait. Complete with his pet cat that he is constantly petting. Blofeld is a cold-hearted killer who won’t hesitate to kill for failure, and, if I’m remembering correctly, he is the first Bond villain to live to torture 007 another day.

Big sets. As I progress through the Bond films, it is obvious that more and more money is being spent on the set pieces. For instance, the aforementioned volcano in the first film would have looked like a cheap paper mache creation, but instead, while it still looks cheap, the quality is much improved.

What didn’t I like?

Tired. Sean Connery has been Bond for…I believe this is his 4th go-round, and it is starting to show. He doesn’t seem to be phoning it in, but it does seem like he’s just tired of it all and ready to move on to something else. Can you really blame the guy, though? I guess it was best to let him go when they did, perhaps they should have done it earlier, because he was struggling keep his Bond magic going. Also, there is the matter of when they turned him Japanese…it wasn’t even close. A bowl cut bad wig will not make Sean Connery look Asian, I’m sorry to say.

Pacing. Usually, I complain that a film starts off slow, only to speed up in the final act. This film follows suit, but it veers off and seems to slow down at the end. Yes, it does have a non-stop, action-packed finale, but the uneven pacing just didn’t sit right with me, especially as the previous films seems to have at least done a decent job with it.

Girls, girls, girls. Maybe it was just me, but it seemed as if the “Bond girls” were a bit forgotten in this film. That is to say they didn’t play as big of a factor as they have before and were pretty much reduced to eye candy, as opposed to cunning assassins and various other professions that they have enjoyed. Someone mentioned that this may have something to do the Asian culture, which is a possibility, but I’m not sure.

You Only Live Twice should have been more entertaining that it turned out to be, but as it is, this film did not live up to the lofty standards set forth by its predecessors. With that said, I don’t want to give the impression that I didn’t like it. There are plenty of moments of entertainment to be had. I guess I just expected more and didn’t get it. Do I recommend this? Yes, it is still a quality Bond flick, so give it a shot!

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Thunderball

Posted in Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 28, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

James Bond—MI6 agent 007 and sometimes simply “007”—attends the funeral of Colonel Jacques Bouvar, a SPECTRE operative (Number 6).Bouvar is alive and disguised as his own widow, but Bond identifies him. Following him to a château, Bond fights and kills him, escaping using a jetpack and his Aston Martin DB5.

Bond is sent by M to a clinic to improve his health. While massaged by physiotherapist Patricia Fearing, he notices Count Lippe, a suspicious man with a criminal tattoo (from a Tong). He searches Lippe’s room, but is seen leaving by Lippe’s clinic neighbour who is bandaged after plastic surgery. Lippe tries to murder Bond with a spinal traction machine, but is foiled by Fearing, whom Bond then seduces. Bond finds a dead bandaged man, François Derval. Derval was a French NATO pilot deployed to fly aboard an Avro Vulcan loaded with two atomic bombs for a training mission. He had been murdered by Angelo, a SPECTRE henchman surgically altered to match his appearance.

Angelo takes Derval’s place on the flight, sabotaging the plane and sinking it near the Bahamas. He is then killed by Emilio Largo (SPECTRE No. 2) for trying to extort more money than offered to him. Largo and his henchmen retrieve the stolen atomic bombs from the seabed. All double-0 agents are called to Whitehall and en route, Lippe chases Bond. Lippe is killed by SPECTRE agent Fiona Volpe for failing to foresee Angelo’s greed. SPECTRE demands £100 million in white flawless uncut diamonds from NATO in exchange for returning the bombs. If their demands are not met, SPECTRE will destroy a major city in the United States or the United Kingdom. At the meeting, Bond recognises Derval from a photograph. Since Derval’s sister, Domino, is in Nassau, Bond asks M to send him there, where he discovers Domino is Largo’s mistress.

Bond takes a boat to where Domino is snorkelling. After Bond saves her life, the two have lunch together. Later, Bond goes to a party, where he sees Largo and Domino gambling. Bond enters the game against Largo, and wins. Bond and Domino leave the game and dance together. Bond returns to the hotel, uses a connecting door to enter his room and notices someone is also inside. Felix Leiter enters and is silenced by Bond, who finds and disarms a SPECTRE henchman in the bathroom. He releases the henchman, who returns to Largo and is thrown into a pool of sharks.

