SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING – What the critics are saying about it!

spiderman homecoming93% of critics give the film a positive review.

Critics Consensus: Spider-Man: Homecoming does whatever a second reboot can, delivering a colorful, fun adventure that fits snugly in the sprawling MCU without getting bogged down in franchise-building.

 

 

This third time’s the charm in Marvel’s pantheon of Spider-Man portrayers. Tobey Maguire was pretty good, Andrew Garfield was so-so, but Holland … Well, when you’ve got it, you’ve got it.

July 3, 2017 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

A comprehensively crowd-pleasing success.

July 3, 2017 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

For a film with six screenwriters, Homecoming creates a remarkably coherent vision of a smart kid still dumb about the world, battling the learning curves of his double lives.

July 1, 2017 | Rating: B | Full Review…
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As long as the kids stay in the picture — thankfully, that’s most of the movie — Spider-Man: Homecoming is the fun playdate most of us have been looking forward to since the character stole Cap’s shield last spring in Captain America: Civil War.

June 30, 2017 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

It’s a relief to see a superhero engaged in deeply human activities, like getting ready for a date… This Spider-Man is still just a kid, after all, and he has no energy for existential angst — just dealing with hormones is enough.

June 30, 2017 | Full Review…

A welcome narrowing of the Marvel mega-verse away from alien invasions and globe-smashing supervillains and back towards something more intimate.

June 30, 2017 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
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TRANSFORMERS: The Last Knight – Here’s what the critics say about it.

transformers the last knight16% of critics have this movie a favorable review.

Critics Consensus: Cacophonous, thinly plotted, and boasting state-of-the-art special effects, The Last Knight is pretty much what you’d expect from the fifth installment of the Transformers franchise.

 

 

 

A movie that’s cut like the world’s longest and most tedious trailer, pinballing from scene to scene and rarely spending more than a few seconds on any single shot.

June 22, 2017 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

I am not going to try to explain the story- after watching this movie I may never try to explain another story ever again.

June 22, 2017 | Rating: 0/4 | Full Review…

All the best moments in the movie-pure images, devoid of symbol and, for that matter, nearly empty of sense-go by too fast, are held too briefly, are developed too little.

June 22, 2017 | Full Review…

Distilled to its essence, The Last Knight is an orgy of incoherence, a sensory assault that suffocates the viewer in a cavalcade of special effects incontinence.

June 21, 2017 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…

Every time Michael Bay directs another Transformers abomination (this is the fifth), the movies die a little. This one makes the summer’s other blockbuster misfires look like masterpieces.

June 21, 2017 | Rating: 0/4 | Full Review…

A movie that is at once loud yet incoherent, complex yet idiotic, and expensive yet worthless.

June 20, 2017 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

WONDER WOMEN – What the critics are saying about the film!

wonder woman.jpg94% approval rating

Many big ideas are juggled, and while the story doesn’t exactly drop them, it does flail about a bit. Still, Jenkins has an eye for moving moments, Gadot is great fun to watch, and there’s genuine visual panache to be found amid the combat and comedy.

June 2, 2017 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

The real strengths of this production are its lead actors, the period piece setting, and an unexpected emotional resonance that one doesn’t expect from a popcorn movie.

June 2, 2017 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Gadot does succeed, against heavy odds, in creating a fresh figure of heroic morality and might, engaging an audience with an earnest character’s discovery of herself and the world.

June 1, 2017 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

As a period piece made in the spirit of an old-fashioned matinee, Wonder Woman (like the first Captain America) does not have to exhibit the insistent, grim-faced dystopianism that afflicts the recent Superman/Batman movies.

June 3, 2017 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Jenkins and company understand superheroes should have a purpose other than brooding.

June 2, 2017 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…
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Movie Review: SERGEANT YORK (1941)

SERGEANT YORK MOVIESERGEANT YORK, 1941
Movie Reviews

Directed by Howard Hawks

Cast: Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Joan Leslie, George Tobias, Stanley Ridges, Margaret Wycherly
Review by Pamela Miller

SYNOPSIS:

A hillbilly sharpshooter becomes one of the most celebrated American heroes of WWI when he single-handedly attacks and captures a German position using the same strategy as in turkey shoot.

