Category Archives: Movies

How Can I Get Working Copies Of Certain Bond DVDs Now Missing Footage?

Here is a step by step breakdown of what you need to do:

#1 Email MGM’s customer service department at 4you@mgm.com Give them your name, phone number, email address, home address and the titles of the discs that you need remastered.

#2 MGM’s customer service department will then respond to your email with an email of their own. Attached to their email is a UPS tracking label that has MGM’s address on it.

#3 Print out the UPS tracking label and affix it to a box that contains the discs that you need remastering *and* their keepcases. Send them to MGM using the UPS tracking label. If you use their tracking label, you do not have to pay for shipping.

#4 Wait. MGM expects a 4 to 6 week turnaround on remastering the discs. Newly remastered discs are not currently planned for store shelves, so if you want NSNA on dvd, you’ll have to buy it and then have MGM remaster it.

The Living Daylights and Octopussy both have problems with missing subtitles. Never Say Never Again is missing about 3 to 4 minutes of casino footage. If you have further questions, you can call 1-877-MGM-4YOU.

IN CANADA
The process for returning defective DVDs is a bit different for Canadians. They should e-mail: jennifer.mann@warnerbros.com Warner Bros. send the replacement DVDs out to the customer first. Included with the replacements is a SASE (self addressed stamped envelope) for the customer to return the defectives.

Did Tim Dalton Plan A Third Bond Film?

Initially, after LICENSE TO KILL, no. The writing was on the wall well before 1994, when he officially “resigned” from the role. Then head of film development, John Calley, let it be known that he would not green light another Bond film with Dalton as the lead. This is unfair, as Dalton was garnering a disproportionate amount of the blame for the perceived failures of the last two films. Nonetheless, it was no secret that both The Living Daylights and License To Kill were both specifically tailored to take advantage of Dalton`s more ruthless approach to the character.

Perhaps Dalton thought that with Cubby Broccoli becoming increasingly ill or the lack of anymore Fleming titles and material to use (License to Kill became the first Bond film that did not use a Fleming book or short story as its title) would spell the end of the series. Perhaps he failed to see that Barbara and Michael would carry on the series. Whatever was going through his mind, he made this one very telling observation to BONDAGE (Issue 16, Winter 1989):”My feeling is this will be the last one. I don`t mean my last one, I mean the end of the whole lot. I don`t speak with any real authority, but it`s sort of a feeling I have. Sorry!”

Dalton made it clear he would continue to go on and act in more films, but that there would probably be no more Bond films. He may have seen the inevitable legal action that was eventually taken by EON and decided that that probably would spell the end of the series. But by late 1992 and early 1993, with the legal action over, he made some comments to the press that suggested he was waiting for a script to be written. Even EON issued a statement saying that Dalton was “the Bond of record”. In any event, there was a time when even Dalton wasn`t sure if he, or the series, would ever come back.

Did Roger Moore Wear A Colostomy Bag As James Bond?

If you`ve ever asked yourself this question, you probably have too much time on your hands. In any event, this ridiculous rumor alleges that Roger Moore wore a colostomy bag from The Spy Who Loved Me through A View To A Kill and that it caused slowness and awkwardness in his action scenes. While we can`t say for an absolute certainty that he never wore one, it seems extremely unlikely. Let`s consider the evidence:

Moore had several love scenes or scenes where his shirt was off during and after The Spy Who Loved Me. It would be difficult to hide a colostomy bag or scar tissue on his waist that would indicate where the colostomy bag would go. Remember, this was several years before CGI; the producers couldn`t have just digitally altered Roger`s body.

As regards his “slow” or “awkward” action scenes…well, that`s all in the eyes of the beholder. It`s no secret that most of his stunt work was handled by a double anyway. So if someone thought they detected an awkwardness in the way Moore walked or carried himself in a fight, it`s possible they weren`t even seeing Moore but actually his stunt double.

So, where did this rumor get started? Well, Moore *did* have a serious accident while filming The Spy Who Loved Me and was very open about it, but he never mentioned anything about a colostomy bag (not that he would). At a news conference to discuss his Happy 25th Anniversary special for ABC-TV in 1987, Moore discussed the situation.

Journalist: “What was the most serious injury you ever had doing one of these movies?”

Roger Moore: I fell off my wallet once (laughter). Well, they were all uncomfortable. The most – I couldn`t sit here like I am now, on THE SPY WHO LOVED ME because in one of the scenes, a chair blew up before I got out of it and put a couple of holes where most of us only have one. That was very uncomfortable. I had a month of going and having my dressings changed twice a day by the Sister at the studio. I never saw her! (laughter)”.

Did Desmond Llewelyn Plan Another Bond After TWINE?

There seemed to be some confusion among the fans as to whether Desmond Llewelyn would be returning as Q for another Bond film after “The World Is Not Enough”. Many felt as though his exit scene in `World` was his goodbye. Although that indeed did become his final performance due to his tragic death in an auto accident, he was fully expecting to come back.

Desmond stated point blank about his “retirement”: “No, I`m not going to retire. No, I`m there as long as the producers want me and God doesn`t.” Additionally, in a promotional spot made available to Forever, Desmond makes a passing reference to hoping to do more work with John Cleese in the next film.

So now that Desmond is gone, what will happen to the character of Q? More than likely, the character will be retired and John Cleese will assume the general role of equipment manager and simply be known as “R”. That John Cleese will be back is not in dispute. John Cleese confesses in a promotional spot made for “The World Is Not Enough” that he was signed to do “2 or 3 more” films. You can also view that video by following the link at the bottom of this page.

So, it is quite clear that Desmond had every intention of returning to his role of “Q” providing he had his mental faculties and could do the job. Sadly, that chance will never take place, but we always have his other movies to remember him by, and a worthy successor to him in John Cleese.

Did Albert Broccoli Make Non-Bond Films After “Dr. No”?

He co-produced “Call Me Bwana” with Harry Saltzman. He produced “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (based on the Ian Fleming children`s stories) by himself. Broccoli apparently said during an interview with the New York Times that he`d like to make a western and like to work with Michael Cimino (“The Deer Hunter”, “Heaven`s Gate”), whom he considered a talented young man.

In the early nineties, Broccoli bought the rights to David Mason`s novel “Storm Over Babylon”. His autobiography “When The Snow Melts” has just been published.

Can Kevin McClory Make Renegade Bonds Like “Never Say Never”…Again?

This is answered, in part, in the WARHEAD 2001 A.D. section, but here we go into more detail. One knowledgeable person has mentioned that McClory may have a loophole because his original settlement entitled him to “James Bond of the Secret Service”. A wide, liberal interpretation of that phrase could have a dire impact on EON`s franchise. The court has several issues to determine:

Does Sony have the right to make a Bond film?
Do they have the right to make more than one Bond film?
Are they limited to using only material in the “collaboration” scripts, or can they improvise (i.e. the original Warhead script from the 1970s?
Did McClory forfeit his right to make any further Bond films when NSNA was made?
Is Kevin McClory entitled to a percentage of the series` profits?
Does MGM-UA have a legitimate breach-of-trust case against John Calley?
Does Eon`s 1965 agreement with McClory damage their case?
Is the 1983 British Court ruling applicable?
Nobody can say for sure without seeing both sides` pleadings and supplementary material. The quality of legal representation and who tries the case are also crucial factors.

For Kevin McClory`s “percentage” claim to succeed, he would have to prove that his contributions directly helped the series, i.e. that the films prior to Thunderball were unsuccessful, and that the series flourished only by using Thunderball elements. If McClory does own Blofeld and SPECTRE, he could theoretically claim a percentage of profits from, or damages against any EON Bond film (including FYEO) featuring either Blofeld or Spectre. However, several sources make a compelling claim that Kevin McClory did not create Spectre or Blofeld. Given Fleming`s failing health, could EON et al reargue this aspect of the case?

EON/MGM-UA`s lawyers have called the “percentage” claim a novel issue pursued too late (“the law of laches”) and statute barred. “You waited 35 years to pursue this claim?” Such a delay is indefensible.

McClory`s lawyers might be better to argue that EON used plot points and ideas from the collaboration scripts (i.e. stolen weapons in TND; SWLM, FYEO, and GE also have Thunderball related material) and thereby devalued them. McClory might be able to argue that EON incurred the delay by tying his hands and preventing him from getting his own Bond projects off the ground. The three Justice panel in the 1983 British Court decision said as much: “The plaintiffs, the Trustees of the will of Ian Fleming, have been financially aided by Cubby Broccoli since 1978 in their bid to stop the film. The film can not be stopped because the trustees have no right to argue against the original 1963 assignment of the copyright that gave Kevin McClory the film and TV rights to Ian Fleming`s novel Thunderball. There can be no appeal to a higher court – the House of Lords will not hear this case.” Mr Justice Goilding called the continued litigation harassment, and ordered the plaintiffs to pay McClory`s court costs.

I assume that MGM-UA bought NSNA to bolster their claim that all Thunderball related material is now EON`s. There are at least three stumbling blocks. One: The Sony Bond film doesn`t seem to be a remake of NSNA. It`s probably a free adaptation of the original Warhead scripts. Two: the original settlement gave McClory control of the collaboration scripts; EON`s ignominious 1983 defeat in the British courts probably closes this issue. Kevin McClory arguably got a “sweetheart” settlement in 1963. However, because of the 1965 agreement between EON and McClory, the British 1983 ruling was correct. Three: in exchange for the right to make Thunderball under the EON banner, EON only insisted on a 10 year non-exploitation clause (let`s call it the 1965 agreement, even though it was probably done in 1964). EON wrongly assumed that the series would have run its course by the 1970s – this decision more than anything else is to blame for the ongoing EON-McClory saga. Kevin McClory and Sony`s lawyers could argue that EON`s claim is a closed issue, for contractual reasons and because the courts subsequently adjudicated it. To avoid this pitfall, there would have to be an express provision in either California or US civil law that supports EON`s claims. I don`t think an argument that these were British decisions and therefore don`t apply would sway the California courts. The courts generally prefer to avoid jurisdictional conflict.

EON`s lawyers have also argued that any rival series will damage the viability of their own series. I believe they argued this point when they contested NSNA; that film may have subsequently hurt Octopussy`s international box office since both films were released at approximately the same time. Provided that Sony has the right to make Bond films, the courts will not care if they cut into EON`s profits. Such is the fate of the free-market. Nevertheless, I believe that the 1965 agreement specifies that any rival Bond producer who uses McClory property must pay a gratuity to Glidrose and EON.

I`m not sure that a judge would accept the argument that any rival film would be of such sub-standard quality as to damage the credibility and viability of the EON series. He might however rule that Kevin McClory already exercised his right to make his own Bond film with NSNA (even though he had nothing to do with the film, despite his Executive Producer credit), and that any further “remakes” would be unreasonable and unfair to EON, especially if Sony and McClory can`t diverge from the collaboration scripts. To keep remaking the same basic story might damage public interest in James Bond films and would therefore be unfair competition.

It`s unclear if Sony and McClory can diverge from the collaboration scripts. If the collaboration scripts are sufficiently different, McClory et al can argue that they can diverge and make multiple films. The court may rule that Sony has the right to diverge from the scripts, but cannot intrude on anything that EON owns.

Several factors would be examined. Did any past contracts (i.e. the EON-McClory 1965 agreement) or decisions (the 1983 British Court ruling) leave the door open for multiple “remakes”, or did they (directly or implicitly) limit McClory to only one film? Did the 1965 agreement only allow McClory the right to remake Thunderball, or did he keep his existing rights from the 1963 settlement? Last October MGM spokesman Craig Parson conceded that Sony may “have the rights to remake Thunderball and our executives would probably tell Sony to be our guests on that one. But as far as them planning a series, it is our asset and we will not be shy when it comes to planning legal actions to defend it.”

Yet a news article reported that, “MGM claims that a 28-year U.S. copyright term on Fleming`s work had expired and that a renewal of those Oct. 30 brought all of Fleming`s U.S. copyrights — including Thunderball — under the MGM/Danjaq banner.” This seems to be a creative interpretation of copyright law, especially since US copyright on the Fleming novels had already been renewed (i.e. OHMSS in 1991). Copyright cannot be renewed a second time. I`m not aware of anything in US copyright law that supports this argument. Copyright on the books affects only the books, not the films. If true, it would only bar Sony from showing the film in the US.

EON/MGM-UA filed a breach of trust claim against John Calley. For this to succeed, EON et al would have to show that John Calley was privy to confidential material and, I believe, disclosed it to Sony. The confidential material would have to be concrete, not abstract (i.e. dump Dalton, get higher-grade directors, etc). Moreover it would have to be something, that if disclosed, would put EON at a disadvantage and create unfair competition. It seems that MGM-UA may have a stronger case against SONY for the timing of their announcement (when MGM-UA went up for sale) if a judge decides that SONY knew that they had no right to make their own series of Bond films.

One note on the legal system. In Canada, for example, under the Highway Traffic Act, the owner, and not the driver of a car is liable for certain mishaps. In one case, a man`s daughter was involved in a traffic fatality. She was the driver. Her mother – his wife – had been in the passenger seat and was killed. Since he was the owner of the car, he had to sue himself (under Part V of the Family Law Act). The insurance company would have to pay whatever he won. This makes perfect sense. Most laymen would think it ludicrous.

You Only Live Twice

You Only Live Twice (1967)

The Cast Sean Connery (James Bond), Mie Hama (Kissy Suzuki), Akiki Wakabayashi (Aki), Tetsuro Tamba (Tiger Tanaka), Donald Pleasance (Ernst Staavros Blofeld)

The Supporting Cast Bernard Lee (“M”), Desmond Llewelyn (“Q”), Lois Maxwell (Moneypenny), Karen Dor (Helga Brandt), Teru Shimada (Mr. Osato)

Credits Produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman; Directed by Lewis Gilbert; Screenplay by Roald Dahl; Music by John Barry; Title Song performed by Nancy Sinatra; Lyrics by Hal David and Leslie Briscusse; Titles by Maurice Binder; Edited by Thelma Connell;

Mission: Bond must stop the capture of American and Russian manned spacecraft before WW3 ignites, and prove to the world that SPECTRE, and it`s leader, Ernst Stavros Blofeld is behind the whole matter.

Locations covered:Hong Kong; Tokyo, Japan

Villain`s Idiosyncrasy:Love of white cat with diamond necklace

Box office:$116 million worldwide ($569,947,339.41 in 1998 dollars)

Notable notes:

Best line: Bond to Helga Brandt, as he takes her dress off: “Oh, the things I do for England.”

Review by Michael Kersey

The film picks up with Bond relaxing in Hong Kong, and as usual, he`s not alone. Bond is in the throws of passion with another beautiful woman when gun toting assassins ambush Bond and shoot him dead. Or do they? In reality , Bond has faked his death in the hopes that some of Bond`s big name opponents will get sloppy, lazy and too cocky with 007 not on the scene anymore. As “M” puts it, this is “the big one” and Bond will need to be undercover more than ever.l

Bond`s “corpse” is buried at sea, jettisoned out of the M1 submarine off the coast of Japan. Bond then attends a sumo wrestling match where he meets up with Japanese SIS Agent Aki. She leads him to his first contact, Dikko Henderson, who is about to tell Bond who he really believes is behind the theft of the spacecraft when a knife wielding assassin puts Dikko out for good.

Bond kills the asssasin and pretends to be him. He runs back to the waiting car and is driven to Osato Chemicals. As it will later be discovered, Osato Chemicals is supplying SPECTRE with liquid nitrogen, a neccessary component in the making of rocket fuel. The very same rocket used to capture American and Soviet spacecraft.

You Only Live Twice is a bigger picture than Goldfinger and Thunderball combined in terms of budget. But bigger isn`t always better, and You Only Live Twice sometimes crumples under the weight of it`s own outlandishness. It`s plot is questionablle, and what there is of it is somewhat formulaic. You feel as if you`ve been there and done that before. Nancy Sinatra turns in one of the more forgetable title songs on record. Another mistake made was the killing off of Aki and replacing her with Kissy Suzuki. While Mrs. Wakabayashi is somewhat wooden in her role as Aki, she`s in the film far longer than Kissy, and is killed off in the film too late for us to get emotionally attached to her replacement.

