Juck’s Thoughts on Moonraker

I’m in the process of watching every Bond movie, from the first to the most recent. I will be giving my thoughts on each film as I go along. Not many people have seen every Bond film, and so I feel that this should be an interesting journey. The franchise has been around for over 50 years for a reason. Let’s get started!

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I just finished watching Star W-…I mean Moonraker. It is easy to see why this film gets crap. Heck, Bond is in space and there are laser guns. But I won’t fall into the pitfall of unsubstantiated hate. Truthfully, Moonraker was a joy to watch.

Moonraker is the first modern Bond film, and it’s not because it saw Bond in space. Instead, it was the smooth pacing of the film that gave it a modern edge. In the previous 007 films, there was plenty of action to be had, with scuffles and chases graciously spread throughout and massive action pieces to mark the endings. But Moonraker was paced in such a way that the action felt…familiar. Modern.

Moonraker offered some of the most thrilling action sequences to date, from the airplane jump to the G-force escape to the ski-lift scene to the sword fight in the glass room.

The film was bright and gorgeous-looking and the sets were grand. Some of the effects, like zero-gravity, did not look quite as modern as many of the other effects, but it was believable enough where it did not detract from the cohesion of the film. Moonraker was an expensive film to make, and it shows. Vast sets and luxurious settings are proof enough.

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I am pleased to note that there was an abundance of gadgets in this movie. Bond utilizes a dart-watch, a high-tech lock-pick, and a mini-camera. There was also a helping of intriguing CIA gadgets, which most notably included flamethrower perfume. There were vehicle gadgets as well, from mines to torpedoes to a para-sail dispenser. Yes, a para-sail dispenser. A coffin laden with knives also makes an appearance.

There was a true spy feeling to the film that was established by the gadgets and further advanced by the MI6 presence and overall grand scope.

In this film, Jaws won me over. He was funny. He had personality. I finally get him. Just as was the case with Sheriff Pepper, I was puzzled by the character during his first appearance, but he grew on me during his second time around. Although, it is worth noting that Jaws’ scuffles with Bond are never captured clearly. Maybe this is because of the height difference.

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Jaws’ girlfriend, while I understand why she is there, is ridiculous. That’s all I want to say about her.

Moonraker offers a blend of humor that did not always hit, but I didn’t feel that it substantially detracted from the film. Yes, the double-taking pigeon is mindbogglingly unbelievable, but it didn’t override the successful execution of other aspects of the film.

Tossed in with the fantastic action scenes, the laser space battle at the end was completely unnecessary. I understand the desire to end the movie with a grand action piece, but the space battle really did come across as being shoehorned in.

Moonraker ends with a golden line delivered by Q regarding reentry. The movie could not have ended with a better piece of dialogue.

In conclusion, Moonraker is a milestone in the Bond franchise. Its pace gave it a modern feeling, its gadgets gave it a definitive spy feeling, and the beautiful sets gave it a grand feeling. Moonraker was a blast that, I believe, will usher in a new era of Bond.

~Juck

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Juck’s Thoughts on The Spy Who Loved Me

I’m in the process of watching every Bond movie, from the first to the most recent. I will be giving my thoughts on each film as I go along. Not many people have seen every Bond film, and so I feel that this should be an interesting journey. The franchise has been around for over 50 years for a reason. Let’s get started!

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When I share my thoughts on Bond films, I typically discuss the movie as a whole, specifically focusing on the changes and growth from one film to another. But the Spy Who Loved Me leaves me no choice but to approach this post differently than the others. If Eon can throw a bunch of stuff onto the screen without worrying whether or not it works, so can I. Let’s break this s*** down.

Here’s the good news.

The opening cliff jump had me in awe. That long shot of Bond falling is one of the best stunts in the series to date.

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The first shark scene was intense, made even more intriguing by the soothing music and the lovely set pieces.

It is good to see that Bond still practices chivalry, as he uses a woman as a bullet shield on one particular occasion.

As is almost always the case with Bond, the car was tricked-out and a joy to witness.

The sailor escape scene was grand, bringing to mind the Fort Knox scene in Goldfinger.

And I must mention that the hookah gun is hilarious.

That is where the praise ends. The Spy Who Loved Me was a poorly written, poorly directed disaster.

The Spy Who Loved Me offers a drastic departure from the tightly-filmed fight scenes in the Man with the Golden Gun. The fight sequences in this film are ineffective, as they are noticeably choreographed. Each actor engaged in a “fight” hesitates and allows the other to gain ground for the sake of the “fight”. As a result of the poorly-directed fight scenes, there was no intrigue or drama involved in any close-quarters combat. 

The henchman, Jaws, is horrible. He literally appears to be mentally impaired. Despite his big stature, Jaws comes across as oafish, popping up in closets and rounding corners impossibly. His dumb stare in the closet legitimately angered me. For being such an iconic villain, I was surprised that Jaws was so underwhelming. 

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Frankenstein? Maybe.

The writing in this film was sloppy. Here are a couple of instances in which the writing was nonsensical: 

Bond says, “I’m looking for Mr. Kalba.”

The employee responds,”He’s the owner of the club. He’s right over there.”

That’s like me asking where my father is and having somebody respond, “He’s your father. He’s right over there.” If I asked for the whereabouts of a particular individual, it is assumed that I am familiar with the individual.