REVIEW:

Biopics have the been the back bone of filmmaking since films started to be made. There have been countless films about actual people dating back to the silent era with films like The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) and going through recent years with films like The Aviator (2004) and Walk the Line (2005). We’ve seen everyone’s life displayed on the big screen, from sports stars to musicians to political figures to biblical characters. Howard Hawk uses this genre to show the life of a military hero in Sergeant York (1941).

This biopic proved to be a hit, earning 11 Academy Award nominations and it couldn’t have come at a better time. World War II was right around the corner and America was swelling with national pride. So, what better way to honor our fighting soldiers than to show us a film about one of the most famous and award winning soldiers of World War I, Alvin York. The real Alvin York handpicked Gary Cooper to play himself, knowing he was the only actor who could give him justice. Hawks was hesitant to make this biopic, having never ventured into that genre, but jumped at the chance to work with Gary Cooper. All the cards fell into place, and the production began, ending with one of the most well known war movies in film history.

Cooper stars as York, a naïve country boy with a bit of a drinking problem and occasional temper issues. He’s also a terrific shot, winning shooting contests in his small mountain town. When he gets into a bar fight, he decides to change his life around and become a born-again Christian with the help of Pastor Rosier Pile (Walter Brennan). He also has the hots for a local country girl, Gracie Williams (Joan Leslie), who shies away from his advances. World War I is soon in full swing and York is drafted into the Army. However, this conflicts with his new moral integrity, as he does not want to harm or kill another human being. This doesn’t fly with the United States army and he’s thrown into basic training before being shipped over seas. His dead on aiming skill is soon recognized and he moves up the army ladder. Still conflicted with his religious beliefs, he is sent home to think about killing a few as a way to save more lives. He is swayed by this thought and reports back for duty.

However, his troop finds themselves in a bit of a pickle when the enemy kills a large portion of their company and backs the remaining ones into a corner. York sees the light and decides it’s time to show the enemy what he’s really got. He fires back at the Germans and his incredible marksmanship frightens them all into surrendering. He proudly marches all 132 German soldiers back to his base, much to the surprise of his superiors. When he returns home, he returns a national hero and is given the Medal of Honor. His newfound recognition convinces Gracie that York is the man she wants and the two live happily ever after.

Sergeant York is another feel good, war hero movie. Like in Mr. Deeds, Cooper plays a naïve small town bumpkin and, with his innocent, boyish eyes, he pulls the role off well. He basically mastered the naïve look while also showing off his manly side. There’s always a deeper, more complex thought pattern going on behind those eyes than what he lets on. It’s what has come to be expected of Gary Cooper. As an actor, Cooper is just plain memorizing to watch and York is no exception.

Hawks plays this movie pretty safe. It’s a wholesome, prideful tale, released at a time when war was glorified. It completely shelters us from the reality of the situation but for the sake of what film audiences wanted to see in 1941, it works. In today’s world, it would be interpreted a bit differently. Today’s audiences seek more realism and the truth as opposed to obvious sugar coated falsehoods. This is still not always given to us, but with more modern war films like Platoon, The Thin Red Line, and Saving Private Ryan, Hollywood attempts to recognize the maturity growth of audiences of this genre.

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Movie Review: THE DEPARTED (2006)

Tribute review as today is Jack Nicholson’s 79th birthday.

thedepartedposter.jpgTHE DEPARTED, 2006
Movie Reviews

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Starring: Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, Alec Baldwin, Anthony Anderson
Review by Surinder Singh

SYNOPSIS:

New recruits: Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) join the Boston State Police Department. Costigan is sent undercover to be a mole in the Irish Mafia led by fearsome mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). But Costello has a man working in the Police Department… Detective Colin Sullivan! As both Costigan and Sullivan pass information over to the opposite sides both the Mob and the Police start to realize they may have a “rat” in the house! A deadly game of hide and seek ensues with both cops and mobsters trying to flush out their informants. And as the body count raises the line between criminal and cop begins to blur because: “when you’re facing a loaded gun… what’s the difference?”

