film, James Bond, must see

Movie Review: Skyfall

Now we are getting into the Bonds I began to like once I caught up with the rest of the series. This 2012 Bond film has also been seen on many top 10 Best Bond films of all time (admittedly not high probably 7 or 6 tops). Skyfall is in my opinion the best performances of not just Daniel Craig, but of Dame Judi Dench and without question one of the best villains in the Bond franchise in a long time. Because it is unavoidable, spoiler alert. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

James Bond (Daniel Craig) and field agent he later learns is named Eve Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) are after a mercenary, Patrice (Ola Rapace) who has stolen files of the real names of undercover agents. Bond and Patrice fight on top of a train and M (Judi Dench) orders Moneypenny to take a shot. She hits Bond instead and Patrice escapes; Bond is assumed to be dead. A few months later M is being pressured into retiring by Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fines) the chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, but then MI6 gets hacked and the headquarters blows up, not before M receives a message taunting her. Bond returns to help M and despite his failing physical and psychological tests, M clears him for duty. After receiving gadgets from the new Q (Ben Whishaw) Bond sets out to discover who is after M. With a little help from a woman named Severine (Berenice Lim Marlohe) Bond soon meets the man responsible: Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), a man from M’s past she disavowed after he hacked the Chinese government without her permission and was taken prisoner. Bond takes him prisoner, but soon realizes that was what he wanted; however he escaped before Bond catches on. Bond takes M to Skyfall, his parents’s house in the Scottish Highlands, but tells Q to leave a trail for Silva to follow, ready to end this. Bond, M and the Skyfall keeper Kincade (Albert Finney) fight off Silva and his men, Bond eventually killing Silva, but M is wounded in the fight and dies in Bond’s arms. At the end of the film Bond returns to the field, Moneypenny becomes a secretary and Mallory becomes the new M.

As far as Bond films go this is one of my favorites. Everything from the writing, acting, action and some very incredible cinematography was just perfect. Daniel Craig really shined as 007 in this movie, I’m glad we got Moneypenny and Q in here after a lengthy absence, and while Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw are good they do not hold a candle to the likes of Lois Maxwell and Desmond Llewellyn respectively. For me at least two performances really stand out from the movie and that is Javier Bardem as Silva and Judi Dench as M. While Le Chiffre was a fantastic villain in Casino Royale he wasn’t the main bad guy which is why Silva for me is the best Bond villain in the Daniel Craig Bond franchise. He is not only scary, bu is wicked smart and is willing to do whatever it takes to kill M, no matter who is in his way. While Judi Dench has been M for many years it was her final turn as the character where I thought she did her best work; while M was always a big player in the franchise we hadn’t really know much about the character or had a movie focus on someone other than Bond until Skyfall. I was a little sad when she died, but I think Mallory will do a good job with the role of M but that is a story for another day. On a final note while I haven’t mentioned the songs in the other films I did like them however I LOVE “Skyfall” by Adele; it also won the Oscar for Best Original Song. I think if you like the Bond franchise or are just starting out then put Skyfall on your must watch list right now.

film, James Bond

Movie Review: Quantum of Solace

This is one of the not very well liked Bond films and I get it. Quantum of Solace has been widely regarded as Daniel Craig’s worst Bond film, and it is hard pressed to argue. Spoilers ahead as usual. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Picking up almost immediately after Casino Royale, Bond has Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) delivered to M (Judi Dench) to find out more about the organization he is apart of, Quantum. However when one of M’s bodyguards turns out to be a double agent and Bond manages to kill him, White gets away. Discovering the double agents contact in Haiti, Bond (after being forced to kill the contact) discovers he was a hit-man contracted to kill a woman named Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko) when she got too close to Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) an environmental businessman working with an exiled general, General Medrano (Joaquin Cosio), the man who murdered Camille’s family and wants to overthrow his government for what seems to be a small barren of desert (when is it ever). When Greene and Medrano once again try to kill Camille, Bond is forced to save her. He follows Greene to the opera where he identifies many Quantum member to MI6, however a bodyguard is killed and made to look like Bond did it. Feeling forced, M revokes Bonds passports and credit cards. Bond is then forced to turn to his old friend Mathis, as well as Camille and seduces agent Strawberry Fields (Gemma Arterton) to help him stop Greene and Medrano. While I probably shouldn’t say more I will say for those that wanted closer on the Vesper story from Casino should watch the end.

