Sunday, November 09, 2008

The World is Not Enough for James Bond

James Bond goes digging for information on Sylvia Trench in Dr. No.

"Family motto" is what James Bond says of the phrase and title of the 1999 adventure The World is Not Enough. Over the years, the world of James Bond has developed in various ways to change with the times. To wrap up my cluster of Bond posts, I'm going to run through my most and least favorite Bondian items. Just because it's fun.

Favorite Bad Guy - Good villains are hard to come by so the evil scheming Goldfinger is the best in my book. Ruthless and greedy in every way with no conscience whatsoever. He'll even try to do his own dirty work if he has to. And a fetishist to boot. Plus the originator of that famous quote, "No Mr Bond, I expect you to die!" Next Runner Up: Rosa Klebb from From Russia With Love. Stern and severe in appearance, she schemes to kill others with true conviction and a poison tipped shoe.

Least Favorite Bad Guy - General Koskov from The Living Daylights is a worthless waste of space played maybe a little too well by Jeroen Krabbe. A spineless fool that presented a greater challenge to Bond than he should have. Next Runner Up: The infamous Ernst Starvo Blofeld because in each movie he appeared in he was a different actor and character, really. Other than the grey suit and white cat, there was no consistency going from the scar faced slug Donald Pleasance to the athletic Telly Savalas to the mundane, cultured Charles Gray. Really frustrating in that during the early Bond era his character was the top dog and yet changed from one film to the next. I'll also give an honorable mention to Drax from Moonraker, he was like Orson Welles without any charisma so all you got was annoying pomposity.

Favorite Henchman - Richard Kiel's mighty metal fanged Jaws was a formidable foe. A giant of a man with nigh indestructibility, the only weak point he had was speed (or lack of it). Even though his edge was watered down considerably by the end of Moonraker, Jaws remains the most famous of the Bond thugs. Next Runner Up: Red Grant from From Russia With Love sidled up to Bond like a colleague before betraying him. He gets the upper hand on 007 and would have killed Bond if not for the old exploding brief case trick.

Least Favorite Henchman - Reynard from The World is Not Enough, obviously this film is a mixed bag to me. Because of a bullet travelling slowly through his brain he cannot feel pain. This is supposed to make him dangerous, but unless you're in a fist fight I really can't see how. And for the first half of the movie you're led to believe he's the main bad guy, but in the end he's not even that. Massively unimpressive. Next Runner Up: The dude from Thunderball who gets shot with a harpoon gun on the beach. So weak I can't remember his name. I just remember Bond harpooning him and saying "I think he got the point."

Favorite Bond Girl - My favorite of the Bond Girls (or Women, whichever your preferred term) is Diana Rigg as Teresa Di Vicenzo from On Her Majesty's Secret Service. I was a fan of Rigg anyway from her work in The Avengers where she played a superspy of her own, Emma Peel. With Rigg, Teresa had guts, razor sharp intelligence and a karate chop you could believe in. Beautiful and dangerous plus maybe a touch unbalanced, the ultimate Bond Girl (or Woman). Next Runner Up: Sophie Marceau as Elektra King from The World is Not Enough. Her character was similar to Rigg's except she was wwaayyy unbalanced and not handy in a fight at all. Sex was her weapon and she wielded it well. An honorable mention for Halle Berry as Jinx in Die Another Day. Then again, she is an Oscar winner so how could she not be great? Oh yeah, Catwoman. It is possible for her to be bad after all.

Least Favorite Bond Girl - I guess I gave it away by naming Tanya Robert's Stacy Sutton from A View to A Kill in the prior post. So I'll give a shout out to the Next Runner Up: Denise Richards as Christmas Jones in The World is Not Enough. By far the most vapid "nuclear specialist" to ever split the atom, all the eye candy on the planet couldn't keep her from dragging the movie down. She reels off her lines about nuclear power like its the first time she's ever heard the words.

Favorite Bond Girl Sexual Innuendo Name - You can't beat Pussy Galore from Goldfinger. The first time I heard that name, I laughed out loud in disbelief. Next Runner Up: A tie! It's Holly Goodhead from Moonraker. That's Dr. Goodhead to you. And Sylvia Trench from Dr. No and From Russia With Love. She's the one who says her name backwards first to serve up the opportunity for the famous 007 line "Bond...James Bond."

