James Bond

Bond Legacy: Die Another Day

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Even the decision to work her with strings like a puppet couldn’t draw a convincing performance from Madonna.

Reader, I think we’ve known each other for long enough to be honest with each other. Hopefully you’ve come to understand my love of movie stats, my fondness for everything from Hitchcock to Haneke and my desire to see films shown in the best cinemas possible. So I hope that you won’t judge me too harshly when I make this candid admission: I saw Die Another Day twice at the cinema, and I didn’t think it was that bad.

I know, I know, I was young, I was foolish, I should have known better. Certainly there were parts that stuck out at the time as not working, most of them involving Madonna Louise Ciccone, but I thought it was a fun romp in the grand tradition of previous Bonds. Two things can be said about my film watching habits at the time: I was still very much resolutely watching blockbusters (I visited Leicester’s premier art house cinema, the Phoenix Arts, once in the seven years I lived there – the period when DAD came out –  and that to watch a Michael Moore film), and that I still felt Bond worked best as an escapist fantasy with outlandish gadgets, mainly through my love of the Roger Moore films.

Ten years on, a lot’s changed, not least me. I don’t know if I have a completely refined palate now, but watching Die Another Day back in the context of my new appreciation for cinema, and after nineteen other, very varied Bond films, it’s clear that Die Another Day really isn’t much cop. Certainly, in keeping with the previous film there are some good and bad sequences, but the latter now significantly outnumber the former. It’s often said that the Bond series is more of a producer’s series than a director’s one, but Lee Tamahori brings a certain amount of visual style to the series’ 20th entry, most of it consisting of awkward editing and frustrating visual tricks. The well publicised reliance on CGI varies from middling to cringe-worthy, and whoever decided to leave the kite-surfing sequence in, rather than editing around it, frankly wants taking out and putting out of their misery with a Walther PPK. John Cleese just doesn’t work as Q (thankfully his only time in the role), and Halle Berry later managed the unfortunate distinction of becoming both an Oscar and a Razzie winner, and her performance here is nearer the latter than the former.

If only the film had followed the tone set by the pre-credits sequence. Still Bond yearns to be darker, but again the EON machine only has the guts to go dark for a brief period, and even the first film of the post 9/11 era can only stay solemn for the length of a TV sitcom episode, before descending into the level of humour and camp theatrics of a bad TV sitcom. After Brosnan hit the heights of his portrayal in the last film, this feels again like Bond by the numbers: not necessarily his fault, as even the darker scenes leave him very little to get his teeth into, but the performance of Die Another Day and more behind the scenes legal wrangling leave Brosnan as having made approximately one and a half very good Bond films in his tenure.

Despite that, Die Another Day has, for better and for worse, had an impact on the rest of the series.

1. No more gadgets, at least for a while

So Q, how do I get the car out of the secret tube station base?

I did say, at the time of Live And Let Die, that I don’t have a problem with the invisible car. Not because it’s supposedly based on real military technology – a technology that only works at a distance of several miles – but that in a series that’s supposedly based on the same character being played by different actors, a fact confirmed by references to Bond’s past in earlier Brosnan films, a world where tarot and card reading is 100% successful and therefore real, and where a previously untrained astronaut can end up on a space station surrounded by hundreds of men in a giant fight with laser guns, a stealth car is not the most idiotic thing the series has ever done.

But the two things that stick in the mind of any reasonable person about Brosnan’s last Bond film are that awful, awful theme song and the invisible car. The musical choices continued to be reasonably eclectic under the rest of David Arnold’s tenure, but the one thing that Die Another Day seemingly killed off for the foreseeable future (as even the gadgets in Skyfall seem to go no further than the kind of personalised gun that Dalton had twenty years ago) is those wonderful gadgets. No more jet packs and sofas that eat people for a while, it would seem.

2. Dancing the anniversary waltz

Back in the days of Sean Connery, Bond was knocking one off on an annual basis. Over the course of time, that gap widened as the demands of post-production increased, but the first three year gap in Brosnan’s tenure was designed for an entirely different purpose; to give the opportunity to show off bond in an anniversary year, in this case the 40th year since films began and the golden anniversary of the first novel. Consequently there are references to every single previous Bond film, laced through like the Easter bunny started taking crack and went a bit mad with the Easter eggs.

