27 November 2007

Guest: Bond, James Bond (1977-1981)

1977 - The Spy Who Loved Me - After trying a more comical tone didn’t work and after following in Connery’s footsteps also failed miserably, we are presented with something different: an espionage thriller cut wide open and replaced with Bond organs, creating a monster which works wonders. Moore finally gets his spy legs.

Between reminders of what you’re watching, it’s easy to forget that this is 007 and shit is quirky. See, here, shit is also heavy. 007 knocks a henchman off a roof and one-lines him at a moment where it would do good to no one, only to gloat I suppose. Bond’s marital status is even mentioned and responded to with a serious ‘shut your mouth’ look. Have I not been paying attention? Or did things just get this way?

After mucking up You Only Live Twice, the film is a total redemption for the director. This is who that Gilbert guy thinks he is, making Bond look absolutely badass riding a tiny water vehicle, backflipping over a snow dune, and dispatching Jaws with a giant magnet. This has come at a welcome time, too, since I haven’t fully enjoyed Bond for six films. Twelve years. Utter crap.

It really is nice to see actors and crew fully utilizing all of their talents, with none of the ’oh well, it’s only Bond’ attitude. Movie’s awesome. There’s no reason why they can’t all be like this.

“Pyramids. AHHHHHH!” (7.0/10)
o. 1977
d. Lewis Gilbert

1979 - Moonraker - I swear to sweet tiny Jesus (the littlest Jesus of all) the next time we jump cut to Bond after a double entendre, I will murder someone.

Oddly, the first act briefings have gotten predictable faster than the gadgets have. "Bond, come into my office to learn the plot. Flirt with Miss Moneypenny and off you go." Even the female roles have gotten a bit stale. Introduction means that in ten minutes, she’ll be dead or screwed.

Signs that the Bond movies are starting to go downhill: needless use of process screens. Another sign: when villains order Bond killed on their own property. How exactly is that not going to look suspicious to British Secret Service? Try being a spy for a bit, maybe, see if that works.

For the record, I love Jaws as a recurring invincible henchman, even if he is a bit overused here. He appears in every action sequence, grinning like a rapist. His reappearance is somewhat sudden, with no justifiable excuse other than ‘he was there/the movie had some.’ As if a skydive with no parachute wasn’t enough?

And how does Moore always get into a speed boat chase? Canals bring him nothing but trouble.

Bond succeeds in his pilot’s disguise this time and makes it into outer space, where well-done special effects await. The third act kicks the movie into high gear, accompanied by an excellent score which fills me with a sort of chest-inflating pride, grateful that 007 is on our side and saving the entire world sometimes.

And even though the scheme is recycled from the previous film, the idea is still neat. And- hey! That’s the guy from Munich! Woo. Not bad, third act, not bad at all.

“Well, here’s to us.” (5.5/10)
d. Lewis Gilbert

1981 - For Your Eyes Only - Fine, keep the double entendres, movie. See if I care.

I remember being especially wary about this entry, as it takes place in a decade where good action films go to have one unforgivable aspect ruin them entirely. The cheesily produced score does not help this one in the slightest, but luckily, the script and the direction help immensely, making for what is probably going to be my favorite of Moore’s films.

Keeping with Bond tradition, second unit director takes up directing job, with great down-to-Earth results. John Glen ain’t there to muck about. He throws out most conventional Bond filming techniques and treats the entire film like a second unit shoot, placing Moore right there with the action and only using projection screens as a last resort. Everything’s so damn honest, and combined with the setting, it makes me wonder what On Her Majesty’s Secret Service would have been like if it were handled as serious as this.

But perhaps the reason it is so serous is because it lacks the grandeur of the previous entries. Brilliant staging nonetheless, the actions scenes don’t go far outside of their point of origin, and with the ‘ending’ of the SPECTRE organization in the obligatory opening teaser, the plot is confined to mere lies and double-crosses between organizations. I for one delight in seeing 007 running around and being all angry and spy-full. Heheh, ‘spy-full,’ get it?

I'm left with not much to nitpick about. For Your Eyes Only does well in forcing my complainy trap shut.

"I trust you had a pleasant fright!" (7.0/10)
d. John Glen