The World Is Not EnoughYes, as they always promise at the end of the film, James Bond HAS returned. After waiting 2 years [has it REALLY been that long? Nothing compared to the wait for TPM, I suppose] we once again get to see Brosnan as Bond. But like TPM, I must say this was something of a disappointment.
The first and most obvious flaw is with Brosnan himself. He lacks the charm of the previous actors who had the part, and has always been too unsympathetic for this reviewer's liking. Even worse, in this film one never actually feels that Bond is in jeopardy. But even if he was, the viewer would most likely not care!
The film itself is a reasonably good big-budget action film. It might even have been a success as a straight-to-video effort, because that is all the script is fit for. But one does not compare a Bond film to regular films, they compare it with the other Bonds [18 excluding Kevin McLory's Never Say Never Again ]. And by those standards, the only hope for James Bond is if McLory manages to go ahead with Warhead 2000.
Since most of the film takes place in the former USSR, we get pair of Russian characters - Vladmir [Robbie Coltrane] and Renard [Robert Carlise]. Odd how ever since the first James Bond actor was in Hunt for Red October, all Russian parts have been given to Scots! Carlisle is never threatening, which is a great disappointment; Coltrane OTOH actually steals the show! His Goldeneye cameo has been extended to replace the Joe Don Baker CIA sidekick; Coltrane is a lot better [Baker is a great actor, but has never been good in a Bondfilm].
Another comedy cameo is John Cleese, groomed to be Q's replacement. Yes, it looks like the aged Desmond Lewellyn [now in his 80s!] has stepped out for good. But comedy-wise, Cleese gets all the best jokes. Bond's famous puns are totally cringe-worthy this time round.
As well as substandard leading man, villain and puns, this film also lacks the exotic locations of previous movies. When Bond was last in Istanbul [From Russia With Love], we got to see the magnificent Haga Sophia. This time round all we get is a dirty-looking lighthouse thing. Ugh.
The women are different, as ever, but in an unexpected way. In the last film Brosnan [in his 40s] had two 30-something babes; now he's chased by a pair of 20-something girls. Not exactly the Connery/Zeta Jones age contrast, but it certainly shows up a weak spot in Tomorrow Never Dies.
Babe-wise, how does Denise Richards shape up? Well, she was out-babed in Starship Troopers by the delectable Dina Meyer, but wowed audiences of Wild Things when she let Kevin Bacon lap champagne off her breasts. Tight-up costar Neve Campbell insisted on a no nipple or side of breast clause in her contract, so lucky Denise had no on-screen rival for male attention!
So, Ms Richards is big enough [as a star!] to be a bond girl - but how does she fit the bikini? Well, she never wears one - but she has other skimpy costumes instead! First skimpy t-shirt and shorts [under her radiation suit], then skimpy dress [to decoy male attention], finally a wet t-shirt [hey, the ship was sinking!] - all justified by the plot, you see. :)
But that is about all the plot justifies. Bond has become a cold-blooded killer - okay, he always WAS, but he kills unarmed suspects in cold blood without even being ordered to! Hell, when he killed Xenia it was self-defence, but this is disturbing.
The introduction pre-credits teaser is the longest ever filmed for a Bond film [about 15 minutes!] and is the first major flaw. The writers needed the standard two aerial stunts - absailing from a window was easy, but they decided to stick in a hot air balloon thing too. And a big explosion, and a boat chase, and ... well, they just stuck in far too much. And this leasd into a theme song that, like Sheryl Crow's effort last time, can only be described as limp.
MI6 are incompetent [except for 007, of course] and have no security - but at least the villains are equally incompetent. For some reason the bad guys are using Belgian FN P90s instead of a more Russian AK-47 - perhaps it has something to do with their leader, the KGB's hitman in Afghanistan, turned Anarchist terrorist ... A nice mix of cliches, indeed. And his codename, Renard - french, of course. I mean, the lazy hacks responsible for this trash could at least have thought up a decent name for him.
And the climax of the film? How does it compare with, say, Brosnan and Bean on the antenna at the end if Goldeneye? Well, it doesn't. It sucks. If the teaser failed to sell the new movie [and it does] then the climax certainly fails to sell the next one. Maybe this will be the last of the Bond franchise - they are certainly getting worse, and this reviewer dreads the arrival of the next one.
Fight ClubYes, obviously this film is not SF - but it has got to be the best film of the year, so it is definitely worth a mention.
Yes, it has Brad Pitt in it - but this time round he is in actor mode rather than ugly bloke that girlies fancy mode and as such can be forgiven for his previous wrong-doings. Well, temporarily at least.
Ed Norton [American History X] plays a young white-collar American whose hectic work schedule is disrupting his sleep patterns. His life is changed when he meets the unconventional Tyler Durden [Pitt]. Together they accidentally found Fight Club, not so much a bare-knuckle boxing club but more a support group for emotionally repressed men.
Sixth SenseThis is an excellent film, for several reasons. Firstly, the direction; M. Night Shylaman has produced a truly unnerving piece of work, and for a comparatively inexperienced Director this is quite a feat.
Secondly, the cast. Bruce Willis is his usual understated self, but the real star of the film is the young boy. He has more scenes and screen time than Willis, to start with - but he is so completely believable that you will be sucked into the film completely. The third major part is the boy's mother, played by Toni Collette! Who would have believed that the star of Muriel's Wedding was such an incredible actress?!
The third element is the script; sharp, intense, shocking - and with a twist that took this reviewer completely off-guard! But as the flashbacks show, the foreshadowing was all there, in among the eeriness of the film.
Like Blair Witch Project [reviewed in the Hallowe'en Special ], this film marks Hollywood's turn away from the Slasher genre of horror film parodied in the Scream series [and exemplified in the terrible ISKWYDLS ] and towards a more psychological approach to horror as a whole. And about bloody time! This is the film The Exorcist could have been, and if it had been made 20 years ago we could have avoided 20 years of crap Hallowe'en rip-off Slasher movies.
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