Back to the Drawing Board: A Look at the Wonder of Animation Starting The First Week of December

As I get my personal life together, search through the trenches for a steady job and sort things out for future endeavors to come, I have decided to tackle another blog series in between to keep myself sane.

This December, I, along with my sister Jennifer, will be taking a look at the wonderful world of animated motion pictures and giving quick reviews of each one.
Originally known as The Animation Station, it is now called Back to the Drawing Board to pay tribute to the artist who bring the animation.

We will explore the old and new to the G-rated to the NC-17 rated to the works of both Western Animation and Anime. From Disney to Bashki, hallmarks will be covered every day or so in December.

It is a collaborative effort between me and her and we hope to get those who see animation as kid’s stuff to see that it is not.

Time to get Back to the Drawing Board! 

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The Ticking of Time

A concept grander than what we perceive it to be and granted we take
Time, the true enemy of man, always in the way of the plans we make
Always worried about having too much or having less
One can never create something to possess
Time, the wonder of the hours slipping away in space
Minutes and seconds unaccounted for going place to place
One can never make time or take away time
Time only goes forward, but it also goes backward
Infinite possibilities surround the mystery as it seems neverending
A bittersweet idea that ends up gone once leaving the Earth
The finale at one’s death, yet begins with the beauty of birth
Relying on it too much makes one the early bird with the worm to take
Relying on it too little makes one known as a flake
A common villain is space and time
Almost till the end without a reason or a rhyme
But it lingers, never to fade from day to day
Sometimes I wish time can fly away

Top of the Crop: Bond Edition! Counting Down the Best of Bond

With 007 in 23: 23 Days of Bond done with, time to celebrate the Bond franchise with some top ten lists for you all. Time to celebrate the best gadgets, the best Bond girls, the best themes, villains, and of course, the best Bond films. Let’s not waste anymore time, time for Top of the Crop: Bond Edition.

Best Q Branch Gadgets

10. Dentonite, toothpaste plastic explosive (Licence to Kill)- Spreads like butter in order to get the tight spaces to not be seen by the naked eye and explodes like nothing.
9. Jetpack (Thunderball)

Sure, the film wasn’t that great and the jetpack looks dated, but one can’t deny that Bond owning a jetpack is pure win.

8. Wristgun (Moonraker)– Responding to quick wrist movements, the wrist gun is fantastic for a quick shot against any foul villain.
7. Cigarette gun (You Only Live Twice)– Tricking enemies to give you back your smokes is even better when lighting up and shooting.
6. Explosive pen (GoldenEye)

Sometimes the IT guy has a habit of clicking pens that taking it to its advantage is quite explosive.

5. Laser Watch (GoldenEye) Not even Q explained what the hell it is, but the laser watch can burn through metal for quick escapes with ease.
4. Lotus Submarine Car (The Spy Who Loved Me)– The quick escape from a chase is through the sea to investigate an explore the ocean world in style.
3. Booby Trap Suitcase (From Russia With Love)– Suitcases can fit your secrets, but luckily, this suitcase can knock foes out to keep the safe.
2. Wet Nellie (You Only Live Twice)– The helicopter is certainly not a toy, but Bond’s ultimate weapon for the air.
1. Aston Martin DB5 (Goldfinger)

Nothing like riding in pure style in a classic car, fully equipped to take out the baddies with machine guns, tire spikes, and ejector seat to kick out those you have no use for.

Honorable Mention: The Vanquish (Die Another Day)

The movie is tripe and the car is not the best, but that invisible camouflage feature was pretty sweet, one can’t deny not wanting it.

Best Chases
10. Quantum Teaser Chase (Quantum of Solace)- A badass beginning to a wildly mediocre with a full on shootout as Bond tries to escape Quantum agents.
9. Tankbusting Through St. Peterburg (GoldenEye)– Sure, Bond could have taken his BMW given to him by Q, but decided against that by taking a tank to the streets to get back Natayla.
8. Ski Free Run (The Spy Who Loved Me)

Bond takes out KGB spies in Austria while skiing and not missing a beat, finshing in a blaze of glory by base jumping with a Union Jack parachute.

7. Under Constuction Foot Chase (Casino Royale)– Bond predates Assassin’s Creed by trying to fetch his target from the streets to entering construction site leading to a spectacular fight on a crane up in the air.
6. Istanbul, Not Constantinople Chase Teaser (Skyfall)- James Bond, alongside new MI6 colleague Eve, track down the man who stole the hard drive throughout all across Istanbul on foot, in a car, and on motorbike in about ten minutes of pure glory.
5. Ski Escape from Piz Gloria (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service)– The mother of all ski chases as Lazenby gets his own crowning moment of awesome by escaping Piz Gloria while taking out Blofeld’s men.
4. Scenic Route (For Your Eyes Only)– Though short at only three minutes, Bond and Melina decide to take the scenic route to escape while causing some mild property damage along the way.
3. The Ice Chase (The Living Daylights)

Bond tries to get Kara to safety only to be part of a gadget laden chase with Bond taking out and entire truck blocking the road with the Stinger missiles from his Aston Martin.

2. Land to Sea (The Spy Who Loved Me)– James Bond and Anya leave the wrath of Jaws and Stromberg’s men by engaging in a car chase with a helicopter above shooting, motorcyclists, and ending with Bond going into the sea and blowing up the copter over head.
1. Goldfinger Forest Escape (Goldfinger)

The Aston Martin gets to shine brightly in the spotlight with Bond taking advantage of smoke screen, missiles, and even the ejector seat.

Honorable Mention: The Quantum Foot Chase (Quantum of Solace) It isn’t as stellar as the chase from Casino Royale, but deserves a mention for being one of the very few highlights from Quantum of Solace.

Best Fights, Battles and Raids
10. Scaramanga vs. Bond (The Man with the Golden Gun)- As Scaramanga himself said, it was a battle of the titans that was suspenseful and daring with trippy moments galore. Bond wins of course, but the duel itself made Golden Gun a not so bad sit through.
9. Fort Knox Battle (Goldfinger)

Goldfinger got another thing coming in the form of Felix Leiter and the army charging in to take down Goldfinger’s men at Fort Knox.

8. Bond vs. 006 (GoldenEye)– After having to deal with Alec throughout the entire film, they come to blows on an antenna cable high above the satellite dish in a battle of former brothers of MI6.
7. Mr. Stamper’s Opus (Tomorrow Never Dies)- Bond fights off this Red Grant clone by delivering an ass whooping after having to deal with strong menace.
6. In The Mouth of Jaws (The Spy Who Loved Me)– James Bond faces Jaws once more at the end of the feature ready to face him off. Bond uses his magnetic personality (aka a magnet) to drop him into the shark tank below.
5. Next Time, Take The Elevator (Casino Royale)– James Bond gives some associates of Le Chiffre a reason to take the elevator next time by using his fists to deliver a British style ass whooping.
4. Volcano Ninja Raid (You Only Live Twice)

James Bond calls upon Tiger Tanaka’s ninjas to invade Blofeld’s hideout to destroy it and give the ninjas time in the spotlight.

3. Bond’s Oddjob (Goldfinger)– Oddjob and Bond meet face to face in Fort Knox resulting a a silent duel to the death with Oddjob smacking Bond into walls and dying by electrocution when receiving his hat Bond tossed.
2. Red Grant vs. Bond (From Russia With Love)– The build-up to these two facing one another spanned the entire film in suspense, so when it happened, it was quite the treat as they fought in only two small rooms yet took advantage of their space as the first true battle of the titans.
1. The Battle of Piz Gloria (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service)

It may have been hard to top You Only Live Twice’s volcano battle, but OHMSS did it in a climatic battle with Draco’s men firing, Bond sliding down on ice shooting away, and Tracy, captured by Blofeld, kicking ass from the inside of the hideout.

Honorable Mention: Skyfall Falls (Skyfall)- Mr. Silver and his men tear down Bond’s childhood home in a blaze of glory. Bond helped with the destruction. A true highlight, but not as great as the ones listed.

Best Bond Theme Songs
10. ‘For Your Eyes Only’ by Sheena Easton

Sheena Easton’s theme for For Your Eyes Only is different from other Bond themes and becomes remarkable in its own way by straying from the standards. It is soft, graceful, and beautiful and feels real setting up the film perfectly in some strange way. Truly spectacular.

9. ‘Skyfall’ by Adele

Adele brought back a return to form for Bond themes with this dark soulful ballad that seems to be unlike Adele’s previous works. The theme sets the tone perfectly and delivers by throwing back to Shirley Bassey wonderful tunes of yesteryear combining elements of the classic James Bond theme.

8. ‘Diamonds Are Forever’/’Goldfinger’ by Shirley Bassey

Two great ones from Shirley Bassey that I couldn’t even decide which was better. ‘Goldfinger’ remains her classic magnum opus of Bond tunes setting up a delightful theme for our villain, but ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ is on the same league describing diamonds as something greater than love itself and was the best part about it’s feature. Bassey set the standard for Bond themes to come after and made them legendary.

