00Walrus #19: The World Is Not Enough

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THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH
Bond: Pierce Brosnan - 2 tusks
For the most part, I have no major problems with Pierce Brosnan. He really does a good job taking the style of Roger Moore and infusing action into the role. There are glimpses of ruthlessness in this movie that I think do harken back to Connery and even Dalton. He really does quite well with the role. Too bad the script had to take away from all that.

Girl: Denise Richards as Christmas Jones - 0 tusks
Not the worst Bond girl ever, but pretty close. Denise Richards doesn't play "hot scientist" very well. It's hard to take her seriously as she says her lines like she's reading them. Bringing in her character was unnecessary. She offered no real contribution to the story and just fills the "pretty damsel in distress" role.

Gadgets: several - 1 tusk
Glasses that trigger an explosion...that's fine. X-Ray specs...that goes too far for my tastes.

Opening Theme: "The World Is Not Enough" performed by Garbage - 1 tusk
It's an okay song, but the vocals comes across as a little whiny. Which is a little weird because the Sheryl Crow song seemed a little whiny, too, but I liked that one.

Villain: Sophie Marceau as Elektra King - 1 tusk
Some may argue that Renard was the main villain, but in the end, Elektra King was the one pulling the strings. She was crazy, but I think they should have made her crazier. Marceau under plays the role a bit too much. And for as much as I want to give her props just for being a Braveheart girl, she doesn't really exude villain all that well. It's like she needed to go farther with the role than she did.

Henchman: Robert Carlyle as Renard - 1 tusk
Often listed as the villain, he really turns out to be the henchman. I wasn't a big fan of the fantastical element to his backstory. He has a bullet lodged in his brain that will kill him at some point in the future. Of course, everyone will die at some point in the future, so that's not really all that big a deal. The whole can't feel pain or pleasure thing seemed very underdeveloped. It didn't play nearly enough into the story. So why bother with it? Even more so, it seems like his demise should have been being shot in the head by Bond, you know, the right way. Impalement by reactor rod seemed anti-climactic and unfitting.

Pre-title opening sequence - 1 tusk
Incredibly long and too short at the same time. I think it could have used something more at the beginning and then move some of it to after the credits. There was a lot of exposition that they seemed to move through too fast. That said, setting off an explosion in MI-6 and having some sort of action take place in England is actually a first for a Bond movie. It did seem to strike a chord to hit so close to Bond's home like this.

Story:
At times, this movie plays as though it were written by soap opera writers and then given a slight re-write by an action writer. This movie is full of potential but absolutely fails to successfully turn into a great film. Or even a good film. The story relied on forced drama without enough substance to back it up.

I like the attempt to make this more personal and a little off-formula. At least initially. By the middle of the movie, they really drop all pretenses of telling a story and just string action sequences together relying on the typical formula. I thought it might have been interesting to see Bond find some sort of connection to his family in the middle of the plot. This would have been appropriately foreshadowed with the title "The World Is Not Enough," the Bond family motto according to this movie and previously established in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Of course, the main character's family is where you go when you run out of ideas. So, yeah, that sounds about right.

The absolute best part about this movie is Dame Judi Dench. I was glad to see her have an expanded role in this movie. The downside is that the writing was not suited to her strengths. But, in the same way Patrick Stewart can make technobabble sound like Shakespeare, Dench makes her stuff work. When an actor can play a scene, say not one word yet convey a multitude of messages, they're absolutely brilliant. There's a particular scene late in the movie where M has just witnessed Bond do something devastating. As Bond runs off, with one expression, we see M show sadness, shock, a touch of anger, and a slight sense that suddenly she understands Bond more than she ever has before.

As an ending note, the return of Robbie Coltrane as Valentin Zukovsky shows exactly what I was talking about in the previous two movies. How much more effective is his appearance and ultimate demise knowing that he and Bond have a history? The set up is there in just one scene from two movies ago. What if they had plotted these three movies out a bit differently? How much cooler would it have been to see Sean Bean show up in a movie or two (maybe he could have been the one that fails to kill Renard) and then turn bad in his third appearance? What if Paris Carver was the Bond girl from Brosnan's first movie and then showed up in his third? By this point, the character has 19 movies. Yet it is rare that they really mine the past. However, when they do, it really is cool.

