With a new movie comes another Bond-a-thon. I’ve updated the site with rewrites and new reviews on November 2012 – If you’ve never seen a Bond film, be aware that there are spoilers.
Though not the high-octane gadget filled thriller 007 films will come to be. Dr. No establishes Bond for future tales, and tells a pretty decent story as well. Director Terrance Young was a major force behind the creation of the movie character. He coached Sean in all things sophisticated, they developed that deadpan humor and when we see 007 kill an unarmed man, we know that "license to kill" isn't just lip service.
The Jamaican locations are beautiful, Dr. No is cool, Hawaii 5-0's Jack Lord is the first man to play Felix and Honey Ryder makes a memorable entrance that captured the hearts of many in that day, and she still ranks among the best Bond girls.
My only complaint was with the way they treated the Quarrels character. I'm not one to pull the race card out at the drop of a hat, but sometimes the interplay between Bond and Quarrels made me a bit uncomfortable. And when James orders the man to fetch his shoes, I wanted the Jamaican boatman to shout, "Get your own damn shoes!"
Other than that I like this film a lot.
From Russia With Love
introduced the now famous pre-credit sequence and though the vocalized theme song isn't played during the credits, the sexy women motif was established in earnest. In addition to this both Douglas Llewellyn's Q and Blofeld make their 007 debuts.
Memorable characters acted to perfection are the films strength. Pedro Armendariz was a delight as Bond’s ally Kerim Bey. His upbeat performance is made more remarkable when one discovers that the actor was very sick; struggling with Cancer during the shoot. The great Robert Shaw is the colorful villain (his brutal battle with James on the train is memorable and echoes of this scene will be seen In "The Spy Who Loved Me"). If that isn't enough Lotte Lenya packs a punch as the evil Rosa Klebb, she and her pointy shoes become the stuff of legend. The gadgets take a back seat to the drama and story but I still enjoyed this entry a lot. FRWL is one of Connery's best.
I loved the opening bit where a gal tries to distract James as a thug sneaks up behind, ready to bash Bond on the noggin. 007 turns the tables on the betraying woman and swings her about so she takes the hit instead. Harsh, but hilarious and its says a lot about the kind of guy 007 is (He might be a lover, but he's not a sap).
Great villains (Oddjob), great Bond girls (Pussy Galore, what a name), great theme song, great dialog ("No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die"), great scenes (the girl painted gold) and that Aston Martin, way too cool for words. Plus Sean has one hell of a nice golf swing (whereas Mr. Goldfinger swung like an old hacker. lol
The pacing of the film is arguably the best in the series. While some of the movies can feel a little overlong, Goldfinger is tight as a drum. Though I can't figure why the baddie went into such detail with the gangsters, and then gasses them all. (In the commentary rack it is stated that it's done simply to show off a cool set and give 007 some important info on the plot -- and in the world of Bond, cool always takes precedence over logic)
I hate to go along with the crowd and would love to pick another 007 flick for the #1 spot. But this is too good; apart from being great Bond it's simply a great movie, period. Even after all these years, Goldfinger remains as fresh and exciting as the first time I saw it.
Thunderball is overstuffed: It throws a lot of gadgets and vehicles, expansive sets and noisy explosions at the screen (though a lot of this is a blast). And it can at times, be a little sluggish, particularly with the underwater scenes. Underwater battles are a challenge. It's tough to create character identification, fast action is difficult since everything is slowed down and a point of reference in relation to where and what is going on can be hard to establish.
Never the less I enjoyed Thunderball. The cast is notable. Largo (Adolfo Celi) oozes menace and strength. Luciana Paluzzi as SPECTRE agent Fiona Volpe is a force. It was a nice change to see a woman who doesn't lose her head over 007. Domino (Claudine Auger) is understated but personable and strikingly beautiful. I like that she gets to save 007 at the end (and have her revenge - a contrast from the message found in "For Your Eyes Only"). Rik Van Nutter, like Cec Linder before him, makes for a serviceable though nondescript Felix Leiter (neither can fill Jack Lord’s shoes). As for the regulars: Desmond Llewelyn has a cute scene as an irritated ‘Q’. And Bernard Lee is particularly good. While his ‘M’ can be tough on 007, I like how he sticks by his agent whenever anyone else voices doubt.
While it sometimes states the obvious, the dialog frequently sparkles: Domino: "What sharp eyes you have." - Bond: "Wait till you get to my teeth." And the theme, sung with gusto by 60's heartthrob Tom Jones, was a plus. To compare here's the original song Mr. Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang. Which I personally thought it was terrible, too light and sprightly for a Bond theme. I'm glad they made the switch.