Having not seen it yet, this is a little speculative, but I understand from reports that Skyfall also features a few nods to the past for the 50th / 60th anniversaries. Consequently, I would expect Bond films released in 2022, 2037, 2062 and 2962 to also draw heavily on their heritage. Feel free to check back in around ten / twenty-five / fifty / a lot of years to see if I was right.

3. Here comes the fuzz

Even with a beard, nobody does it better.
Agree to disagree, James.

And to think poor old Lazenby got the boot for turning up at the première in a beard. How times change.

Next time: Bond goes back to his roots – but keeps the blond hair – in Casino Royale.

Previous Bond legacy posts: Dr No / From Russia With Love / Goldfinger / Thunderball / You Only Live Twice / On Her Majesty’s Secret Service / Diamonds Are Forever / Live And Let Die / The Man With The Golden Gun / The Spy Who Loved Me / Moonraker / For Your Eyes Only / Octopussy / A View To A Kill / The Living Daylights / Licence To Kill / Goldeneye / Tomorrow Never Dies / The World Is Not Enough

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Bond Legacy: The World Is Not Enough

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Even the bullet in his head didn’t stop Renard feeling the pain of some of Bond’s less choice puns.

There’s a strong argument to be made that the two longest serving Bonds both peaked at the time of their third film. Certainly Shir Schean’s heart was never quite in it after Goldfinger, and Roger Moore also may have never been as good as he was in The Spy Who Loved Me. So it comes as somewhat of a relief that Pierce Brosnan, after two films of alternating rather too frequently between fierce Dalton-like toughness and a shit-eating grin that spews out cheesy puns and desperate innuendo, manages to truly nail his portrayal of James Bond, balancing the humour and the drama far more successfully. But, as students of basic physics will know, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and for a stronger Bond we have Denise Richards as a Bond girl.

Denise Richards plays nuclear physicist Dr Christmas Jones, in a sentence so ridiculous I didn’t even manage to type it while keeping a straight face. Instead, I sobbed bitter tears of despair and regret into my keyboard at the thought of quite how good The World Is Not Enough could have been if it had nailed the casting. The Brosnan Bonds, now freed from the shackles of Fleming’s heritage, were starting to take few more risks, including injuring Bond in the pre-credits sequence and then not forgetting about it by the time the dancing ladies had stopped. They also had the first truly bad Bond girl in the form of Sophie Marceau, an equal match for Brosnan’s added bitterness and Robert Carlyle as a menacing henchman, but Michael Apted’s attempt at a Bond never quite knows how to gel the elements together.

There’s further misadventures with Robbie Coltrane’s dodgy (and dodgily accented) Valentin Zukovsky, but the elements just don’t get the correct weighting, and all of the good will built up by the solid first half goes crashing out of the nearest window without a bungee cord the moment that Denise Richards turns up and opens her mouth. It makes TWINE very much a film of two halves, and while the first is one of the stronger Bond entries, and easily at least the equal of Goldeneye in the Brosnan canon, the second half has only moments of greatness and ends on a joke so crashingly bad, even Roger Moore would have probably had second thoughts.

There’s some consideration to be made of the legacies, but for me The World Is Not Enough holds a particular place in my personal Bond history, alongside The Spy Who Loved Me (first Bond I can remember seeing on TV) and Goldeneye (first Bond I saw in the cinema); The World Is Not Enough is not only the first Bond film I owned on DVD, it’s one of the first two DVDs I ever owned. I received a DVD player as a Christmas present from my ever loving mother, along with TWINE and The Sixth Sense on DVD – handy, that – so I was able to not only skip easily to just the parts of the film that I enjoyed, and more quickly edit Denise Richards out of the film, but also try to see how much of The Sixth Sense held up the second time around. Which has nothing at all to do with Bond, but seriously, whatever happened to M Night Shyamalan? Such a one trick pony.

To the legacies, though, and The World Is Not Enough can count a decent number of firsts among its achievements, including being the first Bond film release by MGM after they had swallowed up the unfortunate United Artists, original studio of Bond, the first film to feature the Millennium Dome and the first Bond film made in Dolby Digital EX 6.1 – ideal if, like me, you have a 5.1 surround sound system at home that your wife never lets you turn on anyway because it scares the neighbours and bothers the cat. But the move to MGM hasn’t had a huge bearing on the series as a whole, and the O2 hasn’t had a huge career in the movies, although it has got a Cineworld with a giant screen in it. To my shame, I can only find one real legacy of The World Is Not Enough, but it’s enough to keep the run going.

