spectre_ver5SPECTRE

  • Year:  2015
  • Director:  Sam Mendes
  • Series Rank:  #5
  • Bond Girl:  Léa Seydoux (Madeleine Swann), Monica Bellucci (Lucia Sciarra)
  • Bond Villain:  Christoph Waltz (Franz Oberhauser), Dave Bautista (Mr. Hinx), Jesper Christensen (Mr. White)
  • Bond Support:  Ralph Fiennes (M), Naomie Harris (Moneypenny), Ben Whishaw (Q), Rory Kinnear (Bill Tanner)

SPOILER-FREE

The first two Daniel Craig films had gone back to the basics, stripping away all the trappings of the James Bond character as developed in the films and re-imagined him as the original Ian Fleming spy in the 21st Century.  Then came Skyfall, which re-integrated vital parts of the Bond universe with this new Bond.  Skyfall was definitely the best Bond film ever made, but there was no question it wasn’t going to be the last – it cried out for more adventures with a new M, Moneypenny and Q supporting him in whatever would come next.  If SPECTRE is indeed the last film with Daniel Craig as Bond, indeed, if it were to be the last Bond film ever, it would be a satisfying conclusion to one of the great franchises in film history. (more…)

skyfall_ver6_xlgThe Films  (ranked):

  1. Skyfall
  2. Casino Royale
  3. Goldfinger
  4. From Russia With Love
  5. SPECTRE
  6. Thunderball
  7. Licence to Kill
  8. Quantum of Solace
  9. Dr. No
  10. The Living Daylights
  11. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
  12. GoldenEye
  13. For Your Eyes Only
  14. Never Say Never Again
  15. Diamonds are Forever
  16. The Spy Who Loved Me
  17. Tomorrow Never Dies
  18. Moonraker
  19. Live and Let Die
  20. The World is Not Enough
  21. Die Another Day
  22. You Only Live Twice
  23. The Man with the Golden Gun
  24. A View to a Kill
  25. Octopussy

Most Over-Rated Bond Film:  Octopussy
Most Under-Rated Bond Film:  Licence to Kill

These two films have the exact same user rating on the IMDb.  And when I went to watch Octopussy again, I had at least three people tell me how much they like it.  There’s no excuse for that.  There is some irony that For Your Eyes Only, the first Bond film I ever saw, the one that got me into Bond and that I have had on video for close to 30 years doesn’t even make my Top 10.

(more…)

skyfall_ver7Skyfall

  • Year:  2012
  • Director:  Sam Mendes
  • Series Rank:  #1
  • Year Rank:  #6
  • Oscar Nominations:  Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, Sound Editing, Original Song
  • Nighthawk Nominations:  Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor (Bardem), Supporting Actress (Dench), Editing, Cinematography, Sound, Sound Editing, Makeup, Original Song
  • Bond Girl:  Naomi Harris (Eve), Bérénice Lim Marlohe (Séverine)
  • Bond Villain:  Javier Bardem (Raoul Silva), Ola Rapace (Patrice)
  • Bond Support:  Judi Dench (M), Ben Whishaw (Q), Rory Kinnear (Bill Tanner), Ralph Fiennes (Mallory)

As Skyfall was ending, I had no doubts that I had just sat through the best James Bond ever made.  There was no question in my mind.  It brought together all the best aspects of the original books (cold, hard Bond who pushes himself to do the job but is wearing himself down with drink), the best aspects of the Craig series (the dead look in his eyes – and I mean that as a compliment to his acting, the relationship with M) and the long-standing aspects of the series, most of which had been absent in the first two Craig films (like Q, played brilliantly by Ben Whishaw with the most screen time for the character since at least Licence to Kill if not ever, or the beautiful Aston-Martin, complete with a special feature that brought forth from M the best line of the film: “Go ahead, then.  Eject me.”). (more…)

quantum_of_solace_ver4Quantum of Solace

  • Year:  2008
  • Director:  Marc Forster
  • Series Rank:  #7
  • Year Rank:  #25
  • Nighthawk Nominations:  Sound, Visual Effects, Sound Editing
  • Bond Girl:  Olga Kurylenko (Camille Montes), Gemma Arterton (Fields)
  • Bond Villain:  Mathieu Amalric (Dominic Greene), Joaquín Cosío (General Medrano), Jesper Christensen (Mr. White)
  • Bond Support:  Judi Dench (M), Jeffrey Wright (Felix Leiter), Giancarlo Giannini (René Mathis), Rory Kinnear (Bill Tanner)