Closing thoughts: The jet pack escape at the start was super cool, while the scene where James is nearly stretched to death was laugh-out-loud goofy looking.
You Only Live Twice
What appealed to me were the locales, the big sets and big plot (hijacking large crafts –here a space capsule- will become a staple in later 007 adventures): Roald (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) Dalh’s script is wild and entertaining and displays his trademark dry wit (as when Aki protests that Bond would never touch a particularly "horrible girl" and James says without the hint of sarcasm, "Oh Heaven forbid"). The direction and camera work was thoughtfully staged - I was impressed with the rooftop chase - the camera pans back so that we can see all that James (Connery) is up against. This viewpoint had never been used in the series before and it's simple and very effective in showing the audience how isolated and out numbered our hero is.
An atypical pretty song (performed by Nancy Sinatra) and memorable score, YOLT also features one of my favorite title sequences. The "Little Nellie" gadget is neat and it brought Q into the picture in a funny way. The actors include the spunky Akiko Watabayashi as Aki, Tetsuro Tambo as wry Japanese agent Tiger Tanaka and the reserved but likable Mie Hama as Bonds wife, Kissy. Donald Pleasence makes the best Blofeld ever! He puts the mad in mad genius as he portrays SPECTRE’s #1 as very off-kilter and creepy.
Oh, and the gal playing Ling in the pre-credit sequence, is Tsai Chin who can be seen in Christopher Lee's "Fu Manchu" series and as one of the poker players in 2006s Casino Royale. Bottom line - If you can get past how silly Bond looks made up as a Japanese (and how dumb a plot device as it fools no one) this is a pretty fun flick.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Another one of the reasons I rank this among the best is the new actor playing 007, George Lazenby. George has taken his lumps over the years but I feel he’s outstanding. Aside from his ultra large ears, he looks good and he brings a humanity and warmth to the role. He's not as smooth or charismatic as Sean, but I liked that rough, rangy almost Texan-like side George delivers.
Telly Savalas's Blofeld isn't as whacked out and creepy as the Donald Pleasence version; He’s more the gangster thug. but I found Telly really made me hate the SOB. With the big chase at the end, I wanted 007 to catch the baddie and give him a royal thrashing. The best bit of casting was signing Diana Rigg as Tracy Di Vincenzo. She isn't the traditional Bond girl, in fact she anticipates Vesper Lynd in 2006s Casino Royale. She's a complex, compelling figure. Both spoiled, suicidal, then later she shows confidence and strength (I like how she comes to Bonds rescue when the spy finds himself out numbered by Blofeld's minions - these two need one another).
OHMSS is smartly acted, written and directed. There's adventure (and an insane scheme from the baddie), but also a wonderful, mature love story and the ending is genuinely heartbreaking (Lazenby cradles his wife and sighs, "We have all the time in the world"). I wonder what Sean would have done with the role but Lazenby really sells it. I felt his sorrow. Louis Armstrong sings the beautiful theme song. The only thing that disappoints me is that Hunt, Lazenby and Savalas weren't there to do Diamonds. I think Connery is 'da man, but it's a shame we didn't get a more serious "Diamonds Are Forever", with the death of Tracy being addressed and Bonds revenge becoming a real and palpable element.
Diamonds Are Forever
Performances are a mixed bag: Lana Wood as Plenty O’Toole looks gorgeous, but her voice irritates. Singer Jimmy Dean's cranky turn as a Howard Hughes-like tycoon also gave me an earache. Charles Gray is a too reserved/unthreatening Blofeld and his bit in drag was embarrassing,
Saying that, the film is not a total loss. The other villains, Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd are an eccentric and interesting pair, coldly killing with a smile and a friendly calm. And then there's Bond's memorable tussle with hired muscle, Bambi and Thumper. For the good guys... Though Sean is older and seems a little bored with it all, he has enough charisma and on screen charm to makes the film worth watching. Jill St. John as Tiffany Case is sexy and effervescent. Desmond Llewelyn's Q also adds moments of fun and Norman Burton brings a unpolished, "average Joe" feel to the role of Felix Leiter.
Diamonds winds up a fair to middling effort with enough good to keep it afloat, but with enough bad to prevent it from becoming a sparkling top 10 release.
