Juck’s Thoughts on the World Is Not Enough

The world is not enough. It is nahht. Oh hi Mark. – Tommy Wiseau.

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It is no secret that Christopher Nolan is a huge Bond fan by his own admission. With that in mind, I can’t help but wonder if Cobb’s rappel scene from Nolan’s very own Inception was inspired by this movie. A more eerie similarity between this particular Bond film and another one of Nolan’s pictures, The Dark Knight, is between two lines of dialogue. In the World Is Not Enough, a character says, “She could be everywhere” in reference to M’s potential death by bomb. Of course, if the bomb were to have gone off, M’s remains would certainly be “everywhere.” In the Dark Knight, when Batman is interrogating the Joker as to the whereabouts of Harvey Dent, the Joker responds, “Depending on the time, he may in one spot, or several.” Interesting, how the lines of dialogue are so similar under like circumstances.

On the other side of things, this Bond film nods to an older era of Bond and refers to Live and Let Die by flipping a speedboat. Thankfully, because the universe was kind on a particular day in the editing room, there was no slide whistle sound effect include this time around!

The World Is Not Enough features another strong Q scene, one that undoubtedly served as an appropriate sendoff for Desmond Llewelyn, who died shortly after the film’s release. The scene is touching, and it marks the end of a truly spectacular Q. Brosnan brought out the best in Llewelyn, as is palpable on screen. Or perhaps it was Llewelyn who brought out the best in Brosnan. However the chemistry was conjured, the two have the greatest scenes of any Bond-Q pair to date.

I have finally determined that Brosnan handles a gun significantly better than he handles hand-to-hand combat. The manner in which he handles firearms exudes confidence and power, which is fitting, given that this Bond has proven to be more fond of including (and more apt to have) technology in his arsenal.

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I enjoyed seeing Robbie Coltrane’s Zukovsky appear once again, with his first appearance being in GoldenEye. Continuity is a rare element in Bond films, and seeing a recurring supporting character who isn’t from MI6 a pleasant treat.

Though The World Is Not Enough moves along Bond’s evolution quite nicely, the film lost much of its charm and shine as it went on, suffering from a problem possessed by a host of older Bond films. That is, the second half of the film lags. This is a decent Bond film, but it is not a standout for me.

~Juck

Juck’s Thoughts on Tomorrow Never Dies

Hello, everyone. It’s been a while. Well, let’s dive into it, shall we?

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It is easy to regard Tomorrow Never Dies as Brosnan’s Moonraker for a number of reasons. To start, the sets are gorgeous. The futuristic aesthetic was palpable throughout the film. Visually, Tomorrow Never Dies is stellar, and the same could be said about the score. The music is notably strong in this installment.

Where this film shines, however, is its cast. Brosnan comes across as incredibly likable his second go-around. He seems to have struck a balance between charming, energetic, serious, and humorous. In this film, he doesn’t have a stick up his arse. Instead, he naturally plays Bond as a man rather than as a caricature.

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The villain proves a strong adversary for Bond, a visionary type who rings quite close to Steve Jobs. Seeing him atop a stage only solidifies the similarity in my mind. He is intimidating and eccentric without being over the top with his performance.

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The Bond girl is an interesting character in her own right. She possesses strength and independence, two traits that not many Bond girls have. 

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M is still a badass who is intolerant of crap and disinterested in the fact that she is not universally well-liked. As for Q, the Q scene in this film is brilliant. Brosnan has great chemistry with Desmond Llewelyn. I am convinced that Brosnan’s interactions with Q are the best of the the series. With that, the two characters don’t simply banter. No, Q hooks up Bond with some gnarly gadgets. In fact, I feel that Tomorrow Never Dies provides what is perhaps the best and most comprehensive use of gadgets in a Bond film thus far into the series. Check out this chase scene in which Bond shows off some of his toys.

In terms of the action, Tomorrow Never Dies features intense action sequences that are well shot, wildly entertaining, and, above all, over the top. The movie’s pace is brisk, yet it retains tension throughout, a feat that is not easy to accomplish.

I must note that I noticed a cello being used in a fight scene. I cannot help but wonder if that bit was meant to be a nod to the Living Daylights. In any case, Tomorrow Never Dies was a solid installment in the Bond series. I am glad that Brosnan is more comfortable in the role. Let us see how he fares as time goes on. After all, time seems to be Bond actors’ worst enemy. 

 

~Juck

Juck’s Thoughts on GoldenEye

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. Let’s get started!

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Pierce Brosnan’s first outing as Bond was much like that of Roger Moore. In other words, Brosnan played the role conservatively. He did the charm, he did the humor, and he did the action. I believe that it will take another film for Brosnan to ease into the role of Bond and to exude confidence naturally. Nonetheless, Brosnan did a fine job as 007.

GoldenEye begins with a spectacular bungee jump that serves as a throwback to the iconic parachute stunt from the Spy Who Loved Me. If there is any stunt to rival that in the Spy Who Loved Me, it’s this one.goldeneye 3

The percussion-based Bond score was well done overall, save for the music played over the opening car chase sequence. It was as if the 80s regurgitated onto the 90s. No thank you. Other than that hiccup, the score was dynamic in spite of its ambiance.

GoldenEye features a couple of new cast members. Moneypenny, now the third version in the series, is formidable. She holds her own against Bond without an issue. She has a sass to her that is electric. M, now played by Judi Dench, is commanding and ultimately badass. She too is able to stick it to Bond. In fact, one of the best scenes of the film is defined by M calling out Bond for what he is. The exchange is golden.

