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A View to a Bond Baddie: Ernst Stavro Blofeld

To celebrate James Bond’s 50th birthday on screen, we’re going to take a look at the character and his films. We’ve already reviewed all the classic movies, so we’ll be looking at his iconic baddies, and even at the character himself.

Blofeld is unique among the Bond villains for his capacity to keep turning up. He’s appeared in more on-screen adventures than any other Bond baddie, and he survives in the popular imagination, with a lot of gossip about the next Bond film likely to debate whether or not they’re bringing Blofeld back. The character has endured in the public imagination as the Bond baddie, and he’s perhaps best immortalised as Micheal Myers’ Doctor Evil from the Austin Powers movies. However, watching his appearances again, I’m actually struck by how little consistency there is in the portrayal of his character, and I can’t help but wonder if the reason he endures is because of his versatility as an adversary.

Bond movies have a remarkable adaptability. They can be serious, campy, ridiculous, sombre, mature and juvenile, often all at the same time. As far as Bond villains go, Blofeld’s really the only villain who can compete with that.

He looks like the cat who got the canary…

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Non-Review Review: Tomorrow Never Dies

This post is part of James Bond January, being organised by the wonderful Paragraph Films. I will have reviews of all twenty-two official Bond films going on-line over the next month, and a treat or two every once in a while.

What the hell is he doing?

His job.

– Admiral Roebuck and M watch Bond do the impossible before the opening titles

I have a confession to make. I unapologetically love Tomorrow Never Dies. It’s the first Bond movie I saw in the cinema, with my dad and brother while on a shopping trip up North. I believe the girls went to see Titanic. It’s my first cinematic Bond experience, a perhaps that’s why I am somewhat fonder memory of the film than most – but, even on reflection, I still hold the movie in high regard. I just think it’s the perfect companion piece to the superb GoldenEye. While Martin Campbell’s film was about deconstructing the spy, showing how useless he was in times of peace and arguing he was “a relic of the Cold War” who needed updating and introspection, this Bond film was about how he can do all the cool stuff he used to, even after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Sure, it’s not as deep, smart or sophisticated as the earlier film, but it’s an unashamed throwback to the classic Bond films – and what’s wrong with that?

By the way, how telling is it that – while Bond used to drive a snazzy sports car in the sixties – he drives a family sedan in the nineties?

I'm pretty sure that the only reason Tomorrow Never Dies is because Bond never tried to kill it...

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Non-Review Review: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

This post is part of James Bond January, being organised by the wonderful Paragraph Films. I will have reviews of all twenty-two official Bond films going on-line over the next month, and a treat or two every once in a while.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a relatively low-key Bond adventure. The action set pieces aren’t spectacular, it’s mostly confined to one geographical locale and it features a genuinely moving love story. Coupled with the fact that George Lazenby is replacing Sean Connery, you’d be forgiven for assuming that you’d accidentally been given the wrong video at the video store. It’s not that the changes are necessarily bad (though, to be frank, some of them are), just that it doesn’t exactly feel like the smoothest possible transition.

… And I thought Bond was only married to his job….

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Non-Review Review: Austin Powers

This post is part of James Bond January, being organised by the wonderful Paragraph Films. I will have reviews of all twenty-two official Bond films going on-line over the next month, and a treat or two every once in a while.

It’s a little sad to think that Austin Powers is the last true comedic character that Mike Myers brought to the screen, and he was created nearly fifteen years ago. Yes, I have seen The Love Guru.

Powers to the People!

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Non-Review Review: You Only Live Twice

This post is part of James Bond January, being organised by the wonderful Paragraph Films. I will have reviews of all twenty-two official Bond films going on-line over the next month, and a treat or two every once in a while.

You Only Live Twice was my favourite when I was younger. It was energetic, witty, bright, colourful and adventurous. The stakes were ridiculously high – no less than the Third World War. Bond’s trip to Japan painted the country as an exotic wonderland to a mind as young as my own. The script was smart and the action was fast-paced – the movie still breezes along even today. The cost of the speed is that the movie is ultimately fairly light – it doesn’t carry anything particularly heavy or thought-provoking. This means that it ends up feeling relatively light-weight when measured against some of Sean Connery’s earlier outings like From Russia With Love or Goldfinger, which worked at least as much with suspense as with action.

Is Bond turning Japanese?

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Michael Sheen to clean up as Blofeld?

I have to admit, the news that Paul Haggis would be replaced by Peter Morgan on writing duties at Bond 23 (because we don’t have a cool/confusing/pretentious title yet) was a little bit of a surprise, but not too much. The producers reportedly also attempted to coax Danny Boyle into directing the film, so I guess they’re trying one rung down on this year’s Oscar-nominees list. I’m not sure if that’s a good sign though. Don’t get me wrong, Morgan is amazing and I eagerly anticipate The Special Relationship (though I think he picked the wrong President), but I’m worried that the movies are creeping toward pretention. I like Casino Royale, it cleared away nearly forty years of rubble the franchise had accumulated – but it seems the producers picker up on the wrong message from its success. The Quantum of Solice didn’t give us back-to-basics Bond as much as it gave us a British Jason Bourne. Still, regardless of my feelings about behind the scenes, I am somewhat excited by the Michael Sheen as Blofeld rumours that are cropping up.

Isn't he just Darling... oh wait, wrong member of government...

Isn't he just Darling... oh wait, wrong member of government...

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