Live and Let Die
The actors aren't particularly compelling, David Hedison was fine on TV adventures, but here his Felix Leiter delivers his lines like a radio announcer. Yaphet Kotto as the main baddie has an underlying sense of violence boiling beneath the surface but he otherwise comes off too mellow and lacks the strong presence a great Bond villain needs. His henchmen have some quirks (Tee-Hee's claw, a guy named Whisper. His name says it all) but none of them have enough sparkle (Though Geoffrey Holder as Voodoo Priest gives it his all) and the movies biggest crime... No appearance by "Q"!
Jane Seymour's Solitaire gives the film its best chance at success. I liked her; she has classy good looks and at first comes off a mysterious, interesting figure. Sadly though the cracks appear. She doesn't have the sizzle of a Honey Ryder or the strength of a Pussy Galore and soon falls into weak, woman in peril, mode.
The way James finishes off Kotto's Kanaga looks absurdly, embarrassingly stupid and Clifton James (as Sheriff Pepper) is even more shrill and annoying than "DAF's" Jimmy Dean... I always hated those "Smokey and the Bandit" type movies and TV shows, so guess how much I enjoyed the chase with this too Southerny, obnoxious Sheriff? Go ahead, take a guess?
Other thoughts: The great George Martin unfortunately wrote a non-descript score. The alligator stunt was interesting, I liked the addition of Quarrel's Jr. and Holder makes the ending worth watching but other than a sprinkling of a decent scenes here and there, LALD is a snoozer.
The Man With the Golden Gun
It is far from perfect. There's that damn Sheriff Pepper from LALD, which brings the whole film to a shattering halt. When they spoil one of the series best stunts (The astral spin) by accompanying the jump with a slide whistle, I threw up my hands... as well as my lunch. But what I liked is that MWTGG is so damn surreal. There's a palpable skewed texture to it all. Even the sets contribute to the feeling (M-16s base of operations is straight out of Dr. Caligary).
And while Roger Moore didn't care for it (the violence), I was pleasantly surprised that he was able to pull off being such an SOB when needed. The movie is violent and I liked that. Moore has a real edge and I felt it was his best -almost Connery like- performance in his run.
Christopher Lee's assassin, and henchman Nick Nack (Herve Villachez) are perfect together. Lee is so flipping cool as Bonds dark half. The film provides the usual global threat, but that takes a back seat to the actual thrust of the picture. Golden Gun is an old fashioned western "Gunfight", straight out of Shane (In fact, Jack Palance was considered for the role of the baddie). Bond grils? Maud Adams is good as Scaramanga’s doomed lover - and while fans seem to hate her. I didn't have a problem at all with Brit Eckland's goofy Mary Goodnight.
The score has a cool Morricone feel to it (The mellower sequences are accompanied by music that reminded me of music heard in "Once Upon A Time In The West" in similar quiet scenes) - I'm not sure what I think of Lulu's much maligned theme song. It's not bad, and opens with a very groovy fuzz guitar riff. I know they considered many (I'm an Alice Cooper fan but the theme he wrote wasn't a stunner either. I haven't heard the others they considered).
This isn't traditional Bond. There's no Blofeld type evil genius, No SPECTRE with diabolical scheme. I can understand how fans would react to this the same way I do to "License To Kill", because while there is humor, cool gadgets and stunts, MWTGG isn't like any 007 before or after. I like things that drift slightly off the beam (Not meaning ‘silly’, but abstract, other wordily, off kilter etc.) The Man With the Golden Gun isn't for every taste, but it really appealed to my Dada-esque mind.
The Spy Who Loved Me
The reason for this is in the great character play. Bond and his Russian counterparts (played by Ringo Starr's wife, Barbara Bach) games of one-up-man-ship. Curt Jurgeons plays the icy and diabolical Stromberg, I dug they way he would play calming classical music during a kill. And of course there's the classic Jaws as the persistent villain. Richard Kiel is perfect in the part and his ability to come out unscathed out of any scrape was the source of great amusement and fun. This is also our introduction to General Gogol (Head of the KGB)
The fight on the train is another old 007 standby, but this one is still exciting and fun (and scary, when Barbara Bach opens the closet to find him there) Great use of sets and location and that Lotus was way cool; overall perfect except for two things... the cartoony Marvin Hamlish score which pulls out a disco vibe that is so dated and cheesy. Oh how I missed John Barry (Hamlish said wanted to get away from the 60s sound. Yet those soundtracks from the 1960s are still vital today, while Marvin's work is cringe inducing). Also with this film begins a stupid new running joke for the Moore era, and it's one that makes me gag - the insertion of wacky or comical music -raaalph!-
Sadly they were so far removed from masterpiece status on this one and it ranks on my bottom 4th. I did like Hugo Drax, the actor is understated but effective in portraying a modern day Hitler, bent on creating his "master race". And while Lois Chiles acting was shaky, Bondgirl Holly Goodhead worked well with 007. What spoils the brew is the same thing that will hurt the follow-ups (FYEO, Octopussy and AVTAK) - It's all too campy. I liked having Jaws back, but I hated seeing him used as comic relief (The original had humor, but respected the character and gave him real mennace). The FX haven't aged well and the big laser battle at the end looked pretty cheesy.
