Monday, December 18, 2006

The Most Bondian Moments #17-21

Holy crap, that was a big-ass storm last Thursday night. We don’t get typhoons, hurricanes or tornadoes here in lush Western Washington, where the weather is usually pretty mild, but every four or five years we get a monster snowstorm or windstorm like the one that ripped through the Northwest last night. There were trees down all over the place, our main interstate was flooded in spots, over a million people lost power and six people died, including one poor woman who was trapped by flood water in her basement. We didn't get power until Sunday.

Such is the power of Thor.

So let’s wrap up this James Bond stuff. I appreciate everyone’s patience with me recently as I deviated from the usual Dave’s Long Box format. I think I’ve got the Bond thing worked out of my system now and we can return to mocking stupid comics and occasionally exalting good comics.

But first…

…let’s finish up the Most Bondian Moment posts by looking at the coolest moments from the least cool Bond movies, IMHO.

17. Die Another Day

This movie does not make the bottom of my list, despite the invisible car and the blasphemous iceberg tidal wave surfing scene near the end of the film. No, I don’t love this movie, but it has a few nice moments.

There’s a great scene at the beginning where Bond and a couple other agents infiltrate North Korea by surfing in on some monster waves at night. As I understand it, they filmed the scene at the famous surfing spot “Jaws” on Maui, home of some huge-ass waves. The agents sneak on to the beach and Bond opens up a hatch in his surfboard to reveal some gadgets. It’s an atmospheric, well-shot scene that sets the tone of the opening sequence and feels very Bondian. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie doesn’t live up to the promise of those first moments…

The other scene I enjoyed was Bond’s sword fight with at the gentleman’s fencing club, Blades, which was the name of a gambling club in Fleming's novel Moonraker. In this scene Bond shows up and basically picks a fight with Gustav Graves, the diamond mogul and villain of the film. What starts out as a fencing match turns into a full-on sword fight/brawl with the two combatants tearing up the club in the process.

After this scene, the movie goes straight into the proverbial toilet and clogs it up and it overflows and stinks up the whole bathroom and there is poo everywhere. Proverbially speaking of course.

18. Moonraker

I mentioned previously that the scene where Dobermans hunt down Drax's unlucky assistant is probably the most Bondian part of Moonraker.

In the interest of not repeating myself, I will declare the boat chase on the Brazilian river as 85% Bondian. It's briefer and more exciting than the overrated boat chase in Live and Let Die. Bond's tricked out boat has a hang glider that unfolds from the roof, which comes in handy when the river tumbles over a huge waterfall. It's as if the engineers in Q Branch knew that some day, this boat may have to go over a waterfall - it could happen - so they threw in the hang glider. And they were right, weren't they? These were the same Q Branch guys who make Bond go skiing with a parachute on his back.

19. The Man with the Golden Gun

I'm at a loss. I guess I like Bond's seaplane at the end. Does that count?

20. Diamonds are Forever

Man, I do not like this movie. There is a cool scene where Sean Connery walks out on to the top of an exterior elevator and casually rides up the side of a high rise in Vegas. I liked that part. Alas, I don't have an image of that scene, so let's move on.

21. A View to a Kill

While this movie has to be acknowledged as the most embarassing James Bond movie. An aging Roger Moore gives it one last go, bedding both Tanya Roberts and Grace Jones and generally looking winded. I don't need to see a sixty-something year old dude in the shower with Tanya Roberts; there are websites for things like that.

The meandering, yawning plot involves Max Zorin, a maniacal Nazi industrialist (Christopher Walken) who flies around in a blimp and tries to destroy Silicon Valley in order to corner the market on silicon chips. Oh and he produces horse steroids, the cad. As you might imagine, Walken is the best part of the movie - he's cheerfully demented and his line delivery is quirky gold.