Another example: A chick says that she is cold. When Bond asks if there is anything he could do, she says no. She proceeds to say that she took a survival course in Siberia. They then proceed to make out. What? Bond was just rejected, and quite harshly at that. What kind of convoluted switch was switched in the girl’s head that told her to allow Roger Moore to perform the Dementor Kiss of Death on her? (Seriously, Roger Moore kisses women like he wants to devour them).

On the topic of the Bond girl, she was not good. Her inclusion in the film was to add nothing but cleavage. This is indisputable, as she was simply not good at the role.

But nay, I am not finished yet. I must remark that the disco Bond music was out of place. I understand that Bond films attempt to mold to contemporary trends, but disco music? The disco Bond music dated the film and added nothing positive to the final product.

Another thing that bewildered me is the fact that Bond uses his turn signals underwater while fighting off bad guys. This wasn’t done for humor. No, this is a thing that Bond apparently did for himself, or perhaps as a caution to the other drivers cruising along the oceanic highway.

But nay, I am still not finished. Bond villains are not known for having the most practical schemes, but this villain’s motivation is perhaps more ridiculous than that of any other Bond villain thus far. Stromberg wants to build Atlantis. Yes, that is his evil scheme. To build Atlantis.

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I must mention that Bond plays Operation with a nuclear missile, buzzing noises and all. At this point, the film had lost me. The last half hour was a painful, dragging, slow segment where nothing happens. Nothing.

Over all, the Spy Who Loved Me felt forced. The fights were forced, the shots were forced, the plot was forced, the music was forced, most everything was forced. Thus far, this movie is Roger Moore’s worst Bond installment. I pray that Moonraker throws Moore and the entire crew back on track.

~Juck

Juck’s Thoughts on The Man With the Golden Gun

I’m in the process of watching every Bond movie, from the first to the most recent. I will be giving my thoughts on each film as I go along. Not many people have seen every Bond film, and so I feel that this should be an interesting journey. The franchise has been around for over  50 years for a reason. Let’s get started!

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Most Bond villains have characteristic deformations that set them apart from the average bad guy. In the Man with the Golden Gun, the villain has three nipples. Yes, Scaramanga has three nipples. I kid you not. Three nipples. Although the reality of this deformation perplexes me, and although there are few things stranger thus far into the Bond franchise, the Man with the Golden Gun was a real treat.

Roger Moore was energized in this installment, bringing good humor and charm to the screen. Entirely confident in the role, the man delivered a great performance. I am entirely satisfied with Roger Moore as James Bond.

The fight scenes were well done. I could feel each blow being dealt. Furthermore, the action was cut together properly. I found the watermelon headshot to be particularly enlightening. 

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Scaramanga, played by the late Christopher Lee, is an impressive villain despite the campy weight of his third nipple. He was a substantial, involved antagonist. There were instances where he seemed very much like Bond, making him seem a worthy adversary to the secret agent. To label Scaramanga an anti-Bond would not be a label too far off. Not many Bond films thus far have had a villain that has come across as being so…capable.

I was surprised to notice that Sheriff Pepper makes another appearance in the series. He is certainly more bearable this time around, although his presence is an enigma, as there is no reason for him to be touring a foreign country due to his evident intolerance of foreigners. Regardless, Pepper was fine. Perhaps unnecessary, but fine.

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The Man with the Golden Gun contains one of the greatest pickup lines I have ever heard. I am really going to have to try out, “You really do have a magnificent abdomen” on a lady some time soon. I will inform you of the results.

It is rare that I comment on the appearance of the Bond girls, but I must make an exception for Mary Goodnight, played by Britt Ekland. She was easy to look at.

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This installment in the Bond franchise was a jolly good time. It was paced well, it contained great action sequences, and it displayed Roger Moore as a believable James Bond. The Man with the Golden Gun is a strong Bond film that is certainly setting up Roger Moore for many more successes as Agent 007.

~Juck

Juck’s Thoughts on Live and Let Die

I’m in the process of watching every Bond movie, from the first to the most recent. I will be giving my thoughts on each film as I go along. Not many people have seen every Bond film, and so I feel that this should be an interesting journey. The franchise has been around for over  50 years for a reason. Let’s get started!

live-and-let-die-james-bond-roger-moore-aerosol-cigar-fireLive and Let Die features the debut of Roger Moore as Agent 007. Rather than attempting to emulate Connery, Moore approached the role determined to add his own spin on the character. Instead of drinking martinis, he drinks bourbon. Instead of smoking cigarettes, he smokes cigars, sometimes while parasailing. Moore makes it clear that he is a new Bond.

The man played the role conservatively, acting cool and collected rather than charismatic and all-aware of his charms as did Connery. I presume that Moore will become more confident as Bond in his next outings as the spy.

Live and Let Die begins with an intriguing yet hilarious opening sequence that gathered every bit of my attention. Some British agents are killed in the most peculiar ways possible. After that sequence, the film’s opening song begins and I turn up the volume. Live and Let Die by Paul McCarney and the Wings is a fantastic Bond song, and those who made this film know it. Do you want to know how I know that they know it? I know it because the film’s score is almost entirely derived from the song. It is almost comical. Even the film’s credits are set to the song. Heck, I love the track, but to use it in every scene is just ridiculous when it comes down to it. But I’ll play along. Let’s experience the song together, performed live.

