Madeline Swan Song

I grew up with James Bond movies. But I became a man during Daniel Craig’s run of Bond films. I think back to where I was in my life 15 years ago when Casino Royale came out. Like Bond, I was a scrappy upstart coming up in the world with everything to prove and nothing to lose. I wrote and starred in a James Bond musical entitled Nobody Does it Better. For the story, I mined certain elements from the novel You Only Live Twice that hadn’t made it into the movie version, including my favorite villain’s lair of all the books: the poisonous suicide garden of Dr. Shatterhand. I had a lot of fun and didn’t get sued by the Fleming estate so it was a good time.

Bond and the V8 Vantage in NO TIME TO DIE (New Image): JamesBond

I met my wife for the first time at the midnight matinee of Quantum of Solace, so no matter what shit people sling at that flick it will always have a special place in my heart. We wouldn’t have an actual conversation for another four years, but that night was the beginning of my destiny.

Skyfall came out the year I got my first big boy job. It seemed as though the weight of the world was on my shoulders. The starving artist standing on the stage in a tux with a fake Walther PPK in his hand and an arrogant smirk on his face from five years ago seemed like another person. I realized that the other person was me and I sought to find him again. My journey took me all the way to New York City and my future wife and I finally had that conversation. We walked through central park with our arms linked together and part of us are still walking in that park today. A year later we were living together. A year after that we saw Spectre opening night in Time Square. There was a wonderful symmetry to our second James Bond midnight matinee and it felt like a private valentine’s day of sorts. When No Time to Die’s release date in November of 2019 was pushed back the first time, it felt like someone was teasing our little holiday away from us. A lot happened while we waited for that movie. A pandemic, our first house, our first car, a new job. Our son.

I said I grew up with James Bond. It would be more accurate to say I was raised by him. One of my earliest memories is my father reading Dr. No to me. I didn’t quite understand it but it seemed dangerous and intoxicating. I wanted my son’s first movie to be a James Bond picture.

But the pandemic is scary. I wouldn’t want to expose my kid or his mother to any danger. I thought of going by myself, but I knew I would hate myself, miss them and ultimately not enjoy it anyway. I’d been seeing these James Bond movies opening night for over 20 years. My parents, my friends, my sister, now my wife. I couldn’t leave my son out of it. I found a showing with reserved seats that had zero tickets on opening night. We had the theater almost completely to ourselves except for one other couple in the back. The boy was enthralled for the entire cold open and fell asleep by the time we got to the opening credits set to a Billie Eilish tune. Baby’s aren’t supposed to watch movies so it’s all for the better and we still get to say his first movie was James Bond. It just so happens my boy’s first Bond is this Bond’s last.

The final film of an actor’s run as 007 is rarely known his best and often ranked among the worst of the series. There is a logic to it I suppose. By the time a Bond reaches the end of his run, perhaps his particular interpretation of the character is no longer relevant. Sean Connery lost interest in the character, Roger Moore aged out, and Pierce Brosnan surfed the shark. Craig was in danger of doing all three after Spectre. But Daniel Craig’s final fling with a Walther PPK No Time to Die is a strong entry in the series. It also smooths the faults of its predecessor and resolves the emotional arc of the character thoughtfully and respectfully. For that alone, most will probably herald it as the greatest Bond swan song. 

Daniel Craig himself seems to be having a little more fun this time. He’s invested in the character and he seems to be telling the story he wants to tell. There are plenty of nods to fans, but unlike the recent Star Wars films or Die Another Day, this one doesn’t pistol whip you with it. There’s even a reference to Die Another Day in No Time to Day by way of a delectados cigar. 

The plot mirrors the story of the best Hitman mission in the series, The World of Tomorrow Scientists are making a assassation weapon that can kill targets based on their DNA, intended to avoid collateral damage but clearly a recipe for genocide. It’s no mistake that the makers of that game are currently working on the next 007 video game, appropriately titled Project 007.

No Time to Die occasionally stops to acknowledge its moment. I’m not the person to address if the film’s representation of gender, sex, orientation and race are meaningful examples of equality or if the producers are just desperate to avoid scrutiny for a series that has a long history of racism, sexism, homophobia and misogyny.

It sounds like a strange detail, but I appreciate the way this film does dots. The worst sin of the Craig Bond films is their needless constant monkeying with the gun-barrel sequence. It still doesn’t look quite right, but I’m not going to let it bother me. And the title designer immediately makes up for it in the title sequences when he pulls up the original multi-colored polka dots from Dr. No. It takes us back to the beginning with a subtle visual queue. You don’t even have to notice it, you just have to feel it.

The locations echo previous Bond adventures and the world that influenced him. His retirement pad in Jamaica looks more than a little like the Goldeneye Estate, the house where James Bond creator Ian Fleming wrote the original 007 novels. The remnants of the Cold War that forged his character crumble around him in this film. From the dusty streets of Havana, to the austere Soviet sub pen hidden on an island of doom, the forgotten sins of Bond’s war loom large. 

