Posts Tagged ‘James Bond

22
Apr
17

The Man with the Midas Touch (James Bond 3)

Goldfinger was the film that perfected the James Bond formula. The first two films developed it, but there were bits that were rough around the edges and pieces that were missing. It wasn’t until this third film that everything solidified into the quintessential formula. Filmed on a budget of $3 million, and raking in a whopping $125 million, the filmmakers quickly learned that the public loved this latest iteration, and they have rarely strayed from it since.

The behind-the-scenes history of the James Bond franchise is often more interesting than the films themselves. A few years earlier, when the filmmakers wanted to make Dr. No, they had originally attempted to lure Guy Hamilton into the director’s chair. Hamilton declined, and the producers went with Terrence Young instead. This was a huge benefit to the film series, as it was Young who taught Connery how to play Bond. Without that insight, who knows if the series would have been so popular?

Continue reading ‘The Man with the Midas Touch (James Bond 3)’

02
Apr
17

Lucy, Spy

Lucy

This movie is based on the myth that humans only use 10% of their brain’s capacity. OK, right out the gate, the whole film’s premise is based on shitty pseudo-science, so it’s not off to a great start. The concept is this: what would happen to a person if they could unlock 100% of their brain’s capacity?

Unfortunately, Lucy isn’t able to come up with anything original. As the title character unlocks ever greater portions of her brain, she is able to see cell phone signals (apparently it unlocked greater eyesight, too), and she develops telekinetic powers (apparently it unlocked the ability to defy the laws of physics, too).

As Lucy herself becomes more intelligent, she becomes less empathetic, essentially becoming a machine. This is one of the oldest, most tired clichés in all of science fiction. It would have been nice if they had tried to come up with something a little different. By the end of the film, she literally becomes a machine, swamped in black goo, and interfacing with everything on the planet. She becomes a god-computer or something, I don’t know, it didn’t make any sense. It goes completely off the rails, and is hilarious in how stupid it is.

Verdict: Shitty

Spy

Melissa McCarthy’s movies are trash. Most angry bloggers on the Internet agree with me. But, at the same time, I kept reading how Spy was the exception; how it was the one movie where she plays against type, and how it’s a laugh riot. So, stupidly believing said angry bloggers, I watched this movie in the hopes I would enjoy it.

Once again, McCarthy fails to deliver. This is just as shitty as the rest of her work. She does play against type at first. She plays a nebbish CIA desk jockey who aids suave super-spy Jude Law in his field assignments. She’s frumpy and passive, and in love with a man who uses her without any intention of reciprocating her feelings. That’s all fine and good, but none of it is actually funny.

Later, McCarthy winds up going into the field. She ultimately dons the usual McCarthy persona: brash, rude, bitchy, and with fat jokes abounding. What good will the film might have earned by that point is immediately squandered. The “jokes” the film offers up are nothing more than insults and slapstick. They could work if they were clever, but they exist solely as a vehicle for McCarthy to cavort on screen, offering no humor whatsoever.

The only part of the movie that gave me any joy was Jason Statham’s hot-headed, dim-witted secret agent. But it begs the question, why are the CIA’s top two secret agents British? Is it movie law that all secret agents be British?

Verdict: Shitty

31
Jul
16

From Turkey With Love (James Bond 2)

From Russia with Love has long been considered by many to be the best of all the James Bond films. It perhaps isn’t the quintessential film as a few other aspects of the mythos wouldn’t be solidified until the third film. However, in terms of plotting, acting, directing, and spectacle, this movie has got it all.

Overwhelmed with the unexpected success of Dr. No, the producers hurried the sequel into production. The studio doubled their budget, and were expecting big things. The question was which of Ian Fleming’s novels to film next? Since they had already gone out of order (Dr. No is actually the sixth novel), they didn’t need to stay with any sort of continuity. Then-President John F. Kennedy had stated that From Russia with Love was one of his top-ten favorite books. So, why not use that one? They knew they’d have one fan eagerly awaiting the movie.

Since the source material dealt far more heavily with Cold War themes that the last, the producers decided to change a few aspects. SPECTRE once again became the primary villains. In doing so, the writers were able to carry over a few interesting aspects from the first film.