Yes I did laugh at times, but strangely my laughter made me unhappy. The Bond franchise went from sophisticated dry wit, to a type of camp Vaudevillian routine (Music swells melodramatically when Jaws lays eyes on his future girlfriend. A bird does a double take as Bond rides a Gondola through the streets of Venice)... Sad Note: This was Bernard Lee's final apperance as 'M'. He was too ill to take part in FYEO and died from stomach cancer in 1981.
For Your Eyes Only
For one thing Moore did very well with the scenes where he's asked to remember his dead wife. They are brief, but always poignant. For another, the Greek locations are a beauty as is the lead Bond Girl with the crossbow. She is very cool.
I also like how Moore showed his bad ass side by kicking a nasty thugs car and thus, helping it fall over into a cliff (Edit: Listened to the commentary track by the director. Moore didn't want to do this scene. As always, he never wanted Bond too violent or ruthless. Man, he just didn't get it). I liked his allies; I liked some of the humor (despite Johnson's acting, Moore gets in some good quips at her expense).
John Glenn's first shot in the director's chair is one of his best and overall this fun thrilling movie moves along at a nice pace. If only they'd have cut out some of the silly stuff. Come on, Blofeld should have gone out with some dignity (Donald or Telly would never screech and cackle and beg like that). The cringe worthy broad skit with the Prime Minister at the end also undercuts what had been a balanced, emotionally charged adventure. Shame, shame, shame!
At times it draws from Goldfinger (Bond beats a cheater, his henchmen crushes an object to dust, Octopussy’s island of women recalls Pussy Galore's all female flying troupe) and leans heavy on silly and even adolescent humor. Most of that rankles (The Tarzan bit, cleavage cam). Still I laughed when Q protests while getting pawed on by the ladies, before adding a quick, "Later. perhaps." Old dog. Priceless, that joke made it all worthwhile.
Louis Jordan is elegant but doesn't come off dangerous, his henchman Gobinda is the muscle and he's cool, but not to Oddjob/Jaws levels. Steven Berkoff as the zealous Orlov fares better as a serious threat, as he and Gogol (Walter Gotell, very good here) square off. I liked Bonds contact played by tennis champion Vijay Amritraj and Robert Brown is the new M (He’s decent enough though not as memorable). Maud Adams as the title character is so reserved she's near comatose - While she has more to do here, I liked her better in MWTGG. Moore is aging, though effective – I just wish he put a little more blood n' guts into his performance. Lois Maxwell (Moneypenny) seems to be grooming her replacement but this character (Penelope Smallbone) is quickly forgotten.
Octopussy focuses on the wrong story, can get a bit dry at points and frequently embraces the stupid. But there are some good action scenes, a bit of mystery and the sets and locales in India look gorgeous. So it's not a complete waste
A View to a Kill
There are unbearable parts to it; chief among them was Tanya Roberts shrill, whiny performance (I think even the cat out acted her), as well as some of the cornball stabs at humor. At times the pacing drags (especially at the half way point) and I'd start yawning. But hey -- Christopher Walken is there, chewing the scenery as a whacked out baddie. He and Grace Jones make a nice off-kilter duo. Grace plays ‘Mayday’ and while she's a worse actress than Tanya, she is scary and strange, which fits the character. The very best part of the movie acting wise was Patrick MacNee as Sir Godfrey; the exchanges between he and Moore were a great source of amusement and the film loses much when this character dies.
For all its faults AVTAK has some memorable action and settings - such as the Eiffel Tower with spectacular jump and the Hitchcockian style ending atop the Golden Gate Bridge.
The Living Daylights
I’d purchased a few DVDs and watched first, From Russia With Love and then, You only Live Twice. Both were outstanding and Connery had it all. The looks, the smooth personality and he was one tough SOB too. The next one on the docket was Moonraker, and holy crumb, going from two great Connery flicks to this one... it was kind of shocking. For one, I was stunned at what a total puss 007 had become. And amazed how over the top camp, I mean really embarrassing camp, the humor had gone.
