Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Ten James Bond films

I've been watching the James Bond films in order from the start. There's a lot of them, and they're all mostly the same, but all mostly good. I realised I haven't seen a lot of them before, so it's a bit like connecting the dots between the famous parts. There's the bit where he runs over crocodiles. And the bit where the car flips over a bridge. And a woman gets covered in paint. And all this other stuff happens in between. So much stuff that I need to organise it. I need to make a list of some sort. A list that ranks the quality of the ten films I have seen so far, and is almost completely infallible.

1. Goldfinger
2. You Only Live Twice
3. Live and Let Die
4. Dr No
5. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
6. From Russia With Love
7. The Man with the Golden Gun
8. The Spy Who Loved Me
9. Diamonds are Forever
10. Thunderball

I have no idea about On Her Majesty's Secret Service. It was, really, a bit boring. He spent a lot of time in a rubbish disguise in Blofeld's allergy centre and, well, I can't remember the rest of it. But it's the one that sticks out, because he gets married, and then he isn't married anymore, and George Lazenby is there. He's a different Bond. One that can't act very well, but seems vulnerable and more serious. This is a film that's better when you're not watching it. It's interesting, rather than brilliant. So it sits in the middle of the list, out of place and a bit awkward.

They are always rubbish when they end at sea. Things blowing up on the ocean are always boring in Bond films. The Spy Who Loved Me was going fine until the water-fortress bit at the end. Thunderball is too long, and most of it is incomprehensible swimming. Diamonds are Forever just isn't very good. These three films are at the bottom of the list. It seems that everyone likes The Spy Who Loved Me apart from me, but I did like half of it - the first half, when he was in Egypt. Then hundreds of people were running around a submarine, and I didn't care anymore.

There's a lot more to come. After watching the first ten, it seems like James Bond films don't really know what they want to be. Sometimes they're really silly, sometimes they're serious. They take weird detours into whatever is popular at the time (he goes into space in the next one; he's an astronaut). But they are always recognisably the same thing. He goes to other countries and kills people, and the women like him even when he's old. Some people say that the modern films aren't comparable to these, that the new ones are better in a different way. I think it's unfair to the quality of (some of) the new films. Casino Royale could have been made in 1970, if they'd wanted to, and it would have been just as good. There's nothing wrong with being silly, if it's done well. Compare You Only Live Twice to Die Another Day. They're both nonsense, but one is good and the other has computer effects. I'm trying to judge these films outside of the time they were made. That being said, there's still a lot of Roger Moore to get through.*

* I actually think he's quite good, but I'm feeling pessimistic about the rest of his films. There's a lot of them, and one is called Octopussy.

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