Posts Tagged ‘James Bond’

Welcome Back, 007!!!

I am PLEASED to say that Agent James Bond, 007 is BACK armed with his license to thrill!  After the rather lackluster performance of Quantum of SolaceSkyfall  was a much needed breath of vitality to the 50 year franchise.  YES, indeed in 1962, Dr. No  was released as the first Bond movie.  I will not detail the plot of the newest installment; however, I will touch on some of the things that made this a return to form.

  • Old Friends: Chief among them was Q.  Albeit a a very young Q but I see great things coming in future movies.  Hopefully, a return to the repartee between the Quartermaster and Bond from days of old.  A few other surprises along the way that I will save.
  • M: Dame Judi sure breathes life into what was always a cardboard cutout.  Instead of the stereotypical head of MI6 who presents 007 with his latest assignment,  she has become a much more dynamic and interesting character.  Skyfall is as much an M-centered movie as it is Bond.
  • BIG ACTION SEQUENCES: These seem to have been missing in the last two movies.  Trains, motorcycles, helicopters and other myriad pieces add to the FUN of the film.  I would really enjoy another good snow ski extravaganza.
  • Supporting Cast: I cannot remember a Bond film having such a cast of well-known performers.  Ralph Fiennes (without his make up as Voldemort … ok so he has been in other movies) and Javier Bardem (who plays ANOTHER memorable villain).
  • Daniel Craig: Maybe the third time was the charm.  Mr. Craig has finally lightened up a bit from the stoic, seriousness of Casino Royale and QoS.  You can almost see him winking at the camera.  Thank goodness, as he has signed on for at least two more turns.

I am hard-pressed to find anything I did not like about Skyfall.  Even Adele’s theme song was reminiscent of the best of them.  The previous theme was another less than memorable aspect.  Perhaps the gun barrel OPENING the show would be nice instead of closing it?

Carte Blanche

Just finished the latest 007 novel (if it is going to be a few more years before the next movie… glad someone was commissioned by the Ian Fleming family to write a new one).  Carte Blanche is yet another reboot of a classic character.  Bond is introduced as an agent in his early 30s who is a veteran of the Afghan War.  To me the last two movies which combined as a reboot failed horribly by being something the franchise is not.  They are WAY too serious and totally dismissed what is so fun about the classic Bond movies.  However, they are all back in the pages of the first official Bond book penned by an American, Jeffery Deaver (author of such suspense novels as The Bone Collector which became a Denzel Washington/Angelina Jolie film).

Supporting Cast:

  • M… Bond’s boss is once again a male character.  I enjoy Dame Judy Dench as the head of MI6 but liked a return to the classic male figure
  • Q… Quartermaster… weapons guy who provides agents with the most advanced weaponry available…. whether or not it comes back intact at the end of the adventure is always fun to see.  Sadly missed in the last two movies.
  • Miss Moneypenny… a bit different role in the books than in the movies but also missed in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.
  • Felix Leiter… CIA Agent who has more of a cameo role in this one.

The Bond Girls:  There are three in this one.  One of the three MORE than lives up to her name.  Another is as icy as Pussy Galore, herself.

The villain: Severan Hydt. Quite memorable.  I don’t think there has been a Bond villain quite as interesting in quite a while.

Of course, 007 is sent on a hazardous mission with Earth shaking consequences and millions of lives at risk.  All of these elements combine to bring James and company into the 21st century.  The reader is even provided with quite a bit of backstory into the life of the secret agent that ties directly into the action.  Exotic locales, breathless action sequences, and twists, including an ending most unusual for a Bond vehicle.  Let’s hope the movies get back on track.

Not Only Good For Walks

On today’s beautiful, sunny, 40+ degree weather I did enjoy the company of my song filled ipod.  However, I found an even better use for it.  While cleaning the beauty shop, I had it plugged in and it made the time zoom by.  Before I had finished, an hour had passed and it seemed like no time at all!  The power of music… it is able to transport you to a “long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” or to “Space: the final frontier.” It can also take you to Neverland, Narnia, Krypton, Hogwarts, or Missitucky.

