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.

Music: The Living Daylights Rykodisc Reissue CD

Original album:

1. The Living Daylights (4:14)
2. Necros Attacks (2:02)
3. The Sniper Was a Woman (2:28)
4. Ice Chase (4:03)
5. Kara Meets Bond (2:45)
6. Koskov Escapes (2:22)
7. Where Has Everybody Gone (3:35)
8. Into Vienna (2:48)
9. Hercules Takes Off (2:15)
10. Mujahadin and Opium (3:11)
11. Inflight Fight (3:10)
12. If There Was a Man (2:49)

Bonus Material:

13. Exercise at Gibraltar (6:20)
14. Approaching Kara (2:19)
15. Murder at the Fair (2:19)
16. Assassin and Drugged (2:41)
17. Airbase Jailbreak (4:35)
18. Afganistan Plan (3:32)
19. Air Bond (1:44)
20. Final Confrontation (1:56)
21. Alternate End Titles (3:20)

The bonus tracks total 29 minutes, so the total disc time is now 65 minutes. The unreleased material was put at the end and not spread out through primarily to keep the original album material compact and seperate from the new material. “Exercise at Gibraltar” is the entire pre-credits sequence, from the gunbarrel music to the jeep flying off the cliff with Bond parachuting out. “Afganistan Plan” are the cues for Bond trying to slip the bomb onto the plane at the airfield. “Air Bond” is the great music as Bond drops a bomb on the Afganistan bridge, and then exits the plane with Kara in a jeep. “Final Confrontation” contains the three short cues as Bond defeats Joe Don Baker`s character in his lair. The “Alternate End Titles” is an instrumental version of “If There Was a Man” without the pop- percussion tracks.

Music: The Duran Duran Tribute Album

Lyrics by Duran Duran; Produced, mixed & engineered by Theo Goutzinakis & Tom Thacker; Recorded at Utopia Parkway, Vancouver, British Columbia

If anyone is thinking of buying The Duran Duran Tribute Album in order to hear Gob`s cover version of A VIEW TO A KILL, one would be well advised to stay far, far away. This unambitious piece of aural dreck manages to cram into fifty-eight seconds what it took Duran Duran three and a half minutes to sing. Perhaps it`s easier to deal with the pain if it goes by more quickly, because listening to this version of what is arguably the best Bond song ever produced is a painful and arduous task. The hard pounding punk rythyms and screaching vocals can`t adequately cover up the lack of talent that went into reproducing this song. All involved in the creation of this musical fiasco should be tarred and feathered

The tribute album is cram packed with ska/metal bands doing their best to do their worst when it comes to warbling Duran Duran tunes, but only A VIEW TO A KILL would be of any note to Bond fans. Please, if you only believe one thing we tell you, believe this: Gob`s rendition of A VIEW TO A KILL is so bad you`ll wish you were deaf. My only regret is that I can`t give it less than zero stars.

Music: Octopussy Soundtrack Rykodisc Reissue CD

Ryodisk has reissued one of John Barry`s greatest scores: Octopussy. This is the first time in over a decade that the Octopussy soundtrack has been available to the public. Digitally remastered, it also contains so many Bond goodies that you`d be a fool to pass it up. Included are:

3 “Bonus” tracks which are, in actuality, dialouge from the film (Track 3 Miss Penolope; Track 7 Introducing Mr. Bond; Track 10 Poison Pen) Contains the theatrical trailer to the film embedded in the CD, plus it opens up your web browser to the Ryodisk Website a large insert filled with background notes. Flip it over and it turns into the original poster for the film. Foreword by Geoff Leonard, alt.fan.james-bond regular contributor and author of an upcoming book about John Barry.

Music: James Bond NOW

Normally another album of James Bond cover tunes is about as welcome as a Christmas fruit log, but I`m happy to say that not only is “James Bond NOW” a worthy entry into the 007 musical legacy, it actually manages to breathe new life into a few songs.

