Tag Archives: Daniel Craig

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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The Rise and Skyfall a New James Bond Era — Spoiler Free

Image Property of MGMUA

It has been 50 years since Dr No introduced us to James Bond. Since then, Ian Fleming’s master spy has been portrayed by six actors in 23 films. Skyfall, the most recent entry in the 007 cannon, has a lot to live up to, as does the current Bond actor, Daniel Craig.  After the lukewarm reception of Quantum of Solace, Skyfall is a make or break moment –not just for Craig but for the future of the entire franchise.

The character of James Bond has always existed just beyond the plain of reality. He’s a man who jumps out of helicopter, wins a mid air fistfight, and lands in the backyard of a beautiful woman, never breaking a sweat and without a single hair out of place.

Craig’s Bond is different. He gets beaten; he gets bruised; most importantly, he bleeds. He lacks the lighter side of the Roger Moore era. He is a killer, cold and calculating.

This time around, we see Bond with scars and all. He is visibly and mentally shaken; he is almost human.

Skyfall is about resurrection. The world has changed. The spy game is no longer about one nation attempting to learn the actions of another. The enemies of a nation are nameless, faceless, and never do their dirty work in person.

Is espionage even relevant in the information age? Does England need James Bond?

image property of MGMUA

Choosing a woman to play the character of M was a big deal in 1995. Dame Judi Dench was a fantastic choice for the role of Bond’s boss. She has been the perfect foil to the Bonds of both Brosnan and Craig. In fact, she was the only thing carried over into the reboot series.

The problem for Dench’s M during the Brosnan era was that there was nothing for her to do. What was the point of showcasing an empowered woman if she spent each film sidelined or kidnapped?

In Skyfall, we see M in all of her glory. Her leadership is on display and her back and forth with Bond provides many of the lighter moments in the film.

On the surface, the movie seeks to destroy the past. Many treasured relics from the bygone era are brought onscreen just long enough for us to wave goodbye. Several are reborn into this reality, most notably the character of Q. The meeting between Bond and the new quartermaster is dripping with homage and reverence for the past, while at the same time celebrating the new.

Skyfall brings to a close your father’s James Bond. In many ways, it cleans out the closet. It takes the dusty keepsakes out one last time, dwells for just a second, then packs them away for good. What we are left with is a new Bond for a new world. A Bond that has confronted his own demons, as well as those of England, and emerged to defend Queen and Country no matter what.

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I Owe it All to James Bond

Aashish950 at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a hero.  Since I was twelve, I have wanted that hero to be James Bond.

James Bond made a reader out of me. The stories held my attention and led me to discover other authors. Watching Dr. No at 13 was the first time I remember saying “that’s not how it happened in the book.”

James Bond has taught me so many wonderful things:

James Bond made me better at research:

At the point I discovered Ian Fleming’s master spy, the material was almost 40 years old.  In order to understand some of the references, I was forced to do some research.  Some old school pre- Internet research! In books!!  The work required an understanding of not just WW2, but the events surrounding it and leading to the Cold War.  Also, I needed an understanding of life in the ’50s and ’60s (in England no less).

James Bond helped me to embrace technology:

The books are hardly as gadget driven as the films, but the gadgets still play a role.  What is the same in both is the protagonist’s complete dislike and distrust of tech.  From the Walther PPK (Bond preferred the Beretta) to the famous jet pack in the film version of Thunderball, Bond always felt the Quartermaster put too much faith in the tools and not enough in the builder.  Still, it is often using the two in conjunction that allows Bond to live to fight another day (or Die Another Day as it were).

James Bond helped me to develop a personal sense of style:

always found his Bond a bit stiff
{By Jeremy from Leuven, Belgium (Ireland – London Trip) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons}

The tux, the cars, the cigarette case and gold lighter, monogrammed shirts, cuff links, etc. made me wonder  if it is the clothes that make the man. I am not sure.  What I can say is James Bond is an individual.  The novels dedicate pages to descriptions of the spy’s clothing and clothiers.  In the films, this gets a little lost in trend sometimes but never for too long.  Bond always returns to what works for him, and that is what he has taught me.  I am hardly the best dressed man in every room, but I always have a shine on my shoes (which are only brown if I am wearing brown… mostly).  I am the best dressed man in most rooms.

James Bond taught me to seek the simplest solutions:

Really, it was James Bond villains that I have to thank for this pearl.  If you intend to solve a problem, be direct. Be direct like a bullet to the head. Not indirect, like a laser-cutting-device attached to a trap door leading to shark tank on top of a volcano filled with swords.  Run straight at the problem guns blazing.

I am not sure I would tell my son to seek his answers in the fiction of a bygone era. I want him to be himself.  But, there are plenty of habits I am glad I did not pick up from Fleming’s work.

Then again, think about the beautiful women, fast cars, and….on second thought, be James Bond, son. Always be James Bond.

 

 

 

 

 

{Featured Image: Caroline Bonarde Ucci [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons}

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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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