Tag Archives: Daniel Craig

5 Best James Bond Movies (and some other things)

I referenced Octopussy in my review for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and it got me reminiscing about the world’s favorite spy.  Thinking of the five best Bond films proved to be more difficult than I thought.  The main reason being the reboot of the franchise with Daniel Craig (disclaimer, I have not watched Quantum of Solace).  Before Casino Royale Bond films were stereotypical, and I would make comments such as, “It’s good for a Bond film.”  Now you must compare them to movies-at-large. The only criteria I had for this list is that it must be an official James Bond movie which means the 1967 David Niven Casino Royale spoof and the 1983 Sean Connery Never Say Never Again do not qualify.

#5 – Octopussy – 1983

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Stars:  Roger Moore, Maud Adams

Though much maligned, I really like Octopussy.  Roger Moore is a little campy in it, but otherwise I was well entertained.  The story kept me involved, there were many locales, the Soviets were the bad-guys (though the main Russian was in it for the money), and there was a circus.  What’s not to love.

#4 – From Russia with Love – 1963

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Stars:  Sean Connery, Robert Shaw

A down and dirty James Bond before all the typical conventions had been established.  It had the first appearance of Q–though he wasn’t called that–and the first appearance of the pre-title set piece.  Constant Bond enemy organization SPECTRE is the bad guy.  Nothing to do with the actual movie, but it also has my favorite poster.

#3 – Casino Royale – 2006

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Stars:  Daniel Craig, Judi Dench

Casino Royale is a great movie and an excellent reboot to the Franchise, but it is not the best Bond Film.  In effect, the elements–or lack thereof–that helped introduce this franchise to a younger audience and allowed it to become relevant again are the same things that prevent it from being #1 on this list. The movie just isn’t James Bond enough.

#2 – Goldfinger – 1964

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Stars:  Sean Connery, Gert Frobe, Honor Blackman

I know, I know, “blasphemy”, “sacrilege”, how is Goldfinger not #1?  The first Bond film which had all the elements that make a Bond film:  action set piece before the main title, maniacal villain, villain sidekick, great gadgets, great car, “Bond, James Bond”, “Vodka Martini, shaken not stirred”, and a Great Bond Girl with the best name of all time–Pussy Galore.  But what keeps it out of the #1 slot is a weak story.  Think about it.  If you know the bad guy’s plan, why would you allow them to bring their weapons and a nuclear device into Ft. Knox after you pretend to be knocked-out by their nerve gas.  Shouldn’t you take them out before you allow them to secure their positions and arm the bomb?  The good guys had the opportunity.

#1 – For Your Eyes Only – 1981

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Stars:  Roger Moore, Carole Bouquet

Roger Moor’s least gadgety Bond movie, and the one where he is actually called upon to show some emotion.  The story is also the most realistic:  vital piece of military equipment goes missing, get that equipment before the bad guys, use any means and/or people necessary.  It also has the best looking Bond Girl ever:  Carole Bouquet.

Which is your favorite?  All the bond films are listed below in release order.

Bonus:  Below is the trailer for the 1967 Casino Royale.

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“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” – Movie Reiew

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Director:  David Fincher

Writer:  Steven Zaillian

Stars:  Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellen Skarsgard

My first reaction after watching this film was to go and buy the book.  I didn’t–I have a large backlog–but that is always a good sign.

The story revolves around the forty-year old Vanger family mystery: what happened to Harriet?  Henrik (Christopher Plummer), the patriarch of the Vanger family and uncle to Harriet, hires Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), a wrongly disgraced reporter, to investigate the mystery at the family island in Northern Sweden.  Initially Mikael is not interested.  But then Henrik shows him Harriet’s gifts:  a collection of Japanese style water colors he has been receiving on his birthday every year.  One half of the wall containing the watercolors painted by Harriet, the other half containing those Henrik believes painted by her killer.  After accepting the assignment, Mikael is introduced to the rogues gallery of Nazi sympathizers, alcoholics, and misfits that make-up the Vanger family.  Into this bleak world Mikael brings Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) to help solve the mystery.  Lisbeth is the damaged loner computer hacker originally hired by the Vanger family to perform the background check on Mikael.  After reading his file, Mikael knows Lisbeth is the person he needs to solve the case.

Steven Zaillian, the screenwriter, creates a tight story that builds tension as the story moves forward.  You are drawn into the mystery and genuinely care about its resolution even though the characters are not initially sympathetic.  The two main characters, Mikael & Lisbeth, are well-developed, and you grow to understand their motivations.  Unfortunately he resolves the mystery too quickly; the primary antagonist being dispatched almost immediately after their discovery, and the final revelation neatly packaged shortly thereafter.  Also–and this is probably an example of adapting the source material too exactly–the movie goes on too long.  I understand the importance of the final Christmas scene between Lisbeth and Mikael, but the fifteen minutes of corporate cloak & dagger beforehand is totally unnecessary and has nothing to do with the primary mystery.