The album is a ten song, primarily instrumental, set. Track listings in order are:

Goldfinger (4:29)
Live and Let Die (4:27)
Diamonds Are Forever (3:54)
For Your Eyes Only (3:11)
Shaken Not Stirred (3:37)
From Russia, With Love (4:55)
Nobody Does It Better (5:04)
**Silken Cover (original composition) (3:53)
The James Bond Theme (3:58)
**Copacabinksy (original composition) (4:25)

The album is arranged to showcase Vic Flick`s mastery of the guitar. Pete walker, co-author of “John Barry: A Life In Music”, said this of Vic: “Vic Flick is the Sean Connery of the electric guitar. Accept no impostors.” All the tracks work, but some are even better than the others. For example, the perennially underrated Diamonds Are Forever gets an acoustic update with a sound that seems so new that you could almost submit it as an entirely new Bond song. It`s that good!

Flick`s strongest work on this album, apart from “Diamonds Are Forever”, is “Live and Let Die”, “For Your Eyes Only” and “Nobody Does It Better”. “Nobody Does It Better” is slightly marred though by a male voiceover that speaks the lines rather than sings them and the song seems to have no end, continuously tricking you into believing it`s over. On the other hand, Flick`s guitar and Bob Efford`s saxophone still make this rendition a must listen to.

James Bond & Beyond

The long-awaited first release from SpyGuise stereo, James Bond & Beyond, is now available. In Bondlike fashion, Michael Boldt singlehandedly takes on the world…ah, make that the world of spies…”Well, would you believe the music of spies worldwide?”

Eleven tracks grace this fine release including three original Boldt tunes “inspired by classic spy movies…”

The James Bond Theme
Mission: Impossible (T.V. series version)
Our Man Flint
The Wild, Wild West (T.V. series version)
Spies, Sleuths & Private Eyes
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
The Persuaders
In Like Flint (Your Z.O.W.I.E. Face)
Get Smart
007 At Casino Royale
Mr. & Mrs. James Bond
How is your spy trivia memory…can you guess which three of the above are new compositions? (Tracks 5, 10 & 11)

Marvelous radio spots are also included as a thriller bonus following the music. I feel more like watching The Venetian Affair now than I have in quite some time. Number One Of The Secret Service is advertised, too, along with several others. “He’s loaded for action!” Never heard of One? It’s alright, I only know “one” friend with the poster for this hard-to-find-anywhere film!

The music is smooth and easy spy listening. Sometimes I want to kill the bad guys but mostly I want to groove. Get Smart has a thumping one-two-three back beat added. 007 At Casino Royale makes me want to dance on Carnaby Street with Moneypenny and David Niven’s Sir James Bond…or at least Austin Powers. Wild, Wild West and U.N.C.L.E. get their due, too. And of course, a spy guy named Bond.

Jeff Marshall has done his usual marvelous design job with the CD, inserts and liner notes. Connery and Vaughn always look good on the spy shelf. Lots of color gets splashed everywhere with a fun but crisp, minimalist, retro look. It’s “classic themes for secret agents,” baby.

Mike Boldt has provided some nice food within for musical thought (and taste). Thakfully for electronika, the album doesn’t sound “too clean”. It doesn’t have that overall feel/mix of being too synthesized, something that would instantly date and destroy a retro album like this one. Several talents also added to Mike’s on this, his first full-length spies album.

Visit spyguise.com to fetch your JB&B copy now.

—Matt Sherman had the thrill of a lifetime designing and writing notes for the James Bond NOW album for Vic Flick.

Music: Best of James Bond 30th Anniversary Set

1992 marked the 30th Anniversary of 007 on the big screen and to commemorate the occasion, EMI Records launched 2 different CDs. The first CD includeds the James Bond theme, plus all of the theme songs prior to Goldeneye. The Limited Edition, includes all of that plus several bonuses.