The best Bond girl in the film by far is Helga Brandt, played by German actress Karen Dor. Her lips and voice drip with a sensual evilness that`s completely captivating. She steals practically every scene she`s in and makes for an excellent successor to Lucianna Paluzzi (Fiona-Thunderball) in the femme fatale department.

There are some truly spectacular action sequences including an elaborate helicopter/car sequence, and the Little Nellie chase. But the film, albeit perhaps unintentionally, relies too much on big explosions and gunfire to cover up the lack of a meaty storyline. And at this point, Connery had had enough of the role. Throughout the filming, he was hounded to death by the press as to whether or not he would return to the role after this film ws complete. As a result, this outing shows Bond a little more wearisome, a little more tired, and a little lackluster. Audiences seemed to agree, as U.S admissions fell nearly 50% compared to Thunderball.

TWINE Scores Big

Pierce Brosnan (James Bond); Sophie Marceau (Elektra King); Robert Carlyle (Renard); Denise Richards (Christmas Jones); Judi Dench (M); Desmond Llewelyn (“Q”); Samantha Bond (Moneypenny); John Cleese (R); Robbie Coltrane (Valentin Zukhovsky) Claude-Oliver Rudolph (Colonel Akakievich) Maria Grazia Cuccinotta (Cigar Girl)Serena Scott-Thomas (Dr. Molly Warmflash); Ulrich Thomsen (Davidov)

Director (Michael Apted); Musical Composer (David Arnold); Screenplay (Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Bruce Fierstein); Story (Neal Purvis and Robert Wade); The Producers: Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli through Albert R Broccoli`s EON Productions.

The nineteenth official James Bond film from EON closes out the 20th century in style, opting for more drama and humanity over less gunfire and explosions. To be sure, the action is still there, whether it`s a dizzying high speed race through an oil pipeline or the implosion of a nuclear submarine. But `World` builds upon the foundation set by Goldeneye: to make Bond more human, less automatonic.

This is done first and foremost by hammering out a script that makes Bond more vulnerable. Here we see Bond can get hurt (his left shoulder is injured during the precredit seqeunce), Bond feel Elektra`s pain (notice his fingers touch her face on the computer monitor as if to comfort her) and he can be fooled by Renard (by taking the wired money back to Sir Robert King). Humanizing the story gives the viewers more to emotionally invest in.

Bringing on Michael Apted to direct was an oustanding choice and he`s surrounded by a first rate cast. The standout of this group is, without question, Sophie Marceau. Her relationship with Bond makes or breaks this film and fortunately, both Marceau and Brosnan pull it off convincingly. Marceau plays the character just right. You believe that Elektra can`t believe Bond would shoot her in cold blood. You *believe* that Elektra has never been turned down by men, and can`t understand Bond telling her he never loved her. Watch the scene again where M tells Renard that `her people will finish the job`. Elektra steps into the conversation, and in a scene of complete bewilderment, says: `Your people? Your people will leave you to rot. Like you left me.` Elektra looks almost as if she`s out of her senses, unable to grasp the concept that she might be fallible.

Right beside Marceau is Robert Carlyle, playing Bosnian terrorist and kidnaper Victor Zokas, otherwise known as Renard. A bullet to the brain has caused Renard to lose his sense of pain. Although the injury will ultimately prove fatal, he can push himself harder, faster, longer until the day he dies. This kind of idiosyncrasy is pure Bond; like Jaws having steel teeth or Oddjob having a razor edged bowler. But Carlyle doesn`t allow this to overshadow his portrayal of the character and reduce it to a caricature. Instead, he downplays the inability to feel pain (we only see three examples of this in the film) and plays Renard as a soulless, depraved animal. The scene where he is initially captured by Bond is pure gold. The look in Carlyle`s face, the tone of his voice, the smug attitude as he humiliates Bond with a question regarding Elektra: `So young…so innocent. How does it feel to know that I broke her in?` Carlyle makes you just want to reach out and strangle Renard. It`s a credit to Carlyle that he makes us care at all about his character. He even puts the Bond audience in an unfamiliar position: feeling some small amount of sympathy for Renard. Just look at the scene again where Renard looks forlornly at Elektra`s naked body in bed, unable to feel even the most basic emotion known to man. The wounded look in his face; the scar; the drooping eye. Lesser actors would have played the roles of Renard and Elektra over the top, shrieking and giving into fits of theatrics and overdramatization. Instead, both actors give excelling, standout performances in a low key, subtle manner filled with detail and nuance.

Of course you can`t forget about Judi Dench and Robbie Coltrane, both playing their largest role to date yet in a Bond film. Dench is so wonderful in her role, as an agonizing mother and also head of MI6, that it makes you wonder how she managed to be so underutilized up to this point. Coltrane provides the movie`s comic relief, providing one of the films best lines: “Can`t you just say hello…like a normal person?” Even without dialogue, Apted squeezes out fine performances. Witness the eye contact between Zukhovsky and Bond at the film`s climax. No words are spoken, yet a message is conveyed, hope for Bond is restored, and it sends chills down the viewers spine just knowing what Bond is about to do.

The rest of the MI6 staff get expanded duties as well. Moneypenny and Bond`s exchanges are less vulgar this time around, and more appropriate. The look Moneypenny shoots Dr. Molly Warmflash is Samantha Bond`s best work to date in the Bond series. We get Tanner back, along with more of Charles, the MI6 Chief of Staff. And now we have John Cleese, perfectly cast, in the role of Q`s bumbling assistant, tenatively referred to as “R”. Cleese is a worthy successor to Desmond Llewelyn, and shows that he`ll retain some of the chemistry between Q and Bond, while maintaining some differences. You can already see the irritation boiling up inside “R” as he probes 007: `I thought you were on some sort of leave.`

Denise Richards plays against type by portraying nuclear weapons expert Christmas Jones, with mixed results. The character comes on to 007 very strong and filled with attitude, the result of pent up anger from being leered and ogled at in a male dominated work facility. We get what we hope will be a glimpse of some good back and forth bantering between Bond and Christmas when she informs Bond `that if he needs protection from anything, it`s from me.` Sadly, the ensuing scenes don`t help establish the role of Christmas, or her centrality to the plot. This becomes painfully obvious when the setting shifts to Zukhovsky`s caviar factory, and Christmas is reduced to wearing a denim jacket and a lavendar miniskirt to attract Valentin`s attention. There is clearly little for the character to do once she has defused the bomb with 007 in the pipeline, and it shows. For this, the writers must be blamed. Early drafts showed a weakly conceived character that eventually got better through rewrites, but this is clearly one case where not enough rewrites were administered. For example, Christmas declares she has to get that bomb back or someone`s going to have her butt. Who? Why? In an early draft of the script, Christmas is concerned that if she doesn`t get the bomb back, her nuclear decommisioning program will be handed back over to the military, which means there will never be an end to the nuclear weapons. Richards could`ve used this kind of help to assist her in shaping the character. Still, Richards does an amiable job working through a sorely underwritten part, while having to work in the shadows of actors such as Judi Dench, Sophie Marceau and Robert Carlyle.

Michael Apted gets all the credit for the serious direction the film takes, whether it`s all his to take or not. One of the things that makes this film stand out from the other Bond films are the changes it`s been willing to make. Outside of this film, “M” rarely has left his/her office. The scenes are perfunctory. But in `World`, Apted wisely makes use of one of the most talented actresses on screen today, not only expanding her role, but making M`s history with Robert King central to Elektra`s plans; providing Elektra with the motivation for her scheme.

Or just take a look at the painting behind M at MI6`s headquaters in Scotland. It`s a portait of Bernard Lee, the film series` first M. It`s a nice touch that says a lot about the attention to detail paid to this film. Allowing a woman to be the lead villian in a Bond film has been a welcome change.

The cinematography was excellent. Particular praise for the sequence where Bond and Elekta jump off the helicopter and ski down the mountain. Accompanied by David Arnold`s lush score, this sequence is one of the highlights of the film, and says “Bond” in a way that nothing else can.

For the next film, it would be nice to see Michael Apted return as Director. His work on this film, actually, everyone`s work on this film, from Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson, to Pierce Brosnan and Sophie Marceau, has been more than fantastic. The World Is Not Enough has set the tone and direction for the next film. Now let`s just make sure to maintain the course and Bond will thrive into the next century.

“TWINE” Risks, Dazzles, Edges and Glitters…An “A” for Effort!

Some Mild Spoilers inside our review of the Latest 007’s Style

The World Is Not Enough takes chances and works new combinations for James Bond. Like Star Wars: Episode I, hardcore franchise fans have plenty to applaud. Pleasant surprises, espionage intrigue and plot twists fill TWINE. A Brosnan film that echoes O.H.M.S.S. and License To Kill is a wild idea! From inside EON’s goodie bag come freshened ideas to churn up even hardened devotees to feel stirred if not shaken. TWINE works on many levels as a psychological thriller with more of Bond’s brains and heart in evidence than gadgets.

The teaser sequence is masterful through M’s office scene, taut and reminiscent of the very best GoldenEye to offer. The following boat chase goes a tiny bit over-the-top, somewhat long but extremely well filmed, funny and suspenseful and with a radically satisfying segue into Daniel Kleinman’s gorgeous credits. Luckily, not much else goes overboard for the next two hours, we are glad to report, and though Bond flies through the air and water like Superman, (“You were expecting someone else?”) TWINE’s Bond is a genuine human being as well.

Speaking of humankind, the villains are quite human in scope, right for the self-indulgent feelings-not-facts of the late 1990’s but different from the typical Bond-level pitch. Goldfinger, Mr. Kidd and Emilio Largo loved to torture Bond, just because they were evil bad guys, while Trevelyan, Carver and Renard have pasts and motivations, for goodness’ sake. Renard finds far less concern from the bullet in his brain than from his case of existentialist angst. In a risky move that often works, head write Bruce Feirstein and crew respond to the fans who have noticed that never again will there be a villain as juicy as Ian Fleming’s megalomaniacs or Richard Kiel’s Jaws, by avoiding them entirely. A hulking henchman of Elektra King’s who looks just right for five solid minutes of hand-to-hand combat in an elevator or train with 007 is dropped fast off-screen—a poke at 007’s being some kind of amazing martial artist!

The nagging feeling longtime franchise fans encounter watching this movie may also be because not one bad guy gets chopped into pieces, eaten by piranhas or drowned in steaming mud or bird guano. They are mowed down with bullets, and often by Bond’s point blank use of his license. Bond, of course, for the 21st movie in a row, folks, including Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again, is captured by his enemies at least once, which along with the fact that everyone knows his name and number at the grocery store, helps make him the world’s most unlikely secret agent to love, God bless him. (“007 is my best agent. But I will never tell him that because he gets captured on every mission.”)

Having said all that, dear readers, we affirm the vivid suspense and tension in this one. Bond is danger in the nuke scene with Renard and in the teaser with the venomous “Gulietta” is solid in intensity and top stuff. Plus you get great in-jokes in both scenes! Anyone who does not like “What’s your name?” “My name is Bond, (long pause, rockets up and away like Connery in Thunderball) James Bond” isn’t breathing!

Speaking of nagging feelings in a good way, Brosnan’s Bond is “living on the edge” in a solid way. As Brosnan said in a recent TV Guide issue, “I do work here!” He echoes Timothy Dalton with pain etching his face when the Mrs. is alluded to, and snarls, grimaces and mugs for the camera, much to the delight of all, for two hours and eight minutes straight. Bond is cheated on and lied to and Bond makes mistakes (“We count two, cars and cards…Q is going to be mad.”). Bond gets mad himself, Bond gets bloodthirsty, Bond exacts revenge, Bond is in smokin’ hot pursuit. Brosnan wisely fingers the facial scar he earned filming Tomorrow Never Dies while contemplating his moves, he looks like Bond, a touch of gray at the temples.

Even the trend since For Your Eyes Only towards building a better Bond girl is moved along rather nicely with this series entry. Unlike GoldenEye, where Natalya Simonova’s character develops complexity by showing temerity and skill in a 15-minute Severnaya subplot, Elektra King and Dr. Christmas Jones need even closer watching when Bond moves off-screen, specifically because what they are doing or might not be doing does not revolve around a space satellite but around Mr. Bond himself, as it should be. Feirstein’s final script holds more crosses and double-crosses, and M has more hidden agendas, than in a John Gardner novel, and it all works, every last drop of it.

We can’t say enough about Sophie Marceau’s work, and glowing comments are being made about her portrayal worldwide, so we will restrict ourselves to saying she is the best thing since Maud Adams as Octopussy, maybe even Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore! It was an ultra-clever inside move to see her use ice twice, once to send Bond on a mission and once to bring to mind the fire and ice Largo uses in Thunderball for “heat and cool, pain and pleasure”. Robert Carlyle does a fantastic job with non-verbal emoting and facial expressions when he cannot feel or achieve pleasure in the ice scene. Marceau’s first–rate psychotic who is “too beautiful to die” was a fans’ dream character made real. Denise Richards’ screen presence does not loom very large, but before everyone pans her as Dr. Christmas Jones, we must affirm that her acting was fine and that she is far more delectable for Bond to spend an evening with than, say, her first cousin, Indiana.

Henchman, M’s staff, (including “Charles Robinson” and “Bill Tanner” in the same movie!) gals and minor characters keep Bond hustling on his mission as he runs through more people’s lives than exotic locales. It is nice to watch a James Bond film so replete with characters and plot lines. Added grist hits Bond’s mill since Renard, King, Jones, Moneypenny, M, Q, R and every other letter of the alphabet have one thing in common–they are not happy to see Bond at first, or even at second, because he has a nasty habit of doing whatever he pleases to do. Following his 007-ly nose, Bond steals Q’s boat, ditches M’s mission, yanks plot devices out of nuclear bombs and guns down his enemies…he knows how to save the world when he has to!

Director Michael Apted (“Gorky Park”, “Gorillas in the Mist”) rates superior marks all around, as he obviously knows Ian Fleming’s Bond travelogue. He abandons Roger Spottiswoode’s MTV-editing (sorry, nobody does it better, quick editing that is, than Bond’s hero, John Glen) and Martin Campbell’s moody, brooding interiors, for wide vistas. A sunny London day (!) looks like Moonraker’s Venice but with prettier waterways, Istanbul is open and glittering and Apted’s breathtaking snowy mountains evoke Peter Hunt’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Apted also delivers the delighted audience Dr. No-like claustrophobia inside a pipeline tunnel (“I was just out walking my rat!”) and in a close-quarters submarine adventure (“I preshent thish Red October on behalf of the Shoviet people.”).

One of Apted’s greatest triumphs may be that the real “army” of Bondian bad dudes, the EON stuntmen, usually more in number than Blofeld can fit inside a volcano, are little noticed on screen. Quality filmmaking is in evidence throughout, in fact, though the pacing suffers slightly since both kinds of fans are cultivated in an attempt to combine the impossible–wall-to-wall action with an introspective film. Bond is the world’s expert in the impossible, however, and it all gels as Brosnan works with Apted to keep a consistent “I’m Bond and I’m cool, check me out!” character throughout, without being too self-indulgent. Another way of looking at the lighter moments is that they slow the film down enough for us to catch our breath. We get to laugh heartily, not just at Bond, but with Bond, this time out. Bond’s sartorial splendor is better than ever, and like Connery’s Bond or Moore’s Bond, he looks good, he knows it, and he knows we in the audience know it. We want to exercise, buy Calvin Klein glasses and killer skis, and get better haircuts, too.

Apted delivers plenty more visual interest for us. Television and computer monitors, henchmen, barbed wire, gorgeous casino gaming and more press the edges of the screen–don’t buy this one in pan-and-scan or you will miss subtle touches. There is also less gunplay for those of us fans obsessive enough to count the machine gun bullets Bond dodges, another nice response to complaints about the negative aspects of “True Dies.”

Production values rate very high in each Bondian setting in this film. Do we expect anything less from Mr. Bond these days? 007 films are no “Blair Witch Project!” Peter Lamont’s MI-6 headquarters in Scotland, for example, is a haughty, gorgeous fantasy castle of British imperialism. Just when we think Dr. Jones’ nuke is held in a living room of a set, for another instance, we are swept along through a huge, exciting maze of tunnels, blast doors and machinery. (“Ms. Jones, I am Klaus Hergerscheimer, checking radiation levels. G Section.”) Even more than in previous Bond runs, Lamont has wisely spent every penny of his budget as lavish onscreen candy. The trucks in the nuke scene outside the blast facility receive just five seconds of screen time before they blow up spectacularly, unlike the five minutes given to the same gang in the TND teaser. Cool!

