Re: Ranking the Bond Films
OK, my work schedule got fucked around this week and with Thanksgiving around, I won't be able to see Skyfall until Sunday Night. Bummer.
So screw it, I'll go ahead and post my ranked list for the Bond films without it.
From worst to best:
22) For Your Eyes Only = This is one of the entries I had never seen before doing this little marathon and I was stunned by how much I didn't like it. It is actually the least silly of the Roger Moore films, which actually works against it because it just feels dull & lifeless. The characters, their motivations, & their actors are also boring and I already ripped into the Bond girls in this particular entry. Heck, the Ice Castles girl is the most memorable aspect of the whole movie and that is a VERY bad thing. The only saving grace of this movie is actually the cold opening as Bond has one last go around with Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Other than that, this entry is one I am sorry I watched. Many will argue that there are far stupider entries, and that might be true, but the worst thing a movie can be is boring, and this movie is that to a T.
21) Die Another Day = This one gets ranked exceptionally low due to the high expectations that came with it. It was Bond's 40th anniversary AND his 20th film overall. Add in the fact that they got academy award winning actress Halle Berry to be the leading lady, and I'd say we're in for one of the biggest Bond movies ever! Sure the previous two Brosnan Bond movies left a lot to be desired, but I always liked him in the role and I really thought they'd get their act together with this one. To my chagrin, they did not. Alot of people trash the invisible car. Honestly, I thought that was cool, and I expect that kind of stuff in spy movies. What I didn't like was how the entire movie was just about moving from one action scene to another with little rhyme or reason with major events like Bond being held prisoner in North Korea being quickly forgotten & overlooked. The characters (especially the villains) are so woefully underdeveloped that I am not even sure how the movie wants me to feel about them. It also hurt that the action scenes themselves were not impressive at all, so there wasn't even that much to look at from that standpoint. For example, the ice surfing scene looked like something out of Spy Kids. One other small thing: Bond films are known for having lavish openings & great songs. Well Madonna's song for this movie is by far THE WORST in the series. I don't know if I can describe what a headache would sound like, but that song would be a good place to start. Brosnan started off as a great Bond, but after his third stinker in a row, it was probably best to end it here for him and go in a new direction.
20) A View to a Kill = If Die Another Day is the "Batman & Robin" of Bond movies, then this is the "Superman IV". Roger Moore had overstayed his welcome in the role by this point. He was nearing 60 years old and there are so many blatant attempts to conceal that it is a stuntman working for him that it would probably make a dangerous drinking game. Oh and who plays the villain in this movie? Christopher Walken. That right there makes it feel more like a parody of James Bond, and yes, Walkenb as the bad guy is every bit as silly as it sounds. Mayday is kind of a cool powerhouse henchwomen but then they ruin that by having Bond seduce her. Yeah, ew. And the complete lack of chemistry between Moore & Tanya Roberts couldn't possibly be more obvious. Outside of some nice action sequences, this one is just a mess, and thankfully, it was Moore's last time in the role (he himself feels that this is the worst Bond movie he did).
19) On Her Majesty's Secret Service = A lot of fans like this one and I never understood why. I always found Lazenby to be a poor follow up to the Connery era, and I got truly annoyed with the action scenes. Why? Because most of them involve skiing. It is fine once. It is fine twice. But when I feel like half the movie is just ski chases down the same damn mountain, I am going to lose interest. It is another one of those unsafe drinking games I guess. This is a nitpicky thing, but I also didn't like the actor who played Blofeld either. Granted, I am a Halloween fan & naturally loved having Donald Pleasence in the role, but like Lazenby as Bond, I just wasn't feeling it with the recast. The saving grace of the movie is Diana Rigg as the girl that would become Mrs. Bond. Having her around does create some great material for Bond as he deals with love, marriage, and at the end, loss, all of which were unexplored experiences for the character at this point. Unfortunately, it just made me miss Connery even more because I would have liked to have had the Bond we followed for five previous films be the one to have this kind of development.