7. ‘A View to a Kill’ by Duran Duran

Duran Duran brought in 1985 Bond to new heights with a new wave style Bond theme for a new era. It’s fresh (for 1985), lives up to not only the Bond theme stanadards, but Duran Duran’s style as well. It is a pop epic setting up the craziness that is A View to a Kill.

6. ‘The World is Not Enough’ by Garbage

Garbage’s ‘The World is Not Enough’ is a spectacular song oozing with seductive and nearly threatening vocals by Shirley Manson setting up the character of Elektra King within the film. Often considered the first song done from the villain’s perspective.

5. ‘You Know My Name’ by Chris Cornell

How do reintroduce a character everyone already knows? Describe everything about James Bond without saying his name. Chris Cornell gave a proper reintroduction to Bond with a thrilling symphonic rock epic a la ‘Live and Let Die’ declaring that you already know who James Bond is.

4. ‘Licence to Kill’ by Gladys Knight

James Bond and Gladys Knight is the equivalent good sex for the ear to hear. Soulful and beautiful and, oddly, a love song for a Bond theme that is bombastic, fluid, and epic in every sense of the word with Gladys belting it out hitting the highest of high notes.

3. ‘Live and Let Die’ by Paul McCartney and Wings

Paul McCartney decide to prove Bond’s Beatles insult in Goldfinger wrong by providing the first true rock song for a James Bond film that shift from soft and hopeful to manic rhythms of epic to light in fun out of nowhere. McCartney and Wings introduced the rock song theme.

2. ‘Nobody Does It Better’ by Carly Simon

Carly Simon’s ‘Nobody Does It Better’ from The Spy Who Loved Me is a love song like no other combining the sounds of what a Bond tune should be but giving a soft rock spin on it that Rita Coolidge failed at giving for Octopussy. It’s romantic and gorgeous beyond belief perfecting the Bond love theme formula.

1. ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ by John Barry and His Orchestra

John Barry, longtime composer of the James Bond series, made his magnum opus in the form of ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ by providing the right tune and style to convey all that is Bond without saying a single word. Every time the theme kicks up in the film, it gets one excited ready for Bond to take on the mission at hand and made the various chases throughout memorable. Hell, the entire score for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is remarkable making the music steal the entire show.

Honorable Mention: ‘All The Time in the World’ by Louis Armstrong

This lovely love tune appears during a loving montage in the feature and remains one of my favorite love songs by jazz legend Louis Armstrong. This might be my wedding song in the future, folks. And of course…

How can we forget the James Bond Theme from Dr. No, the most iconic theme in cinema? A true legend in its own right.

Best Bond Henchmen
10. Tee-Hee, performed by Julius W. Harris (Live and Let Die)

One would think having a pincher claw for a hand wouldn’t be terrifying, but Tee-Hee uses it to his advantage by being terrifying himself. No one would not want that man to crush the groin area.

9. Nick-Nack, performed by Herve Villchaize (The Man with the Golden Gun)

Once off Fantasy Island and Herve Villechaize becomes a dangerous little man ready for the kill at the orders of his boss Scaramanga. A nasty bugger, but a fun henchman.

8. Xenia Onatopp, performed by Famke Janssen (GoldenEye)

A rough Bond girl using foreplay as a means to kill men with her thighs, she was quite the lover in the room. A femme fetale who orgasms when killing others making her the craziest Bond girl ever.

7. Mr. White, performed by Jesper Christensen (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace)

It is hard to tell if Mr. White is a henchman or not, but since he was working with Le Chiffre, he qualifies. Mr. White is the modern day hench with a cold heart attitude that doesn’t care for others, only himself and his needs. He even kill Le Chiffre just because of a deal gone wrong. He never went on to be a full fledged villain, which is quite a shame.

6. Fiona Volpe, performed by Luciana Paluzzi (Thunderball)

This saucy minx took advantage of Bond and everything about him from trying to kill him, sleep with him, and nearly leaving him for dead. Luckily, Bond being Bond just kills her and leaves her for dead instead, but she set the precursor for Xenia Onatopp in GoldenEye by being one vicious bitch.

5. Baron Samedi, performed by Geoffrey Holder (Live and Let Die)

Baron Samedi, the first true invincible Bond henchman (sorry, Boris) by being a voodoo preist and constantly coming back to life. Bond even shoots the bastard in the head, puts him in a coffin, and by the end, Baron is on the front of Bond and Solitaire’s train laughing away. Geoffrey Holder, being a dancer and award winning stage director, owns his role.

4. Necros, perfromed by Andreas Wisnieski (The Living Daylights)

Sure, we’ve had ton of Red Grant clones, but Necros manages to deliver the same sense of unease Grant delivered. By approaching his enemies and straggling them with his headphones playing The Pretenders, Necros makes sure it is the last thing you ever hear and he sends you off to meet your maker once and for all. Also, he nearly destroyed MI6 so that’s something.

3. Oddjob, performed by Harold Sakata (Goldfinger)

Silence is truly deadly with Oddjob and his truly incredible strength ready to kill Bond. Oddjob remains one of the deadliest foes by painting Jill Matheson in pure gold paint, killing her sister with his hat, and even hurting Sean Connery in real life (You don’t hurt Connery dammit). Oddjob is your man.

2. Red Grant, performed by Robert Shaw (From Russia With Love)

Red Grant is a henchman out of a Hitchcock film by playing his part perfectly by being friendly with Bond at first, but turning into a menace to kill him on the train. Robert Shaw’s performance makes Grant so memorable for being intriguing and intimidating that the audience knows he is trouble before Bond knows. Grant is a legend of strength and pure terror.

1. Jaws, performed by Richard Kiel (The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker)

Richard Kiel brings the human element into Jaws by making him not only comedic, but a true threat at the same time. Jaws mixes the elements of Red Grant, Oddjob, and Baron Samedi (seriously, how can Jaws not die) becoming something Roger Moore’s Bond can not face. Jaws even came to Bond’s defense after Hugo Drax didn’t deem him perfect for his society. Bond having a baddie such as threatening as Jaws on your side is just perfect.

Honorable Mention: Mr. Stamper, performed by Gotz Otto

A grea tribute to Red Grant, but should have focus more on being a menace than just getting a body count

Best Bond Villains
10. Elektra King, performed by Sophie Marceau (The World is Not Enough)

Some may have their complaints about The World is Not Enough as a whole, but for me personally, Elektra King was the best part, playing the act of damsel in order to fulfill her needs. She used her Stockholm Syndrome to take hold of her former kidnapper to help her carry out her plans and became the greatest bitch in the Bond series. I love it all.

9. Dr. No, performed by Joseph Wiseman (Dr. No)

Dr. No is the one who started it all and a perfect fit. The build-up to Dr. No is so great that once we, the audience, finally see him, he lives up to our expectations with his cold demeanor and no care attitude. A pure menace just in his presence with a plan I’m still not clear on.

8. Francisco Scaramanga, performed by Christopher Lee (The Man with the Golden Gun)

Scaramanga is the epitome of cold assassin rivaling Roger Moore’s take on James Bond’s light hearted self. Armed with fantastic shooting skills and his golden gun that can kill someone in one shot, Scaramanga is quite the threat in quite a mediocre Bond feature.

7. Le Chiffre, performed by Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale)

The first villain of the new Bond timeline, Le Chiffre is a calm man that is quite intriguing and threatening. Le Chiffre has the skill of a professional poker player and the mind of a madman with a eye that tears up blood constantly due to damage. When you get him off the poker table, he is a ball buster…literally, he nearly destroyed Bond’s balls.

6. Elliot Carver, performed by Johnathan Pryce (Tomorrow Never Dies)

His plan is terrible, his ego is too big for his britches, but Carver is one crazy megalomaniac media mogul. Not only does he wants to run the entire media industry, he made a submarine and has a team that is devoted to making stories come first on his paper by bringing them to reality and nearly starting World War III. Only an insane man would be able to pull it off and Carver does.

5. Raoul Silva aka Mr. Silver, performed by Javier Bardem (Skyfall)

Mr. Silver, a former MI6 agent, comes in nearly a half hour in the film in one of the greatest Bond villain entrance with a speech ready. Silver is clearly still distraught from the torture he faced, but is genius hacking into MI6 and stealing their secrets and cover names of agents. Silver wants M dead and MI6 gone, but goes back in forth from kind to pure insane asylum material.

4. Alec Trevelyan, Agent 006, performed by Sean Bean (GoldenEye)

Another former MI6 agent who wants Bond dead and gone, but is the first to be a rogue agent ready to destroy the world. Alec is a man seeking vengence of Bond for screwing him over and the master of pointing out cliches to the point you want this man dead, but that is what makes Alec such a threat. He knows exactly how Bond and every mission works and can be one step ahead of the program.

3. Max Zorin, performed by Christopher Walken (A View to a Kill)

A villain from a So Bad, It’s Good Bond feature, but luckily, Max Zorin falls in the good category by being a frightful and powerful enemy. Zorin with a plan simliar to Goldfinger’s, but only slightly more stupid, Zorin makes you believe it can work by being an ice cold threat to everyone around him, especially James Bond. It also helps that Christopher Walken plays him because only Walken could play such a over the top character become such a foul enemy ready for the kill.