The plotting for the first Bond film whose acronym is actually a word in English (“…And if you should run into a large ball of TWINE, 007, I don’t want you stringing matters into your own hands…”) comes thick and fast and the subplots are suitably delicious. Can James Bond trust Elektra King and Dr. Christmas Jones? How is Valentin Zukovsky mixed up in all this? Will Bond cover his mistakes or fall prey to them? Even Q and M get fine subplots and are too busy mothering and fathering their top agent to do the usual foreshadowing of the whole movie in exact order (“Now, 007, first you use this gadget, then you confront the villain, then steal his girlfriend, then you…”). The producers have responded nicely to fan concerns here, winding a wonderful web with this ball of TWINE!

What hurts just a little is there is no memorable, over-the-top stunt piece except a slowed-down 360-move, as in The Man With The Golden Gun. (At least we get some golden gums this time.) Also, Valentin Zukovsky gets a little too much screen time, more the fault of a lengthy factory sequence than anything else. (“Never enough toast when you need it, Valentin.”) We would have loved a few less minutes with the “helichoppers” and another moment or two of plot development, and most fans will agree. Here again, though, was marvelous, thrilling stunt work, chase and gunplay, and automobile fun as Bond shines. (Michael France brought these cutting copters back nicely from his GoldenEye draft and they were foreshadowed well too. Speaking as Bond memorabilia collectors, we regret, incidentally, buying the new model Z8s that come pre-split in two parts.) Valentin makes a much more complex and interesting “buddy character” than Jack Wade, who had his GoldenEye gardening subplot trimmed from an early draft.

In his third and best Bond outing of fixing other writers’ mistakes, Bruce Feirstein finally puts all the good lines in Bond’s mouth instead of the villains or M’s dialogue. (Like when Alec Trevelyan said, “You know something, James? I was always better!” and Bond said nothing juicy in retort.) Feirstein is smart enough to again homage the early films by combining very dark humor with lighter guffaws. One sole regret, there were far too many sex jokes, rather than subtler innuendo, like the cute “Shadow from behind or ahead, never on top.” This Bond’s lechery makes Sean Connery look like he needs a Viagra prescription–but Feirstein’s Bond gets away with most of it as his Bond is also a human compelled by genuine regret and motive.

Composer David Arnold also takes chances, though one he took we can still hardly believe is his movie theme, aptly sung by a band named Garbage. The tune sounds far more like “Tomorrow Never Dies” (which we now like more than before we heard this corker!) than “Surrender.” While the TWINE theme is catchy, it is just a bit too similar to TND’s theme work for our comfort. In very underrated moments for his first Bond, Arnold used “Surrender” as an introspective melody for his score, while this movie’s tracks are a lot more “Bond, Beat & Bass” than Barry.

There are music cues that definitely work, though, and Arnold rescues himself by utilizing the best Bond song ever written as his closer. In his defense, it looks like Arnold, who trumpeted the Bond theme at every moment to make TND more fun (remember the early films, when they played the Bond theme at every opportunity, even when Bond went to the bathroom?) has brought his TWINE score wisely to the background of the film’s heavy visuals, a move that absolutely works well in the mood-evoking ski scene, for example. We hope his third time with Bond will be fully magic, as was Pierce Brosnan’s.

In sum, Brosnan, Apted, Feirstein and company take many chances with this one–perhaps too many, purists will point out. Yet they have more than succeeded in giving Bond fans what they have been missing for a decade now–something to talk about unceasingly until James Bond again returns. Fans will need to see this film three or four times (once for “World” is not enough!) to enjoy all the moments, big and small. We look forward to going again to view it, with the rest of the world, with relish. If things stay grounded on the character portrayal level rather than the gadgets, for the first time we can wholeheartedly endorse Pierce Brosnan for a fourth film, which we now do with relief and gratitude. Thanks, EON!

–Matt Sherman is Forever’s Co-Editor and Steve Kulakoski is a Forever contributor, which means they keep clicking refresh on their web browsers so our hit numbers will again pass one million this month.

TWINE Reviewed By 007Forever Fans

More Fan Reviews (Spoilers Inside!) for Bond’s Latest
Kees Boer and Friends Square off to the New 007-ly Film

I was lucky to see the 19th Eon production James Bond installment entitled “The World Is Not Enough” at a local early premiere night. I thoroughly enjoyed the film. It is amazing, but the third Bond movie that Bond actors have done thus far, has always been their best. Goldfinger was Connery’s third 007 movie; “The Spy Who Loved Me” was Moore’s third and this is Brosnan’s third, of course, and they all hit the emotional and financial jackpot at the third one. (Devotees still argue about Dalton’s possible third movie, whose script “Property of a Lady” is reviewed on the 007Forever pages in Behind The Scenes/The Eye That Never Sleeps.)

Pierce Brosnan did a great job as Bond. He played it “very believable.” His portrayal of Bond is as a man in touch with his personal feelings, who at the same time wouldn’t think twice about killing a villainess, an unarmed woman, whom he has recently made love to. Bond actually gets hurt in this movie, and gets tortured (Oh, goodie!) as well. In this sense, this movie is a lot more Fleming-like. It was also good to see Bond on snow skis again. One interesting thing was that Bond seems to kill a villain, says a witty line, and finds out that the “kill” wasn’t successful in TWINE. “The Broz” himself also lost some weight since “Tomorrow Never Dies.”

007’s Teammates: Bond’s regular teammates are in this movie, Ms. Moneypenny played by Samantha Bond, M played by Ms. Judy Dench, and Q played by Desmond Llewelyn. I liked that Ms. Moneypenny is flirtatious with Bond once again. I felt that in the last few movies, Penny was too p.c., almost ice cold, toward Bond. When Moneypenny hoped for a diamond ring from Bond, it reminded me more of the old Moneypenny ala Diamonds Are Forever. Dame Judy Dench was a delight, playing “crusty old” M. It is clear that more of an appreciation is growing between Bond and M. Instead of just giving the assignment at the beginning of the movie, M actually becomes part of the plot, when she gets captured and imprisoned. This reminds readers of Kinsgley Amis’ Colonel Sun novel, where M gets captured.

007’s Story: Overall I found the plot to be fairly complicated in nature. Part of this is that several characters switched sides, (and so did several scriptwriters) which reminded me on the whole of a John Gardner book. The film even hints that Sir Robert King was M’s former love interest, which reminds me of Raymond Benson’s recent opus “The Facts of Death”. Electra’s father also dies at the beginning of the movie, moving the whole plot, as in “Facts”. The teaser sequence was quite different, having several lengthy scenes crammed into it. As a matter of fact, while watching it I started to wonder if the usual credits and theme song were going to be part of Bond XIX at all!

In this sense the pre-title sequences was very different from any Bond movie, in all its elements, “chit-chat” with M, and surprises, which one would normally expect following the credits proper and theme song.

007’s Musical Score: I must admit that when I first heard the soundtrack before seeing the film, I was hardly impressed. It reminded me a lot of the soundtrack of “Tomorrow Never Dies.” Not that this is bad in itself, as David Arnold made certain strides over GoldenEye, but TWINE didn’t ring as an original and didn’t do much for me.

When I heard the soundtrack together with the movie, however, I found it fit the celluloid perfectly, and I loved it. Even the Garbage song sounded good, seeing it in conjunction with the title sequence. I absolutely loved the Bond music playing during the closing titles!

007’s Locations: The locations are in various places in Europe and Asia, with the vast majority in Europe. I always liked Bond in Europe, this might be because I’m from Europe myself, but I always felt that home provided the perfect setting for any Bond movie. I will say, that it would benefit the viewer greatly to have a good topographical knowledge of Southeastern Europe to view this movie.

007’s Women: Both Sophie Marceau as Elektra King and Denise Richards as Dr. Christmas Jones did a great job. My first impression was that one was the “good gal” and one the “bad egg” but as the movie progresses the roles reverse. It was dramatic to see Ms. King torture Bond, and then later seeing him kill her in cold blood.

Bond ends up with Dr. Jones at the end of the film, much like he ended with Dr. Goodhead in Moonraker, and with the same retorts.

007’s Gadgets: Bond drives a BMW Z8. He has a “standard” rocket launcher, which he uses toward the end of the movie. In the beginning of the film, he also speeds with a special jet boat, with which he chases a femme fatale. This boat is like the opposite version of the Lotus Espirit from the “The Spy, Who Loves Me” as it is a boat driven on land rather than a car driven at sea! The villains also have some interesting gadgets. There is a helicopter with giant vertically suspended circular saws. This idea was first going to be used in the movie “GoldenEye.” They also have small helicopters much like the little Nellie of “You Only Live Twice,” with which they chase Bond. The snow ski scene especially reminded me much of that movie.

I felt overall that TWINE maintains an excellent balance between Bond’s gadgets and his wits. He didn’t overly rely on the gadgets for his rescues, but did use them to the delight of the audience.

007’s Adversaries: Robert Carlyle did a good job as the villain. He didn’t seem a traditional villain though–he actually looked like a criminal! Whereas someone like Goldfinger looks like a respectable individual in society, (European society!) Renard looks like a guy getting arrested in the television show COPS!

The redoubtable Ms. King was very likeable, making it all the more surprising to see her turn out bad, and I don’t just mean a “bad girl” like Bond’s typical shameful slatterns!

Unlike the other Bond movies, this movie actually seemed to have two main villains instead of just one major villain, a henchman, and their army of bad guys.

007’s Success: This is definitely one of the best Bond movies made yet. I am looking forward (and many friends are also) to seeing Bond XIX many times over. Two of my thumbs (If I had more I would use them too) up!

Other fans chime in from around the globe:

“Saw TWINE–It was big letdown. Too much comedy. When the older movies had 3 to 5 great quips–this was non-stop. John Cleese as the new Q? This movie reflects the new poor quality of movies in general–What a major disappointment.”

“If the theater I went to in Manhattan, Friday night around Union Square, is any indication, the new Bond is going to do terrific business. At 5:30 all showings on a hourly basis at $9.50 a ticket were sold out to midnight. A friend just told me that a theater she went by in San Diego had all showings sold out. I DID get to see it, just not there, not that night, but the next afternoon, in Brooklyn, by the skin of our teeth.”

“Yes, it is a good movie. I pretty much knew on Sunday afternoon that it would come in #1 at the box office. I’d taken my son back to see the Pokemon movie for a second time. I asked the girl at the box office about it. She had a display there with how all the films were doing at their theater. Since it was clearly #1 there, I was sure that it would be #1 everywhere else, as well.”

“Hello. I assume you’ve seen TWINE by now. My thoughts: Brosnan was excellent; loved the use of the Bond theme as the close credits; the parahawk chase was a little on the lame side; the boat chase had remnants of the Moore era; was that a continuity problem for the yellow tennis shoes on Christmas in the caviar factory?; Desmond is looking pretty tired but Cleese was good; this movie was more like the early era of Bond flicks; overall, the movie was one of the best yet.”

“I saw TWINE a couple of weeks back at a junket at MGM and didn’t think it worked. Parts were okay–Pierce was GREAT. But, overall, the action scenes were totally incoherent, and the main plot wasn’t well defined. Like TND, there’s no relationship between Bond and Jones to make the romantic payoff work. The end joke was very Moonrakerish, I thought. But the biggest offender was Arnold’s techno action cues. They were so uninspired and just droned on. Could have been a better film with a Barry score. So, it gets a 6 of 10 (nahhh, give it a 7 of 10 because it was much better than TND–but not nearly as stylish as GoldenEye).”

“I saw the Dutch premiere at the famous Tuschinski Theatre in Amsterdam, arriving right on time, I enjoyed some free coffee, together with some hundred people of the Dutch writing press. I felt extremely privileged–I will tell you about the film. IT IS ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!!!!

Pierce Brosnan is amazing, and is fitting the role better each time he plays it. Another A+ feature is Sophie Marceau as Elektra King…Isn’t she one of the world’s most gorgeous women? I think so!

Although the plot is once again a bit vague (a lot of story lines emerge in the big story) it is definitely much better than the last one, “Tomorrow Never Dies”–This one will earn its millions!

There has been much doubt about the listing of ‘Istanbul, Turkey’ as a filming location, but I can tell you from experience–They were there for certain! All I can say now is, spread the word that this film ROCKS!”

“Personally, I was disappointed, thought it was dingy, rhythm-less. Reminded me too much of the John Glen directed 80’s Bond films, especially LTK. It had the same washed out look. It was reasonably well-paced though. I’d give it a 5.5 out of 10. How does everybody else feel?”

Answer: We would love to know!–007Forever Editors

–Kees Boer is famous for sharing his Christian faith in God live on stage with Pierce Brosnan. He is has been a Bond fan since he received a Corgi Goldfinger car 30 years ago (when they were affordable).

TWINE Means The World Is Not Enough

In his 19th screen outing, Ian Fleming’s superspy is once again caught in the crosshairs of a self-created dilemma: as the longest-running feature-film franchise, James Bond is an annuity his producers want to protect, yet the series’ consciously formulaic approach frustrates any real element of surprise beyond the rote application of plot twists or jump cuts to shake up the audience. This time out, credit 007’s caretakers for making some visible attempts to invest their principal characters with darker motives–and blame them for squandering The World Is Not Enough’s initial promise by the final reel.

By now, Bond pictures are as elegantly formal as a Bach chorale, and this one opens on an unusually powerful note. A stunning pre-title sequence reaches beyond mere pyrotechnics to introduce key plot elements as the action leaps from Bilbao to London. Bond 5.0, Pierce Brosnan, undercuts his usually suave persona with a darker, more brutal edge largely absent since Sean Connery departed. Equally tantalizing are our initial glimpses of Bond’s nemesis du jour, Renard (Robert Carlyle), and imminent love interest, Elektra King (Sophie Marceau), both atypically complex characters cast with seemingly shrewd choices, and directed by the capable Michael Apted.

The story’s focus on post-Soviet geopolitics likewise starts off on a savvy note, before being overtaken by increasingly Byzantine plot twists, hidden motives, and reversals of loyalty superheated by relentless (if intermittently perfunctory) action sequences.

Indeed, the procession of perils plays like a greatest hits medley, save for a nifty sequence involving airborne buzz saws that’s as enjoyable as it is preposterous. Bond’s grimmer demeanor, while preferable to the smirk that eventually swallowed Roger Moore whole, proves wearying, unrelieved by any true wit. The underlying psychoses that propel Renard and Elektra eventually unravel into unconvincing melodrama, while Bond is supplied with a secondary love object, Denise Richards, who’s even more improbable as a nuclear physicist.

Ultimately, this World is not enough despite its better intentions.

–Sam Sutherland

TWINE Hits The Middle Of The Road

The James Bond films haven`t been “films” since FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. Or, to put it more precisely, they have become “James Bond films,” a sort of genre unto itself with a well-established formula and a level of audience expectation that cannot be ignored without peril. Elements like credibility and drama take a back seat to exotic locations, beautiful women, clever quips, fast-paced action, exciting stunts, lavish sets, and elaborate effects. While movie audiences eat this up with each new entry in the series, the Bond purists, those who remember the character as he appeared in Ian Fleming`s novels, yearn for a return to a more serious Bond. Not that the novels were without their outrageous elements (come on, 007 fought a giant squid in the novel of DR. NO), but Fleming captured a sense of gritty reality amidst all the glamour. In fact, it was this sense of continual danger that was at the core of the books. As Timothy Dalton was fond of pointing out, Bond`s vices (smoking, drinking, women) were an oasis from his everyday reality. This was a man who could die any day, at any moment, so he took his pleasures where he found them.

In the films, these elements, which had been for Bond a mere respite, became instead the true focus of attention. Especially during the Roger Moore era, Bond became a fantasy of what a secret agent would be: an infallible, good-looking superhero who never got his hair mussed, always won the fights, and never seemed in real danger (although Moore did perfect a comic grimace he used whenever faced with a supposedly imposing enemy, such as Richard Kiel`s Jaws).

Of course, Sean Connery had shown that it was possible to play this character as if it were the real thing. Maybe the actor wasn`t exactly what Fleming had in mind, but he did sell the character to the audience. Although he was ever ready with a quip, his sense of humor somehow never attacked the integrity of the film itself: while you were watching, you were in that world, and your suspension of disbelief remained in place.