REVIEW:

After the internationally successful Alan Mak and Wai-keung Lau thriller Infernal Affairs (2002) Hollywood decided to make one of it’s own! Remakes are by definition problematic in popular cinema. The most common problem that arises is that people find the original to be stronger making the remake pretty much obsolete. Gus Van Sant’s Psycho (1998) is a prime example of this problem, it was widely rejected despite having an accomplished director and cast behind the project. Making a movie is hard enough, but making a movie in the shadow of another that already has a strong following makes the job arguably less of a commercial risk for the backers but much more of a risk creatively for the filmmakers.

When you look at the cast sheet for The Departed you have to be impressed! Why has so much talent lined up to be in just one movie? The answer is simple… it’s a Martin Scorsese picture! Leonardo DiCaprio had already been forging a strong creative relationship with the director but The Departed welcomed a host of actors old and new onto their first Martin Scorsese film! Veterans like Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen and Ray Winstone take hold of their roles with a clear sense of relish, they are working with one of the greatest “actor’s directors” in Hollywood. Scorsese has always displayed a passion for screen acting in his process; understanding how important character and performance are to film drama. Scorsese is the director who famously discussed in detail with De Niro how the character Travis Bickle would tie a knot in Taxi Driver (1976) and with The Departed he delivers a master class in how to direct an ensemble cast.

Nicholson’s Costello opens the movie with a reverent voice-over that clearly states his worldview. One can instantly see Costello’s kinship with the Scorsese mobsters of Goodfellas (1990) and Casino (1995). Like many other film fanatics I had been waiting feverishly for Nicholson and Scorsese to get together and Costello is the right character for the collaboration! A father figure to both Costigan and Sullivan, Costello repeatedly reminds both men of his threat: “Don’t disappoint me on this or some other guy will be putting their fat cock up little Miss Freud’s ass.” Nicholson spruces up every line with devilish style that quite literally allows him to get away with murder! Nicholson fits perfectly into a Scorsese movie and let’s face it, it’s hard to go wrong when you cast Jack Nicholson!

As opponents, Damon and DiCaprio are nothing short of remarkable on screen. Taking into account the acting royalty that surrounds them; both actors (the operative word) are always the most compelling characters on screen. DiCaprio really shines in his scenes with police shrink (and mutual love interest) Madolyn (Vera Farmiga). Acting as the emotional go-between of Costigan and Sullivan she is the one person we see the hard-faced Costigan open up to. DiCaprio gradually peals back Costigan’s tough outer layers showing us how vulnerable he really is. He has to play the tough gangster when undercover, but inside Costigan is fragile and very lonely. It’s clear to see why DiCaprio has worked so hard at building a creative partnership with Scorsese as this allows him the best possible working environment to advance further in his career as a screen actor.

Then, there’s Matt Damon’s Sullivan. Perhaps the least glamorous role in the movie: a smug, impotent cop that’s betraying everyone in his life. Sullivan could quite easily be off putting to an audience. It’s a testament to Matt Damon’s ability that he makes Sullivan an entertaining not to mention compelling character to watch. Damon plays Sullivan’s all-important smarts magnificently, he shows us that Sullivan is a person that is well aware of his strengths and gets a real kick out of being able to outsmart those around him: “Just trust me Frank. Hey, it fucking involves lying and I’m pretty fucking good at that. Right?” Damon is an actor who can play opposite any other actor and hold his own. His scenes with heavyweights like Baldwin and Nicholson show what an assured and controlled actor he is.

Martin Sheen plays the honest Captain Queenan with a near saintly good nature. He’s the centre of justice and morality that constantly reminds us what a cop should be like. Baldwin plays up to type as Captain Ellerby, there’s something instantly commanding about Baldwin when he walks onto screen as the boss of the operation. But the real star in the supporting cast is Staff Sergeant Dignam (Mark Wahlberg). The script gives Wahlberg some real gems to work with, his cynical and unconventional approach to his work are brilliant: “If you had an idea of what we do, we would not be good at what we do, now would we? We would be cunts. Are you calling us cunts?” Like Queenan, Dignam is a rare breed that’s incorruptible to the end. You have to admire Wahlberg’s ability with the material although having grown up in Boston he was able to use his real-life background to inform the role and play Dignam with authenticity.