Live and Let Die is quite bizarre, as it has a supernatural edge to it. What was particularly unusual were the supposed psychic abilities of the tarot card reader, who is aptly named Solitaire. I was waiting for the method behind her supposed psychic abilities to be revealed, but I was left to believe that she truly was able to predict the future. Bond crossed a line into the supernatural realm, a realm that I would have never have thought that Bond would enter.

vlcsnap-2012-12-20-20h33m21s172While there is humor in all of the chase sequences, they aren’t so campy that one cannot feel the peril that Bond is in. Yes, the top half of that double-decker bus did get clipped off by a bridge. And yes, those boats are speeding seamlessly from water to land to water. But the stunts are done well and the action is brisk, and so they were properly humorous rather than numbingly campy. I pray that this will be a consistent quality of the coming Bond films.

It is also worth mentioning that the events that transpired on the crocodile island were remarkable. The bit where Bond was marooned on the little piece of land while surrounded by the terrifying reptiles was especially thrilling. The creatures evoked a real sense of danger.
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Even while stacked against all of the freakish elements in this Bond installment, Sheriff Pepper is, by far, the most outlandish. This Louisiana Sheriff chews tobacco. In addition, he is racist, incompetent, and has a brother-in-law named Billy Bob. I totally get it. Americans portray the English and virtually every other foreigner quite one-dimensionally in our cinema. Good on the Brits for punching back with an equally over-the-top interpretation of what kind of people constitute the Southern US.

I couldn’t quite get a grip on the antagonists in this film. All I took away from them was this scene, a scene that had me laughing out loud.

Like…WHAT?!

Anywho, Live and Let Die is a film that has me welcoming Roger Moore. The movie had a modern touch to it despite its faint layer of camp. I am interested to see some more Moore. I smell a new kind of Bond movie coming.

~Juck

Juck’s Thoughts on Diamonds Are Forever

­ I’m in the process of watching every Bond movie, from the first to the most recent. I will be giving my thoughts on each film as I go along. Not many people have seen every Bond film, and so I feel that this should be an interesting journey. The franchise has been around for over  50 years for a reason. Let’s get started! Diamonds Are Forever Diamonds Are Forever throws Sean Connery back into the role of James Bond for one last time. Despite the fact that Connery was jaded with his involvement in the series by the time You Only Live Twice rolled around, he delivers a heck of a performance in this installment. The character of Bond is played in a way that is entirely refreshing. Connery returns with more charisma, more humor (actual humor), and more intrigue. His chemistry with his fellow actors is poignant. Over all, he delivers a fantastic Bond performance.

The soundtrack was also noticeably well-done, from the opening song to the orchestral pieces. More than anything, Diamonds Are Forever is an entertaining journey. This is largely due to its sense of humor. There is plenty of campiness in this installment in the Bond franchise. Allow me to delineate some of this campiness. At the beginning of the film, Bond is being searched by a henchman for concealed weapons. As the frisking henchman reaches into Bond’s suit sleeve, he recoils, mousetrap clamping down on his hand. Yes, Bond had a mousetrap in his suit sleeve. DAF-Gadget-Finger-Trap At another point in the film, Blofeld dresses in drag to escape undetected. Yes, that really happened. 7b-diamonds-are-forever-still The altercation between, inclusion of, and concept revolving around Bambi and Thumper was also ridiculous. Absolutely bonkers. But the main source of this film’s campiness was the two over-the-top goons. One is a fat Deadhead and the other is a living ventriloquist dummy. They are corny, poorly written, unfunny, and retentive of not a single redeeming quality. They’re like the Three Stooges except there are only two of them. The kind of foolishness that they bring to the film is unnecessary. There is an altercation in which one goon asks a doctor to inspect his wisdom teeth.While the doctor proceeds to do so, Goon #2 drops a scorpion down his shirt. The man then convulses and dies. What? They also go on to knock out Bond with an urn. Yes, an urn. And those are just a couple of examples. Tumblr_lj0t77hiIO1qzoulco1_500 Despite the campiness, there is some genuine good humor in the film. There is an instance where Bond climbs into a moon buggy and a man yells, “Get him out of that machine, it’s not a toy.” The funny thing is, the buggy looks like it was built by the Little Rascals. I got a good laugh out of that. Diamonds-Are-Forever-moon-buggy Diamonds Are Forever is a fun, lighthearted installment in the Bond series, complete with Bond staples like car chases and sleuthing spy work. The film sends off Sean Connery with free spirit and confidence. Although I didn’t find the Bond girl very interesting, and although the movie became relatively dull as it approached its third act, as have many Bond movies thus far, Diamonds Are Forever can be deemed a successful film in the franchise.

~Juck

Breaking Benjamin Album Review: Dark Before Dawn (2015)

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Dark Before Dawn, the fifth album from Breaking Benjamin. After about six years, the band is back with highly anticipated new material.

In green is my opinion. I am quite familiar with Breaking Benjamin’s newer material. It was actually Robert who introduced them to me years ago! 

In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. He discovered Breaking Benjamin through Halo, and he considers them to be one of his top five favorite bands.

Let’s start our track-by-track review!

Dark

If you have ever been to Outback Steakhouse, you are probably familiar with the Bloomin’ Onion. The Bloomin’ Onion is a massive arrangement of deep-fried onion that is offered as an appetizer. This opening track is essentially the Bloomin’ Onion, as it is a substantial piece that builds anticipation for the main course. Dark is comprised of raw drumming, intense vocalization, and curious electronic noises. This suspenseful song opens up the album with intrigue.

