Added by Ueno_Station54 on 14 Feb 2021 07:36
Spectre-tating these dumb spy movies and ranking t
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Omfg I hate the 90's so much. Every character is so unbelievably annoying because in the 90's everyone gets to be the snarky one. Like, I expect a handful of lousy quips from Bond throughout a film but no, I can't deal with every line from every character being a dumbass quip. Also, the music sucks. Also, Brosnan sucks. Nothing even remotely interesting happens until well over an hour in. There's some solid stunts but they're all shot bad and the fight scene at the end is good despite being only mid-shots and Izabella Scorupco has a really cute outfit I'm jealous of and those are the only positives the film has. Otherwise in the bin with this.
This is that specific brand of trite, scientific crowd-pleaser the Marvel films are. The melodrama, the fanservice, all that shit. And its so tragic that it would go this way as the Craig era films never really got to carve out their own identity. I guess now that this story arc has wrapped I'll mention how none of the M stuff has ever worked. She's been written to be a complete buffoon for 7 films straight at this point and I can't really feel for her when she gets her comeuppance. I know the Brosnan films and the Craig films aren't in the same timeline but I'm already just too annoyed with her character by the time Casino Royale rolls around to possibly get invested in her and Bond's relationship which is the emotional crux of the film, but I digress. Back to stuff that's relevant to Skyfall specifically. Like most aspects of the film, the action is fine in the moment most times but immediately forgettable and the finale is especially weak. The same can be said for the film visually pretty much. It looks good for sure but there's literally only one scene that looked good in a way that made me feel any sort of way. Groan-worthy dialogue (but that comes with the Marvel formula they nicked) and Javier Bardem is just a complete charisma void as the villain. The full positive things I have to say about it are that despite the runtime it doesn't feel THAT long and (again, Marvel) it skates by on being blandly agreeable in a way that doesn't make me think its out right bad but it does mean that there's no way I could ever respect it.
There is a noticeable and disappointing drop in technical quality for this one. The colours don't pop, the fights don't bop, really lacking all the best parts of the Terence Young helmed pictures. Yes, I understand this has many of the iconic bond moments and ideas but they are just not presented all that well. Goldfinger really takes that next step further into goofy spy action conceptually but failed to match it technically and winds up just feeling a bit bland and isn't as engaging as it could have been. That being said, some of the goofier ideas are fun enough on their own to prevent this from being an out-and-out bad time. Also Bond saving the day via rape is pretty not good.
Casino Royale (2006)
So the previous film in the franchise Die Another Day was objectively bad but didn't waste my time. This film is objectively good but is 100% wasting my time and I was pretty checked out by the time we were out of the titular casino. Still there's stuff to like here for sure. The action scenes are solid for the most part (excluding the last one) even though I'm not in love with how they're cut and it looks fine for the most parts minus a few scenes where the framerate is out of whack. I think the strongest aspect of the film is just the simplified approach to Bond's spy work and the scenes where he's just following someone are probably the best in the whole film. There's some fairly hefty downsides though; as I alluded to earlier, the runtime is very bloated and I had a hard time giving a shit about anything in the last like 40 minutes and definitely didn't appreciate the numerous fake-out endings. The other big issue is just how consistently cringe all the dialog is, be it Bond and his girl obnoxiously psychoanalyzing each other the whole film or characters just bluntly telling you, the audience, what's happening. It's still not bad I guess just really, really overstays its welcome.
Quantum of Solace (2008)
Boy this is a great looking action film. Tons of interesting, dynamic shots and then they went and cut the thing with a paper shredder it seems. This is nauseating to watch most of the time and its such a shame because again, so many cool individual shots in the action scenes that are just cut into utter nonsense. It does calm down a bit by the end thankfully and I actually kind of like the last action set piece but even in the tame scenes there isn't a natural feeling edit to be found. Like, its almost avant-garde at points. With a proper edit there would be some real winners in the action scenes but it wouldn't save the film from still managing to drag pretty severely at points despite being the shortest Bond film in like three decades. Also don't really like the on-going narrative connecting (I'm guessing) all these films together as its just bloating the films pointlessly as you could cut all that stuff and I bet the films would stand fine on their own. Despite all that there's still some action bits that work and I wasn't ever mad at it. Confused and a bit sick perhaps, but not mad.
The Living Daylights (1987)
Still quite scant in terms of visuals and the colours more muted for this marginally grittier era of Bond. Much like the rest of the Glen-helmed pictures its never outright bad or not at least mildly entertaining but the good moments it has are a bit few and far between. I think I like Dalton's approach to the character, being more upfront with the asshole-ish elements of Bond. The one thing this film can really boast is the top tier theme song from the great a-ha.
