Remembering Roger Moore: THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (United Artists 1974)


cracked rear viewer

I didn’t realize Sir Roger Moore was 89 years old when I first heard he’d passed away on May 23. But as Mick Jagger once sang, time waits for no one, and Moore’s passing is another sad reminder of our own mortality. It seemed like Roger had been around forever though, from his TV stardom as Simon Templar in THE SAINT (1962-69) though his seven appearances as James Bond, Agent 007.

There’s always been a rift  between fans of original film Bond Sean Connery and fans of Moore’s interpretation. The Connery camp maintains Moore’s Bond movies rely too much on comedy, turning the superspy into a parody of himself. Many point to his second, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, as an example, but I disagree. I think the film strikes a good balance between humor and suspense, with Roger on-target as 007, and the great Christopher Lee (who’d guest starred in Moore’s syndicated…

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Quick Peek: The 2nd Spectre Trailer (and Featurette)


images-2Sometime around 8am in London, the 2nd trailer for Sam Mendes “Spectre” was released. The 24th film in the Bond Franchise, this one is a little similar to the Skyfall trailer in that Bond (Daniel Craig) is perhaps on the run again or is at least trying to cover his tracks. So far, it’s looking good.

Here are some of the things I’ve noticed:

1.) It’s a Snow Movie – With the exception of The World is Not Enough, most of the Bond films that take place in cold climates seem to fair better than the desert ones. As long as none of the girls aren’t named after a Holiday, this might work. Of course, that’s just my opinion there, others may of course disagree.

2.) Bond and M (Ralph Fiennes) already have issues – From the start Bond and M are at odds. That was quick. Nice to get it all out of the way.

3.) The Return of Mr. White. – One of the men responsible for the death of Vesper Lynd and member of Quantum (whatever that was), Mr. White (Jesper Christiansen) makes another appearance here. Maybe he has something important to share?

4.) Use of the theme from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – that was great to hear. Hope it’s incorporated into the film somehow. I believe that Thomas Newman (Mendes’ long time musical companion) is on board here, so maybe it’ll be used?

5.) Dave Bautista as an evil henchman. Not sure what Mr. Hinx will be doing, but there seems to be a close quarters fight in a train, reminiscent of From Russia With Love.

6.) That sweet, curvy and shiny Aston Martin DB10. Just look at it. In this movie, it goes head to head with a Jaguar CX75. As just about everyone knows, Jaguar is the Official Vehicle of Villains everywhere. Should be interesting to see how that turns out.

7.) Q finally gets a Q Branch worthy of the title. It looks like there a few things he’s working on in the background on some of the shots. One of which appears to be a flamethrower maybe, for the new car.

Enjoy! Spectre is set to release on November 5th (which as a side note of no particular importance nor relation, was the day Marty McFly arrived in Hill Valley, back in 1955). Additionally, here’s a featurette on the cars in the film.

Bond 24 Officially Named “Spectre” in Announcement.


If you’re a long time reader of Through the Shattered Lens, you’re probably aware that we’re all fans of the Bond franchise in some way. Around the release of Skyfall, we collectively reviewed every single Bond film. The project – spearheaded by our own Lisa Marie Bowman – was quite the success with each writer taking a film and showcasing their love (or displeasure for it). To date, I consider that our best  “Avengers” moment.

Today, the Announcement for the next film in the series was made at the legendary Pinewood Studios. Director Sam Mendes introduced audiences to the 24th film, “Spectre”, which already seems interesting given the history of the evil group in Bond canon. I guess this means Quantum is no more, was a small piece of a larger puzzle, or perhaps it’s grown into something bigger? We’ll have to wait and see, but it’s up to speculation. Lee and I were actually talking about that yesterday. We do know that the production will take 007 from London to Mexico City, among other locations.

All of the actors were on hand, including new members Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained, Inglorious Basterds), Monica Bellucci (Malena, The Matrix Reloaded), and Lea Seydoux (Mission: Impossible -Ghost Protocol, Blue is the Warmest Color). Returning are Daniel Craig as James Bond, Ralph Finnes as M, Penny Dreadful’s Rory  Kinnear as Tanner, Ben Whishaw (Layer Cake, Cloud Atlas) and Naomie Harris (Ninja Assassin, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom) as Moneypenny.