1. The world’s least secret secret organisation

If they make a Lego one of these, I’m getting it. Then making it fight the Lego death star.

Apparently James Bond, and all of his mates, the spies – secret agents, supposedly – work in one of the most famous buildings on the modern London skyline. It’s the third time that it’s been in the Bond films, but it won’t be the last time we see a giant hole get blown in it in a Bond film, if the Skyfall trailer is anything to go by.

And that’s it. I blame Denise Richards.

Next time: Well, at least it can’t get any worse. It’s not like it was Madonna or anything. That would have been dread… oh. It’s Die Another Day.

Previous Bond legacy posts: Dr No / From Russia With Love / Goldfinger / Thunderball / You Only Live Twice / On Her Majesty’s Secret Service / Diamonds Are Forever / Live And Let Die / The Man With The Golden Gun / The Spy Who Loved Me / Moonraker / For Your Eyes Only / Octopussy / A View To A Kill / The Living Daylights / Licence To Kill / Goldeneye / Tomorrow Never Dies

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Why the Olympics make me fear for the future of British film

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I suggested a Blackadder sketch but Tony Robinson turned it down…

It’s all over bar the shouting (and the Paralympics; actually, it’s probably only half over, isn’t it). Yes, after seven years of hope and expectation – the latter mainly that, like most things British, it would be more a Fawlty Towers writ large than a testament to organisational efficiency – the Olympics have come and gone in a flash, with the triumphs and tears still close enough to touch, but soon everything will fade into memory and Rio will come round much sooner than you think.

You might think that I’ve found all of these sporting events an irritating distraction to my normal hobby,  but on the three occasions I got to the cinema during the Games there were a fair selection of people there, not full houses by any means but far from empty. I did pick two occasions when British medal hopes were unlikely, and that proved to be a safe assumption. But other than that, I’ve been wrapped up utterly in the drama of the Games, every single medal and event proving as exciting as the last.

But actually my love affair with the Olympics goes back much further; I was fascinated by them as a child, to the point where when I had to give a talk for my GCSE English Language on a subject of my choice, the Olympics was the most obvious selection (and I got top marks for it, too). I even saw an episode of Mastermind once where the contestant had selected it as a specialist subject, and I had outscored him; if only the general knowledge questions hadn’t been quite so fiendish, and if someone hadn’t just stolen my potential specialised subject, I could have been in there.

There’s something compelling about the Olympian ideal as encapsulated by their modern founder, Pierre de Coubertin, that it’s not the triumph but the struggle that’s important, not necessarily to have conquered your opponent but to have fought well. It appealed to me as a youngster to the extent I managed to get bottom marks for achievement and top marks for effort at my grammar school’s Physical Education lessons, before I was eventually relegated to the role of scorer. It didn’t win me any prizes, but still gave a certain sense of self-satisfaction. That sense can still be seen in the likes of Hamdou Issaka, trailing in three minutes behind the rest of the field in a six minute race during Eton Downey’s rowing events, but for many the pressure is much greater, carrying what they believe to be the hopes of a nation and unable to control their emotions when only able to deliver silver or bronze when they thought nothing less than gold would do.

It’s that sense of golden glory that has actually come to define these Games for Britain. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change a second of it, but I struggle to believe that we’d have seen these Games as quite the success had we taken home the seven gold medals that Australia did, rather than the twenty-nine that our athletes so thrillingly made their own. That success has allowed the nation to revel in the sense of being a major power for the first time since the fall of an empire, and doesn’t a little power feel good? I don’t think anyone would begrudge Britain its moment of glory, as unless something miraculous happens we’ll drop down the medals table next time like every other host that’s then lost its home advantage.

But that gold rush has also allowed us to market ourselves as a nation to the world, and the politicians of the nation have all been out in force, looking to capitalise on some of that good will. David Cameron has already made a commitment to elite sport, confirming that £125 million, the current annual budget for that elite sport, will now be guaranteed for the next four years, rather than the next two. It’s wonderful to see, but without the investment in sport in our primary schools and sport at a grass roots level in this country, there’s a risk that the supply line just won’t be there.