2. Auric Goldfinger, performed by Gert Forbe (Goldfinger)

His acts are legend in Bond lore from trying to blow Fort Knox to kingdom come to radiate gold for himself and nearly slicing Bond’s personal Walter PPK in half with a laser. Goldfinger may not seem like the most intimidating of Bond’s rogue gallery, but is one of the most memorable more for his actions than his actual being.

1. Ernst Starvo Blofeld, performed by Donald Pleasence, Telly Savalas, and Charles Gray (From Russia With Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever)

Blofeld is the villain with the most presence and most number of film appearances and was esstially Bond’s Lex Luthor to his everyday Superman. Though originally in the shadows, finally seeing him for the first time was outstanding and the build-up to who he was surpassed Dr. No. Charles Gray was the worst of the bunch performing him resorting him to a joke, but before that, Blofeld was a true threat ready to send SPECTRE to rule the world and everything around it.

Honorable Mention: Rosa Klebb, performed by Lotte Lenya (From Russia With Love)- Rosa Klebb wasn’t really much of a threat (except for her knife shoes), but gave rise to Red Grant ready for the kill.

Best Bond Girls
10. Melina Havelock, performed by Carole Bouquet (For Your Eyes Only)

Melina Havelock, not only beautiful and stunning, but ready to seek vengeance on the death of her parents. Melina combines strength in her character and determination to attempt to succeed on her revenge. She comes across Bond seeking out the man who crossed her parents and team up to seek him out. She set the precursor for independent Bond girls to come after and succeeding.

9. Solitaire, performed by Jane Seymour (Live or Let Die)

Solitaire, the virgin fortune teller, provides beauty and grace by becoming a fantastic Bond ally. Solitaire joins Bond after de-virginizing her (way to go, Bond) to help him get rid of Kananga and Mr. Big once and for all by being the perfect bait to help Bond get Kananga and help locate where he is for Bond to defeat him. Solitaire is fantastic and Jane Seymour has never been better (and even at her older age, still is gorgeous).

8. Pam Bouvier, perfromed by Carey Lowell (Licence to Kill)

From the often bashed films, Licence to Kill (which I really enjoyed), Pam Bouvier is confident, strong, and cares more about getting the mission done than Bond. Bouvier cares for Bond and truly falls head over heels for him, even to the point she wants to kick Lupe’s ass for sleeping with him. Bouvier and Bond made a fantastic duo, but Bouvier seemed to be stronger than Bond himself.
7. Honey Ryder, performed by Ursula Andress (Dr. No)
The first Bond girl who made an impression by coming out of the water and whetting Bond and the men in the audience’s appetite. Honey Ryder brings light to be the first being a strong ally to Bond by helping him defeat Dr. No, before being captured for bait. She started the term Bond girl and that in itself deserves a spot on her.
6. Pussy Galore, performed by Honor Blackman (Goldfinger)
One of the most famous Bond girls due to her name alone being not so nice to mention in polite company, Pussy Galore is a delight. The first lesbian or possibly bisexual Bond girl who changes after being subdued by Bond to his side to take down Goldfinger’s plot. Pussy shines when she is teasing Bond and tormenting him with her sexual prowess. Certainly one Pussy no one should give up.
5. Anya Amasova, performed by Barbara Bach (The Spy Who Loved Me)

Anya Amasova aka Triple XXX of the KGB is assigned to find out who stole the Soviet submarine while searching for who killed her lover. She is teamed up with Bond to find Stromberg who has taken the subs and they both fall for one another. Of course, Triple XXX herself ain’t so bad at the agent business clearly being on the same level as Bond to the point she can kill him, but doesn’t. Anya is the first Bond girl in the same league of Bond ready to get the job done.
4. Tracy Bond aka Teresa Draco, performed by Diana Rigg (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service)
Bond’s first true love came in the form of Teresa Draco in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service who is Bond’s true equal. Tracy loves this man, plain and simple, and the chemistry is immense going from a mild bout of disgust (Bond slapped her!) to getting married until she is killed in a drive by shooting of her wedding day. Diana Rigg is beyond gorgeous and manages also to kick some ass during the Piz Gloria battle. Tracy Bond, one of the best.
3. Wai Lin, performed by Michelle Yeoh (Tomorrow Never Dies)
Wai Lin is a badass, surpassing the Bond girls before by coming into her own and even denying Bond the first time around. Combined with the hard edge of a martial artist and the beauty of grace of Michelle Yeoh (the woman is beautiful, you can’t deny it), Wai Lin is capable of handling things herself that she didn’t even need Bond to help her. Hell, why couldn’t we just have a film around her? She is the best character in Tomorrow Never Dies, even outshining Brosnan’s Bond. Wai Lin, the first true ass kicking Bond girl that can do no wrong.
2. Titana Romanova, performed by Daniela Bianchi (From Russia With Love)
Tatiana Romanova is near perfection by being both beautiful and strong. Loyal to what she believes in, Tatiana still is under Rosa Klebb’s rule but falls for Bond almost instantly and remaining by his side every step of the way as she defects to the west. Also, Tatiana seducing Bond remains one of the greatest seduction scenes in film without resorting to full frontal nudity. To others, she might not be the best, but personally, one of the best of the Bond girls.
1. Vesper Lynd, performed by Eva Green (Casino Royale)
Vesper Lynd is the first Bond girl in the novels and the best in the film series. The reboot changed the standards of Bond and Vesper is no exception. She doesn’t fall in love with him at first sight, it slowly builds with some banter back and forth, teasing one another, and building. She is strong willed and able to continue on, but emotional when in a panic after witnessing Bond beat the ever loving crap out of some bad guys. Eva Green performs Vesper not as a fantasy like the other Bond girls, but a woman you can meet and obtain in reality. The connection feels real between her and Bond that once it reaches the conclusion of Casino Royale, the viewer is left broken. To me, that is what makes Vesper the best Bond girl of all time.
Honorable Mention: Camille Montes, performed by Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace)

As I said in my Quantum of Solace review, Olga Kurylenko I can never get mad at because she appears in crap and winds up being a highlight due to her performance. Being the second Bond girl of the rebooted series, she provides a hint of Melina and the softness and beauty of Tatiana. I can’t bring myself to hate her.
Now for a quick list of the Five Worst Bond Girls
  1. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards) from The World is Not Enough The worst of the worst. No emotion, no personality, and only hired for beauty over her acting. Terrible in every way.
  2. Tiffany Case (Jill St. John) from Diamonds Are Forever- The equivalent of letting a dummy act without the ventriloquist, wooden and just there.
  3. Susan Sutton (Tanya Roberts) from A View to a Kill– Her screaming ‘James!’ was like a cat screaming in the middle of mating: unbearable.
  4. Jinx (Halle Berry) from Die Another Day- The one good thing about this performance is at least it wasn’t Catwoman. That is no compliment.
  5. Mary Goodnight (Britt Elkland) from The Man with the Golden Gun- Just watch The Wicker Man. She is much better in that.

And before we get to the Best Bond Films, here are the Five Worst Bond Films

  1. Die Another Day- It’s the anniversary movie that references every movie, beats you over the head with it and craps all over the franchise.
  2. Diamonds Are Forever- The first film to turn Bond into a farce with poor acting, poor pacing, and a overdone piss poor plot.
  3. Octopussy- The ‘So Bad, It’s Good’ film that is just miserable and bad in every way imaginable.
  4. Moonraker- James Bond in space. I repeat: JAMES BOND IN FUCKIN’ SPACE…and it’s boring.
  5. Thunderball– Never have I wanted to fall asleep during a film and I’ve seen all four hours of Gone With the Wind

Best Bond Films
10. Dr. No (1962)

The first Bond film providing the first Bond girl, the first Bond villain, and a wide variety of first. Dr. No feels like true spy storytelling that engages the audience in an experience as Bond faces off against the nefarious Dr. No. With a great pace and tight knit story, Dr. No is a great start for the Bond series as a whole.

9. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

The best Roger Moore outing as Bond is filled with the spectacle of Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice and the humor that Live and Let Die tried to achieve at and failed. It’s fun and exciting because it is filled with fantastic action sequences including the Lotus Submarine Car, lovable characters such as Jaws, and a romance that doesn’t feel completely forced.

8. You Only Live Twice (1967)

Some may call it ridiculous and over the top and one of the worst of Connery’s time as Bond, but that is what makes You Only Live Twice so enjoyable. The story may seem unbelievable with Bond essentially teaming up with ninjas after dying, but with a tight script by Roald Dahl, it all comes together and plays out to fantastic results with one of the most adventurous Bond outings to date.

7. Goldfinger (1964) 

The Bond film that assembles every Bond trope you love mixing the serious nature of Dr. No and From Russia With Love and setting up for the over the top, elobrate gadget laden adventures of the future. Goldfinger brings in the action and the Aston Martin everyone loves. Considered to be the best Bond films by tons of fans and it is not very hard to see why.

