Rapid Review: Spectre (2015)

spectre poster

“You are a kite dancing in a hurricane, Mr Bond.”
– Mr White

SYNOPSIS: A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE. – via IMDB

SPECTRE DAY OF THE DEAD

GRADE 7After all this time I finally got to see Spectre over the weekend. I know, I am like the last person in the world to have watched this and to churn out a review for it, but so what? I have been looking forward to this movie for far too long. Right off the bat, I think people are being way too harsh on this movie. Granted, it is not like the other Craig Bond films we have come to expect, it wasn’t as serious or as gritty as the others, which is something that I missed, but it did not mean that there was nothing to love. Spectre was shot well, and looks great, and is carried by some solid performances. Craig is, of course, a phenomenal Bond and my favourite (though that is well known by now, I am sure), and Ben Whishaw makes for a wonderful Q, I still think that he represents a modernised Q perfectly. After I realised that this Bond might have more campier moments to it, I could even embrace the silly comments, and Q being a lot, uhm, more ridiculous than previously. He used to take things seriously, and next thing I know he is complaining about his cats and sniggering at his terribly awkward Aston jokes. Ralph Fiennes’s M started quite rocky here, as I definitely expected more backbone from his character. I have been itching to see Christoph Waltz take on Bond, and I was not disappointed. He was fantastic every moment he was on screen, which is nothing less than I expected. The man is such a phenomenal actor and excels at any role he decides to take on. I am totally looking forward to seeing more of his character in the upcoming Bond films, no ways did they bring him in just for this one. The scene with Madeleine and Bond in the traincar felt like a throwback to Casino Royale, but just didn’t sit right. In actual fact, there were tons of throwbacks to the older Bond films, and some worked better than others. I do enjoy how the last few Bond films (the Craig era) have all linked up nicely. Spectre also featured so much… well, Bond banging the world again, which was really disappointing, as the Craig Bonds have not really featured that aspect much, which was something I always appreciated. Monica Bellucci was case in point… she served no real purpose but to look beautiful. Léa Seydoux’s Dr Madeleine Swann was a really good Bond girl, she is a strong woman who can hold her own, so definitely a solid addition. Also, while Bautista may have been a villain of few words, I really liked him, and a throwback to the quieter henchman that just did their thing. I could not buy into South Africa being the holdouts on the whole Nine Eyes intelligence thing because, well, have you been reading anything smart about South Africa in the papers? Didn’t think so. Our government and intelligence agencies are a joke. Not even being nasty, but really, there is nothing there anymore, it’s embarrassing. I also really disliked that Sam Smith song Writing’s on the Wall (I have no idea who he is, I don’t listen to the radio, but he is not someone I will be listening to anytime soon – totally not my cup of tea), and I was no fan of the opening credits. I cringed. What a pity, too, because the whole octopus thing would have been fine, but instead was bordering on some extreme Hentai crap, and Daniel Craig could not have looked more awkward. Well, I am glad we got that out of the way. I was a huge fan of the opening sequence with the Day of the Dead parade, it was just gorgeous, but I do wish there had been some more to it. The action was top notch here, as always, and I liked little things in the movie that highlighted, once again, how emotionally damaged Craig’s Bond is (his flat that is bare, his drinking, how he can still not bare to deal with anything that touches on Vesper). Yes, Spectre has some drawbacks and shortcomings, and no, it was not quite the film I was expecting, but it is well worth a watch and it is fun, and it does go back to older Bond roots. It is totally not the disaster it has been painted.

Review: Licence to Kill (1989)

16 - Licence to Kill (1989)

“Señor Bond, you got big cojones. You come here, to my place, without references, carrying a piece, throwing around a lot of money… but you should know something: nobody saw you come in, so nobody has to see you go out.”
– Franz Sanchez

British 007 agent James Bond (Timothy Dalton) and his ex-CIA friend Felix Leiter (David Hedison) are on the way to Leiter’s wedding when his DEA colleagues call him in to assist with the capture of a serious drug kingpin, Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi). Though not the greatest time, Bond and Leiter go after the drug lord, and finally capture him and make it to Leiter’s wedding on time. Sanchez escapes from confinement with the assistance of DEA agent Ed Killifer (Everett McGill), who has been paid handsomely. They get together and kill Della Leiter (Priscilla Barnes) and take Leiter with them, whom they feed to a shark.