Breaking Benjamin starts off the album with Dark, an all-instrumental song. It is an interesting mix of sounds that sets the listener up for the rest of the album.

Failure

Failure is classic Breaking Benjamin at its finest. The guitar is still loud, the chorus is still tight, and the vocals are still layered. The brief guitar solo that inserts itself into Failure is a real treat that sounds wicked, adding flare to an otherwise straightforward song. Failure marks the revival of Breaking Benjamin, stating the band is back and they are ready to pick up where they left off.

Failure, the first single to be released by the band since their hiatus, is a song that sounds like classic Breaking Benjamin. The more and more I listen to Failure, the more I love it! You will get hooked to it right away. It has been stuck in my head for weeks because of how catchy it is.

Angels Fall

Angels Fall is an ice cube on a warm day. It is a refreshing track that is neither overbearing nor soft. Angels Fall is simply pleasant.

Angels Fall starts off with an intro that reminds me of Blow Me Away, the song that got me into the band. I love the tempo of this song and how it is not as heavy compared to the band’s other songs. I also love Ben’s vocals on this track.

Breaking the Silence

Breaking the Silence is a disgusting feat that is hard, angry, and heavy. The guitar riff is nasty, the vocal melody has a fantastic Middle Eastern vibe, and the growling is hardcore. Breaking the Silence is off the rails and engaging. I enjoy the heck out of this sledgehammer of a song.

Breaking the Silence starts off heavy and stays that way. In this song, we get some awesome screaming vocals along with a sick guitar riff. This is the sound I have been missing for years, and my ears are happy to hear it again. If you love metal, Breaking the Silence is the perfect song for you.

Hollow

Hollow is a cool song, though it does not peak until it nears its end, at which point a dirty riff takes over and a solo kicks in, raising the energy of the song to a whole new level. The ending riff bears resemblance to Linkin Park’s Hit the Floor, which explains why it sounds so heavy. The riveting solo bit at the end of the track is simply kickass. Hollow is a satisfying track that explodes at its conclusion.

Hollow starts fast and shows no signs of slowing down. The band hits with the vintage BB sound that we love, and I am completely fine with that. What caught my attention with Hollow was the fact that we hear a little guitar solo near the end of the song. It is very rare to hear a solo like that from this band and now I crave more of it. This track sounds like it could be off of the band’s previous album, Dear Agony.

Close to Heaven

Close to Heaven is a song that begins as a Middle Eastern-styled simmer and morphs into a dramatic release. Close to Heaven is the glorious result of calculated patience paired with fresh vocal melodies. Because Breaking Benjamin slowed down a bit, the music and the melodies resonated with more depth. Close to Heaven is an epic track that can be considered one of the gems of the album. It stands out among the pack.

Close to Heaven is the oddball of the album for me, as it sounds a bit different from the other songs. The song showcases what Ben is capable of doing with his vocals, which is especially nice for the new listeners, but other than the vocals, I am not a big fan of this song. It is not bad, but it is not great either.

Bury Me Alive

Bury Me Alive sounds like a scrapped take of Breaking the Silence. It offers hard guitar and aggressive growling, as does Breaking the Silence, yet this song features less energy and less ingenuity. Bury Me Alive should have been omitted from the album, as it does not present anything new. Overall, it is a fine song but it is no special snowflake.

The beginning of Bury Me Alive reminds me of another song by the band, though I cannot remember which one. I love how heavy this song is with the loud guitar and Ben’s powerful vocals. Old time fans will likely grow to love this song, though I feel as if the tempo should be faster.

Never Again

Never Again is a positive song that still manages to retain a subtle moodiness. Skewed guitar accents add a grim layer to the track, making it all the more intriguing. While these accents are played sparingly and are mere nuances, they still manage to increase the individuality of the track. Never Again is a passionate song that does well for itself. In the end, it is no giant.

Never Again hits you hard right after Bury Me Alive. After carefully listening to the lyrics, I find it to be an uplifting song. I feel like this song has a strong meaning or story behind it, and I am always a fan of songs that tell a story. Once again, the track’s sound is nothing new from the band, but as I have said previously, I am okay with that. Breaking Benjamin has always had a great sound so there is no need to try to change it, especially after being gone for 6 years.

The Great Divide

The Great Divide doesn’t do it for me. The seemingly pleasant lyrics are washed out by electric guitar. For a moment in the song, an acoustic guitar replaces the electric as if someone in the band realized that this song would be much more cohesive without the loud noise. This results in a small segment of the song being enjoyable. I cannot help but wonder why the band decided to take this song in a heavy direction. The vocal melodies were solid, but the guitar and all-out drumming tainted the Great Divide. I would love to hear an acoustic cut of this track, however.

The Great Divide has a sick drum beat that made me think I was going to get some awesome heavy metal song. Sadly, I was wrong. Just like Angels Fall, it is not as fast or as hard as other songs on the album. At least the guitars still hit hard! The Great Divide is still a decent song despite its reservation.

