007 Legends – A Review by Film Nerd

Developer: Eurocom, Activision

Consoles: PS3, 360, Wii U, PS Vita, PC

Cast: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Michael Lonsdale, Richard Kiel, Carey Lowell, Toby Stephens

Synopsis: This game was released specifically as a celebration of 50 years of James Bond.   As such, it includes 6 missions, each representing one film of each man to have played Ian Fleming’s super-spy.   Bond and M are played by Craig and Dench respectively throughout.

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Moonraker – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Lewis Gilbert

Cast: Roger Moore, Lois Chiles, Michael Lonsdale, Richard Kiel, Corinne Clery, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn, Lois Maxwell

Film matched beverage: Moonraker Cocktail

Synopsis: In a film that saw 007 try to jump on the bandwagon following the success of Star Wars, this film takes a very simple yet exciting original story from Fleming, and turns it into Bond’s turn to jump the shark.   There are some good moments here, but they culminate in a final battle set entirely on a space station.   Mike Myers was certainly watching this one.

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30 Day Film Challenge Day 19 – Your Favorite Action Film

Film Nerd’s Choice: Casino Royale

Review:

Director: Martin Campbell

Cast: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Caterina Murino, Jesper Christensen

Synopsis: Based on the novel by the same name by Ian Fleming, this James Bond film takes the first written novel as an excuse to reboot the series.   In doing so, a harder edge is given to the franchise bringing it closer to Fleming;s source material than ever before, even if it does translocate the action forward into modern times.

 

As a Bond fan, it delights me that the 30 day film challenge has afforded me the opportunity to reflect on what I consider a true highpoint in the franchise after already being in a position to review the low point, that being Moonraker.   I have in many ways been raised on the 007 franchise, and am intimately familiar with his adventures both in text and on-screen.   I have many favourite stories in both formats, the earlier films being more direct adaptations of the novels than the later films became, the mor recent films not being based on Fleming material.   Casino Royale, due to legal issues as the most prominent Bond story never yet brought to the cinema in the official Broccoli 007 franchise.   Thankfully, despite shifting the setting to a modern casino in Montenegro, and changing the game of choice from Baccarat to Texas Hold’Em poker, this is once again a fairly faithful adaptation… just with more action thrown in.

Campbell is a gifted director, once before having creating a dying Bond franchise when he was in the main chair for Brosnan’s first outing Goldeneye.   He managed the same magic trick twice, creating a different Bond film that also retained respect for the franchise.   He portrays Bond here as a man struggling with his new role in the secret service.   Though he is still a man of wit, he finds less humour in his activities than previous Bonds, bearing the scars of previous encounters, both literally and figuratively.   His penchant for alcohol and women is portrayed as less suave and cultured, and more as escapism from the realities of his world.   As such, we have a much more visceral film, that seems more grounded than many previous instalments.

However, this entry is for favourite action film, and as such I should spend some of the discussion on this element of the film.   There is much more action in the film than in the novel, yet none of it is superfluous.   Each action sequence does something to advance the plot, while also being an edge of your seat, nail-biting thrill-ride.   The pace is frenetic, yet everything is filmed in such a way that things are not lost in a flurry of activity that is impossible to follow (take note, Michael Bay).   From the free-running opening that redefines chase sequences, to the chase to prevent an explosion at Miami airport, to the final sequences in Venice, Craig is painted as a Bond to be reckoned with, ever resourceful without any reliance on special gadgets.   I would also argue that the poker game itself is an action sequence.   There is no running or bullets flying, but it manages to make a sequence of twelve people around a baize table holding cards consistently exciting, and it does so while occupying a large part of the film at the same time.

I could go on for much longer, discussing individual performances, especially focussing on the cracking chemistry established between Green’s Vesper and Craig’s Bond.   The simple fact is, I can write a pages long essay on this film, though I fear my level of interest may deter readers from even starting this post.   So I will leave it here with just a simple recommendation.   If you like your action fast and loud with enough character development to keep it interesting, well, this is the minimum of what Casino Royale achieves and what is not only a superior Bond film, but a superior film outright.

5 stars out of 5

 

Casino Royale on IMDB

Casino Royale on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fl5WHj0bZ2Q]

30 Day Film Challenge Day 16 – A Film You Used to Love, But Now Hate

Film Nerd’s Choice: Moonraker

Review:

Director: Lewis Gilbert

Cast: Roger Moore, Lois Chiles, Michael Lonsdale, Richard Kiel, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn, Lois Maxwell

Synopsis: This was not originally intended to be the film to follow the successful Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, the original plan being to release For Your Eyes Only.   However, the release and success of Star Wars changed all that, so they jumped to the story Ian Fleming novel Moonraker, entirely rewriting a cold war missile drama to be a space epic.   About the only similarity that the film has with the novel is the names of the characters.

 

I have selected this film as representative of the entire Roger Moore run of James Bond films.    As a child, my favourite James Bond was by far my favourite.   He was not only the Bond I was growing up with at the time, he was one that was overall just fun, outrageous, and over the top.   The more absurd the gadget or story, the more fun I had watching it.   So when you have a film with him running around in space shooting lasers while being chased by popular villain Jaws (Kiel), it was an absolute dream.

Not anymore however.   What has changed for me is that I have become a true student and aficionado of Ian Fleming’s Bond, having read all the original novels, and with time come to appreciate the true glory that peaks with Connery’s original portrayal and Craig’s current hard-edged approach.   In this style of Bond, Lazenby and Dalton were also quite adept, whereas Brosnan was the perfect meld of every interpretation of Bond up until that point.   Moore, however, was a comedian first and a man of action second.   His fight scenes have no real power or pace.  He is over-reliant on Q gadgets.    He also played the role for too long, so by A View To A Kill, he was certainly less convincing as the seductive secret agent type.

For Moonraker, he had not yet aged so poorly, but if there was a Bond film that jumped the shark, this was it.   Stretching reality to include space battles aside, the supporting players were also just not convincing.   Lonsdale’s Drax was little more than a passable villain, with none of the delightful swagger of a Blofeld, Carver, or Le Chiffre.   Lois Chiles’ performance as lead Bond girl left a lot to be desired, and it seems they were trying too hard for a double entendre for her name, opting for Holly Goodhead.   Even Kiel, whose performance itself was just as strong as it was in The Spy Who Loved Me, was let down, with a love story introduced that destroyed any menace the character once had.

To this day, I often marathon James Bond films from Dr. No through to now.   The Moore period however is often skipped over.

2 stars out of 5.

 

Moonraker on IMDB

Moonraker on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMTK5LHOMy8]