"Do you have a law against what they did to Leiter?" - James Bond
“Do you have a law against what they did to Leiter?” – James Bond

Bond is on the way out of the country when he hears at the airport that a prominent drug lord escaped, and immediately rushes to Leiter’s home, where he finds a deceased Della and Leiter zipped into a body bag, though he is still alive. His leg is gone, but the doctors feel they may be able to save his arm. Bond is angry, and vows that Sanchez will pay for what he has done. Bond enlists the help of Leiter’s loyal friend Sharkey (Frank McRae), and the two of them set off to investigate, though Bond has been warned direly that he may not get involved with any of the proceedings, there is a legal system that will take care of things. Bond does not feel that they will take the correct course.

licence to kill q and bond
“I know exactly what you’re up to, and quite frankly, you’re going to need my help. Remember, if it hadn’t been for Q Branch, you’d have been dead long ago.” – Q

During the investigation, a research centre run by Milton Krest (Anthony Zerbe) is found, and this is where Bond finds out that Killifer was instrumental in the destruction of Felix’s life. M (Robert Brown) steps forwards when Bond is warned to back down, and orders him to move on to another assignment. Bond refuses, and resigns on the spot. When asked to turn in his weapon after his licence to kill is rescinded, Bond makes an escape. While a rogue agent, Bond begins to foil plans of Sanchez with the assistance of Sharkey, who is killed by henchmen of Sanchez. He steals a lot of money from Krest while out at sea. He goes through a disc of Leiter’s, and meets with Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell), an ex-CIA agent and pilot, to enlist her help. They travel to Isthmas City, where Q (Desmond Llewelyn) meets up with Bond to offer his assistance clandestinely. Bond presents himself to Sanchez as an assassin looking for employment, and he buys his way in with the money that he stole from Krest. Bond’s vendetta mission is starting to interfere with other government operations that are going down, including some of Pam.

licence to kill pop wheel truck
Pop wheeling a truck… a big truck.

Bond, Pam and Q use the assistance offered by Sanchez’s girlfriend, Lupe Lamora (Talisa Soto), to frame Krest and sow doubt within Sanchez’s organization. Bond has now successfully made it into Sanchez’s inner circle, but what will he do with his newfound status? Will Q go home as instructed? Will Sanchez’s televangelist, Professor Joe Butcher (Wayne Newton), be able to successfully reintegrate the cocaine into the market? Will Sanchez listen to his financial manager, Truman-Lodge (Anthony Starke), who seems more in tune with what is going on around them than they give him credit for? Will Bond be able to exact revenge on behalf of Leiter and Della, or will Sanchez see through his disguise?

A 7.5/10 for Licence to Kill. It was another good entry to the Bond series, and I am not sure why it garnered such a bad rep. I see that there were some budget constraints and all of that, but this was the first Bond that attempted to sell a story, not just a load of action thinly veiled by world domination plans. I thought the action was great (though a huge fuel tanker driving on all the wheels of one side was slightly questionable), Timothy Dalton again astounded me as Bond, and Q had such a great role to play here. It was another one of the more enjoyable movies, in my opinion, though I thought that Felix Leiter was nowhere near torn up enough about his murdered wife at the end. Benicio del Toro was also pretty cool in here, it was nice to see him in one of his earliest roles. There were the occasional slumps in the movie, and it appeared that they attempted to bring back the ladies’ man aspect, but at least that was glossed over more than it was concentrated on, so that the story still got more attention. There were sections where the story almost drowned itself, but in the long run it saved itself every time. There was a lot more realistic violence and gore, which was a first – like far more than the other Bonds films were willing to show. Timothy Dalton is truly a fantastic Bond, and he and Craig are the very best in my honest opinion (I really prefer the grittier and far more serious Bonds as they have more depth – nobody said Bond could only be preposterous and cheesy!). I think Dalton deserves far more credit than he is given, as he is a brilliant actor that had a lot to bring to the table for this franchise, and is highly unappreciated – the most of all the Bonds, to tell the truth. He had the look down, the attitude, the action and the story. He was excellent, and there are many previous Bond actors that simply could not even measure up to Dalton, though they seem far more revered for some absurd reason (*cough cough* Moore *cough cough*).

Review: Moonraker (1979)

11 - Moonraker (1979)

“First there was the dream, now there is reality. Here in the untainted cradle of the heavens will be created a new super race, a race of perfect physical specimens.”
– Hugo Drax

MI6 agent James Bond’s (Roger Moore) services are in high demand again. A space shuttle, the Moonraker, has been hijacked in mid-air, and Bond needs to figure out what happened. Meanwhile, he is also on the run from inordinately large and deadly assassin, Jaws (Richard Kiel). 007’s superior, M (Bernard Lee) and the  British Minister of Defence, Sir Frederick Gray (Geoffrey Keen)  send Bond along to Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale), head of Drax Industries, to conduct his investigation. When Bond arrives and meets with Drax, he unknowingly becomes a part of assassination attempts at the behest of Drax.