Bond meets Q, and is issued with a collection of gadgets, including an underwater infrared camera, a distress beacon, underwater breathing apparatus, a flare gun and a Geiger counter. Bond attempts to swim underwater beneath Largo’s boat, but is nearly killed. Bond’s assistant Paula is abducted by Largo for questioning and kills herself.

Bond is kidnapped by Fiona, but escapes. He is chased through a Junkanoo celebration and enters the Kiss Kiss club. Fiona finds and attempts to kill him, but is shot by her own bodyguard. Bond and Felix search for the Vulcan, finding it underwater. Bond meets Domino scuba-diving and tells her that Largo killed her brother, asking for help finding the bombs. She tells him where to go to replace a henchman on Largo’s mission to retrieve them from an underwater bunker. Bond gives her his Geiger counter, asking her to look for them on Largo’s ship. She is discovered and captured. Disguised as Largo’s henchman, Bond uncovers Largo’s plan to destroy Miami Beach.

Bond is discovered, and rescued by Leiter, who orders United States Coast Guard sailors to parachute to the area. After an underwater battle, the henchmen surrender. Largo escapes to his ship, the Disco Volante, which has one of the bombs on board. Largo attempts to escape by jettisoning the rear of the ship. The front section, a hydrofoil, escapes. Bond, also aboard, and Largo fight; Largo is about to shoot him when Domino, freed by Largo’s nuclear physicist Ladislav Kutze, kills Largo with a harpoon. Bond and Domino jump overboard, the boat runs aground and explodes. A sky hook-equipped U.S. Navy aeroplane rescues them.

REVIEW:

For once I am home on a Tuesday evening, only to find out that there is not a damn thing on television worth watching. As it happens, Thunderball was on Netflix instant, only to be removed on the 1st, so I would say this is as good a time as any to view the next Bond film, wouldn’t you?

What is this about?

With his sights set on a blackmail payday of global proportions, terrorist mastermind Emilio Largo hijacks two nuclear weapons — and only James Bond can stop him in this 007 classic featuring Oscar-winning special effects.

What did I like?

Exotica. This is a film that has many scenes on the beach. As you can imagine, there are some of the most beautiful bit of scenery to be found in these scenes. The location is breathtakingly beautiful and almost distracts you from the action that is going on with Bond. Throw in some really gorgeous pieces of eye candy (par for the course with Bond films, as I’m learning more and more with each film) and you will be floored with the beauty of this picture.

Under the sea. The climactic battle scene, though there is some argument about this, happens underwater. Complete with underwater het packs, scuba gear, harpoon guns, etc., you will not be able to turn your eyes away from what is going on. Not to mention the fact that you will be cheering 007 on as he takes on the henchmen and attempts to save the world.

Nefarious plot. Emilio Largo’s plot to take over the world through the use of nuclear weapons was actually quite the dastardly, ingenious one, especially during the 60s. This guy is only #2 over at SPECTRE, but it makes you wonder what #1 is capable of.

What didn’t I like?

Length. At over 2 hours long, I felt that this was a film that could have had about 10-15 minutes cut out of it, at least. There really was no reason for it to have been this long. What should have been cut out? If it were up to me, probably the constant stock footage of the Carnival, or whatever celebration that was, that they kept flashing to like it was some sort of subliminal message. I’m sure there are other parts that could have been cut, as well, but that stuck out to me.

Q. In order for 007 to get his gadgets, he has to have a meeting with Q. Here is my problem with that in this film. Apparently, they flew him down to the Bahamas, gadgets and all, to have this meeting. Wouldn’t it have been much easier to just have this meeting in London earlier in the film, rather than this pointless cameo?

Overall, I think Thunderball was a solid film. I won’t say it will go down as my favorite Bond flick, but in the end, it may end up on the list. Only time will tell. Do I recommend it? Yes, but if you’re looking to watch a random Bond flick out of the blue, this wouldn’t be the first choice. Still, give it a shot and see what you think.