In 2008, the James Bond producers stated that Quantum of Solace was the first direct sequel in franchise history, coming after Casino Royale. Unfortunately, the current producers don’t know much about the history of their own franchise. If they were to watch From Russia with Love, they would realize it is a direct sequel to Dr. No.

Continue reading ‘From Turkey With Love (James Bond 2)’

23
Apr
16

The Doctor Will See You Now (James Bond 1)

The first James Bond film, Dr. No, was released in 1962. I imagine there was little fanfare considering it was the first in the series, and Sean Connery was not yet a household name. It’s fun to look back, over 50 years later, now that the franchise has exploded in popularity and seen several changes in actors and styles.

You can also see how differently movies were made back then. Bond shows up and immediately gets to work on his mission. Everyone interacts as if they have known each other for years. This is not an origin story in the slightest. It’s a bit jarring in a sense, but I think it’s only jarring because today Hollywood is obsessed with origin stories. The lack of an origin story is quite refreshing.

The origin of the film itself is interesting. The producers, Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli, wanted to start at the beginning, with Casino Royale. Unfortunately, they couldn’t secure the rights to the novel, as CBS had already made it into a one-hour television special. It was altered in several ways, including, most egregiously, turning the main character into an American named Jimmy Bond. Even though the TV special wasn’t a hit, CBS was interested enough to turn it into a full-fledged series. Ian Fleming was paid to write an additional 32 episodes comprising two television seasons. When the deal ultimately fizzled, Fleming took what he wrote and turned it into his book For Your Eyes Only.

Continue reading ‘The Doctor Will See You Now (James Bond 1)’

06
Mar
16

The Babadook, The November Man

The Babadook

The Babadook was supposed to change my life. It was supposed to be the greatest horror movie of the decade. It’s a low-budget Australian film from 2014, directed by nobody and starring a bunch of nobodies. Hey, that’s OK. Every director and actor was a nobody at some point. But you know what’s not OK? Making a shitty movie.

The Babadook (pronounced bah-bah-duck — a duck, how terrifying) is an amorphous black blob with a top hat that terrorizes a single mother. She has a really bratty, super-annoying kid that drives her crazy. All he does is talk about the Babadook from morning to night. That would drive me crazy, too.

Eventually, she starts to think the Babadook is real. She goes nuts and tries to kill her son. It’s supposed to be metaphorical, with the Babadook being a stand-in for a person doing something insane after they break under pressure. Oh, wait, it’s not? The Babadook was real? Oh, well, nevermind, this movie is completely stupid, then.

For a horror film, there are absolutely no scares at all. The movie chugs along at a languid pace, the characters all suck, and you’d rather have them die than survive. It’s a weak movie, and I wouldn’t bother with it if I were you.

Verdict: Shitty

The November Man

Pierce Brosnan’s return to espionage films was a rather lackluster affair. He plays a gritty spy this time, a clear retaliation against the sheer lunacy of his final Bond films. And I certainly didn’t mind watching Brosnan shoot guys in the chest in what turns out to be a surprisingly bloody film. Unfortunately, The November Man is woefully generic. It offers up nothing new for the genre, instead relying on age-old spy clichés, a boring soundtrack, a ton of boring character actors, and a plot that can barely move itself ahead. Brosnan scowls his way through the film, barely keeping it afloat.

Verdict: Shitty

 

15
Nov
15

A Spectre of My Former Self (James Bond 24)

Daniel Craig returns as Ian Fleming’s James Bond in Spectre, the latest in the long-running film series. After the incredible highs of the previous film, Skyfall, people were eager for the follow-up. And since the same writers, director, producers, and star were returning, it had to be great, right? Right?

Unfortunately, Spectre rehashes the same ground that was tread in the previous film, and does so with less finesse. While it certainly has fantastic action, the rest of the film comes away as forced, leaving us with a middling Bond film.

I’m going to make a lot of references to Skyfall in this review of Spectre. Since pretty much the entire crew came back for the sequel, I think it’s fair to do so. There was a lot to dissect in the latest Bond outing, so I’m going to break down my thoughts into three categories.