The other triumph in many eyes of the past two and a bit weeks has been the opening ceremony, which did much to highlight to the world just what we think makes Britain great. The arts have sat comfortably next to sport for the duration of the Games, and as well as highlighting Britain’s great musical heritage, the Games have also shown us as a nation how much film means to us, from James Bond and the Queen’s parachute display team to the Bean-influenced Chariots of Fire skit (and the music from that film playing over 300 times during the festivities, until everyone I spoke to was pretty sick of it, so ingrained in the British sporting and cultural psyche it’s become), and even the sight of Gregory’s Girl projected onto the side of a house that later flew into the air to reveal the creator of the world wide web underneath, the Olympics was like a stick of rock with the letters “FILM” running all the way through it.

My fear though, and I can only hope it’s unfounded, is that the same pressure and funding ethos being brought to bear on British sport is what we’ve already seen applied to the British film industry. On the 11th January this year, just prior to a review published on government funding for the film industry, the Prime Minister stated that the film industry should primarily be supporting “commercially successful pictures”, a view that was widely decried at the time, but one that seems scarily similar to the elite prioritisation being applied to Games funding. It’s the gold medals, and the gold statues, that bring prosperity to the economy, but what risks getting lost in the rush to glory is that without the likes of Danny Boyle and smaller British films like his debut Shallow Grave, there’d be no-one to go on and make Danny Boyle’s Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire or his Olympic opening ceremony.

Already there are too many British films getting lost in the mix and struggling to find distribution or funding, and with a country in recession and sport likely to claim a larger proportion of a diminishing pot for the next few years, it’s going to be just that little bit harder for those trying to keep the British film industry going. Let’s encourage British film makers to their craft without feeling that they need to be striving for box office success or Oscar glory every time they turn on a camera, and that they do their best in their own endeavours, and let’s just hope they don’t have to put up too much of a fight to continue to make British film the success that helped to put it at the heart of one of the most uplifting two weeks that this country has ever seen.

Bond Legacy: The Living Daylights

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They nearly brought back Roger Moore again? Wow, did I dodge a bullet there or what!

When BlogalongaBond first started, there were two certainties as far as Bond was concerned; that Sean Connery would be held up as the gold standard to which all others would be compared, and that pretty much everyone would have a different favourite Bond. My mother won’t actually watch Bond films any more, so convinced is she that Connery is unimpeachable in the Bond stakes and that anyone else would pale so much by comparison that they wouldn’t even be worth her time. For pretty much everyone else, the grimness of the later Moore years is over, and we come into the modern Bonds. For me and for many others of my generation, Timothy Dalton was the first new Bond in my lifetime. He was also the first new Bond in the sense that my house got its first VCR in 1985, so the Dalton Bonds were the first that I was able to watch in the comfort of my own home about the time that they were released. Thus Timothy will always be the tiniest Bond in my overly literal mind.

But it takes a big man to impose himself in a series that was becoming so stale you could practically see the fetid bacterial cultures forming up there on screen. That man, a long time candidate who now seemed in prime position, was Pierce Brosnan. Sadly for Pierce, some scheduling shenanigans at NBC kept him tied to his Remington Steele role for six more episodes, just long enough to rule him out of the Bond timeframe and instead to let someone who’d been thought of even longer as a possible Bond sneak in. Step forward one Timothy Dalton.

Both Dalton and The Living Daylights get a lot of things right that the series had been getting badly wrong. Dalton is belivably stern and occasionally patronising, but in a very satisfying manner, where Moore had lost that sense of quiet authority as age overtook him, and where Dalton’s quips are frothy and entertaining, Moore had become dangerously lecherous and positively leering. The action scenes are also ratcheted up by several levels of intensity, and the set pieces are some of the best in the series since the Seventies. The overall tone is more even and some of the wilder excesses are reined in, making The Living Daylights the most satisfying Bond film since The Spy Who Loved Me.

But enough of that, what we’re concerned with in Bond Legacy is the lasting impact that these films have had on each other and the world at large, and there’s still mean on them bones even fifteen films in.

1. Putting the (re-)boot in

The dinner dress round had gone well, but they were dreading the swimwear parade.

With a new Bond came a change in tone and a leading man as different to his predecessor as Lazenby was to Connery. But this time that change drove a shift in the tone, and it wouldn’t be the first time in the next couple of decades that a change in personnel would drive a change in ethos in the Bond films. The Living Daylights was almost conceived as a prequel, intented as a full reboot of the franchise, but that fresh slate was another twenty years away, and even then it still had Dame Judi Dench sprawled all over it.