Ashes of Eden

Ashes of Eden is built upon beautiful guitar-playing. Easily the most relaxed song of the album, Ashes of Eden contains delicate violin, passionate (albeit modified) vocals, and conservative drumming. Ashes of Eden is a unique track that offers a refreshing change of pace from the louder songs that define Breaking Benjamin. This may be one of the few songs that calls for lighters to be cracked at a Breaking Benjamin concert. I enjoyed Ashes of Eden, although it could have benefit from less repetition in the lyrics.

Hold the phone. We aren’t getting smacked with hard riffs, loud drums, or heavy singing? Instead, we get a calm, soft song called Ashes of Eden. This song is just beautiful! I love the softer-sounding instruments along with Ben’s soft vocals, which show how great of a vocalist he is. The lyrics are also powerful. My only complaint is that the song should have been longer. Unless you cannot stand soft rock or softer songs, Ashes of Eden will be a song that you will enjoy.

Defeated

Defeated features a gnarly guitar riff that is sure to pump up the listener. This track is solid, delivering Breaking Benjamin’s signature sound and concluding the album on an uplifting note. Breaking Benjamin began this record with a song titled “Failure” and ending with the lyric “no longer defeated.” I think it is safe to say that Breaking Benjamin is back.

We go from soft to the exact opposite. With a song title like “Defeated,” I expected a song about self-struggle and a person trying to fight through it. This song delivers that message exactly. I can see Defeated being used in fantasy movies or video games when the main hero is trying to defeat the main enemy/boss, such as the evil emperor or dragon. I just wish the song was not so repetitive.

Dawn

Dawn is an ambient track that is a welcome comedown from the heaviness that previously transpired. I enjoy ambiance when it has feeling. After all, it is easy to make noise and call it psychedelic. Dawn succeeds because it has emotion and cohesion behind it. With Dawn serving as the cherry on top, Dark Before Dawn comes full circle with this satisfying little track.

Dusk started off the album and now Dawn ends it. The guitar in this track is pretty and reminds me of the soft intro to Metallica’s One. Dark is an interesting track to end the album, but I like it because of its soothing nature. After six years, Breaking Benjamin gives us a wonderful album to be happy about. The band resisted being sucked into the mainstream trap and stuck to their roots. Many people may hate the fact that they did not change their sound, but why would they change it when they know their fans still crave their old sounds? Thank you, BB, for sticking to your roots. It was well worth the 6 year wait! Thank you all for reading. We’ll see you next time!

My Top 3

Failure

Breaking the Silence

Close to Heaven

Rob’s Top 3

Failure

Breaking the Silence

Ashes of Eden

Dark Before Dawn marks the successful return of Breaking Benjamin. The album is warmly familiar, a safe yet satisfying installment in Breaking Benjamin’s discography. Dark Before Dawn is a solid T-Bone that is sure to please fans and impress those who are just getting to know the band. Pop a bottle of champagne and have yourself a Bloomin’ Onion. Breaking Benjamin has returned.

~Juck

Juck’s Thoughts on On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

I’m in the process of watching every Bond movie, from the first to the most recent. I will be giving my thoughts on each film as I go along. Not many people have seen every Bond film, and so I feel that this should be an interesting journey. The franchise has been around for 50 years for a reason. Let’s get started!

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Please take a look at the man in the picture above. What do you see? I’ll tell you what I see. I see a man with an ass-chin. I’ll tell you what I do not see. I do not see James Bond. This man-no, this wooden board-was chosen to replace Sean Connery as 007. I will refer to him as ‘Wooden Board.’ I am doing him a favor by not mentioning his name because, if I were in his position, I would not want my name to be attached to the “performance” he delivered in this error of a film.

Wooden Board was neither charismatic nor interesting. He was not charming. He was not cool. He was not interesting. Instead, Wooden Board was just there. He may as well have been wearing a black morph suit. Or, better yet, he may as well have not been there at all. He had one single line that was funny, in which he mentions “a stiffness coming on.” That’s it. Wooden Board’s time as Bond peaked at that line.

The flaws of this film, of which there are many, stem from the directing. The cuts were unusual. Rather than looking natural and fluid, they were choppy and awkward. This poor camerawork yielded action sequences that appeared forced and ridiculous, almost cartoonish. I did not enjoy the action in this film in the slightest. As I have said, the botched cutting corrupted the experience entirely.

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I had a bad feeling about the film from the moment that the opening titles appeared. The opening song didn’t have a singer, which I found to be incredibly odd. Why fix what wasn’t broken? The arrival of Wooden Board as the next Bond did not call for such a seemingly pointless change.

Thus far into the series, the Bond films have retained campiness and corniness. This film pushes such campiness and converts it into ridiculousness. I found myself saying, “What?” on multiple occasions. There are a host of scenes and instances that are unbelievable, even for Bond. There is a montage in the film in which Bond frolics around a garden with a lady. By the end of the montage, Bond has bought a ring for her. Because of the choppy editing and sloppy cuts, I can’t be sure that that is what happened, so take my description of this montage with a grain of salt.

In the end, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is joyless and devoid of fun. The dialogue is boring, the action scenes were poor, and Bond was a wooden plank. This film felt its age and then some. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is my least favorite Bond thus far. If you have any interest in seeing this film to see how that one guy did as Bond, squash it. There is no payoff. There is no development of the Bond character. There is no substance. Let us all collectively erase this Bond installment from the pages of history and from the racks of retail stores.