The Good

I was immediately pleased to see the opening gun barrel scene at, you know, the opening, after two films shunted it to the end.

As has been the case for all of Craig’s Bond films, the action scenes in Spectre are top-notch. The most incredible takes place during the pre-title sequence. Bond is thrust into the crush of people in Mexico City’s wild Day of the Dead parade. He takes out some bad guys, and gets caught on a helicopter which is careening out of control. The loop-de-loops were thrilling, and the visuals of the holiday festivities alone were worth the price of admission. Bond looked cool as hell in the skeleton outfit he dons in the opening minutes.

Continue reading ‘A Spectre of My Former Self (James Bond 24)’

07
Nov
15

James Bond Pre-Title Sequences, Ranked

As a long-time James Bond fan, I’ve seen all the movies over and over again. The series is famed for it’s thrilling pre-title sequences which precede the story. I’ve listed all the sequences in order from worst to best. Check it out and let me know what you think!

22) The World is Not Enough It isn’t a surprise that the worst Bond movie also has the worst pre-title sequence. It’s absolutely bloated with excess. It starts off promising, with him fighting some people at a bank in Spain, but quickly spirals out of control as he goes on an overly long speedboat chase on the Thames River, and ends hanging off a hot-air balloon. It’s like a parody of a James Bond intro. It personifies the over-indulgence of the Pierce Brosnan era.

21) Die Another Day This intro is also pretty bad, but fares slightly better than the previous entry. It starts out completely cringe-worthy as Bond surfs into North Korea, moves along to a ridiculous hovercraft chase scene, and ends with Bond getting captured. The only reason I ranked it higher than The World is Not Enough is because they blended the opening song with the pre-title sequence. They had never done that before, and it kind of worked.


20) Quantum of Solace The crappy Bond movies keep on coming. I almost ranked this one at number 22, but I decided it wasn’t that horrible. It’s a car chase, which is cool in theory. Unfortunately, it’s schizophrenically edited. No shot lasts longer than two seconds. The camera is constantly switching from Bond’s face to the car to the tires to the road and back again. Making matters worse is the shakey-cam in which it was filmed. So, you have shakey-cam with jarring editing. If that doesn’t make you puke, I don’t know what will.

Continue reading ‘James Bond Pre-Title Sequences, Ranked’

12
Jan
15

American Hustle, Everything or Nothing

American Hustle

American Cleavage.

American Hustle was one of those films everyone raved about. When this happens, the movie is usually extremely overrated with little more than coherent storytelling and passable acting, with Argo being a prime example. I figured American Hustle would be exactly the same. The 2013 movie tells the story of con-artists in the 1970s helping the FBI run a sting operation against corrupt politicians. The movie begins with a very out of shape and balding Batman who has seen better days. He has been a con-man for years, and one day meets the love of his life, Amy Adams, who is a masterful con-woman. Batman and Adams are caught by Bradley Cooper who extorts them into working for the FBI. Their goal is to run a larger operation and take down corrupt politicians and the mob. What follows is a dizzying tale of each character trying to get something for themselves. American Hustle is truly a character-driven film. Each character is almost larger than life, played expertly by fantastic cast members. Every player has a developed backstory and clear motivations for what they want in life. There are, of course, double-crosses and cons along they way to keep the film moving. What else would you expect in movie with con-artists? Fortunately, the movie does not rely on the cons, but rather the characters. The 1970s are alive and well in this movie. I didn’t live in this decade, but I can only imagine this is what it looked like, bright, flashy, and very eclectic. The movie required a lot of juggling on the part of the director to keep each character in the spotlight, to keep the story moving full steam ahead, and to not let the pacing get bogged down. Director David O. Russel delivered on every level. The movie really is as great as the hype claims it to be. It is a rare example of a big-budget, star-studded movie done right.
Verdict: Awesome
Everything or Nothing

Such Bond. So secret agent. Wow.