I had to smile when I realized they were going to do the poisonous garden in the last act. It made me feel like that smug young buck on stage opening night 15 years ago who had no idea where life would take him but knew it would be good. Like Bond, I’ve changed since then. Now I’m a family man. And in this movie, so is he. The producers wisely and respectfully dust off the most poignant motif in the Bond saga. It’s a little bit of poetry and a few strains of strings that accompanied Bond the last time tried to settle down. “We have all the time in the world,” James Bond assures the woman he loves. The music lilts and fate demonstrates it has other ideas. 

With No Time to Die, Daniel Craig become the first James Bond to have a full arc as 007. We follow our man in the tux from the moment he get his Double O to the moment he finally…well…he either dies or she does right? You can’t invoke the cruel irony of “all the time in the world” and not go through with it. For me, that’s really the reason why No Time to Die is probably the best Bond send-off. But before we go I’m going to go to bat for them the other Bond swan songs.

Die Another Die is an easy target. It goes completely off the rails rather quickly. And it’s a shame, because the first half of this movie has a lot of cool scenes and I’m finally starting to buy Pierce Brosnan as a dangerous Bond. The Hong Kong and Cuba stuff are a lot of fun, and I even enjoy the ridiculous sword fight scene. People say it’s when the invisible car shows up that the movie loses it. I think it’s actually when Bond smells Rosa Klebb’s shoe. I guess Brosnan’s shoulder-biting Bond always was a little kinky. And yet, I can’t really blame this movie for being exactly what it wants to be, and it’s trying very hard to make me like it. Almost too hard. 

View to a Kill I will defend to the end. I totally understand why people make fun of this movie, I do too. But once you realize Grace Jones is actually James Bond in this movie, not Roger Moore this movie is off to the races. Grace Jones is the one skydiving off the Eiffel Tower. She’s the one that stops the bad guy’s bomb from going off at the end. Grace Jones literally makes Roger Moore her bottom in this movie. Roger Moore makes quiche. Who do you think is the real Bond? The fact that we have a photographic record of Christopher Walken as a Bond villain is a thing to treasure, and for that alone I’m glad this movie was made. 

Sean Connery holds the record for most “last” Bond movie. Having quit the role three separate times, Connery officially has three final Bond movies. His first last is You Only Live Twice, based on the last Bond novel his creator Ian Fleming wrote. I love this movie and this book, even though they have nothing to do with one another. I always disappointed that they never filmed Blofeld’s Garden of Death, a terrifying suicide garden within the gates of a forboding castle. But Blofeld’s Monorail outfitted spaceship-launching volcano base is always pretty awesome.

Connery’s second final Bond is in my opinion the worst James Bond movie of all time. It’s certainly the tackiest, and it’s where the series starts to learn a lot of bad habits that lingered around for decades. Sean is out of shape and out to lunch, the film is rip-roaringly homophobic and mysonistic and Blofeld dresses like an old lady. But as horrible as Diamonds are Forever is and as terrible as Sean Connery is in it, I respect the fact that he’s basically just fleecing the producers of this movie and us for money. Plays us all for saps, gets the girl, takes the money and runs. It’s a pretty James Bond stunt to pull. 

Not only is Connery’s final final final Bond regarded as one of the worst, some don’t even acknowledge it as an official Bond at all. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Never Say Never Again is never as bad as they say it is. It peters out and meanders around but despite its campiness and tackiness it does feel more adult than the Roger Moore Bonds. Sean Connery is here to play this time. He’s making good money and hanging out with beautiful women. He also has something to prove this time. He wants to remind us that he’s not only a good James Bond, he is James Bond. And honestly, I think Klaus Maria Brandauer is great in this movie. I will never say Never Say Never Again is among the best Bond films, but now and again I think I can say Brandauer’s Largo might be one of the best villains.

Timothy Dalton’s brief tenure as Bond is often overlooked and certainly underrated. The first of the Dalton Duology is probably his best but his second and last License to Kill isn’t bad either. Dalton is probably the best actor who’s played Bond. He and Roger Moore both attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and yet their respective takes on the superspy couldn’t be any different, which makes we question what the hell they are teaching there. Dalton’s Bond is deadly and willful but still sophisticated and intelligent. License to Kill fleshes out Bond’s friendship with Felix Leiter and makes it central to his character’s motivations, foreshadowing the events of No Time to Die. The final film of the Dalton Duology may look more like Lethal Weapon than a 007 picture, but at the heart of it is a story true to Bond’s character and a performance that does it justice.

We’ll see how the years treat No Time to Die and how long it holds the mantle of best Bond swan song. Sometimes movies like this make a good first impression on audiences and then opinion sours as the years go on. For me it was a truly moving and thrilling moviegoing experience that I will treasure for a long time. It will be a while before I’m the headspace to watch this movie from start to finish and it’s not exactly the kind of Bond film that you just put on in the background during the holidays. But there are a couple of scenes I anticipate rewatching multiple times. My son won’t remember his first movie, but I’ll always remember him cradled in my wife’s arms, awakening with a smile as the screen reminds us James Bond Will Return. We may not have all the time in the world, but we have each other and we have this time. Movies are just movies. Sound and fury signifying nothing. But we grow up with them, we use them to mark different times in our life. No matter what the future holds, No Time to Die will always remind me of what might end up being the best time in my life.