18) Tomorrow Never Dies = I really had to fight with myself which one was weaker: this one or The World is Not Enough. I ultimately went with this one because it might very well have the worst Bond villain ever (yes, worse than Walken). He is the owner of a mass media empire and he basically wants to start World War III. Why? To get ratings for his global television network. WHAT?! That has got to be the lamest motivation for evil deeds ever. The guy is already so powerful that he apparently has his own private army at his disposal, and all he wants is high ratings and the money that comes with it, even though he already appears to be the richest man in the world? So the whole driving force for the movie just baffled me. That said, this one does have some nice action sequences, especially with Michelle Yeoh in the mix. That counts for something, right?
17) The World is Not Enough = Yet another soulless action movie from the Brosnan era. In several ways, it is actually more insanely stupid than Tomorrow Never Dies. The movie is so poorly written, that most of the characters wind up looking stupid through their decisions. And for some reason, they blew their twist before they did the twist. Also, the villain himself has an interesting set up & backstory, but is ultimately forgettable in execution. And yes, Denise Richards is terrible in this. So what did I like about this movie (besides the action sequences)? Sophie Marceau as Elektra King. She saved this from being a total bust and is actually one of the more interesting characters in Bond's history. The bad writing unfortunately effects her as well, but at least she left an impression.
16) Quantam of Solice = First of all, this has got to be the coolest title for any Bond film. Unfortunately, the movie itself doesn't quite live up to it. I understand that Casino Royale is a tough act to follow, but this one just seemed to go right back into the soulless action movie territory of the Brosnan era. Everything just seems to be about chases & explosions. I do like that they actually tried to tie it in to the previous film and actually make it a direct sequel with Bond having to deal with unresolved issues from that entry. That is all interesting, but none of it is fleshed out all that well and everything moves so fast that parts of it feel rushed or forced. Fortunately, Craig is still good in the role here and his presence adds a lot to even the weaker moments of the film. I have had some people tell me that this is unquestionably the worst Bond film. I think a lot of that is just being disappointed after Casino Royale was so awesome, but I can see why people don't like it.
15) The Man With The Golden Gun = This is another one that I had never seen before and I was REALLY excited for it. I read the plot summary and saw that Christopher Lee is Scaramanga, an assassin that wants to duel with Bond to the death to give him the ultimate challenge AND he has his own unique personalized weapon, The Golden Gun. MY GOD THAT SOUNDS AWESOME!!! (Insert James Bond Vs. Dracula joke here). Unfortunately, the movie didn't quite live up to my expectations. Lee is great in the role and there are some very sweet moments, but it is bogged down by a lot of the silliness we usually get from the Moore Bond era. It worked for Moonraker, but here it just waters down a great concept. Any scene with Nick Nack, Scaramanga's dwarf hecnhman/man servant, is just downright silly. Mary Goodnight is one of the most obnoxious Bond girls ever and her stupidity just serves to annoy. When it is Moore & Lee playing hero & villain, the film does have legit great moments. Heck, the final duel starts off awesome....and then it ends in a Fun House. WHY?!? Oh well. It is still an OK entry, but it could have been so much more with that premise.
14) Live & Let Die = The first Roger Moore Bond film has its ups and downs. The story is a bit muddled and drags at times, but there is a lot of flavor to the movie. Setting it in New Orleans puts Bond in a different environment from what we are used to by this point, and it also covers some unexplored areas like drug trafficking and voodoo ceremonies. Solitaire is a fun addition to the growing list of Bond girls (and who will ever forget Bond's method of seduction?). There are also some memorable baddies like Mr. Big, Baron Semedi, & that one henchman with the claw for a hand. Overall, it was a solid first go around for Moore as Bond.
13) Octopussy = This is one that often gets bashed, but I kind of like it. It is weird, no doubt, and as I've stated, I feel they blew a huge opportunity to have a great female mastermind villain in Octopussy herself. There was a lot of mystery surrounding her too, so it could have been great. And come on, she is the only female character in the Bond series to have the movie named after her! How can you not make her the villain? I would have much rather had her as the bad guy than the less colorful schmucks that were. Though one of the henchman had a buzzsaw yoyo for a weapon. How can you not love that? Anyways, I like this one for its locations in India (very exotic and pretty), and to be honest, I love that Q actually got to get actively involved in the mission. That was a nice wild card thrown into the mix. There are stupid moments, like Bond letting out a Tarzan yell, & putting on clown makeup, but it is balanced out by some great sequences too, like the on the train, or at the palace, & the final plane crash. So yeah, this one could have been better, but it is one that has always entertained me.