The Limited Edition contains rare and never before heard tracks. For example, it includes a demo version of YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE that has no claim of ownership. In other words, John Barry and others have been unable to figure out who sang this version. See the Lyrics page for the words to this unusual song. Also included is a jazzy version of Goldfinger sung by Anthony Newley (listen to it and you`ll understand why it was substituted with Shirley Bassey`s version). There are also two radio spots included as well as rare orchestral tracks from Goldfinger.

The Limited Edition includes 31 digitally remastered recordings on 2 discs and a 28 page booklet that includes notes, movie still photos and other collectable artwork. Shell out the extra few dollars and buy this edition over the standard one.

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.

Live and Let Die DVD

This review is based upon features found on the Region 1 (USA & CANADA) DVD. Features for other regional DVDs may vary.

DVD Encoding: Region 1 (USA & CANADA)
Layers: Dual
Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
Subtitles: English, French
Commentary by director Guy Hamilton
Commentary by screenwriter Tom Manckiewicz
Production notes
Theatrical trailer(s), TV spot(s)
Documentary: Inside Live And Let Die
Featurette: On The Set With Roger Moore
Still gallery with more than 150 images
United Kingdom milk board commercial
Collectible behind-the-scenes booklet
Theatrical Release Date: June 27, 1973
DVD Release Date: October 19, 1999
Run Time: 121 minutes
Aspect Ratio(s): Widescreen Anamorphic – 1.85:1 [Widescreen]

The presence of Tom Manckiewicz on the audio track is refreshing. He`s open and honest about his contributions to the Bond series, sometimes to a fault. He`s also open and honest about the process of bringing Live and Let Die to the big screen, a task that most in charge had decided during the 1960`s was impossible.
The series of “Special Edition” DVDs boasts a “collectible behind-the-scenes” booklet for each film. “Collectible” may be stretching it a bit, as most of the information found within the booklet has been on most websites, including this one, for quite some time. Additionally, anyone who has made the investment in DVD probably is a devout collector of Bondmania, which means they`ve got better items to brag about than this booklet.

Special guests on the DVD include Jane Seymour, who reflects on her being chosen as a Bond Girl, while the appearance of Gloria Hendry and Clifton James are a welcome addition.

The documentary doesn`t completely skirt the race issue when it covers Live and Let Die`s suspect literary history, but a more thorough examination of how tough this film was to make and market would have been interesting.

Live and Let Die/Roger Moore junkies will find enough on this DVD to get their fix for quite a while.

Live and Let Die

Live and Let Die (1973)

The Cast Roger Moore (James Bond), Jane Seymour (Solitaire), David Hedison (Felix Leiter) Geoffrey Holder (Baron Samedi), Yaphet Kotto (Mr.Big/Kananga)

The Supporting Cast Bernard Lee (“M”), Lois Maxwell (Moneypenny), Julius W. Harris (Tee Hee), Gloria Hendry (Rosie Carver), Clifton James (Sheriff J.W. Pepper), Lounge Singer (Shirley Bassey)

Credits Produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman; Directed by Guy Hamilton; Screenplay by Tom Mankiewicz; Music by George Martin; Title Song performed by Paul McCartney and Wings; Title Song lyrics written by Paul McCartney and Wings; Titles by Maurice Binder;

Mission: Avenge the death of three British secret agents and stop the dumping of whole sale heroin on the market.

Locations covered: San Monique (Jamaica); New Orleans; New York City; London

Release Dates: U.S June 27th, 1973

Box Office: $126.4 million worldwide ($481,636,643.01 in 1998 dollars)

Best Lines: Bond to Teehee: “Butterhook.”
Sheriff J.W. Pepper: “What are you boy, some kind of doomsday machine?”

Music Notes: Live and Let Die, performed by Paul McCartney and Wings charted as high as #2 on the American Billboard Top 100 singles.

Review by Michael Kersey

Live and Let Die was Roger Moore`s first of seven Bond films and helped reverse the effort of the past 4 years which saw a lull in the box office returns.

