Location: Vienna, Virginia, United States

A graduate of Dartmouth College (2005) and Washington and Lee University School of Law (2010). These are my personal blogs, and the musings expressed on them do not reflect the positions of my employer. They do reflect my readings, thoughts, and aspirations, which I figure is good enough.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

To the Strains of John Barry's Bass Guitar

Simonova Everything

I believe that in "Goldeneye", Pierce Brosnan's first and best Bond movie, the smart and sexy scientist Natalya Simonova tells Bond that her name is pronounced "Sim-YO-no-va". Nevertheless I find her name quite euphemistic and dirty. I'm not sure if it's as dirty as Holly Goodhead, the smart and sexy scientist from "Moonraker", but it's definitely dirtier than Christmas Jones, the smart and sexy scientist from "The World is Not Enough".

Isabella Scoropco (sp?) is sexier than either Lois Chiles or Denise Richards though. And yes, I know those names off the top of my head. You see, thanks to a zany friend of mine from way back in third grade, actually my first friend upon moving to Greenwich, I've been a Bond freak for a long time. Griffin Lassiter (great name) was as far as I know the only eleven year old that enjoyed putting on a kimono /smoking jacket and eating sushi while watching "Goldfinger". Brilliant. Wish I knew what he was up to today.

So since third grade, I've been into the Bond movies. Read the Ian Fleming books, which are better than any of the movies, even the ones based directly off the books, and enjoyed Sean Connery's Scottish Sexiness. I lamented the demise of the series, as there had not been one made since Timothy Dalton's well intentioned but badly executed turn at the role. The bond-mania kind of lapsed after I had seen all the movies, until Brosnan came out with "Goldeneye".

"Goldeneye" had everything a Bond film needed - a true villain in former MI6 agent Alec Trevalyn, two girls Natalya Simonova and Xenia Onatopp (great names), Moneypenny, Q, good writing, a nice Post-Cold War bit, and a fairly suave Bond in Brosnan. Oh, and a token attempt to modernize by making the new head of MI6, M, a woman, played by Dame Judi Dench very skillfully. And Alan Cumming, a wonderful actor in the role of the Invincible Boris? It kicked ass. And it was all made better by one of the greatest console games ever, by far the best console shooter (light-years over Halo and I can predict, light-years over Halo 2), the Rare developed gem Goldeneye.

I spent a lot of my time from eighth grade (I think, perhaps it was ninth) to junior year of high school perfecting my Goldeneye skills with my friends. We played it a lot senior year too. Maybe more. We'd all have characters, some of them cheaper than others because they would blend into the scenery. I favored Baron Samedi, the Voodoo Priest/God from Roger Moore's first movie "Live and Let Die", mainly because he eschewed the wearing of pants. Yes, eschewed.

Jordan and I were probably the best at the game, and this is not an opinion because we regularly won the matches. I think my skills were a little better just because after freshman year of high school I did the best after not playing the game for a year, but that's just me. We had a serious Zen thing going, where we had our favorite controllers that had a specific feel to them, a sensitivity that we had gotten so used to that they were like extensions of our very limbs. The best fights came in four person, pistol matches with one hit kills on. Those were by far the best, as they required the most skill. Power weapons were also fun after we learned how to dodge RCP-90 bullets, no small feat as the RCP-90 is a 90 clip personal defense weapon with a high fire rate. We just figured out the timing, that was all, to the extent that we could seriously strafe between the bullets.

I would match my skills up with anyone out there, as only Jeff's brother's friend Eric could beat us, and I think he smoked his skills away after awhile, but no one plays anymore. All about Halo and Counterstrike now. Grumble.

In any case, back to Bond.

Brosnan's second film "Tomorrow Never Dies" wasn't that great, although it was still fun. I was biased because I'm not a big Teri Hatcher fan. And I don't care if they're real and spectacular. Just not a fan.