I gotta be honest nothing about this film, other than the beginning car chase and the ending concluding Vesper’s story, is memorable. Honestly you could have skipped over this film and gone to Skyfall and you might not even be lost. Craig was very lackluster in this movie, thankfully he did come back in the next film. My thoughts on Camille will be later on, so I will move on. The other characters like Strawberry, Medrano and Greene are not very memorable characters in the Bond films; I’m almost positive if I were to say their names to someone they would go “Who?” So my overall thoughts are unless you really love the Bond films, this one is not worth it.

film, Marvel Films, must see

Movie Review: Iron Man

While this was not the first Marvel film released it was the first in what we now call the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Released in 2008 and directed by Jon Favreau, Iron Man help launch not only a very successful franchise (I know understatement of the century), but it also help revitalize an actors career. In case you haven’t seen this movie, spoiler alert. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is many things (in his own words from another movie: genius, billionaire, playboy and philanthropist) heads to Afghanistan along with his best friend Lieutenant Colonial James Rhodes aka Rhodey (Terrence Howard) to showcase the latest weapon by Stark Industries, which Tony inherited from his father, called the Jericho missile. Shortly after the demonstration Tony’s car is ambushed, troops killed and he is captured as well as wounded by a terrorist group known as The Ten Rings led by Raza (Faran Tahir). Much to Tony’s horror he saw the group using his own weapons involved in the capture. He would have died if not for fellow captive Yinsen (Shaun Toub) implanting an electromagnet inside Tony’s chest preventing the shards from going into his heart. Raza wants both of them to build a Jericho missile promising to let them go, however Tony and Yinsen know he will not keep his word and plot to escape. They build a electric generator calling it arch reactor to power a suit, but are discovered. Yinsen sacrifices himself to save Tony to complete the suit and he avenges his friends death by blowing up the compound of weapons. Tony finds his way to Rhodey and they get back home where Tony makes a public announcement that Stark industries will no longer sell weapons despite his father’s partner Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) protests that it will ruin the company. Tony makes a new sleek suit with a more powerful reactor in his chest, along with the help of his assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), but insists on keeping the work for himself. Tony soon discovers Stane has been selling weapons behind his back for years and wants to replace him as the CEO of Stark industries. Tony, along with Rhodey, Pepper, his personal AI system J.A.R.V.I.S (Paul Bettany) and an agent from S.H.I.E.L.D Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) are not gonna let him get away with that plan. While I probably should not say anymore in case of spoilers the last scene with Tony stating “I am Iron Man” is one of my favorite moments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as the special after credit scene with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).

Just like that one of the biggest franchises kicked off and I could not think of a better movie to do it. While Robert Downy Jr. had many successful films after he become sober, he hadn’t really achieved blockbuster status until Iron Man. I had heard of others up for the part of Tony Stark, but watching the movie it is hard to picture anyone other than Downey Jr. playing that character. I enjoyed Terrence Howard as Rhodey and was somewhat disappointed he had a falling out with Marvel (however I have no problem with Don Cheadle for the rest of the franchise). I love Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts the woman who basically ran Tony’s life, the chemistry between Paltrow and Downey awesome. Bridges is not the most memorable villain in the Marvel universe, but I thought he did a great job as the psychotic Stane. I also became a fan of Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson, although if you had told me just how big this character would become I may not have believed you. The writing and action were fantastic, and I know there were special effects but it was almost hard to tell where the effects were. I am so thankful the movie did well otherwise we would not have so many of the hottest stars and movies out there today. If you are interested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe you have to start with Iron Man.