The Departed moves at an exciting pace with plenty of action and suspense to validate its one hundred and fifty one minute running time. While Scorsese is famed for his personal approach to the cinema, he does deliver the goods when making straightforward genre pieces like this. Take the scene where Costigan follows Sullivan out of the cinema to get a visual identification. Scorsese constructs a wonderful chase sequence with added brains as both men use their senses and smarts with equal measure. The scene is pure cinema: a story told in images and not merely dropped into the film to avoid audience boredom. Rather, it’s an integral part of Costigan and Sullivan closing in on each other. Both men are within an inch of making each other that puts us on the edge of our seat!

It’s worth noting that The Departed was the film that finally gave Scorsese the Best Picture and Best Director Oscar. Many still believe that the Oscar should have been given to Goodfellas (a film that single handedly defined nineties Hollywood cinema) and/or for his work in the seventies. But if you look closely at The Departed there are a great many references to his past work. To use music as an analogy, if Scorsese’s earlier works were the “great albums” containing the peak of his talent, then The Departed is like the ‘Greatest Hits’ album of his career that revisits all his best songs. In The Departed we see many references to Scorsese’s past films: the young boy aspiring to be like the neighborhood gangster and then being recruited by him (Goodfellas). The scene in the porno theatre: a clear nod to Taxi Driver. Costigan’s initiation into the gang by way of a fight in the bar: Gangs of New York (2002) and of course the (unspoken) connection Sullivan has to the Catholic Church which brings to mind Mean Streets (1973)… to name just a few.

In the end, the more I watch the movie (and it does demand more than one viewing) the more I appreciate what I love about so much about Scorsese movies: the humor. Tarantino once commented that if you were to listen to the sound of an audience watching Raging Bull (1980) you might think they were watching a comedy! The Departed does contain tragedy and brutal violence all of which is not funny, however around the corner from violence and conflict you can normally find humor. The little comic routines run thick and fast as relief from the more intense parts of the movie. Take the comic routine between Baldwin and Wahlberg:

Ellerby: Go fuck yourself!
Dignam: I’m tired from fucking your wife.
Ellerby: How is your mother?
Dignam: Good, she’s tired from fucking my father.

The Departed is nothing short of a great movie. A piece of work that celebrates some of Hollywood’s best filmmakers (meaning everyone who worked on the film) and is a testament to one of the greatest directors ever to work in Hollywood… see it, see it again and again and again!

thedeparted1.jpg

Movie Review: TRANSFORMERS 3, 2011

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Review for the tribute of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s Birthday today.

TRANSFORMERS 3, 2011
Movie Reviews

Director: Michael Bay

Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Tyrese Gibson, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, John Malkovich, Ken Jeong, Patrick Dempsey

Review by Mark Engberg

SYNOPSIS:

The Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the Moon, and race against the Decepticons to reach it and learn its secrets, which could turn the tide in the Transformers’ final battle. Against the backdrop of the space race between the U.S.S.R. and the USA, the alliance between Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) and Optimus Prime is put to the test against a common enemy: Shockwave.

REVIEW:

Before we get into it, I would like to open the floor and directly ask you, Good Reader, the following question: Who is the Worst Director of All-Time?

Keep in mind that a studio film director is in charge of their movie’s artistic elements while orchestrating the technical aspects of the production crew. Therefore, the most effective directors know how to handle the people in front of the camera as well as they can coordinate the machinery behind it. Essentially, it is their job to translate the plot exposition created by the screenwriter into an engaging and entertaining narrative.

While Ed Wood has been described as the Steven Spielberg of bad filmmaking, it is this reviewer’s opinion that Michael Bay has descended unto a level of cinematic “storytelling” that is even more unholy and god-awful than the cross-dressing Wood could have ever imagined. Bay’s undeniable failure of telling his audiences a coherent story that is not super-saturated in shapeless and indiscernible violence could be forgivable if the man had any talent for composing interactive human drama.

Alas, he is as hopeless at working with real live humans as he is with computer-generated robots. It is like watching two bad movies at the same time.

In describing the tone behind “Dark of the Moon”, Bay’s first-ever threequel, he called it “a homeland version of ‘Black Hawk Down’ with giant alien robots.” And if I were Ridley Scott, I would call Bay’s agent and demand an immediate apology and promise to never again mention any of my movies while promoting his.