Special note...I would be remiss if I didn't mention Desmond Llewelyn in his final appearance as Q. It is speculated that had he not died after this movie was made, he would have made an appearance in the next movie. But the way his final scene is written, it's as though he doesn't plan to be back. Either way, he consistently turned in some great performances and even in the last few movies, his scenes were a delight. He never lost his touch.

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

(Nerd) Lunch Special: The Triple Whopper

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I've heard about them, but had never seen one in person until today.


Years ago, when Jeeg and I were in college, we would run to the nearby Burger King and grab a bag full of 99 cent Whoppers. The two of us would have sick eating contests where we could see how much we could consume in one sitting. On one occasion, I ate three Whoppers, fries and a shake. So, in that sense, I've had the components of a Triple Whopper, but I've never actually eaten a Triple Whopper. Eating three Whoppers is different than eating a Triple Whopper. The flame-broiled patties to bun ratio is vastly different and would seem to offer an even more satisfying meal in spite of it actually being less food. (At least, that's the way it was with the Wendy's Triple which I have had.)

But eating like that is a thing of the past. Or should be. In the past three years, I've slimmed down considerably from where I once was and have plenty more I can and should get rid of. I know it's not good for me to eat a Triple Whopper so when I visit a Burger King, I don't even acknowledge that it's on the menu. I put that out of my mind.

That said, if I'm in the same room with a Triple Whopper, it's hard not to think about eating one. Even if I shouldn't eat a Triple Whopper, does that mean I can't appreciate the beauty of one? I don't know. I guess it's about willpower, not taking things too far and stuff like that. When my coworker Shannon mistakenly ordered* a Triple Whopper today and brought it to the office, I had to save this rare (er...well, actually flame-broiled) moment for posterity.


* Shannon said I could post these photos as long as I was clear in saying that she did not actually eat this Triple Whopper. When visiting Burger King today, she was distracted by the transvestite working behind the counter who took her order. Flustered by his (I guess?) admiration of the boots she was wearing, Shannon quickly looked up and ordered a "Number three." Unfortunately, she did not look at the menu close enough and ordered a Triple Whopper meal instead of the Whopper, Jr. meal.

Distracted by Shannon's boots, the worker did not bat an eyelash (and it is my understanding he had some pretty ones to bat) at her order. It was when her order was called that Shannon discovered a "Number three" was in fact the Triple Whopper meal. Realizing that the mistake was hers, she graciously took her meal and came to work. Upon which, she was generous enough to pose with her 3/4 pound burger for some pictures. In the end, she discarded two of the patties and had a regular Whopper. (Yes, discarded. They were offered to me and I turned them down! Willpower, that's what I'm talking about!)

The Mount Everest of Condiments

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CT and I could probably do a whole series of posts about condiments we love, but it might be tough to top this one.

Oh Baconnaise, you shall be mine

Baconnaise, the bacon flavored mayonnaise. No, it's not a hoax. It's the newest product from the fine folks at J&D's and may be the greatest invention in the history of Western civilization. I shall not rest until I've summited this peak.

It's the cheesiest!

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I believe I've said before that I'm not a huge fan of these lists that come out stating the "Top 25 _______" ever. The lists are so subjective that all it usually does is anger me that something was either on the list that shouldn't have been or wasn't on the list that should have. And if that's not enough, they'll usually have the order all wrong, too.

That said, there's a new list from Entertainment Weekly: 25 Cheesiest Syndicated TV Shows. And even if it's not a perfect list, it's a topic that the Nerd Lunchers like to discuss and sometimes joke about.

There's been some good syndicated material. Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine were both syndicated. While they both had their share of cheese at times, the overall quality of both shows was stellar. And in my book, the same goes for Babylon 5 (although, I'm probably the only of the three here who has that view).

Although there are a couple on the list I hadn't heard of and some I've never seen, I'd have to agree with most of it. I'd take off Hercules and Xena. Those two shows could deliver a range of decent material. Strong action-packed shows, great drama, or hilarious comedic stories, they could do it all. I might take Jack of All Trades off just because it was intentionally cheesy where the rest weren't, although I'm equally fine with it staying on the list. Baywatch started as an NBC show but was syndicated after the first season. I might take that off the list if a better option was presented.

Dropping those would leave four open spots. How about any of these four?