My ipod library is not limited only to film scores or Broadway shows.  I do enjoy some popular music pas and present.  For every selection from my vast collection of John Williams masterworks (from the 6 Star Wars movies (even the prequels), the four Indiana Jones movies (have ’em all), SupermanHook, E.T., etc) and James Bond scores  there is some Jason Mraz (I think I’ve read about him somewhere?) with some Elvis, Beatles, Carrie Underwood, Mariah Carey, and Motown classics thrown in for good measure.

Of course when the (in my humble opinion) best recording of “This is the Moment” popped up… it was NOT the Hoff’s butchering,  I had to sing along as I walked the sidewalk.  Yep… one of those.  I get carried away but still focus on little things like cars at intersections.  I did feel like the pied piper on a recent walk as three dogs began following me until I turned around and they went safely back to their home.  And, yes I did stop as a I came upon a school bus which was on its way back from the morning kindergarten return trip 😉

The Lights of Zetar and Al Gore

A very different and fun game night was had into the wee hours of this morning (check out the post time).  Megan and I made our way to visit with some of my many new Village Players friends and play some Star Trek and James Bond Scene It with a little Trivial Pursuit thrown in.  I must say that I was impressed very much with Travis’ vast knowledge in Trek.  I need to brush up on some of the more obscure episodes including The Lights of Zetar.  Really… even my knowledge does not stretch that far.  But thank goodness for My Play and the IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations) category of questions… pop culture surrounding Star Trek that tests knowledge of things not necessarily dealing with the “Wagon Train to the Stars.”

I must say that my knowledge was better served in the James Bond version.  Just please don’t ask me what make and model vehicle he drove in anything but Goldfinger (the Aston Martin DB5 with modifications).  Who would have guessed the model of car that Jinx arrived in at the ice hotel in Die Another Day? But I did clean up in that game.

The Trivial Pursuit game we played was very unique and very fun.  You had the six categories to pick from but each category was divided up into six boxes each card had 6 different levels of difficulty.  The level was determined by the roll on the die: 1-6.  It was very possible to win each piece with a level 1 question… however unlikely.  There is also an added feature that allows such things as face offs in order to win a pie piece, and the ability to move an opponents marker to any space on the board making it harder for the player to win a piece.  Very fun and pretty much for everyone!

Thanks Mary, Travis, Jen, and Megan.  It was a BLAST!

No By Candlelight

Last night, in the sub-zero actual temps not to mention the wind factor, the electricity for what seemed to be the whole town went out about 10PM.  We lit some candles for a bit of light.  I decided to finish the novel I had been plowing through this week and was requested to voice my comments on it. So for new commenter, Paul I will relate my feelings on Doctor No.

At the conclusion of From Russia With Love, 007 was seen unconscious and near death from a lethal stab inflicted by the boot of the evil Rosa Klebb.  Of course, he survived or else we would not be discussing the follow-up.  To further his physical and emotional recovery, the agent is sent on a relatively breezy assignment to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of service man Strangways and his secretary.  Bond’s investigation leads him to Crab Key, a small island off the coast of Jamaica where the mysterious Chinese-German Dr. Julius No operates a seemingly innocent sanctuary for birds and harvests the guano (bird dung) for use as fertilizer.  I know, I know… goofy.  However, that is only the genius’ cover for his ingenious plot for world domination.  And I actually think this is my favorite of Fleming’s villains so far.  We get to delve into the good doctor’s past (although I think the title is more self-proclaimed, unless I missed something).

When Bond arrives on Crab Key with his associate, Quarrel, he finds the lovely Honeychile Rider.  He finds her armed with a small knife protecting her trove of seashells.  And unlike the movie, she is NOT clad in the MEMORABLE, eye-catching white bikini with weapon belt fastened to her waist… use your imagination.

