Tag Archives: 007

REB007T, or I Promise to Stop Writing About Skyfall

bonds

I just completed my fifth viewing of Skyfall. I have written about it and James Bond movies in general a few times Here, Here, and Here. As a lifelong James Bond fan, I am always excited by the release of a new film in this hallowed series, but Skyfall is something more. The 23rd film represents a turning point in the reboot series. The third film for a James Bond actor has always been the sink or swim moment. Goldfinger, The Spy Who Loved Me, even The World is Not Enough were showcases for the moment when the writers hit a  stride with the actor portraying 007. The stories in these films are written to showcase the unique attributes of each actor.

When it was announced that 2006’s Casino Royale would not only bring us a new Bond in Daniel Craig but also a reboot of the long running series, I had my doubts. Casino Royale and Craig were a pleasure to watch, but I was left wondering “where do we go from here?” The film had such momentum and excitement that it took repeat viewings to realize its flaws. The following film Quantum of Solace suffered none of the same issues; its flaws were right up front. Skyfall with its dark and humanizing storyline is something more. It seeks to re-reinvent not just the character, but the world in which he resides. It is a reboot within the reboot continuity.

This got me thinking about reboots in general. Unless you have made your home deep within a cave for the last 10 years you may be aware of the vast number of rebooted series showing up in our theaters of late. The list of films getting the reboot treatment in the coming year is staggering. Movies based on a prior film either in the form of sequels or reboots is staggering. Based on no particular fact or statistic,reboots account for all 98% of all  movies worth seeing this year.

Turning my thoughts back to the James Bond films, I wondered if Casino Royale was the only reboot. In examining the movies and comparing them to one another, it is evident that many of these 23 films could be considered reboots.

Take On Her Majesties Secret Service as an example. The only film in the series to star Australian actor George Lazenby was arguably the first reboot.

The sixth film was the first without Sean Connery in the role of Ian Fleming’s master spy. It begins as more of an “anti-reboot” showing us all things Bond to ensure we don’t think this is a different character but the same one simply played by a different actor. Various movie props from the previous films are pulled from the desk as a sub theme from Dr. No is played. The credits sequence is simply a martini glass on which are shown key action scenes from previous bond movies, though the producers are careful not show Connery’s face.

This never happened to the other fellow Property of Eon productions

This never happened to the other fellow
Property of Eon productions

Roger Moore’s first outing, Live and Let Die, is a complete 180. Several minor aspects seen in each film are removed. Bond does not go to MI6 headquarters, Q is absent, Bond smokes cigars instead of cigarettes, drinks bourbon instead of martinis. Moore had a gift for comedy far beyond Connery’s one liners. He could deliver a joke with a straight face and react as straight man to anything he observed, and this was written into all of Moore’s scripts going forward.

Reboot number three came after Moore’s 7th and final film A View to a Kill. The film, like many of Moore’s later endeavors, suffers for two things: Moore was so old at the time of filming that his hair had to be thickened every day and the comedy is over the top. Somewhere halfway through Roger Moore’s run as Bond the slapstick got out of control. Enter Timothy Dalton.

Dalton was a Shakespearean actor by trade. His interpretation of the character ran away from the Montypythonesque (that’s a word, right?) to his core–his dark, brooding core. Dalton saw Bond as troubled by the life he has chosen to lead and the sacrifices he has made for queen and country. Dalton also brought the literary version of Bond to the big screen, focusing more on Fleming’s work as apposed to simply doing an impression of his predecessor. Dalton’s films were not critically received, and at the end of his two film run, the series went on hiatus for 6 years.

When Pierce Brosnan took up the mantle for 1995’s Goldeneye, the fourth reboot, he had an advantage. The writers had taken all of the aspects that made a great Bond movie and placed them in a modern world. The audience-pleasing special effects and the return of the gadget-a-minute approach made the Brosnan era visually stimulating. Still, by the time Bond surfed a tsunami and drove an invisible car, it was time for another reboot.

Bringing us back to Casino Royale. Rebooting this long running series over the last 50 years has been more than simply swapping out leading men. Each time James Bond seems to preserve his core while responding to audience demand. With a reboot every six films or so, we have to wonder where they might go next.

Maybe to space?

No, they did that already.

Maybe the bottom of the ocean?

No, they did that… twice.

Where ever James Bond may be headed next, you can bet I will be along for the ride.

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Chillin’ Like a Villain -Lots of Skyfall Spoilers

A Bond film is only as good as its villain.

After all, what is the point of having a protagonist like James Bond if the opposition is uninteresting and easily defeated? Javier Bardem’s recent turn as number 1 baddie in Skyfall has been critically acclaimed and praised by James Bond aficionados. As Raoul Silva, Bardem embodies the psychotic and diabolical legacy of the greatest foes of her majesty’s secret service.

He has a seemingly unending war chest:

Whether building an underwater city or a space station, paying for a private army or buying off government officials, taking on James Bond is an expensive prospect. Throughout the series, it’s clear that going up against 007 is a game for the 1 percent. As a cyber terrorist, Silva certainly fits the bill. He has the ability to bring down a nation’s economy or devalue its currency utilizing only a few keystrokes. Silva certainly has the resources to keep him in private island status… and a real private island.

He has a personal vendetta:

Image property of MGMUA

Previous vendettas range from wanting to kill Bond himself to destroying all of western civilization. The constant among Bond villains is that they have (at least in their minds) been wronged, and they intend to get even in an elaborate fashion. The antagonist’s passion for destruction must be greater than Bond’s desire to stop it.

Feeling abandoned by the government he once proudly served and placing all of his hate solely on Judy Dench’s ‘M’, Silva is out for vengeance. Plots against the head of the British Secret Service are nothing new; in the novels, the concept of getting even with “M” goes all the way back to the Kingsley Aims penned story Colonel Sun. This device is also used in the film The World is not Enough.

He has a physical deformity:

Dr. No had metal hands. Blofeld had that scar on his face. Scaramanga had a superfluous papilla…an excess mammary… a third nipple.

This one is not a hard and fast rule, but it applies more often than not. Silva has what may be the best deformity in the series: his jaw was dissolved by hydrogen cyanide. The reveal in Skyfall was among the most disturbing moments on film.

Image property of MGMUA

His determination results in disregard for human life:

It seems to be a given that once the mistress of the villain falls prey to Bond’s charms, she will be killed. Often the body of the “Bond Girl” will be left on display. Silva very unceremoniously dispatches his mistress by shooting her in the head and leaving her lifeless body chained to the granite feet of a statue. This is, of course, done to inform us that he is a stone cold killer and is only keeping our hero alive because he needs him.

So how does Bardem’s Silva stack up against the best of the worst from MI6’s rogues gallery? In the sadistic Silva, we see new blood. Is he the end result of Bond’s lifestyle? Gone are the elaborate death traps and super secret hideouts. The plan is not executed from an observation room, but  instead it is instigated in person by Silva. There are no henchmen with special abilities or equipment. There are no poison tipped shoes or giants wearing metal teeth.

Though we know he cannot succeed, we believe he could. That is the genius of Bardem’s Silva and what ranks him among the best villains in the Bond series.

Who are some of your favorite James Bond villains?

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New Skyfall Trailer!

We at The Cool Ship love James Bond. We were more than a little excited when we saw that this trailer released today.

What do you think?

Is there any way Ralph Fiennes is a good guy? Is James Bond going full Batman? A new Q?!

Check it out. Be excited.

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