Friday, October 26, 2012

Brandon Peters's 007 series retrospective final analysis part 2.

This is the end.  Hold your breath and count to ten.  After three months of extensive and rather superb retrospective reviews of every single 007 film that's been currently released since 1962, it all comes down to this.  What follows below is Brandon Peter's final analysis, split up into two sections. Part one is HERE.  Part two is a critical ranking of every single film, complete with links to his respective essays, so you can all argue in the comments section.  Following that is my actual review of Skyfall, which I saw on Monday night was holding off on reviewing until Brandon had his say on all that had come before.  Expect said review to drop later this afternoon.  And yes, once Brandon sees Skyfall (hopefully in IMAX, as it really should be seen in said format), he will offer his take on this site as well.  But for now, let's all dive in and see how the chips fall.  As always, share your thoughts in the comments section below (for what it's worth, I rather agree with probably 90% of the rankings, at a glance).  At the very least, you should give him a hearty thanks for crafting this rather fantastic ongoing series.  We look forward to whatever Mr. Peters decides to contribute from this point on and look forward to his adventures in the Great Valley.

007 Series Ranking

So, this is maybe the umpteenth time I've watched all these films.  Some not as many as the others.  Two them I visited for only the 2nd or 3rd time.  To end the retrospective, I've shuffled them in order of how much I was entertained when watching said film.  So…how does it all stack up?  Let’s take a look.

I really had close to no enjoyment watching this one.  It was extremely hokey and came across as incredibly dumb and offensive.  At times almost painful.  The things that were memorable from this film are stuff you’d soon like to forget.

This film starts out with so much promise and takes a steep decline at about the 25 minute mark and just keeps plummeting.  It’s a damn shame Pierce Brosnan had to go out on this note.  The film is a pretty big embarrassment and the producers were right to move away from this direction.

Sean Connery doesn't want to be here, I don’t want to be here either.  There’s moments, but their really few and really far between.  The film takes a dump right at the beginning on the previous and far superior film.  Blofeld absolutely stinks in this one.  Kidd and Wint are entertaining, but don’t fit in this film.  Confession: while a pretty dumb character, I did find Jill St. John very charming.

Not entirely stupid or offensive (aside from the slide whistle), but incredibly boring.  As I mentioned, I did fall asleep during this one.  But, congrats Man with the Golden Gun, I really thought you were going to finish last before I started this.

18.  DR. NO
WHAT?  Bottom 5?  Yes.  Aside from Connery’s performance (and I like Jack Lord here, too), the film is kind of drags.  It’s interesting because it’s the first, and that’s why you watch it, but many a Bond film did so much better.  The sets are very nice and Connery chews them up nicely, but there’s not a whole lot interesting going on.  The Bond girl is incredibly overrated (ask a female what’s so amazing about Honey Rider) and useless and our villain is a pretty big yawner.

More craziness from this guy!  I was far more entertained by Christopher Walken, Grace Jones and Patrick MacNee than I was any supporting characters in Dr. No.  While the film isn't all great, it does a decent job at being entertaining.  Having Dalton start in this film may have made it exponentially better.  The stunts and effects would have benefited and that’s one of the big weak links in the execution of this one. (side note: I do quite enjoy the trailer for this one or maybe anything looks cool set to Duran Duran and Optimus Prime’s narration

This isn't really a bad film, but in the series cannon it comes across as rather stale and not a lot of fun.  I highly enjoy the main Bond girl in this one.  However, the score is atrociously bad and all the action beats feel incredibly recycled from the previous films.  On its own, it’s fine, but as a piece of the series, I find it rather weak.

Up and down a solid entry.  The end is a bit of “seen this before”.  The film features two strong females, but a rather weak villain and plot.  The film’s finale doesn't bring about anything special or memorable making it slightly disappointing.  You could do far worse, but there is a lot better.

This was an eye opener.  I went in expecting this to be top five.  It has a rather engaging first hour.  Bond and Goldfinger’s mind games with each other is completely entertaining.  However, Bond gets captured and does pretty much next to nothing the remainder of the film.  It’s paced solidly, making it better than it could have been.  Sean Connery’s performance seems a half step off in this one too.  Oh yeah, and Bond rapes Pussy Galore, which somehow leads to her defection from Auric Goldfinger.  If the film would have stayed true to character (Pussy Galore), Goldfinger would have been able to execute his plan.  I didn't have the extreme enjoyment I remembered once having or thought I would have with this one.