War of the Worlds
Forever Knight
Team Knight Rider
Highlander

I don't know. I'm probably not being fair to Highlander since I've never seen the show. There are many out there who love it. So, I'm willing to give Highlander a pass, but how could Entertainment Weekly leave off the cheesiest of all?

NIGHT MAN!

Revisting The A-Team Remake

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According to Dark Horizons, John Singleton has left The A-Team movie project and the movie has been pushed back to work more on the script. Excellent move Fox. I read that script review and it was awful. And John Singleton as director? I saw 2 Fast, 2 Furious. It wasn't good.

According to our stats, one of the most visited posts on this blog continues to be my Signing the Cast: A-Team Remake Movie post. I still stand by that cast, but maybe it's time to come to the realization that I'm not going to be the one directing this movie so here are suggestions for some folks behind the camera.

Obviously, I would want Stephen J. Cannell to have a hand in the movie. Although he seems down on his own creation at times (couldn't find a link to the Craig Ferguson interview where he talks bad about it, but it's out there), I would want his blessing, some notes, and a big screen version of this at the end.

This is probably wishful thinking, but I want Paul Haggis to write the first draft of this script. In Crash he showed the ability to deal with many characters and give each character a moment to shine. He's written about wars (Flags of Our Fathers and Letters to Iwo Jima) and written about guys coming home after serving in a war (In the Valley of Elah). He can do the high action writing as proven with Casino Royale and hopefully with Quantum of Solace. (Also had a hand in creating Walker, Texas Ranger if that means anything.)

I'd like to run the script through Rob Thomas and get him to put some character bits in it. Rob Thomas' resume may not look super impressive, but Veronica Mars alone gets him this gig from me. No character on TV has had a jazz worthy of John "Hannibal" Smith quite like Veronica Mars has. Don't make enemies with Veronica, she'll get revenge/justice in a way that would rival The A-Team. It's this sensibility that I love about both shows. A champion for the underdog who does what it takes to right wrongs while making a little cash on the side.

Picking a director is hard. I feel like that if the script is solid, then really any decent director can come in and do it. I'm going to go with Doug Liman for now (Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith) but I'm open to other suggestions. I really enjoyed The Italian Job and it has an A-Team feel so maybe F. Gary Gray. Although, the rest of his resume isn't all that impressive.

Finally, the guy I want scoring this is Alan Silvestri. He's got an amazing resume. I'd want him to borrow heavily from the original score, (particularly the theme and track 2, "Young Hannibal") but still come up with a new sound for the new movie.

With my previously chosen cast and this crew, I think I could not be involved in the creation of an A-Team remake movie and still be able to bring myself to watch it, maybe even get excited about it and not worry about it being messed up. I love The A-Team and really could get excited about a remake movie, but in the end, I'd rather have no A-Team movie than a bad one.

00Walrus #18: Tomorrow Never Dies

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TOMORROW NEVER DIES
Bond: Pierce Brosnan - 2 tusks
I will admit it. I was wrong in my previous review. Brosnan turns in a stronger performance in this one than I had previously remembered. In fact, I liked him better in this one than in GoldenEye. As a character, I wasn't a big fan of the "Indiana Jonesish" way that Brosnan's Bond interacts with women, specifically Michelle Yeoh's character. He seemed to come off a bit oafish rather than always together.

Girl: Michelle Yeoh as Colonel Wai Lin - 2 tusks
She evokes that "Spy Who Loved Me" vibe. A rival spy who finds that working with Bond bring many benefits. Sometimes they miscast the women in these opposing spy roles. Maybe we overlook it because the girls aren't the main character. But with Michelle Yeoh, she seemed like a character who could carry a movie on her own.

Gadgets: BMW 750iL with Ericsson Mobile Phone - 1 tusk
The backseat driving car chase did wind up being fun even if it was a tad far-fetched.

Opening Theme: "Tomorrow Never Dies" performed by Sheryl Crow - 2 tusks
Great song. While I'm not a huge fan of hers, Sheryl Crow was a great choice for singer on this song. She really gets into and delivers a song worthy of any of the great movies. Definitely adds to this movie rather than takes away.