~Juck

Alex Turner Album Review: Submarine (2011)

Leave a comment down below to request an album for me and Robby to review. Any artist, any genre, we’ll give it a chance!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Submarine by Alex Turner, the soundtrack of the film Submarine.

In green is my opinion. I am familiar with some of Alex Turner’s work, from the Last Shadow Puppets to the Arctic Monkeys. I have not seen the Submarine movie.

In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. He too is familiar with the Last Shadow Puppets and the Arctic Monkeys. He has not seen the Submarine movie either.

Note that this soundtrack is being reviewed purely as an album. We are not reviewing the music in relation to its use in the Submarine movie. Let’s get started!

Stuck on the Puzzle (intro)

Alex, you tease. You gave us a great verse with pondering piano and curious acoustics. You led us to believe that we would be getting a full song, but nay. Stuck on the Puzzle is a nice little tidbit that teases what is arguably the best song of the album. How can you hate this brief little bite of a tune?

We start off the album with a mellow song that does not even last for a minute. It sounds so nice, but it is just too short. I love the acoustic guitar. This track reminds me of being on a tropical island.

Hiding Tonight

Holy chill. Alex might as well be sleeping. The guitar might as well be sleeping. The violin might as well be sleeping. I might as well be sleeping. The acoustic and electric guitars are gentle yet pleasantly apparent, pairing well with Turner’s relaxed voice. Hiding Tonight is a floating track that may very well add some pounds to your eyelids.

Hiding Tonight makes me want to lie down on a hot summer day, shut my eyes, and take a nice nap without getting a sunburn. Turner’s voice is so pleasant that anybody can fall in love with it and relax to it. Just like the previous song, Hiding Tonight also has an island/beach vibe.

Glass in the Park

The electric guitar is the highlight of this track. When the guitar pings, it sounds delicious. Its tone is on point. Alex Turner delivers another relaxed vocal performance, though he is more awake than he was during Hiding Tonight. Perhaps Turner recorded this song after drinking a single sip of coffee.

This song is so dope that I almost fell asleep while listening to it. Songs don’t usually do that to me. Once again, it is the mix of Turner’s voice along with the soothing guitars that makes everything chill. Just forget about life for a bit and listen to this four minute beauty.

It’s Hard to Get Around the Wind

Entirely acoustic, It’s Hard to Get Around the Wind is a quiet song with a nice melody and some solid lyrics. I am fond of the “pepper in the pill” concept mentioned within the song. The acoustics in this track are lovely as well. It’s Hard to Get Around the Wind is a stripped-back track that manages to stand on two legs despite its simplicity.

It’s Hard to Get Around the Wind is a song I would love to learn how to play on the guitar. I feel like it is one of those songs that you can play and sing when you are with a group of people. It is calm and soothing. This song would be perfect for a coffee shop scene or a bonfire.

Stuck on the Puzzle

Hell yes. Stuck on the Puzzle is like bombazz mac and cheese. It just clicks. It works. It is goodness. In this song, the bass and the drums mesh together effortlessly, the wonky guitar is incredible, and Turner sings with confidence. Stuck on the Puzzle is an anthemic song that is rockin’ like bombazz mac and cheese is rockin’. That is, it’s rockin’ a lot.

Fun fact: I suck at puzzles in real life and in video games. Stuck on the Puzzle showcases the beautiful lyrics that Alex Turner often comes up with. I feel like this could be a love song, thought I cannot completely put together its meaning (No pun intended). Either way, this song is pretty, and sounds like it could be an Arctic Monkeys tune.

Piledriver Waltz

Piledriver Waltz is a ball (no pun intended). The lyrics are captivating, the vocal melody is entrancing, the piano is strong, and the music is successfully moody. The way that the track slows down as it reaches its chorus is remarkably compelling. Piledriver Waltz has soul and many shades of melancholy. I enjoy the heck out of this song.

Wooooo we’re going on Dancing With the Stars!!! Oh wait, we’re not? Good. I would be the first one gone anyway. We end the Submarine EP with another beautifully written song. The lyrics are wonderful and I love the piano! Piledriver Waltz is another track that I can relax to. I think this song would sound majestic acoustically. Thank you all for reading another review. I hope you are still awake, because this EP does make you sleepy.

My Top 3

Glass in the Park

Stuck on the Puzzle

Piledriver Waltz

Robby’s Top 3

Glass in the Park

It’s Hard to Get Around the Wind

Piledriver Waltz

The Submarine EP is a soothing listen. It isn’t overbearing and it isn’t boring. Instead, this six-track midget of an album makes quite the impression. Alex Turner did a swell job with this T-Bone. If there were more tracks that were as impressive as those included here, this record could have very well been a Filet. Take a listen to this tiny album and judge for yourself. The worst that could happen is wasting 19 minutes of your life.

~Juck

Juck’s Thoughts on You Only Live Twice

I’m in the process of watching every Bond movie, from the first to the most current. I will be giving my thoughts on each film as I go along. Not many people have seen every Bond film, and so I feel that this should be an interesting journey. The franchise has been around for 50 years for a reason. Let’s get started!

James-Bond-007

You Only Live Twice starts with a hearty dose of intrigue. At the beginning of the movie, Bond dies. Of course, you know that the agent must be alive, but I was left scratching my head as to how he survived the attempt made on his life. If my memory serves me right, this instance would mark the second attempt to trick the audience into buying Bond’s death. The first instance, which was included in From Russia With Love, was a poor gimmick that was so campy I could roast marshmallows over it. This time around, however, the evasion of death was cool, albeit ridiculous.