Although Roger Deakins won’t be on hand for the Cinematography, its okay (though he’ll be missed). Hoyt Van Hoytema is taking over the reigns. Between Spike Jonze “Her”,  “Interstellar” and “Birdman”, Hoytema knows what he’s doing.

Even Aston Martin threw their keys into the ring with the new DB10, to celebrate their 50 year relationship with Bond. 10 copies were made exclusively for the film and we hope Mendes leaves them in better condition than 007 usually does.

Production starts next Monday and the film is on track for release next November.

Song of the Day: Skyfall (by Adele)


AdeleSkyfall

Today we see the release of Skyfall on Blu-Ray and DVD. This latest James Bond film surprised quite a bit of people who weren’t sure the franchise would be able to recover from the missed opportunity that was Quantum of Solace. So, it came out of left field that this follow-up ended up being one of the best films of 2012. From the acting, direction and writing the film was top-notch. One other thing which truly stood out about this film was it’s theme song.

“Skyfall” by Adele wasn’t just one of the best film songs of 2012, but most like going to turn out to be in the top 5 of best James Bond theme songs when all has been said and done. This is why to commemorate the release of the film on video I’ve chosen the Adele sung theme song of the same name to be the latest “Song of the Day”.

The song harkens back to the true James Bond classic theme songs by Shirley Bassey like “Goldfinger” and “Diamonds are Forever” right up to my personal favorite, Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die”. Maybe it was destiny that Adele would end up doing a James Bond theme song. Her soulful vocal range just shouts early James Bond and her “Skyfall” easily holds it’s own against the classic Bond themes of the 60’s and early 70’s.

The song itself has a very simple melody that incorporates the iconic 007 theme. Almost sung like a mournful ballad that hints at the danger and death awaiting the intrepid 007 and those around him, the song spends much of it’s running time with Adele singing in a very subdued fashion until we hit the final third of the track when she finally lets her inner diva shine….and shine she does.

Skyfall

This is the end
Hold your breath and count to ten
Feel the Earth move and then
Hear my heart burst again

For this is the end
I’ve drowned and dreamt this moment
So overdue I owe them
Swept away I’m stolen

Let the sky fall
When it crumbles
We will stand tall
Face it all together

Let the sky fall
When it crumbles
We will stand tall
Face it all together
At skyfall
At skyfall

Skyfall is where we start
A thousand miles and poles apart
Where worlds collide and days are dark
You may have my number
You can take my name
But you’ll never have my heart

Let the sky fall
When it crumbles
We will stand tall
Face it all together

Let the sky fall
When it crumbles
We will stand tall
Face it all together
At skyfall

Where you go I go
What you see I see
I know I’d never be me
Without the security

Of your loving arms
Keeping me from harm
Put your hand in my hand
And we’ll stand

Let the sky fall
When it crumbles
We will stand tall
Face it all together

Let the sky fall
When it crumbles
We will stand tall
Face it all together
At skyfall

Let the sky fall
We will stand tall
At skyfall

James Bond Review: Quantum of Solace (dir. by Marc Foster)


So, here we are at the end of all things.

About 22 days ago, The Shattered Lens started a project to cover all of the Bond Films in order leading up to the release of the 23rd film, Skyfall. Spearheaded by Lisa Marie and Arleigh, It’s been a fun ride seeing everyone’s thoughts on James Bond over the movies and it’s cool to know that after 50 years, they still (well, most of them) hold their own. Today, we cover the second Daniel Craig film, Quantum of Solace.

Quantum of Solace reunites the same writing team from Casino Royale – Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Paul Haggis (Academy Award Winner for 2006’s Crash), and brings on Monster’s Ball director Marc Foster for filming duties. As far as I can tell, it seems to be the first 007 film to start not far from the previous film ended. Literally, there could be a 20 minute difference between the end events of Casino Royale and the opening sequence here. The movie veers away from the classic gun barrel sequence and gets the audience right into the action with Bond avoiding villains in his Aston Martin DBS. The chase leads into a quarry, where he manages to get rid of his opponents. It’s only when he arrives in an unknown location within Siena, Italy that we find he’s had Mr. White in the trunk of his car the entire time. Mr. White was the individual that Bond wounded and introduced himself at the end of Casino Royale.