Least Favorite Bond Girl Sexual Innuendo Name - Plenty O' Toole from Diamonds Are Forever is a name that really overstates the case. Next Runner Up: Octopussy from the movie...well, you know what movie. The name is so funny you can't take anything seriously about it. They were being true to Ian Fleming in that it did originate with him though.

Favorite Gadget - The Sony Ericsson phone from Tomorrow Never Dies. It can break codes, scan fingerprints, fire an electric shock and remote control a gadget car. Being able to drive your car from the back seat while calling and getting your e-mail plus tazering anyone you don't like is a really good deal. Don't taze me bro! Though I have no idea about its actual phone plan, does James Bond get rollover minutes and what's his roaming charges? Next Runner Up: The jet pack from the opening moments of Thunderball. Borrowed from the military, the item actually works. People have fantasized about rocketing around the sky ever since.

Least Favorite Gadget - Little Nellie, the helicopter put together from suitcases, from You Only Live Twice. What's funny is that Little Nellie actually flies and works the way it is shown in the film minus the weaponry. You open a bunch of suitcases to take the parts and connect them together into a one man flying machine. But the way it was filmed looked so fake it may just as well been made up as far as the film goes. It should have been mindblowing because it's real, but the intercut close ups of Connery clearly on a rear projection sound stage ruins it. Next Runner Up: The mini bear claw in Bond's shoulder holster for Diamonds Are Forever. It is used when a bad guy tries to disarm Bond and ends up with a metal clamp cutting into his fingers. A gadget like that is just an accident waiting to happen.

Favorite Bond Car - It's the classic Aston Martin DB5 with the oil slick, smoke screen, front machine guns, tracking device and rear metal shield from Goldfinger. An iconic vehicle that never goes out of style. Next Runner Up: The BMW Roadster from Goldeneye. The thing didn't even have any gadgets, but did you notice how many seemed to get bought after the movie got out? It's a nice looking car.

Least Favorite Bond Car - I don't have one, they're all cool rides. Although Bond may have been driving a Ford Escort in Casino Royale.

Favorite Action Sequence - The Tim Dalton era may have been weak, but the last 30 minutes of Licence to Kill is heavy duty action. Big Rig Tanker Trucks pursue, roll around and collide into each other as Bond hunts down the drug dealing Sanchez. Yes, the truck stunts are obviously unrealistic with the driving on one side of tires or wheelies but I'm willing to buy into it for that half hour. The image of the flaming jeep flying off the road and clearing over a plane? Awesome. Next Runner Up: Speed boats go crazy in Live and Let Die as they ramble through the rivers of Louisiana including a record setting boat jump.

Least Favorite Action Sequence - The showdown between Scaramanga and James Bond at the finale of The Man With The Golden Gun. It just lacks tension and after a whole movie of hype about how bad ass this confrontation would be, the actual event dragged to a close. Next Runner Up: The fire truck chase in A View To A Kill, it goes beyond fantasy into pure stupidity. Somehow Tanya Roberts was supposed to be racing a firetruck all over the hills of San Francisco while screaming her head off and taking her hands off the wheel.

Favorite Death Trap - Sometimes the simplest is the best, in Casino Royale Bond is tied up naked to a chair with no bottom. Then he is mercilessly beat down under with some heavy object tied to a rope. Sympathy pains! Next Runner Up: The underwater dragging of Bond and his girl by a boat in For Your Eyes Only. Of the many death traps, this one seemed very plausible as something that has probably happened in life.

Least Favorite Death Trap - The laser beam machines in Die Another Day, a clear homage to Goldfinger that doesn't quite cut it. Next Runner Up: All of the trap doors in elevators, bridges, etc. How many times can you have someone fall into a water tank filled with sharks? No wonder Dr. Evil wanted laser beams on the Shark's heads, you've got to do something to up the ante.

Favorite Pre Title Sequence - The opening minutes to The Spy Who Loved Me has Bond doing some razzle dazzle on skis before going off a cliff into a deep chasm. Just when you think he's a goner, out pops a parachute with the British Flag. It's the best of the Bond in-your-face-bad-guys moments. Next Runner Up: In Goldeneye, Pierce Brosnan and his stunt double does a huge leap off the top of a dam to descend to the bad guy base at the bottom. It's a fantastic stunt and big intro for the Brosnan 007.