With Dalton, fans got a return to a hard-edged, serious Bond. Unfortunately, the actor was ill-served by his film, especially LICENCE TO KILL, which was, theoretically, designed as a showcase for his interpretation of the character. What emerged from that debacle, however, was an abject lesson in how resistant the series had become to change. While we were supposed to take the film seriously, the same outrageous stunts and action intruded at regular intervals (in the film`s low point, the incredibility of Bond`s actions actually becomes a plot point, making the villain distrust the henchman relating the events). While we are supposed to be thrilled by the personal vendetta between Bond and Sanchez (an excellent Robert Davi), that element is all but eclipsed by a closing chase scene that replaces the actors with stunt men and abandons drama for action.

Sadly, Dalton never got another chance to make the role his own. Instead, after a six year gap, we got Pierce Brosnan as a new Bond for the `90s. What immediately became apparent in GOLDENEYE was that Brosnan, despite his REMINGTON STEELE background, was not going to play the lethal secret agent like a walking self-parody. Unlike Dalton, he imbued his Bond with humor, but unlike Moore, he wasn`t reluctant to explore the serious side of the character. In effect, he tried to combine the best elements of Moore and Dalton, creating a new version of 007 that in some ways harkened back to Connery.
TOMORROW NEVER DIES was a considerable improvement over GOLDENEYE. Somehow, the Bond elements clicked into place: great villain, great women, great action, great Bond. Yet somehow, in the build up to the release of THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, the previous film has become the whipping boy-dismissed as all action and no story-and WORLD has been presented as the antidote, a film that alters the traditional Bond formula by infusing it with greater drama and characterization.

Well, I`m here to tell you that it just ain`t so. The film tries very hard, and sometimes the effort pays off, but overall this is a compromised effort that recalls LICENCE TO KILL in the wrong way: it`s a film that tries to be different but lapses back into the same old, obligatory set pieces. This is really too bad. After all, both Connery and Moore hit their stride with their third outing as Bond (GOLDFINGER and THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, respectively), Maria Grazia Cucinotta as the murderous Cigar Girl in the film`s stunning precredit sequence and we had every reason to hope that the same would be true of Brosnan. As he has aged with each subsequent appearance, he has grown into the role: he has lost some of that boyish charm that threatened to make his Bond appear lightweight, and replaced it with a more seasoned sense of experience; in short, he`s starting to project the image of a man who`s been around the block a few times and knows where the bodies are buried.

Alas, this was not to be. THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH begins with an excellent pre-credits sequence that works because it undermines our comfortable expectations. After an initial adventure and narrow escape, the film doesn`t cut to the credits but goes to the headquarters of MI6, which are violated with a deadly explosion that precipitates an exciting boat chase down the Thames. The assault on a setting we are used to seeing used only as a means for exposition (to set up the plot) creates a genuine surprise, and the boat chase works with only a few gimmicks, instead opting for visceral impact. The whole sequence is over-the-top in the best Bond manner: thrilling in a fun kind of way but not so absurd as to render its hero in cartoon superhero terms.

Things proceed well with the opening credits and theme song–a fine tune composed by David Arnold and performed by Garbage that recalls the classic Bond themes like “Goldfinger.” But then the movie proper starts, and the plot kicks in. The big mistake that follows is that the filmmakers obviously want to render a film with more dramatic impact, but they are afraid to sacrifice the traditional elements in order to achieve this. The result alternates between slow dialogue scenes and intrusive action scenes; worse, the two elements are often not well integrated. The worst example of this is the helicopter attack on the caviar factory. At a time when the films should be barreling headlong toward the rescue of M (Judi Dench), instead it stops for a set piece that in no way advances the story. Far more damning, it`s not such a great scene that it justifies its own existence. There are lots of shots of damage being inflicted, lots of shots of people running, but no sense of danger or suspense, no sense of narrative–of people gaining or losing the upper hand, or turning the tide against their attackers. The sequence might have been just tolerable if it had ended when Bond`s car launches a rocket that explodes the copter, but no–there is a second helicopter, allowing the sequence to drag on even further, to no real advantage.

The problem, clearly, is that Michael Apted is no action director, so he apparently lavished his attention on the character scenes and left the second-unit people to do what they wanted, whether or not it meshed with his work. What was really needed was an approach like that of James Cameron or John Woo, who know that action is character-how a character behaves under duress or in danger is as much a part of storytelling as what he says when alone with another person.

With the attempt at drama thus undercut, the film`s pace drags woefully in the middle. The attempt to play Electra King (Sophie Marceau) as a believable love interest (rather than just a sex object) is partially successful, but it never generates as much heat at Teri Hatcher`s role in TOMORROW NEVER DIES-and she had much less screen time, to boot. The film`s twist, that Electra is the real villain of the story, does work fairly well (at least it`s not obviously telegraphed), but we never understand her conviction that Bond won`t have the nerve to kill her. Certainly, we in the audience never believe he will hesitate, and when the big moment finally comes, Apted throws it away with a reaction shot to M, instead of focusing his camera in on the faces we want to see in this critical moment of life and death: Bond and Electra.

At least, Marceau is more than just beautiful; her accent and European looks are appropriately exotic for a Bond movie. The same cannot be said for Denise Richards. Sure, she is gorgeous enough to be a Bond woman, but in the middle of a film striving for greater characterization, her Dr. Christmas Jones is an underwritten tag-along character with little to distinguish her. Worse, she is saddled with unspeakable techno-babbble dialogue that recalls a bad episode of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION. The result, sadly, provokes laughter in all the wrong places. Again, using TOMORROW NEVER DIES as a point of comparison, Michelle Yeoh managed to present herself as a worthy colleague to Bond, and her martial arts skills gave an added punch to the film. With Dr. Jones, we wonder why Bond is even dragging her along. (Yeah, I know, she`s supposed to diffuse the atomic bomb, but Bond knows how to do that himself-or at least, he had learned by the time of OCTOPUSSY.)

Robert Carlyle pulls a few worthwhile moments of unexpected vulnerability out of the villainous Renard, but the character does not rank among Bond`s most memorable foes. Carlyle projects far more danger as the volatile barroom brawler in TRAINSPOTTING. Here, is almost subdued. This supposedly more realistic opponent simply lacks the larger-than-life flare that Jonathan Pryce brought to TOMORROW NEVER DIES.

The script has some good points. The dialogue is often witty, but for every clever line, there is at least one howler (like the film`s closing pun about Christmas coming more than once a year). At least Desmond Llewelyn and John Cleese make the most of the traditional gadget scene. Llewelyn is in fine form, finally with someone else to play off of rather than just Bond; in fact, it`s fun to see Q and 007 have a third party as the target for jibes so that at last they can stop sparring with each other. The hints of surrogate father-son loyalty actually fill the screen with some genuine warmth. And Cleese, of course, is a scream as Q`s apprentice. He gets more laughs in a few minutes than are to be had in the rest of the film.

Okay, so THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH aims to achieve something more than its predecessor and trips up on its own ambition. Does that make it a bad Bond movie? No, despite the lags in pacing, the film does deliver the goods. There are delightful moments, some good set pieces, occasionally surprising plot twists; Maria Grazia Cucinotta is so good as the lethal lady in the opening sequence that we miss her presence throughout the rest of the film, and Brosnan giving a more mature performance as Bond. There is even an effective torture sequence that recalls the grueling sense of pain and fear that Fleming put into his books. But in every way, the film is inferior to its immediate predecessor. It may be good p.r. to present the new Bond film as a dramatic antidote to the all-action formula of previous Bonds, but the truth is that some of those action packed movies (including TOMORROW NEVER DIES) did generate genuine emotional responses, often much more effectively than the current film. More than anything, a Bond film should be fun, movie-going entertainment. This film indeed delivers the goods; it`s just bogged down in an attempt to do more that ultimately delivers less.

–Steve Biodrowski

TWINE Bombs…The Formula Is Not Enough

Starring Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau, Robert Carlyle and Denise Richards, Rated PG-13 for violence and sexuality, 121 minutes

It`s during the opening action sequence in `The World is Not Enough` that you notice something is sour within the Bond franchise. Bond speeds down the Thames river in pursuit of a sexy sniper, hot on her hot tail in his latest toy: a speedboat outfitted with the latest gadgetry and gun power. We know it`s loaded with the goods, and we`re waiting for him to fire them off systematically. But this time, Bond just drives. The excitement of the chase is replaced with an anxious waiting. In the end, he launches a torpedo or two. But after waiting in anticipation for something spectacular, the scene feels more like a stalemate. It`s a fitting opening sequence for a Bond installment that continually falls short.

Brosnan is back as 007 in his third outing as James Bond. He`s got the rugged style and the right delivery to wear the shell of the super spy effectively, but in `World,` Brosnan appears tired, as if even he knows this mission is a dud. It`s hard to understand his motivation, in fact the only scenes he looks comfortable in are those involving a woman and a bed. Brosnan has lost the guile that made him in his first two outings the most appealing Bond since Sean Connery.

`The World is Not Enough` takes James on a mission to stop a Russian terrorist named Renard, played by Robert Carlyle, from monopolizing the oil market. Renard uses bloodshed as his negotiator, acting as a kamikaze man of war before a bullet left in his brain finally kills him off. In the mean time, Renard has the gift of painlessness–the bullet has knocked out his nervous system. It`s a great idea for a Bond villain. But the poorly written script never fleshes out Renard`s intentions; it doesn`t even allow his unique traits to be exploited.

Each character in this nineteenth installment is underdeveloped. It plays like a rough draft on film and the transitions and action sequences are increasingly contrived. The direction doesn`t help. Michael Apted executes the most choppy Bond film to date. Nothing flows correctly and the action is filmed in angles that confuse instead of excite. This isn`t a good thing in a film series that relies on momentum.

It`s obvious that the Bond franchise has never been about stellar character development and thought provoking themes, but at the very least Bond needs to dazzle. Now it`s just a matter of Bond copying Bond: we`ve seen these scenes in earlier installments, and done more creatively. In `World,` we know the bad guys because they`re the ones with the black parachutes.

And then we have Dr. Christmas Jones, played by Denise Richards, in a role that will go down as the Jar Jar Binks of the Bond franchise. Her lines are so poor and poorly executed, she actually earns more laughs than Bond`s little quips. Sorry, we`re laughing at you, not with you.

The final shot of the film displays the message, “James Bond will return again,” as if to say to the Bond faithful “just overlook this attempt, we`ll get it right next time.” To do so, this franchise has got to find a fresh angle. Or James will find his death to be slow, and painful.

Grade: C –

–Ian Ebright

Total Recall

Believe it or not, this film is more like a Bond film than many of the Bond films themselves. The film comes complete with Arnold Schwarzenegger as a spy with gadgets, action, not one but two beautiful women, exotic locations (Mars) and a villain with plans to rule an entire planet.

The year is 2089. Schwarzenegger plays Doug Quaid, a quarry worker on earth constantly haunted by dreams of living on Mars and ambitions to be something more than just a blue-collar worker. His wife, Lori (Sharon Stone), is dead set against moving to Mars to help fulfill Doug`s personal ambitions. So Doug does the next best thing: he has memories implanted into his head that will make him think he`s been to Mars. Not only that, but his memories will be so real, even though they aren`t, that he`ll think he`s a secret agent in grave danger.

The film is Schwarzenegger`s best (which isn`t saying much) but is hampered somewhat by director Paul Verhoeven`s bloodlust for gore and bone-crunching violence on the screen. The plot is complex enough to require several viewings. Stone is the standout star of the film, but other noteables include Roy Brocksmith as the duplicitous Dr. Edgemar and Mel Johnson as the taxi-cab driver Benny (in a role originally written for Grace Jones).

Tomorrow Never Dies DVD

Tomorrow Never Dies was reviewed using a DVD player equipped with a Dolby Pro-Logic Surround Sound system.

The advantage of DVD is the huge storage space it provides developers, especially over video. This extra storage has been used for production notes, cast lists and biographies, theatrical trailers, multiple soundtracks, director commentaries, in short, everything that can compliment a movie is usually thrown in. MGM`s previous Bond titles have all included extras like this. Moonraker, Spy Who Loved Me and Goldfinger even included featurettes on the making of these respective films.

Tomorrow Never Dies has but one bonus feature, the trailer. It is a good trailer, very reminiscent of the Goldeneye trailer. Plenty of explosions and of course, the Bond theme is played loudly. Unlike the Goldeneye trailer however, there were only film clips, no new footage of Brosnan. I know this seems like a small point, but as this was the only bonus on the entire disc, it does not seem like much. Obviously, I was very disappointed with this. MGM usually whips together enough special bonuses to make the disc worth the price EVEN without the movie!

Of course, nobody buys the discs just for the bonuses. The movie itself was excellent for the most part. Of course, the video itself was extraordinarily clear. The sound quality was exceptional. The soundtrack (at least the English one) was mastered in Dolby Digital. Every bullet shot rings out with crystal clarity.

MGM messed up with the subtitles however. By subtitles, I am not referring to the closed captioning, I mean the subtitles needed in the movie to describe the locations Bond is at. The nice yellow text used in the theater for titles like “Terrorist Arms Bazaar, Somewhere in Russia” was missing for all subtitles with the exception of “The Devonshire”. The rest of the text looked like blocky Commodore 64 text. Very disappointing! I am not sure why MGM went this method. I am not sure if the home video version uses the original theatrical font, but I am guessing that it probably does. It is only a minor complaint, but it is very annoying and looks almost amateurish.

Tomorrow Never Dies is MGM`s weakest Bond release. This is a shame for a few reasons. First, all other Bond titles they have released on DVD have been of the utmost quality. Furthermore, rumors of a “Tomorrow Never Dies” Special Edition DVD including all the bonuses which would normally come with a DVD have surfaced. Regrettably, I can only assume MGM held back on this release, saving the bonuses to squeeze more money out of me come December. Still, this disc has one undeniable feature which guarantees it will sell; the home video version will not be for sale for at least six months, and possibly longer. Until such time, DVD is the only way to own Tomorrow Never Dies.

Tomorrow Never Dies

TOMORROW NEVER DIES, Jonathan Pryce, 1997
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

The Cast: Pierce Brosnan (James Bond); Michelle Yeoh (Wai Lin); Jonathan Pryce (Elliot Carver); Teri Hatcher (Paris Carver); Gotz Otto (Stamper); Joe Don Baker (Jack Wade)

The Supporting Cast: Judy Dench (“M”); Desmond Llewelyn (“Q”); Samantha Bond (Moneypenny); Ricky Jay (Gupta); Geoffrey Palmer (Admiral Roebuck); Colin Samson (Robinson); Cecile Thomasen (Professor Ingstrom); Tamara Kelly (Nina Young) Vincent Schiavelli (Dr. Kaufman)

Credits: Produced by Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson; Directed by Roger Spottiswoode; Story by Bruce Fierstein and Daniel Petrie; Music by David Arnold; Title Song performed by Sheryl Crow; Titles by Daniel Kleinmann;Edited by Dominique Fortin and Michael Arcand

Review by: Cavan Scott

There can be no doubt about it. Bond is back and his name is Pierce Brosnan. The risk with the follow-up to GoldenEye was whether another Bond film could survive without the novelty factor of Bond`s new persona. Would Brosnan still be able to keep the public on his side or would he prove the old cliche that familiarity breeds contempt?

Thankfully the man born to be Bond acquits himself exquisitely. Brosnan`s claim on the Walther, whether that is the PPK of old or the more contemporary P99, is secure. As it stands Tomorrow Never Dies, the eighteenth official 007 movie from EON productions, is truly a greatest hits collection for Commander Bond. The elements, so sorely missed by the audiences of Licence To Kill are all back in force. Bond is magnificently politically incorrect, although Brosnan has been able to add the human side that was desired in both Lazenby and Dalton. The key is that the task of making Bond more vulnerable does not mean that the baby must be thrown out with the bath-water.

Like Dalton before him, we see Brosnan portraying a Bond racked with a desire for vengeance, but this time the agent never forgets who he is and what his role must be. To keep him from drowning in the sea of violence that crashes around him, Bond still remembers the power of a bad pun and the schoolboy sense of adventure that also manages to keep him alive.