If the film were in any way geared towards an appropriate demographic (kids, for example), the corniness of the dialogue and incomprehensible plotline could, by parental mercy, be overlooked. You could say, “Yeah, I saw the third Transformers movie. Didn’t understand a word of it. It gave me a headache. But my kids loved it.”

The problem is that your kids shouldn’t like this movie. They shouldn’t even go to it. Borrowing on exhausted stereotypes now from every minority, the Autobots and Decepticons are depicted as annoyingly racist garbage-mouths who boast crude language as tastelessly and humorlessly as their weakly developed human counterparts.

Since the majority of rubberized dialogue is inappropriate for children under thirteen, the identity of his target audience remains elusive. Kids should find it offensive. Adults should find it stupid. Presumably, the answer must be that sacred age group caught in the middle: the conflicted teenager in all of his confused glory and disposable income. They are too young to know that the Transformers were once a beloved line of contortionist toys introduced by Hasbro in the early 1980’s.

And on behalf of the age group that previously enjoyed this franchise, whether it was in its toy, comic book, or animated form, let me suggest that we stop wearing these unconvincing smiles of phony acceptance and finally declare that the “Transformers” movies completely suck.

After a fairly entertaining opening sequence surmising that the Apollo moon landings were motivated by a UFO crash landing that was kept on the down-low by National Security, human hero Sam Witwicky takes the initiative to . . . oh, who am I kidding? If you have seen the previous two “Transformers” movies, you know as well as I that the storyline is a convoluted mess of robotic jargon and juvenile, delinquent chatter. An alien MacGuffin is once again employed to somehow motivate the Autobots upon their endless war against the ravaging Decepticons. Even with the entire might of the United States Armed Forces and Homeland Security on the side of the Autobots, it is up to young Sam (Shia LaBeouf, who is systematically desecrating my childhood) to help his transforming friends reach the moon spacecraft first. Apparently, this means he must do a whole lot of yelling.

Ridiculous supporting characters played by graceful and worthy actors (Frances McDormand and John Malkovich!) are wheeled onto the set only to be yanked away from the story entirely, suggesting that their inclusions are overly whimsical and completely irrelevant. Kevin Dunn and Julie White reprise their unrealistic roles as Sam’s parents, Ron and Judy, for no reason whatsoever in regards to the overall story structure.

And Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is probably already running back to the catwalk due to early criticisms about her newly developed “acting” abilities. Yes, her portrayal of Sam’s new girlfriend Carly is laughable and absurd. But to single her out for this apocalyptic mess would be like trying to blame Watergate solely on H. R. Haldeman. Let’s get back to the Richard Nixon responsible for this travesty. Through the years, Bay has apparently learned nothing about the importance of skillful editing or fundamental choreography of action. Watching one of his action sequences is like listening to a six-year-old make up a story as he goes along. None of the action reflects the slightest interest or focus on strategy.

There are enough missiles fired and bullets shot into the air to make Afghanistan look like a playground. Explosions, gunshots, more clips of Shia yelling, someone goes flying through the air, a robot beheads another robot, was it a good robot or a bad robot? Doesn’t matter, because we’re on to the next explosion. More gunshots. More shots of Shia yelling. Now he’s yelling while flying through the air. More explosions. And how is it possible for rocks to burst into flame like that?

Bay and his obedient team of production yes-men appear to have put a ton of effort towards making these battle sequences appear dramatic and realistic. But despite their best efforts, these scenes are exhausting instead of interesting. No matter how many buildings are destroyed or bodies are blown into the atmosphere, there is no emphatic impact felt by the audience members, who are mercilessly held hostage to watch this entire debacle at a punishing 153 minutes.

The first two installments of this doomed series were at least tolerable due to the fact that we got to watch Megan Fox handle the hideous dialogue and improbable storyline with her trademark seduction. His failure to acknowledge his female star’s power and importance in this over hyped franchise is still yet greater evidence of Michael Bay’s inability to competently undertake the role of a film director.

According to LaBeouf, his former co-star compared the trendy mullet-headed director to Hitler because she “never got comfortable” with Bay’s style of filming “women in a way that appeals to 16-year-old sexuality.” LaBeouf also said, “When Mike would ask her to do specific things, there was no time for fluffy talk. We’re on the run. And the one thing Mike lacks is tact.”