By the time I got a chance to see this film (I didn’t get to see it in theaters), I had already seen many of the reviews that didn’t care for it.  Most emblematic is perhaps the Roger Ebert review, in which he tries to maintain that James Bond is not an action hero.  This is just a time when I shake my head.  Ebert got used to Roger Moore’s Bond and couldn’t adapt to what Bond was supposed to be like.  Other reviews tried to claim the plot was a mess, but the plot is actually fairly easy to follow – as Bond seeks out the organization that lead to Vesper Lynd’s death, he uncovers some of their other machinations and tries to stop them.  I simply think that most reviewers missed the boat on this one.  Is it Casino Royale?  No.  Is it still a very good action film and one of the better Bond films?  Absolutely. (more…)

casino_royale_ver5Casino Royale

  • Year:  2006
  • Director:  Martin Campbell
  • Series Rank:  #2
  • Year Rank:  #8
  • Nighthawk Nominations:  Editing, Sound, Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Original Song
  • Bond Girl:  Eva Green (Vesper Lynd), Caterina Moreno (Solange Dimitrios)
  • Bond Villain:  Mads Mikkelson (Le Chiffre), Simon Abkarian (Alex Dimitrios), Jesper Christensen (Mr. White)
  • Bond Support:  Judi Dench (M), Jeffrey Wright (Felix Leiter), Giancarlo Giannini (René Mathis), Tobias Menzies (Villiers)

When I first saw this film in the theater in 2006, I couldn’t decide if it was the best Bond film since Goldfinger or simply the best Bond film.  This time, coming to it after going through all the previous ones, there was no question.  This was, at this point, by far the best Bond film ever made. (more…)

die_another_day_ver9Die Another Day

  • Year:  2002
  • Director:  Lee Tamahori
  • Series Rank:  #20
  • Year Rank:  #137
  • Nighthawk Nominations:  none
  • Bond Girl:  Halle Berry  (Jinx)
  • Bond Villain:  Toby Stephens  (Gustav Graves), Rosamund Pike (Miranda Frost), Rick Yune  (Zao)
  • Bond Support:  Judi Dench  (M), Samantha Bond  (Moneypenny), John Cleese  (Q)

The World is Not Enough was a decent action film that was almost sunk by the worthlessness of the Bond girls, both in terms of ability in the film (not much) and ability on screen (completely absent).  Yet, it’s a better film than Die Another Day, which is saved from almost Roger Moore levels by how good the Bond girls are, both in terms of their ability in the film (considerable) and ability on screen (both more than solid for Bond girl performances).  By a generous count, there have been over 75 actresses who have played Bond girls and only three of them have ever been nominated for an Oscar in their careers and two of them are right here (Kim Basinger is the other). (more…)

The World is Not Enough

  • world_is_not_enough_ver4Year:  1999
  • Director:  Michael Apted
  • Series Rank:  #19
  • Year Rank:  #97
  • Nighthawk Nominations:  none
  • Bond Girl:  Denise Richards (Christmas Jones)
  • Bond Villain:  Sophie Marceau (Electra King), Robert Carlyle (Renard), Maria Grazia Cucinotta (Cigar Girl)
  • Bond Support:  Judi Dench (M), Samantha Bond (Moneypenny), Desmond Llewelyn (Q), Robbie Coltrane (Zukovsky), John Cleese (R)

In Tomorrow Never Dies the plot and major villain were weak and the Bond girl was great.  The plot here is decent enough, the villains are not particularly good and the Bond girl is a complete disaster.  So what is it that saves this film itself from being a complete disaster?  Partially it’s Brosnan himself, so determined and athletic, preventing the film from falling into the almost-parody of the later Roger Moore films.  Partially it’s the supporting cast, really stepping up.  And partially it’s the presence of some good action sequences, including one of the best ever done in a Bond film on some very unfamiliar territory. (more…)