While the need for nostalgia which keeps the franchise alive is obviously present throughout his latest mission, Tomorrow Never Dies does break from the past in small ways. The much-maligned Jonathan Pryce simply does not deserve the criticism leveled against his portrayal of media baron Elliot Carver. It has been claimed that Carver fails to live up to the larger than life villains of yesteryear. The question must be asked whether this is such a bad thing. Carver does not command respect and loyalty by pure charisma, but a sinister mixture of corruption and avarice. His double-persona, one of a public figure striving for world media-domination and the other a puppet-master manipulating the public and governments alike to ensure total monopoly, is far more chilling that the mania of Drax or the psychopathic tendencies of Max Zorin. If ever there is an ogre for the nineties, it is the gently spoken man who hides his villainy behind rimless designer spectacles.

Carver`s accomplices are unfortunately more of a mixed batch. Gupta, the techno-terrorist played by magician Ricky Jay is easily forgettable in the light of GoldenEye`s brilliant Boris and Stamper is yet another Red Grant clone. Thankfully, Vincent Schiavelli`s Dr Kaufman is a touch of pure genius and easily the best henchmen since the camp assassins Mr Kidd and Mr Wint of Diamonds Are Forever fame.

With other elements combining to provide the thrills we all expected Director Roger Sporriswoode provides us with the sensation of slipping into a pair of nuclear powered slippers, although his use of slow motion is unnecessary and ultimately jarring in the final action scenes. Dame Judy Dench once again takes on the mantle of M and this time the relationship between her and 007 is of full respect, with more understanding than has ever existed between Bond and his superior. Likewise, while Desmond Llwewlyn`s Q is obviously having even more difficulty with the new-fangled modern equipment that his department has to provide, the actor seems far more together than the embarrassment of the previous film. Whether, he can be brought back again has yet to be seen. The difficult job of replacing the franchise`s most loved character may be a even more awesome task than finding a new 007 himself.

The final icing on the cake is David Arnold`s score, which, like the film itself, takes much of its inspiration from the past. Those who become bored of the constant activity and outlandish stunts can play spot the John Barry theme as Arnold continually suggests, but never truly plagiarises, the master of the Bond score.

Of course no film is perfect. The attempt to deglamorise Bond after the over-styled GoldenEye is misguided. Brosnan can quite easily perform stunts while wearing an immaculate three piece suit, complete with handkerchief, so there was no need to strip him from it this time round. Also, the media theme is surprisingly underused. Where is the juxtaposition of Carver`s televised narrative of the final shootout providing a sharp contrast to the events on the Stealth ship? This is truly a missed opportunity.

Also, while Bond is a trained killer, do we have to see him so dispassionate about the mass murder which he causes at every turn? This is the territory of Bruce Willis not the Queen`s finest secret agent.

As for the revolutionary leading lady, while there is no doubt that Michelle Yeoh is a fine actress who can handle the fight scenes as well as any stunt double, Chinese agent Wai Lin is hardly the break from the norm that was promised. Too similar to the character of Major Anya Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me, Wai Lin is surely only this strong to prove how skillful our own agent actually is. She is the best, and therefore Bond must naturally be better.

Aside from this, Tomorrow Never Dies is exactly what a James Bond feature should be – Pure unadulterated escapism with lashes of explosive fantasy and one of the best cars since the Db5. There is one thing you can be sure of- James Bond will return.

Thunderball

Thunderball (1965)

The Cast Sean Connery (James Bond), Claudine Auger (Domino), Lucianna Paluzzi (Fiona Volpe), Rick Van Nutter (Felix Leiter), Adolfo Celi (Largo)

The Supporting Cast Bernard Lee (“M”), Desmond Llewelyn (“Q”), Lois Maxwell (Moneypenny), Martine Beswick (Paula Kaplan), Molly Peters (Nurse Fearing), Guy Doleman (Count Lippe), Michael Brennan (Janni), Phillip Locke (Vargas)

Credits Presented by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman; Produced by Kevin McClory; Directed by Terence Young; Screenplay by Richard Maibaum and John Hopkins; Based on an original screenplay by Jack Whittingham; based on an original story by Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham and Ian Fleming; Music by John Barry; Title Song performed by Tom Jones; Lyrics by Don Black; Titles by Maurice Binder; Edited by Peter Hunt;

Mission: James Bond has less than four days to find out who or what is behind the theft of two atomic bombs and prevent a nuclear holocaust.

Villain`s Idiosyncrasy: Love of white cats with diamond necklaces (Blofeld)

Locations covered: Bahamas; Paris, France; England (MI6/Shrublands)

Release Dates: U.S. December 21st, 1965; December 29th, 1965

Box Office: $141 million ($724,990,276.29 million in 1998 dollars )

Best lines: Bond after shooting spear gun into Vargas: “I think he got the point.”
Fiona Volpe on Bond`s lovemaking skills: “James Bond. The man who only has to make love to a woman, she hears heavenly choirs singing and immediately repents and turns to the side of right and virtue. But not this one. What a blow it must have been; you, a failure.”

Notable notes: Tom Jones` single “Thunderball” charted to #25 on the U.S. Billboard Top 40.

Review by Michael Kersey

SPECTRE`s most audacious plan yet, hatched by Number Two, Emilio Largo, is to steal two atomic bombs from a NATO training flight, and demand a ransom of 100million pounds or else two cities will be decimated: possibly in England, the United States or both. Bond realizes he has an “in” on the investigation when the pilot who supposedly had his payload hijacked, in reality, had died hours earlier at Shrublands health facility in upper England. With little to go on and even less time, Bond is redirected from Canada to the Bahamas, where he engineers a meeting with the late pilots wife, Domino Duval.

Domino is, besides being stunningly beautiful, naive, impressionable, too trusting, and the mistress of Emilio Largo. Bond uses her relationship with Largo to get closer to that inner circle, whom he suspects is in actuality SPECTRE.

Bond eventually has a face to face encounter with Domino`s “master” at the casino, where Bond notices the ring of SPECTRE on Largo`s hand. It`s intersting to watch this scene unfold, as it becomes clear to Bond who Largo works for, and Largo now understands who Bond is and who he works for. Neither side divulge they are on to the other except through sly, subtle comments. But it almost becomes a game between Bond and Largo to see who will ultimately win. You have to believe there`s a certain amount of respect on both sides for one another, even if each doesn`t agree with what the other one is doing. Certainly Largo enjoys the challenge of beating the world`s most dangerous secret agent.

Thunderball would mark the height of the Bond craze. All over the world, Sean Connery and the Bond Girls were on the cover of countless hundreds, perhaps thousands of magazines, including Popular Science (pictured left), Screen Stories and LIFE. Thunderball also ushered in a merchandising bonanza, including dolls, lunchboxes, Milton Bradley board games, race car sets, playing cards, walkie talkies, spy cameras, toy handcuffs, posters, shirts and countless other items. Thunderball also ushered in a wave of spy flicks and television series in the mid 60`s such as Mission:Impossible and The Man From U.N.C.L.E; some more successful than others. It`s easy to see why when you look at Thunderball from top to bottom. It`s got another classic Bond song, this time sung by Tom Jones. It`s got gorgeous and dangerous women, lush locations and over the top villains. While a very good film, it`s not as tight as Goldfinger. It goes on just a little too long, which is all the more remarkable since there is actually less plot moving the film forward. And as already mentioned, it does not have the depth of story that either Dr.No or From Russia, With Love did.

As usual, Bond was cutting edge. The Jet Pack used in the pre-credits sequence was newly mastered technology on loan to the producers. And while some critics scoffed at the notion that atomic bombs could be hijacked, they were quieted when a real life jet carrying bombs went down in an ocean not too long after Thunderball had premiered. The series was at it`s peak and at the top of it`s game.

The Spy Who Loved Me DVD

A review of the special edition DVD of The Spy Who Loved Me is based on features found on the Region One encoded disc. Features or specifications for other regions may vary.

FEATURES: • Aspect Ratio(s): Widescreen Anamorphic – 2.35:1
• DVD Encoding: Region 1 (USA & CANADA)
• Layers: Dual
• Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
• Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
• Commentary by director Lewis Gilbert, the cast and crew
• Theatrical trailer(s)
• Documentaries: Inside The Spy Who Loved Me & Designing Bond
• Still Gallery
• Original TV Ads & Radio Spots
• Collectible Making-Of Booklet

DVD is definitely the best way to see The Spy Who Loved Me. Widescreen will help best establish the scope of Ken Adam`s sets and Derek Medding`s models of the Liparus. Details often cropped out in pan & scan versions that were broadcast on ABC and TBS will be a real eye opener for the viewer new to DVD. The documentaries are top notch, and a lot of time is given to Rick Sylvester`s amazing jump off the Asgaard Peak.

The audio track includes commentary by Michael Wilson, Lewis Gilbert, Ken Adam and Christopher Wood. The lack of star power on the commentary is a drawback though, as it leaves too much time for Ken Adam and Lewis Gilbert to ramble on and interrupt one another. Barbara Bach or Richared Kiel would have been a welcome relief.

One of Roger Moore`s best Bond films is also one of the best special editions to hit DVD.

The Spy Who Loved Me

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

THE CAST: Roger Moore (James Bond); Barbara Bach (Anya Amasova); Richard Kiel (Jaws); Caroline Munro (Naomi); Curt Jurgens (Karl Stromberg)

THE SUPPORTING CAST: Bernard Lee (“M”); Desmond Llewelyn (“Q”); Lois Maxwell (Moneypenny); Walter Gotell (General Gogol); Geoffrey Keen (Minister of Defense); Robert Brown (Admiral Hargreaves); Vernon Dobtcheff (Max Kalba)

CREDITS: Produced by Albert R. Broccoli; Directed by Lewis Gilbert; Screenplay by Christopher Wood and RIchard Maibaum; Music by Marvin Hamlisch; Theme Song performed by Carly Simon; Lyrics by Carol Bayer Sager; Titles by Maurice Binder; Edited by John Glen; Running Time 2 hours and 4 minutes

MISSION: Bond and his Russian counterpart, Agent XXX, must stop a megalomaniacal madman from destroying Moscow and New York and setting up his underwater base Atlantis as the seat of a new world order.

VILLAIN`S IDIOSYNCRASY: Obsessive love of the sea.

LOCATIONS COVERED: Sardinia; Eygpt; Austria

RELEASE DATES: U.S. July 13th, 1977; U.K. July 7th, 1977

BOX OFFICE: $185.4.6 million worldwide ($519,187,541.78 worldwide in 1998)

MUSIC NOTES: “Nobody Does It Better”, sung by Carly Simon, was a smash hit and placed as high as #2 on the US Billboard Top 100.

BEST LINES: “Out of order” sign placed on the body of Max Kalba that was left lying in a phone booth.
“Egyptian builders” Bond says to himself as a pile of bricks falls down upon him.

Review by: Michael Kersey

The Spy Who Loved Me was a renaissance, of sorts, for the Bond series, which had been suffering from a lack of confidence after the tepid release of “The Man With The Golden Gun”. Harry Saltzman had sold his share of the Bond rights, while Kevin McClory was beginning to make noise with his attempts to get his rights to remake Thunderball off the ground. Between 1974 and 1977, Bond was facing his toughest opponent: himself. Everyone involved with bringing The Spy Who Loved Me to the screen knew the stakes. Another misstep could be the end of the series.

Fortunately for Bond fans around the world, The Spy Who Loved Me was a winner, and insured that the series would continue. It features one of Roger Moore`s two best performances as 007. It teams him up with an equally capable female Russian opposite, a megalomaniacal villian, and henchmen that range from the beautiful to the ugly. The storyline hop, skips, and jumps from Austria, to Eygpt and on to Sardinia. Ian Fleming never cared much for his own novel and therefore stipulated that the book could only be used in title only (which wasn`t a problem since the series had been gradually less faithful to the books with each passing film). In order to get back to the grandiose, larger than life type of film You Only Live Twice represented , the producers went back to You Only Live Twice and took it`s plot and it`s director, Lewis Gilbert.

The film takes off with Bond on a mission in Austria. He`s recalled back to London on emergency, but before he can leave, the woman he`s currently dallying with double crosses him and reports his location to a team of Russian scouts ready to assassinate him. Bond manages to elude his persuers on skis by flying off a 3000 ft. tall cliff and parachuting safely to the bottom, but not before killing several of the agents that were after him.

Bond then is assigned to retreive the blueprints of a submarine tracking system that`s being sold on the black market. Both the Russians, British and Americans are missing submarines, with the East blaming the West and vice versa. But the KGB and MI6 also believe a third party could be involved and thus assign their best agents to the case. Sparks fly as Bond and XXX engage in a game of one upsmanship, each trying to get their hands on the microfilm and make the other look inferior. In the process, the game masks deeper feelings that that the two have grown for one another.

Most everything is top notch in the film. Great song, soundtrack, locations, pretitle sequence, and titles. Moore is better than in The Man With The Golden Gun because he`s able to successfully blend humor with a harder edge. He has a better script to work with and is thus allowed to let his trademark humor shine through. Bach, on the other hand, has a more difficult time with the accent, but good looks and great lines go a long ways toward covering over any inadequacy.

The Man With The Golden Gun DVD

The Man With The Golden Gun DVD

NOTE: Review of The Man With the Golden Gun is based on features found on Region One encoded discs. Options, problems or quality may differ on discs found in other regions.

DETAILS & FEATURES:
• Theatrical Release Date: December 19, 1974
• Run Time: 125 minutes
• Widescreen Anamorphic – 1.66:1
• Layers: Dual
• Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
• Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
• Commentary by director Guy Hamilton, the Cast and Crew
• Theatrical trailer(s)
• Inside The Man With The Golden Gun Documentary
• Stunts documentary
• Exciting Still Gallery
• Original TV Ads & Radio Spots
• Collectible Making-Of Booklet

The aspect ratio of the film, sound and color all seem adequate, so we`ll leave it up to the experts to pick apart fidely and equalization arguments. John Cork and his team at T.W.I.N.E. Productions do a first rate job of putting together interviews and stock Bond footage for the documentary. People whom you were never likely to see, and names that you would probably never remember, all get a chance to tell their unique stories. Jerry Juroe, one time head of marketing for United Artists, makes an appearance, as do Peter Murton and Peter Lamont. Cast interviews include all the principal actors except for Herve Villechaize, who had died well prior to production.

The documentary ofthe movie yields a few interesting surprises:
• Roger Moore was approached about doing Bond after You Only Live Twice came out
• Initial scouting for film locations included both Iran and Cambodia, but war and political instability voided both places
• Jack Palance was asked to play Scaramanga
• In Tom Manckwiecz`s draft, Nick Nack was called Demitasse; Tom also wrote the first draft and then the third draft, which was a rewrite of Richard Maibaum`s second draft.

As noted above, the DVD also contains radio, tv, and theatrical spots. The trailers for the Bond films, in the “old days”, would never work today. They contain too much dialogue and not enough action. They also run upwards of 4 or 5 minutes. All the major stars of The Man With The Golden Gun got their name presented in the trailer for the film, something that does not happen with the Bond films anymore. Despite their archaic look, these advertisements are fun to watch.

It`s good for The Man With The Golden Gun to be presented on DVD, for it surely can do nothing but help the picture, and in some instances, the extra features provided are more interesting that the picture itself.

The Man With The Golden Gun

The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)

The Cast: Roger Moore (James Bond), Britt Ekland (Mary Goodnight), Maud Adams (Andrea Anders), Herve Villechaize (Nick Nack) and Christopher Lee (Francisco “Pistols” Scaramanga)

The Supporting Cast Bernard Lee (“M”), Desmond Llewelyn (“Q”), Lois Maxwell (Moneypenny), Clifton James (Sheriff J.W. Pepper)

Credits Produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman; Directed by Guy Hamilton; Screenplay by Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz; Music by John Barry; Theme Song performed by Lulu; Titles by Maurice Binder; Title Song lyrics by Don Black; Edited by Ray Poulton

Mission: Bond must recover the Solex Agitator, a vital means to ending the energy crisis, while staying one step ahead of a would be assassin who wants Bond dead.

Locations covered: London; Beirut; Hong Kong, Macau; Bangkok; Phuket Islands

Release dates: December 18th, 1974

Box office: $97.6 million worldwide ($350,185,670.99 worldwide in 1998 dollars)

Best lines: Bond to Lazar: “Speak now or forever hold your piece.”