4 out of 5 stars

From Russia with Love

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

SPECTRE’s expert planner Kronsteen devises a plot to steal a Lektor cryptographic device from the Soviets and sell it back to them while exacting revenge on Bond for killing their agent Dr. No. The Spectre Number 1 puts ex-SMERSH operative and Number 3 Rosa Klebb in charge of the mission. Klebb recruits Donald “Red” Grant as an assassin, and Tatiana Romanova, a cipher clerk at the Soviet consulate in Istanbul, as an unwitting pawn, as Romanova thinks Klebb is still working for SMERSH.

In London, M tells Bond – agent 007 and sometimes simply ‘007’ – that Romanova has contacted their “Station ‘T'” in Turkey, offering to defect with a Lektor, which MI6 and the CIA have been after for years – but Romanova said she will only defect to Bond, whose photo she has allegedly found in a Soviet intelligence file. Bond then flies to Istanbul, where he meets station head Ali Kerim Bey. 007 is followed from the airport by an unkempt man in glasses and by Red Grant. The next day, after Kerim Bey’s office is bombed, Bond and Kerim Bey spy on the Soviet consulate, where Kerim Bey sees rival agent Krilencu. At night, Kerim Bey and Bond go to a rural gypsy settlement, which suffers an attack by Krilencu’s men, who wound Kerim Bey and nearly kill Bond, who is saved by a hidden Red Grant. On the following night, Kerim Bey kills Krilencu with Bond’s sniper rifle. When Bond returns to his hotel suite, he finds Romanova in bed waiting for him, unaware that they are being filmed by SPECTRE.

The next day, Romanova heads off for a pre-arranged rendezvous at Hagia Sophia. The bespectacled man who followed Bond to the airport tries to intercept Romanova’s floor plan of the Soviet consulate, but is killed by Grant. Upon finding the body, Bond takes the floor plan, and brings it to Kerim Bey to devise their invasion. After stealing the Lektor, Bond, Romanova, and Kerim Bey escape with the device on the Orient Express. On the train, Kerim Bey and a Soviet security officer named Benz are killed by Grant, who makes it appear as if they killed each other. At Zagreb, Grant leaves the train and boards it again to meet Bond, pretending to be agent Nash from “Station ‘Y'”. He drugs Romanova at dinner, then overcomes Bond. Grant taunts him, boasting SPECTRE has been pitting the Soviets and the British against each other, and claims that Romanova thinks that “she’s doing it all for mother Russia”. Grant also mentions the film of Bond and Romanova at the hotel suite, saying that after both are killed, Grant will plant it in her handbag along with a forged blackmail letter so it looks like it was a murder-suicide. Bond tricks Grant into opening Bond’s attaché case in the manner that detonates its tear gas booby trap in his face, allowing Bond to attack him. In the ensuing struggle, Bond eventually manages to stab Grant with the knife hidden in the attaché case, and strangles Grant to death with his own garrotte. At dawn, Bond and Romanova leave the train, hijack Grant’s getaway truck, destroy an enemy helicopter, and drive to a dock, eventually boarding a powerboat.

Number 1 is very unhappy, and summons Kronsteen and Klebb. He reminds them that SPECTRE does not tolerate failure, and brings in agent Morzeny to then execute Kronsteen with a poisoned spike in the toe of his shoe. Number 1 tells a frightened Klebb that she now has total control of the mission and has one last chance. Klebb sends Morzeny after Bond with a squadron of SPECTRE’s boats. Morzeny nearly catches Bond, but the agent sets his pursuers’ boats on fire with a signal flare. Bond and Romanova reach Venice and check into a hotel. Rosa Klebb, disguised as a maid, attempts to steal the Lektor. She gets the drop on Bond, and attempts to kill Bond with both a gun and her poisoned toe-spike, but ends up being shot by Romanova. Riding in a gondola, Bond throws the film of him and Romanova into the water as they are rowed away.

REVIEW:

I’m hoping that by the time the next James Bond film comes out, I will have watched them all. There is still awhile before that happens, though. From Russia with Love is the second in the franchise and one that many people rank as on of the best, especially of the older films. Is it worth of such high praise, though?

What is this about?

James Bond is back — and so are the bullets, beauties and bad guys. You’ll be shaken and stirred by Sean Connery’s second outing as 007, which finds him paying the price for his previous adventure when SPECTRE seeks revenge for Dr. No’s death.

What did I like?