And then I watched The Living Daylights - And while the film sometimes suffers from a “Roger Moore” hangover what with some silly sequences, and that Joe Don Baker's villain was way over the top. Overall I liked it better this go round. And again. Watching these movies in this manner, I went from cool Connery, to shameful Moore, to Timothy Dalton, and well...
By God, Dalton really did a lot to restore the dignity of this character.
Strangely, I started seeing some nuance to his acting that I wasn't aware of the last time I watched it. At the Fair for example, he's smiling, romancing the girl, and even though he's playing her to get information - I had a real sense that 007 was starting to care for this woman, there was a real warmth and breezy charm in the performance in these scenes. And when his fellow agent is killed, there's that Dalton icy stare, but underneath, a hint of pain mixed with wrath.
Heck, I wasn't even as bothered by Bond girl, Maryam d'Abo's acting this time out; she was very cute and sweet in her naïveté. John Rhys-Davis is outstanding as Russian General Pushkin, and the plot twists and games of deceit and intrigue within the story makes for a compelling and surprising entry in the series. LTK also offers has great action, great drama and Dalton puts the bad ass back in Bond!
Felix Leiter makes his return, albeit a bit blandly (I like the character but why is it so difficult to find a dynamic actor to play the role?). This will be the final Bond film for actor Walter Gotell (Gogol) and composer John Barry (Who can be seen as a conductor). The A-Ha title song is pretty weak; and the Pretenders tune heard at the end credits isn't a whole lot better.
Licence To Kill
While I liked his work in TLD, Dalton performance here is lackluster and one-dimensional. He's not very dangerous, not very suave, cool or charismatic. He's just... there.
The other problem I have with this one is that the production values were weak, to the degree where it felt like a made for TV movie. In fact it was stocked with made for TV actors, and even future star Benicio Del Toro was unable light any sparks (Though he tries hard, what with all that snarling and evil grinning). The Bond girl is bland; Felix is uber bland. The dialog is clunky (They actually pull out the "See you in hell" line), it has a poor theme song... Oh hell, LTK is simply not a James Bond film, it doesn't "fit" and comes off like just another drug dealer action film, not a 007 movie. The only time it felt like 007 was when Q joined in as a field agent (Loved seeing him in that role)
Blech – This is the one Bond flick that I simply can't sit through.
A new director brings new life to the series. John Glen was okay, very workman like, but he lacked a certain zip. Martin Campbell delivers zip by the boatload! Villainess Xenia Onatopp was over the top but fun (and her demise was painful and well deserved) but for Bond girls I liked Izabella Scorupco as Natalya Fyodorovna Simonova, she was smart and feisty as well as beautiful. Q was a kick, "Don't touch that, it's my lunch!" The great Robbie Coltrane plays friend/foe Valentin Dmitrovich Zukovsky, Judi Dench is a superb actress and works nicely as the new M... and even Joe Don Baker was in enjoyable peak form as a CIA liaison. Oh, and love the tank chase!
Tomorrow Never Dies
Then it all kind of goes in the tank: For one, I think someone forgot they weren't making a Roger Moore 007. Some of the humor is low grade and silly and got on my nerves (the screwball antics on the motorcycle for one). The melodramatic romance with Terri Hatcher (who really bugged me) was soap opera caliber garbage. Though the media mogul angle was a fresh, his scheme was old hat –Madman pits super powers one against the other- And Jonathan Pryce's over the top performance in the role made it all the more difficult to sit through this time around. Michele Yeoh was good as a fellow agent (though there's not much chemistry between her and Brosnan) and the action scenes were exciting for the most part. It was just all the stuff in between that made this the weakest Brosnan flick in the series.
The World Is Not Enough
As for the other actresses, I like the idea of Barbie as a Braniac, but Denise Richards gets some of the worst lines and delivers them badly (BUT - she's still miles better than Tanya Roberts). And Judi Dench as M gets more involved in the plot and that was a welcome change of pace.
Garbage performs one of my favorite Bond themes (very old school 007 vibe to it). It's tightly directed by Michael Apted (a challenge because this story is expansive) and Llewellyn as Q is a joy as he hands the reigns over to John Cleese. All this and Robby Coltrane (One of my favorite performers) makes his return. Roger Ebert praised the film, calling it a "...splendid comic thriller, exciting and graceful, endlessly inventive." I agree.
