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You Only Live Twice Review


Excellent
One of Bond's bigger outings from the early days of the franchise, You Only Live Twice begins with Bond (Sean Connery) faking his death to relieve himself of some of the heat of his enemies and culminates with a showdown against nemesis Blofeld (the progenitor of Dr. Evil) in a phony volcanic lair/rocket base being invaded by ninjas, which are on Bond's side. Blofeld's plot is hijacking spaceships while they're in orbit... for unclear purposes. Got all that? The plot itself is protracting and quite confusing for a Bond film, ultimately just a distraction from one of Bond's most memorable adventures, complete with Q arriving with a helicopter in a box. Tons of fun, really, and Donald Pleasence as Blofeld is inimitable.

Continue reading: You Only Live Twice Review

Moonraker Review


OK
Most rational observers agree that Moonraker is without a doubt the most absurd James Bond movie -- definitely of the Roger Moore era and possibly of all time. And it's exactly that ridiculousness that makes it so enjoyable. Here we have a villain (Michael Lonsdale) who builds a giant space fleet with the goal of living in his secret space station while he poisons all humans on earth (he's building a "perfect" society) -- and he wears a suit the entire time, even while flying his Moonraker spacecraft! Bond's adventures are suitably globetrotting -- and of course, this is the only film where he actually got to go into space, thanks to his cohort, Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles). In addition to the unforgettable Jaws (Richard Kiel), the film features what might be the best double entendre ever, this one from Q as Bond is seen coupling with Holly in low-grav as he orbits the earth: "I think he's attempting re-entry!" I'll say.

Continue reading: Moonraker Review

Thunderball Review


Good
The first big Big BIG Bond movie, complete with a boat that separates into two pieces, an underwater war, Baccarrat, no fewer than four Bond girls (all of whom found their voices dubbed-over by the same actress), and at least one clever witticism delivered by Connery every five minutes. It's too long and doesn't make any sense at times, but it's a real jaw-dropper (especially for 1965). Crudely remade as Never Say Never Again in 1983. Bond fans should look for the DVD, which features 8 theatrical trailers, 3 making of documentaries, and 2 commentary tracks. Wow.

Continue reading: Thunderball Review

Live And Let Die Review


Good
A true guilty pleasure among Bond films. Who can forget a young Jane Seymour as Solitaire, a psychic held captive? Or Clifton James as Louisiana Sheriff Pepper, the most colorful character the Bond series has produced? Or Tee Hee and his mechanical arm? Or Geoffrey Holder (the voice of 7-UP) as the evil Baron Samedi? Or the best theme song ever (by Paul McCartney and Wings)? Certainly not me, though I had to be reminded that this was a Bond-gets-drug-smugglers story. But the early-'70s pop culture exudes throughout this flick. It's certainly a unique entry into the Bond oeuvre (not to mention the first appearance of Roger Moore.)

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Goldfinger Review


Essential
The iconic James Bond movie, this third entry into the franchise is rightly heralded for offering the perfect blend of action, adventure, gunplay, fisticuffs, gadgetry (that Aston Martin!), romance, derring-do, and just about everything else. Bond's outtings take him across Europe and eventually to U.S. shores, on the trail of Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe), a maniac who wants to corner the gold market... with a plan to break into Fort Knox. Even though the ultimate plot is a little on the silly side, Bond's co-stars (Oddjob, Pussy Galore) are among the series' most memorable characters, with Fröbe perhaps its greatest villain. Numerous scenes in the film -- most notably Goldfinger's aborted execution of Bond via laser beam-to-the-crotch -- have become cinematic classics. Don't miss the DVD commentary track, it's incredibly insightful: I had no idea that Gert Fröbe spoke no English and was completely dubbed over.

Continue reading: Goldfinger Review

From Russia With Love Review


Extraordinary
The defeat of the titular arch-villain in the Bond series' inaugural Dr. No provides the fly in From Russia with Love's revenge-motivated ointment. Seeking to mete out payback on James Bond (Sean Connery) for eliminating their best and most evil megalomaniac, the global terrorist organization SPECTRE attempts to lure in the super-spy by using a Russian decoding machine as its dangling carrot.

As everyone knows, a piece of machinery isn't enough to set Bond into action. You need a piece of something else, and SPECTRE finds it in the form of Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi), a beautiful cipher clerk in the Soviet secret service who's got the goods on the decoder. Under instructions from the über-evil Rosa Klebb (the fabulous Lotta Lenya), a SPECTRE operative posing as a Soviet official, Tatiana agrees to her mission: To put out the signal that she wants to defect to the West, and that she's willing to smuggle the decoder too, provided that Bond escort her safely through the Iron Curtain.

Continue reading: From Russia With Love Review

Dr. No Review


Excellent
Bond #1 laid the groundwork for one of cinema's most enduring franchises, with 007 (Sean Connery) and his mean streak, sent to Jamaica to investigate the murder of another double-O agent. Here he hooks up with CIA agent Felix Leiter (Jack Lord) and a gaggle of sexy ladies who either need dispatching or romancing. Naturally there's a super villain with an impossibly expensive lair to be infiltrated (the first of at least a dozen of these that he'll do time in) and a take-over-the-world plot to be foiled. Unfortunately the plot is not one of Bond's absolutely most memorable (the title sequence is particularly tragic), though it has all the elements we've come to expect. Entry #2, From Russia with Love, would refine the formula a bit, leading up to the series' most memorable entry of all, Goldfinger. Still, essential viewing for any Bond fanatic.

