Bond at 50

Okay, so James Bond, I watched through the 23 canon films released in the wonderful boxed set. I think the best way to introduce Bond is using a quote by Dame Judy Dench’s (best) M. “…because I think you’re a sexist, misogynist, dinosaur. A relic of the Cold war…” it is a fairly accurate quote aside from missing racist.

A problem with Bond films is that they are tailored to young men who are being taught how to be men, or were, I was affected by them. This problem is that it teaches that women are trophies who willingly and happily engage in sexual relationships after being rescued.

I cannot recommend watching one after the next after the next, spread them out, but here are my numbers:

Dr. No – dir. Terence Young – 6.2 – Dr. No kicks the Bond films off fairly well and is a strong introduction. Nothing too over-the-top, I’d assume, because they producers didn’t know what to expect from the audience would react.

From Russia with Love – dir. Terence Young – 5.1 – Robert Shaw is one of the only reasons to watch this one. A weak follow up.

Goldfinger – dir. Guy Hamilton – 6.7 – If for nothing else Goldfinger has one of the best, most memorable, theme songs that burrowed deep into my brain for several films until being replaced by my favorite Bond theme, but you will have to wait for it. I think I may always enjoy this film.

Thunderball – dir. Terence Young – 5.3 – Man I wish I liked this more. If you can sit through it the underwater fight scene is a masterpiece that is bookended by a so-so film.

You Only Live Twice – dir. Lewis Gilbert – 5.1 – Racism thy name is You Only Live Twice. Skip it.

Oof.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – dir. Peter Hunt  – 6.7 – I wish George Lazenby made more than the one Bond film as OHMSS is one of the more character defining episodes in the series.  I regret that he chose to leave.

Diamonds Are Forever – dir. Guy Hamilton – 4.9 – Oof. To this we return. Skip.

Live and Let Die – dir. Guy Hamilton – 5.1  – Many people claim Roger Moore is the best Bond. I am not many people. The best part about Live and Let Die is the song.

The Man with the Golden Gun – dir. Guy Hamilton – 5.5 – This is a definite step up as over Live and Let Die and Christopher Lee is a wonderful villain. Acceptable.

The Spy Who Loved Me – dir. Lewis Gilbert – 6.3 – The Bond producers tried a very bold idea here, give Bond an “equal” who is a woman as long as she is subordinate to him in every way, but can punch.  It is an enjoyable film, not the best, but certainly better than many.

Moonraker – dir. Lewis Gilber – 4.3 – …like Moonraker. Interesting idea but I didn’t care for Jaws the first time (even if he finds love).  This one is rough.

For Your Eyes Only – dir. John Glen – 5.8 – An improvement. I remember watching it but I don’t remember enough to compare it to anything.

Octopussy – dir. John Glen – 5.9 – Terrible title, just terrible. The movie is so much better than the title. Pretend the title is Octopus Cult Murders, something less gross.

A View to a Kill – dir. John Glen – 5.7 – I honestly thought this was the first Timothy Dalton Bond during the first several minutes of action. The most important part of A View to a Kill is that it is my pick for best song.

The Living Daylights – dir. John Glen – 4.9 – Very forgettable save your brain.

License to Kill – dir. John Glen – 5.3 – The Bond producers really like to spread their character building stories apart.  License to Kill is a pretty good entry.

Goldeneye – dir. Martin Campbell – 6.0 – Sean Bean is a great Bond villain and Goldeneye is the movie that reignited, years ago, my interest in the series.

Tomorrow Never Dies – dir. Roger Spottiswoode – 5.5 – Tomorrow Never Dies might be the most interesting villainous plans of all the movies and is an interesting entry.

The World is Not Enough – dir. Michael Apted – 4.8 – Following the most interesting villain comes ‘Murica: Gimme the oils. Skip it.

Die Another Day – dir. Lee Tamahori – 4.1 – This turd celebrated the anniversary of Bond film. That is all, wait, there is a cool sword fighting scene. But also tons of racism.

Casino Royale – dir. Martin Campbell – 6.4 – Bond re-booted in a very interesting way. Here we see bond Bleed, a lot and he his balls swatted by Hannibal Lector. Casino Royale is a very worth entry. As a fan of character arcs I am glad to see what they have done. Possibly the best Bond film.

Quantum of Solace – dir. Marc Forster – 4.8 – Gut punch. Skip it. Seriously.

Skyfall – dir. Sam Mendes – 5.9 – Skyfall is the best non-Bond film starring the stars of the James Bond movies.  It is a very good movie but a little too heavy on the character-building.

Something that was very interesting while watching through the films is seeing the arc of action films from Dr. No to Skyfall. From the color overlays to the set designs to the type of actions and advancements of car chases. It was fascinating to be able to see these changes leading up to possible the best Bond chase in Casino Royale which barely included vehicles.

I don’t regret these viewings and I am very glad to have this set available to me. It goes on sale occasionally and they just re-released in in different packaging (because people like money).

Whether or not you are a fan of Bond films and while there are tons of cringe-worthy scenes to the eyes of this feminist, one this very clear; each and every one of these pictures includes some of the best cinematography available. The films themselves are gorgeous travelogues. Sadly there are plenty of gorgeous travelogue films out there that don’t make you want to punch the writers. As beautiful as the films are the writing is some of the absolute worst available (unless you love puns and sexism, I don’t).

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