This is the first novel to feature a bit of the fantastic.  One of Dr. No’s items of destruction is a fire-breathing dragon… the same as in the movie.  It is used to keep visitors away from the island and eventually captures Bond and Honey and brings them to Dr. No’s fortress where his ultimate goal is explained.  Bond and Honey are separated and face torturous demises.  The evil doctor has a fetish for studying the pain and endurance of his victims.  Bond is put through a gauntlet of increasingly deadly obstacles.

The best thing about reading these novels is being able to see inside the mind of the characters.  What does Bond really think about his profession?  Who is he?  What makes him tick and how much pain can he endure?  Fleming’s study of ornithology is also put to good use.  Oddly enough, Bond’s name comes from the author of a book on the study of birds.  OK… GEEK… it’s all right.  Even through 22 movies, there is more to learn about him.  However (hopefully) this may well be the last literary adventure I get to experience for a few months as the stage may be calling me.  Thankfully, I had only a few pages to finish.  I don’t think my eyes could have taken a lot more as the candles did not put out much illumination.  About 1.30am, I was awakened by the power coming back on or maybe it was the grateful feeling of the warmth returning.

I Don’t Think The Dead Care About Revenge

HERE THERE BE SPOILERS (not purposely, but if you have yet to see Quantum of Solace or even have a fresh viewing of Casino Royale behind you, I would skip this post.  And if you are uninterested in either, then I give you permission to skip it all together.

One thing I can say about the new Bond is that it does not lack from the action pieces.  The new movie starts right off with 007 in a battle with a semi and at least three other cars while he is inside his Aston Martin.  The plot picks up mere moments after Casino Royale ended and follows Bond on the trail of a new sinister organization that was responsible for the death of his love, Vesper.  This organization is so all-encompassing and secret that neither CIA nor MI6 know of its existence.  That being said there is almost no one that can be trusted.  The British government has a hard time trusting Bond himself who seems to be on a mission of revenge.  M herself puts a hold on all of his passports, credit cards, etc. making it nearly impossible to move about on his mission.  OK… enough on the plot.

There are several things that I liked about the movie.  Returning players from the previous films: our old friend Felix Leiter from many of the previous films. And Mathis whom you never know where his loyalties lie.  But as he alluded to, the world is full of gray.  Black and white are almost nonexistent in the world today.  I have always liked the series when it travels around the world and this one goes all over.  Battles are fought on land, sea, and air.  And there are two lovelies.  One for strength of character, the other for a bit of eye appeal.

HOWEVER,  and this was a complaint I had with the previous film.  Bond is too serious.  Killing may not be all kicks and giggles, but the best films of the series had some moments of relief from the action.  Few puns, few double entendres.  Daniel Craig is too hard… lighten him up a little at least.  Put some of the fun back into the series.

Final verdict: I would definitely recommend this to fans of the 007 series… of which many seem to be divided.  However, if you are unfamiliar with it, Quantum of Solace definitely is not the film to start with.  I have a difficult time suggesting which film to go to when asked by novices.  I was introduced with For Your Eyes Only and was thrilled from then on.  Perhaps one or two of my faithful readers can suggest a jumping off point.  A few of us have favorites but is that a good place to start?

No Mr. Bond, I Expect You To DIIIIIIIE!!!

Tonight saw the return of our semi-regular game night.  I will not comment on the night itself but on one of the challenges I was asked to perform outside of the games.  Somehow, we got off on the tangent of James Bond.  I was asked to list all of the villains in the 21 (now 22) OFFICIAL films.  In order to set the challenger’s mind at ease (or else to illustrate my Bond geekiness) i will attempt to do just that and throw in a few henchmen where I can.