007 Things James Bond Has Done Stupider than Being a Woman or Black

As usual, fandom is up in arms about some bullshit. This time it’s a rumor that James Bond will be passing his license to kill to actress Lashana Lynch in No Time to Die, the next entry of the long-running franchise. This would of course make Lynch both the first black 007 and the first female 007. Personally, I think Lynch has the swagger and badassery to be a great 007 but others have lambasted this as a betrayal of the character. A recent poll has revealed that three out of four people do not want a female 007.

lashana-lynch-captain-marvel

For me, making Lashana Lynch a new 007 but not a new James Bond is a clever way of keeping the character of James Bond who he is, but freeing up the narrative to make 007 who she is. As a life-long Bond fanatic, I’m curious to see them try something new and confident that the world will keep turning if it doesn’t work out. First of all, making Lashana Lynch 007 isn’t “crazy.” And even it it were, there are plenty of times the Bond franchise has done things “crazier” than handing over the 00 designation to someone who doesn’t resemble the previous person to hold the title. Here’s my list of the Seven things Double-O-Seven has done that are stupider than being a black woman:

001 Become Japanese

That’s right, this wouldn’t be the first time 007 has changed races. Only instead of a reasonable explanation like James Bond retiring and passing the baton to a black woman, they like literally gave him a racial makeover in 1969’s You Only Live Twice. That’s right, in order to help him go undercover as a local fisherman, James Bond is given some sort of race transplant to turn him Japanese. For some reason, the procedure is also carried out by a bunch of hot, giggling girls in bikinis just to make it more James Bondy. Ultimately, turning Japanese just means putting James Bond in Spock makeup. Although the race operation is seemingly a painstaking process, it is magically reversed between shots later in the movie, making this plot point far stupider than having 007 be a black woman.

8b42839899ec4196-600x338

002 Be a Fucking Clown

At a certain point in the early-eighties, James Bond became so goddamned stupid that they gave him literal clown shoes and a red nose in the movie Octopussy. In a getup that would make even the Joker and Harley Quinn blush, James Bond enters a circus arena and defuses a nuclear weapon dressed like Bozo the Clown, Ronald McDonald and Pennywise the Dancing clown had a conference call to decide what to wear that day. However they handle the passing of the baton in the new Bond flick, I can guarantee it cannot be any stupider than James Bond literally running off to join the circus.

Octopussy-Clown-Suit

003 Invent Snowboarding

By the time Roger Moore got to his last Bond movie, they had to up the ante on stupid. So in the opening sequence, James Bond turns part of a snowmobile into a snowboard and cowabungas down a Siberian mountain to escape the Ruskies while a shitty synthesizer cover of California Girls blasts in the background. Wow, so fucking stupid.

screen-shot-2018-12-10-at-8-51-07-am

004 Surf into North Korea

The last of Pierce Brosnan’s movies, Die Another Day, is chock-filled with shit stupider than being a black woman. In the very first scene, James Bond infiltrates the most reclusive and secretive nation on the planet, a place almost completely cut off from outside influence, literally called “Hidden Kingdom.” Does he parachute in or dig an underground tunnel? No, he fucking surfs right across the 38th Parallel. If Douglas MacArthur tried that, the Korean conflict would definitely not be the “forgotten war.” Hell, even Dennis Rodman wouldn’t try a stunt this stupid. At least they didn’t play a Beach Boys song, that would make it almost as stupid as a later scene in the movie where James Bond gets a chance to…

21336231_2

005 Be Invisible

Yes, the stupidity of Die Another Day subsides a bit after the surf opening and manages to be a regular movie for a while, even during the Madonna part. But it all goes down hill when the Ministry of Silly Walks from Monty Python shows up and gives Bond a car that makes him invisible. Yes, James Bond gets a gas-powered version of the Harry Potter Cloak of Invisibility. Yeah, I know that the military is developing versions of cloak technology but this was back in 2002, and even the Klingons didn’t have shit that literally made you invisible. Some assholes may think having a black woman as 007 is crazy, but I’m sure we’ll at least be able to see her.