At the facility, Bond meets with a scientist named Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles). Bond seduces Drax’s pilot, Corinne Dufour (Corinne Cléry), and uncovers plans of Drax’s involving a glass vial manufactured in Venice. Bond moves on to Venice, where he runs into Holly Goodhead, and grows suspicious of her. While snooping around after escaping Drax’s henchmen, Bond uncovers that there are scientists working on a deadly nerve gas for humans. Bond calls in M, though when they enter the laboratory, it shows that there is nothing there, and M grants Bond “leave” to explore some more. Bond meets with Goodhead again after he deduces that Drax is moving things to Rio de Janeiro, and establishes that she works with the CIA, and they undertake to work together. This is very short lived.

As if Rio was going to be simple, Drax employs Jaws to exterminate Bond once and for all, and there is a showdown. Bond escapes, but Goodhead is taken, and he wishes to recover her. During Bond’s encounter with Jaws and his subsequent escape, Jaws meets a girl who goes on to become his girlfriend (Blanche Ravalec). On Bond’s search for Drax’s base, Jaws captures him and takes him there, where another attempt is made on his life. When that fails, Drax gives Bond the tour and he learns that Goodhead is in the compound, and Bond sees a grouping of Moonraker space shuttles. He gathers that Drax stole his own space shuttle. Drax leaves Bond and Goodhead for dead, not knowing they have hijacked a Moonraker of their own to follow him into space.

Here they learn that Drax intends to build the master race from space while he exterminates life on earth, the nerve gas not affecting animals. Will they be able to regain control of the situation and prevent the world from being poisoned to death and his self-professed superior race reigning supreme when all is said and done? Will Bond and Goodhead pool their intellect and resources to put an end to the insanity they are bearing witness to?

I will give Moonraker a 5/10, and even that I have to wonder about. This was definitely the worst foray into a Bond film I have seen so far- yes, public apology to George Lazenby’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Roger Moore is an absolutely dreadful on-screen kisser. It has bugged me the last few movies but now I just have to say it. Terrible! It was great to bring Jaws back (yep, love him), and I thought Jaws finding a girlfriend was adorable, they were so sweet together. Their story was worked into the rest of the film successfully. The whole space battle and everything just did not work for me. I understand that this film came out when science fiction was all the rage but really?! It had its moments, but more of those involved Jaws than anything, particularly whenever he appears the smile that Bond reserves just for him. Two water boat chases in one film? What about Roger Moore says “put me in a boat and in the water, I can make it work”? What about The festival in Rio de Janeiro was also very cool, and Drax was a very twisted individual but this was all drawn together in a way that did not impress me. I found Q’s re-entry comment to be completely tasteless at the end of the film. I am not a fan of Roger Moore; he just does not do it for me in terms of Bond, though credit needs to be given for having Jaws as a character.

Review: Live and Let Die (1973)

08 - Live And Let Die (1973)

“You damn lucky you got an ear left to hear the question with! Which is, did you mess with that?”
– Mr Big

“M” (Bernard Lee) and Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) make a private house call to their 007 agent James Bond (Roger Moore). He is ordered to go to New York to investigate the murders. Three MI6 agents have been murdered while they were checking out a Dr Kananga, the dictator of San Monique, a small island in the Caribbean. Kananga is in New York, too. Bond is to meet up with CIA agent Felix Leiter (David Hedison). Bond hits the ground running when his driver is assassinated on the way to Leiter.

Live and Let Die Bond and American Cops
“Hi there. Allow me to introduce myself. Bond. James Bond.”

Bond tracks leads down that identify a Mr Big (Yaphet Kotto) who is a hardcore gangster is New Orleans, the owner of a restaurant, the Fillet of Soul. Bond meets with Mr Big and his virginal tarot reader, Solitaire (Jane Seymour). Mr Big orders his people to kill Bond, who narrowly escapes with the assistance of an undercover CIA agent. Bond skips out to San Monique almost immediately where he meets up with CIA double agent Rosie Carver (Gloria Hendry). It soon becomes evident to Bond that Rosie is not entirely on his side, and when she leads them to Solitaire’s home, Bond questions her.