  1. Dr. No (the title character… no real henchman, unless you include Professor Dent)
  2. From Russia With Love (Kronstein (sp?), Rosa Klebb and her boot, and “Red” Grant with his evil watch, plus the first appearance of Ernst Stavro Blofeld… some of him… and his white pussy… cat)
  3. Goldfinger (Auric Goldfinger and his industrial laser beam “that emits a light not to be found in nature” that nearly dessicates 007s manhood and his man servant, Oddjob with his bowler)
  4. Thunderball (Emilio Largo… and again some of SPECTRE Number 1, Blofeld)
  5. You Only Live Twice (Blofeld’s first full on screen role along with the beautiful but deadly Helga Brandt)
  6. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Blofeld back for more along with the evil Irma Bunt… NOT SO LOVELY)
  7. Diamonds Are Forever (Blofeld yet again along with the strange duo of Mr. Wynt and Mr. Kidd)
  8. Live and Let Die (Dr. Kananga/Mr. Big, along with his gang of voodoo worshiping henchmen and woman)
  9. The Man with the Golden Gun (Francisco Scaramanga aka… the title character with henchman Knick Knack (who you may remember as the little guy who played Tattoo on Fantasy Island)
  10. The Spy Who Loved Me (Karl Stromberg and the first appearance of steel-toothed giant Jaws)
  11. Moonraker (Hugo Drax plus Jaws gets a Dolly)
  12. For Your Eyes Only (Aristotle Kristatos)
  13. Octopussy (Kamal Khan played by Louis Jordan since someone asked… plus Mad General Orloff… I don’t consider Octopussy and her bevy of beauties to be true villains)
  14. A View to a Kill (Max Zorin and May Day… deplorable)
  15. The Living Daylights (General Koskov and Brad Whitaker (played by Joe Don Baker who would return in later films as a CIA agent)
  16. License to Kill (Franz Sanchez and Milton Krest… plus an appearance by Wayne “Figgy” Newton)
  17. GoldenEye (Alec Trevelyan and Xenia Onatopp who likes it onatopp… literally)
  18. Tomorrow Never Dies (Elliot Carver and Mr. Stamper)
  19. The World is Not Enough (Elektra King and Renard)
  20. Die Another Day (Gustav Graves, Zao, and the most iconic name of any henchman, Mr. Kill)
  21. Casino Royale (Le Chiffre… who once again nearly brings Bond’s manhood to an end)
  22. Quantum of Solace (have yet to see)

Ok… ok… say what you will I can handle the jabs.  And, no I do not sit around and watch a Bond movie every night although most of them (with maybe 5 exceptions) are better than anything on television with the exception of Thursday nights and Saturday and Sunday afternoons).  Now… how many did I cheat on?  Honestly, Two.  Maybe next time I should go through the names of the Bond babes.  My favorite villain:  I really enjoy Goldfinger’s over the top character and evil scheme.  Thank you Mom and Dad for introducing me years ago when I used sneak down and ended up sitting at the top of the stairs and listening when they would play on regular tv (edited for broadcast and all) past my bedtime.

Flights of Fancy

The last 4 days have been some of the best times I have had in ages.  I was invited to go along to Orlando with my closest and dearest friends and their four children.  I flew out to meet them Sunday afternoon.  I flew from Toledo to Detroit (airtime a total of 17 minutes… strange) to Orlando International Airport (total airtime 2 hrs. and 2 mins).  On board the flight from Detroit, I shared my row with a family of four from Detroit.  The mother and 4 year old daughter shared my half while the father and little boy were across the aisle.  The little boy had a heart condition which caused him to need an oxygen tank.  And he slept the entire flight.  “He can sleep through anything.”  On the other hand, the precocious girl kept peering around asking all the pertinent questions (“Are we there yet?”) and looking out the window.  She even commented that the could see her house the we left behind hundreds of miles ago.  Adorable.

Before leaving, I wanted to take something to read to pass the time.  While approaching the gate for my flight in Detroit, I looked into the Borders Book Store to see if anything caught my eye.  I found Ian Fleming’s complete James Bond short stories in a volume entitled Quantum of Solace
.  AHHA… that is from whence the new movie takes its name.  I have gottem through the first  couple of stories and find it interesting that many of the movies are spliced together from plot lines from these stories.  The movie For Your Eyes Only is derived from the story of the same name as well as another entitled Risico.