But the coming of Dalton, Brosnan and Craig has seen a rethink in style and tone each time, and The Living Daylights was the first to really show that the mould really can be broken, or even thrown away and started with afresh, as long as you keep enough of these legacy elements to ground the audience.

2. Double trouble

There was one change afoot on the musical front as well, as while John Barry was still providing excellent music (and even gets an onscreen cameo this time around), the main public focus as far as music in Bond is concerned has always been the title track. Duran Duran had hit number 1 in the US with A View To A Kill, a first for the series, and that in trun reinforced the need in the producer’s minds to have a big name act to write the theme tune, and indeed sing the theme tune.

So Chrissie Hynde got shuffled to the end credits, and A-ha burbled out The Living Daylights once John Barry had sufficiently Bonded up the backing track. (Hynde can also be heard on the evil milkman’s Walkman, so she didn’t do badly.) But this started a trend of different tracks on the opening and closing credits, with often the composer’s first choice – and consequently the better tune – getting shunted to the end credits, rather than being an accompaniment to the usual parade of scantily clad ladies in fantasy settings that kicks off proceedings.

3. The name’s Aston. Martin Aston. No, wait…

The Grease remake needed a bit of work, but Dalton’s Zuko had a definite edge.

The other notable feature about The Living Daylights is the return of the Aston Martin. James Bond’s vehicle of choice had been a prominent feature in the Sixties, but apart from a blink and you’ll miss it showing in Diamonds Are Forever had been largely absent. Dalton’s debut might have seen a V8 Vantage Volante rather than the earlier DB5 or DBS, but The Living Daylights sees the return of the classic car maker with some tooling about on the ice that was ripped off homaged in Die Another Day. Only two of the Bond films made since this one haven’t featured an Aston of some variety, and for many men, myself included, an Aston Martin would be near the top of the shopping list if our numbers ever came up on the lottery. Ideally one with giant rockets and an ejector seat. (Well, if money’s no object…)

Next time: Somehow I have to break the news gently, that I’m not a huge fan of License To Kill. Gulp.

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Bond Legacy: For Your Eyes Only

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When she saw Octopussy, Melina regretted not taking her earlier opportunity to end it all.

Is it really a whole year since we started rewatching Bond films? Twelve months, and a round dozen films, and we now reach the point of no return – less films ahead of us than behind. For many others on this journey, it will actually get easier as generally better perceived Bonds will get their turn and the films will improve after the early Eighties fallow period. For me, each film gets harder, as my theory that each film has a legacy has less time to actually come to pass and each individual legacy becomes that much harder to pin down.

I had consoled myself with the thought that at least there was one more watchable Roger Moore film to come, but I was completely unprepared for the start of For Your Eyes Only. The worst pre-credits sequence of the entire series, it’s laughably bad and makes most of Moonraker look a work of art in comparison. From the decision to bring back Blofeld and then turn him into a pantomime caricature, to the whistle as Bond drops him down a giant chimney (the worst sound effect in the series since The Man With The Golden Gun), it’s a start from which most Bond films would struggle to recover.

Yet, more in line with my expectations, FYEO pulls it off. Generally reverting to a more serious and realistic tone than Moonraker – apart from the should-be-laughable-but-it-actually-made-me-weep-tiny-tears Margaret Thatcher scene at the end – Roger Moore is once again on top form and just about belies his increasing age, for probably the last time in the series, thanks to extensive use of soft focus and lens vaseline (sadly, by the time of Octopussy, even that won’t be enough). There’s also a sensible distribution of Bond girls, and James sensibly draws the line at the shouty one with pigtails young enough to be his daughter.

It’s also one of the more MacGuffin based Bonds, with the ATAC machine offering a tangible distraction for both sides to get their hands on. It also sees a shifting in Anglo-Russian relations (those of you playing the Bond Legacy drinking game, take a swig now) with General Gogol firmly on the other side, rather than hovering shadily in the middle. There’s some decent, rather than spectacular, action sequences and it all slips down fairly easily, although it might be a little forgettable a couple of hours after you’ve watched it.

Thankfully there’s still a few legacies to be had, before it’s all destined to go horribly wrong next month.

1. Car chases can be as effective without the gadgets

Bond wasn't convinced at the hire car company's idea of an "upgrade".