6. The Living Daylights (1987)

Timothy Dalton’s introduction to Bond is the perfect Bond film for the late 80’s. Jam packed with spectacular action set pieces from the ice chase to the climatic plane fight against Necros to light hearted romance and jokes throughout, The Living Daylights is a must watch for anyone, even if they aren’t a Bond fan.

5. GoldenEye (1995)

GoldenEye ushered in a new era of Bond for the 90’s with a suaver take on Bond and a more self-aware view of the Bond universe. Sure, the constant pointing out of the cliches can be annoying, but as the film plays the trope straight, it is more of a love letter to the series than a mean spirited take. Providing the action you love (once again, the tank chase is to die for) and taking its plot and villain serious while being fun, GoldenEye is a pure joy. If only more of the Brosnan Bond films were like this one with the exception of Tomorrow Never Dies.

4. Skyfall (2012)

50 years after the release of Dr. No, the franchise is still alive and going off into a promising future with Skyfall. Surpassing both GoldenEye and the wretched anniversary film Die Another Day, it is great to know Skyfall takes everything we loved about James Bond and improves on them while introducing new styles and revamped characters to appear in the rebooted timeline. From the return of the Aston Martin to spectacular chase sequences to a downright serious and suspenseful approach to the typical Bond villain and plot, Skyfall pays homage to the past to move forward and become its own entity. Certainly one of the best of the best.

4. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

Thought I first gave it a 4.75 out of 5, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service started to grow on me as one of the top 5 Bond features by playing everything the previous established straight and even introducing a true romantic lead that Bond can connect with. Lazenby may not be the best acting wise, but the film makes up for that with the best action scenes in any Bond feature and the musical score that is sets the entire film up to being one hell of a fun ride. It’s down to Earth and well made and a joy to watch. EON Productions once said if they had to save a Bond feature for future generations and to that I say, I hope the future generations love it as much as I did.

2. Casino Royale (2006)

Reboots are a hard sell and rebooting such an icon of cinema and pop culture is the biggest of risks until Casino Royale put all the worrying behind by being a dark realistic take on the character much closer to the novel and prevailed at doing so. Casino Royale brought back the Bond that was seen a bit in From Russia With Love with new life and a harder edge a la Timothy Dalton. The story is fantastic with the most suspenseful card game in film, a harsher and gritty story rivaling Licence to Kill, and a romance that blossom with Vesper in the vein of Tracy in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Of course, it still delivers the action fans love, the Bond girls to swoon over, and a villain that makes a lasting impression on the audience. It is not only one of the best Bonds, but one of the best films I’ve seen in a very long time.

1. From Russia With Love (1963)

There were talks may back when the film series was first starting out that Alfred Hitchcock himself could have directed a Bond feature, but there really isn’t a need for him to have ever directed one since From Russia With Love feels like the Bond film he would have made. From Russia With Love is a true thriller of espionage with suspense, a clever romance, and even being frightening at times due to Red Grant’s presence. Everything seem to come together with a great mix of action and thrills that engage you and make you experience something that even surpasses the expectations of just a simple Bond film into something greater. From Russia With Love is not only the best Bond films, but one of the greatest films ever made.

Honorable Mention: Licence to Kill (1989)

I have heard every complaint about Licence to Kill from ‘it feels too much like Maimi Vice’ to ‘it’s too violent for a Bond film’ to ‘Dalton is terrible and this film is awful for not being close to anything before it’. To that I say, that isn’t really a bad thing. Sometimes, you have to break out of the same old standbys to try something and see if you can accomplish it. To most, this film is failure in their eyes, but to me personally, I think it triumphed in breaking away from the standbys (not all of them of course) and gaining its own identity. Give it a rewatch and see if the opinion before still remains.

That about does it for the Top of the Crop Lists this time around as we explored the world of Bond, but one final tribute to those we lost who filled the series with joy and stood by Bond’s side no matter the cause or the mission.

Lois Maxwell (Miss Moneypenny) 1927-2007

The always gorgeous and simply amazing Miss Moneypenny stood by Bond as he traveled the world, waiting for him to return and providing great back and forth. Lois Maxwell made Moneypenny a strong ally to Bond who could never turn away from him.

Bernard Lee (M) 1908-1981

As Bond’s boss, M sent Bond out of his most dangerous assignments ranging from escort mission to even going up into the space. Bernard Lee set the standard for what M was and could be.

Desmond Llewelyn (Q) 1914-1999

Q gave Bond the best gadgets Q Branch could provide from the Walter PPK, the Aston Martin, wrist guns, and even the ridiculous yet practical exploding pen. Desmond Llewelyn appeared in more Bond films than any other and holds a special place in the hearts of many Bond fans.

Aston Martin DB5 (The Aston Martin DB5) 1964-2012

The Aston Martin DB5 took the Bond world by storm by providing Bond with missiles, machine guns, and the ejector seat for killing the mook passenger with ease. The Aston Martin DB5 was killed in action while helping Bond defeat Mr. Silver and his men.

And even though it isn’t a Bond alie, we can’t forget…

The Igauna from Licence to Kill (Franz Sanchez’s Iguana) 1989-2001

Even though your screentime was short, we will never forget how random and out of place you were in Licence to Kill.

The end, but James Bond will return for fifty more years

Crystal Castles’ (III) Brings Apocalyptic Owellian Visions To Life

Crystal Castles, one of the big artists in the electronica scene, have been known for their vibrant sounds of 8-bit joy and dark melodic pop, but none of their previous work compare to the grim overtones of ‘(III)’. Crystal Castles’ third album provides uncertainty for the future while keeping the signature pop sounds of their previous effort.

The album opens with the track entitled ’Plague’ with singer Alice Glass’ voice trying to break from the reigns of the synths and percussion sounds overpowering her. With organs accompany the frantic sounds, the apocalyptic tones come to play with something only Orwell could have dreamed of.

The world of isolation and totalitarianism starts to become much more clearer on ‘Insulin‘. ‘Insulin’ provides ear shattering bit rate sounds that seem to tear away Glass’ vocal completely making a gut wrenching awful noise of cluttered keyboards and electronic drums and is a low point of the album.

‘Kerosene’ and ’Wrath of God’ follow suit by providing childlike chatter throughout and thumping bass beats that seem more like a menacing march than a simple dance beat. ‘Wrath of God’ provides some hope with soft piano playing during segments until the synths from ‘Plague’ start to take over once again crowding the voices on the track.

Tracks such as ‘Affection’ and ‘Sad Eyes’ are a return to form from their other works by being more easier on the audience with relaxed melodic beats and providing a break from the grim of the album. ‘Sad Eyes’ itself gives a full 180 from the previous tracks by being up tempo providing much more light hearted beats that would be perfect for the dance floor and is the highlight of the album.

A highlight of the album is the song titled ‘Transgender’. The track has Glass’ still hidden beneath the instrumentals with hints of 80’s synth pop and giving a sense of hope for the end tracks of the album that range from being truly stunning (‘Violent Youth’) to forgettable (‘Mercenary’). Tracks such as ‘Pale Flesh’ and ‘Telepath’ fall into the forgettable side as well.

The album ends with a true gem of hopefulness in a grim reality in the form of ‘Child I Will Hurt You’. With light piano elements throughout and Alice Glass’ voice finally comes to the forefront to give what seems like hope, but is rather dark words saying ‘Hide all that you could have done for the greater good’. The song seems to be the equivalent of what one could hear at the end of their lives provide a chilling unease while listening.

The instrumentations by Ethan Kath are dark and beautiful creating a world that is a gritty and harsh take on the reality of the modern life with heavy reliance on ambient synths and harsh bit noises. The overwhelming feeling of oppression overtaking Glass’ vocals and the rest around her is outstanding and gets one to wonder if this is truly how everything really is. Glass’ lyrics seem to convey that reality is not what it appears to be and seems trapped in the pressure of today.

Crystal Castles’ ’(III)’ is a work of apocalyptic art, destruction and the wonders of grim beauty it creates. ‘(III)’ is a far cry from their previous albums, but in its own right, it is a stellar masterpiece.

007 in 23: Final Assignment #023- Skyfall

ASSIGNMENT #023: Skyfall (2012)

After going through twenty two features and covering nearly five decades of James Bond, it is finally time to approach the much anticipated release of this year in time for the 50th Anniversary of James Bond in film…Skyfall. After four years of wondering if the franchise would ever comeback due to the bankruptcy of MGM and seeing if Daniel Craig can don the suit again, Skyfall seemed like a dream. Now it is here and I’m ready to write about it.

Warning: Due to it being a major recent release, this will be very spoiler heavy. I may have a non-spoiler review out soon.

Now, onto Skyfall…

James Bond and MI6 field agent Eve (Naomie Harris) are on a mission in Turkey to recover a hard drive containing the details of nearly every undercover NATO agents in terrorist organisations from a murdered agent. Bond and Eve are in pursuit of the killer and mercenary Patrice (Ola Rapace), across Istanbul (once again, not Constantinople) leading to Bond and Patrice fighting on top of a train in which Bond gets shot on the shoulder. Bond tries to retrieve the hard drive, but is shot when Eve misses the killer while sniping from a distance. Bond falls off the bridge and falls into a river below and is pronounced dead.

