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The Six Faces of 007: Timothy Dalton

To celebrate James Bond’s 50th birthday on screen (and the release of Skyfall), 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.

Timothy Dalton’s tenure as Bond is almost as divisive as that of George Lazenby, the only actor to serve a shorter term in the iconic role. However, in the years since Dalton departed the franchise, I’ll admit that I’ve grown quite fond of his interpretation of the British secret agent. Between The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill, I think that Dalton portrayed the most human and most tangible of the character’s screen personas, and I think that he suffers from being cast twenty years too early in the part. Certainly, one can see a lot of Daniel Craig’s whittled-down take on the character in Dalton’s two outings as 007.

Dalton’s taken quite a beating…

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The Six Faces of 007: George Lazenby

To celebrate James Bond’s 50th birthday on screen (and the release of Skyfall), 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.

George Lazenby stands out as perhaps the strangest on-screen Bond. He only appeared in a single film before retiring from the role, shortly before the premiere, causing such a crisis that the studio paying a huge amount of money to re-hire Sean Connery for Diamonds Are Forever. His one film, however, stands out as one of the very few movies in the series to give the character Bond a logical character arc, and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service remains one of the most polarising films in the series. I actually think that Lazenby’s tenure is perhaps the one that lends itself best to the “multiple Bonds” theory, as he plays the version of the character harder to reconcile with the other portrayals.

And not just because of that awkward line that closes the opening sequence. There’s a lot here that never happened to the other fellas.

Washed up?

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A Film By Any Other Name: The Art of Stupid Movie Branding…

I have a confession to make. I did not go to see The Avengers. I went to see Marvel’s Avenger’s Assemble. I didn’t mention this before because… well, that’s a stupid name and people aren’t idiots. If I talk about “The Avengers” and mention details like a “giant green rage monster”, “Nick Fury”, “box office records” or even “enjoyable”, odds are that you will know the film that I am talking about. I’m normally quite reluctant to attack particular movie practices as silly or illogical, if only because I’ve no direct experience of how the industry works.

To be fair, I’ll generally assume that the studios know what they’re talking about when it comes to making movies. However, when it comes to slapping silly names on their posters and insisting that the audience refer to a movie by a convoluted, generic and awkward focus-group-crafted title, I do feel like I have an opinion. The Avengers is the most recent high-profile example, but I’ve found myself increasing irritated by this somewhat pointless branding.

Silly titles make Darren angry!

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Non-Review Review: The Offence

The Offence was reportedly one of the pictures that MGM agreed to fund for Sean Connery in order to get the veteran actor to sign on to reprise the role of James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever. While the film is too slow, methodical and restrained to really qualify as an undisputed classic, I do sleep just a little bit better for knowing that something good came from Connery signing on to play Bond once more. (Although, to be fair, he also donated his salary to charity, so that speaks to his character as well.)

Gripping drama...

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James Bond January in Review

It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these, and I’m not sure I should bring them back – but, hey, it might be nice to have an index of all the James Bond January shenanigans I got up to this January. Let’s start with the reviews  of the 22 films – all of them:

I also did some James Bond related posts in the month. I wondered about the “James Bond is just a codename” theory, pondered what Bond 23 might have in store for the franchise and wondered if Bond gets away with so much because we dismiss a lot of its British nationalism as “quaint”.

Apart from all that, I wondered if the film 300 was actually racist, and dared to suggest it wasn’t. I took a look at Matthew Vaughn’s upcoming X-Men: First Class and superhero nostalgia. I also pondered what Christopher Nolan’s Bane might look like. It was a fun month, and I hope that next month will be just as exciting.

Thanks again to Paragraph Films for throwing the whole “James Bond January” thing together. It was a joy to take part.

Non-Review Review: Quantum of Solace

Note: I have another review of the film here, but this was written as part of “James Bond January”, after watching all 22 films in quick succession. 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.

Quantum of Solace is a strange film. In many ways, it feels more like a return to the Bond formula than its direct predecessor, and yet it feels like less of a Bond film. It isn’t a case that film takes the franchise in a new direction while retaining its core identity (as Licence to Kill did, for example), but the feeling that there’s been a fundamental shift in the series, occurring under the radar. It feels as if, though the movie can talk the talk, there’s something different in the step – it can’t quite walk the walk, unfortunately.

Don’t leave us dangling…

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Non-Review Review: The World Is Not Enough

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.

The World is Not Enough is a mess of a film, even by the standards of the Bond films. It proposes some interesting ideas and has some neat concepts, but there’s also some really stupid moments thrown in as well. If Tomorrow Never Dies was Pierce Brosnan doing tribute to later Sean Connery films, this him stuck in homage to Roger Moore – a few smart and emotional moments scattered over a large serving of camp, like vanilla pods mixed into the most bland vanilla ice cream you could imagine. It’s not a terrible film, but it’s so wildly inconsistent that it’s far less satisfying than generally weaker instalments.

That's the crushing weight of expectation, right there...

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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: GoldenEye

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.

GoldenEye saved James Bond. Bond had wallowed in obscurity for six years by the time that Pierce Brosnan’s first appearance in the role was released. As a kid, James Bond was something that was dead to me. Sure, it came on television from time to time (mostly on holidays) and they filled up a shelf at the videostore, but I always felt like they were something that had happened in the past – like the original Star Wars movies, or any Star Trek films featuring Captain Kirk. Even though I lacked the sophistication to articulate it at the time, I think I felt that the entire James Bond franchise would be reruns for me. There was nothing new happening.

And then GoldenEye was released.

Brosnan is Bond...

And it meant business.

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Non-Review Review: A View to a Kill

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.

A View to A Kill is not fondly remembered. In fact, it frequently finds itself listed amongst the dregs of the Bond films when the time comes to rank the worst of the British secret agent’s on-screen adventures. Truth be told, I find that rather harsh – I’d argue that it’s a significantly stronger effort than The Man With The Golden Gun, at least – as well as possibly Octopussy and Moonraker. After all, both Roger Moore and Christopher Walken look like they are having such a ridiculously good time.

Not quite a towering accomplishment…

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