You Only Live Twice (1967)
At its peak its probably the best looking Bond film up to this point. Lots of absolutely stunning wides and some genuinely inspired shots but there's unfortunately also an over-reliance on terrible looking composite shots, which are present throughout the series but never this often and this poor, and as the film goes on (and on) those nice shots appear less and less. The story has the same overall arc the camerawork does as it just gets more embarrassing as it goes (not dropping spoilers but there's some real yikes moments) but at least there's some beautiful new additions to the score.
Live and Let Die (1973)
The most notable change here (even more so than our new Bond) is simply the change in decade. Going from the lush Panavision/Technicolor combo to whatever it is that makes 70's films just look dark and muddy is unfortunate to me personally but its not wholly out of place for the film and its still competently shot. I wasn't ever all that hot on Connery's portrayal of the character but I may have developed a bit of Stockholm syndrome and feel it might be unfair to judge Moore at this point but he's at least fine in the role. I don't have a ton to say about the plot/story. It's passably entertaining throughout and doesn't drag very much despite it having the longest runtime yet (I think) but it doesn't have a ton of standout moments. The only thing I'd say as an outright downside is just how bad the McCartney song is as a Bond theme and even just having bits of it worked into the score don't seem to fit that well either. A bit forgettable when all's said and done but its never really "bad" at any point.
Finally wrapping up the Bond films (for the time being, of course) with a high point for the Craig era. While I don't think the current style of mainstream filmmaking is suited well to the James Bond tone, this is probably as close as its gonna get and I think this is first script from this iteration of Bond that really "gets it". It's still got its problems of course. Once again, there's too much focus on side characters (though to a far lesser degree this time) and although the pacing is spot on for the most part, it really starts barrelling towards the finish line in the last hour or so and loses a good bit of tension in the process and the finale isn't anything special either. It doesn't really have any big moments but it just skates by on capturing enough of that classic Bond vibe without without relying on fanservice or feeling derivative. Good cast for this one too as Waltz, Bautista and Seydoux fit quite well here. Hope Bautista gets the Jaws treatment and come back for the next one. Happy to have an overall pleasant experience with the franchise again.
Die Another Day (2002)
Ok yes this film is atrocious to look at pretty much all the time with the abhorrent CGI and overuse of fake slow-mo and it doesn't even look all that good when its being normal either but, it still manages to at least be passably entertaining throughout the fairly long runtime. We've seen the rival spies angle a few times now but I always enjoy it and Halle Berry playing a mirror image of Bond is pretty cool (even if she does end up a damsel in distress still). I also liked the villains quite a bit too. One has diamonds embedded in his face and looks dope and the other you hate immediately because he looks like Will Ospreay. It's just a dumb but fun enough ride that somehow never felt like it was wasting my time whilst being 2h15. Also, it does the space laser gimmick better than GoldenEye.
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
A refreshingly (as I've been watching two of these a day) small-scale Bond adventure that's far from perfect but I enjoyed the vibe of it and despite the lack of spectacle has some really impressive stunt work and some decently suspenseful moments. A likeable, though perhaps not must-see entry to the franchise that I'm probably overrating a tad. Great theme song though.
A View to a Kill (1985)
The John Glen run of Bond films all seem have more or less the same visual approach (ie nothing) but they all manage to be fun, if unspectacular, entries to the series and Moore's final outing is no different. The team of Christopher Walken and Grace Jones as the villains is some inspired casting and are responsible for a lot of the standout moments here including the climax of the film which some may find underwhelming but I dug it. Also can't believe they got Duran Duran for the theme and it sucked :(
Ngl I'm running out of things to say about these films but this is a fun entry with a good amount of laughs mixed in with the action scenes and some real creative ideas. This one's solid.
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
I'm a huge fan of the initial set up and plot and Christopher Lee is great here, I just wish it stayed focused on that instead of all that stuff in the second act (really did not need the return of that annoying cop from the previous film) and with the film being over 2 hours cuts could have easily been made. I think this marries the Bond tone with the 70's aesthetics a lot more harmoniously than Live and Let Die (which I found to be a bit at odds with itself) with brighter, more consistent use of colour whilst maintaining just enough of that 70's roughness. I do like this one a good deal overall but it definitely feels like a missed opportunity in ways. Also to note, I'm 100% on board with Moore as 007 now.
Definitely carried by the music and camerawork (as a film should be) and the first hour or so is really enjoyable but loses a lot of steam in the second half (especially while they're traversing the island) and mostly just fizzles out.
In terms of concepts at least this is has big classic Bond vibes and there's a lot to like here. The setup and premise are very strong and me thinking this was gonna be a top tier film in the franchise but unfortunately there's a just a few too many missed opportunities. The villains and how they develop over time is great but the final showdown doesn't live up to the hype it suggests it should have. The main storyline is one of the more engaging the series has ever had but it is bogged down a good bit with side characters that don't add a ton and the action is a bit lacking in the second half. In the end I'm quite torn on this one. Honestly, if this had a not terrible climax I'd be able to look past my other complaints and consider this one of the best but it just gets a bit frustrating watching it throw away a lot of its great ideas.
