Tagged: Daniel Craig

John Ostrander: The Bond Evolution

James Bond, as a movie franchise, has been around for fifty years and the franchise celebrates in magnificent fashion with the latest installment, Skyfall. For me, it’s definitely the best thus far of the Daniel Craig Bond movies and it may be my choice for the best of all the Bond movies. I know that “best” is, as often as not, a personal, subjective opinion rather than an objective choice. People can cite certain criteria as the basis of their opinions but who determines the criteria? For example, there are those who regard and will always regard Sean Connery as the best Bond and anything else is heresy.

Let’s look at Skyfall in context of the past fifty years of Bond films. On my list of the best Bond films are From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, and Daniel Craig’s first outing as Bond, Casino Royale. As much as I really enjoyed the latter, Skyfall is superior.

To start off, we have an A list director in Academy Award winner Sam Mendes (for whom Craig played in Road to Perdition, made from Max Allan Collins’s graphic novel). Together with cinematographer Roger Deakin, there are some stunning visuals in the film. This is the best-looking Bond movie ever.

The action set pieces, including the opening, are breathtaking, as are the opening credits by Daniel Kleinman, who also did several other Bond films including Casino Royale. The visuals in the opening credits actually play into the story and what has just happened onscreen with a hallucinatory effect.

A Bond film also heavily depends on its villain and with Javier Bardem’s Silva we have one of the greats. You can detect a touch of Heath Ledger’s Joker in him but not blazingly so. He smiles, he laughs, he’s brilliant, he’s predatory and he lusts for Bond’s body. Bardem knows how to both underplay the character and take him over the top. Considering that the character doesn’t even appear for the first hour or so into the film, the impact is indelible.

A Bond story doesn’t always have to make sense; it often provides the framework for the derring-do and the action but this one actually digs a bit into both the character of Bond and of his boss, M, played by the stunning Judi Dench. She is so tough and no nonsense that she could have been a white, British Amanda Waller. The most important relationship in the film is between M and Bond and ultimately it’s very touching, very human. The story doesn’t just keep everything very status quo; the situation and the characters are challenged and there is change.

The movie lets Bond fail early on, lets him get seedy, lets him fall off the mark in his skills so that he has to work to reclaim them. It addresses the question of whether or not Bond and M are dinosaurs, are they truly needed in this age of computer wizardry. (Yes, they are.) It also addresses the fact that Craig, and Bond, are getting older. In the Roger Moore era, it was glossed over as they gave Moore turtlenecks to hide his wattle. Here, Bond looks older, more worn, and it is suggested to him that he has lost a step or two and maybe its time for him to retire.

The movie pays service to the Bond films of the past without being strictly tied to its continuity. It doesn’t reboot the franchise so much as evolves it. During much of the Moore era, the franchise just got silly and even later incarnations didn’t change things much. Then the Bourne movies came out and the status quo changed. Bond had to change as well and that started with Casino Royale but has found its culmination here. At the same time, the Bond franchise doesn’t shy away from its past; there is a suggestion that between the last film, Quantum of Solace, and now many of the previous Bond adventures may have taken place, specifically Goldfinger. It redefines Bond and his world so that they work for today.

Skyfall digs deeper, attempts more, looks better, and challenges both the characters and us, more so than any other Bond film. Yes, I’m including From Russia With Love and Goldfinger. That’s why I’m saying it is the best Bond film ever. And don’t we want it that way? The best is not the past; it’s now and, hopefully, in the future. When people ask me what is the best story I’ve written, I always say, “The next one.” I hope to go to my grave thinking that. Gives us something to work for and to look forward to. Me? I can’t wait. Bring on the next Bond!

MONDAY: Mindy Newell


The Point Radio: Marvel Recaptures The Comic Stores

DC’s dominance of sales in comic stores melted a bit in October as Marvel retook the top sales spots, plus a certain pesky Image comic had another good mo0nth as well. We analyze the numbers including revealing the WORST selling comic of the month. Plus we continue our look at BATTLESTAR:GALACTICA – BLOOD & CHROME including a visit with the new William Adama.

The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Martha Thomases: Judi Dench Is Not A Bond Girl

Like so much of the world, I went to see Skyfall this weekend. I went with my friend Karen, who hadn’t seen a James Bond movie in a few decades. We both had a fantastic time, and if you haven’t already gone and you like action movies, you should go, right now. This column will still be here when you get back. And, if you can’t go right this second, I shall do my best to avoid spoilers.