The end…the hell it is! This is Bond, dammit.

He is considered “missing, presumed killed”. Three months later, M (Judi Dench) starts to come under fire to retire while meeting with Intelligence and Security Committee Chairman, Gareth Mallory (Ralph Finnes), when suddenly MI6 is hacked with a message reading “Think_of_your_sins”. M arrives to MI6, alongside Bill Tanner (Rory Kinnear), as MI6 explodes killing MI6 employees. Bond returns to London after hearing about the attack while using his “supposed death’ as a retirement. Bond starts to train again to fully return, nearly failing a majority of his test, but passes regardless. Bond also meets with his new Quatermaster aka Q (Ben Whishaw) who gives him a Walter PPK which can read his hand to identify him and a radio tracking device. Bond took shrapnel from his shoulder wound to find Patrice and seeks out Patrice in Shanghai. While Bond is away, M sees that three agents have been killed after their identities are exposed for the world with more to be released. Bond tracks down Patrice in Shanghai and witnesses him assassinating a target and proceeds to fight with him. Bond hangs him from the building demanding him to reveal his employer, but slips out of Bond’s hands before telling him and dies. Bond searches through the equipment to find a gambling chip that has ties to a casino in Macau. Bond heads to the casino to cash in the chip and meets a woman named Severine (Bernice Marlohe), waiting for the chip to be cashed to meet the killer and informs him that he is about to be killed. Bond says he will promise to kill her employer who has abused her if he can make it passed her boatyards (which, being Bond, does even giving one to a Komodo dragon to feast) and plans to meet her on her boat. He arrives on her boat, makes love to her, and awakes the next day for Severine and himself to be captured and delivered to her employer, Raoul Silva aka Mr. Silver (Javier Bardem). Silva holds Bond and proceeds to tell Bond he is behind the entire ordeal being a former MI6 agent who worked under M and hold her responsible for his torture and imprisonment in China. Silver challenges Bond to shoot a shot off of Severine’s head, but Bond misses. Silver kills Severine, causing Bond to beat the crap out of Silver’s gaurd and calls upon helicopters with his radio to capture Silver.

At MI6’s new underground base of operations, Q starts to decrypt Silver’s laptop while Silver is imprisoned. As this is going on, M is attending a hearing to defend herself in a public inquiry of her handling of the recent events. As Q decyrpts Silver’s laptop, it hacks back into MI6 causing Silver to escape into the London Underground as part of his plan he had. Bond starts to pursue Silver who is disguise as a policeman. Silver tries to kill Bond with a train (yes, a freakin’ train) and heads to the hearing starting a shootout to attack M. Bond arrives to join Eve and Mallory to fight Silver off as M escapes with Bill Tanner outside. As Bill Tanner put M in the car, Bond is inside ready to help her escape. Bond, knowing the new MI6 vehicles have a tracking system, decides to use an old friend to help them escape…the Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger, complete with all the gadgets. Bond and M head straight out of England and into Scotland to his childhood home, Skyfall, which is home of memories that made Bond the man he is today. Bond instructs Q to set up an electronic trail for Silver to follow and Mallory supports the idea.

At Skyfall, Bond and M meet Kincade (Albert Finney), Bond’s caretaker and gamekeeper to the Bond family estate who help M and Bond set up traps for Silver and his men when they arrive. Once they arrive Bond, M, and Kincade fight off the wave of attackers, where M is wounded by a gunshot on her side. Thinking they are in the clear, Silver arrive in a helicopter for a second wave of attack with explosives and pure gunfire from the air and land. Bond tells M and Kincade to escape via a secret passage way to a chapel within the house. Bond then fights off against the men, uses the DB5 guns at one point, as Silver starts to launch incendiary grenades at the place. As the Aston Martin is destroyed, Bond sees this and detonates to gas canisters to blow the place down. Apparently, trying to kill bond’s allies will just make him angry, but blowing up the DB5 will send him into a furious rage. The blast of Skyfall going down in flames causes the copter to crash and kill Silver’s men. Silver sees Kincade’s light up ahead and follows it to get at M, all while Bond arrives at the frozen lake. The last man of Silver begins to fight Bond on thin ice, causing them to fall into and Bond kills him under the ice. Silver makes his way to the chapel and grabs M, but notices she is bleeding rapidly. He place a gun to her head and his head next to M’s forcing his gun into M’s hand to finish them both. Bond arrive to kill Silver, but sees it is too late for M as she dies from her wound. Bond returns to MI6 and receives the final gift of M’s from Eve, which is a toy bulldog he hated. Bond heads to the new MI6 office where Eve reveals herself as Eve Moneypenny (Yes, that just happened) who decides to be the newly appointed M’s secretary who is now Mallory. M gives Bond his next assignment which he kindly accepts. what that assignment is, we will find out when the time comes. The film ends with the gun barrel sequence which proudly pronounces 50 Years of Bond declaring that James Bond will return.

Skyfall is in a simple word nothing short of spectacular. After fifty years of providing thrills, Bond hasn’t lost his edge and is looking to move forward with dazzling performances, great set pieces, terrific story, and becoming something new by celebrating the old. Javier Bardem as Mr. Silver is chilling giving a terrifying performances while hamming it up a bit with some camp gay qualities, but nothing to overboard. Judi Dench in her final performance as M is the perfect cap to her take on the character providing depth into her role becoming the best M for Bond. Berenice Marlohe in her brief amount of screen time is also great, but I would have liked to see more. Naomie Harris as Eve is fantastic and hope to see her take Moneypenny come full circle in the future, alongside the always terrific Ralph Finnes who can deliver a new M for a new age of Bond. Ben Whishaw as Q I also hope to see more of as being the new hipster version of the Q I love, but just like Desmond Llewelyn, not missing a bit of snark. Daniel Craig at this point has set out to be the best Bond and I am proud to say, the man deserves the role being up there with Connery and proving himself as a gifted actor coming into the role with ease. The story is tense and suspenseful with moments that have you on the edge of your seat from the opening teaser Istanbul chase to the raid on Skyfall, it never fails to disappoint. The quieter moments of the film give atmosphere and dedication to the story I haven’t seen since From Russia With Love and adding new layers to the characters we already love. Skyfall feels like the ultimate love letter to James Bond.

The theme song by Adele is just stellar with a beautiful and trippy opening title along with it, a treat for the theatergoer. It’s soft yet bombastic and nearly apocalyptic oozing sounds of the early era of James Bond themes a la Shirley Bassey and Nancy Sinatra. Skyfall all in all is one of the best of the year, if not, the best of the year paying tribute to the franchise’s past while looking towards the future of the franchise with performances one can believe, action that never dulls, and a story that will make any Bond fan and even non-fans fall in love with.

Assignment Status: 5 out of 5

That does it for 007 in 23: 23 Days of Bond- From Dr. No to Skyfall and it was a wonderful movie watching and writing experience to share with you. We saw the creation of a legend from the swinging 60’s to the modern age of today as Bond fought it out against power hungry villains from all backgrounds. We saw Bond travel across the world, into the sea, and even into the far reaches of space. We witnessed Bond fall in love with countless women, from the replaceable one night stands to the irreplaceable stealers of his heart. We witnessed friends come and go be it for the best or because their time had sadly come. We saw countless men portray 007 from the originator of Sean Connery, the suave and humorous light hearts of Moore and Brosnan, the harder edged takes of Dalton and Craig to the one timer that is Lazenby. Bond is a true legend and going through this series I see why. Bond is a fantasy for everyone, not just the men. Men want to be him as he defeats his foes and woos women and women want him for his persona, strength and intelligence. Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007 is a legend that will continue to live on for fifty more years. To you, Mr. Bond, I raise a vodka martini, shaken, not stirred, to your legacy and years of delivering cinephiles all over the world wonderful memories to talk about to years. Truly, nobody does it better.

The End But James Bond Will Return in Top of the Crop Lists: Bond Edition!

Catch up on 007 in 23: 23 Days of Bond Before Skyfall is Posted!

This weekend, I am giving you, the reader, an opportunity to catch up on all 22 Bond film reviews before we head in Skyfall, which will be posted around Monday due to celebrating birthdays this weekend and personal issues I need to sort out. From Dr. No to Quantum of Solace, get some weekend warrior reading done after your plans. Below will be the posters of the features with the links attached. Merely click the posters to be directed to the film’s article and go on reading. Get ready because after Skyfall is posted, I will make a Top of the Crop List: Bond Edition, which will rank the ten best films, ten best Bond girls, ten best gadgets, ten best villains, and determine who is the best Bond.