Gadgets. One of the things that the Bond franchise is known for is the gadgetry. In Dr. No, we didn’t really get to see any, but that was the first film and didn’t have as much of a budget. In Bond’s second outing, the studio upped the ante and allowed for the gadgets to be seen and used. I’m sure that in subsequent films, these devices will take on an even bigger role.

Tale of revenge. With the death of Dr. No in the previous film, one has to have known that there would be repercussions for Bond. At its core, this film is a vengeance movie. The villains are motivated by one thing and one thing only…avenging their fallen comrade. There is a little bit of world domination in there, as well.

Script. I have to take a moment to praise the script. Not only is there snappy dialogue, but it has its comedic moments without changing the tone of the film. It takes some real talent from both the actors and the writers to accomplish such a tremendous feat, one that has allowed this film to stand the true test of time.

What didn’t I like?

Editing. I didn’t really notice any editing issues until the very last scene when Bond is on a boat. While he is talking, there is a sudden camera shift. For such a well-crafted film, this mistake is unforgivable. Sure, it may seem like a small thing, but it is more than noticeable. How did they let this slip through to the final film?

Too many cooks in the kitchen. A common problem with films that involve criminal organizations is that they tend to focus on too many of them. For what it is worth, that problem isn’t as bad as in some superhero flicks, for instance. With that said, there were just too many villainous forces at work here. All that was really needed was the mysterious leader, the arch-villain carrying out the plan, and a “named” henchman.

From Russia with Love provided me with a good enough time, but I didn’t feel like it was something that I’ll be looking back and saying it was one of the best Bond pictures. I do think that more of what we know Bond for today was set up here than in its predecessor. Do I recommend this? Yes, there is no reason to not check this out, unless you are one of those dumkopfs that has an aversion to old movies or films that have a lighter tone. Check this out when you get the chance!

4 out of 5 stars

Dr. No

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

John Strangways, the British Intelligence (SIS) Station Chief in Jamaica, is ambushed and killed, and his body taken by a trio of assassins known as the “Three Blind Mice”. In response, British agent James Bond—also known as 007—is summoned to the office of his superior, M. Bond is briefed to investigate Strangways’ disappearance and to determine whether it is related to his cooperation with the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on a case involving the disruption of rocket launches from Cape Canaveral by radio jamming.

Upon his arrival at Kingston Airport, a female photographer tries to take Bond’s picture and he is shadowed from the airport by two men. He is picked up by a chauffeur, whom Bond determines to be an enemy agent. Bond instructs him to leave the main road and, after a brief fight, Bond starts to interrogate the driver, who then kills himself with a cyanide-embedded cigarette.

During his investigation in Strangways’ house Bond sees a photograph of a boatman with Strangways. Bond locates the boatman, named Quarrel, but finds him to be un-cooperative. Bond also recognises Quarrel to have been the driver of the car that followed him from the airport. Bond follows Quarrel and is about to be beaten by him and a friend when the fight is interrupted by the second man who followed Bond from the airport: he reveals himself to be CIA agent Felix Leiter and explains that not only are the two agents on the same mission but also that Quarrel is helping Leiter. The CIA has traced the mysterious radio jamming of American rockets to the vicinity of Jamaica, but aerial photography cannot determine the exact location of its origin. Quarrel reveals that he has been guiding Strangways around the nearby islands to collect mineral samples. He also talks about the reclusive Dr. No, who owns the island of Crab Key, on which there is a bauxite mine: the island and mine are rigorously protected against trespassers by an armed security force and radar.

During a search of Strangways’ house, Bond found a receipt, signed by Professor R. J. Dent, concerning rock samples. Bond meets with Dent who says he assayed the samples for Strangways and determined them to be ordinary rocks. This visit makes Dent wary and he takes a boat to Crab Key where Dr. No expresses displeasure at Dent’s failure to kill Bond and orders him to try again, this time with a tarantula. Bond survives and after a final attempt on his life, sets a trap for Dent, whom he captures, interrogates and then kills.

Having detected radioactive traces in Quarrel’s boat, where Strangways’ mineral samples had been, Bond convinces a reluctant Quarrel to take him to Crab Key. There Bond meets the beautiful Honey Ryder, dressed only in a white bikini, who is collecting shells. At first she is suspicious of Bond but soon decides to help him, leading them all inland to an open swamp. After nightfall they are attacked by the legendary “dragon” of Crab Key which turns out to be a flame-throwing armoured tractor. In the resulting gun battle, Quarrel is incinerated by the flame-thrower whilst Bond and Ryder are taken prisoner. Bond and Ryder are decontaminated and taken to quarters before being drugged.