12) The Living Daylights = Timothy Dalton's first Bond movie was straight up solid. Great action (the scene in the plane was great), I liked Dalton in the role, the settings were great. The tools were in place. What works against the film is the fact that it doesn't cover too much new ground with Bond. Everything that happens in this movie is just straight up Bond formula that we've seen several times done better. I talked about it earlier, but I did feel that D'Abo was very bland in her role of leading lady. This isn't a wildly incompetent entry by any means. It was just missing a little bit of the punch that most other first entires for a Bond actor seemed to have.
11) Moonraker = You know what? Screw you people. I like Moonraker. Is it silly and outlandish? Yes, but as a 70s spy movie about a mission to outer space, I wouldn't want it any other way. This movie has a space battle with lasers for crying out loud. If they had done that in Casino Royale or Goldeneye, the movie would have lost me completely, but in the more light hearted Roger Moore era, it fits perfectly. And you know what? It is fun. It has all the aspects people had enjoyed about Bond up to that point but throws in this huge weird aspect of space travel which helps it to stand out. I liked Holly Goodhead (snicker snicker) a lot as well. My one major knock on this movie where they took the silliness too far was how they handled Jaws. In the previous film, Jaws was an unstoppable brute that was a great match for Bond. He was the biggest badass possible and gave Oddjob a run for his money as the series' greatest henchman (more on his first movie later). In this movie, they basically turn him into Wile E. Coyote as he constantly chases after Bond and ultimately faces pratfall after pratfall. To me, it really undermined the awesomeness that Jaws captured in the previous entry. And heck, he survived that movie! You'd think they'd keep him going strong in the sequel, but nay. Other than that though, I enjoy Moonraker quite a bit and embrace it's over the top nature.
10) License to Kill = I am surprised I am ranking this one as high as I am. In some ways, it does more wrong than the other Dalton film, The Living Daylights. There is a dumb love triangle with the two girls that doesn't amount to much and sometimes the movie feels like an episode of Miami Vice as opposed to James Bond. That said, I respect this film for taking as many risks as it did. By centering the story around James Bond trying to take down a drug lord that did harm to his best friends allows for a darker tone and more intense James Bond that we usually see. Also, Bond going rogue to accomplish his mission to avenge his friends was pretty intense as well. The drug lord, Sanchez, is also a really good and menacing villain too, and of course, the action scenes are pretty darn good. Dalton unfortunately never got that one great Bond movie, but this one took enough baby steps in the right direction to make me enjoy the film and wish that Dalton had gotten one more crack at it.
9) Diamonds Are Forever = This is the weakest of the Connery Bond films...and it kicks ass! After sitting through the boring Lazenby for one film, this one goes right back to the king and starts off with a bang with Bond going on a rampage to get to Blofeld. Tiffany Case is one of the most fun Bond girls ever, and overall, this movie serves as a nice conclusion to the "Blofeld Trilogy" of Bond movies. Big moments, memorable characters, and a great last hurrah for the Connery Bond era. (not counting Never Say Never Again).
8) You Only Live Twice = Well this one starts off about as awesomely as you can. Bond gets killed. That's big "WHAT?!" right off the bat. Of course we all know he isn't dead, but this film is yet another strong entry for Connery's Bond. After several movies of build up, we finally get to see Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the mastermind behind SPECTRE and its great! It is Donald Pleasence, so how can you go wrong? Setting the movie in Japan also provides a different look for the movie. We also get Ninjas...how can you not love that? We also have a pit full of piranhas. How is that not awesome? Overall, I love this movie.
7) Dr. No = The first Bond movie is going to get ranked high. It is the first time we get to see the character of James Bond come to life. The movie is a lot smaller than the films that would follow, but it was a great start to the franchise that would set up all of the aspects that we would come to love about the series during Connery's run as Bond.