Sean Connery’s First Five Features of the 60’s

George Lazenby’s Time in the Spotlight Closing Off the 60’s

Connery’s Ill-Suited Return in the Start of the 70’s

Roger Moore’s Record 007 Run From the 70’s to Early 80’s

Timothy Dalton’s Harder Edge Bond of the Late 80’s

Pierce Brosnan Brings Bond Back for the 90’s and Early 00’s

Daniel Craig’s Darker Blond Bond, Rebooted for a New Age in the Late 00’s and Beyond

COMING MONDAY! The Final Mission: Skyfall

007 in 23: Assignment #022- Quantum of Solace

ASSIGNMENT #022: Quantum of Solace (2008)

James Bond is in mid chase from Lago di Garda to Siena, Italy, with Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) from the previous feature in the trunk of his car. Bond and M begin to interrogate Mr. White about his organisation, Quantum (which is essentially SPECTRE and SMERSH), when M’s bodyguard, Mitchell (Glenn Foster) attacks M as he is a double agent. White escapes as this occur and Bond chases down Mitchell on foot and kills the bastard. Bond and M proceed to head back to London and search Mitchell’s flat in discovering banknotes that trace back to a contact in Haiti. Bond heads to Haiti to find the contact, Edmund Slate (Neil Jackson) and learns that he has been sent to kill the lover of environmentalist Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), Camille Montes (the stunningly beautiful Olga Kurylenko). As Bond observes her meeting with Greene, Bond learns Greene is helping an exiled Bolivian General, Medrano (Joaquin Cosio), the muderer of Camille’s family, to take over the government in exchange for a barren desert (Because, for another time, that is how that works). Bond rescues Camille from Medrano and heads follow Greene to a performance of the opera Tosca in Bregenz, Austria as CIA head Gregg Beam (David Harbour) to make a deal with Greene to keep access to stocks of Bolivian oil and now I’m having World is Not Enough flashbacks. Bond inflitrates a meeting at the opera between the Quantum agents scattered throughout the audience (try Starbucks next time). Bond interrupts the conversation engaging in a gunfight during the dramatic part of the opera, which is a great sequence in an otherwise dull film. Bond kills Quantum member Guy Haines, who is bodyguard for Special Branch and advisor of the Prime Minister, casuing M to revoke Bond’s passports and credit cards after Bond refuse to head back to MI6. Fortunately, this isn’t going to stop Bond.

Bond catches up with his ally Rene Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini) to come to Bolivia with him asking to provide some passports and credit cards. Upon arrival to the La Paz aiport, MI6 officer Strawberry Fields (Gemma Arteton), possibly Forever, meets them demanding Bond to return to London as soon as possible, but Bond being Bond soon picks in her fields (sorry for the pun, again) before they head to Greene party later in the evening. Bond heads to the party and see Greene is ready to kill Camille and rescues her again, leaving Fields at the party alone. As they leave, they are both pulled over by Bolivian police working under Medrano, who put Mathis in the trunk of Bond’s car to frame him, with Bond starting to fight them as Mathis is killed. The next day, Bond and Camille look to see the land Quantum has obtained only to be shot down in battle and skydive out of the plane to a cave. Bond and Camille discover that Quantum is damming Bolivia’s supply of fresh water in order to create a monoploy, because that is exactly how that should work (take notes, other Bond villains). Bond heads back to La Paz to encounter M overseeing the murder of Fields after Quantum drowned her in crude oil, a nice throwback to the paint suffocation in Goldfinger. Bond escapes being arrested for disobeying M’s order, but tells M that Fields was a brave worker in the field which convinces M he can be trusted. Bond meets up with old pal Felix Leiter (Jeffery Wright once again) who tells Bond that Greene and Medrano are planning to meet in the desert to finalize the deal. Bond evades the CIA Special Activities Division where they attempt to kill him. Greene and Medrano negotiates their terms where Greene reveals his true plans to control the water supply and make his water company the sole supplier at a higher rate. Bond enters the hotel, kills the Chief of Police for betraying Mathis and heads to confront Greene. Bond and Greene destroy the hotel (Bond fights cause more property damage than The Avengers do in one film), Camille kills Medrano avenging her parents death and Bond captures Greene. Bond interrogates him about Quantum and leaves him in the desert with an engine oil can as Bond and Camille kiss (No love making for Bond with her, but Fields is fine? Okay, I guess.). Bond heads to Kazan, Russia where he meets with Vesper’s former lover, Yusef Kabira (Simon Kassianides) with a new target in the form of a Canadian agent. Yusef, part of Quantum, seduces women with great contacts, but Bond, possibly seeing the similarities, decides not to kill Yusef and allows MI6 to arrest him. M tells Bond that Greene was found dead in the desert shot twice with engine oil in his stomach and Bond denies any knowledge of it. M informs Bond that Leiter has been promoted to Beam’s position and reinstates Bond as an agent. Bond leaves saying he never left and drops Vesper’s necklace in the snow.After all that, we get a satisfying return of the true gun barrel sequence.

Quantum of Solace is a dull film with a dull premise and doesn’t scream Bond. The action is pretty okay, the plot is crap and paced very slow which is ironic considering this is the shortest of the Bond features. Craig as Bond is still fantastic and shines greatly along with Olga Kurylenko, who I think is a fantastic actress who always ends up appearing in a ton of terrible films, but manages to be the best part and this film is no exception. The villain played by Matheiu Amalic isn’t memorable in any sense of the word and doesn’t seem like a threat. Judi Dench and Jeffery Wright play a much bigger role and are delightful in their respective roles. Gemma Arteron and Giancarlo Giannini also clean up nicely acting wise. The plot, though realistic, fails in being interesting with too many things going on as once and trying to tie into Casino Royale, but fails at that. The only highlight is the spectacular opera gunfight, which is a treat to watch. The film mostly gained these fault due to the Writer’s Strike of 2007-2008 that made the film be rewritten nearly on the spot and causing commotion, much like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen which also fell victim to the strike do to using the first draft to film rather than just rewrite.

The theme song ‘Another Way to Die’ by Alicia Keys and Jack white is also just okay. It has a great beat and a great sound, but the vocals of Alicia and Jack just don’t mesh together well. Quantum of Solace is not the best Bond film, but it is far from being the worst thanks to performances that make the dullness a bit easier to sit through.

Assignment Status: 2.5 out of 5

Next time, Bond investigate an attack on MI6 by former MI6 operative Raoul Silva after years of absence from the scene. The sky will fall, the clouds shall open, and the world of Bond is about to change again like it changed to world fifty years ago in 1962.

Final Mission: Skyfall

007 in 23: Assignment #021- Casino Royale

ASSIGNMENT #021: Casino Royale (2006)

After the disastrous Die Another Day, it was time to reboot Bond in a new age of reboots ruling the film industry. It is pretty easy to toss this alongside the Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy just starting with Batman Begins as a dark gritty reboot and new vision of the character, when in reality, Craig’s Bond is closer to the character’s roots in the novel. The franchise needed a fresh start once again due to another franchise becoming popular.

Bond’s biggest competitor at this point in time was the critically acclaimed Bourne series, which I do enjoy watching. Craig’s era is Bond versus Bourne and critical acclaim is what both are after. No gadgets this time around, no comical plots, and no BS, this is Ian Fleming’s Bond tried and true. Now onto Casino Royale.

In the opening teaser, Bond obtains his 00 agent status by killing a corrupt MI6 section chief after killing his right hand man, as he needs two kills in order to be promoted. Bond heads to Madagascar to track a international bomb maker named Mollaka (Sebastien Foucan) and start to chase him in a parkour style chase (great stunt casting since Foucan is the founder of freerunning). Bond chases him to a embassy, kills him, and blows part of the building as a distraction to escape. This incident pisses off M since he did it in pubic and not in private. Bond looks through Mollaka and discovers a text leading to Alex Dimitros, an associate of terrorist financer and banker, Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen [Sidenote: The greatest name ever]). Le Chiffre involves in short selling stock in companies in order to crate terrorist attacks to sink the shares of their profits, a step up of half the previous Bond villains’ plans. Bond goes to Dimitro’s house in the Bahamas and beats him in a card game, wining his car. Bond uses this to his advantage to seduce Dimitro’s wife, Solange (Caterina Murino), to find out information that Dimitros is heading to Miami. Bond doesn’t sex her up and decides to head to Miami to stop Dimitros. Bond finds Dimitros attending the Body Worlds exhibit and kills him. Bond then seeks out Le Chiffre’s henchman Carlos who is headed to Miami International Airport to destroy the prototype for a Skyfleet airliner. Bond foils Le Chiffre’s plan to destroy it in a engaging chase throughout the airport. Le Chiffre, hard up on cash, to recoup his client’s losses sets up a high stakes game of Texas Hold ‘Em Poker at Casino Royale in Montenegro.