We basically find James Bond dealing with the loss of Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), and though she never makes any kind of appearance in the film, her presence (or lack thereof) is certainly felt. While Quantum of Solace has some remarkable scenes, for me it suffered from at least one major problem early on. Near the beginning of the film, after the credits, there is a chase between Bond and a villian, as always. At the same time, we’re given shots of a bullfight that’s occurring. While I understand that we’re supposed to see the similarities between both actions, I felt as if I was being pulled away from the story at hand. Foster does this a number of times, including one in the middle of an opera scene. That seemed really strange to me, though others may appreciate it.

Bond is told by M (Dame Judi Dench), after securing Mr. White that she has a lead on Vesper’s boyfriend, but also believes that he’s not quite dead. She asks Bond to leave it alone, but being someone who sees things through, he takes a copy of his photograph. It’s revealed that Mr. White is part of a larger group called Quantum, similar to SPECTRE in some respects. Although Bond loses Mr. White, he gets a clue that leads him to Haiti.

The Haiti sequences were done prior to the earthquake that happened there, and it makes Quantum of Solace one of the last films to show how that area looked before the devastation. 007 is able to find his suspect, but in the course of fighting, he kills him. This becomes something of a thread in Quantum of Solace. Just about anyone that Bond encounters is either killed by him or because of him and at some point, restraint needs to be made. At some point, it goes so far that it becomes something of a “Bond Goes Rogue” tale in the vein of License to Kill. There’s a slight reference to The Spy Who Loved Me with a rooftop fall that’s interesting, as well as a great one for the movie Goldfinger. The Craig Bond stories seem to want to make sure they remind us of all the films before it, though it’s hardly the first 007 story to do so.

The Bond Girls in Quantum of Solace are Olga Kurlyenko and Gemma Arterton. Kurlyenko’s Camille has a mission of her own, as she’s trying to avenge the death of her mother. Arterton’s character, Miss Fields (who’s first name I believe may be Strawberry, but don’t quote me on that) is send in by MI6 to bring Bond back in for debriefing (as he’s been avoiding M’s requests). The actual villain of the movie is played by Mathieu Amalric (Munich), who is more of a hands-off baddie with tons of henchmen at his side.

The problem I had with Quantum of Solace is that it seemed like the Vesper angle was a side note. Yes, we know Quantum is out there, and we learn there’s a plot to control the water of a small area, but outside of all that, it didn’t seem like much of a revenge story. This is unless, of course, it wasn’t meant to be. I’m not a big fan of Quantum of Solace overall. It’s not as bad as Die Another Day (which a number of people consider to be one of the worst) by a longshot, but after what we were given in Casino Royale, it almost seems like it builds on things in the wrong direction.

This weekend, Skyfall is out, and by the time the weekend is up, we’ll have a review for it. We leave you the theme song to Quantum of Solace, “Another Way to Die” by Jack White and Alicia Keys. The Instrumental version of this song is actually really good, though the actual song itself was just a little off.

James Bond Review: Casino Royale


Welcome, one and all! Leading up to the North American release of the latest James Bond film, Skyfall, The Shattered Lens has taken on the task of reviewing each and every one of the twenty two James Bond films that precede it. Today’s is the penultimate review, Casino Royale, the first film of the series to star current-iteration Bond Daniel Craig. It serves as a reboot of the James Bond character, looking back to the beginning of his career, and entirely unconnected from all of the previous films in the series. The only returning actor is Dame Judi Dench, who reprises her role as M, in a more maternal overseer role looking out for a young Bond, despite his rash actions potentially causing trouble for MI6.

Our cold open this time has a black and white Bond confronting a crooked MI6 section chief – one who has been selling secrets to make money on the side. Bond kills both the section chief and his contact, which is enough to earn him his 00-status. The freshly minted 007 heads to Madagascar in pursuit of an international bomb maker. He attempts to find a way to apprehend the bomb maker alive, but is made, and is forced to pursue this man across the city. Bond eventually corners the bomb maker in an embassy building and kills him, blowing up part of the wall, and effecting his escape.

Back in England, M chides Bond for his itchy trigger finger, pointing out that while the world has one less small-time terrorist, they had hoped to get information which would let them fight international terrorism on the organisational level. Bond seems suitably chastened, but M goes further, asserting that she promoted Bond too early, that he is reckless, and a danger. Bond coldly replies that, since the 00-agent’s life is not typically a long one, she will not have to live with her mistake for long.