Here's the set up for the film's most Bondian moment, supplied by Walken. In order to wipe out Silicon Valley - and let me see if I get this right - Zorin intends to pump sea water into a fault line and trigger a huge earthquake. He plants a huge bomb in his own mine that will trigger the flood. Zorin and some henchmen stand above the flooding mine on a walkway as the miners try to escape, scrambling up ladders. Zorin has brought along some machine guns for the occasion, and he laughs as they spray his own employees below with bullets. He just looks so damn happy as he shoots them. It's the highlight of the film for me, and one of the more psychotic things a Bond villain has ever done.


Thus ends our look at the most Bondian moments in the franchise's history. As is usually the case, this theme ran longer than intended, thanks in part to that damn storm, and I thank everyone for their indulgence.

We now return to our regular comics-related content, and forge onwards to excellence!

To the future!


Anonymous said...

I can never understand what went wrong with A View to a Kill. It basically violates the ancient law that states: Christopher Walken makes anything watchable (even Julia Roberts movies. Yes, I enjoyed America's Sweethearts. It was entirely down to Chris). It just...

Problem one was, of course, Roger Moore. Never mind too old, he's a pussy. There's that scene in Tracy's house where he fights a couple of goons... And fights them. And fights them some more. And isn't really winning. Dude, Sean Connery would have murdered both of them inside twenty seconds. Even Pierce Brosnan would have pulled a gun and capped them both. Roger Moore is a pussy. He can't fight convincingly, never mind being too old. But he is too old, of course.

Second problem: Tanya Roberts. Lovely to look at. If I wrote poetry, I'd write it about her introductory scene in Beastmaster. But the woman is probably the worst actress ever to appear in a Bond movie, in any role. She just makes the screen stink. She is, and I'm pretty certain this is a fact, worse than Tara Reid (but hot, at least. Which makes her probably the Jessica Alba of her day, only truly talentless).

That said, I did like the scene where the bad guys can't find Bond anywhere, and then he turns up in Crace Jones' bed. Okay, it would have been better with anyone but Roger Moore, but that kind of brass-balled role-reversal is funny and kind of cool.

Oh, and every minute (all six of them) that Plenty O'Tool is onscreen in Diamonds Are Forever is worth watching. The real James Bond will bang Vegas hookers, and not care when they get chucked out the window, because he's that much of a bastard.

Anonymous said...

The most Bondian moment in Diamonds Are Forever is the escape from the casket in the crematorium. Very well done.

In defense of The Man With the Golden Gun...well, there's not much to defend here. But Christopher Lee is the coolest Bond villain ever, just because he's Christopher Lee, even with a tertiary nipple.

The funny thing about Moonraker (and, to a lesser degree, Diamonds) is that looking at it one way, it's an abomination. Looking at it from a different angle--as pure spectacle--it rocks. You have Lewis Gilbert directing, breathtaking set design by Ken Adam, and one of John Barry's most evocative scores. Not to mention Roger Moore looking like he's having fun in the role.

Anonymous said...

The wierdest thing I remember about "Diamonds are Forever" is that the two evil henchmen dudes look just like Walter Becker and Donald Fagen of Steely Dan.

Anonymous said...

For Moonraker, I gotta go with the sniper scene, which was mentioned in a previous post's comments.

The best I can come up with for The Man with the Golden Gun is the scene in which Bond threatens the custom gun maker, Lazar, with his own specialized rifle. It's spoiled by the old "Ah, Mr. Bond, your reputation precedes you" bit -- also to be found in Moonraker, and always what you want in a secret agent.

Golden Gun tops my list for "wasted premise." James Bond versus the world's greatest assassin? You could make a kickass, cat-and-mouse espionage story out of that, if you completely changed everything from the original movie.

David C said...

Yeah, The Man With the Golden Gun is a big "missed opportunity." They even had the right casting - Christopher Lee does a great job with what he has to work with, and Fleming's thug-with-pretensions comes through. (Though, actually, the plot of the novel is no great shakes for taking advantage of a great premise either.)