Die Another Day
While some of the FX and CGI was weak (the ice surfing/gliding scene) and the science is fantastical, "Die Another Day" is overall a kick, and is loaded with high-octane action: From the hydrofoil chase at the start to the high-speed car battle that continues on into the ice palace near the end. It sports a colorful collection of villains, in fact I prefer the duplicitous Miranda Frost to Halle Berry's Jinx character. Brosnan is a great Bond; he's smooth and suave with an edge, similar to Connery. But he also takes his lumps -gets physically injured- a trait he shares with the novelized version of the master spy.
Oh - And Gawd awful theme song by the way, one of the worse.
.... And let me get it off my chest, Daniel Craig is not an attractive 007. He's fair-haired and has these squished up features - he doesn't look like a movie Bond (I was really hoping for Clive Owen to get the part when they were casting), regardless, it all works. For one, the movie is great! It's multi-layered, comes off wholly original but stays true to both the novel and the film character established by Sean. For another, pretty face or not. Craig is a heck of an actor, the best to take the role since Connery. The man certainly has the chops to bring subtle layers to the character. And the little introductions, from meeting Felix to seeing him dressed to kill, all make this a joy to watch.
The humor is there, but gone is the over the top cartoony stuff. This is refined but gritty tough, with slick production values and a terrific score. The song by Chris Cornell is incredible as is the title sequence. Recently I've felt the title sequences have gotten too busy with the CGI, this is clean, crisp and cool. Though light on the gals.
The acting is above board. Judi Dench really got to show off her talents, the baddie Le Chiffre was suitably creepy (with those tears of blood) and Bond Girl Vesper was a heart breaker. Played by giant eyed Eva Green, she not a plastic Hollywood beauty, but she's beautiful never the less and as an actress she's rock solid. She goes toe to toe with Craig, bonds with Bond in a heartfelt (fully clothed) moment in a shower and at the end I was seriously choked up.
Quantum of Solace
The segment that best captures that 007 spirit, are the bits when Agent Strawberry Fields shows up. We watch Bond work his charm; we get some nice interplay between Fields, Bond and Mathis. There are laughs (his lottery line)... It's not a long stretch of film but it was welcome, as was the wee tribute to Goldfinger (with black gold in this case)
There are also some nice scenes between Craig and Olga Kurylenko. She isn’t the traditional Bond girl; she’s not here to be wooed or to be an ally. Rather she’s a kindred spirit whom James helps exact her own revenge. There’s a great bit when the 2 are stuck in a burning building and he hears her fearful voice - here (as with the moments with Mathis) we finally see Craig do some acting and not just be a stone cold spirit of revenge.
Mathieu Amalric is the villain and while he's a proven brilliant actor in French cinema; he's not as good here. He comes off too squirmy and unsure to be a real threat - and when he sees Bond at an Opera House and bugs out his eyes like a cartoon character I couldn't help but snicker. Judi Dench is superb and captures all that makes M memorable. There's conflict with her agent but when push comes to shove she's there to back her man. Jeffrey Wright as Leiter is also very good in his brief scenes. He has more layers than we've seen from the character in the past and I feel this is the best Felix since Jack Lord.
I haven't anticipated a Bond flick this much since the follow up to the wonderful "The Spy Who Loved Me". While Solace doesn't completely deliver the goods, it doesn't disappoint the way "Moonraker" did. Even though it feels more like an epilogue to "Royale" than a stand-alone feature - I liked it, even more so when I watch it back to back with "Casino Royale".
Though James comes through it renewed, the overall tone of the movie is downbeat. Bond is broken, unshaven and unkempt throughout. And I didn't care for that. I know the series has to stay fresh and current, but does it have to turn Emo? I miss the spirit of silly dumb fun mixed with style and sophistication. I miss the gadgets (a crack about exploding pens just made me sad and pine for the old ways) and while we do get some much-appreciated nods to the past, they often felt out of place. I cheered when I saw the DB-5, laughed when James popped a famous switch, but it just didn't feel right, it felt condescending and out of place in this dour tale.
Also out of place was Javier Bardem's broad and hammy turn as the villain Silva. He was a guy camping it up in a movie that was steeped in the bitter real. I'm glad we finally got a Q (though no one will ever replace Desmond Llewellyn) and very happy with the casting of Naomie Harris as Miss Moneypenny. Her chemistry with 007 is fun and natural and it was nice to see how that easy rapport developed between the two. There is much I liked about Skyfall, there is much to recommend in terms of it being top-notch filmmaking and the performers, especially Judi Dench, were a strength. But there was also much that was too dry and somber and not to my '007' tastes.