6) From Russia with Love = The first sequel to Bond was a step forward for the series. The movie was more ambitious. Everything was just bigger than what we had seen in Dr. No. The characters are more dynamic, the action scenes are bigger, and the scope of the story is enhanced. I also have to say that I love the main villain, Rosa Kleeb. She technically isn't the mastermind behind everything (Blofeld is, hidden in the shadows this time) but it is nice to see a bad ass female villain taking charge of the movie. The girls in general played bigger roles this time around with Tatiana's loyalties being a major focus of the story as well.
5) The Spy Who Loved Me = Say what you will about the Roger Moore era for Bond, he definitely has this classic under his belt. This isn't just the best Moore Bond movie, but one of the best Bond movies period. It possesses some of the over the top nature that the Moore films were known for, but it is all worked into a great story with a grand scope, so it is wildly interesting. It has a lot of great stuff in it like a huge underwater base, and Jaws, who is a pure force of nature in this one. HE KILLS A FRIGGIN SHARK!!! For all the goofy stuff they did with him in Moonraker, he was pure bad ass in this one. And honestly, I loved the dynamic of having Bond team up with basically a Russian Female version of himself. Agent XXX is a great & fun character (in addition to just being smoking hot) and her love/hate relationship with Bond provides some great stuff as well. When I think of the best of James Bond, this is one of the films that come to mind for me. Great entry.
4) Casino Royale = After a string of three straight soulless action movies from the Brosnan era, this was exactly what the series needed for a reboot. Daniel Craig steps into the role perfectly and provides a fresh take on the character, and the movie does a fantastic job of creating tension while still keeping the movie grounded. The best scenes of the movie to me involve Bond playing cards with everything on the line. Eva Green makes for a nice addition to the long list of Bond girls and LeChiffe is the best and most interesting Bond villain since Goldeneye. Whenever Bond's life is on the line, it is a big deal and the movie maintains its tension throughout. Unfortunately, the last half hour or so doesn't quite live up to the rest of the movie, but still, this is easily one of the finest Bond movies.
3) Thunderball = When Connery was playing Bond, every movie just seem to get bigger and bigger. The climactic battle on the speedboat was a definite sign of that as it was a very ambitious thing to have at that time in the series. We also get a jetpack AND underwater sex. This movie has everything! Connery is great as always and the movie itself stays exciting throughout. Fiona also makes a great henchwomen and is first truly hot Bond bad girl. Blofeld's Number Two also makes for a great main villain throughout the movie.
2) Goldfinger = For many, this is the quintessential Bond film. You have one of the best Bond girls in Pussy Galore. You have one of the best Bond villains in Goldfinger (no Mr. Bond I expect you to die!). Probably the best Bond henchman ever in Oddjob. I also love that the movie was centered around a plot to take down Fort Knox as that was a nice change from the usual storm the secret base type of plot. Something familiar was actually on the line this time around. The imagery and entertainment of this movie makes it one of the most exciting and most memorable entries in this film series. Also, this movie featured Sean Connery at his very best as Bond. Obviously I listed all of the Connery Bond films in the Top Ten, but this one was definitely his best & his highest mark while playing the character.
1) Goldeneye = This was the first Bond movie I ever saw, and I wondered if me ranking it this high was in large part because of that. After re-watching it again, I have to say that it is definitely good enough for me to consider the absolute best in the series. First of all, the action scenes rank up there among the best in the series (the Tank chase definitely stands out). Also, the characters are some of the most dynamic in any Bond movie. I already put over Xenia as my favorite Bond girl ever, with Natalya ranking very high as well. Also, I love Alan Cumming's character of the evil & arrogant programmer. Alec Trevalyan (played by Sean Bean) is also my favorite Bond villain ever. Making him a former 00 Agent and friend of Bond turned evil creates a completely different dynamic for the film that had never been done before and adds a level of importance to everything that happens. In addition to that, everything has the feel of a classic Connery Bond film but updated for modern times and done much bigger. It has everything that you want in a Bond movie from the gadgets to the action to the women, and everything in between. Also, this is by far Brosnan's best go around as Bond. In a string of weak entries, this was his finest hour in the role.