There are all kinds of reasons to enjoy this movie: Daniel Craig is a terrific Bond; the locations are exotic and beautiful; the set pieces, including the opening scene and the fight in the glass building, are inventive and exciting; the cinematography is glorious.

For the purposes of this column, I want to talk about a feminist reason to like it: M. Or rather, Judi Dench. Dame Judi is 78 years old, and, in this movie, she looks it. Her hair is gray, almost white. Her face is wrinkled. Her body, at least as it appears in the wardrobe assigned to her, is slack.

None of this makes any difference, because she is not a “Bond girl.” She is M. She is the head of MI6, and she is determined to do the best possible job she can. Her dedication is to her mission and her country. Because this is a James Bond movie, the emphasis is on her relationship with James Bond. However, this relationship, while cordial, is never less than professional, even when both of their lives are at stake. And it is the most compelling relationship in the whole movie.

Have we seen a female character less sexualized in a modern mass movie? The closest I can remember is Helen Mirren in the comic book-inspired movie Red (and also probably everything else she has done for the last decade). And even she is as famous for how she looks in a bikini (and at her age!) as for her formidable talent.

Both Skyfall and Red fail the Bechdel test because neither film has enough fully-realized female characters for either actress to have a significant conversation with another woman. Still, I think the success of both films bodes well for the acceptance of complicated, adult women in pop culture.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing about comics. For the most part, older female characters at the Big Two, like Aunt May or Martha Kent, are mothers or mother-figures. Heavy women like Etta Candy are comic sidekicks.

The worst travesty is what has happened to my pal John Ostrander’s creation, Amanda Waller. Originally a tough, no-nonsense,solidly professional woman (see M, above), she was re-cast in The New 52 as a babe. Instead of wearing sensible suits appropriate to her job, she is no flaunting the tits and ass, with high heels that accentuate her long legs, which look even longer in her short, short skirts.

I suppose it’s possible this re-design was planned in advance of the Green Lantern movie, in which Angela Bassett played Waller in a role that was clearly supposed to mimic Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury. However, Angela Bassett is in her mid-50s. Amanda Waller in the DC books? Not that I can tell.

There are lots of reasons that movies make more money than comics. There are a lot more places to see them, for one thing. We would do well to remember that another reason is that they portray a much broader perspective on reality, one which attracts more fans.

No sane person would claim that Hollywood isn’t a sexist, patriarchal boys’ club. The difference is that it’s a sexist, patriarchal boys’ club that wants to make a profit, and they are smart enough to know the best way to do that is to sell more tickets.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman


The Point Radio: BATTLESTAR Is Back All Shiny & Bloody

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: BLOOD & CHROME is finally here, but you don’t know the whole story on how this all came to be. Executive Producer David Eick shares some surprising facts (and a few sneaky spoilers) with us, plus October was another good month in the comic stores, but for which company and THE KILLING rises from the dead.

The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

The Point Radio: Lori’s Return On THE WALKING DEAD

We’ve got more with THE WALKING DEAD‘s two latest casualties, Sarah Wayne Callis and IronE Singleton. We cover it all from Lori’s Haters, IronE’s surprise at his fate and the possibility that Sarah might have a chance to return to the show. Plus DC goes digital in an even bigger way and we move two steps closer to that ELFQUEST movie.

The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

James Bond theme songs, from worst to first

Cover of "Thunderball: Original Motion Pi...The James Bond films are a part of the American pop culture landscape.  Like another British perennial, Doctor Who, you have your favorite, but you never forget your first Bond.  And almost more so than the films’ effect on us are the film’s theme songs.  Each one is memorable in its own way, some are standards, and some are positively iconic, recognizable after only two or three notes.

With the new film, Skyfall, out this weekend, I’ve taken a listen to them all.  And after much debate and shifting about, The Management has compiled a list of fifty years of James Bond theme songs, ranking them from bottom to top.

As is true of any list like this, there will be more than a little dissent.  We invite you to use the comments section to express your opinions.  Comparisons of the author’s intelligence and/or musical taste to various species of flora and fauna will not be conducive to a spirited argument.

Hall of Fame

Certain songs, as a result of being used in numerous Bond films, or simply because they’re so awesome as they’d take up place in the top of the list, have been accorded the honor of being placed on a dais above the competition, looking down upon the battleground in the way royalty watches a fine joust with detached satisfaction.