Onto Orlando… Upon arriving, I decided to check in with my hosts.  After claiming my bag, I proceeded to the shuttle service and ATTEMPTED to get a transport to Old Town.  Unfortunately for me, the people at the counter knew nothing about where I wanted to go.  An older gentleman did not know the area at all.  His female counterpart acted like I was from outer space.  Via cell phone, Chris attempted to locate a stop at which the shuttle could drop me off, to no avail.  In the end, I took a cab to the amusement area that was reminiscent of a county fair or small amusement park.

After arriving at Old Town, I walked through the park rolling my suitcase and my carry on bag.  I’m sure that more than a few strange glances were given.  I did not care because I was about to join my friends and have a great few days.  I did get to ride the roller coaster that was very similar to the Wildcat at Cedar Point (I think the ride is still there), and the giant pirate ship that swings back and forth.  I’m glad Lisa and I decided to ride in the middle of the boat because she said that she was unsure if she would have been able to survive the ride closer to either of the ends.

Before we left the park, Chris and I looked at a ride that seemed to sling shot its riders high in the air.  Although the ride looked like a lot of fun, the $25 ticket price was more that I wanted to spend.  One thing though, I left my folder containing my flight info needed for my return on a bench inside the park.  Thankfully, some good soul found it and we were later contacted.

A Blunt Instrument

Casino Royale was the first Ian Fleming James Bond novel written back in 1953. Since then, the movie rights have been tied up in legal matters and just recently joined the ranks of the official Bond movie series. The 2006 movie was essentially a reboot of the franchise. It introduced a BLONDE Bond in Daniel Craig who I am having a hard time warming to. Hopefully with a new adventure arriving in November, he will grow on me. In any case, the lates movie opens in traditional fashion with a pre-credit sequence which illustrates Mr. Bond’s first two kills… thereby granting him his Double-O status. That is about as similar to most films in the series as it gets. This film is considerably darker but no less entertaining than the rest.

The plot of the movie concerns Bond and a female treasury agent (Vesper Lynde) on the trail of a weapons financier, Le Chiffre, who has a rather disturbing physical abnormality. Bond is entered into a literal life and death Texas Hold ‘Em tournament with the villain. The hope is to defeat Le Chiffre and force him to aid the British government in exchange for protection from his creditors.

I found the character of Bond to be quite interesting. He is not the seasoned super spy who has been out in the field thwarting the evil plans of countless bad guys. Instead, he is careless, untried, and has an enormous ego making M question her decision to promote him to 007. Along the way, Bond learns an important lesson in the espionage game both from experience and from the advice from his superior: “Trust no one.”

As usual, the action sequences are quite thrilling to watch. One of the most memorable scenes (in fact one taken directly from the novel) involves 007 being tortured by Le Chiffre in a way which would seem to decimate his manhood forever. In true form, Bond is able to make a quick though painful quip. Also like any good Bond film, is the double entendre and suggestive character name. Ms. Lynde’s cover identity is Miss Tiffany Broadchest.

Although dark in tone, Casino Royale does provide enough heart-pounding action to satisfy. I’m not entirely sure if this was a total reboot of the series. I hope we have not seen the end of original supporting characters like weapons master Q or flirtatious secretary Miss Moneypenny. Casino Royale ALMOST took itself too seriously.

Say You, Say Me

Perhaps in an attempt to put closure on a character he introduced to millions of fans everywhere over 4 decades ago, Sean Connery has pondered the possibility of returning to the Bond franchise.  Not as the British superspy, but as a villain.  That would seem to me to be a first.  An actor who originated a role in a popular series of movies returning to that franchise as the antagonist.  The possibility is intriguing, but as the 77 year old actor stated, they probably would not be able to pay him enough to come out of retirement.  They could not do it for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but Never Say Never Again Sir Sean.  Actually, Connery’s final outing as 007 in the rather waterlogged remake of Thunderball was not one of his finest  two hours.  NSNA has never been acknowledged as an official Bond movie and was released by Warner Brothers and not MGM/UA.

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