The movie's such a mess, and (perhaps an even greater sin for a Bond movie) looks kind of cheap. You can tell someone thought "OK, we need a classic 'Bond infiltrates the hidden SPECTRE base' kind of thing to end the picture.'" And then tried to do it on the cheap. The set isn't terribly impressive, and the villainous opposition is literally three guys - Scaramanga (OK), Tattoo (not so good, but he's the "henchman" in this one, so we're stuck with him), and Homer Simpson (or might as well be - seems to be some random technician like Homer in the Hank Scorpio episode....)

Anonymous said...

But Dave...I know at least two of your friends that would mention that there is a Mach I in Diamonds Are Forever. Despite a semi-lame chase scene, the car itself deserves mention. It's red, and goes up on two wheels.

Anonymous said...

"Though, actually, the plot of the novel is no great shakes for taking advantage of a great premise either."

Well, IIRC, the book was actually just a rough draft. Fleming died while he was still figuring out how to polish it.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...

The wierdest thing I remember about "Diamonds are Forever" is that the two evil henchmen dudes look just like Walter Becker and Donald Fagen of Steely Dan."

...and one of them is played by Crispin Glover's dad. Not sure if he was Mr. Kidd or Mr. Wint, because I could never keep their names straight. He's the one who looks like, well, like he might be Crispin Glover's dad.

Anonymous said...

My favorite Bond moment unfortunately has nothing to do with the movies. When I was in college "Goldeneye" for the N64 was the big thing. Great all-around game. We spent (wasted?) countless hours just wearing those controlled out. All someone had to say was "Who's up for some Bond" and it was ON. Well, I'll never forget the night one of my roommates comes bounding into the living room and lets out a hearty "Who's up for some Bond-age"?

To this day we have NEVER let him live that one down.

Christian said...

WHAT?!? No Never Say Never Again? While it's not canon (and pretty bad), it stil has Sean Connery as James Bond and therefore it's gotta be moderately Bondian. It's at least more Bondian than Moonraker or View To A Kill...

Anonymous said...

I loved how in "Die Another Day" the title sequence showed Bond being tortured to a Madonna song.

David C said...

I've never really understood why so many Bond fans seem to dismiss Never Say Never Again. I think it's pretty good, though not great. Barbara Carrera plays a fun villainess, a character I always thought they basically ripped off for Xenia Onatopp in Goldeneye.

And while Connery's a little old, he's also *written* as old, which is nice.

Anonymous said...

I'm not too late for James Bond week! Awesome!

At my blog, I just finished a James Bond YEAR! I reviewed all the movies (including the 1954 TV version of "Casino Royale" (with Peter Lorre as Le Chiffre) and the 1967 movie version of "Casino Royale" with ... everybody as James Bond) and all the Ian Fleming novels.

The Index is here.

Why are you so hard on "The Man with the Golden Gun"? I love it! (Probably mostly because it's the first one I saw in the theater when I was 10.) I really like "A View to a Kill." But not because it's good. It's, uh, WOW! It's never boring! (My favorite part is the chase scene where Bond escapes from the cops in a fire engine! And Grace Jones jumping from the Eiffel Tower with a hang glider, that's pretty sweet!)

Moonraker is officially the WORST James Bond film. (On my blog anyway.)

The best James Bond film is You Only Love Twice.

And Dr. No is second.

Anonymous said...

It's been mentioned before, but you are 110% wrong about the corkscrew jump in Golden Gun. That jump rocked!

As for View to a Kill, any time you're fighting the villain while standing on one of those humongous cables on the Golden Gate Bridge ... well, that's pretty cool. Plus, Walken's character was a Nazi genetic experiment, so he's got that going for him.

In terms of Diamonds are Forever, add another vote for Wint & Kidd. They're so goofy, but so much fun.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it weird how there are 4 or 5 Bond films that fans have picked out as "the really awful ones" - Moonraker, Die Another Day, Man With The Golden Gun, View to a Kill, Never Say Never Again - but almost every Bond fan will agree generally but will defend ONE of these, almost to the death?