James Bond Theme – Rather an obvious one here.  technically it is the theme from the first Bond film, Dr. No (1962), but became almost synonymous with the character. It’s appeared in every film since, and rightly so. Monty Norman could have laid his pencil down and never composed again, and he still would get to go straight to Heaven.

007 Theme – First appearing in From Russia With Love and appearing in several films since, usually as background to a chase or fight scene, it’s another John Barry masterpiece, with its high brass and percussion.

Honorable Mention

These songs are either not from the official Bond series, or in one case, was not used, but are so thematically tied to the films that they deserve mention.

Casino Royale – Not the recent Daniel Craig film, but the screwball comedy with David Niven, Peter Sellers, Woody Allen, Daliah Lavi, and in that order. With a score and main theme by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, and the classic “The Look of Love” by Mr. Burt Bacharach, it’s a chaotic jumboort of a film, as memorable as any of the main series.

Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang – This theme song was originally intended to be the theme for Thunderball, but after versions were recorded by both Dionne Warwick and the grande dame of Bond, Shirley Bassey, the song was scrapped for the Tom Jones number with which we are all acquainted.  The decision was that the song needed to incorporate the title (a rule that fell by the wayside in later years, as you shall see.  Recent releases of the film’s soundtrack feature both recordings. There’s an urban legend that maintains that “Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” is the Japanese name for 007. It is from this song that both the 2005 film and the first episode of Torchwood got their name.

Never Say Never Again – The history of Kevin McClory is a long one. To summarize, he was the first person to have the film rights to Bond, helped write the screenplay that eventually became the novel Thunderball, and got writer’s credit on the novel (after a court case) and held the film rights to Thunderball until his death.  He also held the film rights to SPECTRE, which is why the organization stopped appearing in the films after that one.  He tried many times to use his filmrights, but the only successful attempt was this film, in which they got Sean Connery to trturn to the role that made him world-famous.  The song is quite good, incorporates the theme well, and come on, it’s Sean Connery as Bond again, I refuse to give anything in the film a serious dig.  Yes, EVEN the hologrammy-shocky video game.

Spy Hard – The film was one of a long series of film spoofs in the Airplane! mold, starring Leslie Nielsen.  But it’s the theme song by “Weird Al” Yankovic that we honor here.  An original song, in the style of Bond themes, particularly Thunderball (with an obvious nod to the end of Goldfinger), sung by Al, over a Bond-esque title sequence, also directed by him, his first foray into directing.

Dr. Evil theme – from the second Austin powers film, The Spy Who Shagged Me, the song, by Brooklyn’s ambassadors of love, They Might Be Giants, and performed by John Flansburgh’s wife Robin Goldwasser, is a note-perfect sendup of the “villain song” that many Bond films have featured as their main theme.

Goodbye, Mr. Bond – by Buffalo-based rock band Blotto, the song was the last tune on their third album, Combo Akimbo. Singer Bowtie Blotto took the role of the baddie who had the joy of welcoming the superspy to his “fortress retreat”.  It features a number of original but very 007-reminiscent motifs, as well as witty lyrics that you could easily hear come from any Bond villain, and probably have.


The Point Radio: THE WALKING DEAD Claims More Cast

If you aren’t caught up on this week’s episode of WALKING DEAD, then we got two words for you – SPOILER ALERT. We begin our talk with the most casualty and how this death veered away from the one seen in the comic, plus Tom Hanks (along with Halle Berry) help us figure out CLOUD ATLAS and DC piles on 52 new variant covers!

The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

The Point Radio: PARKS & RECREATION Plunges Ahead

There’s been a lot happening on the NBC comedy, PARKS AND RECREATION including an out-of-the-blue marriage proposal. Co-creator & star, Amy Poehler catches up on all of it plus odds are Jamie Foxx will be Electro and more speculation on Disney and Star Wars.

The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

The Point Radio: Guiding JAMES BOND

Since the day DOCTOR NO exploded on the screen, the fates and fortunes of James Bond has been in the hands of the Brocceli Family, first with Albert “Cubby” Brocceli and now his daughter Barbara. We sat down with Barbara to talk about the rich history of Bond and how they work out each detail from tone of the story to the  Bond Girls, even before the cameras roll – plus G4 gets overhauled and Arnold is CONAN again – really?

The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.