Villain: Jonathan Pryce as Elliot Carver - 1 tusk
I liked him, but as I watched him I kept wondering why Pryce was doing a Malcolm McDowell impression (then I thought about how cool Malcolm McDowell would be as a Bond villain). It was another attempt at a modern day "take over the world" type of villain. His biggest problem was that he didn't seem incredibly threatening on his own. I'm not sure that had Bond not come along, one of his henchman wouldn't have eventually turned on him and taken over with ease.

Henchman: Götz Otto as Mr. Stamper - 1 tusk
I wasn't going to give him any special mention, but on the DVD extras the actor compares his character to Oddjob. Uh...Mr. Stamper is no Oddjob. Sorry, Götz.

Pre-title opening sequence - 2 tusks
Great opening sequence. Perfect mini-adventure that sets up some stuff to come later in the movie.

Story:
I went into this particular viewing remembering that I didn't like this movie. That was probably the best way to go into it, because I came out on the other end enjoying it more than I thought it would. I wound up liking it better than GoldenEye as many of the major problems I had with GoldenEye are fixed. Gone is most of the self-referential stuff. What little there is comes in the form of smoother dialog.

A lot of Bond plots at this point have to do with starting wars between two countries and in a lot of ways, this plot is no different and hearkens back to the older movies but puts a modern twist on it by making the villain a media mogul going after ratings.

In much the same way that I wasn't a fan of Alec Trevelyan being forced into Bond's backstory in GoldenEye, I wasn't a fan of Paris Carver coming out of nowhere in this movie. I guess the idea that Bond would run into someone he's had some history with was Brosnan's idea. It might have been better served to wait a movie or two and have Natalia Simonva return. Or do it in this movie, but have Lupe Lamora from License to Kill return. There's gobs of existing Bond material. It weakens the connection to make someone up for this.

Props to the director for casting Ricky Jay in a role. He could be a future "That Guy."

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

Walruses on a Plane

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It makes a better poster than a movie With all the hype that preceded Snakes on a Plane (SOAP) and its equally notable flop at the box office, I knew that I eventually would have to see it. That time finally arrived this week and the movie did not disappoint. SOAP was even more poorly conceived, ridiculous, and awful than I expected. Mission accomplished, New Line Cinema.

Note: I am going to play fast and loose with the spoilers in this review. The concept of spoiling a two year old, bad movie is a little odd, but I apologize in advance for "ruining" anyone's viewing experience.

Story

The story is simple enough in premise.

  1. Innocent bystander sees murder committed in Hawaii by generic Asian gangster.
  2. Bystander is picked up by the FBI and transported from Hawaii to L.A. to testify against generic Asian gangster.
  3. Generic Asian gangster smuggles hundreds of poisonous snakes and special snake aggression inducing pheromone onto said flight to L.A. in order to kill innocent bystander and prevent said testimony.
  4. Chaos ensues on said flight to L.A.

SOAP is a horror movie, thus a healthy suspension of disbelief is required to avoid nagging questions about the plot. So while the story is preposterous, I did my best to buy in and enjoy the ride. The story works as a means to set up snakes killing people on a plane, but it doesn't bring much more to the table. On the plus side, the writers do a great job in making unlikable characters. By about 20 minutes into the movie the writers had me rooting for the snakes to kill everyone including the protagonists.

While a thin plot can be perfectly fine window dressing for top notch acting performances or great action (see my comments on District B13), that is not the case here.

Presentation

Going in to my viewing I was counting on the presentation portion of SOAP to make it enjoyable. I thought maybe I'd see some cool CGI snakes, a few good action sequences, and lots of cursing by one of my favorite purveyors of swear words, Samuel L. Jackson. It was not to be.

The acting is the weakest part of the presentation. Most of the cast are TV veterans or B grade character actors and it shows. The performers that might bring a higher level game, Jackson and Julianna Margulies, appear to be phoning it in. Even Jackson's yelling and cursing feel uninspired (sob).

The CGI snakes vary in quality, but are only decent at their best. In several sequences the snakes look completely fake and the large anaconda/python is especially horrible. Speaking of anacondas, maybe they should have used some stock footage from Anaconda.

Story score--

Presentation score--

Not surprisingly, I cannot hand out the rewatchable walrus this time. I would consider another viewing with some buddies just to make fun of SOAP, but that is the only circumstance.