Live and Let Die Bond and Solitair
“The cards have followed you for me. ” – Solitaire

Rosie is killed, and Bond meets with Solitaire in her home. She continues to draw the “The Lovers” card where Bond is concerned, and it frightens and confuses her. Bond seduces her, and with her virginity she loses the ability to read the cards and foresee the future. She is useless to Kananga now, and she knows that he will kill her when he finds out that she is of no worth. The lack of her gift means that to survive she will need to work with Bond.

Bond is caught again by the infamous and ruthless gangster Mr Big, who he discovers is actually Kananga in disguise. Kananga informs him that he is preying on the locals’ belief of the occult, voodoo and the inexplicable, and is using their fears to produce two tons of heroin and to protect the poppy fields. Baron Samedi (Geoffrey Holder) is the lead instrument he uses to incite terror. He is going to mass distribute the heroin for free at his restaurants across the States, increasing his clientele at the end of the day. He is sure that his generosity in the matter will topple other main players in the drug game seeing as they will not want to meet his game. Kananga then demands to know if Bond has slept with Solitaire. The information could have her killed, and they work together to desperately try and deceive Kananga. Bond is ultimately sentenced to be executed at the hand (yep) of Tee Hee Johnson (Julius Harris) – death by alligators and crocodiles.

Will Bond be able to escape and put a stop the nationwide distribution of the heroin? Were his lies sufficient to have Solitaire spared her life? Will Kananga just get away with murder again?

Live and Let DIe Absurd Boat Chase

A 6/10 for Live and Let Die. I was so impressed when it started, I mean New Orleans? I have always wanted to go, it fascinates me. In my mind this was a fantastic basis to start on. Then it progressed – we had different cultures, voodoo, funeral processions that were brilliantly orchestrated, awesome restaurants, the whole shebang. This reminded me so much of Thunderball. All that potential and it just didn’t pull it together well at all. It is also the first Bond film to focus on other plot lines outside of SPECTRE. Then there was the ridiculous bayou/river chase thing that went on for far too long, to be perfectly honest. My interest wandered long before it even reached the middle point of that chase. I thought the plot to be alright what with the heroin distribution and bankrupting the Mafia. Jane Seymour was so young in this film it is lunacy! This Bond was also overloaded with just plain down ridiculous things (I will start and hanker on with that damned watch of his). Just no. Great premise it could have built on, but it just went awry somewhere. Definitely not a bad one at all, but some of its potential was overlooked and lost.

Review: Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Diamonds Are Forever (1971) cover

“Well, well, well, look what the cat dragged in.”
– Ernst Stavro Blofeld

James Bond (Sean Connery) is on a mission to pursue and finally stop Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Charles Gray). He tracks his nemesis down where he discovers that Blofeld is conducting surgeries to create lookalikes of himself. Bond kills Blofeld and thinks he has closed that chapter of his life. A diamond angle comes to the fore when diamond smugglers are being exterminated. M (Bernard Lee) puts Bond on a mission to take down a smuggling ring as he is sure that they have an economy-crippling plan up their sleeves.

DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER BOND
“Well just goes to show, no one’s indestructible.” – James Bond

Bond pretends to be smuggler Peter Franks after MI6 captures him and meets with his contact, Tiffany Case (Jill St. John), in Amsterdam where they discuss business dealings. Franks escapes and causes Bond a slight issue, though Bond takes care of him and plants his own identity on Franks, making it look like he killed the MI6 spy. Bond smuggles the diamonds into Los Angeles via Franks’ corpse, and meets with CIA Agent Felix Leiter (Norman Burton) where they exchange the real diamonds for replicas.

Bond is almost killed trying to pass the diamonds on to the next smuggler on the list when assassins Mr Wint (Bruce Glover) and Mr Kidd (Putter Smith) make an attempt to neutralize him. Smuggler Shady Tree (Leonard Barr) saves Bond when he realizes the diamonds on Franks’ body were fakes. Bond tracks the diamonds to Las Vegas to the Whyte House that is owned by a reclusive billionaire, Willard Whyte, who has not been seen for five years. Wint and Kidd kill Tree at the casino-hotel, not knowing Tree was carrying false diamonds. Bond meets up with Tiffany Case again, and she plans to steal the diamonds and run with him.

DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER BLOFELD SURGERY
“As La Rochefoucauld observed, “humility is the worst form of conceit.” I do hold the winning hand.” – Blofeld

Bond discovers a research laboratory owned by Whyte. There he meets Dr Metz (Joseph Furst), a laser refraction specialist. Alarm bells start ringing in his head. At the Whyte House, it becomes apparent that Bond did not kill the real Blofeld when he meets two of them, one undoubtedly the real one. Narrowly escaping the assassins that Blofeld has arranged, Bond enlists Q’s (Desmond Llewelyn) help to trick Blofeld into disclosing Whyte’s location, and rescues the real Willard Whyte (Jimmy Dean). Blofeld has kidnapped Tiffany Case. Bond and Whyte work out Blofeld’s plots and plans and how the diamonds fit in.

Will Bond be able to foil Blofeld’s master plan once again? Will he be able to kill off the proper Blofeld this time as well as put a stop to a his nemesis for one last time? Will 007 be able to avoid Wint and Kidd while on his latest mission?

A 6.5/10. I was torn between liking it and facepalming. There was plenty cheese and uselessness going on, and then at the same time there was a certain amount of genius to be had. For instance, I loved the moon buggy theft and chase, though I thought the little trike-wheeler things were a bit ridiculous. Whyte was entertaining, I did enjoy him a lot, and the assassins were so weird all the time. The effects were pretty questionable at times, and then others they were fine again. There was, naturally, a lot of cheese again, but not the terrible kind. I enjoyed the concept of what was happening in this one, and I must admit, I found Plenty O’Toole to be rather annoying, though I laughed a lot at the window scene. I mean really? The scenery passing when it vehicles is done far better again. Diamonds Are Forever kept me entertained, though as I said I am a little bit confused as to whether I liked it a lot or just enough. To be honest, it was decent. One of the more enjoyable ones in the last few that I have seen. The way it was shot was also alright, looked nice and was put together rather well, and the setting for this Bond was nice (the whole USA setting). Not bad, truly.

Review: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) cover

“The information that I now possess the scientific means to control, or to destroy, the economy of the whole world.”

– Ernst Stavro Blofeld

The new James Bond (George Lazenby) steps forth and saves Contessa Teresa “Tracy” di Vicenzo’s (Diana Rigg) life, and again meets up with her. Her father Marc-Ange Draco (Gabriele Ferzetti) catches wind of Bond’s achievement and decides to meet with him to tell him of Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s (Telly Savalas) hiding place if Bond decides to seduce Tracy and marry her. He will also give forth a dowry of one million pounds. Bond enjoys his freedom and life, yet realizes that if he does not change Tracy’s outlook on him, Draco will give him nothing.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service
“Why do you persist in rescuing me, Mr. Bond?” – Tracy

Returning to MI6 headquarters to speak with M (Bernard Lee), he is informed that he is being kicked from the mission of locating Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Bond is angered and gives Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) his resignation, and she passes it off as two weeks of leave. Bond meets up with Draco at the latter’s birthday party, and Tracy catches on to what her father is up to, and forces her father to tell Bond what he knows without Bond needing to hold up the obligation of marrying her. Naturally after that the two have a romance that blooms after that.

Draco leads Bond to a law firm in Bern, Switzerland. Here Bond learns that Blofeld is making an attempt at the title “Comte Balthazar de Bleuchamp”. He has been communicating his intent with London College of Arms’ genealogist Sir Hilary Bray (George Baker). Of course Bond steps in to impersonate Bray and heads off to Piz Gloria in the Swiss Alps. Blofeld seems to have a clinical allergy-research institute with strictly female patients. It soon becomes clear to Bond that the women are being brainwashed and are part of a bigger scheme: to distribute bacteriological warfare agents across the globe.

OnHerMajestysSecretService
Surrounded by Angels of Death

Bond tries too hard to lure Blofeld off the mountain and to a place where the British will not violate the Swiss sovereignty. Blofeld wises up to Bond and captures him, and Bond needs to escape. He professes his undying love to Tracy, and that is just the beginning of things going sour for the world. Blofeld has other plans, and intends to stick to them. Bond needs to make some choices to save the day, but will he make the right ones? Will he listen to his superiors for once, or be the loose cannon? What will the cost be?

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service earns a 6/10. It was so boring – I just have to put it out there. The movie was like two and a quarter hours, and it took me closer on four to watch it and a hell of a lot to stay awake. There was nothing compelling – not the story, not the acting, nothing. This was truly the worst Bond that I have seen so far, there was just nothing that really said Bond. The dialogue was crappy, the camerawork was crappy, the fake backgrounds were still crappy. Overall, not impressed. It was just absurd, the concept was ridiculous, and George Lazenby was really just not the right pick for the role. The movie itself was not really memorable, so I do not really have a lot to contribute to it, it didn’t register very well for me.