film, James Bond

Move Review: Casino Royale (2006 film)

A reboot of the Bond franchise, and one that was very much needed. Released in 2006, Casino Royale gave a fresh start to the popular franchise and one of the best portrayals of our favorite secret agent. The reason why I have to say 2006 is because there was another Casino Royale in the Bond franchise, but it was not released by MGM so it does not count. Only because it is unavoidable, spoiler alert. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

James Bond (Daniel Craig) is now a OO agent and has received his license to kill after killing a terrorist contact and a traitorous section chief in the British Embassy. However it is not long before Bond’s methods of shoot first ask questions later get on the nerves of M (Judi Dench). Meanwhile the mysterious Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) introduces warlord of the Lord’s Resistance Army Steven Obanno (Isaach de Bankole) to Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelson) a man who finances terrorist plots. However when given a large sum of money by Obanno to invest, Le Chiffre instead uses it to bet on the failure of the airline Skyfleet; which Bond ruins when trying to capture a target. Forced to find a way to get the money back, Le Chiffre organizes a Texas hold’em tournament and MI6 try to capitalize on it; hoping a defeat will force Le Chiffre to turn to them for help in exchange for information on his clients. Bond works with British treasury agent Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), MI6 agent Rene Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini) and later CIA agent Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) into winning the game. Le Chiffre, now desperate, kidnaps Vesper and Bond to get the money back and reveals Mathis is a mole for him. Bond does not tell Le Chiffre where the money is, despite hearing Vesper getting tortured, however Mr. White shows up, kills Le Chiffre and frees Bond and Vesper. Short time later Bond and Vesper seem to be happy together, Bond even resigning from MI6 to be with her, but when M reveals that the money won from the tournament was never deposited, and the banker in charge says the money is being withdrawn Bond realizes Mathis wasn’t the mole; Vesper is. His attempts to take her end is her own death. Bond denounces Vesper, until M reveals Vesper only did it because her lover was captured by the organization who employed Le Chiffre and was forced to become a double agent; however she exchanged the money for Bond’s life proving she did love him. Bond also sees that Vesper sent him information prior to her death on how to find Mr. White, leading to the next movie.

What I loved about Casino Royale was how it was sort of a throwback to the other Bond films as far as fighting goes. Bond was more hand to hand combat rather than having his gun at the ready all time time, much like some of the earlier films. The action, writing, cinematography and acting for me at least was spot on perfect. I know when he was first cast as 007 there were many who criticized Daniel Craig. However after the movie I am convinced many of the critics became silent. I really enjoy seeing Craig as Bond, and was glad he has continued with the franchise (more than likely he will be gone after the 25 film but you never know). For me Daniel Craig portrays Bond as a guy who does shoot first and ask questions later at first, but after his mission must come to terms with what has happened and it shapes him throughout the rest of the movies. My thoughts on Vesper will be later so I want to move on to Le Chiffre. This dude creeps the heck out of me, not just by how he looks but his demeanor; can we also give a HUGE round of applause for Mads Mikkelson. Le Chiffre can say with one look how much he wants to kill you, and the scene where he tortures Bond butt naked is where he really shines, and this includes when he was more than willing to let his girlfriend loose an arm for his deeds. I will say that if you want to start watching the Daniel Craig franchise you will have to watch them in order, but Casino Royale is one amazing start.

film, James Bond

Movie Review: Die Another Day

The final James Bond film with Pierce Brosnan as 007 and well I will say the special effects definitely are not the best (the opening shot alone) I would not say the film is bad. Spoiler alert as always. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