267e4a83a736c4b003601b52fa646c12

006 Throw his Peepee at Someone

So the canonicity of Never Say Never is disputed since may consider this to be an “unofficial” James Bond. But as far as I’m concerned, if James Bond is in a movie — especially if Sean Connery is playing him — it’s official. And in this movie, James Bond takes a jar of his own piss and throws it at a guy. For some reason it burns the guys eyes so badly that he falls into a bunch of glass and dies. I haven’t had a lot of urine tossed at me, but I don’t think that’s how it works. I do know that when we finally get a black woman as James Bond, she won’t be drowning her adversaries in piss.

neversayneveragain1983part2.0112

007 Not Be British

As crazy as it sounds, there has been casting drama around James Bond movies since the first 007 was announced over fifty years ago. Yes, even Sean Connery, widely-regarded as the quintessential James Bond, was controversial pick. Bond purists complained that Connery was Scottish so he couldn’t possibly be a British spy! Fortunately, Ian Fleming retconned Bond’s ancestry in a later 007 novel to give him Scottish roots, putting that furor to bed.

image1393399

But even the next James Bond wasn’t British, he was Australian. In fact, it would take over a decade of James Bond movies to finally get a British 007, and he was the guy who literally dressed up like a clown! After Roger Moore, it took another twenty years to get a British James Bond again. Timothy Dalton was born in North Wales. His pops was a Brit but Mom was an American with Italian and Irish roots. I love the Dalt but that’s hardly heraldry to write home about. What about Pierce Brosnan? Well turns out he was born in Ireland and is now a naturalized American citizen. And even when they finally got another British 007 in the form of Daniel Craig, there was still an outcry because — GASP — he was blond! So that means that only a paltry 1/3 of 007s up until now have been British. But guess who is British? Lashana Lynch. She was born and raised right in jolly old London, making her about as British as tea and crumpets or whatever. That’s right, as “crazy” as it sounds making a black woman the new 007, she is actually more qualified to be a British spy than the vast majority of actors who have taken up the designation. And I can tell you one thing, however No Time to Die turns out, Lashana Lynch will not be an invisible, piss-tossing, snowboarding clown in Asian face.

How Adam West and Roger Moore Saved Batman and Bond

This weekend an old friend asked me how it felt to lose Roger Moore and Adam West within such a short span of time. It’s an appropriate question considering Moore and West’s version of Bond and the Bat have always existed in my mind as parallel portrayals. Both are regarded as the goofiest incarnations of the two characters and are consistently trashed by “serious” fans. I will admit to fits of nerd rage in which I ridiculed the childish lunacy of Batman ’66 and the insulting stupidity of films like Moonraker. But during their respective tenures as these legendary characters, Moore and West brought a sense of levity, fun and color to two mildly psychotic characters that might otherwise never have transcended their original incarnations and enjoyed such enduring success and popularity.

adam-west-rtr-2017-061017

Batman was created at the tail end of the Great Depression and the beginning of the Second World War. The drab, crime-ridden world of Gotham and the disturbed individuals which inhabit it are stark reflections of a period of extreme squalor and unparalleled violence. By contrast, the mid-1960s were a time of growth, optimism and revolutionary art and ideas in which the original Batman would have been an unwelcome anachronism. Adam West’s gleefully positive portrayal of the Caped Crusader reinvigorated the flagging popularity of the character for generations to come and without him Batman may have gone the way of the Red Bee. Never heard of him? Exactly.

Roger-Moore-Lotus-Esprit-01

James Bond is a distinct product of the most paranoid and dangerous point of the Cold War. The novels and early films reflect a time when people suspected their own neighbors and friends to be Communist spies and school children cowered under their desks awaiting nuclear annihilation. In this world, James Bond’s drunken ruthlessness was understandable and even excusable. While the 70s and early 80s were still a long way off from the crumbling of the Soviet State, Glasnost and Perestroika gave the world hope that war between the United States and Russia was not some Thucydidian inevitability. Additionally, the rise of second wave feminism made Bond’s abusive and predatory attitude towards women seem outdated if not criminal. The coldblooded James Bond of the 60’s, slapping women around and killing enemies without compunction would never have survived the age of Shaft and Foxy Brown. Moore tried to portray a darker Bond in his first two films and the results showed a character on his last legs. 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, widely regarded as Moore’s finest outing as 007, offered a course correction that arguably saved the series. From the disco-inspired soundtrack to Barbara Bach’s badass portrayal of a Russian spy who was every bit Bond’s equal, the film suddenly made a 25-year-old English literary character seem as fresh and funny as Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit.

Like Adam West’s Batman, Roger Moore’s James Bond kept himself alive by adapting to the changing times and learning not to take it all so seriously. There is a sense of giddy excitement and pure fun that bubbles up when an episode of Batman ’66 comes on TV in the afternoon or a Roger Moore flick pops up during the 007 Days of Christmas. These adventures are like embarking on a vacation with your rich and eccentric uncle. It’s going to be a wild ride but they’ll always keep you safe and make sure you’re having fun. For an entire generation of fans, Roger Moore and Adam West were James Bond and Batman.

But as the two characters entered a new millennium, the lighthearted portrayals that had enjoyed so much popularity started to show their wear, and rightly so. The Batman of the Summer of ’69 and the Bond of the Dawn of Disco were almost offensively out-of-touch in the post-9.11 landscape. Millennials were into The Matrix and Fight Club and decidedly disinterested in seeing James Bond surf and Batman play ice hockey. So after Batman and Robin flopped and Die Another Day disappointed, the two franchises once again underwent a dramatic transformation to suit the era. It was the beginning of Hollywood’s obsession with “darkness,” in which a film’s artistic value was gauged by how miserably humorless their protagonist seemed.