IN RETROSPECT: I was grumpy and irritable when I watched this, and definitely disliked it far worse than I should have. It is definitely not the worst of the Bonds, though the story was a little shallow, and Lazenby is not the greatest Bond, but he is not as annoying as he was that day. This Bond really had a bang for an ending and is one of the best one’s of the series, though it is rather incongruent to the rest of the film. The backgrounds were still crappy (but that is no shocker with these old ones), so I need to give it credit that I did not initially.

Review: You Only Live Twice (1967)

You Only Live Twice (1967) dvd cover

“As you can see, I am about to inaugurate a little war. In a matter of hours after America and Russia have annihilated each other. We shall see a new power dominating the world.”
– Ernst Stavro Blofeld

New drama arises between the East/West when an American spacecraft gets hijacked in space. The United States is positive it is the Russians, who in turn have nothing to do with it. The British are sure that it has nothing to do with their little Cold War, but more to do with someone else, after all, it appears to have something to do with the Japanese.

MI6 agent James Bond (Sean Connery) is sent to Tokyo to fake his own death, which goes down well. The papers report the news, and his enemies seem to breathe. He meets up with M (Bernard Lee) on a submarine, and is advised that he needs to find out what the hell happened to the missing spacecraft and soon – the Americans are to deploy another spacecraft soon, and the Russians before them even. Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) gives Bond the things that he needs, and the passcodes set up with Japanese intelligence agencies. Bond sets out for Tokyo, and is met by Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi), who works for Tiger Tanaka (Tetsuro Tamba), Bond’s elite Japanese contact. Tanaka puts Bond onto Dikko Henderson (Charles Gray), the local MI6 operative. He claims that he has evidence of the rogue craft that is picking off the spacecraft, but is killed.

YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE BOND

Bond takes it upon himself to investigate Osato Chemicals, and escapes with stolen documents that lead him further along the way to finding out what is going on. Bond finally meets Tanaka in person, and they further their investigation. Bond returns to Osato Chemicals to meet with Mr Osato (Teru Shimada) himself as a potential new buyer. Osato orders his secretary, Helga Brandt (Karin Dor), to dispose of Bond the moment he walks out the door. Bond checks out the docking lead that he and Tanaka have, and is imprisoned by Helga. He bribes his way out, and Tanaka rescues him. Q (Desmond Llewellyn) supplies some toys to assist Bond in his mission. Bond establishes that their is an island with nothing happening on it, but he now knows that SPECTRE is behind the missing spacecraft, headed up by Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Donald Pleasence), aka SPECTRE Number 1.

YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE BLOFELD
“James Bond. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Ernst Stavro Blofeld.” – Blofeld

This new information means that Bond needs to go deep undercover – he needs to become Japanese to get onto the island for infiltration and find out where SPECTRE is doing what before the United States and Russia go to war. His undercover wife, Kissy Suzuki (Mie Hama), shares critical information with Bond that will lead them to the location of the SPECTRE base. Will Bond be able to pull it off in time? Can he stop Ernst Stavro Blofeld in his tracks, throw a spanner in the works and save the day again as always?

????????????
“No honeymoon. This is business.” – Kissy Suzuki

You Only Live Twice scores only a 6/10. I don’t know, the content was not particularly gripping, and I know the movies are old and the special effects are sometimes questionable, but they were downright dubious and ludicrous in this one. It just looked terrible. The acting struck me as stiffer than usual, and there seemed to be a lot of filler stuff crammed into the movie to give it some body. Overall, not my favourite Bond film, and it left a lot to be desired. It was good to finally have a look at Number 1, though, so props to that at the very least. I must say, the script was very superficial, and not much was given forth about anything in You Only Live Twice, not even more about SPECTRE, really. There was again some cheese to it, but this cheese just didn’t seem to gel so nicely with the movie overall. Not the worst Bond so far, but definitely did not excite me at all.

Review: Thunderball (1965)

04 - Thunderball (1965) cover

“Like your friend you’ve been a little too clever, and now you are caught!”
– Emilio Largo

MI6 007 agent James Bond (Sean Connery) attends the funeral of a SPECTRE operative, Number 6, in which he discovers the death is faked and 6 is posing as his own widow. Bond finishes the job and returns to England, where M (Bernard Lee) sends Bond off to a clinic for his health. SPECTRE has placed Count Lippe (Guy Doleman) at the clinic. Bond recognizes him, and Lippe attempts to kill Bond. He is saved by Patricia Fearing (Molly Peters).