James Bond infiltrates a North Korean military base where he is quickly identified as an agent by Colonial Tan Sun-Moon (Will Yun Lee) and his assistant Zao (Rick Yune) during the illegal trading of weapons for African conflict diamonds. Despite attempts to kill him Bond seemingly kills Moon instead. Bond is captured by General Moon, the Colonial’s father, and is held in North Korea for 14 months, until he is traded for Zao. M (Judi Dench) informs Bond that his double 00 status has been suspended due to information leaked out. Bond believes a double agent has set him up and decides to go after Zao. He finds Zao in Cuba, along with the lovely NSA agent Giacinta Johnson aka Jinx (Halle Berry). He finds Zao at a gene therapy clinic, where patients can have their appearance altered. Bond tries to kill Zao in therapy but he escaped. However Zao leaves a conflict diamond behind with an engraving identifying them as the diamonds owned by Gustav Graves (Toby Stevens) a billionaire within the last year. Bond also meets Gustav’s assistant Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike) who is an undercover MI6 agent. M sends Bond to get close to Graves at his ice palace in Iceland (P.S. beautifully crafted). Graves’s plans include a satellite known as Icarus, focusing solar energy year round for crops, however Bond and Jinx (who has joined in on the mission) soon realize the truth: Graves is the not so dead Colonial Moon and Frost is working with him. Their plans are to use Icarus to cut a path into the Korean Demilitarized Zone which would allow North Korea to invade South Korea; reuniting the countries by force and essentially starting a nuclear war with the U.S. Bond and Jinx are making sue that was not gonna happen.

For his final turn as 007 Brosnan I thought did pretty well, but in comparison to the three previous this one is not his best. My thoughts on Berry will be later so I am moving on to the other characters. Moon or Gustav whatever you want to call him is out of the Brosnan villains the weakest out of the four as he is just greedy, power hungry and just wants to impress Daddy (it does NOT go over well). As far as bad guys go Frost and Zao are actually more memorable than the main villain. Zao not only looks creepy but is more than happy to kill when given the opportunity, especially at Bond. Frost starts off as the assistant, then MI6 agent and then evil femme fatale pretty quickly who is just as quick as Zao to use whatever at her disposal to get the job done. Judi Dench is once again the coolest and smartest head in the room in this one and it would also be the last time we would see Samantha Bond as Moneypenny (admittedly not her best work in the role at the end) and Jon Cleese as the new Q after the death of Desmond Llewellyn. Also keep an eye out for the Queen of Pop Madonna in a somewhat memorable role, along with her song in the movie. The action was decent (love the car in this one of course) as is the writing, but I get why this film does get a bad reputation with the special effects. This would be the last Bond film for nearly four years, until it was rebooted, but I’m getting ahead of myself. If you like the Bond franchise, specifically Brosnan’s, then I would say watch Die Another Day.

film, James Bond

Movie Review: The World Is Not Enough

As far as Bond films go I know I have seen worse, but I know there is better; if you recall this was the only Pierce Bronsan Bond film not in my top 10 Bond films. While there were elements I did not like, I wouldn’t go so far as to say no if you want to watch The World Is Not Enough, I would say sure. A spoiler alert is ahead. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Bond starts off in a Swiss bank retrieving money for oil tycoon and friend of M (Judi Dench) Sir Robert King (David Calder) after the original MI6 agent who was supposed to do it was killed. Bond just escapes with the money after the bankers try to kill him without getting the name of the assassin. However the money is booby-trapped and before Bond could warn King the money explodes and King is killed. Bond goes after the assassin, but she kills herself out of fear of the perpetrator behind it and Bond is hurt. Bond traces the money back to a terrorist who has been after MI6 and the King family for a long time: Renard (Robert Carlyle) a man with a bullet in his head preventing him from feeling anything, and who once kidnapped, among other things including cutting off part of her ear, King’s daughter Elektra (Sophie Marceau) for ransom and M advised King not to pay it; Elektra managed to escape on her own. M assigns Bond to watch over Elektra as she observes the construction of a pipe line in Azerbaijan, after getting some gear from Q (Desmond Llewellyn in his final role before his fatal car accident) and his assistant Bond dubs R (John Cleese). Bond and Elektra are attacked on ski mountain, which Bond suspects has to do with Renard; he visits his acquaintance Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane) to get more information. He is able to track down Renard, and also meets nuclear physicist Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards), but Renard gets away with a bomb and plutonium. However he places some doubt in Bonds mind as to Elektra’s innocence. Bond warns M, who doesn’t seem to believe it, until the bomb shows up in the pipeline. Bond and Jones let the bomb blow up, and Elektra’s true plans are reveled; she is the one in charge after seducing Renard and kidnaps M. She wanted to make her father pay not only for not paying her ransom but from taking her mother’s oil company. She wants to destroy the Russian oil pipeline forcing them to only use the King’s pipeline at a high price. Bond, Jones, M and eventually Zukovsky are not going to let that happen.

