Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rating All The James Bond Films ***UPDATED***

Those of you who read this blog know that occasionally I am prone to posting complete and utter nonsense. Well, let's continue that trend. So here I go. Let's rate all of the "official" James Bond films. I am a huge fan of 007, but have to admit that after going through all of the James Bond films that most of them are crap. I have read most of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels as well, and my ideal of James Bond is based on the books. In my view, very few of the films got it right, even if they were somewhat entertaining. So let's get on with this purely subjective drivel....

Dr. No (1962) 8/10
The first James Bond film, Dr. No is an excellent spy thriller. It follows the book fairly well, too. Connery is excellent as Bond, and the film doesn't get too ridiculous. A great villain and a delicious Bond girl set the formula for the franchise.

From Russia With Love (1963) 10/10
In my view, From Russia With Love is the best James Bond film of them all. The film follows the book fairly well, and the casting is amazing. Robert Shaw plays a fantastic villain, and Connery is again spot on. I love this film because it is a real espionage tale involving the theft of a decoding machine. There is no silly world-might-blow-up nonsense. Bond fans are introduced to SPECTRE in this film as well, with a great villain in Rosa Klebb.

Goldfinger (1964) 8/10
Considered by many to be the definitive James Bond film, Goldfinger is a seriously entertaining film. Goldfinger is a wonderful villain, and Bond's progression through the story is perfectly paced. The script and Connery's performance are exceptional. Though plot is really secondary to style, the film pulls it off.

Thunderball (1965) 7/10
The last of the James Bond films to not have a silly plot full of cute gadgets and ridiculous consequences, Thunderball features great locales and atmosphere. SPECTRE's ransom of nuclear weapons starts the trend of Bond movies having bond save the world. Largo is a ruthless and evil villain, as well.

You Only Live Twice (1967) 6/10
This is where James Bond started to go off the rails. Hollowed out volcanoes and Donald Pleasnace's performance as Blofleld were to be the stuff of parody 30 years later. Mini helicopters with machine guns began the gadget-heavy cartoonish James Bond that would be the standard for 30 years. Connery's lack of enthusiasm is obvious and it is no surprise that he quit the role after this film. Still, there are some entertaining parts to this film that can't be ignored.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) 7/10
In 1969 the #1 male model in Europe was George Lazenby. As the new James Bond, Lazenby wasn't immediately accepted and his acting ability was questioned. His announcement that he would not play James Bond again prior to the premier ensured that his one outing as James Bond wasn't as successful as it could have been. As a film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service is rather good. Telly Savalas as the villain Blofeld and Diana Rigg as the Bond girl were above average casting decisions for James Bond films. The story follows the book almost exactly. It's shock ending wasn't changed for Hollywood, making this a classic Bond film.

Diamonds Are Forever (1971) 4/10
Sean Connery's return as James Bond in 1971 wasn't a great decision. At this time Connery already looked too old for the part, and the story was ludicrous. Bathed in early 70's kitsch, Diamonds Are Forever is one of the worst James Bond films.

Live and Let Die (1973) 7/10
After playing Simon Templar, Roger Moore was a natural choice to play James Bond. His first Bond film is arguably his best. A decent story with great performances all around set this apart from many Bond films. The fact that this is one of the few Bond films where the consequences of Bond failing isn't the end of the world is a huge plus.

The Man With The Golden Gun (1974) 6/10
Moore's second Bond film was second rate compared to his first. The casting was good, but the story was dull. The film's ending was typical 70's Bond fare: blow it all up. Boring.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) 5/10
If you like lots of gadgets and underwater cars then this is the Bond film for you. Bond in bell bottom slacks never did work for me, and the ridiculous story couldn't be saved by Curt Jurgens' excellent performance as the villain.

Moonraker (1979) 4/10
The first half of Moonraker is excellent. Espionage, intrigue and action are the order of the day. The second half of Moonraker is just awful. Bond flying a space shuttle? Space battles? Terrible.

For Your Eyes Only (1981) 7/10
After the horrid Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only was a deal breaker for the Bond franchise. Good thing that it's a rather decent film. The only thing I really hated about this movie was the terrible score. But this Bond film does away with end-of-the-world scenarios and silly gadgets in favour of a straight ahead spy story. That change was welcome. Moore's portrayal of a more cold Bond was excellent.

Octopussy (1983) 5/10
1983 saw a return to the silly side of James Bond with Octopussy. Lots of gadgets and another world-will-end plot added up to a bad Bond film. There are some good action sequences, but it's just too much comedy for me.

A View To A Kill (1985) 6/10
Roger Moore's last Bond film has the best Bond villain of all time: Christopher Walken as Max Zorin. Parts of this movie are silly, but it does have some very good sequences as well. Moore clearly looks too old for the part here, but this isn't a bad James Bond film. It's just not great either.