Alright so the real star of the show here is the lighting, or I guess rather how it's captured (I don't have the technical know-how to specify why it looks so good unfortunately), as every outdoor or shot-on-location scene is gorgeous with a lot of grit and texture to it but never at the expense of clarity. Scenes with obvious studio lighting are a bit hit-or-miss for me; at their best they still look top notch and at their worst they just have an (intentional) pop 90's look that I'm not much a fan of. Despite every aspect of the film getting overshadowed by the lighting, most the other elements are still solid enough. Our villain is a pretty interesting concept but still feels like a natural fit for a Bond film which caries the film through some of the more by-the-numbers plot developments and theirs some neat moments in terms of action set pieces, though nothing at all mind-blowing which is a bit sad considering Michelle Yeoh is in the cast. In the end that's really what holds the film back, lots of good stuff but very little great stuff.
Licence to Kill (1989)
Very happy to report that John Glen concludes his run of Bond films on a relative high note here. 007's got some 'tude here as the story has him on a personal vendetta this time around which lends itself well to Dalton's take on the character and gives us some surprisingly vicious scenes. It goes pretty close to full-tilt for like the first hour and even once it slows a bit its still has solid characters to lean on for the eventual exposition scenes. Pleasantly surprised how rad this one turned out and its cool the franchise managed to pull off a proper grimy 80's action movie.
This is certainly the most visually compelling and stylish film in the series thus far and it really needed to be because its paired against maybe the least compelling story in the series thus far. Even with the wonderful camerawork doing a more than admirable job carrying the film it does still start to drag through the middle. Fortunately, it starts to pick up in back end and actually has the strongest finish of the films up to this point. Would have been nice if Lazenby had a pulse outside of the fight scenes (a loop of him throwing and uppercut should be hanging in a museum somewhere) but it helps that he's undercover as a dweeb for most of the film so he doesn't always feel miscast, though its not like Connery is that much less of a dweeb tbh. Overall, I was always entertained enough by the shot composition to at least be on board and I marked out enough times during the final act to make up for the duller bits and the conclusion was genuinely emotionally moving.
This clearly only exists because Jaws turned out to be such a massively popular character and thus this film is structured to squeeze him into as many scenes as possible. This is (of course) a wonderful thing and the scattershot nature of the plot leads to an abundance of cool set pieces and Lewis Gilbert really knows how to shoot these kind of films. It is a bit of a double-edged sword as the plot is impossible to follow and any scene that's pushing the story forward in any way feels like its getting in the way of something fun happening just around the corner. That being said though, the fun is there far, far more often than not but there's always that mild sting of cynicism that comes with a film made to specifically capitalize on a previous success.
Probably the most wall-to-wall entertaining film of the series thus far. A great cast of side characters, great fights, a super dope car chase and an abundance of genuinely funny writing are the many highlights here. While not the strongest film of the series visually its certainly an improvement from Mr. Hamilton's previous go at the franchise in that regard and more than gets the job done, even having its fair share of flashy moments. Though the one unfortunately holdover from Goldfinger is just how underutilized the music is which unfortunately sucks the air out of a few key scenes, most notably in the final act. It's a blast for sure but it losing that bit of steam in the third holds it back from being a truly great Bond film.
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Really loved the rival spies dynamic here and the great villains of course but the standouts, as in all the great Bond films, is the visual flair and not only the score (of course) but specifically the use of said score. It maybe doesn't have the absolute hypest moments of the franchise but there's something dope happening pretty much every scene. It just doesn't miss.
Big step up from Goldfinger in terms of visuals and just feeling like a spy movie and I can't believe how hype all the underwater stuff managed to be. Shooting to build tension and actually using the wonderful music they had access to are probably the biggest boons to the film but the plot and set pieces are all fun too. There's definitely still some jank though (the quick turn-around on these film taking its effect) with some bad ADR and rough edits and unfortunately Bond still out here "Baby, It's Cold Outside"-ing people but at least it doesn't heroically save the day this time around. Overall this is the exact middle ground between the (relative) elegance of From Russia with Love and the silly concepts of Goldfinger and I'm about it.
From Russia with Love (1963)
It's definitely less engaging initially than Dr. No but where that film starts strong only to slowly peter out about half way through, From Russia with Love just keeps getting better and better as it goes. Well, to a point that is. Once again aided by the score and camerawork (and just being shot in the best decade for film aesthetically) greatly but also has a much stronger sense of build up and tension and while the entire train sequence is the real climax imo the stuff after is still very fun and well done. Thoroughly enjoyed this one.
Disclaimer: Reviews were written from the perspective of watching the films in chronological order and thus may reference things said about films that show up later on the list.
Disclaimer: Reviews were written from the perspective of watching the films in chronological order and thus may reference things said about films that show up later on the list.
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