The best thing about You Only Live Twice is that its events unfold at a fast pace. Because the plot was brisk, the direction of the story was unpredictable at times. A few minor twists and turns certainly helped the movie to remain fresh.

You Only Live Twice is undoubtedly the best-looking Bond film released thus far. Japan is living, the sets are beautiful, and the picture is clearer overall. It was a joy to watch this Bond movie because it was aesthetically pleasing. In addition, the action is intense and hilarious. Well done yet campy in many ways, I enjoyed the heck out of the fight scenes. Check out this scene, it’s a good time.

Bond does some solid spy work in this installment of the franchise, bringing us closer to modern Bond. In fact, You Only Live Twice is the most modern-feeling Bond film yet. Of course, the special effects are not up to par with what filmmakers can achieve today, but in terms of pacing and style, You Only Live Twice is pretty relevant. If I were to stumble across it while watching TV with no prior knowledge about its release year, I wouldn’t consider it to be as old as it is. (You Only Live Twice was released in 1967).

Alas, this movie has a dire shortcoming. When the film hits its halfway point, it assumes a campy, taking-oneself-too-seriously kind of tone. Things slow down and, before you know it, Bond is Japanese.

japanese-bond

Yes, this is Bond’s Japanese disguise. Ah, blatant racism. Remember the days when you were a staple of Street Fighter?

Anywho, despite some ridiculous moments , the movie is not absurd. It is easy to poke fun at, sure. But the absurdity doesn’t spoil the fun.

A moment that I am surprised does not live in Bond infamy is the staring contest between Blofeld and Bond when the count-down clock ticks down. The camera literally shows Bond staring at Blofled and Blofeld staring at Bond, back and forth, back and forth. 

bondvillains-donald-pleasence-blofeld-590x350bondstare

And so, while the movie feels new and stylish for its first half, its second half lags and throws the audience back to the campiness of the previous films. It is clear that there was lots of Austin Powers influence pulled from the second half of this movie. Regardless, You Only Live Twice is the first Bond film to put its foot in the door of modern Bond. It’s a good one.

~Juck

Citizen Cope Album Review: The Rainwater LP (2010)

Leave a comment down below to request an album for Robby and I to review. Any artist, any genre, we’ll give it a chance!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you The Rainwater LP, Citizen Cope’s fourth album.

In green is my opinion. I am very familiar with Citizen Cope’s music. I have seen him live.

In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. He is a rising Citizen Cope fan and is excited to listen to this album.

Here we go!

rainwater

Keep Askin’

Sometimes, when I’m feeling lazy, I want Ramen noodles. To prepare the noodles, I put water on the stove. I put the heat on high so the water can boil. If Ramen noodles came in Keep Askin’ flavor, however, I would put the water on medium heat so I could achieve a slow boil, because that’s exactly what this song is. Cope’s simple acoustics are given muscle by the backing drums and piano. The pairing of sad lyrics with Cope’ smoky voice helps to create a gloomy vibe. Keep Askin’ starts off the Rainwater LP on a relaxed note.

Keep Askin’ is a relaxing song to start off the album. Nice acoustics with simple drums and chill piano give the song a coffee shop feel. As a matter of fact, when I eventually buy this album, I am going to add it to the playlist at my dad’s donut shop! Anybody, regardless of age, can be hooked to this song.

Healing Hands

Healing Hands is pure soul. The song is incredibly smooth, equipped with groovy bass, grooving drums, and grooved up melodies. Cope’s lyrics are down to earth, a feature that is typical of the artist. The honking horns are sweet additions to the song, as is the whining guitar solo at the end of the track. The entire track seems to be a love letter to Bill Withers, whose subject matter and sound is comparable to that which defines Healing Hands. I love this song.

With a song title like Healing Hands, I thought this would be a gospel-influenced song. Instead, we get a song with a sick drum beat and powerful lyrics that relate to the world today. I love this track because of Cope and his vocals. The guitar bit at the end is a nice touch as well.  I would love to hear this grooving song live!

I Couldn’t Explain Why

I Couldn’t Explain Why is a cool track. Cope’s acoustics ring loud, the bassist is doing his own thing, the drummer is chugging along, and the organist accents the song. The lyrics aren’t incredibly profound, but the song grooves along nonetheless. I Couldn’t Explain Why is an easy, solid track.

I feel like I have heard this song before, though I do not remember where. Once again, I love the acoustics and drums. Cope’s vocals keep me sucked into the track. I get a good vibe from this song, but I couldn’t explain why.

Lifeline

There’s nothing tricky about Lifeline. It’s simply truth. Cope doesn’t have to come out with a 50-piece orchestra or a guitarist who plays with his toes to make his message heard. Instead, he picks up his guitar, has his buddy hop on the piano, and sings. The result is Lifeline. This song is packed with emotion, which fuels Cope’s strong message. Lifeline is a stellar track from Citizen Cope.

Wow. This is such a sad song, yet it makes you want to stay strong no matter what happens. That is Cope’s message here. I may not be a huge Walking Dead fan like my cousins, but I can easily see this song fitting into that show or any other show that has depressing moments that make you want to burst into tears. Lifeline is a powerful song, and that is why I like it. Life may be depressing at times, but stay strong and everything will get better.