Roger Moore’s debut is a rather enjoyable entry.  However the end gets a bit bloated with long action sequences that could have been spread throughout or axed completely.  The demise of the villain travels into a world of camp that feels awkwardly out of place in this adventure.

Too high for your liking?  Go and actually watch the film.  The first hour and a half of Moonraker is an incredibly fun and dark adventure.  Michael Lonsdale proves to be one of the series greatest villains.  Every line he utters is great.  There’s a few goofy inserts here and there, but nothing overtly distracting.  The last half hour in space isn't as good as the first ¾, but it’s not bad either and the effects, while a little dated, do a decent job of holding up.  Go back and give this one a shot, you’ll be very surprised.  If you enjoy The Spy Who Loved Me, there’s no reason not to like this one.

Better than a lot of people claim it to be.  I've done research to see what exactly it is people don’t like.  A lot of nitpicks and seemingly stuff that went over people’s heads. I agree that the style isn't my first choice, but it helps along some sequences and doesn't destroy the film.  It fits Bond’s overall attitude in this film.  Probably will be discovered and appreciated over time.  I may rank this higher in the future, you never know.

A nicely done stealthy spy thriller with some incredible underwater work.  The film runs a tad long, but is much worth the trip.  And there’s nothing boring about looking at Claudine Auger.  The film provides one of the most overlooked villains in series history.  I’m talking about Fiona Volpe.  She paves the way for female femme fatales to appear later in the series.  I’m fully engaged every time she lights up the screen.  Bond’s involvement in the plot starts by a stretch of coincidence, but maybe they wanted to show that he never truly takes time off and no matter the vacation, is always in spy mode.

Yes, I've heard about Denise Richards.  Could you tell me about the rest of the movie?  Because it’s pretty good.  Brosnan turns in one of his best performances in a story that strikes personally for him and M.  This one provides not only a pretty cool story, but some great shootouts.

This one was the biggest shock for me.  There’s a lot of silly, campy and dated racey/sexist things in this film, but I found it to be so much fun.  The film turns what could be a horrid gadget (gyro-copter) into something bad ass.  The first hour of this is actually a top notch spy thriller.  The second hour turns into an insanely crazy over the top romp.  While uneven, I had a lot of fun with this one, and I hope others see it as well.

Had the middle 45 minutes of this film been much shorter or better, this would be in contention for a top 3 Bond movie easily.  However, its not and the section missing Diana Rigg suffers without her.  It’s a very good film, but it does drag in the middle.  But on both sides of that middle its very good.  It’s worth waiting around for the finish, because it’s pretty great.

This one was one of the most unique films in the series until Quantum of Solace.  Time has become very kind to the Timothy Dalton era.  People are starting to come around and see what they wanted from 007 was there all along.  Robert Davi makes an incredible turn as a dark and vile villain.  It’s got some great real physical stunt work to boot.  This isn't your typical Bond picture, but that’s what helps and makes it stand out.

When you think of a quintessential “what is a Bond movie?” film…this is it.  It’s got all the over the top action, the notable henchman, the maniacal villain, the gorgeous Bond girl, the stunts, the opening wow sequence, a great song.  It’s all there.  This is some of the most fun you’ll ever have watching a movie (well, maybe those of my era and older), let alone it just being a Bond film.

Like I said in my article, this film is the series firing on all cylinders.  An espionage and escape film akin to a From Russia With Love style, but its own beast.  Everything just rocks about this one.  Joe Don Baker is kind of weak, and his character’s demise is a bit of whimper, but its fine. At that point in the film we’re just trying to take it down and bring it to a satisfying conclusion anyway. Dalton turns in a great debut.  Like the follow-up, this one also features a lot of great and real looking stunt work.  The Dalton era is one of the most overlooked aspects of the franchise as it contains two of its strongest and best films.  In some alternate universe, there’s a 3rd Timothy Dalton James Bond adventure…I want to go there.

One of the best action films of the 90's period.  This film manages to hit the marks on top notch action, drama and performances.  Some slight dating when it comes to technology (but then again…every Bond has that).  This film goes by in a flash and has the best Bond Vs Main Baddie fight and finish of the entire series.  I’d like to know of those who leave GoldenEye unsatisfied.  There can’t be many of you.