Continue reading: Dr. No Review

The Spy Who Loved Me Review


Good
James Bond had his 10th outing in this epic affair, which ushered in the new era of Bond as not just over the top but rather way, way, way over it. How far? The Spy Who Loved Me has Jaws, a villain that feeds detractors to sharks (in his underwater lair, of course), a gorgeous Russian spy (Barbara Bach) who helps Bond, stolen nuclear missiles, a scene in Egypt that -- in a rare moment of Bondian genius -- borrows the score from Lawrence of Arabia, and perhaps the best Bond gadget of all time: A Lotus that can turn into a submarine. I loved Spy so much in the 1980s (on video) that I lusted over Lotus catalogs. Oddly, I never found the sub option inside.

This is near-camp and its success sent a strong message to its producers about what audiences wanted to see: Bigger, bolder, louder, sexier. The next 10 films that followed simply one-upped this formula over and over again. Amazing.

Continue reading: The Spy Who Loved Me Review

Dr. No Review


Excellent
Bond #1

Bond #1.

From Russia With Love Review


Extraordinary
The defeat of the titular arch-villain in the Bond series' inaugural Dr. No provides the fly in From Russia with Love's revenge-motivated ointment. Seeking to mete out payback on James Bond (Sean Connery) for eliminating their best and most evil megalomaniac, the global terrorist organization SPECTRE attempts to lure in the super-spy by using a Russian decoding machine as its dangling carrot.

As everyone knows, a piece of machinery isn't enough to set Bond into action. You need a piece of something else, and SPECTRE finds it in the form of Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi), a beautiful cipher clerk in the Soviet secret service who's got the goods on the decoder. Under instructions from the über-evil Rosa Klebb (the fabulous Lotta Lenya), a SPECTRE operative posing as a Soviet official, Tatiana agrees to her mission: To put out the signal that she wants to defect to the West, and that she's willing to smuggle the decoder too, provided that Bond escort her safely through the Iron Curtain.

Continue reading: From Russia With Love Review

The Spy Who Loved Me Review


Good
James Bond had his 10th outing in this epic affair, which ushered in the new era of Bond as not just over the top but rather way, way, way over it. How far? The Spy Who Loved Me has Jaws, a villain that feeds detractors to sharks (in his underwater lair, of course), a gorgeous Russian spy (Barbara Bach) who helps Bond, stolen nuclear missiles, a scene in Egypt that -- in a rare moment of Bondian genius -- borrows the score from Lawrence of Arabia, and perhaps the best Bond gadget of all time: A Lotus that can turn into a submarine. I loved Spy so much in the 1980s (on video) that I lusted over Lotus catalogs. Oddly, I never found the sub option inside.

Continue reading: The Spy Who Loved Me Review

Live And Let Die Review


Good
A true guilty pleasure among Bond films. Who can forget a young Jane Seymour as Solitaire, a psychic held captive? Or Clifton James as Louisiana Sheriff Pepper, the most colorful character the Bond series has produced? Or Tee Hee and his mechanical arm? Or Geoffrey Holder (the voice of 7-UP) as the evil Baron Samedi? Or the best theme song ever (by Paul McCartney and Wings)? Certainly not me, though I had to be reminded that this was a Bond-gets-drug-smugglers story. But the early-'70s pop culture exudes throughout this flick. It's certainly a unique entry into the Bond oeuvre.

Thunderball Review


Good
The first big Big BIG Bond movie, complete with a boat that separates into two pieces, an underwater war, Baccarrat, no fewer than four Bond girls (all of whom found their voices dubbed-over by the same actress), and at least one clever witticism delivered by Connery every five minutes. It's too long and doesn't make any sense at times, but it's a real jaw-dropper (especially for 1965). Crudely remade as Never Say Never Again in 1983. Bond fans should look for the DVD, which features 8 theatrical trailers, 3 making of documentaries, and 2 commentary tracks. Wow.

Moonraker Review


OK
Most rational observers agree that Moonraker is without a doubt the most absurd James Bond movie -- definitely of the Roger Moore era and possibly of all time. And it's exactly that ridiculousness that makes it so enjoyable. Here we have a villain (Michael Lonsdale) who builds a giant space fleet with the goal of living in his secret space station while he poisons all humans on earth (he's building a "perfect" society) -- and he wears a suit the entire time, even while flying his Moonraker spacecraft! Bond's adventures are suitably globetrotting -- and of course, this is the only film where he actually got to go into space, thanks to his cohort, Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles). In addition to the unforgettable Jaws (Richard Kiel), the film features what might be the best double entendre ever, this one from Q as Bond is seen coupling with Holly in low-grav as he orbits the earth: "I think he's attempting re-entry!" I'll say.
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