Well, you’re wrong a couple of times there, Shia. There is plenty of fluffy talk. It’s all over the script. Maybe you couldn’t hear it over the horrendously cheesy music on the soundtrack (at times, the movie feels like an afterschool episode of “Dawson’s Creek”). And Michael Bay does not lack one thing; they are several. The ability to direct his young actors to portray believable characters with developing story arcs is only one of them.

How Rosie puts Gas in the car
How Rosie puts Gas in the car

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Movie Review: DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1971) 7th James Bond Movie

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diamonds_are_forever.jpgDIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, 1971
James Bond Movie Review

Directed by Guy Hamilton
Starring: Sean Connery, Jill St. John, Charles Grey, Lana Wood, Jimmy Dean, Bruce Glover, Lois Maxwell
Review by Jesse Ryder Hughes

SYNOPSIS:

A mysterious diamond smuggling operation is being carried out from Africa to Las Vegas and everyone who touches the diamonds is ending up dead. M sends Bond to investigate and what Bond finds is the furthest thing he could’ve imagined, involving an old foe using of the diamonds to destroy the world.

REVIEW:

What happened? My real disappointment in Diamonds are Forever is the complete lack of regard of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which is by far a superior film than Diamonds are Forever. That being said Diamonds are Forever can be enjoyed for its extreme camp value, which is the types of Bond you get through the 70’s. The producers seem to want to make the next Goldfinger, which proves that the franchise became about the money in a lot of ways. Connery was paid an enormous amount to play Bond again, they brought back Goldfinger director Guy Hamilton, had huge set pieces, crazy chases and a Las Vegas location. It all worked, because it was a big box office success.

The film itself is very thin compared to the others. A diamond smuggling ring is discovered and it ends up tracing back to Blofeld who is making doppelgangers of himself through some type of mud and clay moldings. He uses the diamonds to install into a satellite he has, and using the power of the diamonds he can shoot a lethal laser beam from space to blow things up. Pretty crazy and absurd. Fun to laugh about though.

Connery himself seems to be going through the motions. It does not feel like a man that just lost his wife. You can tell that Connery is ready to move on from the role. I do enjoy Blofeld’s gay henchmen Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd. I find they get a lot of flack, but every time they are on screen I laugh or have a good time. They are the weirdest Bond villains in the series and I really enjoy them for that reason.

Despite the craziness of Diamonds are Forever there is a great car chase through Las Vegas in a mustang. There is also a scene where Bond gets chased while driving a moon buggy, with arms!?!

It is just as crazy as you could imagine.

As you can probably tell Diamonds are Forever is one of my least favorite of the films. If you set your brain aside you still have a good time. It is fast paced and entertaining, and it is an audience pleaser. Audiences wanted a Bond to win and it is what they got and producers took note of that fact. The filmmakers completely put Flemings books to the side and started doing things there own way. They completely rewrote the film with a few things, like characters, kept in. I believe this is partly to do with the least successful On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. This is the dawn of the new Bond with Diamonds are Forever. Big bad guys, more gadgets, and more action. Fleming’s novels were more beyond this point until For Your Eyes Only.

 

 

 

 

 

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Movie Review: ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE (1969) 6th James Bond Film

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On Her Majesty's Secret Service, MOVIE POSTERON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, 1969
James Bond Movie Review

Directed by Peter R. Hunt
Starring: George Lazenby, Diana Rigg, Telly Savalas, Lois Maxwell, Gabriele Ferzetti, Ilse Steppat
Review by Jesse Ryder Hughes

SYNOPSIS:

Bond goes on the trail to find Blofeld, and is eventually lead to Switzerland. He falls in love, tries to quit being a secret agent, gets into a few ski chases, which all leads to the most tragic ending in any Bond film.

REVIEW:

Non-actor Lazenby filled in for Sean Connery in the roll of James Bond and even though Lazenby couldn’t deliver the dialogue that great (they even dubbed his voice for part of the movie), his fight scenes were really unique and the film itself is solid.