Anyone who frequents Awesome Shitty knows that I’m a James Bond fan. A documentary titled Everything or Nothing was released to mark Bond’s 50th anniversary. I finally got around to watching it, and I must say it was an interesting look back at the genesis of everyone’s favorite spy. The movie begins with Ian Fleming’s early life, and the events that led up to his creation of the Bond character. Bond is essentially an extension of Fleming himself with the smoking, drinking, and jetsetting. The film follows the failed first attempt to bring Bond to the screen on American TV as “Jimmy Bond,” an American CIA agent, and continues on to failed licensing attempts, and eventual success with the first film, Dr. No. We learn the behind the scenes drama of Connery leaving, returning, and leaving again, Lazenby’s hilarious story as to how he was cast as the second Bond, and more. Like a Bond villain himself, Kevin McClory pops up three different times over the years to attempt to thwart the Bond film producers because he claimed rights to the Thunderball story. While I knew the Bond franchise had its ups and downs over the years, I didn’t know how much backstage battling there really was. I suppose there had to be considering it is a 50-year-long movie franchise. The film features great intreviews with producers, writers, directors, and the James Bonds themselves. Only Connery doesn’t appear, which is disappointing, but otherwise, we get some great insights from everyone else. Brosnan in particular had a rough road to becoming Bond and had an interesting story to tell. For fans of the James Bond series, this documentary is a must watch. Even non-Bond fans will like the movie. Mrs. Brik who has seen some of the movies found the documentary quite interesting. I highly recommended checking this out.
Verdict: Good
03
Aug
13

Letters to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Glamorous Hollywood stars.

Dear The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,

I recently watched you, and thought I should let you know about something called brevity. With an excruciatingly long running time, clearly you have never heard of this important concept. Next time, keep things concise. Like this letter.

Sincerely,

BrikHaus

————

Dear The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,

I wanted to commend you for your amazing characters. The female lead, Elizabeth Salamander, is tough and hardcore. This is depicted to the audience by her shaved eyebrows, crazy hair, tattoos and piercings, and the fact that she is a loner. Thank you for not boring us with drab personal details like how she grew up, the inner workings of her psyche, or why she chooses to give herself such a unique appearance. We really should just take her at face-value, that’s the best thing to do. The male lead, James Bond, is also tough and hardcore. We see this by his wearing glasses hanging off of one ear. James Bond never ages, why should he need glasses? He doesn’t. I figured this was just a subterfuge by your exceptionally good writing. Keep up the good work. I hope to see more face-value characters in your sequel.

Yours,

The Public at Large

Continue reading ‘Letters to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’

17
Nov
12

The Sky is Falling (James Bond 23)

Since every film critic and blogger has already pledged their undying love and firstborn child to Skyfall, I feel like I need to take a different approach to reviewing it. I could do my usual complaining, but after wracking my brain, I found that I had very little to complain about. It was a solid Bond movie from start to finish, and a welcome addition to the franchise. So, I think I’ll just throw out random thoughts I had and leave it at that.

Where the fuck was the Opening Gunbarrel Sequence? Oh, at the end again. For 20 films, they always opened through the point of view of a gun, with Bond firing a shot, and blood spilling down the screen. The last movie, Quantum of Solace, which was kind of a piece of shit, inexplicably moved the sequence to the end. Skyfall does the same thing. Director Sam Mendes stated he wanted to have it in the beginning, but thought it looked ridiculous paired to the opening of the movie with Bond walking out with his gun raised. I guess that makes sense, but throwing it onto the end makes it feel like an afterthought. I have always liked the traditional opening, something that no other film series has, and to just tack it on at the end feels shameless.

The opening credits were designed by Daniel Kleinman who did the opening credits for all the Bond movies from Goldeneye through Skyfall, with the exception of Quantum of Solace, which again makes that movie stand out as kind of shitty. The credits, again, were fantastic. He has really upped his game with Skyfall, making a visual feast with beautiful girls, flashy effects, and thematic elements that tie in with the plot of the film. The only part of the opening credits that falls flat is the title song “Skyfawwll” performed by Adele. The song is a boring dud, just like its singer.

Continue reading ‘The Sky is Falling (James Bond 23)’




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