Archives for posts with tag: James Bond

The James Bond series gets a fresh start with “Casino Royale.”  There is no Q, M is a woman (Judi Dench), the female lead (Eva Green) doesn’t have an outrageous name (e.g., Dr. Goodhead, Pussy Galore), Felix Leiter is a black dude, and Bond (Daniel Craig) doesn’t have Bond gadgets.  It’s a stark contrast to the dozens of Bond movies of the past, but it wouldn’t be a fresh start if it was the same old stuff, right?

Have no fear, Bond fans, there’s enough of the Bond DNA in “Casino Royale” to make you happy.  Let’s start with the villain: Mads Mikkelsen (what a hell of a first name for a Bond villain!) plays some type of investment banker for terrorists/dictators.  He makes a really bad trade in the stock market and loses the bad guys’ money.  Not wanting to be chopped up into teeny pieces by his “investors,” Mikkelsen decides to play high-stakes poker in a place called Casino Royale, where the buy-in is $10 million and there will be ten players.  Fancying himself as a math genius and a great poker player, Mikkelsen expects to win the entire pot and have enough money to pay off his debts.

As for our hero, Craig, he throws a monkey wrench in everything that the villain does; and he does it with great style and the cocky attitude that we’ve all come to expect from the spy with the license to kill.

One very strange thing about “Casino Royale” that makes it stand out from the previous Bond flicks: the movie is structured so that there are two separate plots, the first taking place in the first hour (the attack on a new airline to make its stock plummet) and the second (the Casino Royale poker tournament and its aftermath) taking place in the last hour and twenty minutes.  From a technical standpoint, this is a mistake as it violates the standard, tried and true, three act structure of screenplays.  I noticed the sudden change of pace as the movie transitioned from plot one to plot two, going from the wild ride of an outrageous, roller coaster to the mild, slow turns of a tea cup ride for toddlers and tweens.   Fortunately, there were enough bits of juicy dialogue between Craig and Eva Green, and short but intense action scenes that kept the movie from flatlining at the halfway mark.  Bottom line: the unorthodox structure was a big gamble that paid off…kind of fitting considering what the second plot is about.

Third place for my memorable moments of this movie is the introduction of the gorgeous, powerful, Aston Martin DBS.  This is the real Bond girl, as far as I’m concerned!

Second place goes to the scene when Craig meets Eva Green’s character for the first time, and they have a verbal exchange that no Bond movie of the past can touch.  This is screenwriting excellence.

First place for my most memorable, movie moment of “Casino Royale” is the scene when Craig is captured by Mikkelsen, stripped naked and put on a chair that has the seat cut out so Craig’s babymaker is hanging out in the cold.  Mikkelsen wants information, Craig just gives him a f@*k off look.  Mikkelsen then hits Craig in his privates with a weight attached to a rope…multiple times!  Oh…my…God…this scene makes me cringe and cross my legs every time I see it!  I would’ve caved.  I would have told the bad guy everything he wanted to know!  I would’ve admitted to killing Kennedy, that I know where the lost city of Atlantis is, where Al Capone’s secret vault is (you know, the one that Geraldo Rivera couldn’t find), whatever the hell he wanted to hear!  Just leggo my eggos!

Obviously I wouldn’t make a good spy; but Daniel Craig makes a great James Bond, and “Casino Royale” is a very good reincarnation of the Bond series.

— M

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Have you ever watched a series for years, then watched the first episode that was ever made, and was shocked at how different it was from the way it currently is?  Well, that was the case with me when I watched “Dr. No.”  There’s no pre-title, over the top, action sequence.  There’s no over the top, 30 minute action sequence at the end.   There are many quiet scenes where Bond is just doing everyday things like fixing himself a drink, or looking over his hotel room.  And there are no cool gadgets.

What we do have is an ultra-cool, very young Sean Connery at the height of his machismo!  We have a young, ultra sexy Ursula Andress!   We have a villain who is supposed to be half Chinese, half German; and played by a white dude with special make-up to make his eyes look Asian!  And for this Blu-ray disc, we have an excellent transfer and restoration from the original camera negative.

“Dr. No” has James Bond sent to Jamaica to investigate a missing field operative.  It turns out a villain named Dr. No had the agent killed in order to stop his investigation into Dr. No’s secret hideout and the evil things he is doing there.  Along the way, Connery meets Andress and they both infiltrate Dr. No’s base in order to stop this pseudo-Asian from making the world a worse place.

This movie is far from my favorite Bond movie; but it still deserves respect and high praise because it’s the one that started it all, and it has the stunning Ursula Andress.   Let’s also keep in mind this movie came out in 1962, and for that time, “Dr. No” had a ton of action, and it oozed lots of cool.

One of my memorable, movie moments is — of course — Ursula Andress’ first scene when she is coming out of the ocean wearing her bikini and knife.   She is a gorgeous woman; and possibly the finest product to come out of Switzerland.   Sorry, Swiss Army Knife, you’ll have to take a back seat to Honey Ryder.

My most memorable, movie moment is the scene where M tells bond to stop carrying a Beretta semi-automatic pistol, and switch to a Walther PPK semi-automatic pistol.  Wow!  I never knew Bond carried a Beretta early in the series.

M

 

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