For millennial nerds like me, it was a triumphant return to form. In this new era of “darkness” there was a sense that tinsel town had finally found the “right” way to portray legendary heroes like James Bond and Batman. Growing up reading Ian Fleming Bond novels and Frank Miller Batman comics, I was relieved to find that Hollywood finally “got it.” Casino Royale and The Dark Knight are now almost universally regarded among millennials as the best incarnations of the world’s greatest secret agent and the world’s greatest detective. After the foppish Brosnan Bond and the benippled Schumacher Bat, Daniel Craig and Christian Bale gave us tortured, brooding and supposedly “realistic” versions of these characters that delighted a generation of hardcore fanboys swelling with unrepentant nerd rage over decades of alleged cinematic betrayal by money minded producers who didn’t understand what made these characters tick.

A decade later, I am beginning to feel exhausted by all this darkness and the passing of Roger Moore and Adam serves as a bittersweet reminder that their James Bond and Batman are just as important to the enduring appeal of these characters as that of Daniel Craig and Christian Bale. In art, there is no such thing as the “right” way to tell a story. There is a way to portray a character that reflects the era in which the film is made, that speaks to the young people growing up during that time and understands what that generation needs from the character. The great thing about James Bond and Batman is that they are characters that can be endlessly reinterpreted by different writers, actors and filmmakers. We are lucky to live in a time when we have such an expansive catalog of different versions of these characters. Want a tense Bond thriller? Watch one of the old Sean Connery flicks. Want a heart-pumping, action-oriented 007 adventure? Watch a Daniel Craig film. Want a bizarre art deco version of Gotham? Watch Tim Burton’s Batman. Want a version of Gotham City that mirrors the real world? Watch Christopher Nolan’s. Want a fun version of James Bond and Batman that brings a warm sense of nostalgia and reminds us that we can always have a few laughs even when we’re saving the world? Spend a little time with Roger Moore and Adam West. Bless you guys, you will be missed.

The James Bond Gunbarrel

Despite a variety of interpretations of James Bond both in terms of tone and style, there are certain cinematic motifs which tie together even the most diametrically opposed films in the canon. Whether it’s a hard-boiled, down-to-earth entry like From Russia With Love or a comic-book fantasy adventure like Moonraker, they all contain certain visual, thematic and musical cues which remind you that we’re playing in the same action-packed sandbox. The most obvious of these motifs is arguably the “Gunbarrel Opening” which depicts Agent 007 entering to the James Bond theme, framed by a stylized gunbarrel, then turning to the camera and firing directly at the screen which quickly spills over with blood before disappearing. The tradition first began with the 1962 film Dr. No and until Pierce Brosnan’s swan song Die Another Day was always the first shot of the film.  

The new films starring Daniel Craig shook up a lot of things about the venerable franchise, including the style and placement of the gunbarrel. The latest 007 film Spectre prides itself on honoring many of the franchise’s most cherished traditions, some of which we haven’t seen for a while thanks to Austin Powers and legal issues. While opinion varies among critics and fans as whether these references represent a return to form for the series or simply patronizing fan service, one thing is clear: It’s good to see the gun barrel return to its proper home at the beginning of the film. So before you head off to the theaters to catch Spectre, take a trip down memory lane and see how this iconic cinematic motif has evolved over the last five decades.

Bob Simmons

The original gunbarrel in Dr. No is the only in the series not to feature the actual actor playing James Bond. In this case, stunt coordinator Bob Simmons played the part. It’s remarkable how close subsequent films stayed to the format established here, the obvious exceptions being the titles which appear before the gunbarrel as well as the strange radar sound cue.

The Simmons footage was used for the next two films, From Russia with Love and Goldfinger, although the radar sound was removed as were the credits.

Sean Connery

The fourth Bond film was the first to be shot in the Panavision format, forcing the filmmakers to reshoot the gunbarrel for the first time to accommodate the new widescreen format. This time the gunbarrel actually featured Sean Connery, although his stance appears a bit wobbly, and the sequence lacks the punch of the original footage. The footage was rescored and reused for the next Bond You Only Live Twice.

Lazenby

Actor George Lazenby enjoyed a one-film stint as the legendary secret agent and while many deride his performance as amatuerish, most hard-core Bond fans know that this is one of the strongest films in the series. The gunbarrell of this film however leaves much to be desired, due to unwelcome return of the producer credits, a weird “drop to one knee” performance from Lazenby and a jarring moment when Bond continues to walk after the gunbarrel has stopped moving, the only time this will occur in the series.

The Shiny Gunbarrel

Connery returned for one more film in the official series and the Panavision footage from Thunderball was reused, although a bizarre shiny effect was used to spice up the sequence for the 1970s. It doesn’t help.

Roger Moore

When Roger Moore was cast as the third James Bond, a new gunbarrel was filmed featuring the actor. This is the first time Bond appears in the gunbarrel without a hat, demonstrating the changing style from the 1960s into the 1970s. The sequence is scored by Beatles producer George Martin, who added some disco flair to the arrangement. The footage was reused in The Man With the Golden Gun with more traditional music by John Barry.

