Monday, January 01, 2007

Insert misogynist pun here

Happy New Year, kids. I'm easing back into action after taking a few weeks to help She For Whom My Love is Boundless raise our brand new baby girl. (Thank you, thank you very much. Please send money for the college fund now.) Still adjusting to less sleep than I'd like; you all get 12 hours, too, right? Even so, I've managed to knock out several movies on DVD and cable, and expect to recap some of those in the coming days.

Until then, here's something inspired by one of my Christmas gifts, Vol. 1 of the James Bond 007 Ultimate Edition. You may have seen this new DVD collection, which splits up 20 Bond movies into four volumes. Of course, they're not chronological, instead giving us a mix-and-match that's something of a mixed bag. You like only the Sean Connery movies? Too bad! You'll have to buy all four and take the lackluster Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan films as well.

Even so, it's a cool set, and between that and the recent "Casino Royale," I'm moved to rank the Bond movies. I'll leave "Royale" out of the mix for now since I've seen it only once. But I'll add "Never Say Never Again," the famous non-sanctioned Bond movie with a somewhat seasoned Connery coming back after several years.

That gives us a total of 21 movies, and let's go from bottom to top, taking the 11 at the lower end of the scale before hitting the top 10 later this week. Oh, and I won't bother with listing the plots of each movie because if you care enough to even read this list, you already know what's what. With that ...

21. Moonraker
Hey, I loved "Star Wars" as much as anyone, but no need to send Bond into space. This generally sucks all around, from a boring Bond girl to a dull bad guy -- his one good line: "See that some harm comes to him" -- to a cartoonish Jaws.

20. A View to a Kill
Narrowly avoids "worst Bond ever" status because of a cool pre-credit sequence that helped launch the snowboarding craze. Otherwise, Roger Moore is old and fat, Tanya Roberts is shrill, Grace Jones is scary and Christopher Walken as the villain is laughable. Great theme song, though.

19. Die Another Day
This may move up this list in time since I've seen it only a couple of times. But my initial disappointment was significant. Between an invisible car and an ice palace, the gadgets and settings were unintentionally funny. As for Halle Berry as the Bond girl, sure, she looked fantastic. But I'm not sure what all the fuss was. She didn't bring much to the table, further proving that "Monster's Ball" may have been a fluke.

18. Licence to Kill
I kind of like the plot here, with Bond becoming a rogue agent to avenge an attack on his CIA buddy. And Timothy Dalton, in his second outing, seems tough enough. But the drug lord villain ("that guy" Robert Davi) is too much, as is the series of events that brings Wayne Newton (yes, that Wayne Newton) into the picture. Finally, Carey Lowell is a very cute Bond girl, but Talisa Soto gives such a horrible performance that I always cringe when she comes on screen.

17. The World is Not Enough
Great looking movie, and the pre-credit bank scene and boat chase get things off to a nice start. But Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist is ... well, insane. Even with the great-looking Sophie Marceau, the casting of Richards, the ham-handed dialogue, the silly villain and the far-fetched story are way too much to swallow.

16. The Living Daylights
Dalton's first turn, and not bad. But take away the welcome sight of someone new after Moore wore out his welcome, and you're left with a couple of lacking bad guys -- a Russian officer and an American arms dealer -- and a bland Bond girl. Nice to see the Aston Martin updated, though.

15. The Man with the Golden Gun
I used to think this was pretty cool because, dude, the bad guy has a golden gun! But the villain is way too easy to sympathize with, the two Bond girls are kind of boring -- not that Britt Ekland was hard to look at -- and a henchman played by Tattoo from "Fantasy Island" is hard to handle.

14. Tomorrow Never Dies
I'm a little surprised this is so high on the list because I think the villain, a Rupert Murdoch type, is pretty stupid. But there are some good action scenes here, especially when Michelle Yeoh is around. It's also Pierce Brosnan's second outing, in which some of the pressure is off and he seems to be having a good time.

13. Diamonds are Forever
Man, does Sean Connery look old here. Another minus: Much of the action takes place in Las Vegas and California, which just seems off for our globe-trotting spy. What I like, though, are the two gay assassins -- how progressive! -- and the general sense of levity that Connery brings to the proceedings. And, of course, this exchange when Plenty O'Toole meets Bond: "Hi, I'm Plenty." "But of course you are."

12. GoldenEye
Brosnan's first, more than six years after the previous (Dalton) movie. After such a big gap, Bond fans probably would have been happy with anything. For me, though, it was nice to see Brosnan wouldn't be just a pretty boy. I thought he came off relatively tough, and I liked both the villain and the bad Bond Girl, Xenia Onatopp. Famke Janssen may have gone on to "X-Men" fame, but to me she'll always be the naughty woman who kills with her thighs. Onatopp, indeed.

11. You Only Live Twice
I'll confess I've seen this one only a few times, but it's just never grabbed me, leaving me to consider it one of the lesser Connery films. One, I never bought him as "Japanese." Two, Donald Pleasance's Blofeld didn't see sinister enough. Three, Blofeld's volcano lair didn't seem like that big a deal. But hey, it's still Connery.

Coming soon ... The Top Ten.


At 4:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A View to a Kill all the way down at 20? Yeah, Tanya Roberts can't act and Roger Moore should have passed down the Walther PPK after Moonraker (he wasn't alone, Moneypenny looked pretty ragged too) but the simple fact that Bond tamed the beast that is Grace Jones should earn this installment at least a 10 spot. And the blimp scene on the Golden Gate Bridge? Jefferson, my man, I do not concur.


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