The plot finds Bond trying to find a connection between the murder of three British agents: one in New York, one in San Monique, and one in New Orleans. The common denominator is that all three were investigating Doctor Kananga, the leader of the tiny island of San Monique. He`s in New York to address the United Nations, and Bond is sent there to team up with CIA Agent Felix Leiter.

Bond receives a traditional New York welcome: his chauffeur is murdered. Bond gets the license plate of the suspicious car involved in the tragedy and tracks it down to a Fillet of Soul restaurant in uptown Harlem. Of course Bond, a dapper, white British agent, sticks out in an all black establishment. No sooner has he taken a seat in the restaurant than the booth does a 180 and Bond is soon face to face with Mr. Big, the notorious Harlem gangster. Mr. Big is uninterested in who Bond is; “names is for tombstones baby” he tells Bond.

Before Bond is “wasted”, he meets up with fortune teller Solitaire, whose cards inadvertently reveal that they will become lovers. Bond manages to escape his captors and heads to San Monique to uncover Kanaga`s connection to Mr. Big. There, “Mrs.Bond” joins him in his bungalow. “Mrs.Bond” is actually CIA agent Rosie Carver, whose ineptitude exposes her duplicity. She`s playing for both sides and is betraying Bond all the way to Kananga.

Rosie`s duplicity ends up killing her, and Bond moves on, this time setting up a clandestine meeting with Solitaire. Bond convinces her to leave Kananga and together they escape the island of San Monique, discovering poppy fields all the way. Of course this doesn`t sit well with Kananga or Mr. Big, who snatches her back in New Orleans. Bond must then return to San Monique, save Solitaire and destroy the poppy fields before Kananga has a chance to dump tons of free heroin on the black market.

Kananga/Mr.Big are great villains. Scary, intimidating and well played by Kotto. By his side is an assortment of interesting henchmen. There`s the silent but deadly “Whisper”, hook-handed Tee Hee, and the mysterious Baron Samedi.

Jane Seymour is alluring, and provocative as Solitaire; a perfect casting choice. Clifton James is hilarious, though some could argue inappropriate for a Bond film, as racist, bigoted small town Sheriff J.W.Pepper.

The soundtrack is good, and the title song by Paul McCartney and Wings is not only a Bond classic, but it remains a favorite of non-007 fans to this day, and gets heavy rotation on rock radio stations. The title sequence is impressive as well with Maurice Binder making good use of flames, and skeletons; themes and images that would later be woven throughout the film.

License To Kill

License To Kill (1989)

The Cast: Timothy Dalton (James Bond); Carey Lowell (Pam Bouvier); Talisa Soto (Lupe Lamora); Anthony Zerbe (Milton Krest); Robert Davi (Franz Sanchez)

The Supporting Cast: Robert Brown (“M”); Caroline Bliss (Moneypenny); Desmond Llewellyn (“Q”); Don Stroud (Heller); Benicio Del Toro (Dario); Wayne Newton (Prof. Joe Butcher)

Credits: Produced by Albert R. Broccoli; Directed by John Glen; Screenplay by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson; Music by Michael Kamen; Title Song by Gladys Knight; Filmed on location in Key West, Acapulco and Cherebusco Studios (Mexico City); Running Time 2 hours and 15 minutes

Villain`s Idiosyncrasy: Sanchezes loyalty leads to his downfall; love his pet Lizard more than his girlfriend.

Best lines: Bond to Killifer: “You earned. You keep it. Old buddy.”; Sanchez, on what to do with the money that has Krest`s brain matter all over it: “Launder it.”