As for the direction, David Fincher is pitch perfect.  The setting is kept bleak with a blue & gray color palate, and the musical score by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross is excellent.  Fincher is one of my favorite directors, and he excels at mysteries:  Seven and Zodiac being two.  When it comes to the central mystery, there is no fat in this film.  He creates tension & intrigue as he shows Mikael & Lisbeth investigating old photos, maps, and files.

But best of all are the actors.  Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara are good on their own, but incredible together with a palpable chemistry.  Daniel Craig is tired and defeated as Mikael Blomkvist.  His face has never looked more weathered.  Rooney Mara is damaged, and both vulnerable & fierce as Lisbeth Salander.  The fierceness of her look slowly gives way to her damaged vulnerability.  It is amazing that after we witness the vengeance she exacts on her rapist, we also are able to observe her emotional vulnerability to Mikael once she lets him in past her defenses.  Together Craig and Mara bring out the best in themselves for their characters.

Overall this is a film that should be seen on the big screen in a dark theatre.  The landscape and mood lend themselves for that experience.

Grade = A-

December – Yes, No, Maybe

A new month, a new “Yes, No, Maybe”–December is looking good.

YES – 12/09/11 – Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy

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I’ve been waiting for this one for a while.

YES – 12/21/11 – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

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They moved the release date up from 12-25-11; and I obviously grabbed this poster image from  a foreign website.

YES – 12/30/11 – The Iron Lady

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They’re sneaking this one in just in time for the Oscar races.

NO – 12/16/11 – Mission Impossible:  Ghost Protocal

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Shouldn’t this series die already.

MAYBE – 12/02/11 – Shame

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Will this be our times Last Tango in Paris?

MAYBE – 12/21/11 – The Adventures of Tintin

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I’m not entirely sold on Tintin.  I’m not a fan of the comics, and the trailer is not exactly selling me.

MAYBE – 12-25-11 – War Horse

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Another film I’m not entirely sold on.  Interestingly enough, also directed by Steven Spielberg.

“Cowboys & Aliens” – Review

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Director:  John Favreau
Writers:  Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman, and Seven Others
Stars:  Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford
Cowboys & Aliens is not a good movie, nor is it a one-star movie–I’m looking at you Rene Rodriguez.  The movie suffers from having too many chefs in the kitchen–in this case writers.  So what went wrong?  The Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) character for one.  He starts off as too evil, turns too nice, and you don’t believe that his son (Paul Dano) would have turned out the way he did.  Upon further thought, he would produce a son like this.  Dolarhyde would be so focused on his business that he would neglect his son, and his son would lash out for attention. Another negative are the aliens.  The script can’t seem to decide whether they are easy or difficult to kill.  Also, the editing is off (not that it seemed like too much was left on the floor, but more that a scene started too late).
So what was good about the film?  I didn’t fall asleep, and it kept me entertained.  In other words, it is a rental.  There is nothing spectacular about the effects that mandate you watch them on the big screen, nor will you feel like you wasted your money if you go when you have nothing better to do.
I was let down by this movie, and I believe many others were as well.  I think of all the summer movies, I was most excited about this one.  Before Rene’s review, I had trepidations about the quality of the film.  The last trailer did not impress me.  When I saw on IMDB how many writers were involved, I knew something was amiss.  The lackluster tone of voice from John Hein of The Howard Stern Show and Geektime when he said, “it’s good”, sounded more like something nice to say about a friend than an impassioned commentary.
After reading Rene Rodriguez’s post on facebook about his thoughts when he left the screening, I knew I was in danger of having to do something I have never done before–watch a one-star movie in the theatre.  And then it happened.  The Miami Herald weekend section came out.  I was hoping for two-stars, but no, the dreaded one-star.  I had painted myself into a corner.  By dedicating a whole week of this blog to cowboys, aliens, and Harrison Ford in anticipation of this movie, I had no choice but to watch it.  A while back I decided that I would always see a movie I was interested in no matter what the critics said unless it got one-star.  My logic was simple:  a bad movie is a bad movie is a bad movie, and a one-star movie is a bad movie.  Again, I think the one-star was a little harsh.  But Rene was like me–really excited about this movie.  I think the one-star is more a reflection of how much the movie disappointed him more than a reflection on the quality of the film.
Grade: C-

“Cowboys & Aliens” – Coming Soon

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The first thing you need to know about Cowboys & Aliens is that I will be there opening weekend.  The second thing you need to know is that Harrison Ford is in it.  The last thing you need to know is that it is based on an obscure graphic novel of the same name.

Click on image to learn more about the graphic novel

The film is directed by John Favreau of Iron Man fame.  I first heard about it last year on the Howard Stern show when he came to promote Iron Man 2 and talk about San Diego Comic-Con and how they got geek god Harrison Ford to appear.  The fact that Favreau got Harrison Ford to appear was a major news story since it was his first appearance there.  I’m hoping this bodes well for the material and end product, because I am not thrilled about how many writers the screenplay had.  That being said, I have been excited about this film since I saw the first trailer.

In homage to the film, this week I will present my top westerns, alien films, and Harrison Ford films.  Enjoy!