There might have been a variety of different cars or styles of driving over the past twenty years of Bond films, but generally Bond has been seen in quality motors, and even when he hasn’t – for example, The Man With The Golden Gun – the stunt has been spectacular enough or the rest of the driving mundane enough for it not to matter. But for the first time in the Bond series here, James is forced to make the best of a bad job, and works wonders with his Citroen 2CV, taking it off road even after Melina has managed to roll it trying to take a simple right turn. Women drivers, eh…

I’m sure Jason Bourne would like to think his various escapades in clapped out old bangers were showing a new or innovative side, a world away from the fast car sheen of the James Bond films, but Bond has proved here he can slum it with the best of them. One thing though; I’d have a word with Q about that ridiculously over-zealous anti-theft device if I were you, James.

2. The regeneration game

Bond visiting his wife's grave for the first time in over a decade finally gave Blofeld his window of opportunity...

While the characters have always had the same names, the Bond series had never made it as explicitly clear about the continuity of the character as it does here. So Roger Moore’s Bond is definitely the same Bond as George Lazenby’s Bond, even though they look different. Well, either that, or they both happen to have a wife called Teresa who died in 1969. Which, presuming that both films took place in the current year, is twelve years ago. Unless this isn’t actually 1981, or the whole opening is some form of psychotic episode on Bond’s part, driven to twelve years of grief over the death of his wife.

Anyway, the films would make further allusions to the fact that Bond had lost a loved one in tragic circumstances, right up as far as The World Is Not Enough, so assuming Bond was the same age as Tracy in the films (which he almost certainly wasn’t), and that film is also contemporary, Pierce Brosnan would have been playing a character well into his fifties, for which he was looking remarkably good. Inspiring the hard men of the world, Jack Bauer (born 1966) would have been well into his fifties by the end of 24 if season 1 of that show was contemporary and the gaps between seasons were correct, and if John McClane was 31 or older in Die Hard – quite likely as he’d been a cop for 11 years at that point – it would put him into his sixth decade by the time of Die Hard 4.0, and certainly well past 50 by the time of the upcoming A Good Day To Die Hard. (And you thought Skyfall was a rubbish title.)

This, of course, was unceremoniously pissed all over when Daniel Craig turned up, rebooted the continuity but M looked exactly the same as she did for the last Bond, even though she was a different M – or had a sex change and lost a lot of weight – than the M that didn’t appear in For Your Eyes Only, because he’d sadly died. Unless this is all still George Lazenby having an extended psychotic episode; on reflection, that might be easier to believe…

3. And Connery begat Moore, and Moore begat Brosnan

"No, I'M Spartacus!"

Speaking of Brosnan, the last legacy of this particular film was that it featured Cassandra Harris as Countess Lisl von Schlaf. Cassandra was also know as Mrs Pierce Brosnan, and hubby and Cubby met on set, whereupon Broccoli declared, “…if he can act… he’s my guy.” Fourteen years later, by which time Cubby was too infirm to work in any serious capacity on the series, he finally got his man. While it was Cassandra’s wish that her husband get the Bond job, sadly she died of cancer in 1991 and never saw him slip on the tux. Hopefully she would have been proud. Of Goldeneye, at least.

Next time: Go go Gadget innuendo. It’s Octopussy.

Bond Legacy: Moonraker

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Bond was seriously embarrassed at not being the only one to go to the fancy dress party in a cheap knock-off Kill Bill outfit.

I knew this day would come eventually. The day when I would have to confront my deepest, darkest fear. The day when the truth would finally be revealed to me, when innocence would be stripped away and when some of the most treasured memories of my childhood would be held to close scrutiny, and may never be the same again. Yes, BlogalongaBond has finally reached Moonraker, and it’s time to face the facts: Moonraker was the first James Bond film I ever saw, and when I was a kid, it was my favourite Bond film.

I could sit here and make excuses, but when you think about it, Moonraker is the ideal Bond film for kids. Much of this is down to the direction that Jaws has been taken in, his seeming indestructibility taking the series past the point of self-parody to a point where nothing feels dangerous or serious any more. But it’s also ideal for those, like children, with short attention spans; forget the three act structure, you attempt to stitch a start, middle and end out of the plot and you’ll barely cover half the film. What’s painfully clear is that the film I enjoyed as a child leaves rather more to be desired as an adult.