That’s the sort of Bond that we’re dealing with under the handling of Daniel Craig. While the character is still capable of being charming, he’s a very far cry from Sean Connery’s easy smile and one liners, or Pierce Brosnan’s especially terrible puns. This is sort of the crux of the movie; what controversy exists surrounding its qualities is heavily tied into how you respond to this new take on James Bond. Like all things 2000s, our hero is much grittier than before. Absent is all of Q’s high tech wizardry, and as I stated before, we are not even dealing with a seasoned killer in James Bond, but rather a freshly minted 00 agent. As a result of all these factors, this film has a distinctly different feel from every Bond produced before it. If you like the changes, everything is cool. If you don’t, you may still find yourself appreciating Casino Royale, which has a relatively simple plot, but spends quite a bit of effort on setting up and establishing its characters, including this new James Bond, for the audience.

The main plot of Casino Royale revolves around a high-stakes Texas Hold ‘Em tournament held at the titular casino, located in Montenegro. James Bond is assigned to win the tournament which is being staged by terrorist financier Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) to recoup the terrible losses he suffered when he used the money of his clients to short sell stock, predicting that a terrorist strike which he himself had planned would send prices into free fall. M hopes that by pushing Le Chiffre to the point of desperation, they can force him to cut a deal with MI6 – sanctuary in exchange for everything he knows about terrorists around the world. Bond is assisted in his goal by fellow MI6 agent Rene Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini) and Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), this iteration’s Bond girl, an agent from HM Treasury, who is assigned to manage Bond’s $10M buy-in, and to provide him with a $5M re-buy if she believes it would be a good investment. However, since a failure on Bond’s part would mean that Her Majesty’s Treasury was directly funding international terrorism, there is incentive to be cautious.

It takes us nearly an hour to begin to engage in the meat of the film, at the titular Casino Royale. Or, at least, this should be the meat of the film. However, the structure of Casino Royale is a little bit off. It feels like it has enough action, but it doesn’t feel properly paced, with the front half of the film (really just a series of subplots to get us to Montenegro) feels like classic “action Bond”. The scenes in the Casino could have been pulled (well, if Daniel Craig could smile, at any rate) from any other Bond film, as his history is littered with a rich litany of casino sequences. Before and after the casino sequences, however, are framing bits that involve idyllic locations, and if I may be so bold, it doesn’t exactly zoom along. The spacing between the casino sequences and the finale, in particular, made the final act feel very tacked on and a little out of place, even as deliberately intended setup for Quantum of Solace. This can also be off-putting, as it feels like there are two different movies going on here.

For the most part though, I think Casino Royale works. If you can live with a grimmer, grittier, low-talking James Bond, you may really appreciate this low-tech return to basics for our favourite 00-agent.

Tomorrow you’ll get a healthy dose of Quantum of Solace, but before I sign off, let me leave you with the theme from Casino Royale, one of the cooler James Bond themes in the franchise, performed by Chris Cornell.

James Bond Review: Die Another Day


Leading up to the North American release of the latest James Bond feature film, Skyfall, The Shattered Lens is reviewing each and every James Bond film in the history of the franchise. Today’s film is the controversial Die Another Day, the twentieth film in the James Bond franchise, and the final such film to feature Pierce Brosnan in the titular role as 00-agent James Bond. Despite launching to mixed reviews – particularly overseas, where it generated significantly negative reaction in North and South Korea – it was at the time the highest grossing Bond film of all time.

Our cold open for this film has us in North Korea. There, 007 is assuming the identity of a diamond smuggler who is assisting a North Korean Colonel, Tan-Sun Moon, in laundering blood diamonds as part of an ongoing search for advanced military hardware. In order to bypass the landmines of the Korean Demilitarized Zone, the good Colonel has constructed an entire army of hover vehicles which can cross the region without triggering the mines, allowing for a land invasion of South Korea. Bond proceeds with the exchange, but is identified by Zao (Rick Yune), Colonel Moon’s right hand man. Bond triggers an explosion which badly disfigures Zao’s face, which becomes embedded with dozens of diamonds. Colonel Moon attempts to escape on a hovercraft, and Bond pursues him, eventually chasing the Colonel off the edge of a waterfall, apparently killing him. Afterward, Bond is captured by General Moon, the Colonel’s father, and is imprisoned.