00Walrus #17: GoldenEye

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GOLDENEYE
Bond: Pierce Brosnan - 2 tusks
Brosnan slips comfortably into the role, a role he almost filled two movies previously. I've heard a lot of people say that Brosnan is the best Bond since Connery. Personally, I think he sets the stage here for being more of a follow up to Moore. I think he benefited from the Dalton buffer because of his similarity to Moore. The upside is that Brosnan looked to really be enjoying the role. The downside is that this may be his best movie.

Girl: Izabella Scorupco as Natalya Simonva - 1 tusk
She seemed like she should be more interesting than she was. Scorupco played the part well but ultimately, it was the character who bugged me. When she yells at Bond and Mishkin for being "boys with toys" and then later yells at Bond for being too macho (a.k.a. trying to save the world), I got annoyed. I've seen Bond get results using a certain macho approach for 16 previous movies. I don't need someone trying to get in the way of that.

Gadgets: BMW Z3 - 1 tusk
One of my favorite Bond cars ever, the BMW Z3, and it was hardly used. There are references to it having an arsenal of weaponry. I was excited to view the DVD and see if there was a deleted scene with more from this car. Sadly, nothing. It appears as though this was a last minute addition to the movie and there was no time to really create a scene involving the car in any sort of action sequence.

Opening Theme: "GoldenEye" performed by Tina Turner - 2 tusks
Classic singer singing a real brassy tune. This definitely evokes the feeling of Bond and sets a tone for this movie that puts it squarely in line with previous entries.

Villain: Sean Bean as Alec Trevelyan (006) - 2 tusks
The villain himself doesn't seem too terribly original and is called out on it by Bond late in the movie in that he is nothing more than a bank robber. Plus, the forced history between Trevelyan and Bond causes some of the emotion behind it all to be empty. But, Sean Bean makes it work to the best of his ability. I would loved to have seen that relationship grown in movies leading up to his ultimate betrayal. That would have meant more movies for Sean Bean. He rocks. In fact, I'm not so sure that Sean Bean wouldn't have made a better Bond than Brosnan.

Pre-title opening sequence - 1 tusk
This could have been a nice introduction to Pierce Brosnan but he almost seems to be upstaged by Sean Bean. That, combined with an incredibly over-the-top jump off a cliff into a falling plane sequence, brings this opening down to less than perfect.

Story:
This was actually the first Bond movie I ever watched. For whatever reason, the movies never really interested me as a kid. And the completist in me found the sheer number of them to be too many to really tackle as I got older and approached a level of interest. With a fresh, clean start, I decided to give GoldenEye a chance and I was hooked. From there, I went back and watched every Bond movie in some sort of weird, wacky order. And I'd say, if you are someone who's never watched the 007 movies and you don't plan to just sit and watch them in order, GoldenEye is a good place to start. That said, it's not without its weaknesses.

All of the Bond movies become dated in some way, but this one reeks of being too dated. Coming out around the same time the internet got big, the movie is full of references to that. And it doesn't seem to grasp what the internet really would become. Also, with the Russian villains, this seems a bit old now that the Cold War is over. Especially in light of the fact that's referenced within the movie.

I don't like it when characters are forced into a story too far in. That's how I feel about 006. There is a forced backstory that exists between 007 and 006 when, in 16 previous movies, we've seen 007 work with his fellow agents once, maybe twice. (And difference between 006 and Della from the previous movie is that even though Della is a new character, Felix is not. Bond's familiarity with Della says more about his relationship with Felix than it does his relationship with Della.) Also, the age of the character really begins to play a problem as there are indications that he has a long history with MI-6, but he can't possibly be the same Bond as Connery and Moore.

The biggest problem with the script is that it became too self-referential. Too many jokes calling out the Bondisms that don't need to be called out. On two or three occasions Scorupco's character feels the need to point out that Bond is destructive with a car. Not funny the first time, really not funny any subsequent time. The Jack Wade character was a poor replacement for Felix and also served to create self-referential scenes in the movie. Part of the problem is that this was the first Bond movie to come out after the major advent of "political correctness." Producers were probably worried about the character of Bond surviving the onset of being PC. Only in the case of casting Judi Dench as M did this really benefit Bond.

There are some incredible coincidences that are used to help set up the plot of the movie. Bond happens to be in the same city where Onatopp and Ourumov plan to steal a helicopter. Those two happen to be working for Trevelyan who happened to, at one time, work with Bond, same guy who was present at his "death." Some better writing could have made that all work better than just being full of coincidences.