Review by Michael Kersey

The Man With The Golden Gun isn`t just the worst Bond film, it also happens to be one of the worst films ever made. Surprisingly, this film was released the following year of Live and Let Die, thereby breaking the then recent tradition of waiting two years in between pictures. Two years apart would`ve helped. Perhaps three. Maybe four.

`Golden Gun` is a mess. There are two plots that run parallel and eventually intersect but neither one with decidedly outstanding results. The film starts off with Bond receiving a golden bullet with his name on it. Only one man in the world uses a golden bullet: Francisco “Pistols” Scaramanga. The world`s foremost assassin for hire, he only carries one bullet with him on any assignment. He only needs one.

Then there is the Solex Agitator. It`s a device able to harness the rays of the Sun and convert it into a powerful energy source. Cheap, abundant energy in the midst of the early 70`s fuel crisis would be like a godsend. In the right hands, the world`s economy could be straightened out. In the wrong hands, the Agitator could ruin many lives.

Bond was originally assigned to retrieve the Solex Agitator and make sure that it`s use was purely humanitarian. That is, until he became a marked man. So it`s very convenient plotwise to have the Agitator later come into play because the film is so poorly written that a story about Bond being marked for assassination could not hold the film on it`s own.

As Scaramanga, Christopher Lee is just okay. He`s not particularly memorable. In fact, as it turns out, he`s not even the one who sent the golden bullet to Bond. It was his exasperated mistress, Andrea. So, in essence, Scaramanga doesn`t even pose a threat to 007. He actually admires Bond.

Mary Goodnight, Bond`s ally is South Asia, exemplifies all the stereotypes and prejudices about Bond girl roles: blonde, buxom, and utterly clueless, she`s a complete waste of time in the film and contributed absolutely nothing to the plot.

It tells you something about the quality of a film when Clifton James is the highlight. As the bigoted, culturally challenged Sheriff J.W. Pepper, he has now ventured from the swamps of Louisiana (Live and Let Die) and moved on to the canals of Bangkok. He shouts “BOY!” where ever he goes, and for some inexplicable reason, feels the need to get a test drive of an AMC Hornet in a foreign country. Herve Villechaize plays the diminutive manservant Nick Nack. Oddly, he`s not too bad as Scaramanga`s happy-go-lucky carnival house operator/henchman.

John Barry`s score is great, however the same can`t be said for the main song. The titles are routine and uninspired. The action is few and far between and what there is of it is uninspired and uninvolving. After this film, the series needed a major overhaul in order to survive.

The Living Daylights

The Living Daylights (1987)

The Cast: Timothy Dalton (James Bond); Maryam D`abo (Kara Milovy) ;Jeroen Krabbe (General Koskov); Art Malik (Kamran Shah) ;Joe Don Baker (Brad Whitaker)

The Supporting Cast: Andreas Wisniewski (Necros); John Rhys-Davies (Pushkin); Robert Brown (`M`); Caroline Bliss (Moneypenny); Desmond Lewellyn (`Q`); Geoffrey Keen (Minister of Defense)

Credits: Produced by Albert R. Broccoli; Directed by John Glen; Screenplay by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson; Music by John Barry; Title Song by A-ha; Lyrics by John Barry and Pal Waaktar; Filmed on location in Morocco, Austria, England and The Rock of Gilbraltar; Running Time 2 hours and 10 minutes

Villains Idiosyncrasy: Whitaker`s love of militaria leads to his death; Necros` ability to blend into any enviroment like a chameleon/likes to strangle his enemies with the headphones of his portable Walkman.

Best lines: `He got the boot.` and `We have an old saying too, Georgi…and you`re full of it.

Box office: $191,000,000.00 (1987 dollars/worldwide gross); $281,521,148.64 (adjusted for 1999 inflation)

With `The Living Daylights`, the producers attempted to make a successful Bond movie portraying 007 as more ruthless than we`ve seen before. In order to do that, the producers sacrificed many of the elements and qualities that people come to expect in a Bond film. This is unfortunate because Dalton`s strict, realistic approach to the role necessitated that everything else around him continue in the fantastical vein that preceded this film. It doesn`t, and the film becomes so realistic and contemporary that it loses some of the luster of fantasy and make believe.

As the 007 Ian Fleming created in his novels, Dalton`s approach is dead on. No one comes more close to what Fleming`s Bond was really all about better than Timothy Dalton. Almost all credit must be given to Dalton on this fact because he made it his own personal mission to read every Ian Fleming novel cover to cover once he was cast as Bond. But what about the screen legend of 007? Most people come to the theater with a certain expectation of what they want to see from their Bond film. Dalton brought a different approach to the role that may have gone over better had the rest of the film been stocked with the usual Bond trademarks. In fact, the producers cut short one action sequence involving a `magic carpet ride` and a motorcycle chase through the streets and marketplaces of Tangier, for, among several reasons, the desire to shift some of the focus away from cartoonish stunts onto the reality of the subject at hand.

The Bond Girls. Where are they? In the case of The Living Daylights, it`s the Bond Girl. Here, we only have one in the form of Maryam d`Abo. The relationship between Bond and Kara is the most honest, heartfelt and fleshed out romance since `On Her Majesty`s Secret Service`. But again, in order to attain a more realistic approach for the film, the producers jettisoned the concept of two or more exotic and dangerous Bond Girls, instead settling upon one, almost virginal Cello player whom 007 romances. Luckily, the romance works. Maryam d`Abo is not only beautiful, but she`s a very talented actress who gives a fine performance as an innocent waif, betrayed by her boyfriend and forced into desperate, international tensions.

The villains are one of the highlights and yet weaknesses of the film. Joe Don Baker is woefully underused; acting in only four scenes. One couldn`t help but wish Whitaker got more screen time. Necros, the film`s henchman, has a particularly interesting way of dispatching his victims: he strangles them with the headset to his Walkman. Koskov is the weasley, spineless coward who tricks Bond into helping him defect.

If the film has one fatal flaw it would be the plot. There is no sense of urgency to Bond`s work. Whether his mission is successful or a failure is of little importance. If he`s successful, he`ll temporarily slow down an ongoing war between Russian forces and the Afghanistan Mujahedin. If he fails, an 8 year old war will continue with business as usual. Without the threat of the whole world at risk, or at least millions of people to save, there`s no real barometer to measure 007`s success by. When you have a character oriented story, such as this one, rather than an issue oriented storyline, then you`ve got to be able to make sure your audience identifies with and connects with the leading character. I`m not quite sure Timothy Dalton ever made the connection with the audience in quite the way producers wanted.

The titles are a step backward for Maurice Binder. Hoping to cash in on the enormous youth/teenager market Duran Duran grabbed for their work in A View To A Kill, the producers brought in A-ha to do the title song. The song is not within the normal sound produced by A-ha and they later released a new version on their third album, which was more within their style. Either version of the song sounds good, but it`s unlikely to sustain your attention unless you already knew it was a Bond theme song.

John Barry`s soundtrack is his least impressive work to date. His action cues leave the audience wanting. It wasn`t a particularly stong score, but as usual, the romantic scenes prove no challenge to him, and are the highlight of the soundtrack.

Spy vs. Spy: James Bond vs. Ethan Hunt

Mission:Impossible-2 opened on Wednesday, May 24th, 2000 and already advanced word indicated that this film was more in line with James Bond than the first Mission: Impossible film, or even the television series. Swanbeck, Hunt’s new boss, replacing Jim Phelps who was killed in the last film, tells Hunt: “This isn’t Mission: Difficult. It’s Mission: Impossible. Difficult should be a walk in the park.” The rest of the cast and crew would do well to remember that. This is supposed to be Mission: Impossible, rather than James Bond. It’s one thing to be in line with 007 but it is something completely different when you go blatantly poaching in his territory. Here we’ll consider a few of the more obvious similarities between the two films. WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

Tom Cruise is back as Ethan Hunt, and returning from the first film is Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell. Thandie Newton is on board as Nyah Hall, a cat burglar wanted in Europe and Asia for several high profile thefts. Dougray Scott is IMF Agent Sean Ambrose, and Anthony Hopkins debuts as the new head of IMF, Swanbeck.

Cruise is assigned to retrieve a stolen, but live sample of a deadly virus called Chimera and deal with the thief accordingly. Suspicion is focused on Sean Ambrose immediately, as he is the IMF agent who was assigned to protect the transfer of the virus from Sydney to Atlanta; that, and his body wasn’t found among the wreckage of the plane he was supposed to be flying in.

Hunt is told he can recruit any two agents he wants, but he must also recruit Nyah Hall, a wanted cat burglar. Hunt assumes he’s recruiting her for her thievery skills, and heads to Seville, Spain to catch her in the act. After a car chase, a jewelry heist and some lovemaking, Hunt realizes that he’s fallen in love with her. He later meets with Swanbeck to discuss the operation and is surprised to find out that Nyah was once Sean’s lover. What’s worse, Swanbeck wants Hunt to convince Hall to resume her old relationship with Ambrose in order to find out what Ambrose is going to do with the virus, and that may mean getting back into bed with him. Hunt reluctantly agrees to the plan, and sets off for Sydney to initiate the strategy to be employed against Ambrose.

Tom Cruise is actually the weak link in this film. There’s never been much exploration of the Ethan Hunt character, and Cruise has seemed more interested in getting by on charm, looks, physique and pyrotechnics than anything else. Make no mistake, this is a Tom Cruise film, and as such, he essentially jettisons the team concept that worked so well in the television series so that the film can instead focus on his long flowing mane, perfect smile and ever widening crooked nose. Cruise and his co-partner, Paula Wagner, have never shown the slightest interest in adhering to even the basic premise of the original television series, which is why they can so easily justify killing off all the IMF agents within the first 30 minutes of the first film, or having Jim Phelps turn out to be a vicious killer.

Thandie Newton is the real find in this film. When she and Cruise are acting together, the film gets a sudden lift, and it can’t be denied, despite the films other faults that there is some chemistry between the two. Dougray Scott is capable but mostly forgettable in an underdeveloped role. The films climax takes Hunt on a motorcycle chase on a privately owned island to a cliff top hand to hand combat showdown with Ambrose. The fight sequence goes on way too long, is too bloody and too bone-crunchingly graphic for a PG-13 film. The action, when there is any of it, is almost too stylish. You feel as though you are watching a ballet with sub machine guns than a straight up action film. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but Woo seems to have trouble in this film knowing when to pull back. Overall, the film is definitely an improvement over the first one, but then again, it has had some help from Mr. Bond himself. It’s also worth noting that the first Mission: Impossible film had a discarded scene originally designed to be used in the pre-credits sequence of Goldeneye: the high-speed monorail/helicopter chase.

TREVELYAN VS. AMBROSE
Unlike Alec Trevelyan, played by Sean Bean, we know from the start who the villain in M:I-2 is going to be. Early on, Dougray Scott’s character, Sean Ambrose, is seen stealing the Chimera virus from a 747 bound for Atlanta. The plane is set on automatic pilot; a plan designed to smash it into The Rocky Mountains, in order to cover up the theft of the virus. In Goldeneye, Xenia and Orumov set the satellite to destroy the Severnaya facility in order to cover up the theft of the Goldeneye weapon system.

The M:I-2 writer inserts some background into the script that insinuates Ethan has had his doubts about Ambrose long before now, but ultimately that comes across as pointless. It is worth noting that both Trevelyan and Ambrose are turncoat agents, betraying MI6 and the IMF respectively. To add insult to intrigue, Dougray Scott was born in Scotland while Sean Bean was born in England.

The writers of both films create a rivalry between hero and villain, and in both cases, a woman gets involved. Trevelyan mocks Bond as being MI6’s “loyal terrier” while Ambrose mocks Hunt’s ‘stupid grin’, a reference to Tom Cruise’s $20 million dollar smile. Alec can’t wait to get his lips on Natalya, telling Bond that she tastes like “strawberries”, while Hunt, who has fallen for Nyah, has no choice but to send her to Ambrose’s bed once again (Ambrose and Hall were once lovers). At one point Ambrose even holds Nyah hostage in front of Hunt just as Trevelyan had Natalya held hostage in front of Bond.

Goldeneye’s writers give Alec motivation for his villainy: Trevelyan wants to send London back to the Stone Age for her betrayal of his parents, who were Cossacks, during World War II. No such luck with M:I-2’s writers. Sean Ambrose is motivated primarily by nothing more complex than simple greed. He wants to create a need for a cure to the Chimera virus. He has the antidote. What he doesn’t have is an outbreak of the virus. To do that, he plans on infecting up to 17 million Australians, starting with 3 million in Sydney, before announcing that the biological firm he’s now 51% vested in, has the cure. Stocks that were bought for $30 million dollars before the outbreak suddenly become worth billions as demand for the cure skyrockets worldwide. This is all well and good if you’ve got an actor with a role he can sink his teeth into, but Ambrose is a rather forgettable character. Before both villains initiate doomsday, they transfer other people’s cash accounts, stocks and bonds via computer into their own. M:I-2 even has it’s own version of Boris, this time with a beard and wooly cap. (Advantage: Goldeneye)

BOND/ONATOP VS. HUNT/HALL
The car chase that takes place in Monaco between Bond and Xenia in Goldeneye has been shamelessly lifted and transferred over to M:I-2, this time showcasing Ethan Hunt and Nyah Hall. In fact, this couldn’t be any more stolen from Goldeneye if Tom Cruise was racing Famke Janssen rather than Thandie Newton. Hunt won’t take no for an answer when Hall tells him she doesn’t want to work for him, so he chases after her car and the two engage in a bit of sexual chemistry by racing one another. Hunt and Hall must not only out perform each other, but must also dodge other assorted vehicles that come into their path. At one point Hall’s car goes into a tailspin exactly as Xenia’s did in Goldeneye. But in the end, the copy is never as good as the real thing and Goldeneye’s chase is simply better by virtue of being the first and having Famke Janssen. In fairness, M:I-2’s chase isn’t all that bad either, but is marred towards the end by John Woo’s overuse of slow motion photography and fetish for seeing Cruise and Newton’s hair fly in the wind. (Advantage: Goldeneye)

M/SWANBECK
Bond`s boss is referred to as “M”. Over the years he/she has given Bond his assignements, but never taken part in them. Conversely, throughout virtually every episode of both Mission:Impossible series on television and the first film, the team leader of the IMF, Jim Phelps, has been involved in the action and in the danger. Yet in M:I-2, the new boss of IMF, Swanbeck, inexplicably stays on the sideline more like “M” than Jim Phelps. Anthony Hopkins was even approached to play a more mature, mentor-like version of Alec Trevelyan in Goldeneye, a role which he turned down and was eventually played by Sean Bean. He was then offered the role of Elliot Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies and turned it down.

THE CLIMAX
Goldeneye ends with Bond and Natalya infiltrating the island of Cuba, destroying Trevelyan’s satellite dish, and killing him off. M:I-2 ends with Hunt infiltrating a small, private island where Ambrose is holed up plotting his reign of terror. Ambrose and his computer hacker Wallis, played by William Mapother (Tom Cruise’s cousin in real life) begin the process of fattening Ambrose’s bank account. Hunt manages to break in and obliterate the place by blowing up tanks filled with volatile fuels and gases. In Goldeneye, Bond blows up liquid nitrogen tanks. In MI-2, Hunt at first tries to escape the island by jumping onto the skid of Luther`s helicopter. In Goldeneye, Bond escapes the imploding dish by jumping onto the skid of a helicopter. (Advantage: draw)

WHAT MI-2 GETS RIGHT
MGM would do well to look at John Woo’s work and consider him for future directing duties. After all, he did sign a three-picture production deal with the studio earlier this year. He brings a lot to the table that other directors simply can’t match. Does he overuse some of the “Matrix” style stuntwork? Yes. Does he employ slow motion technique too often in this film? Yes. But I’d rather have too much than too little and there are moments of genius in the film that he should be given full credit for. Does his style of filmmaking belong in a James Bond film? My first thought was no. A Bond film is too civilized for his way of directing, but then I realized that that is exactly the kind of trap we as fans have fallen into for so long. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to have an ace action director like Woo come in and shake things up a bit.