Q, while still portrayed by Desmond Llewelyn, appears to be amped up as well. His Q branch scene is hilarious and charged with ceaseless energy. The entire supporting cast creates a strong base for Brosnan to stand on. I trust that he will take full advantage of the talented individuals around him in future films.

While GoldenEye did beckon in fresh faces, there still remains remnants of an older era, specifically the Moore era. The film’s henchman, Onatop, provided for some good laughs, but she was ridiculous. Her whole shtick may as well have been pulled directly from the Moore era. Her whole deal was strange, really.

7ff8bbdbedee967a9a4cfb838485c150This film also introduces CIA agent Jack Wade. I will refer to him as Sheriff Pepper Version 2, because that is all he is. 

Over all, I enjoyed GoldenEye. Its grand action pieces that put Bond against the world were engaging, if over-the-top at times. Furthermore, Brosnan has room to grow into Bond’s suit. I am confident that he will.

~Juck

Juck’s Thoughts on License to Kill

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. Let’s get started!Licence-To-Kill

License to Kill is Timothy Dalton’s second and final entry in the Bond series. I write this with great sadness, as I have greatly enjoyed Dalton as Bond. Dalton brought an energized magnetism to the character, a cold danger to the man who, for so long, lacked any kind of screen command.

License to Kill stands out from the get-go because it clearly establishes itself as a non-formulaic Bond movie. The film begins with Felix Leiter’s wedding. Of course, Bond is there too, celebrating and enjoying himself. At the same time, notorious criminal Sanchez escapes from custody via Inception and captures Felix. The rest of the movie follows an alternate course for Bond. Instead of trying to save the world from a grand scheme, Bond goes out to find Sanchez, a pleasant change of pace from the usual Bond.

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Dalton is still cold, though I won’t go into much detail about it because I don’t want to spoil his actions. There is genuine shock value in this movie that I wouldn’t want to deprive you of. Oh, and there is notably more blood in this installment than any Bond film prior.

Sanchez, the main villain of the film, is strikingly menacing. He walks around with a Goodfellas-esque confidence and sells it entirely. Strong villains seem to be a growing trend in Bond films as of late. I like it.LTK-Robert-Davi

I enjoyed watching Benicio del Toro as the goon because it was like watching a young Fenster from Usual Suspects. To say that that is the sole reason why I enjoyed watching him would be misleading. Benicio del Toro was not a clear-cut goon who was sent around to do dirty work. Instead, he seemed to be like a son to Sanchez, a dynamic that gives him depth that is not attributed to many Bond goons.
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Q shines in this movie, providing a warm screen presence as well as a delicate dose of humor. I feel that Q has always been a lovable character. His ceaseless scolding of Bond has always been a key component of the Bond films, and an enjoyable one at that. In License to Kill, however, Q is not reduced to a single humorous scene or two. Instead, he is a key character in the plot of this particular story. The fondness and loyalty that Q has for Bond is highlighted throughout the movie. The scene below is a fantastic representation of the spirit he contributes to License to Kill.

Bond’s other MI6 chum, Moneypenny, does not fare as well as Q, unfortunately. I have determined that the new Moneypenny is no good. The new actress just doesn’t fit the mold of the witty yet lovable secretary. I can’t tell if she’s supposed to be brainy or sexy or foolish. This Moneypenny is a bit jumbled, is all.

One thing that did fall flat in this film was the romance. Bond’s womanizing is forced. There is literally no buildup to the romance with either of the women. I don’t feel that this is the fault of Dalton, as he does a fine job on his end at appearing interested in the women he acts opposite to. Instead, I feel that it is the script that puts the romance in the backseat, as there is little opportunity to develop the motivations and the passions. This is surprising, as the Living Daylights featured one of the most natural relationships that Bond has had with a woman.

The film ends with one of the most inventive Bond chase sequences to date, which features massive explosions like I’ve never seen in a movie. The flat explosions from Transformers cannot hold a candle to those in License to Kill. I felt the heat of the fire and the shock waves of the explosions. I kid you not. And seeing a tanker truck drive like that was incredible to witness. 

Fullscreen capture 12042012 124237Timothy Dalton had an excellent run as Bond. I would have liked for him to have continued carrying the torch for a few movies more, but perhaps it is for the best that he didn’t work himself dry as did Sean Connery and Roger Moore. Of the four Bonds that have been put to screen as of this film, Dalton is my favorite. He will be missed. The next film in the series will introduce me to Pierce Brosnan, the Bond that I knew when I was growing up.

~Juck

Juck’s Thoughts on For Your Eyes Only

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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This is series is called “Juck’s Thoughts on Bond,” yet I don’t have many thoughts to share. For Your Eyes Only failed to captivate me. The action was well done, the writing was fine, the sets were nice to look at, the score was alright, and the film was cohesive, but something was missing. I felt like For Your Eyes Only displayed Bond going through the motions. There was no passion to be felt, no spectacle. And there was hardly any spy-work to be done.

For Your Eyes Only was a grand action sequence that contained occasional breaks which served to advance the plot. Chase after chase, action scene after action scene, it was as if the brain of the Bond series was simply shut off for this installment. I certainly don’t hate it, as it has some positive qualities, but it made a very minimal impression on me. For Your Eyes Only is perhaps the most forgettable Bond film thus far into the franchise.

Instead of delving into my thoughts on this film, of which there are few, a simple shrug will suffice.

~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

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!

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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.

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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. 

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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