The best part about this movie was the awesome tank chase sequence. That was one of the best Bond chase sequences ever.

Special Features:
Up until this movie, each bonus disc contained a 30-60 minute making of documentary narrated by Patrick Macnee. These were well-produced and in many cases, even better than the movie. For whatever reason, they stop as of GoldenEye. The special features as whole take a dive in quality. The Macnee-narrated pieces offered honest looks at the movies and presented the good and bad that went on behind the scenes. The new special features are nothing but promotional fluff that offer no real information. Disappointing, but I'll be happy with what I got.

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

00Walrus #16: License to Kill

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LICENSE TO KILL
Bond: Timothy Dalton - 2 tusks
Maybe he wasn't perfect in Living Daylights, but he's perfect now. The infallible nature of Bond is stripped away. Controlled and channeled emotion is infused into the character. He's ruthless. He's a one-man army. Simply awesome.

Girl: Carey Lowell as Pam Bouvier - 2 tusks
I didn't really buy into her "tough" character at first, but as the movie progressed, she grew on me. And Talisa Soto as Lupe Lamora was a great second Bond girl. It's not often the Bond movies play up the love triangle aspect even though there is often a second Bond girl. The dynamic here was interesting. Almost a little like "Betty & Veronica." Being a "Betty-fan," I'm glad that Pam Bouvier won out in the end.

Opening Theme: "License to Kill" performed by Gladys Knight - 2 tusks
From what I've gathered, this song is much maligned. I thought it was great and set the mood for the movie just fine. There was a lot of brass in that theme and it even has a throwback sound to Goldfinger.

Villain: Robert Davi as Franz Sanchez - 2 tusks
Sanchez is a great modern Bond villain. He shows a realistic way a villain can try to "take over the world" in the modern day. He is also very much like Bond in many ways.

Pre-title opening sequence - 2 tusks
Fun action sequence that does a good job setting the stage for the rest of the movie. It was a little over the top, but it effectively re-establishes the relationship between Bond and Felix.

Story:
This movie was ahead of it's time. When Dalton did it, it was financially unsuccessful, but when Daniel Craig did it in Casino Royale almost 20 year later, it was widely accepted. Gruffing up Bond and taking him back to his novel roots (something that really hadn't happened in the movies to this extreme since Dr. No) makes the character 100 times more interesting than he had been for years.

The story of revenge is a great departure for Bond and I love that he is so blinded by his thirst for revenge that he actually messes up a couple of other operations already in progress to take Sanchez down. There's no shortage of action in this movie. And with the exception of some outlandish semi tricks, it's mostly a more realistic action, although the Bond movies had been moving in that direction for the previous four entries.

The absolute worst part about this movie was the call to a rather chipper Felix at the end of the movie. Felix has lost a limb and his wife and is sitting up in bed talking to Bond like nothing has happened. I have to believe that there was studio involvement in that. They should have simply killed Felix off or had a rewrite of that scene that reflected the emotional turmoil that Felix must be in. I could have also done with another scene with M. Robert Brown makes his final appearance as M here and although he doesn't come close to his predecessor or successor, I think he deserved one more final scene where he welcomed Bond back perceivably begrudgingly.

Another thing I loved about this movie was the brief glimpse into Bond's personal life. We see Della for just a few minutes but her chemistry with Bond help sells their long history and makes the loss of her character more potent. Of course, this was helped by calling back to Bond's brief marriage. This is the kind of movie that Diamonds Are Forever should have been. Bond should have been tearing the world apart to get to Blofeld.

The Dalton movies sum up what I believe should have been happening with these movies for some time. By this point in the franchise, it's time to shake things up. The Living Daylights is very much a typical Bond "formula" movie. License to Kill is very much off-formula. They should have continued to operate like that. Unfortunately, Dalton never had a chance to do another Bond movie due to all the delays and a waning interest.

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

Friends, Goonies, Countrymen...

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... lend me your ears for a podcast.

For those of you who can't get enough Goonies talk (and honestly, who can?), be sure to check out the October 9th episode of the Nick Digilio podcast. The Nick D Show and podcast are always entertaining, but this week's episode features yet another debate on The Goonies by the Nick D crew and callers to the show. And best of all, the discussion this time around was instigated by my Goonies post from a couple weeks ago.