With 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, the filmmakers returned to the Panavision format and the gunbarrel was reshot with Moore. The result is one of the strongest gunbarrels in the series, featuring a confident stride from Moore and a dynamic pose at the end. This footage was rescored and reused for the remaining Moore films despite the fact that the bell bottoms he wears were out of style by the time his stint as 007 ended in 1985. The Panavision Moore gunbarrel also has the distinction of being scored by the largest variety of composers, Marvin Hamlisch, John Barry and Bill Conti.

Timothy Dalton

Dalton is an oft-overlooked Bond actor but his performances his two 007 films are extremely strong, including his gunbarrel. Like his interpretation of the Bond character, his stride and pose are stark, bold and effective.

Pierce Brosnan

Brosnan’s performance in the gunbarrel sequence is one of the least energetic but it matches the actor’s ultra-cool, suave interpretation of the character. The barrel itself looks better than ever, for the first time it seems like an actual dynamic object with physical properties rather than a two-dimensional image.

The footage was rescored and reused for each of his four films but the last entry, Die Another Day added a CGI bullet zooming at the camera. Did the filmmakers think audiences didn’t understand what was happening in this sequence after 40 years?

Daniel Craig

Craig’s first Bond film was a true reboot, explaining the origin of many of Bond’s most memorable trademarks. The movie even explains the backstory of the gunbarrel itself for the first time! Turns out, the gunbarrel represents James Bond’s first kill as a secret agent. The gunbarrel itself was again redesigned and the blood was given a more three-dimensional appearance. This is the first time that the gunbarrel did not start the film and the first time it was part of the story.

Quantum of Solace’s gunbarrel is more traditional, even though it is placed at the end of the film and bleeds into the title for some reason.

Skyfall also features a gunbarrel at the end of the film rather than the beggining.

Want to see the gunbarrel finally return to its proper place at the beginning of the film? Then head out to see the newest entry in the series, Spectre.

The Goldeneye WiiMake

World Domination

If video games are the ultimate expression of male fantasy wish fulfillment, then it should be no surprise that ladies man/human weapon James Bond 007 has become one of the most popular video game characters of all time. At last count, there have been as many James Bond video games made since 1983 as there have been James Bond movies made since 1963. They have gone from beep boop Atari pixelfests to big budget productions starring real James Bond actors like Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Christopher Lee, John Cleese, and even Sean Connery himself. Some of these newer games have been pretty solid, but anyone who’s ever picked up a controller will tell you that the greatest James Bond game of all time is the Nintendo 64 shooter Goldeneye64.  For years, Bond fans and gamers alike have been hollering for a re-release of this classic game. Some have even taken it upon themselves to create unofficial Goldeneye ports in other game engines, such as the Half-Life total conversion Goldeneye Source.

goldeneye_source

Since Rareware, the company that developed the original N64 game no longer has the license to release James Bond titles, the original game cannot be re-released. Activision, the game company that currently holds the license, has made a bold move to satisfy Goldeneye fever by announcing that they have re-imagined the game as a modern Daniel Craig James Bond adventure. At first blush this seemed a dream come true for fans of the original, but now many gamers and Bond fans are starting to express reservations. The 2004’s Goldeneye sequel Goldeneye: Rogue Agent was one of the most disappointing Bond games in years.  Also, Activision’s track record with the James Bond license is iffy. They’ve only released one Bond game, Quantum of Solace, which displayed little panache or innovation. Plus, the new Goldeneye’s Wii exclusivity severely limits the game’s graphical potential. Early screenshots look dark and blocky. Of course, we can’t fairly judge whether the game lives up to its lofted name until we got some nunchucks in our hands and try it out. In the meantime let’s brush up on our James Bond video game history!

goldeneye-007-20100715063806254_640w

The 007 brand is one of the most coveted licenses in the industry. As such, the right to produce James Bond games has switched hands many times over the years. The first firm to hold the license was gaming powerhouse Parker Brothers. Parker Brothers gave 007 his video game debut in 1983’s James Bond 007, a sidescroller for early consoles and computers such as the Atari 2600 and Commodore 64. Domark continued with a line of action games based on James Bond movie titles throughout the rest of the 1980s. Many of these games featured a mix of shooting and driving levels, a tradition which would continue in many subsequent Bond games. Domark’s 007 swan song was the polished platformer James Bond the Duel, a challenging game with a rad soundtrack, a primitive cover system, and character animation that captured Bond’s style fairly well. In the early 90s, the point click graphic adventure Operation Stealth was adapted into the 007 game James Bond: The Stealth Affair. With the exception of some Eurocom James Bond Jr. platformers, 007 remained dormant as a video game character for much of the 90s.