Some of that is also down to Bond, and by that I mean the way he’s written as much as the way he’s performed. Roger Moore has the most famous arched eyebrow in movies, and here it’s in full effect. The script gives him plenty to react to, so Roger gets through a full range of expressions of surprise, from mild surprise to total astonishment with a side order of smug self-satisfaction to boot. But there’s also some issues around Bond’s competence; even if you have got a hang-glider in your boat, would you really drive headlong for a giant waterfall when you could just turn around and drive back the other way? And let’s not even talk about Bond’s repeated attempts to punch a man with giant metal dentures IN THE FACE.

You might think this is awful, but it's the most succesful Bond movie ever. Mmm, residuals.

There are some good moments (the opening sky dive – up to the point where Jaws attempts to open his parachute – and the cable car fight – up to the point where Jaws attempts to stop the cable car – are notable), but there are also some strange moments, not least when Bond rocks up at a cross between Logan’s Run and a Miss World pageant and gets strangled by a giant snake. Thankfully, it’s not a total write-off; as well as bearing the questionable legacy of being the Bond film that got me into Bond films, there are a few lasting legacies from the, erm, (counts on fingers) eleventh Bond film.

1. Space travel will be a reality in my lifetime

The space shuttle hadn't yet had its operation, and was mounting everything in sight.

If I had to list my top three methods of vehicular mobilisation for our hero, then slots one and two would have an Aston Martin and a Lotus in them. Slot three, though, would be a space shuttle. (I had all three in my toy box under the sideboard when I was a kid; not real ones, of course – that would have been silly.)

Bond films have, especially more recently, wanted to be a reflection of modern technology and there’s no better example of the Bond movies being one step ahead of the real world than the use of the giant white space rockets. They’ve also given rise to the most unlikely trilogy in the world: The Space Shuttle Trilogy, consisting of Moonraker, Space Camp and Space Cowboys (all three of which would have been suitable titles for this film).

Sadly the space shuttles are no more, and their thirty year legacy has come to an end, and if I ever do get into space it’ll be in something a lot less classy – but if easySpace exists in my lifetime, I’m not proud.

2. Jaws 2: The Revenge

Despite his incredible stature, Jaws was surprisingly good at the game of Statues.

For the second time in the Seventies, a character made enough of an impact to be asked back again. (What’s this, Evangelist, I hear you cry? How can this be a legacy if it’s been done before?) I’ve already made reference to it, but Moonraker is the film that brought back a character, and in the process not only diminished the current film, but also unfairly tarnished the memory of the previous one as well. It’s now impossible to watch the Bond films in order without feeling a creeping sense of dread whenever Jaws is on screen in The Spy Who Loved Me at what’s to come. You would also be entirely within your rights to have developed an irrational hatred of pig tails while watching Moonraker, although maybe it’s not so irrational.

And that’s it. Slim pickings, but there’s still some moderate Moore to come. Keep the faith, people.

Next month: Bond drives a Citroen 2CV. Actually, forget the faith, abandon all hope, or just go and hide in a hole until Dalton gets here. It’s For Your Eyes Only.

Bond Legacy: The Spy Who Loved Me

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Even hiding underwater was not enough for Bond to escape the attention of the clampers and their tow truck.

When I was at university, I wasn’t afraid of voicing occasionally unpopular opinions, mainly because I’d rarely thought them through first. These opinions ranged from “I can do that death slide if I get top this pint up with whisky” (which caused me to have some form of hallucinatory episode before running four miles away) and “red wine is shit because it all tastes the same” (during a discussion on why my landlord and his good friend had joined the university wine society). Said landlord, who took me in on a month’s trial and kept me on after I nearly burned his house down three weeks in with a cooking oil fire, and who was consequently one of the finest and most upstanding men I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet, was also of the view that Timothy Dalton was the best James Bond. So I wasn’t the only one had unpopular opinions. Oh wait, I thought it was Roger Moore.

You may have already read my Movie Memories blog on The Spy Who Loved Me, and in particular the childhood highlight that occurred about an hour and ten minutes in. But The Spy Who Loved Me was for me the quintessential Bond film when I was a child, and watching it again in the context of the other nine Bonds to come before it, I was relieved to see that it still stands up pretty well. No Bond since Goldfinger has had such a ready supply of iconic moments, from the Union Jack parachuting ski jump to the giant man with metal gnashers, and with some of Ken Adam’s best work on the series (of his five Oscar nominations, this was his only one for a Bond film), TSWLM doesn’t skimp on spectacle but also does much to further the archetypes of the series. Nonetheless, there are still a few fresh concepts that the tenth Bond outing manages to add to the already burgeoning formula.

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