When Mission: Impossible-2 isn’t ripping off Goldeneye, it’s doing some Bondish things better than the actual Bond producers are. For example, MI-2 makes stunning use of Seville and Sydney. Parts of the Seville sequences were actually shot in Australia, but the work that went into creating the atmosphere that made you believe Hunt was in Spain is top notch. Australia is beautifully filmed, with everything from the Sydney Opera House to the Outback making its way into the film. By contrast, the last 3 Bond films have suffered not only from lack of exotic locations, but also from a sense of having even been there. With MI-2 we can see the actors actually in Sydney, with all its famous landmarks being used as backdrops. When was the last time Bond visited anyplace remotely as interesting as Sydney? Monaco, in Goldeneye of course.

Ever since then, the movies have been set in Cuba; Afghanistan; Hamburg, Germany; Vietnam; Kazakhstan; Baku, Azerbaijan; and Turkey. There may be a unique thrill to seeing and filming the dried up oil fields of Kazakhstan but they hardly qualify as exotic locations. Too often in the Brosnan Bond films one exotic location has served to double another, less exotic location. For example, in Tomorrow Never Dies, the production crew filmed in the snow capped mountains of France for the pre-credit sequence, yet the location doubled for Afghanistan. For The World Is Not Enough they again went back to France, this time to film a ski chase on the slopes of Chamonix, yet that location doubled for Kazakhstan, not exactly a place well known for its glamorous ski slopes, beautiful lodges, or enticing snow bunnies. Thailand has doubled for Vietnam, Spain for Azerbaijan, and Puerto Rico for Cuba. This has got to stop. Where are the scenes of Bond walking along the piers of Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco? Or driving through the back alleys of Tangier, Morocco? Or jumping from the Hemingway Estate in Key West, Florida? Enough with the contemporary storylines that take Bond into some of the most politically charged regions of the world. For years the Bond fans have clamored for 007 to be sent to Australia, yet here we have to look at Ethan Hunt be the first action hero to go on assignment down under. It’s not too late for Bond to go, but it won’t happen if the series lets other franchises steal their material and then steal their thunder.

And what about the lead female in MI-2? For years this website has offered up the name of Halle Berry as a potential Bond Girl that is not only stunningly beautiful, but also able to widen the film’s racial demographics, yet it is Mission: Impossible-2 that takes the first step forward in hiring a black actress to be the love interest for Tom Cruise and Dougray Scott, two white actors no less. Her race is never an issue in the film and little of it has been made in the press, but shouldn’t the Bond films, which were at one time in their history considered “cutting edge”, have been the first major action series to have a black actress as a lead love interest? Yes, we’ve had Rosie Carver and May Day, but they were villainesses who ended up dead. Halle could easily have played Paris Carver, a role that had no particular race distinction attached to it, or even Christmas Jones. Better yet, why not just write a role for her? Other film projects have shown an alarming amount of forward and progressive thinking, particularly in terms of casting, that threaten to leave the Bond series in the dust if something is not done.

Spy vs. Spy: James Bond vs. Doug Quaid

Believe it or not, this film is more like a Bond film than many of the Bond films themselves. The film comes complete with Arnold Schwarzenegger as a spy with gadgets, action, not one but two beautiful women, exotic locations (Mars) and a villain with plans to rule an entire planet.

The year is 2089. Schwarzenegger plays Doug Quaid, a quarry worker on earth constantly haunted by dreams of living on Mars and ambitions to be something more than just a blue-collar worker. His wife, Lori (Sharon Stone), is dead set against moving to Mars to help fulfill Doug`s personal ambitions. So Doug does the next best thing: he has memories implanted into his head that will make him think he`s been to Mars. Not only that, but his memories will be so real, even though they aren`t, that he`ll think he`s a secret agent in grave danger.

The film is Schwarzenegger`s best (which isn`t saying much) but is hampered somewhat by director Paul Verhoeven`s bloodlust for gore and bone-crunching violence on the screen. The plot is complex enough to require several viewings. Stone is the standout star of the film, but other noteables include Roy Brocksmith as the duplicitous Dr. Edgemar and Mel Johnson as the taxi-cab driver Benny (in a role originally written for Grace Jones).

Spy vs. Spy: “Assassin Maggie” vs. James Bond

Point Of No Return was a vastly underrated spy flick deserved better treatment than it got by critics when it hit theaters in 1993. The movie is a virtual scene-for-scene remake of Luc Besson`s 1990 film “La Femme Nikita”.

Turning the traditional role of a spy being male on its head, Bridget Fonda plays Maggie, a strung out drug addict who kills a cop shortly after the opening credits. She`s sentenced to die by the court, but a shadowy intelligence organization seems some potential in Maggie. Her execution is faked and Maggie wakes up to a new life: that of an assassin.

At first it takes Maggie a while to get used to the idea that she has no choice; she either fulfills her obligation to “Operations” or she`s terminated and put into that burial plot for real. At first Maggie stubbornly refuses to be made over from heroin junkie to a perfectly coiffed killer, but under the discipleship of Anne Bancroft, Maggie confronts the inevitable.

On Her Majesty`s Secret Service

The Cast: George Lazenby (James Bond), Diana Rigg (Teresa DiVicenzo), Gabriele Ferzeti (Draco), Irma Bunt (Ilse Steppat), Telly Savalas (Ernst Stavros Blofeld)

The Supporting Cast: Bernard Lee (“M”), Desmond Llewelyn (“Q”), Lois Maxwell (Moneypenny), Sir Hillary Bray (George Baker)

Credits: Produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman; Directed by Peter Hunt; Screenplay by Richard Maibaum; Music by John Barry; Theme Song “We Have All The Time In The World” performed by Louis Armstrong; Titles by Maurice Binder; Lyrics by Hal David; Edited by John Glen; Running time 2 hours and 20 minutes

Mission: Bond must thwart Blofeld`s plan of world domination via deadly viruses. In the meantime, he has to convince head strong Tracy de Vincenzo to become Mrs. James Bond.

Locations covered:Porrtugal; England; Bern, Switzerland

Villain`s Idiosyncrasy:Love of his white cat with diamond necklace.

Dates Released:U.S. and U.K: December 18th, 1969

Box Office: $64.6 million worldwide ($296,023,484.01 worldwide in 1998 dollars)

Best Lines:Bond to Q on Bond`s wedding day: `I`ve got the gadgets this time Q, and I know exactly how to use them.`

Review by Michael Kersey

George Lazenby`s one and only shot at 007. A minor footnote in the history of Bond, Lazenby had the misfortune of making his debut in one of the most emotionally involving Bond films ever. This film deals with the courtship, marriage and loss of Bond`s wife Tracy and distances itself away from some of the excesses of Thunderball and You Only Live Twice, by backloading the film with the action and instead devoting the first half to plot and character development.

The critical success of this film is owed directly to the interest of the hardcore Bond fans. Casual fans of the series rejected the film out of hand, and if it weren`t for Bond fans, the film might have been completely overlooked and considered as one of the most unmemorable Bond films. That would`ve been too bad, because On Her Majesty`s Secret Service does have many fine points.

The movie jumps right into the story from the first frame. Bond, in Portugal, has his curiosity piqued by a beautiful woman. He follows her car to a secluded beach and spies on her as she gets out and heads into the water. When it becomes clear she intends to do herself harm, Bond steps in and saves her. The matter is complicated when several burly henchmen try to grab the woman and knock Bond out. Bond takes care of them, but in the mean time the beautiful stranger has escaped back to her car and taken off. So much for giving thanks.

Later he finds the woman at the local casino in a game of chemin de fer. A potentially embarassing situation unfolds, as the woman doesn`t have the money to cover her losses. Bond pretends to be her husband and pays her debt, thus helping her avoid humiliation. He finds out her name is Tracy de Vicenzo; that much she will say. Why she is so self destructive she refuses to answer. Instead, she waves her room key in front of Bond and explains she pays her debts in full. Bond and Tracy make love, but he awakes the next morning to find her gone, a single red rose the only reminder of their night before.

Bond is just about to leave the hotel when he`s intercepted by several brute henchmen. Bond realizes at this point it is better to find out who they are and what they want rather than to fight. They take him to Marc Ange Draco, Godfather of the Union Corse, one of the biggest Mafia organizations in the world. Draco is convinced Bond is the right man for his “Tracy”, his daughter who has become quite wayward since the death of her mother. She needs a man to “dominate her” Draco says. And he`s willing to pay Bond up front to marry Teresa. Bond refuses the offer but in exchange for courting her, he would accept any help he could get in tracking down Blofeld, Marc`s main rival in the underworld.

Tracy eventually gets wind of the arrangement and turns a cold shoulder to 007, but Bond becomes more persistent than ever, eventually winning her heart and affection.

Bond comes into some information that Blofeld has hired a lawyer to help him stake a claim to the title of Count de Bleauchamp, a claim he expects the baronet Sir Hillary Bray, of the London College of Arms, to fully back up. Bond persuades Bray to let him pose as Bray in his upcoming face to face meeting with “Bleauchamp” and Bray agrees. Bond affects a small disguise and change of accent and heads to Bern for his meeting with “Bleauchamp.” Bleauchamp is actually Blofeld, and it`s not long before he realizes Bray is not Bray, but instead 007. However, he`s not quick enough to this fact until after Bond has had ample time to realize what Blofeld`s next scheme for world domination is. Bond escapes the high mountain top fortress of Blofeld to get help and while there in the little Swiss village, he runs into Tracy.

Tracy realizes Bond is in danger and needs help, and the two escape Irma Bunt and her henchmen in Tracy`s car. They eventually arrive in a deserted barn during a fierce snowstorm and bundle up together in the hayloft, where Bond proposes marriage to Tracy. She accepts.

The next day Tracy and Bond escape the barn on skiis, with Blofeld personally hot on their tail. He creates an avalanche that envelops Tracy and Bond. Tracy is taken alive as a hostage while Bond can do nothing but wait and plan his return assault on Blofeld`s retreat.

As Bond, Lazenby is not bad; quite good actually for a beginner, whose previous jobs included male modeling and used car sales. His weakness was the one liners. Many of them come across and clunky and heavy, particulary such lines as: “He branched off” and “He had guts.” The lines have a childish ring to them, as if they were thought of by an 8 year old. Lazenby didn`t write the scenes, but he couldn`t save them either. What he was very effective at was his romantic scenes with Rigg. Rigg sparkles as a tough, independent, spirited daddy`s girl and the sparks fly between Rigg and Lazenby on camera, even if they weren`t off-camera.

The direction could be a bit tighter. Some of the action sequences are spliced together too quickly, in particular Lazenby`s early fight sequences, and employ sound effects that are borderline cheesy. The ski and car chase are the highlights of the film.

The world didn`t realize what it had with Lazenby. Lazenby didn`t realize what he had with Bond, and would later regret his decision to do only one Bond film. His career never acheived the heights of any of the other Bond actors, and this is strictly his fault, but the one shot he took at Bond was as good if not better than almost any other Bond film attempted.

Octopussy

THE CAST: Roger Moore (James Bond); Maud Adams (Octopussy); Kristina Wayborn (Magda); Louis Jourdan (Kamal Khan)

THE SUPPORTING CAST: Vijay Armitraj (Vijay); Robert Brown (“M”); Lois Maxwell (Moneypenny); Desmond Lewellyn (“Q”); Kabir Bedi (Gobinda); Steven Berkoff (General Orlov); Walter Gotell (General Gogol)

CREDITS: Produced by Albert R. Broccoli; Directed by John Glen; Screenplay by Richard Maibaum, Michael G. Wilson, and George MacDonald Fraser; Music by John Barry; Theme Song by Rita Coolidge; Filmed on location in India, West Germany, and Pinewood Studios England.

VILLAIN`S IDIOSYNCRASY: None

BEST LINES: Magda to Bond: “You have a very good memory for faces.” Bond: “And figures.”
Kamal to Gobinda: “Mr. Bond is indeed a very rare breed; soon to be made extinct.”

BOX OFFICE: $183,700,000.00 worldwide; $307,669,722.63 in 1999 inflation adjusted dollars.

Probably Roger Moore`s best Bond film. Expanding upon his serious, and more intense take on 007 in For Your Eyes Only, Moore and Director John Glen have crafted a furiously fast paced action film, with one of the most complicated and incredible plots in the Bond series.

Octopussy, very loosely based upon the novel of the same name, is a grab bag of different ideas. Here you`ve got an insane, power hungry Russian General, a beautiful and mysterious jewel smuggler, an exhiled Afghan Prince, an all female island and a mysterious traveling circus carrying an atomic bomb.

As crazy as it all sounds, Octopussy pulls it off. In the middle of all the mayhem are a few actors worth noting. First off is Maud Adams. Bucking tradition, she becomes the first actress to ever appear twice in a Bond film in a major, starring role. Once in The Man With The Golden Gun as Andrea Anders, and of course in the title role of Octopussy.

Also starring is Indian tennis ace Vijay Armitraj, playing an undercover contact named Vijay who, coincidentally, likes tennis. John Barry delivers his finest score ever for a Bond film, and Rita Coolidge`s theme song, “All Time High”, is both romantic and moving.

With the exception of the the tarzan yell, found halfway into the film, this is a nearly flawless movie. Great acting, non stop action, beautiful women, and a thrilling plot make this film not only Roger Moore`s “all time high”, but also the series “all time high”.

Never Say Never Again

THE CAST: Sean Connery (James Bond); Kim Basinger (Domino Pitachi); Barbara Carrera (Fatima Blush); Max Von Sydow (Blofeld); Klaus Maria Brandauer (Maximillian Largo)

THE SUPPORTING CAST: James Fox (“M”); Bernie Casey (Felix Leiter); Pat Roach (Lippe)

CREDITS: Direced by Irwin Kershner; Produced by Kevin McClory and Sean Connery; Music by Michael LeGrand; Title Song by Lani Hall; Filmed on location in Nice, France; The Bahamas and North Africa

In a legal battle too lengthy to get into here but covered thoroughly in our Movie fa”Q” section, Producer Kevin McClory secured the right to do a remake of the 1965 Bond film Thunderball. Kevin was a player on the original team who helped develop what would eventually become the book Thunderball, by Ian Fleming. Thunderball was a huge success in 1965, and McClory should have left well enough alone. He didn`t, and thus we have Never Say Never Again.

Although the film is a remake of Thunderball, it oddly manages to get wrong everything that made the original work so well. To its credit, the film makes a knowing nod to Connery`s age and incorporates it into the story, first sending Bond off to Shrublands to get back into shape after a failed training exercise.

While Bond is working out at Shrublands, SPECTRE has put into motion its plan to steal two nuclear warheads and hold the world for ransom. Only two? To do this, SPECTRE has corrupted an American Air Force pilot on station in England by getting him addicted to heroin. His addiction is all the more ironic, and funny, because his nurse, SPECTRE agent Fatima Blush, is giving it to him. Colonel Petachi has had a retina transplant. The new retina is identical to that of the President of the United States, and with the combination of secret codes and a retinal scan, SPECTRE is now in a prime position to get the warheads. SPECTRE sends Colonel Petachi and Fatima Blush to Shrublands to rest and prepare for the operation.

It is at Shrublands that Bond sees Fatima and Colonel Petachi, and his sixth sense kicks in. Bond senses that something is not quite right, but Fatima recognizes 007 before he can put a plan into operation. Blush orders Count Lippe to kill Bond.

Bond kills Lippe but only after it is too late. By the time Bond is able to digest what has been happening, SPECTRE has acquired the warheads and killed off the now useless Colonel Petachi. Fatima retreats to Nassau to await further instruction and Bond tracks her down there while initially on a search for Largo and his boat, The Flying Saucer.

From this point on there is almost no plot development. Bond suspects Largo from the very beginning, and even deduces that he has the two warheads on his yacht without having to do much spying at all. And moving the action to the Bahamas does absolutely nothing for the plot. Everything from Bond`s entrance into Nassau to the point in which he finds out The Flying Saucer has sailed for the French Riviera is completely unrelated to the rest of the story and only serves to fill time. Bond could have placed a call prior to going down to Nassau to find out if The Flying Saucer was in port. Did he really need to go to The Bahamas to find out if a boat was still in port? No. Kevin McClory just wanted to make sure some of the film took place in his home country. It`s only through the dynamic performance of Barbara Carerra that these scenes are remotely interesting. She gives life to even the most mundane tasks, whether it be water skiing, dancing in a carnival, dancing her way up the stairs as she gets ready to plant a bomb in Bond`s room, or the ice cold look of indifference as she blows apart the hotel room.

