Fantastic Four Review.

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     How hard is it to make a Fantastic Four flick? I’m seriously asking here. What is it about the source material that has managed to make at least three filmmakers lose their fucking minds? I know that the comics are silly, and dare I say, lighthearted, but Jesus Christ. I’m not asking for an Academy Award winning flick here, but give me something that makes me proud to be a Fantastic Four fan.
     In this iteration, Reed Richards (Miles Teller) and Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) work on mind blowing science experiments that catch the eye of Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) and his daughter Sue (Kate Mara). The guys are invited to join a think tank along with Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) to open up a portal to another world. I don’t know why that would be a good idea, but OK. Eventually they’re joined by Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan), because reasons. They all go through the portal and gain crazy powers.
     Deep down inside, I wanted to like this movie. Seriously, I did. I wanted to join the “unappreciated gem” party, but I really can’t do that. When you spend decades reading up on films that were tampered by studio interference, you learn to spot them from time to time, but holy shit. There was no way that any filmmaker, I don’t care who they are, would purposely release something like this. I felt like I saw a demo reel, not a film.
     The main problem is the film structure. Unless you’re telling a three hour multi-generational drama, time jumps do not belong in a 90 minute film. And I’m not talking about one here, I’m talking about two major ones. There’s a one year time jump that skips over the cool shit, the discovery of their powers (which has some awesome Cronenberg overtones), the way these four would form a bond that would ultimately make them a family, not a team. This plays like a cliff notes version of Fantastic Four written by a guy who didn’t even know the premise. All the actors are very serviceable, but they don’t have any screen time to actually build any chemistry.
     I love everyone involved in this production, but that’s what hurts more. I expect better from these guys. Yes, I do know about the behind the scenes shenanigans that went on, and that’s why the actors and director are not where I’m putting the blame. Yep, the good old studio. I know that studios make superhero movies just to make money, but damn, could they have been a little more subtle about it? It was so clear that this movie was made to keep the rights, that it made me sick to my stomach. I’m just reviewing what I saw on the screen, and Fox should be ashamed to have put up a film that not even a first year film student would have the good sense to make.

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James Bond Reviews: #7: Licence to Kill

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     This was the Bond movie that Quantum of Solace wanted to be. A Bond movie so ahead of its time that it’s still listed as one of the lowest grossing films in the franchise. But don’t go by the sheer numbers; not since On Her Majesty’s Secret Service has there been an entry that truly captures the spirit of Ian Fleming’s work. Licence to Kill, more than any other, is the precursor to the Daniel Craig films.
     After 007 (Timothy Dalton) helps one of his best friends Felix Lieter (David Hedison) capture notorious drug lord Sanchez (Robert Davi), and then gets Felix to his wedding day, tragedy strikes. Bond, fueled by sheer rage and vengeance, decides to go after Sanchez when he made his escape. Bond is so consumed by his anger, that he defies M (Robert Brown) and has his licence to kill revoked. Nothing, and no one, will get in Bond’s way this time.
     I never understood at first the hatred that this movie got, until I actually thought about it for a second. Even though this was Dalton’s second time playing Bond, audiences still wanted a Roger Moore-type, all jokey and shit. I get that, but it’s still unfair to dismiss a movie, an entire movie, based on just an interpretation. Dalton makes Bond terrifying in this installment, guess what? He’s supposed to be. Bond here is a cold blooded killer at long last. The quips are minimal, and the humor so dry you’ll need a glass of water.
     Along with this more serious Bond, comes one of the greatest Bond villians in the franchise, Sanchez. What’s so great, is that he’s the mirror image of Bond. Those two could have been friends if the circumstances would have been different. Takes Bond into his home, feeds him, trusts him. That’s what makes the finale so brutal and vicious. Bond doesn’t give a shit; he has a purpose.
     Besides being the most violent entry up to that point, I just love seeing 007 use his brain and brawn to take down a fucker. I bet a lot of people will be surprised how modern the film feels (aside from some 80isms). Dalton was very underrated as Bond, but as time proved, he was also a trailblazer.

