Sunday, November 19, 2006

Bored...James Bored

With the release of the new James Bond flick Casino Royale, the Bond machinery is starting to wheeze into position. Everytime a new Bond flick comes out, the production company re-releases a box set or box sets of Bond flicks. TV stations run marathons of old Bond flicks. Movie websites release their Bond lists, top 5 Bond movies, top 5 Bond girls etc etc.

Is anyone as tired as I am with the James Bond phenomenon? Since the end of Sean Connery's original tenure as James Bond, the movies have gone further and further away from what writer Ian Fleming meant when he first started writing James Bond novels back in 1953. Originally, Bond was supposed to be "an anonymous blunt instrument wielded by a Government Department." Did you really get that sense during the last 10 Bond films filled with ridiculous stunts, bad puns and the main character saying, "Shaken, not stirred" and "Bond...James Bond"? When the main character says these lines now, it sounds as ancient as Moses on the mountaintop.

The biggest problem with the James Bond franchise is that they are controlled by the British film company EON Productions Limited. They control all aspects of the Bond franchise including scripts, casting, directors etc etc. Each movie feels exactly the same, the character introduction that looks like it is scene through the barrel of the gun, the spectacular action scene, the dreamy credits with the movie theme song in the background with graphics of women and guns, Bond going to see his boss M while first flirting with the secretary Miss Moneypenny. Then he goes to the lab where Q introduces him to the gadgets he will have with this mission. The scene features lots of puns from Bond and lots of eye-rolling from Q. We then move into the action which is usually intentionally confusing as Bond's character always knows what he is doing prior to the audience being let in on the details. The pattern is the same everytime that I always get that feeling of deja vu when watching a new Bond film.

Direction is usually the biggest problem with these films. EON Productions Limited refuses to use any directors who might change the franchise in any way. They hamstring the productions so much so that major directors like Quentin Tarintino have been refused to be allowed to direct a Bond film.

Look at the directors of every Bond film, the most prolific one is Michael Apted (The World Is Not Enough). His directing career also included the great bio-pic of Loretta Lynn called Coal Miners Daughter. Though Martin Campbell (Goldeneye and the new Casino Royale) also directed a spectacular action film called The Mask Of Zorro so I guess he deserves some props as well.

And they don't have big name actors playing the bad guys in these films. That's what they really need! Yes I know Christopher Walken in A View To A Kill or Christopher Lee in The Man With The Golden Gun, but those are two of the weakest movies of the franchise. Everyone knows that for a good action movie, you need a great bad guy (Alan Rickman in Die Hard, Tommy Lee Jones in Under Siege etc etc). But Bond movies never have a memorable one. Never a big name actor who you can just love to hate in such a meaty role as the James Bond bad guy bent on some sort of world domination.

I don't mean to beat on the James Bond franchise too much, most people I know still enjoy them. I have seen them all so I guess I am not filled with too much hatred.

Top 5 James Bond Films
1. On Her Majesty's Secret Service (no, I am not joking-it is VERY underrated)
2. Goldfinger
3. Dr. No
4. Live And Let Die
5. The Living Daylights

As you can see, I have movies with 4 different Bond actors on that list. To be honest, I really don't care who plays Bond (though actors Clive Owen and Jeremy Northam would be perfect). They do not make or break the quality of the film.

By the way, if you are a James Bond fan the website Cinimatical has been covering all things Bond all week including a page that has every Bond movie trailer ever.



Post a Comment

<< Home