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00Walrus #20: Die Another Day

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DIE ANOTHER DAY
Bond: Pierce Brosnan - 1 tusk
I feel sorry for Pierce because in spite of not really having a high opinion of his third entry, he really deserved better than this to go out on. This winds up being Brosnan's Moonraker. (And calling it that might be a compliment.) In spite of the fact, he's just about the only thing that makes this movie bearable, he's lost some of what made him Bond here. He's a little more stiff, a little older and really draws upon the qualities of Roger Moore that I don't dig.

Girl: Halle Berry as Jinx - 0 tusks
She's the Ben Affleck of actresses. Way overrated. Can't deliver a line without it sounding like her infamous toad/lightning line from X-Men. I could not buy into her being an agent. Outside of showing up in a bikini, she was a useless character. Could have been cut completely and the movie would have improved.

Gadgets: don't get me started - 0 tusks
Invisible car?! Do I even need to say anything about how I might feel about an invisible car at this point?

Opening Theme: "Die Another Day" performed by Madonna - 0 tusks
Dreadful song that invoked no sense of Bond at all. Saved only by an interesting attempt to play with the intro and advance the story somewhat through those three minutes of credits.

Villain: Toby Stephens as Gustav Graves - 1 tusk
The genetic manipulation thing aside, I could see this character being a decent Bond villain. Stephens is mildly interesting as a villain who is purposely emulating Bond. Seems like a concept that could have been done way cooler than it was done. You know, kind of how it was done in The Incredibles.

Henchman: Rick Yune as Yao - 0 tusks
I don't understand why the Brosnan films had these over-the-top henchman. I guess he was supposed to be cool because he had diamonds embedded in his face? What else makes him cool? Nothing really.

Pre-title opening sequence - 2 tusks
This first part of the movie is about the only tolerable part. It feels like a Bond movie which is good, because the rest of the movie does not.

Story:
The short version of my review? This was horridly absurd.

As I said earlier, this is Brosnan's Moonraker. The greater mistake that this makes over Moonraker is that at least with Moonraker, I knew where we were heading towards taking Bond to space and having laser battles. Over the top and un-Bond-like, at least I knew what I was getting into. With this movie, you actually get about30 minutes of a potentially decent Bond flick right before everything goes haywire.

If this was a movie for Alias or G.I. Joe, I could stomach this, but I can't for Bond. This movie took gadgetry and turned it into Star Trek. We start off with DNA manipulation in order to change appearance in a main thread. We then follow that up with a Q sequence that begins with some sort of VR Holodek thing and ends with an invisible car. Bond makes it to Iceland where he drives in the snow with his invisible car (no one notices the tracks?!?!?) and gets introduced to the Icarus, a giant satellite that absorbs the rays of the sun and shoots giant sun lasers on the people of Earth. As if it weren't lasery enough, Bond then saves Jinx in a fight scene that featured four or five lasers shooting every which direction. Finally, Bond has a final fight scene with the main bad guy who is wearing half of Iron Man's armor which he's using to zap Bond with electricity. In the previous 19 movies, I've accepted a lot of stuff, but never has one Bond movie contained such vast amounts of absurdity. If it was one or two of those things, maybe I could accept it, but all of that? No. Way.

I want to go back to my point from earlier, this had the makings of a decent Bond flick for the first half hour or so. Still, I don't really like the Bond gets captured idea. It seems like he's gotten out of worse problems before. That aside, let's assume he gets captured...fourteen months? Really? Bond? And how does he get out? Prisoner exchange. He doesn't break out. No, because that would be too cool.

I have long been impressed with the stunts done for the James Bond movies. So many of them were done practically and added so much realism to the films (even if it was hard to believe Roger Moore was really snowboarding or whatever). It was disappointing to see such a huge amount of CGI in place of cool stunts. The worst has to be Bond's parasurfing scene near the end of the movie, but right behind that is the laser battle and the helicopter fall. In so many ways, this movie did not even look like a Bond movie because of that.

With this being the last of my 20 Ultimate Bond discs, I don't want to end on a bad note. I will say that I was impressed at the number of homages (at least one per) for each of the previous Bond films. Twenty films in a series is quite an achievement. It was great to see little nods to the past in recognition of the previous 40 years worth of movies. Sadly, the movie couldn't have been a better tribute to that history.

Finally, Judi Dench is amazing again and I'm so glad they kept her on for the reboot with Daniel Craig. Her work in the Brosnan films is almost wasted. I could watch a movie that was exclusively about M. Also, John Cleese as the new Q was wonderful and really the only guy who could follow Desmond Llewelyn. It'd be a shame if they didn't work him into the Bond series again. I'd hate for this and TWINE to be his only chances to contribute to Bond.

So, I probably won't get to see Quantum of Solace for a little while mainly because of my first-run theater ban. Once I get a sense of when I'm going to get a chance to see it, I'll rewatch Casino Royale, follow that up with Quantum of Solace and then put together my final two reviews.

But, with the first twenty viewed and this being an excellent place to stop, I will say that I have enjoyed this series of Bond viewings and have gotten a lot out of coming here and writing my thoughts about them. It's been real surprising going through these movies again and discovering Bond all over again. Despite mixed early reviews, I'm looking forward to Quantum of Solace and can't wait to write up the next two reviews.

Previous Bond Movie Reviews
Dr. No
From Russia With Love
Goldfinger
Thunderball
You Only Live Twice
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Diamonds Are Forever
Live And Let Die
The Man With The Golden Gun
The Spy Who Loved Me
Moonraker
For Your Eyes Only
Octopussy
Never Say Never Again
A View to a Kill
The Living Daylights
License to Kill
GoldenEye
Tomorrow Never Dies
The World Is Not Enough

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