So head over there, pop in the ear buds, and enjoy.

Music Nerd: The dreaded lute-guitar

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About twelve years ago, I was heading towards a very dim future: a graduate degree in English medieval literature. Fortunately, as a senior writing my honors thesis on Dante's Divine Comedy, I had an epiphany: I don't like being useless, and simply talking about chivalry and honor and other noble concepts was starting to feel pretty useless. So I shifted gears and went to law school instead, and now I get to be the good guy once in a while, and at other times, sort of an honorable and competent bad guy.

But I digress.

This here is a lute-guitar. It's daddy was a lute, and it's mama was a guitar. Nylon strings and a wide, flat neck (like a classical guitar), and the body of a bowl-back lute (probably more of a Renaissance-era design than medieval, technically). As soon as I saw this, I knew that in a parallel universe, there is another me with a Ph.D. in medieval studies, $100K in student loans, a full beard, a non-tenure track position at a community college, clinical depression, and one of these babies hanging on the wall of my tiny apartment.

Oh, don't be mad, lute-guitar. You are beautiful. And it would be a lot of fun to get together with a bunch of like-minded individuals and wear tights and funny hats (like I did in madrigals back in high school) and do a lot of songs with the lyrics "Hey, Nonny, Nonny." To mix it up from time to time, we could dress up like elves and play gaming conventions and do songs about hobbits and such. It's two bands in one, really.

I loves me some Avengers

4 comments
Yessir, I loves me some Avengers. They weren't my favorite team when I was a kid --- I was more into the X-Men, which I got into just as John Romita, Jr. started drawing the book.

But as I got older, I started to appreciate what a cool model it is for a team book. Originally, it was sort of like the Justice League, with the most popular characters all in one book (minus Spider-Man and Daredevil, for some reason). But unlike the incredibly stable JLA, the Avengers started falling apart and putting themselves back together by about the second issue, when the Hulk got mad and quit.

Since then, it’s been an ever-changing mixture of heavy hitters with their own comics (primarily Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor), longtime second-tier stalwarts (the Vision, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch), and wild-card characters from every nook and cranny of the Marvel Universe (Crystal, Jack of Hearts, Tigra, Dr. Druid . . . ).

What really got me hooked was the great run by Kurt Busiek and George Perez a few years back — Busiek has apparently digested every Avengers comic ever read, and while it could be argued that he was mostly just regurgitating old continuity, I thought the creative team’s enthusiasm showed on every page.

So I’m very excited about this Avengers movie we have coming down the pike in a couple of years, and I was also pleased to learn that there will be a new Avengers cartoon, which will hopefully help me forget that really dire cartoon from a few years back.

For the record . . . if I were writing the book, I might try a lineup like this:

1. Captain America, Thor, Iron Man --- the big three.
2. Spider-Man, Wolverine, Daredevil --- there's something to this idea of putting the most popular characters all on the same team, isn't there?
3. Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk --- the former because she's a character with a chip on her shoulder who wants to make the A-list, the latter to stand in for the Hulk, and because I like sturdy women.

00Walrus #15: The Living Daylights

2 comments
THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS
Bond: Timothy Dalton - 2 tusks
While not a perfect Bond, Dalton manages to rid the character of all the stiffness infused into the role by Roger Moore. He comes closer to Connery's Bond in tone, although he infuses more humanity into the character than either Connery or Moore ever did. This was a transition movie in some ways, so there were things that didn't work for me. For example, Dalton awkwardly forces out the one-liner quips that Moore excelled at. He doesn't seem quite as polished as Moore was which isn't a problem for me except that the script doesn't play well to Dalton's approach.

Girl: Maryam d'Abo as Kara Milovy - 2 tusks
I found her to be very endearing and one of my favorite Bond girls in quite some time. She's a bit of a "common man" character, yet rises to the occasion and proves to be a good ally for Bond. The love interest aspect is downplayed to some extent so she almost seems like "one of the guys" by the end.

Opening Theme: "The Living Daylights" performed by a-ha - 2 tusks
I like this song quite a bit. I think it has what was a modern (at the time) feel, yet harkens back to the brassy sound of the older songs.

Villain: Jeroen Krabbé as General Georgi Koskov - 1 tusk
One of the more swarmy villains, Koskov doesn't seem like a worthy opponent to Bond. In fact, Bond almost seems more irritated by him and his ally, Brad Whitaker, than anything else.