Now the acting by many of the people in this movie are not fantastic, Bronsan is not at his best and well my thoughts on Richards will be later, but not everyone is bad. Marceau is pretty good as the first, and so far only, female Bond villain. It was actually kinda of a twist because Carlyle was so good as Renard you actually thought he was the main bad guy. They are the only memorable acting parts in the movie. The writing could have been better in many places, but the action and gadgets more than make up for it. If you are interested in The World Is Not Enough then by all means watch it, if not I wouldn’t put it too high on the watch list.

film, James Bond

Movie Review: Tomorrow Never Dies

Another Bond film and I am pretty sure the first one I watched in full before I was really interested in Bond. Released in 1997 it was the only Pierce Brosnan Bond film that did not open top of the box office (Titanic). Still this is a pretty good Bond film with one of the best girls and villains of all time in the franchise. In case you haven’t seen it spoiler alert. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Bond starts off on the Russian border spying on a terrorists arms bazaar and just barely escapes after a missile is sent into blow up the base with two nuclear torpedoes still on the base. However an encoder is stolen by cyber-terrorist Henry Gupta (Ricky Jay) who is in the employ of Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) a media baron who uses the encoder to send a British ship of course and into Chinese waters, uses a stealth ship in the command of Mr. Stamper (Gotz Otto) to sink the ship, destroy a Chinese jet and kill the ship survivors. M (Judi Dench) is only given 48 hours before the British retaliate and she sends Bond to investigate Carver as he seemed to know before MI6 did, using Carver current wife, and Bonds ex, Paris (Terri Hatcher) to get some help. However after getting the encoder, Bond learns Paris was killed by Carver’s orders by the memorable Dr. Kaufman (Vincent Schiavelli); Bond kills him which puts a bigger target on his back because he mentored Stamper. He along with Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh) a Chinese agent team up to stop Carver from starting World War 3, and his plan to get exclusive broadcast rights in China because of it.

If you recall this started my top 10 of Bond films and with good reasons. Brosnan is great as 007 as usual but something about this performance stuck out to me, maybe because this turned personal after Paris’s death. The film also had great action, cars and gadgets; the writing could have been better in a few places, but not a bad film. My thoughts on Wai Lin will be another time so I’d like to focus on other characters. Judi Dench was once again amazing as M, between the other guys in charge let’s face it she was the one with a cooler head (I love the part where the Admiral goes “what is he [Bond] doing and M responds “his job’). Samantha Bond was also good as Moneypenny and Desmond Llewellyn as Q giving Bond the instructions on his car is pure gold for the actor. Jonathan Pryce has always been an actor I knew was top notch and he shined as the crazy Carver; he seriously wanted to start a war just so he could get broadcast rights in China! How insane must you be!? Schiavelli is only on screen for a few moments but it is memorable. Stamper is another big blond henchman, and if I’m being honest not the best. The rest of the cast is good and the movie is enjoyable to watch. If interested please go ahead and watch.