Upon waking they are escorted to dine with Dr. No. He reveals that he is a member of SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion) and plans to disrupt the Project Mercury space launch from Cape Canaveral with his atomic-powered radio beam. After dinner Ryder is taken away and Bond is beaten by the guards.

Bond is imprisoned in a holding cell but manages to escape through a vent. Disguised as a worker, Bond finds his way to the control centre, a multi-level room full of high-tech instrumentation with an atomic reactor set into the floor, overseen by Dr. No from a command console. Bond overloads the nuclear reactor just as the American rocket is about to take off. Hand-to-hand combat ensues between Bond and Dr. No; the scientist is pushed into the reactor’s cooling vat, in which he boils to death. Bond finds Ryder and the two escape in a boat just as the entire lair explodes.

REVIEW:

I cannot believe how big of a shock it has been to some of my friends that I have never seen a James Bond film. One of my resolutions this year was to see at least a couple of them, and what could be better than to begin with the one that started it all 50 years ago, Dr. No?

What is this about?

Sent to locate a colleague who’s vanished in Jamaica, debonair Agent 007 — in the first of the James Bond films — finds villainous scientist Dr. No plotting to derail the U.S. space program and take over the world.

What did I like?

Beginning. All legends have a beginning, and Bond is no exception. All the benchmarks that have come to be synonymous with Bond over the years are present. We get to hear his now infamous intro, “Bond…James Bond”, watch as all he drinks are vodka martinis shaken, not stirred, and then of course, there are the women. Gorgeous doesn’t begin to describe them!

Plot. If I’m not mistaken, subsequent Bond films go into a rather campy turn, but this one plays it straight, much like what I hear Daniel Craig has been doing with his interpretation. Personally, I think the more straightforward approach works to start this franchise off and establish the character.

Villain. A great bad guy is something that is often overlooked when one thinks of what makes a good hero. Dr. No is a great villain with a great back story and sadistic tendencies. There have been many duplicators, but only one originator. It is too bad that we don’t get more of him, but perhaps that is why he works so well. This guy is also responsible for influencing characters such as Dr. Klaw (from Inspector Gadget), Dr. Evil (from the Austin Powers franchise…note that they have the same suit), among others.

What didn’t work?

Looks can kill. Ursala Andress is a knockout in that white bikini. Other than Raquel Welch in that cave girl bikini, I think this is one of the most prominent bikini scenes of classic, if not all, cinema. It is just a crying shame that she didn’t have the acting chops to back it up. I get the feeling that they were trying to hide her inability to carry a scene, but it just wasn’t working.

Legacy. We all know about the Bond legacy and have our own ideas for what we expect. Me, I was looking for campiness and fancy gadgets, but didn’t get that. Does it hurt the film? No, but I can see some people having issue with it. A curse of this film being around so long, I’m afraid.

Dr. No serves as a great introduction to the Bond franchise. I wasn’t in love with this film, but did enjoy it, especially once it ratcheted up in the last 30 minutes. I highly recommend this to anyone looking to get started with Bond. It is always best to start from the beginning, and this starts with a bang!

4 1/4 out of 5 stars

Big Fish

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2008 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

At his son’s wedding party, Edward Bloom tells the same tale he’s told many times over the years: on the day Will was born, he was out catching an enormous uncatchable fish, using his wedding ring as bait. Will is annoyed rather than pleased by this tale-telling; he explains to his wife, Josephine, that because his father never told the straight truth on anything but insisted on embellishing it with tales, he felt that he could not trust him. He is troubled to think that he might have a similarly difficult relationship with his future children.

Will becomes a journalist in Paris, and his relationship with his father becomes so strained that they do not talk for two years. But when his father’s health starts to fail, Will and his pregnant wife return to Alabama. On the plane, Will recalls his father’s tale of how he braved a swamp as a child, and met a witch who showed him his death in her glass eye. With this knowledge, Edward knows there are no odds he cannot face.