Henchman: Andreas Wisniewski as Necros - 2 tusks
The writers did right by Necros in setting up an acceptable threat level. Having him kill off two 00 agents was one thing. But then seeing one an agent hold his own against Necros before eventually falling helped raise his stock. One of the things I hate seeing is the ease at which these specially trained guards and agents are taken out. See random agent put up a fight was good and helped increase his threat level later.

Pre-title opening sequence - 1 tusk
This doesn't really do much except establish Dalton as a more action-oriented Bond. This is one of his first interactions fellow 00 agents. Other than Thunderball where they were all at a meeting, Bond's only interaction with the other agents has been after they're dead. And I suppose it's not much different here.

Story:
In the same way I thought more of A View to a Kill after a reviewing, I thought a bit less of this movie after a reviewing. Sometimes I say that a movie is one rewrite away from being a good movie. This was good, but probably needed a rewrite to help tailor it to Dalton's strengths more. It seems very generic, like anyone could have been playing the part.

The main plot seems a bit convoluted. Fake the defection and then kidnapping of a not-so-respected Russian general in order to set the stage for a war, meanwhile, Bond decides to use loose connection to villain to track him down. The more interesting aspect of the plot was the killing of the agents and that seemed very much downplayed. The henchman in this movie made a much more threatening villain than the main baddie.

It was interesting to watch Bond team up with the Mujahideen especially after having recently watched Charlie Wilson's War. It has almost a haunting feel to it now knowing what happens years later.

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

Dawson's Comics

7 comments

In my mind, Buffy The Vampire Slayer was the first and one of the few shows to have successfully pulled off a "high school meets genre" setting. It was followed up by several copycats, some of which were good, others...not so much.

After Buffy came a successful show in Dawson's Creek which set the tone for much of what The WB aired for some time, even through today as The CW. Teen angst permeated the shows of The WB a great deal. A genre show couldn't simply be a genre show. It had to be "Dawson's Creek meets ...". So, along came Roswell (Dawson's Creek meets the X-Files), Charmed (a Spelling-produced show about witches), and eventually, Smallville.

As Smallville looks to be coming to a close at the end of this season (finally), the current show-runners are planning "Graysons," a look at the life of Dick Grayson before his family was killed and he became Robin.

Now, I like Robin. I'm apparently one of the few who do. I think that teen sidekicks as a whole get overused, but when it comes to the original, I think it's a neat idea. That said, I'm not turned off of this idea simply because we're dealing with Robin as the subject matter (if anything, it's the only thing about this that's grabbed my attention). I'm turned off by this show because I've seen what's come before in these shows.

These shows have simply become a big tease. Watering down Superman and turning him in to Dawson's Creek may have been ingenious from a marketing point of view, but storywise, it's hard to care when you know the ending. Why would I ever care about Lana when I know that Clark ends up with Lois Lane? I know, I know, it's not about the destination, it's about the journey. Well, weak plots and poor character development isn't an interesting journey. And now, the destination is messed up. Eight years into the show, he's Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter working for the Daily Planet, not wearing glasses. He has already met Lois Lane (sans glasses) and Lex has to know who he is. How can this possibly lead into Superman?

Smallville has twice tried to spin something off and both times have failed. Birds of Prey was created by the same guys who did Smallville. It was pretty awful. Very little like the comic. The show Alias was more like the Birds of Prey comic. Smallville also tried to spin-off an Aquaman series, potentially called "Mercy Reef." A pilot was produced and even available online and as a bonus disc with one of the DVD sets of Smallville. Nothing more ever came of it although the lead actor joined the cast of Smallville as Green Arrow.

So, one of two things would happen. Either the show gets canceled within the first 13 episodes or the show proves wildy popular and continues on long enough to where they write themselves into a corner and can't ever get to the end point. As long as Batman is on the big screen, he's not showing up on the small screen (which is a shame because a well-done live action Batman series would ROCK!).

In the end, I'm fine with the teen angst meets genre, but I think they should avoid established characters at this point. Come up with something new or relatively untouched, like Buffy, Roswell, or the one that was the best in recent times...Veronica Mars.

Sure, Smallville gets eight seasons but Veronica Mars only gets three? Where's the justice?
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