First of all, I have no life. I already know this, so please get over it and stop asking “Why the hell would you watch all 23 Bond movies in a month?”
Now that we got the obvious out of the way, as a film critic it’s very hard to undermine the pop-culture importance of the 50 year old Bond franchise. It has always been an influential staple in action film making and has tons of fans who love suave suits, bad-ass cars, cringe-worthy one-liners, blatantly misogynistic double enterdre female names, obvious alcoholism and lots and lots of gratuitious explosions.
So taking the 50th anniversary of the franchise and the release of Skyfall into account, I got the Bond box-set on Blu-Ray, which includes all 22 Bond films (Official canon EON productions, which doesn’t count Never Say Never Again and the spoof Casino Royale) except Skyfall. My plan was to watch these films in a row, document the changes in the franchise along the way and end my marathon with Skyfall.
The first thing that became clear to me along the way is that these films are very much products of the time each one was released in, therefore it’s hard to fully appreciate them on the visceral level they were meant to be appreciated, even the really good ones like Goldfinger and License to Kill. The style of film making, the cars, the vibe, everything in each film is meant to entice and impress the audience of the year it was released in. It’s easy to understand that the iconic Aston Martin with its sweet ejector seat must have looked amazing and cool in 1964, but in 2012 it looks quaint and retro.
The same goes for every ridiculous, semi sci-fi technology introduced in each film. That’s why no matter what the narrative quality of the film is, as much as there can be in a Bond movie, they become more entertaining and less tedious to watch as it comes closer to contemporary times. When the charm of the Connery Bonds wears off, it’s time to play the numbers game until the next decade: “3 movies until we get to the 80s”, “4 Movies until the 2000s” etc… As I got to Pierce Brosnan and the 90s slick action film making kicked in, it becomes that much easier to sit through. And once we get to Daniel Craig, we feel right at home. The opening of Skyfall was an exhilarating experience. But I can’t help but think how dated it will look 50 years from now.
Worst Bond Movie:
The Man With The Golden Gun or Octopussy, or any Roger Moore Bond for that matter. With 7 Bond movies, Moore made the most out of any Bonds, and pretty much all of them suck. Besides the fact that it’s gross to see him hook up with 21 year-olds when he’s almost 60, the overly whimsical tone of the 70s Bond was a bit too much to handle. Watching Moonraker, it’s easy to imagine that since it was the late 70s, everyone was high on coke.
Best Bond Movie:
Casino Royale, by a long shot. Daniel Craig is the perfect Bond and this is a highly entertaining film. It took 44 years for Bond to get it perfectly right with a smart and gritty reboot.
Most Underrated Bond Movie:
License to Kill. Timothy Dalton himself is an underrated Bond, with only 2 films to his name. But this is the gritty, more down to earth Bond of the Daniel Craig movies 17 years before Casino Royale came out.
Most Overrated Bond Movie:
Dr. No. Just because you’re the first, doesn’t mean you’re the best. Aside from a low-budget, Dr. No only takes place in a single location and has one of the lamest Bond girls in Ursula Andress. I guess we now know the dead-eyed blandness of Megan Fox is not just a 21st century thing.
Best Bond Song:
Bond songs are almost as iconic as the films themselves. A good song can make an unbearable Bond movie at least a little bit enjoyable. After the action-packed teaser, we always look forward to the iconic credits sequence full of naked silhouettes of hot women and guns (That’s about it really). The reason I like Chris Cornell’s “You Know My Name” from Casino Royale the most is because it’s the only sequence that doesn’t utilize those two base concepts and bring something fresh to the animation. The song is great in my opinion. Every time a best and worst Bond song list comes out, Shirles Bassey’s Goldfinger always tops it. Although I enjoy the lounge and ballad Bond songs, I have a soft spot for the more upbeat rock tunes, like Paul McCartney’s Live and Let Die and even A-Ha’s obviously shitty 80s techno-rock A View To A Kill.
Worst Bond Song:
The Man With The Golden Gun by Lulu, ear grating crap.
After sitting through all of these films, some with much boredom, it was sweet to see the franchise come full circle when at the end of Skyfall, we lay eyes on the classic production design of M’s office dating back to From Russia With Love.