James Bond Reviews: #8: The World Is Not Enough

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     Now this is a controversial choice, especially so high up on this list. I agree with a lot of the criticisms regarding the film, but it’s not so monumental that it destroys the film, especially when it bottoms out as the worst film in the series (at least according to Entertainment Weekly). Let’s say that if you’ve seen at least one previous film in the series, you’ll realize that The World is Not Enough is one of the more emotionally charged Bond films.
     007 (Pierce Brosnan) is on the inactive roster for failing to capture the assassin of oil mogul Robert King (David Calder) and is sent to look after his daughter, Electra (Sophie Marceau) who was just returned safely from the clutches of Renard (Robert Carlyle) who is incapable of feeling pain. Once 007 figures out the truth, the ghosts of his past are finally coming forward.
     Now, let’s get to it shall we? How could I possibly love a movie that is loathed by many? The first clue is in the title. Yes, it appeared in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the one with Tracy. Believe me, she is the most important character in the Bond mythology. There is a particular shot of Renard that reminded me of Bond’s archenemy, Blofeld. In a round about way, this movie is a follow up to Service. Bond finally thought he found happiness, but instead he’s reliving the trauma of his past, but now with a chance to set it right. Yeah, I got all that because I saw one movie, and mother fucker is it a good one.
     Let’s the discuss the awkward nuclear physicist in the room, Christmas Jones played by Denise Richards. The woman was never going to win any Oscars, but Jesus did people fucking hate her. Enough to call this the worst Bond film. The problem with her character is that it’s barely fucking written. And I mean as anything barely resembling as a person. She exists solely to adhere to the formula that Bond gets to bang a chick at the end of the movie. That’s it pretty much. Is it enough to hate a movie, a fucking phenomenal one? Not to me. But I do agree that the movie ends with a pun so bad that it’ll make Roger Moore cringe.
     At this point Brosnan is firmly confident in the role, even playing up more of the pain that Bond typically hides. Watching the film again, I realized that this one thematically is closer to the Daniel Craig Bonds. And while the films have been really good at being standalones, it is a great feeling when 007’s history actually comes into play. It makes him seem human.

James Bond Reviews: #9: Thunderball

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     1965, the absolute height of Bondmania. People were going apeshit over any and everything Bond. It always made sense that this was the most popular Bond film, since the book itself was very cinematic. Thunderball and You Only Live Twice, are the two most modern Bond films out of the classic Connery era. I just mean that there’s a shit ton of action, with the most common element of its day: SPECTRE.
     Bond (Sean Connery) needs to be at his absolute sharpest, so M (Bernard Lee) sends him to a detox clinic, because Connery Bond is basically Archer. While there, he uncovers a terrorist plot from SPECTRE involving the highjacking of a couple nuclear warheads and holding the world for ransom. Yes, this is where Dr. Evil was born.
     Here, Connery is in top form as Bond (unlike that campy, sleepwalking, piece of shit Diamonds Are Forever), having a confidence and wit that young people would call trolling. When Bond finds Fiona (Luciana Pauluzzi) in his tub, he lays out the charm by giving her something to put on. Her shoes. Largo (Adolfo Celi) has that smug, arrogant douchebagary that has been imitated in later Bond films, but can’t be duplicated.
     What amazes me, film wise, is that by the fourth film they were in their groove. Exotic locale, beautiful women, an over the top plot involving world domination, this installment has it all. Every great element from the series was perfected by this point. The action driven plots that dominate the rest of the franchise has its seeds laid here. Love it, or blame it, this is one of the essential 007 films to watch

James Bond Reviews: #10: The Spy Who Loved Me

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     Here we are at the best of the Roger Moore Bond films. Out of the 7 installments that Moore made, he was never better than he was here. If you step back and look at the film’s plot and structure, this was the movie that ushered in the modern version of the film series. But more importantly, Moore here infuses the character with a melancholy that shows that Moore under the right direction, was more than capable of being Bond.
     A Soviet, as well as a British, submarine have mysterious vanished from the seas, and 007 (Roger Moore) is sent in to investigate. While on his mission he crosses paths with agent Anya Amnosova aka XXX (Barbara Bach), and the two end up forming an uneasy alliance to stop Stromberg (Curd Jürgens) and his henchman Jaws (Richard Kiel) from triggering World War III.
     My favorite thing about the movie is that here we finally have an agent that is the mirror image of Bond, so it’s natural that 007 is going to want to fuck her. The recent crop of Bond ladies, well, sucked. Or rather, they were more damsels in distress more than anything. But I love the dynamic that if they were in different professions, leading different lives, they could have found happiness. This was the first Bond movie to explicitly refer to Tracy (more on her later) and Moore brings out the pain he conceals from beneath his suave exterior. Damn, this is such a great movie.
     There’s so much great fun to be had watching this film. I know it’s hard to get people to watch a Roger Moore Bond movie, but in all seriousness, this is clearly the best one to watch. Instead of playing it with a smirk and a wink, he adds a level of pathos, that quite frankly, makes you wish he had played it like this the entire time. At least here we get a quintessential Bond movie that all fans need to see.