MI6 sends Bond to enter the tournament hoping that defeating Le Chiffre will help him aid the British goverment in exchange of protection from his creditors. On a train headed to Montenegro, Bond meets an ally in the form of Rene Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini) and Treasury agent looking after the money, Vesper Lynd (Eva Green who is just lovely as ever). After getting to known one another and partake in some delicious back and forth, they head to their hotel to prepare for an evening at the high stakes game with more character development, ringing flashbacks to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Bond enters the game (complete with cameo by former Bond girl Tsai Chin from You Only Live Twice), losing the initial stake of $10 Million and Vesper refuses to give him a $5 million  stake to still be in play. Bond wants to assassinate Le Chiffre, but an another man in the game stops Bond and reveals himself to be long lost Bond character, Felix Leiter (Jeffery Wright). Felix offers to help Bond out in exchange for Le Chiffre. Bond and Vesper head to the room, until Bond spots some random mooks and kills them. This sends Vesper into a panic and Bond tries to care for her as she sits under a cold shower writhing in fear. After this poignant and beautiful moment, he enters the game once again and gets poisoned with a drink sending him into cardiac arrest in a sequence close to Crank, but survives thanks to Vesper coming in the nick of time to save him. Bond heads back to win against Le Chiffre and has the winnings transferred to a Swiss bank account. After this, Mathis betrays them and abducts Vesper to bring to Le Chiffre. Bond almost kills her by acciddently running her over in a trap. Le Chiffre tortures Bond by smacking him in the nads constantly in a terrifying sequence to gain the access code with Vesper as bait to get him to talk. This doesn’t work when Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) shows up and straight up shoots Le Chiffire and his associates. The film isn’t even over and the villain is dead, but that is nothing bad.

Bond wakes up in a hospital in Lake Como in Italy and order Mathis arrested as being a double agent. Bond sees Vesper once again and professes his love for her and would love to start a new life with her, ready to send his resignation to M. Both head to Venice to begin a new life, but Bond soon finds his poker winnings have not been transferred and realizes Vesper has stolen them to pay some associates, which Bond feel betrays and proceeds to start a gunfight in a sinking building. After killing them, he tries to save Vesper from dying as she is trapped in the elevator. Vesper kills herself knowing she was screwed anyway in death with Bond looking at her dead in the eyes (sorry for the pun) knowing his love is lost. Mr. White leaves with the money while looking at the building sink with Bond surviving. Bond returns to the service with M revealing Vesper was blackmailed to pay for the ransom of her boyfriend by Le Chiffre and Mr. White in exchange for saving Bond’s life. Bond calls upon Mr. White for a ending so satisfying I might as well show it.

His name is Bond…James Bond and he proved it.

Casino Royale is not only one of the best Bond, but one of the best movies of the past twelve years, bar none. Packed with a serious take on the character, great performances by the most stunning actors imaginable, action that doesn’t dull or stop the story dead, Casino Royale is the near perfect Bond film. I really do not have any complaints about it. Daniel Craig fits into the role with ease, only coming second to Connery in the best Bond in his personal take on the role. Eva Green as Vesper Lynd as depth and character to a Bond girl, something that reminds me of Diana Rigg in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, perfecting a role with style, grace, and dazzling skill. Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre is brilliant with a great mind and a sense that this man will kill you no matter what, but also plays him with a sense that he is still human. Judi Dench as M is still wonderful as always, so nothing to complain about there. Jeffery Wright as Felix Leiter is good, even if his scenes are quite small. Moneypenny and Q are nowhere in sight, but that is okay because this film works fine without them. The action set pieces are magnificent with the free running chase in Madagascar really stealing the show. The story is just stellar giving the character new life, even though this was established years ago in the novel it was based upon, bringing Bond to a new era without having to appeal to the lowest common denominator (another flaw that Die Another Day suffered). It seems EON really put their heart and soul into this feature ready to deliver a thrill ride that satisfies to the very end.

The theme song is phenomenal with Chris Cornell delivering a new take on a Bond theme that doesn’t fail to capture the original feel of the themes of yesteryear. Also, the opening titles sequence I’ve seen over 15 times on its own. It is just gorgeous and a masterwork that Maurice Binder would be proud of. Casino Royale is the pinnacle of reboots and bringing an old character to life with the best of Connery-era Bond with novel influence, giving a fresh take with performances to die for. Even if you never seen a Bond film or just want to see great movies, Casino Royale is great and only second to From Russia with Love in my book.

Assignment Status: 5 out of 5

Next mission, Bond is back and up against Dominic Greene, leader of Quantum, a new terrorist agency planning to seize control of Bolivia’s water supply. It is time for Daniel Craig to prove himself again from what I hear is just a mediocre Bond film.

Next Mission: Quantum of Solace

007 in 23: Assignment #020- Die Another Day

ASSIGNMENT #020: Die Another Day (2002)

This movie is god awful. There, I said it, but I will get to why because this movie is too stupid not to write about and point out what is wrong. This is Brosnan’s final time as Bond and for good reason as this film nearly killed the Bond franchise for good and ended the first timeline of the Bond series till the rebooted timeline that Casino Royale brings to the table.

James Bond heads to North Korea to meet with Colonel Tan-Sun Moon (Will Yun Lee), who is illegally trading diamonds for weaponry. Moon’s assistant Zao (Rick Yune) discovers that Bond is a MI6 agent which causes the colonel to escape. Bond creates a distraction with an explosion, where Zao gets diamond fragments in his face that would rival Edward from The Twilight Saga. As the chase between Bond and Moon, Moon goes over a waterfall and dies. The colonel’s father, General Moon (Kenneth Tsang), arrive just not time to capture and torture Bond throughout the entire title sequence with Madonna’s shit-fest of a theme song playing. If that isn’t torture, what is? After 14 months of captivity, torture, and not able to feel the touch of a woman, Bond is traded for Zao in a prisoner exchange, gets sedated, and taken to M. M tells Bond that his 00 status is suspended, due to Bond possibly leaked information under stress. Bond escapes MI6’s hospital wing and travels to Hong Kong upset that Zao has been released. Entering the hotel and meeting with his contact (i.e. dumbass he can blackmail) that Zao is in Cuba. Bond heads to Cuba to smoke cigars, gets information, and meets with an NSA agent named Jinx (Halle Berry giving her worst performance). Bond follows Jinx the next day after making sweet blue lighted room love to her to a clinic that specializes in gene therapy. Patients can reconstruct their DNA to alter their appearances, which hasn’t caught on in Hollywood yet. While there, Bond locates Zao inside the clinic a proceed to fight the newly diamond encrusted albino Korean (which I can’t deny is actually fantastic makeup work). Zao leaves in a helicopter, but leaves behind a pendent, which Bond opens to find a cache of diamonds similar to those in the beginning of the feature. Bond sees that the diamond are encrusted with the crest of billionaire Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens).

Bond heads to the Blades Club, alongside assistant Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike who is too gorgeous to be in this piece of crap) to partake in fencing practice with Graves and is greeted by Verity (Madonna, gorgeous, but can’t act worth a damn), Gustav’s instructor. Bond and Graves fight in the most boring fencing match I’ve ever seen and Graves invites him to a demostration in Iceland of a new technology he has gained. Spoiler: It’s a giant space laser. Why? Because this film is Diamonds are Forever 2.0 and everything I said was bad about that film applies right here also. In Iceland at Graves Ice Palace, Graves unveils a satellite (cough Space Laser cough) called Icarus that can focus solar energy on an area to provide year-round sunshine for crops. Later, Jinx breaks into Graves’ command centre, but is captured by Zao and taken to a room to be killed by lasers, a not so subtle reference to Goldfinger. Bond rescues her, kills a guy via laser through the head, slow motion and sped up shots that appear throughout the entire film, and sees Zao talking to Graves. Bond discovers that Colonel Moon is still alive and using gene therapy to become Gustav Graves…seriously? I thought the Silicon Valley destruction and Moonraker plots where stupid, then I heard that. Bond confronts Grave, but Frost double crosses Bond to reveal she blackmailed Bond in North Korea, causing Bond to escape the facility. Bond returns using his Aston Martin Vanquish aka the Vanish thanks to its invisible capability, to rescue Jinx and engages in a car chase that goes from great to awful as hell. The cars drive into the ice palace that is stating to melt and fast to kill Jinx, but rescues Jinx and kills Zao. Jinx and Bond head to the Korean peninsula to go stow away in his cargo ship. Grave finally reveals himself to his father as his white guy self while wearing a football iron suit that allows him to be superpowerful and this is where I stopped the movie. I’m not kidding. Unlike Octopussy or Diamonds Are Forever that I fast forward to the end, I just stopped it dead. It was just an awful film. The resolution? Of course Bond and Jinx wins, Graves plan is foiled, Miranda Frost dies, and who can give a crap.

Die Another Day is, pardon my language, pretty fuckin’ terrible. I didn’t even point out the laughable action sequences  the terrible CGI, the references scattered throughout that are just so blatant, I could make a list of them. Everyone is awful in it from Brosnan to Stephens, except for Rick Yune, Rosmund Pike, and John Cleese, who steps in the role of Q with ease. Rick Yune as Zao is a fantastic henchman who can be quite intimidating. Rosamund Pike as Miranda Frost plays an icy bitch so well that she outshines Oscar winner Halle Berry. Speaking of Ms. Berry, she is awful in this feature that you can’t believe she won an award. Toby Stephens is awful as hell hamming it up into the role, but not making it fun or memorable and coming off as a bully more than a threat. Brosnan’s final time looks like he is ready to cash the damn check and run with it because he looks bored and just rolling with the punches. The camera work and editing is painful coming off looking like Batman and Robin with fast edits and quick headache inducing cuts a la modern action flare and the overuse of CGI makes this the most fake looking Bond and I saw Kananga turn into a balloon and blow up. Die Another Day is the worst of the series, beating out Octopussy and Diamonds Are Forever.