Off the Ground

Off the Ground is the closest that Citizen Cope has come to incorporating reggae into his music. The steady piano and repeating guitar are pulled straight out of the reggae genre, and the execution of both elements are successfully executed in the style of Citizen Cope. The entire track has a positive vibe. Off the Ground is a joyful, uplifting track.

(If you dig Citizen Cope’s reggae side, check out his 2006 collaboration with the Easy All-Stars on their reggae version of Radiohead’s Karma Police. It’s a bit flat, but worth a listen regardless).

If you need something to cheer you up after that last song, then Off The Ground is for you. This song reminds me of a paradise setting and puts me in a great mood! Grab a friend or someone close to you, get in the car on a sunny day, roll down the windows, play this song, and just drive until sunset. Grab a drink, sit with friends, and chill to this solid track. That is how good Off The Ground is. We need more songs like this one!

Jericho

Jericho is an unusual track. It features electronic elements and steady drumming behind Cope’s echoing voice. The highlight of the song is undoubtedly the air horn. Some people go nuts over cowbell, declaring that every song with cowbell needs more of it, but I’m not one of those people. I’m all about that air hornThis track gets two thumbs up because it has air horn. Jericho is the oddball of the album, but it’s a damn cool one.

Hold the phone. Where are the acoustics? Am I going into a trance? Did I have a little too much fun? Jericho shows the creative, techno side of Cope. It features the one noise that songs need: air horn! I know Juck is going to be listening to this song for a while. Sure, I’m not the biggest fan of techno-like music, but the sick beats and the creative mind of Cope make it easy for me to like this song. Oh, and did I mention air horn?

The Newspaper

Sideways? Nope, it’s the Newspaper. No, not the newspaper that is tossed onto my driveway every morning in ratty plastic, but the Newspaper by Citizen Cope. This song is a dark groove that is fit for a serious cop show. I’m not talking about NCIS with LL Cool J and Edna Mode from the Incredibles. I’m talking about something closer to True Detective. The Newspaper is a fantastic track that is fit for vibing. The lyrics create some vivid images and the music is tight. I love the Newspaper. (Once again, not the newspaper that remains on my driveway to be run over for a week before I bother to pick it up. I’m talking about the Newspaper by Citizen Cope).

The intro to the Newspaper reminds me of Citizen Cope’s hit song Sideways. I always like it when artists make a song that sounds similar to one of their older songs. The lyrics are interesting, as they talk about crimes which you often see in the newspaper, but they also acknowledge the fact that the newspaper is not always truthful. Good job, Cope. You and I both know that the media is crammed with BS that fills people with their propaganda!

A Father’s Son

If Jericho had a baby with the Newspaper, you would get A Father’s Son. It’s kind of ironic, actually. A Father’s Son. Get it? Anyway, the buzzing from Jericho and the dark tone from the Newspaper mix to create a cool track with strong verses and a fantastic chorus that excels both lyrically and musically. The drummer deserves props for his work on this track. He kills it. He doesn’t pull anything fancy, but he doesn’t have to be all over the place to be impressive. A Father’s Son is a sick track.

A Father’s Son is a funky song that features the sickest drumming on the entire album. The bass and guitar are sick as well. Cope’s vocals are tight as ever. I am hooked to this song because of how well the instruments blend together. Honestly, I would not mind hearing an instrumental version of this song.

Lifeline (Barefeet version)

After months of owning this album, I only now distinguished the difference between the original version of Lifeline and the Barefeet version thanks to Robby, who caught the difference right away. This Barefeet version does not include piano. I can’t help but wonder why Cope didn’t simply call this version acoustic, as he sings the “barefeet” lyrics on both recordings. I enjoy this track, but it seems an odd addition to the core album. Cope took a track that already had few instruments and took away one of two. In the context of the album, the recording is unusual, but in the end, Lifeline (Barefeet version) still remains a solid piece of music.

I’m not sure what “Barefeet version” is supposed to mean, but it seems that this track is just Lifeline with no piano and only guitar. I like the sound, but why make it a part of the album and not a bonus track or something like that?

Keep Askin’ (Acoustic version)

I’m surprised that this track isn’t called “Keep Askin’ (Barefeet version).” Sometimes I crack myself up. Okay, I’m focused. Keep Askin’ is built to be played acoustically, so I’m glad this recording made the album. This recording is quieter than its counterpart, making it an even more relaxing alternative to an already chilled-out song. What would have been even better to include in place of this track is a live acoustic recording of it. Regardless, the Rainwater LP ends on a relaxed note thanks to this track.

How did Citizen Cope know that I wanted an acoustic version of this song? I actually prefer this version of Keep Askin’ to the original because, in my opinion, the acoustic sound fits the song better. This song could have been a bonus track, but I do not mind it being on the actual album. It is a nice way to end a great album! Thank you all for reading another album review!

My Top 3

Healing Hands 

The Newspaper

A Father’s Son

Rob’s Top 3

Healing Hands

Off The Ground

The Newspaper

The Rainwater LP is Citizen Cope’s most consistent album. Each and every song fits within the same mold. Cope’s predominantly acoustic style makes this record a chill listen. The tracks are groovy and soulful, driven by emotion. An outstanding effort by Citizen Cope, the Rainwater LP is a strong T-Bone. I highly recommend purchasing this album.

~Juck