Director Peter Hunt went immediately back to Fleming’s novel and kept the film true to Fleming’s vision. After You Only Live Twice getting a bit out of hand, but extremely popular at the time, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service dared to go back to the roots of the genre, which is commendable. The film is action packed and exciting as well as extremely emotional and dramatic. This is the last film for awhile that feels serious before Bond films started becoming really campy and it is one of my favorites. It stands out on its own. It feels as if it doesn’t even belong beside the other films, because it feels so different.

Savalas stands out as the best Blofeld in the series. Also Played by Donald Pleasence and Charles Gray. Savalas’ Blofeld is quick, intelligent, proactive and always has the upper hand on Bond. Blofeld’s confidence is so apparent through his habits, like the way he holds his cigarettes, with a sense of righteousness. His master plan to brainwash innocent young girls into bringing back biological weaponry back to there countries is great, under his control, authority and trust he just needs to give the word and the girls will release the diseases. Savalas’ Blofeld is in my top five villains in the series mainly because savalas’ portrayal of a confident, subdued megalomaniac seems awfully realistic.

The other great part about this film is the love story that spawns between Bond and Diana Rigg’s character Tracey. Tracey’s depression feeds into Bond’s need to save her from the beginning of the film to the tragic finale, which leaves Bond falling into a pit of sadness and self denial repeating the line “It’s all right. It’s quite all right, really. She’s having a rest.

We’ll be going on soon. There’s no hurry, you see. We have all the time in the world.”

On her Majesty’s Secret Service’s own tragedy comes with the next film Diamonds are Forever, which doesn’t take into account that On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was even made. It didn’t do as well in the box office as the Connery films and audiences were known to boo the ending of the film. It was a Bond film that was ahead of its time and suffered because of it. The story is good and not too over the top and for Lazenby’s first and only outing as Bond he does prove there could be a lot of potential. Hunt’s film work and action scenes stand alone in the series, with gritty fights and interesting camera techniques that seemed innovative for the time. Unfortunately as Tracey says in the film, “People who want to stay alive play it safe.” That is exactly what they do with the next Bond films by keeping in the tradition of what the audience wants. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service may have not been the most popular Bond at the time, but as time goes on it becomes better and better, gaining it the respect from fans it didn’t fully get in 1969.

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Movie Review: THUNDERBALL (1965) 4th James Bond Movie

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THUNDERBALL,  MOVIE POSTERTHUNDERBALL, 1965
Movie Reviews

Directed by Terence Young
Starring: Sean Connery, Claudine Auger, Adolfo Celii, Luciana Paluzzi and Bernard Lee.
Review by Jesse Ryder Hughes

SYNOPSIS:

M sends Bond to a health spa to improve his health. SPECTRE has come up with a plan to steal two nuclear warheads and hold the world as hostage. M sends Bond to the Bahamas where Bond plays cat and mouse with SPECTRE’s no. 2, Emilio Largo that climaxes in a big underwater battle.

REVIEW:

With a bigger budget and longer running time than the last films and a great theme song by Tom Jones, Thunderball tells us that it is going to be big and exciting. Filmed in the beautiful Bahamas with a lot of underwater sequences and a lot of sharks, which appear a lot in future films after Thunderball. Supposedly Connery was almost attacked by a shark on set.

Connery is great as the 60’s hero. He seems more confidant in this film. Claudine Auger as Domino is my favorite Bond girl in the series. I’m not the only one. I’ve had intense talks with friends where we agree that she is the best. She is, sweet, knowing, adventurous and proves she can fend for herself by the end. What can I say, she is just absolutely beautiful.

There is a lot a stake for Bond survival wise, but not as much emotional stakes as the previous two films. Though I like how matter of fact Bond is with Domino when he tells her that her brother is dead. He exploits her to get close to Largo to find out where Largo plans to detonate the warheads. He does what he has to do for the world. Does he have to sleep with Domino before he tells her? Probably not. But the movie suggests he does it because he likes her and wants to keep Domino close. It works and Domino tells Bond where Largo is going to be with his men before they go get the warheads Largo has hidden. Bond disguises himself and finds out that Largo is going to hit Miami. Bond gets the information to Felix Leiter, his good friend, and the Americans come in to intercept Largo and his men underwater in one of the only and very exciting underwater battles scenes. Sometimes it is hard to tell what’s going on, but it doesn’t take away from the excitement.