The theme song by Madonna. Need I say more? Madonna doing a Bond song is an awful idea that came to life in the form of a Eurotrash pop tune that destroys every foundation of a good Bond title tune. Easily, the worse. Die Another Day should have died another day because every element you loved about Bond is destroyed and made a mockery of in the ultimate shit fest.

Assignment Status: 1 out of 5

Next mission, Bond is rebooted with Daniel Craig as the blond young Bond to take down a terrorist network headed by Le Chiffre, meets the lovely Vesper Lynd, and gets into the gritty world of Texas Hold ‘Em Poker. We are nearing the end.

Next Assignment: Casino Royale

007 in 23: Assignment #019- The World is Not Enough

ASSIGNMENT #019: The World is Not Enough (1999)

Before we head into The World is Not Enough, let’s talk about Desmond Lleweyln for a bit. The World is Not Enough marks the end of a magnificent as Lleweyln played the iconic character of Q for a record seventeenth time. Llewelyn was magnificent throughout the entire series and is indeed my favorite character of the franchise from having to put up with Bond destroying his precious gadgets, giving witty banter, and always telling Bond to pay attention. Llewelyn remains a legend in the Bond franchise and made the role Q his own. John Cleese steps in in this film to take the reigns, but only for Die Another Day. The reboot timeline did not have Q, which nearly disappointed me. That was until I saw the trailer for Skyfall (the reason I started this series) and Daniel Craig’s James Bond introduced himself to his new Quartermaster, otherwise known as Q. I am so ready to see the new interpretation of Q and hope to see Llewelyn’s legacy live on. Sadly, Desmond Llewelyn died tragically in a car accident nearly a month after the release of The World is Not Enough. Rest in piece, Desmond, I have finally paid attention. Nobody does it better.

James Bond meets up with a Swiss banker to get money for Sir Robert King, a British oil tycoon. Bond explains to the banker that King is ready to buy a report that a MI6 agent died over and wants to know who did it. The banker gets upset ready to attack Bond, only to be assassinated by his assistant (Maria Grazia Cucinotta aka Cigar Girl) before revealing the name with Bond leaving with the money. In London, Sir Robert is killed via booby-trapped money inside MI6’s walls. Bond starts to hunt down the Cigar Girl assassin on the River Thames in a boat chase where she kills herself detonating a hot balloon she was escaping in. Bond finds traces of the money to Renard (Robert Carlyle), a former KGB agent turned terrorist, who has a bullet in his brain which is slowly destroying his senses making him have immunity towards pain. M tells Bond to protect King’s daughter, Elektra (Sophie Marceau), who Renard previously abducted and held her for a ransom of $5 Million cool ones. MI6 believes Elektra may be targeted once again, leading Bond to head to Azerbaijan where Elektra is overseeing construction on a new oil pipeline. As the overlook the pipeline’s new mountain location they are attacked by (and I shit you not) flying snowmobiles. They engage (sorry for overusing that) in a fire fight, a classic Bond style ski chase, and get trapped under ice. Of course, they survive or else this would have been a very short Bond film. Bond heads to talk to his old Russian Mafia pal, Valentin Zukosky (Robbie Coltrane) to learn who Elektra’s attacker are and learns that Elektra’s security head, Davidov (Ulrich Thomsen), is working alongside Renard. As Bond learns of this, he kills Davidov off  and takes off in a plane headed for a Russian ballistic missile base in Kazakhstan where he poses as a nuclear scientist. Bond meets with nuclear physicist Christmas Jones (Denise Richards playing a scientist…I’m not going to say anything that hasn’t bee said before) and proceeds enter the silo to find Renard stealing a GPS locator card and plutonium from a bomb inside. Bond is ready to kill him as Christmas (Seriously, Christmas? Christmas?) reveals Bond’s identity, setting Renard free while stealing a bomb and killing everyone in the silo (Way to go, Denise Richards) with Bond and Christmas escaping before they can be burned to a crisp.

As Bond heads back to Azebaijin with Useless Jones right behind him, he informs M that Elektra might not be the sweet girl with a mild form of Stockholm syndrome he bedded down. Bond give M a locator card as proof of the theft when suddenly Renard’s bomb, attached to an inspection rig, is traveling at a fast pace down the pipeline headed to the oil terminal. Bond and Useless, I mean, Christmas head to attempt to stop it in time and set off the bomb by escaping in time, only for MI6 to believe the both have died. At this moment, Elektra steps in and reveals that Renard is not responsible for the schemes, but that it is herself.  Yes, kids, it took nineteen films to finally have a woman Bond villain and, I may get hate for this, but I love this twist. Elektra killed her father as revenge for using her as bait for Renard, causing her to develop the Stockholm syndrome I briefly mentioned earlier. Elektra decides to abduct M just for the hell of it. Bond and Christmas head to Zukovsky at his caviar factory on the Caspian Sea, only to be attacked by a helicopter with five dual saw blades (that’s just overkill). Of course, the factory gets destroyed and Zukovsky reveals he made an arrangements with Elektra to use a submarine captained by his nephew, Nikolai, who Renard kills. Bond, Zukovsky, and Christmas (you are still here?!) head to Istanbul, not Constantinople, where they believe Renard and Elektra are using the plutonium to turn the submarine into a nuclear bomb that will destroy all of Istanbul, which I assure you is not Constantinople.

Elektra plans to due this to sabotage the Russians’ oil pipeline to have her pipeline go around Istanbul to increase the value of her oil because, as you all know, that’s how that works. Bond receives a signal from the locator card from the Maiden’s Tower from a local command center right when Zukovsky right hand man, Bullion (Goldie), betrays him and blows up the center. Zukovsky is rendered unconscious, as Bond and Christmas are captured. Christmas is taken to the submarine to save the audience from seeing her and Bond is being held hostage by Elektra and her garrote chair. Zukovsky and his boys enter the tower and shoot up the place, until Elektra shoots him down. As Zukovsky lays dying, he uses his cane gun to free Bond (essentially, Hagrid just saved James Bond). Bond finds M and frees her, while coming face to face with Elektra and shoots the crazy bitch down. Bond then goes to the submarine to stop Renard and free Christmas (No, don’t do that). The submarine begins to dive below the surface breaking its hull. Bond kills Renard so he can join Elektra in hell or purgatory and Bond and Christmas leave with Bond boning her in a hotel after the events claiming that he thought Christmas only came once a year, leaving the audience to groan the biggest damn groan in their lives.

The World is Not Enough is not enough of a Bond film and more of a mediocre action film, which is not something kind to say about a Bond feature. The action seems run of the mill this time around with the exception of the opening teaser that blows the rest of the film out of the water. The plot is quite similar to A View to a Kill, instead with oil and some performances in the film are just subpar. I hate to harp on the gorgeous Denise Richards, but she is the worst part about this film. She doesn’t emote any of the lines correctly, comes off as dumb, and seems here to be eye candy. I’ve gotten to the point about complaining about eye candy in a Bond film. Robert Carlyle as Renard seems to slip in and out of Russian to reveal his Scottish accent and falls flat in certain scenes by not being menacing at all (odd considering he is a fantastic villain in Once Upon a Time on ABC). Brosnan seems a bit bored being Bond this time around with the exception of the Q scene which you can see Brosnan was having a blast. Robbie Coltrane returning as Zukovsky is a delight to see because he looks quite happy to be in another Bond feature and seems to be hamming it up quite well. The film is paced very quick, but maybe to quick to fit such a overly-complex plot and characters that should be given a bit more development for us to get a full sense. A positive about this film is the same positive I have with A View to a Kill, but this time it is more controversial. I love Sophie Marceau’s Elektra King as the villain (I can hear your boos coming in) as she is an intimidating and captivating seductress that wins you over, only to back stabbed your rooting for her. I assure you she would have been more of a hit with Bond fans if the story, hell, just the film around her character was well plotted and a bit longer for some more character development. This film seems to take what made Tomorrow Never Dies an enjoyable film with spy elements, but due away with the spy elements and make it a even more generic action extravaganza.

The them song by Garbage is another controversial pick for a favorite Bond song. I like Garbage and this song is no different with Shirley Manson belting it out in a sexy seductive manner. This theme is not for Bond, but for Elektra if you really think about it and with that in mind, it just works all around. The World is Not Enough is generic in every sense of the word and a mediocre entry in the franchise, but is nearly saved with a fantastic twist to reveal a delightful villain.

Assignment Status: 2.75 out of 5

Next time, Brosnan is back for a final time with Bond betrayed, imprisoned, and nearly left for dead trying to find the North Korean colonel that he thought he had killed, but seem to be back. Time to review the franchise killer of the first Bond timeline and the most hated Bond film known as Die Another Day. This is going to be a fate worse than hell, isn’t it?

Next Assignment: Die Another Day