I do not understand the hostility to Man With the Golden Gun at all.

I like View to a Kill, but I am not going to defend it. It's just dumb. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Never Say Never Again has a lot going for it ... fo a while. Fatima Blush ROCKS! And the scene where Bond plays that 3-D Risk game with Largo is pretty nifty. But there is no movie after Fatima Blush is killed. The last three or four hours of that movie is TORTURE!

And then there's Moonraker. Ugh! I just don't think any other Bond film comes close for sheer boredom.

Bully said...

Never Say Never Again--sure, it ain't canon, but it features one of the greatest lines by a non-Bond: "I hope we're going to see some gratuitous sex and violence."

Never apologize, Dave, for spending time on things other than comics. It's all good and always entertaining.

Has anyone gotten you a Yard o' Beef this year?

Anonymous said...

I think Moonraker has another pretty damn awesome stunt, if I remember correctly: Roger Moore being shoved out of a plane without a parachute, falling to where a previous skydiver is, and stealing his parachute. It's one of those stunts which is conceptually awesome and is made even more awesome by the fact that -- like all good Bond stunts -- they actually did it, and there's no optical trickery.

And yeah, Dave, no need to apologize, this Bond thing has been a blast. I wonder if there's room in this world for an all-Bond, all-the-time blog?

Probably not, no.

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Sleestak said...
I loved how in "Die Another Day" the title sequence showed Bond being tortured to a Madonna song.

I have to agree with that. could there be a worse torture?

Great series on the Bond films, Dave. I really enjoyed the posts.

Anonymous said...

Die Another Day sits like a feces-encrusted anchor at the bottom of my personal ranking of Bond movies. I hate so many things about that movie that it's hard to know where to start. How about over-reliance on (crappy) CGI (Bond movies used to be known for cutting-edge stuntwork), yet another satellite laser weapon (wow, never seen that before), that stupid "invisible" car, and DNA alteration, for God's sake. (Just when did the franchise switch from superspy to full-blown science fiction? Did I not get that memo?) Not to mention the horrible theme song, plus the fact that the producers felt the need to put the skanky non-acting whore who performed it into the movie itself.

I'd gladly watch a Moonraker/View to a Kill double bill before I'd watch the 40th-anniversary pile of cinematic excrement. I do enjoy all the Bond posts, though--much as I like the ones about comics, a little variety never hurts.

Anonymous said...

It is a metaphysical impossibility for any collection of filmmakers to create a worse Bond movie than Moonraker.

That flick stank so bad, skunks living in hollow trees outside the theater asked each other, "What the [expletive deleted] is THAT?"

David C said...

I sometimes think they should've given Die Another Day another rewrite, given the car the ability to fly along with its invisibility, and changed the thing into [i]Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.[/i]

It's a pretty crappy Bond movie, but I think it's only a few rewrites away from being a damn good Nick Fury movie!

Anonymous said...

A good Bondian scene in The Man With The Golden Gun is the meeting between Bond and Scaramanga at the kickboxing match. They're very civil discussion about how Scaramanga murdered Ms. Anders and his admiration for Bond is very nice, I think.

A View To A Kill is my favorite Bond film. The climax atop the Golden Gate Bridge is classic, in my opinion.

Very cool topic to blog about Dave. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

A great Bond week, Dave.

I'm surprised The Incredibles didn't make it onto your Bond-Not-Bond list. Have you seen it? I love that picture, and the island base, the rocket in the volcano, the beautiful henchwoman, and the ripped-from-John-Barry's-notebook musical score scream out Bond to me.

Have a happy new year,


Anonymous said...

Deo Gratias.
Enough Bond.


Anonymous said...

Isn't it weird how there are 4 or 5 Bond films that fans have picked out as "the really awful ones" - Moonraker, Die Another Day, Man With The Golden Gun, View to a Kill, Never Say Never Again - but almost every Bond fan will agree generally but will defend ONE of these, almost to the death?