The Living Daylights (1987) 6/10
Timothy Dalton proved that being a great actor doesn't mean that you'll be a great James Bond. Writing matters to movies and Dalton was let down badly in this film. Some of the dialogue is cringe inducing. A shame, since the story is a return to a more book-like James Bond. This film starts out strong but fades towards the end. I have to say that I like Dalton, but this isn't classic Bond.

License to Kill (1989) 5/10
Dalton's second and last James Bond film is a violent and gritty action film. Not much espionage going on here. An atypical James Bond film. Dalton deserved better.

Goldeneye (1995) 6/10
The guy who would have been James Bond in the 80's were it not for contractual obligations was now in the role many believed he was born for. But be careful what you wish for. In my view, Pierce Brosnan is an excellent actor, but was not an excellent James Bond. Something about his portrayal of Bond always rubbed me the wrong way and didn't ring true. Goldeneye as a film isn't too bad, though. Sean Bean makes a great villain, but the story just isn't that good. Goldeneye did feature Judi Dench as "M" for the first time.

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) 7/10
Brosnan's most entertaining Bond film features Jonathan Pryce as the fantastic Bond villain. This Bond outing has some great action sequences, entertaining dialogue and a fun story. It's a bit ridiculous, but is put together well enough to recommend.

The World Is Not Enough (1999) 3/10
Beating out the awful Moonraker is a tough job, but The World is Not Enough manages to do it. Easily the worst Bond film, this total piece of garbage has terrible writing, a dumb story and a boring plot. Skip it.

Die Another Day (2002) 4/10
Pierce Brosnan's final Bond film featured some great casting including John Cleese and Hally Berry. But it is so cartoonish that it is impossible to like. Invisible cars and ice hotels. 'Nuff said. Like Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan deserved better, and so did James Bond fans.

Casino Royale (2006) 8/10
The long awaited re-boot of the James Bond franchise brought Bond back to the first Bond novel, Casino Royale. Cast as James Bond, Daniel Craig was a surprising choice for many. But on screen Craig proves to be the best Bond since Sean Connery's early Bond portrayals. The film could have used a tighter script and it goes on a little too long. Still, it is always entertaining. An excellent cast and Craig's performance make this one of the best James Bond films.

Quantum of Solace (2008) 7/10
The sequel to Casino Royale wasn't as well received, although I quite frankly liked it. Craig continues his excellent portrayal of Bond. The story isn't as good as Casino Royale, but there are some exceptional sequences in this film, including a shootout at an opera where the sounds of gunfire are omitted in favour of the operatic score. Excellent. Violent and complex, I really think that this one is under-rated.

Skyfall (2012) 6/10
Critics have said that Skyfall is perhaps the best Bond film in the series. I disagree. It is an okay film,  but it isn't the best in the series. Skyfall follows the recent trend in action movies of being gritty, violent and dark. It feels more like a Nolan Batman movie than a Bond movie. That said, Javier Bardem is a great villain, and worth the price of admission alone. Craig is a great action star as well, but Judi Dench's prominent role in the film exposes the bad writing for her character. Does she need to say "bloody" in every sentence? This film lacks much of the wit that made Bond great in the first place, but is a fine action film on its own. There just isn't any spying by the world's most famous secret agent. And the movie feels like a setup or reboot for subsequent films....which is what I thought they were doing with Casino Royale. In that film, 6 years ago, Bond was just getting his "double O". Now he's old and lost a step? And what of the secret organization he was chasing through the first two films? That's abandoned here for a different villain. The franchise now feels inconsistent. Skyfall is definitely worth seeing, though, if you like action films.

Spectre (2015) 6/10
What thee out of the four Daniel Craig James Bond movies have in common is that they feel more like Bourne movies than Bond movies. Over-gritty and dark, there's none of the fun kitsch that made Bond great on film and in print. The book Bond wasn't quite so morose. On it's own Spectre is a decent action movie with some fun sequences. As a Bond film it falls flat. Bringing back Blofeld and then making up a ridiculous link to Bond was just terrible. And as much as I like Chrispoh Walz as an actor, he brings no true menace to the character. Really, it's time to bring some of the fun back to the James Bond franchise.

Note: Unofficial James Bond films are not included in these ratings. These films include 2 early versions of Casino Royale (one made in the 50's for American TV with an American lead "Jimmy" Bond, and another a very bad British comedy made in 1967 starring David Niven) and the 1983 re-make of Thunderball, "Never Say Never Again". Never Say Never is worth mentioning because it's a real film and stars Sean Connery and Kim Basinger and was directed by Irvin Kirschner who also directed The Empire Strikes Back. It is a decent remake, although Connery was clearly too old for the role, and it showed.

But that's just the way I see it.

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