Least Favorite Pre Title Sequence - Licence to Kill opens with promise as bad dude Sanchez arranges for his lover's lover's heart to be cut out. Then it falls into silliness as Bond captures Sanchez by descending on a flying plane via crane hook from a helicopter. Bond and Felix Leiter parachute down to the exact church Leiter is being wed at. Even when you suspend disbelief, this is hard to swallow. Next Runner Up: Blofeld meets an inglorious end at the start of For Your Eyes Only, as helicopter mayhem and eurodisco background music lead to Blofeld being dumped in a smoke chimney.

Favorite Theme Song - The Roger Moore era got off to a good start with this dynamic dose of Paul McCartney rock and roll, Live and Let Die. It's just a great song on it's own without any movie to back it up. Next Runner Up: Carly Simon's Nobody Does it Better extols the greatness of 007 to a sweeping 70's soft rock backdrop.

Least Favorite Theme Song - Swanky 70's vibes can't save The Man With The Golden Gun by Lulu. To Sir With Love it ain't. Next Runner Up: Matt Munro's From Russia With Love is a victim of it's time, probably perfectly acceptable in the early 60's but dull dull dull now.

Favorite Title Sequence - The Spy Who Loved Me is classic Maurice Binder, slo mo nude silohuettes, guns and gymnastics. Next Runner Up: You Only Live Twice has a great mix of Asian women, Japanese fan designs and volcanos. One of Maurice Binder's most facinating sequences.

Least Favorite Title Sequence - Casino Royale had a lot of great things going for it, but the title sequence wasn't one of them. Weird computer animated cut outs break apart and form together in a playing card theme. Next Runner Up: Tomorrow Never Dies is just OK with its various computer effects. Seems there is just no replacing the original as both sequences were made after Binder's passing.

Favorite Location - The island of Crab Key in Dr. No. A tropical paradise that looks very relaxing when not getting shot at or attacked by mechanical dragons. Next Runner Up: The famed Volcano base in You Only Live Twice. The definitive bad guy lair for Bond films, metal ramps and monorails hidden inside a volcano.

Least Favorite Location - The Ice House in Die Another Day. There's extravagant and then there's dumb. A whole building interior made to look like the inside of an ice cube. Lame! Next Runner Up: Las Vegas in Diamonds Are Forever. What happened in Sin City should have stayed in Sin City, cheesy decor included.

Favorite Felix Leiter - It was unofficial Bond, but Bernie Casey was my favorite Leiter from Never Say Never Again. He was believable as a fellow secret agent that helps 007 along while poking fun at him. Next Runner Up: Jack Lord in Dr. No. Book 'em Dano.

Least Favorite Leiter - John Terry was the Leiter for The Living Daylights, Terry was bland and forgettable. To be fair though he wasn't given the chance to play the role with meatier material in Licence To Kill. He might have been able to turn it around.

Favorite Cameo - Geoffrey Palmer appears as a British Admiral in Tomorrow Never Dies and promptly gets into it with Judi Dench's M. Palmer and Dench co-starred on the British series As Time Goes By and their familiarity shows.

Least Favorite Cameo - Madonna in Die Another Day as a fencing master. It's a blatant star move that takes me right out of the movie.
This post ended up being a bit longer than I originally planned, that's all of the categories I can think of right now. Will Quantum of Solace add to the list?


Jeannie said...

I still say I look like Jaws. Why couldn't I look like a Bond Girl?

P.S. That's my favorite death trap too, for a different reason of course (wink wink). ;)

Some Kinda Wonderful said...

You do not look like jaws, BunBun, but he is my favorite Bond Bad Guy. I actually enjoyed that death scene where Bond and the dark haired beauty get towed behind the boat and then break their tether by wrapping it around a relic a few times and pulling until it broke. I thought that was cool.
I prefer the ealier Bond Girls (women). They were OF the times and they knew how to play such sexist roles. And they were super good at it.

Mr. Mike said...

I agree, the Bunny does not look like Jaws :)

SKW, you're right I never noticed that the effectiveness of the Bond Women may have been related to how close they were to the 60's.