Box office: $156,200,000.00 (worldwide gross); $213,202,244.28 (1999 dollars adjusted for inflation)

License To Kill starts off with a whimper, steadily builds up a nice pace through the Key West sequences and then falls apart immediately when the story moves to Isthmus. The film begins when South American drug lord Franz Sanchez slips into United States territory in an effort to snatch back his wayward girlfriend, former Miss Galaxy Lupe Lamora. Lamora has escaped to America with one of Franz old business buddies, Alvarez, and Franz wants her back. Meanwhile, tipped off to his presence, CIA agent Felix Leiter (David Hedison), along with 007, go after Sanchez in hot pursuit, despite the fact that Felix is due to be married in less than an hour.

Caught in the middle of trying to escape, Sanchez aborts his mission to get his girlfriend and instead, commandeers a light aircraft and takes off for what we are to presume as Cuba. 007, always thinking ahead, devises an ingenious scheme to reel Sanchez`s plane in. Needless to say, 007 saves the day, and gets Felix to the church on time.

I`ve tried to keep the summary of the pre-title sequence brief, but it`s hard to do. There is quite a lot going on all at once . Director John Glen tries to shuffle the storylines of Della Churchill( Priscilla Barnes) waiting impatiently at the church, 007 and Felix changing plans, and Sanchez trying to escape all at once. It comes off disjointed and just does not flow evenly and smoothly enough in the alloted time of 8 or 9 minutes. The whole sequence should have been fleshed out and expanded after the credits were over. Instead, a plotline that should`ve taken a good 15 minutes to go through and nurture is squeezed into just a little over 9.

After a terrible title sequence and a completely flat tune sung by Gladys Knight, we see Sanchez trying to worm his way out of captivity with one of his famous million dollar bribes. This particular scene highlights some of the worst acting in the film. Both Everett McGill and Robert Davi are good actors who have moved on to other projects, so one can only assume that the fault for this scene lies with John Glen not being demanding enough.

Milton Krest, who uses a marine biology center as a front for drug smuggling, has to come in and help set Franz free. Before leaving back for his home country, Sanchez takes an opportunity to extract revenge on Felix Leiter, by feeding his legs to a shark and having Felix`s newlywed wife raped and murdered. Fun for the whole family, right?

The film gets a nice steady pace going, intermixing lavish action sequences with plot advancement. Then the film switches locations, and the whole thing becomes bogged down.

Much of the prerelease hype for the movie concerned the locations to be used (Key West and Acapulco) the villains (a drug lord who likes to whip his victims) and, as usual, the Bond Girls (one of whom has a “mysterious past”). None of these particular elements are played out to their maximum advantage except for Key West. The beauty of Mexico and it`s culture are inexcuseably squandered, as the producers decided to have Mexico double for a fictional South American country called Isthmus.

Even more interesting is the lack of the whip used by Sanchez. After a brief glimpse of it in the first minute of the film, it disappears for good, thus taking away the one idiosyncrasy that would help this villain stand out. Ex-bush pilot Pam Bouvier is supposed to have a mysterious past, but it`s just a minor footnote to the film that has little to no real signifigance to the plot. The `Pam` character is never fully developed and seems totally out of place in this story. Is she a tough talking, strong-as-nails bush pilot, or a jealous schoolgirl, who can`t stand seeing Bond with another woman? There is so little consistency to the character that it becomes a distraction.

There`s a whole host of minor Bond villains to be found in the supporting cast, including Wayne Newton of all people, but none are worthy of more mention than this. None stand out. Roger Ebert, when reviewing this film, mentioned that it had an `incomplete feel to it, as though something were missing `. He`s right. Coherent and fluent dialogue are missing. Transitional scenes are missing. Motivation for the characters actions are missing. A compelling plot that held the balance of the world at stake was missing. Why did the producers choose to do another film that centered around drugs so quickly after The Living Daylights? Though Richard Maibaum contributed to the script, a writer`s strike, which he honored, forced him to withdraw his particpation any further in finishing up. Though Richard was a great writer, it`s doubtful that his full participation in `License` would`ve made much difference. The film was a bad idea, poorly conceived, poorly written and poorly acted at a time in particular that couldn`t have been worse for the Bond series.