This film is damn near perfect.  It’s the longest of the series, but never once feels that way.  Craig’s performance is of the best of the entire 22 film oeuvre.  Even if this film was subpar, he, Eva Green and Mads Mikkelsen would carry it and it’d be enjoyable.  Never a dull moment.  Martin Campbell scores two of the top three Bond films of all time.  Please come back, sir.  We’ll forgive you for Green Lantern.

If the last film is “damn near perfect” how is it not #1?  This one just strike with me.  It moves, it’s suspenseful, its got action, and its got a very nice 60's aesthetic that I fancy.  Connery gives a wonderful turn and we get awesome villains and Bond’s best informant.  This film is just an absolute joy to watch.  As a big fan of Hitchcock, this feels a bit like a love letter to him and I appreciate that.  With its length, I also will always have the time to pop this one in and give it a view.  There’s a very engaging romanticism with viewing this one that is really unmatched in any of the Bond films.  While the series spent most of its time trying to create the next Goldfinger, this is the film it should have been taking its cues from.

And that’s it for me until Skyfall, folks.  Still fishing for ideas as to where to go next (please save me from The Land Before Time!).  Did you enjoy the Bond series?  What’s your top/bottom ten 007 films?  Tell me where I’m wrong.  Thanks for reading, it’s been a rewarding experience hearing your thoughts, praise and opinions!


Follow me on Twitter –
“Like” Mendelson’s Memos on Facebook - 


Aaron Neuwirth said...

It's a good thing we're friends now ;)

1. Goldfinger (easily for me)
2. The Spy Who Loved Me
3. From Russia With Love
4. GoldenEye
5. Casino Royale/Dr. No

Octopussy, A View to a Kill, Diamonds are Forever, and yeah, I kind of have fun watching it, but Die another Day is pretty bad.

Best Bond: Connery (though I'm into what Moore brought in his best films). I holding off Craig until I see how Skyfall shows him as Bond and not the guy who became Bond.

Worst Bond: Hey Lazenby, how are you doing?

Best Bond Girl: Eva Green and Diana Rigg are both quite good, Famke Jansen and Isabella Scorupico (whatever) work for me quite well too.

Worst Bond Girl: Oh Rosie Carver, Oh Goodnight, Oh Jinx

Best Bond Villain: Blofeld is a classic, but Goldfinger has a better laser beam. La Chiffre has great conflict to his character. Robert Davi was pretty bad ass.

Worst Bond Villain: The forgettable ones (at least I know who Gustaf Graves is) and Diamonds' Blofeld

Best Henchmen: Jaws is awesome and scarier than people think. Red Grant

Worst Henchmen: I Am Mr. Kil. Knick Knack Paddy Wack

Unsung Hero of the Franchise - Desmond Llewelyn

As I've been saying, I've really enjoyed these write-ups, regardless of some disagreements.

Brandon Peters said...

Haha, thank you. And 4 of our top 5 are the same and 3 of the four worst you mentioned. And you and I seem to be the only ones ever mentioning Rose Carver. How can people not think of her...EVER? It was a real challenge to rank these and rank them with personal honesty. Looking forward to our 2 against 1 commentary (hopefully Scott doesn't get whisked away to a Bond 24 outline reading this time)

Laura Peters said...

I am so happy the one film of this retrospective I got to join in on is deservedly ranked last...

I jumped on top of a PLANE...what is the exit strategy here Bond??

Adrien Alexander Benson said...

I've been following this retrospective from the beginning, and I have to just give a huge congratulations to you for pulling it off with such aplomb! This was a hugely entertaining, revealing and insightful look into one of my (and many others) film series since childhood. If you ever have the time and/or inclination, please don't stop here. There are so many more films to analyze, and we'd be remiss without having you there to write about them.

ME! said...

Thank you for this Brandon. You had some great insight and I learned a lot more about the bond films.

William Windsor said...

I must say, for those of us that haven't seen all of them films, this is a great article to use as a reference for the best films to watch.

James O'Leary said...

I really appreciate all the hard work and thoughtful consideration you put into this series. You made me want to go back and check out TSWLM; no mean feat there. Well done.


Related Posts with Thumbnails