Of this assortment, the one that I would defend (perhaps not to the death) is Diamonds Are Forever. I'm sure that in part it's because it's one of the first Bond films I saw in the theater, but having recently watched it again, there's still quite a lot that I like. Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd. Bambi and Thumper. Jill St. John in that bikini. The attack on the oil rig. And the aforementioned crematorium scene.

I also like The Man with the Golden Gun, though I acknowledge its cheapness. I could also do without the return of Sheriff Pepper and the kazoo sound effect, but Christopher Lee was an awesome antagonist, and Nick Nack was a fun sidekick.

Anonymous said...

word verification 'easux'

EA sucks, a truer statement can nae be found, couldn't let that pass. ;)

Tom the Dog said...

Love the Bond series of posts, Dave. I'm with you on View To a Kill being the worst. It contains what I maintain is the single dumbest moment in any movie ever. Tanya Roberts gets snuck up on by a BLIMP. Christopher Walken just sneaks right up on her in a gigantic blimp, leans out the gondola, and grabs her. How does that happen?? It's a frickin' BLIMP!!

Lovin' the Ronin love, too. Best car chase in movie history.

For the record, my personal Bond top three: Goldfinger, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and Goldeneye. Not necessarily in that order. And now, Casino Royale is a genuine contender for top three as well. I'm gonna have to do a Bond marathon of my own sometime soon.

Anonymous said...

Y'know, to bring things back to comics at least somewhat... just why aren't there more Bond comics?

I know Marvel did some adaptations during the Roger Moore era, and I think Mike Grell adapted License to Kill. And I'm aware of the Titan Books reprints of the comic strip adaptations of the stories.

But with a character like Bond, who lends himself so well to original comic book adventures, I'm surprised the license isn't more in-demand. I know an occasional Bond miniseries or graphic novel would be a great way to hold fans over between movies. Seems like a safe bet. Pity.

Edward Liu said...

The best thing about Moonraker (which I loved as a kid and think is pretty dumb now) is clearly Lois Chiles.

The best thing about Die Another Day (which I like a lot more than some, it seems) is Rosamund Pike.

The best thing about View to a Kill (blech) is Tanya Roberts, as long as she isn't talking or doing anything.

The best thing about Never Say Never Again (mostly blech) is Barbara Carerra's over-the-top villainess, only outdone by Klaus Maria Brandauer's over-the-top villain. And the slave auction scene when Kim Basinger is in her underwear.

The best thing about Man With The Golden Gun (which I've only seen once or twice, but blech) is Maud Adams, who is also one of the best things about Octopussy (which I think is big, dumb fun).

The moral of this comment is that at least there's always a hottie to ogle in even the worst Bond films.

Attempting to get back to comics, I own 2 of 3 issues of James Bond: Serpent's Tooth, which was published by Dark Horse in 1992 (according to I think the villain was some genetically enhanced human/snake crossbreed who raised dinosaurs. Sadly, the art was by Paul Gulacy, which meant that it was a bit too hard to distinguish between Bond and the lizard-guy, facially at least.

Searching for James Bond turns up quite a few surprises, like the 3 or 4 similar stories from DH and Bond as seen by Kyle Baker (!) I think Mark Evanier recently talked about how Marvel or DC had the Bond license for years but never managed to figure out what to do with it.

B2 said...

How did you not mention the *actual* golden gun from "The Man with the Golden Gun"? That kinda device has always made me think "Bond."

K.Fox, Jr. said...

...interesting. and it was hilarious what "will" said.

Mister Sinister said...

Scaramanga! Scaramanga! Referenced in Cube (bad film)

Scaramanga was badass!

He had a badass GOLDEN GUN

He had a survivor of the Bond films (Nick Nack, aka TATTOO)
Poor Tattoo we knew you well.

He had an extra nipple & took on Bond in a pistol duel.


F&$# yeah!



the sound of Nick Nack being kicked into & later trying to escape a wooden box.

A midget being kicked into a box. Bond films need that kind of action/comedy

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