French Nato pilot François Derval (Paul Stassino) is killed by SPECTRE henchamn Angelo (played by the same actor), who is put in his place and has undergone tons of surgery and years of training to pass off as the deceased man. Derval was tasked the mission to fly two atomic bombs aboard his aircraft on a training mission. It is soon discovered by Bond that Derval was murdered and replaced to steal the atomic bombs, and soon they drop off the face of the earth. Angelo gets greedy and it angers SPECTRE Number 2 Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi), resulting in Angelo’s death. The plane that he hijacked goes down around the Bahamas, and naturally that is Bond’s next stop after all 00 agents are called to Whitehall. At Whitehall they learn that  SPECTRE has it in their heads that they will exchange the bombs for £100 million worth of white flawless uncut diamonds. If NATO does not make that happen, they will destroy a city in either the United Kingdom or the United States. Bond establishes that Derval was impersonated, and that the plane with the atomic bombs was actually hijacked.

THUNDERBALL UNDERWATER STORY
“You wish to put the evil eye on me, eh? We have a way to deal with that where I come from.” – Emilio Largo

Bond requests M to send him to Nasseau to meet with Dominique “Domino” Derval (Claudine Auger), Derval’s sister. What he does not count on is that Domino is Largo’s mistress. Felix Leiter (Rik van Nutter) joins Bond at the hotel, and together they catch out a SPECTRE henchman who is killed by Largo for incompetency. Bond attempts to infiltrate Largo’s ship, but is almost killed, and later taken captive by Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi), though he escapes. Bond and Felix come together and search for the fallen aircraft, sure that it is somewhere beneath the water seeing as Largo has been doing some midnight diving expeditions.

THUNDERBALL BOND AND DOMINO
“How do you know that? How do you know my friends call me Domino?”

Will Bond find out where the bombs are located before the governments pay out a ridiculous amount of money to terrorists? Will he flip a source and find a way to get into Largo’s company without alarming anyone or tipping them off of his game? Will he be able to save a city from destroy and ruin by uncovering the truth or bending to insane demands?

A 6.5/10. I don’t know. This movie disappointed me so much. It had all the right potential to be amazing. It had lots of sharks, both in the ocean and in the round swimming pool, it had scuba divers and harpoon guns, underwater fight scenes, decent villains, a theoretically interesting plot, cats and eyepatches… pretty much the recipe for awesome. But it failed to catch. It lacked something so large and I could not put my finger on it. It was so disappointing. The effects right at the end with the boat speeding along, the stuff you see outside the windows and approaching islands, it looks absolutely terrible. But aside from that it is watchable, but a let down in terms of the potential that it had and how far awry they went from it, for me at any rate.

Review: Goldfinger (1964)

Goldfinger (1964) cover

“No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!”
– Auric Goldfinger

James Bond (Sean Connery) finds  himself on Miami Beach after a mission concludes. His superior, M (Bernard Lee), sends instructions via CIA agent Felix Leiter (Cec Linder) to spy on the incredibly wealthy Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe). Bond works his way into Goldfinger’s sights by forcing him to lose at the gin rummy he was cheating at, and making off with Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton), Goldfinger’s accomplice. Goldfinger’s right hand man, Oddjob (Harold Sakata) attacks Bond and kills Jill, giving us the first golden girl.

GOLD FINGER GOLDEN GIRL JAMES BOND
“She died of skin suffocation. It’s been known to happen to cabaret dancers.” – James Bond

Goldfinger smuggles gold internationally, but nobody is able to pinpoint and ascertain exactly how he does it, and Bond is set upon the mission to find out how exactly he goes about moving the gold. Bond meets with Goldfinger socially, and soon follows his across the globe where he is ultimately caught after learning how Goldfinger smuggles the gold. He also hears talk of “Operation Grand Slam”, though he has no idea what that may means, but is also not prepared to tell anyone that.

GOLDFINGER AND BOND
“Man has climbed Mount Everest, gone to the bottom of the ocean. He’s fired rockets at the Moon, split the atom, achieved miracles in every field of human endeavor… except crime!” – Auric Goldfinger

Bond returns to the United States, personally flown by Goldfinger’s pilot Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman). Bond was not killed in an attempt to mislead MI6 into believing he has the situation under control. Bond is taken to Goldfinger’s stud farm in Kentucky where he is kept prisoner, though he escapes and discovers the true meaning of Operation Grand Slam. He is planning to break into Fort Knox, and has a cleverly devised plan to do so, an element of the plan being to use Delta 9 nerve gas, which will kill everyone it comes into contact with. Goldfinger is intent on destroying the world’s economy.