After over a year of imprisonment and torture, Bond is traded during a prisoner exchange for Zao. Upon returning to MI6, M (Dame Judi Dench) tells Bond that his 00-status has been suspended. Both she and the Americans believe that Bond cracked under torture and revealed classified information, necessitating the prisoner exchange that brought him back. However, the release of Zao leaves both M and Bond extremely bitter. Determined to recapture Zao, Bond evades MI6’s security and disappears. He travels to Hong Kong, seeking a way back into North Korea, but his contact there informs him that Zao has attempted to disappear in Cuba and provides him with the necessaries to travel there instead.

After he arrives in Havana, Cuba, Bond investigates a clinic there which specializes in gene therapy that is virtually unknown in the first world. Bond’s local contact describes it as prolonging the lives of their leading citizens, and the richest folks in the West, but Bond also learns that the gene therapy would allow a person to totally restructure their appearance and assume a whole new identity. During his investigation, he meets a woman who introduces herself as Jinx (Halle Berry) who, initially unknown to Bond, is an NSA agent on a similar investigation, albeit one with presumably very different goals. Bond locates Zao inside the clinic, and a chase ensues. Although Zao ultimately manages to escape by helicopter (and Jinx in dramatic fashion by diving off the sea wall and boarding a waiting boat which drives her off), Bond recovers a pendant left behind by Zao. Upon unscrewing it, Bond discovers a cache of diamonds. Upon inspection, the diamonds are chemically identical to diamonds found in Sierra Leone, but they bear the identifying mark of a diamond mine owned by a British billionaire and thrill seeker, Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens). Bond is determined to investigate.

This forms the basis of the remaining plot. Our set pieces this time aren’t quite so varied, as much of the remaining story plays out in Iceland, where Graves’ diamond mine is situated, and where he has constructed a special ice hotel for the purpose of a technology convention. Eventually, we return to Korea, for a final showdown that seems somehow empty, despite the increasingly high stakes in terms of both explosions and technology.

The truth, ultimately, is that Die Another Day is a bit of a mess. It has a seemingly incessant procession of action sequences, but they raise the stakes primarily through CGI and improbable wizardry, in a way that threatens our suspend disbelief. I know that this is Bond, and that in 80s-early 00s Bond very much fell into the trap (who didn’t?) of ‘bigger and better’. However, this film takes things a bit too far in my estimation. Its villains aren’t quite as fun as the ones in the past two films (well, Mr. Stamper is kind of a drag I suppose), and don’t really fit the Bond mold. The story is pretty straightforward, but probably doesn’t receive quite the treatment that it deserves to get us established in it. The interactions between Bond and M are a bit too stiff, and I say that even keeping in mind tomorrow’s review piece, Casino Royale. There’s something about Die Another Day that made me think everyone involved was just going through the motions, like a sense of fatigue just hung over the proceedings. It was a bit of a bummer.

As for the women of Bond, Die Another Day actually has a lot to recommend. Breaking convention, this section is heavy with spoilers, but I’m going to risk it just this once. Don’t read on if you’re new to this film and planning to watch it!

Die Another Day continues to feature Dame Judi Dench as a pleasantly strong and uncompromising intelligence chief (I probably haven’t made enough of how much I enjoy her in the role of M in my reviews up to this point). In addition, we’re treated to Halle Berry as Jinx, an ass-kicking NSA agent who seems to do a lot of getting outmaneuvered and captured for being so adept. I didn’t care for Berry’s performance in this film, and I’d be lying if I said she stacked up well against Tomorrow Never Dies’ Michelle Yeoh as a Chinese intelligence agent. Still, compared to some of the other Bond girls, Berry is definitely a warrior. The other major female character, however, is Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike), a frigid and beautiful MI6 agent… actually, a double agent, who betrayed Bond in the cold open. Pike’s character definitely gives off the edge of competence and deadliness that I, for one, am rooting for in female characters in any Bond movie, and she sells it well. Unfortunately, she’s not nearly as fun as Elektra King, as her motivations are completely unexplored and she just feels like an add-on to the existing plot surrounding some dangerous North Koreans.

Overall, this is probably not one of the better Bond films, though I’d argue that it doesn’t deserve the bad rap that some have given it either. It’s not a terrible film, just overwrought in a kind of Michael Bay way that undermines the characters and concepts. This is a common complaint of all four Pierce Brosnan films, especially, as well as some of the Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton efforts. However, this is the one that I most agree with that assessment of. This film really gets out of control with effects and gadgetry.

That’s it for today’s review. I leave you with the theme from Die Another Day, performed by Madonna. Tomorrow’s review will be of 2006’s Casino Royale.