foto-james-bond-the-duel-90d1f0bd404e0714ca99eebc5db2735a

The 90s were an even tougher time for Bond fans movie fans. For six years, moviegoers had gone without a James Bond movie adventure. But when James Bond made his cinematic comeback with 1995’s blockbuster Goldeneye, its  video game counterpart changed the industry forever. Until Goldeneye 64‘s release in 1997, PCs were the primary platform for first person shooters. This precedent was established by the enormous, genre-defining success of iD software’s Doom in the early-nineties. Multiplayer was only possible over dial-up internet or a local area connection. The popularity of Goldeneye’s four-player split-screen local gameplay shifted that paradigm for a generation. Now the most popular first person shooters are console games such as the Halo and Gears of War titles.

goldeneye-2

Rareware went on to develop Perfect Dark, and handed the James Bond license off to Electronic Arts. For years, EA tried to recapture the success of the original Goldeneye with a slew of James Bond first person shooters. Like Star Trek flicks, these games were good every other time. Their first, The World is Not Enough, was a decent clone of Goldeneye 64. Their next, Agent Under Fire was the first game to take advantage of the Playstation 2, but failed to capture the Bond feel. Nightfire remedied that problem, and boasted the most fleshed out original Bond storyline of any game until that point. The PS2 version featured some solid driving missions, the levels were sprawling and detailed, and the weaponry was varied and realistic. It was also the first Bond game to feature a cinematic title sequence with an original song. Unfortunately, EA’s next and final foray into the FPS Bond game was the afore-mentioned Goldeneye: Rogue Agent disappointment. In the game you play a former M16 agent with a golden eye who teams up with Bond’s old foe Goldfinger. It was as stupid as it sounds.

goldeneye-rogue-agent-20040913033001679_640w

After the Rogue Agent let-down, EA returned to the drawing board and crafted two of the most epic Bond games ever, Everything or Nothing and From Russia With Love. The engine used in both games was an innovative third-person cover system coupled with a smooth hand-to-hand combat system. For their time, the production values really shined. The games featured photorealistic recreations of James Bond, Pierce Brosnan in Everything or Nothing and Sean Connery in From Russia With Love. From then the torch was past to Activision, who released Quantum of Solace on XBox360 and Playstation and are currently working on a new game with an original storyline: Blood Stone. Will Activision reactivate the success of the original Goldeneye, or will it prove a disappointment? No matter how the new game turns out, one can only hope that the original version will one day see the light of day once more.

927019_20050826_screen002

Licensed to Kill (in the comedy sense of the word):

The Top Ten James Bond Parodies of All Freaking Time

With the American release of the new OSS 117 film (a series of French spy spoofs), and the burgeoning popularity of F/X’s animated comedy Archer, the secret agent parody genre is seeing a bit of resurgence. In accordance with this exciting new development, I have listed here, for your intellectual enrichment, the top ten James Bond parodies of all time.

10. The Scorpio Episode of The Simpsons

It seemed as though Homer Simpson had finally found a boss less evil than Mr. Burns. But it turns out that the charming and generous Hank Scorpio was actually a far greater super-villain, replete with his own secret agent nemesis, “Mr. Bunt.”

Hank Scropio VS. Mr. Bunt

9. No One Lives Forever (it’s a video game)

I never knew shooting guys in fez’s could be so fun until I played this swinging video game and it’s awesome sequel.

I don't really remember this weird part, but boy this game sure is funny!

8. What’s Up Tiger Lily?

Woody Allen dubs funny dialogue over an actual Japanese spy movie—sort of Mystery Science Theater meets racism.

7. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

I’m just going to put pictures from actual James Bond movies and pretend I thought they were from Austin Powers. That’s how spot on they nailed 007 in the first one.

Yeah Baby!

Throw me a fricking bone.

Just puttin' this in for no reason.

6. For British Eyes Only

Even though Charlize Theron’s character was an MRF (Mentally Retarded Female) she was still more intelligent than most James Bond leading ladies in the “For British Eyes Only” story arc of Arrested Development.

5. Archer

I’m sure Archer will climb even higher on the ranking as this fricking awesome new show continues to dominate your shit.

4. Our Man Flint

Of all the 007 knockoffs, spoofs, and parodies that were released in the spymania of the mid-sixties, this is the only one that kinda, sorta, almost holds up.

Flint kicks a guy in the face. Did this really need a caption?

3. Get Smart! (the show)

Not the movie. I’ll put that on another list. A list of things that are stupid.

2. OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies

If you squint your eyes and laugh hard enough, it almost looks like this movie stars Sean Connery. Spot fucking on.

1. Any James Bond Movie With Pierce Brosnan or Roger Moore

That’s right, when it comes to parodying James Bond, nobody does it better than the real James Bond himself, who was a parody of himself for like, thirty years or something. Christopher Walken wrestling with Grace Jones? A laser battle in space? Jaws turns good? An invisible car? Really? An invisible car. For chrissakes.

Roger Moore, being an old douche.