Bond’s escape is short lived and he is quickly taken back to his cell. 007 needs to alert the Americans as to Goldfinger’s insane plan as well as get out of there for good, but how will he do it watched by an army full of dedicated Golfinger-servants? Pussy Galore seems set upon upending Fort Knox, taking her share and moving along. Meanwhile, the CIA and MI6 have no idea that Bond is in actual fact in trouble. Will Bond be able to stop the dastardly Goldfinger and his evil plans and avoid Oddjob, will he be able to save thousands all on his own?

Goldfinger earns a 7.5/10. I enjoyed the concept of this one, what with Bond being on his very own. I liked the sprayed golden girls, and I liked Oddjob (what the hell, he made me laugh a lot). The introduction of the Aston Martin DB5 was glorious, and Q’s first introduction was also met without a hitch. These Bond girls really have some incredibly dodgy names (my favourite so far being Goldfinger’s Pussy Galore – I mean truly?!). Plenty of cheese  heaped into this one as well, though this one was great. I think what I loved about it was the conclusion at Fort Knox and the troops that collapsed and then rose again to fight another day. It was pretty cool. Goldfinger had an ambitious plan that was jeopardized by 007, and it was interesting to see how it all panned out. Goldfinger is not the most innovative villain of all time, but he was a new force to be reckoned with. I must say, however, that there were moments where Bond was overly cruel and harsh with Pussy Galore, especially in the barn/stable. I was not really impressed. Overall, well done on this one, I did enjoy it.

Review: From Russia With Love (1963)

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE COVER

“Corporal, I have chosen you for an important assignment. It’s purpose is to give false information to the enemy.”
– Rosa Klebb

SPECTRE is still smarting from the death of Dr No, and wish to punish James Bond (Sean Connery) for his part in taking their colleague down. Kronsteen (Vladek Sheybal) devises an in depth plan to steal a Lektor cryptographic device from the Soviets through the English, then sell it back to the Soviets, all the while playing the two nations off against each other. It cannot really end well. SPECTRE Number 1 puts Number 3, ex-KGB Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) in charge of the mission to kill Bond and get the two nations’ backs up. Klebb gets a beautiful young girl, Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi), to seduce Bond with the story that she is deflecting and has a Lektor is her possession and Donald “Red” Grant (Robert Shaw) to assassinate Bond.

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE BOND AND KERIM
“All of my key employees are my sons. Blood is the best security in this business.” – Kerim Bey

M (Bernard Lee) sends Bond on the mission to recover Romanova and the Lektor and bring her back to England safely. She will apparently only go with him after pulling his photograph from a Soviet intelligence file. Bond leaves for Turkey, and befriends the station head Ali Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendáriz). Together they want to spy on the Soviets, and eventually get Romanova in on it so that they are spying from beneath the embassy. Romanova gets the floor plans, and Bond and Kerim plan an invasion. Stealing the Lektor, the three flee onto the Orient Express, where they are sure that they will be safe. Their plans are to successfully help Romanova defect as well as get the Lektor to MI6. Grant, however, has other plans for the trio. Before they know it, there is murder on the train, and Bond finally begins to suspect that there is something suspicious about Romanova.

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE TRAIN MURDER
Murder on the Orient Express, anyone?

With Number 1 getting edgy about the outcome of the famous Lektor plan, the efforts to assassinate Bond and turn the Allies against the Soviets grows in crescendo. Klebb herself is sent into the field to handle the issues. What will Bond do with the news that Romanova is a traitor? Will he be able to inform the government of SPECTRE’s evil plan, or will he be taken care of before he has the opportunity to say anything?

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE BOND AND TATIANA ROMANOVA

A 7/10 for From Russia With Love. This story of the girls just falling all over their feet to jump Bond and marry him on the spot after just saying hello is completely beyond me! However, the story was not too bad on this, and again I loved the remastered images and sound, it really made it wonderful to watch. The villains in this one are not so impressive, but it is cool to see a bit more of SPECTRE, as well as seeing Number 1 in all his glory (though never facial). The story was a little bit crazy, and all over the show, but overall not so bad that you could not follow it. I thought the dynamic between Bond and Kerim was highly entertaining, as it was a fun game for them, though at the same time it was serious. Who said work and fun cannot be interlinked? Another good entry to the ever-growing Bond franchise!