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Non-Review Review: Never Say Never Again

Never Say Never Again has quite a lot weighing against it. Most obviously, there’s the fact that we already say this story at the height of the film franchise’s popularity, but there’s also a whole host of other issues that arise due to the attempts to distinguish this iteration of the character and story from the EON productions. There are times when the film can’t seem to decide if it is or isn’t Thunderball, just as there are times when it can’t decide if it wants to acknowledge the “other” Bond films, or ignore them completely. Despite that, there’s some good stuff on display here. The film famously opened against Octopussy, losing the box office battle. While neither is “vintage” Bond, I think that Never Say Never Again is the stronger of the two films. At least it serves as a better swan song for Sean Connery than Diamonds Are Forever.

The Bond who came in from the cold…

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A View to a Bond Baddie: Dr. Julius No

‘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.

In many ways, Dr. No feels like a rather strange first instalment for a franchise that has managed to persist from half a century. Many of the trademarks we associate with the series are absent. There’s no pre-credits sequence. No powerful theme song involving the title of the film. Even the music playing over that iconic gun barrel shot sounds weird. There are no gadgets and gizmos, save for a Geiger Counter. The movie’s iconic Bond girl, Honey Rider, only shows up past the mid-point of the film.

As such, it’s amazing that the Bond villain emerged almost fully formed, with Dr. No providing perhaps the archetypal James Bond baddie.

He didn’t spend 6 years in evil physics school to be called “Mister”…

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Non-Review Review: The Spy Who Loved Me

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 Spy Who Loved Me was just what Bond needed after The Man With The Golden Gun. Let’s be honest here, the movie has perhaps the strongest and most iconic opening sequence of any Bond movie – even those who haven’t seen the film know the beats off by heart. Bond is skiing, escaping a Russian ambush in the snow. He’s giving as good as he gets, but he’s cornered – out numbered and outgunned. In a moment of desperation, Bond flees his attackers, skiing off the side of a cliff.

It’s a cliffhanger…

For a moment, there is nothing but silence. As the stunt man tumbles through the air, the music stops cold. It’s not just the audience holding their breath as they watch Bond enter free fall. Is this it for our illustrious secret agent? You know it can’t be more than a couple of seconds, but it seems to last an eternity. And then…

And then…

The Bond music kicks into gear as the parachute opens – a Union flag. And then the opening beats of Nobody Does It Better sound in the background as Bond makes good his escape. Let’s face it, the movie could end there and it would be the best thing to happen to Bond since Sean Connery left.

Nobody does it better…

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