New Bond is Dope

007musical Totally dope. True its source material, The Quantum of Solace is rugged yet refined, brutal but tender, and both funny and tragic. It’s also balls to the wall bad ass. Daniel Craig’s sophomore outing as the iconic secret agent James Bond 007 is certainly not as groundbreaking as Casino Royale, which took the geriatric franchise back to it’s roots, but it’s a leaner, meaner, more functional spy caper. The last film had a lot of groundwork to do, which made it a bit clunky and overlong. Clocking in at an hour and forty-five minutes, this latest Bond is certainly the most efficient in the series. In this way, Quantum benefits from the best parts of the last film, and solves some of its problems. All in all, I was highly satisfied. Keep ’em coming.

I am (not) George Lazenby

It started as a petty prank, as so many things on the Internet do. I had missed a question on a Facebook quiz, the subject of which was On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the only James Bond film to star Australian actor George Lazenby as the intrepid agent 007. The question was about where a certain Bond girl, Ruby Bartlett was born. Easy…Lancashire.

Wrong. But how could I be? I own that movie! I’ve seen it more times than I’ve taken a crap! Enraged, I emailed the author of the quiz:

“Ruby Bartlett is from Lancashire dumbnutz!”

I received a response:

“She’s from MORECAMBE which is IN Lancashire. Now, what’s that Yank expression, oh yes…dumbass.”

Needless to say, I’ve never been more fucking pissed in my life. Writing this now, I’m fucking pissed. If I ever care to read this after I post it, I will be fucking pissed. This snooty British FUCK thinks he’s a better Bond fan than me just because I fell for some trick question. I mean, who cares about English geography anyway? The whole country is so small it could fit in Delaware’s butthole.

I was hungry for revenge. Bloodthirsty. But what could I do with only Facebook at my fingertips? I logged out and clicked to sign up for a new account.

Name: George Lazenby
Network: Australia
Status: Bond, James Bond.

Presto, I was, for all Facebook purposes, George Lazenby. I had his face, his name, and the ability to poke people. Mwuhahahaha! First and last order of business: send a message to that British prick.

Subj: Great Quiz!

Not. You are a supreme bag of douche. As someone who fucked both Ruby Bartlett AND your mom let me say: Suck my Octoballs Thunderpussy!

Sincerely,
George

I’ve never laughed so hard at my own shit. Thinking about it now, I’m laughing. My new e-enemy had a very thoughtful comeback: “Cock!” Wow, what a writer. The next Ian Fleming, rocking the qwertyboard.

So I was satisfied. I told my buddies about it, had a few laughs, and that was the end of it. Or so I thought. Out of the blue, people started friend requesting me…I mean George. So I accepted. I figured people realized this was a joke and wanted in on the fun. And then they started messaging me, telling me what an honor it was to be friends with George Lazenby.

The fans poured their hearts out about what an impact George’s performance had on them, and how much they admired him. I’d respond with a pleasant, but patronizing “Thanks, mate.” I was so freaked out by this outpouring of e-love for George Lazenby that it took me about two hours to compose that stupid message. I debated for a good forty-five minutes over whether the “mate” was too Australian or just Australian enough.

And then I had my first scare. One of my…er…George’s friends sent a message about coming to a book signing to meet me…er…George. I freaked out. What happens if this guy starts babbling about Facebook at the signing and George is like “I don’t have a Facebook account, mate!” and then Scotland Yard hunts me down and I get extradited to England and sent to the Tower of London for identity fraud? I’d be the black sheep of Bondage! No self-respecting Bond fan would even play a round of GoldenEye64 with me!

Terrified, I logged into my George account the day after the signing. I thought this guy was gonna rail on me for not being the real George. But he didn’t. He posted up a picture of him shaking hands with George and tagged me in it! He messaged me to tell me what a great honor it was to meet me. Phew. Talk about a close one. I made a comment on the photo: “Handsome Chaps.”

My Facebook fraud had brushed against reality. This guy knew the real George Lazenby and the Facebook George Lazenby and hadn’t noticed a thing. And then I started thinking, do these people really think I’m George Lazenby?

I mean, I’m friends with super-hot golfer Natalie Gulbis on Myspace but I know it’s not actually her. It’s just some poor, bored, loser. Like me.

Maybe my Facebook George is like Santa. All signs point to bullshit, but people still want to believe. Was I doing my fellow Bond fans a great service, or was I playing them for fools? I couldn’t decide. Every time George made a new friend, or someone sent him a heartwarming message, I considered shutting down my account. But I couldn’t bring myself to it. People wanted to shower George Lazenby with love and admiration, and who was I to stop them?

And then the real George was in the news. Divorce. A nasty one. The support came rushing in. People from all over the world were offering their kindest thoughts and messages of hope. Our friend from the book signing sent the longest and most thoughtful. He told of his own personal experience going through a divorce, and the wounds it had caused. He opened his heart and soul to George Lazenby. It was the most wonderful letter I’d ever received, and I felt like a sneaky little bastard reading it. I only wished that I could some how deliver it to George, and erase my memory of it. I’m sorry Mr. Lazenby. And my sincerest apologies to the loyal friend you don’t know you have.

So I’m turning myself in.
I confess.
I am (not) George Lazenby.