As the film ends, Bond and Domino strap up to a long line and send a balloon in the sky to lift the line up and a plane goes by and catches them and takes them for a ride. This is one of the James Bond stunts that is pretty ludicrous, because it takes all shred of believability out of the film and where did this plane come from. Most people I’ve watched this film with all give a “what the @#$%!! when they see that stunt. It goes to show that in an over the top action film some things still don’t make sense.

Apart from that I still love Thunderball with the great SPECTRE meeting with all the agents around the world and No. 1, soon to be know as Ernst Stavro Blofeld, with his controls to kill anyone in their chairs that screw up. The eye-patched Largo is great, and the first real beautiful femme fatale, Fiona Volpe, is seductive and dangerous, even to watch as an audience member. Largo’s pool of sharks proves an intense and exciting scene. And Bond flies a crazy jet pack.

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Movie Review: GOLDFINGER, 1964. 3rd James Bond Movie

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GOLDFINGER,  MOVIE POSTERGOLDFINGER, 1964
Movie Reviews

Directed by Guy Hamilton
Starring Sean Connery, Gert Frobe, Honor Blackman, Shirley Eaton, Harold Sakata and Bernard Lee.
Review by Jesse Ryder Hughes

SYNOPSIS:

A vengeful Bond is sent to see where the megalomaniac Auric Goldfinger gets his gold by M. Bond and Goldfinger have many one on one confrontations where Bond figures out that Goldfinger has a plan that could send the U.S.A into economic turmoil, while Goldfinger profits from the misfortunes.

REVIEW:

If you don’t know James Bond, most people would recognize Auric Goldfinger and his Korean bodyguard Oddjob, spoofed a lot due to his metal hat he throws to murder people. Goldfinger and Oddjob are so iconic to the Bond franchise. Bond and Goldfinger have numerous confrontations both playing at each others game, while a massive looming Korean with his lethal hat hangs out ready to kill on Goldfinger’s orders.

Goldfinger is one of the best Bond’s. It is so entertaining it is impossible not to enjoy it. They started pushing the genre and it is noticeable in this film. In From Russia with Love Bond had his fun briefcase from Q. Now he has a full on Aston Martin with so many gadgets, even an ejector seat. Red grant seemed to be unstoppable, but Bond managed to get the best of him in a fight. Now Oddjob is the force to be reckoned with and Bond has to use is wits more than his muscle to stop him.

What I like about Goldfinger the most is the fact that Bond can’t save everyone. The first bit of the film Jill Masterson, a young pretty girl working for Goldfinger is seduced by bond and Bond makes Goldfinger lose his high stakes card game. As punishment Goldfinger has Jill Masterson killed by painting her completely in gold paint suffocating her skin.

This is the first time we see Bond fail to protect a female. Later in the movie he fails again. We see Connery affected by these moments, but Connery’s Bond doesn’t carry the burdens of the deaths with him as we see in Daniel Craig’s portrayal of Bond. Connery’s Bond seems too fast with his emotions.

Nevertheless we root for Connery as he uses every trick up his sleeve to foil Goldfinger. The classic scene where he is about to get zapped in half by the laser gun and he talks Goldfinger into saving him is so intense with Goldfingers famous line “I expect you to Die,” he says it with such joy as well. I love as well Goldfingers room where he is explaining his plans to all the mafiosi and he has built all these contraptions in his room that move and rotate into maps and models. He must of spent a lot of money, which is why he is so insane. I can’t help to think that it is a lot of evidence if he ever gets caught.

When the Fort Knox scene comes it is so action packed and the pace doesn’t let down until the end when Pussy Galore (one of many bond girl names with sexual connotations) and Bond get together.

Goldfinger is one of the funnest Bond’s. It crazier than the first two films, but it works well for what an audience wants. Gold was a huge resource back then like oil is today and Goldfinger is just a fun bad guy to watch. He is one of my favorite Bond villains and even though Oddjob’s hat throwing is ridiculous, it fits into Bonds universe where you can’t really be surprised by what any of the bad guys do. Goldfinger was one of the first box office successes of its time and the Bond films really took off after Goldfinger, and I have to say I am glad they did.

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