Edward still has a knack for tall tales. As he tells it, he spent three years confined to a bed as a child, with his body growing incredibly fast. He became a successful sports player but found the town of Ashton too small for his ambition. Finding a kindred spirit in the misunderstood giant Karl, they set off. Edward takes an abandoned path down a supposedly haunted forest. He discovers the tiny town of Spectre, where the missing poet Norther Winslow has settled with people so friendly that no one who comes ever leaves, and comfortably walk barefoot. Edward still feels he does not want to settle anywhere yet and leaves, but promises to the young girl Jenny that he will return.

At the circus Karl signs up with Amos Calloway, and time stops as Edward sees the love of his life. As time speeds up again and he loses her, he promises to work for Amos day and night without pay to learn who she is. Every month for three years he learns something new about her, but mostly useless trivial information about her and never her name or address. Edward discovers Amos is a werewolf, and plays fetch with him, preventing him from killing Edward, and also preventing Amos’ attorney from killing Amos while a wolf. In thanks for Edward’s kindness, Amos tells him the girl’s name is Sandra Templeton and she studies at Auburn University.

Edward learns from Sandra that she is engaged to Don Price, also from Ashton. He makes many attempts to show his love for her, including collecting all of the daffodils (her favorite flowers) from five states. Don appears and beats up Edward. Disgusted, Sandra gives up her engagement ring and falls for Edward, who, having given her his word that he wouldn’t hit Don, refuses to fight back. During his recovery in the hospital, Edward is conscripted by the army, and goes to Korea. Instead of taking his assigned mission, he instead parachutes into a theater entertaining troops, steals important documents, and convinces conjoined dancers Ping and Jing to help him get back to America, where he will make them stars. The army thinks the missing Edward is dead and they tell Sandra, leaving her in grief, but Edward eventually returns, surprising her. Being legally dead means that his work choices are limited, so he becomes a traveling salesman. Meeting Winslow again, he unwittingly helps him rob a bank, which is already bankrupt. Edward suggests Winslow work on Wall Street, and Winslow later sends Edward $10,000 from his first million as his “career advisor.” Edward uses it to buy his family’s dream house.

Still unimpressed by his father’s stories, Will demands to know the truth. Edward tries to explain that is who he is: a storyteller. While looking through Edward’s old office, Will finds a suspicious letter from Spectre. Going there, Will meets an older Jenny. She explains that Spectre eventually went bankrupt, but Edward bought the entire town at an auction and rebuilt the town with financial help from many of his previous acquaintances, although it evidently decayed again. She also explains that she loved Edward, but Sandra was the only woman for him.

Coming home, Will discovers his father has had a stroke and is at the hospital. He goes to visit him there and finds him only partly conscious, and unable to speak at length. Since Edward can no longer tell stories, Will tells his father a story of his own: escaping from the hospital, they go to the river where everybody in Edward’s life shows up to greet him on his last journey. Will carries his father into the river where he becomes a big fish. Although his story is clumsy compared to his father’s practiced tale-telling style, it shows that for the first time Will understands why storytelling was so important to his father. Edward then peacefully remarks “The story of my life” before dying.

At his funeral, Will sees many of his father’s more unusual friends, confirming at least a grain of truth from many of his tales. He sees Amos, Karl, Ping and Jing and Norther Winslow amongst others (although they are not entirely the same as in the stories, and are, in some cases, the result of a play on words. For example, the ‘conjoined’ twins, or ‘Siamese’ twins, are not conjoined, but rather, from the capital city of Thailand). When his own son is born, Will passes on his father’s stories, remarking that his father became his stories, allowing him to live forever.

REVIEW:

This movie is a breath of fresh air. Something that has gotten lost in Hollywood over the years, original ideas and light heartedness.

Of course, it’s not totally original. It is based on a novel, but it is still more original than most of the drivel that comes out of there these days.

The film itself is a thing of greatness. Tim Burton did a great job of directing this. I don’t see how anyone else could have pulled it off. Burton’s mix of light and dark, as well as his use of brilliant colors, really make the story. The flashbacks really come to life with the heightened colors, especially the scene with the daffodils and the early trip to Spectre.

While I liked this film, and there are many great moments, it’s one of those pictures that is up to the individual to make their own decision about. The first time I saw it, I didn’t care for it, but each time since then, I like it more and more. Only way to know for sure is to check it out for yourself.

4 out of 5 stars