On virtually every level the film is a disappointment. Let`s start with the star attraction of the film: Sean Connery. His return to the role that made him famous is a washout. Connery lacks the charisma and strength that carried him through the first five films. He returned to the role, in part, to get back at Albert Broccoli for his perceived slights at Connery, rather than a genuine interest to *be* Bond. Connery recognizes he`s old, and the script is tailored to reflect that understanding. But still, as a producer of this film, Connery seemed to be juggling too many responsibilities.

The Bond Girl, in the form of Kim Basinger, would be the worst Bond girl ever, except for the fact that Mrs. Basinger can act. Still, her `Domino` is a pale, fragile, washed out, on-the-edge mistress to Largo. Basinger isn`t as sexy as Claudine Auger (the original Domino), or as exotic. She`s a real downer, and takes a lot of the energy out of the film whenever she`s in it.

`Never` does have two redeeming qualities, namely the villains. Klaus Maria Brandauer gives a wild performance as the neurotic, jealous and easily inflamed Largo. Never Say Never Again`s scene stealer though is Barbara Carrera. Her character, Fatima Blush, is a loosely interpreted variation of the Fiona Volpe character from Thunderball (and wickedly played by Lucianna Paluzzi). Fatima is a character who believes in the inherent superiority of women over men, and killing James Bond would drive the point home. Carrera gets all the best lines of the movie, and whenever she is on screen, the film instantly gets a lift and is fun and energized. In fact, only Brandauer and Carrera seem to be having any fun on the set. The film makes a crucial mistake killing Blush off with another 40+ minutes of film left to go.

The plot is straight out of Thunderball. Legally it had to be. Despite how closely the film had to follow the original version, this script still seems incomplete and haphazard. The direction is a failure as well, primarily because the director and editor allow too many stretches of long, boring sequences to make it into the film. The scuba sequences bog down the pace of the film, and were better in the original.

The soundtrack is the worst for any Bond film. It is completley wrong for this type of film and begs to be redone. The jazz tunes written by LeGrand completely destroy any and all impact the action sequences might have had. And the theme song is just as dreadful. It`s hard to imagine any singer lower on the musical totem pole than Ms. Hall. The action sequences, with the exception of the motorcycle chase through the streets of southern France, are uninspiring and your basic B grade action flick stunt fare.

At the end of the film, Connery`s 007 goes back into retirement, only to be prodded by Nigel Smallfawcet to come back out and save the world. 007 says “No, never again.” After viewing this film, let`s hope that all involved in this film keep that promise.

Moonraker DVD

NOTE:Reviews of the Special Edition DVD of Moonraker are based on Region One features.

• TheatricalRelease Date: June 29, 1979
• Aspect Ratio(s):Widescreen Anamorphic – 2.35:1
• DVD Encoding: Region 1
• Layers: Dual
• Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
• Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
• Theatrical trailer(s)
• Inside Moonraker Documentary
• The Men Behind The Mayhem Documentary: Behind-The-Scenes Look At The Special Effects
• Still Gallery
• Collectible Making-Of Booklet

Moonraker, the 11th Bond film, was released again on DVD, this time on May 16th as a Special Edition. The special features include the documentary “Inside Moonraker”, the documentary “The Men Behind The Mayhem” (a tribute to the special effects wizards of the Bond series), scene selections, audio commenarty with Director Lewis Gilbert, original theatrical trailer, still gallery, widescreen format, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and a collectible “Making Of” booklet.

The Moonraker Special Edition DVD comes highly recommened, though with a few complaints. Standing above and beyond all the other features to be found on the disc, John Cork`s “Inside Moonraker” documentary is a fascinating look back at how production began on the film. Key players are interviewed, including Lewis Gilbert, Michael G. Wilson, Michael Lonsdale, Roger Moore, Lois Chiles and Richard Kiel. John Cork both directs and produces the documentary, and he includes promotional footage and interviews done back in 1978 and 1979 when Moonraker was underway, along with new interviews designed to show the stars reflecting on their experiences filming the movie. Oddly enough, the documentary goes into much greater detail about the special effects work that went into Moonraker than the actual special effects tribute called “The Men Behind The Mayhem”. Michael Wilson goes into detail about how location scouting for Moonraker first took them to India as well as the difficulties of co-producing the film with French partners, whose construction labor was lazy and unfocused. Be sure to stick around for the documentary credits, as they show outtakes and bloopers from the set, including the most hysterical one of all: Bond and Holly looking out the window of the space station as the globes are launched. All of the sudden, a little green alien drops in front of the window and begins washing it.

The still gallery is impressive as well, including many rare or never before seen photos. Some of them are mundane, such as the construction of the space station set, yet it gives you an idea of exactly how difficult it is to build these sets. My personal favorite section of the still gallery was the promotional materials, with all of the different variations on the Moonraker poster.

The film is one sided and that means in this case the only version of Moonraker you get is widescreen or 2:35:1 ratio. This is the way it always should be. After all, why invest in DVD and its wonderful features if all you want is pan and scan?Most fans of the series today have never had the opportunity to view the older Bond films in the theater, or in a widescreen format in a personal home theater system for that matter. Television networks have typically run the films entirely in “pan and scan”, and with the advent of spinning logos and blatant advertising during the airing of programs these days, it`s nice to be able to sit back and see Bond in all his full glory. DVD was made with Moonraker in mind. With true widescreen, you are getting to see up to 50% more of the picture than a typical airing of Moonraker on TBS. Common widescreen ratios include 1.66:1, 1.85:1 and 2.35:1. so with Moonraker you are getting everything. The inclusion of Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound enhances the viewing experience. Scene selections are cut in half for the second round of DVD releases. Where the first wave averaged 55 to 60 scenes, Moonraker only has 32, thus forcing you to sit through more of a scene to get to the point you really want to see.

The original theatrical trailer riffs on Star Wars, but what`s more interesting than that is how long the trailer is. It clocks in at around four minutes, which is nearly twice as long as they are today. The style and substance of movie previews have changed, and the old way in which Bond was advertised in theaters and on television no longer works.

The special effects documentary features archival interviews with such Bond f/x stalwarts as John Stears and Derek Meddings (both have since died), as well as Chris Corbould. At 20 minutes, the documentary crams in a tribute to all 19 official Bond movies, leaving about one minute for each film be analyzed. This is a pity, as a whole section on the special effects of Moonraker would have been interesting. Instead, the special effects artists quickly gloss over each film, with very little analysis or explanation of how each shot was established. The documentary was produced and directed by John Cork and written by Bruce Scivally; not their finest work.

MGM touts this special edition as having a “collectible booklet”, but it`s hardly worth much. Most of the information contained in the booklet has been on this website for years. Still, the booklet does have one advantage: the front cover can be nicely inserted into the plastic cover of the DVD box, thus providing a new alternative cover to the standard one that MGM has been issuing for the past several years now. It would be nice if they would include the old poster artwork on the cover, or else provide a way for fans to have alternatives.

The only truly frustrating aspect of this DVD is the audio commentary, featuring four key players during the production of Moonraker: William Cartlidge, Michael G. Wilson, Lewis Gilbert and Christopher Wood. Whether it is due to advanced age or something else, Lewis Gilbert more often than not comes across as surprised, confused, bewildered and forgetful of a film he helped create. Not only does he have memory lapses of his own film and its position in the series, but quite often he breaks into spontaneous side points while other guests are speaking. Where other Bond DVDs have at least two audio tracks, Moonraker crams all of its subjects onto one track, thus forcing all four guests to compete at the same time to be heard. The track is not terribly insightful, but here are few of the more interesting items overheard:
– Christopher Wood originally conceived the role of helicopter pilot Corrine Dufour as a “ditzy” Southern California girl. The characterization had to be rethought when French actress Corrine Clery was hired.
– William Cartlidge originally wanted to have a motorbike chase over the canals and on top of the gondolas of Venice
– Christopher Wood hated the line “I never learned how to read”
– Originally Christopher Wood wanted Bond to say “He had an ear for music” when throwing Chang down into the piano bar, but was overruled by Cubby Broccoli.

MOONRAKER (original DVD release)
Review by: Kevin Bell
Using Q Branch`s latest equipment, I was able to review Moonraker, MGM`s first Moore-Bond DVD release on a large-screen television equipped with DVD player and Dolby Pro-Logic Surround Sound speakers.

Bonus DVD Features: Thanks to the vast storage space DVD discs provide, MGM was able to pack the Moonraker disc (and the other Bond movies) with plenty of added excitement. Both “pan and scan” and wide screen versions of the film are fit onto a single side of the disc, along with two new soundtracks and DVD-only bonus features not seen on the videotape release.

The most exciting new DVD bonus feature was to be the “Making of Moonraker” featurette. Unfortunately, in reality this was the very low point of the disc (not including the Star Wars-inspired finale of the movie itself!). The Making of Moonraker is only four minutes in duration and is mostly an alternate movie trailer. A few brief sound bites from director Lewis Gilbert and Roger Moore make this “bonus” worth a mention at all.

The “Trivia and Production Notes” section of the 007 DVDs is always fascinating, and this disc is no exception. For instance, Lewis Gilbert’s joking that he could “actually make several films for the cost of Moonraker`s phone bills alone!”

“Direct Access to Bond Gadgets” is in itself a gadget, not quite interesting enough to want to go through, but just the thing to load up for showing your Bondian colleagues the awesome powers of DVD as opposed to mere mortal videotape. This section documents all of Bond`s weapons (yes, including the Moonraker laser, shudder!) and Q’s gaggle of gadgetry, allowing the user to jump directly to scenes highlighting the items. This is fun that fails to last.

My favorite bonus on all the DVDs is the original theatrical trailers.
Moonraker`s trailer, released one year after Star Wars, emphasizes drawing in the crossover Sci-fi crowd. (Is there such a thing as a Bond Sci-fi crossover?) Roger Moore`s credit even scrolls slightly slanted across the screen, reminiscent of happier Bond times “long ago, in a galaxy far, far away.” If my personal bias against Moonraker has etched into my report and upset the “Sons of Rog”, my sincere apologies. (Actually, I think Moonraker is one of Bond’s best, until James leaves Earth for Drax-ney-land.)

The sound quality of the DVD is excellent and the film has been digitally re-mastered into the THX format. The English tracks, available in Dolby Digital 5.1, really make a difference. Listen to when Drax`s shuttle fires its main engines for liftoff—no comparison to the videocassette version! Oddly enough, a lot of the French dialogue tracks were recorded in English. This is the case with all the background speech, unlike other Bond releases. The disc features English, French and Spanish language subtitles, but only English and French soundtracks. (Admittedly, a small complaint, but hearing GoldenEye`s “Bond, James Bond” in Spanish can be quite amusing.) Video quality is superb, as should be expected with the DVD medium. None of the grainy feel that plagues videos from the `70s is present. Top notch re-mastering of the film!

In all, a very competent disc given to us from MGM. The “Making Of” featurette and fewer spoken soundtracks were disappointing, but the audio and video and wide screen format “moore” than compensate for any shortcomings.

Moonraker

Moonraker (1979)

THE CAST: Roger Moore (James Bond); Lois Chiles (Holly Goodhead); Corrine Clery (Corrine Dufour); Richard Kiel (Jaws); Michael Lonsdale (Hugo Drax)

SUPPORTING CAST: Bernard Lee (“M”); Lois Maxwell (Moneypenny); Desmond Lewellyn (“Q”); Blance Ravelec (Dolly); Toshiro Suga (Chang); Emily Bolton (Manuela); Walter Gotell (General Gogol)

CREDITS: Produced by Albert R. Broccoli; Directed by Lewis Gilbert; Screenplay by Christopher Wood; Executive Producer Michael G. Wilson; Music by John Barry; Title Song by Shirley Bassey; Filmed on location in Venice, Rio DeJaneiro, and France; Running time 2 hours and 10 minutes

MISSION: Bond and CIA Operative Holly Goodhead must stop a modern day Armageddon from erupting as Drax, obsessed with the conquest of space, sees himself as God, bent on destroying Earth and creating a race of beautiful people living in the sky, and worshipping him.

VILLAIN`S IDIOSYNCRASY:None.

LOCATIONS COVERED:Los Angeles; Venice, Italy; Rio de Janeiro

RELEASE DATES:U.S/U.K. June 29th, 1979

BOX OFFICE: $202.7 million worldwide ($495,343,424.81 in 1998 dollars)

BEST LINES: “Any higher Mr.Bond and my ears will pop”. Stewardess to Bond with his hand going up her thigh.
“If it`s the 69 you were expecting me” Bond says to Holly about the bottle of champagne she has out.
“A trifle overpowering your scent” Bond remarks to Holly about her Christian Dior perfume that doubles as a flamethrower.
“Did I? As you said, such good sport” Bond to Drax after 007 kills one of his bodyguards aiming for Bond from atop a tree.

Review by: Michael Kersey

Following The Spy Who Loved Me, it was announced that For Your Eyes Only would be the next Bond film. However, with the success of Star Wars and Close Encounters Of the Third Kind in the summer of `77 it was decided that now was the time to boldly go where no Bond had gone before: outerspace. While putting James Bond in outerspace may be a good idea, at that particular time, it was the wrong idea. When one film tries to cash in on the success of another, rarely is the end product as good or better than the real thing.

The James Bond series, and character for that matter, is silly by nature. If you think about it, we as an audience are expected to believe that a tuxedo clad Englishman can travel around the world, seduce many ladies, escape innumerable obstacles, destroy many villians, and without so much as getting his hair messed up. So why then go and remind the audience that Bond is just a fantasy character by making light of what is already a silly premise? That`s exactly what Moonraker falls into.

The films starts off with the disappearance of the Moonraker shuttle, right off the back of a 747 in midflight. Later, in a private jet, Bond is double crossed by a buxom stewardess, the pilot,and Jaws (making his second and final appearance in the series). Bond, the pilot, and Jaws all fall out of the plane, but only Bond is without a parachute. What follows is an amazing display of free fall acrobatics, and might`ve been one of the best precredit sequences in the whole series. But the mood is ruined when Jaws, trying to open his chute, rips his rip cord apart, and flaps like a bird to stay aloft. He ends up crashing into a three ring circus (perhaps a foreshadowing of things to come?)

After getting through the precredits sequence and the titles, Bond has to investigate the disappearance of the missing Moonraker shuttle. Bond`s investigation takes him to Los Angeles where Bond meets with the owner himself, Hugo Drax. Later, Bond is introduced to Dr. Goodhead who escorts him around the complex. There`s more to Dr. Goodhead than meets the eye though. Besides being an astrounaut on loan to Drax from NASA, she`s also undercover with the CIA, investigating Drax`s connection to a nerve gas facility in Venice Italy.

Jaws later returns to the film, this time hired by Drax to destroy 007 and stop him from ruining his plans. Jaws though seems to be getting more goofy as the film progresses. Instead of playing him with earnest seriousness, the director plays Jaws for comedic effect. He`s a mute comedian in Moonraker, who now gets big laughs from the audience by twisting his face when crashing into a tram car station, or going headfirst over a 200 ft waterfall.

This script had a lot of potential to delve deeply into the mind of a man with a “God complex”. But instead, the producers opted for the easy laugh; the path of least resistance. Drax is more than just obsessed with the conquest of space. He feels he has the right to decide who looks good and fit enough to survive the onslaught of mass destruction he`s about to perpetuate on the Earth. Unfortunately, the film doesn`t give the character enough depth to be mildly interesting. When it`s all said and done, Drax is just another middle aged white man with an axe to grind.

Moore played his light hearted version of 007 to the hilt. That`s either a great thing if you are a Moore fan, or a horrible realization if you`re not. Mercifully, the character of Holly Goodhead is played by godsend Lois Chiles, a stunning Texas beauty who originally sought the role of Anya in The Spy Who Loved Me. Here she`s strong, sexy and smart, matching Bond quip for quip, move for move.

In a sense, Moonraker is the quintessential Bond film. It has every element that a Bond film should have, played to the hilt. However in doing that, it too often reminds you that it`s not real, thus spoiling some of the fantasy. In the end, it proved to be too much of a good thing, as the filmakers decided to bring Bond back down to Earth, literally, for the next James Bond film.