The third movie, "The World is Not Enough", suffered from plot issues and not great gadgets. I still contend that Fatmanninoff (aka Valentin) is alive. And while Sophie Marceau was a great girl-villain, even though the Stockholm Syndrome thing was strange, Denise Richards was . . . absolutely a plot-killer. It defied even Bond movie traditions that this girl could be a nuclear physicist. And she couldn't act anyway. Not even trapped in a chamber filling with water. And the line "I thought Christmas only came once a year" was one of the most groan inducing Bond lines EVER. Garbage did the theme song, but unfortunately that's what most of this movie was.

My unshakable opinion used to be that "Moonraker" is the worst Bond movie of all time. Strange plot, Jaws doesn't help a whole lot, and neither does his Bride of Frankenstein girlfriend, and despite the fact that Lois Chiles is attractive and a good precursor to Carey Lowell's CIA Agent in "License to Kill", the movie is just dead. The space fight scene was a parody of every other Bond fight scene, including the clunky underwater fight scenes from some of Connery's earlier ones. But my opinion has changed. This last Bond movie, "Die Another Day", is the worst Bond movie ever. And not just because they've gotten horribly stupid about the titles.

Where do you start? Why don't I just make a list?

1) Madonna (Theme Song)
2) Madonna (Guest Appearance as Fencing Instructor)
3) Horrible Villian that you can't get into because he got a face graft or something like that
4) Good looking actor obscured by a layer of diamonds over his face
5) Halle Berry is sexy, but "that's quite a mouthful"? Almost the worst one-liner ever.
6) Several other one liners that I've thankfully forgotten
7) A stupid Ice Palace that was built to fall down
8) The girl-villain was sexy, but for what? She had no character
9) Cloaking Device? Kind of cool, but the gadgets were strangely aloof. Even the homages, like the crocodile used in Octopussy, seemed a little contrived
10) Stupid fight scenes that used Matrix like slow motion excessively
11) The use of Matrix like bullet time even outside of fight scenes, like when Rick Yune's character twirls and we enter bullet time for his cape swoosh.
12) Last but not least, an ending that lets Bond and the girl desecrate a Buddhist temple by having sex in it. Nice Move.

This movie, the more I think about it, really goes beyond self-referential and into satirical. Why would I need to see this movie when I have Austin Powers I and II? It was very sad that Brosnan had to go out this way.

That's actually the reason of this post. Recent reports have said that Brosnan is out. Not really of his own voliltion either apparently. Which is sad, because he might have had a good one left in him, or at least could have left the franchise on a better note. He apparently did say something about "leaving while on top", which is a little delusional, but we can let him pretend that it was the position in which he ended up with Halle Berry, which would be a good way to go, I suppose.

The franchise is getting old, and has been challenged lately by movies like XXX and various movies starring The Rock. But I still think there's a place for a womanizing secret agent with various gadgets and a way of sleeping with anyone. They don't need to be self-referential to the extent that they did in the last movie, or try to make up for a retread plot with clunkily used graphics. That's not what Bond is about. Stick with the old and you can still make a good movie. Good advice for George Lucas, but unfortunately he's not biting.

I am a little worried though, as there are talks of various big names, Colin Farrell, Hugh Jackman, Heath Ledger, Jude Law, people like that taking over the role of Bond. I don't think that works. Bond has never been an A-List celeb. Connery and Brosnan were somewhat well known, and Moore was the first choice initially and was fairly well known. But none of them were international superstars. The Batman franchise was ruined by the casting of Kilmer and Clooney, and I sincerely hope Bond doesn't go the same way. Then again, we know what happened when they cast unknown Hayden Christensen for Star Wars. Perhaps Hugh Jackman would make an ok Bond. Just no claw or sideburn references please. And if Bond says "bub" at any point in his first movie, I reserve the right to demand a full refund.

No Mr. Bond, I expect you to DIE


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually know where Griffin Lassiter is today. He was my old fencing coach in R.I. That's right, he went into fencing. He's an amazing guy, but I've not seen him in a year after he left my fencing academy. Hope this helps.

6:02 PM  

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