Sorry, still sick so here’s another phoned in post.
Pierce Brosnan has been blowing up my news feed for whatever reason. I guess he’s playing some superhero or whatever, but I don’t watch that stuff. Unfortunately this has created a lot of (likely clickbait) opinion pieces that reevaluate his James Bond tenure.
I’ve always placed Goldeneye in the top 5 Bond films, which is where most 007 fans have historically placed it. But there’s a massive drop off with Brosnan’s other three films. The consensus is that while Brosnan could have been a great James Bond, his movies were either mediocre or terrible.
Or, I should say, this WAS the consensus during the Daniel Craig era.
Now that Craig’s moody and brooding Bond is dead and gone, perceptions on Brosnan’s portrayal have shifted. Craig’s 007 matched the times while Brosnan’s seemed clownish by comparison.
But after two years of a pandemic, record high inflation, and superhero movies flooding the theaters, audiences seem primed for a more tongue in cheek James Bond. So the Daniel Craig era is looking more passé by the second.
People are looking to return to a simpler time. And the most (relatively) simpler times in recent memory is the 1990s. At least this is my best explanation for why Pierce Brosnan is undergoing a micro-renaissance.
As a side note, the Star Trek: Next Generation films (which were also released in 90s) are being reevaluated. This is probably due to the cast returning for the final season of Picard. So Generations, released in 1994 and which infamously killed the original Captain Kirk, is being discussed again.
Why I bring this up is because a fourth “Kelvin era” Trek film, starring Chris Pine as nu-Captain Kirk, has stalled for probably the 10,000th time (thank god). While that (hopefully) means we won’t ever see Zachary Quinto as Spock and Karl Urban as McCoy again, that does NOT mean we won’t see Pine as Kirk again.
Because as any Trek fan can tell you, while Shatner’s Kirk was killed in Generations, technically his existence is preserved in some “ribbon” that floats around in space where time doesn’t mean anything blah blah blah. And this “ribbon” hasn’t been mentioned in Star Trek since.
So you can see where I’m going with this: when another Trek film makes it to the streaming services sometime this decade, the original Captain Kirk will be pulled out of this ribbon to be played not by William Shatner but by, you guessed it, Chris Pine.
My go-to site for nerdish bickering is Trekmovie.com. One of the writers for Star Trek 09 and Star Trek Into Darkness, Roberto Orci, infamously jumped onto fans there a few years ago. For internet anthropologist/historians like me, it’s a goldmine.
Trekkies just aren’t used to having nice things. And Strange New Worlds is a nice thing. Sure it’s not perfect, but overall it’s pretty good Star Trek.
But the latest episode involved a species called “the Gorn” who were first introduced in TOS way back in the sixties. If you’re not a Trek fan, you probably know who they are because a member of that species was involved in one of the most parodied scenes in all of science fiction:
In SNW, the Gorn were updated to look more terrifying and were introduced to Starfleet earlier than what canon allowed (SNW takes place before the adventures of Captain Kirk). This predictably caused a shitstorm with the fans.
Look, I can roll with the best of Star Trek nerds. But to most sane people, this is a big nothing-burger.
This is also why the James Bond series is the most underrated of all the long-running franchises. The producers simply don’t give two shits about canon. Each film can theoretically take place in its own timeline. They just don’t get bogged down in the details because their purpose is to entertain.
Arguably, Star Trek serves a different purpose. Still though, fans are missing the forest for the trees. The larger question should be: was it a GOOD episode?
Personally I thought they killed off Hemmer, a very solid character, too soon. But his death did provide a good character arc for Uhura (and laid the foundation for Spock’s most infamous decision in Star Trek II). Obviously they were going for an Alien feel in this episode (which is okay, science fiction series often steal from one another) but overall it was pretty good.
Some fans are angry because the writers aren’t inventing new species to explore. But this “alien of the week” method that Trek fans have become accustomed to makes the series feel paper thin. I like it when writers take the time to explore an existing world. It adds depth.
But this latest Star Trek struggle session only highlights what is perhaps my biggest annoyance. Just because something is old and established, that doesn’t make it holy. The people behind TOS, to include Gene Roddenberry, were making shit up as they went. Besides, no television writer will want to pour through 9 million hours of Star Trek just to make it all add up. Hell, except for myself and Mike Stoklasa, NO ONE would want to do that. And this not only goes for Star Trek, but also for the Bible, Plato, Aristotle, Karl Marx, etc etc. They are all products of man and they can be changed by man.
As fans, we should have only one question: is it good storytelling?
Slow day at work, so me and coworkers watched No Time To Die.
I was the only one that’s seen it prior. And I gotta say, it’s better on the second viewing. I think knowing how it ends, you can appreciate some of its intricacies.
There’s kinda a somber tone throughout. And the cinematography is incredible. The film constantly looks like it’s evening, like the sun’s going down on James Bond. And not just for 007, but for Blofeld and Felix Leiter, both established (and parodied) characters in the long running franchise.
It’s a shame that the Academy didn’t give Daniel Craig a Best Actor nod. He really gave a fulfilling performance for a character that didn’t have much depth prior to his portrayal.
But damn it, I knew how it ends. But I couldn’t help myself: I cried in front of all my coworkers.
If you get REALLY high, then Moonraker can become a decent, but not a GREAT film instead of the cocaine-fueled nightmare that is now.
What I love about the James Bond franchise is that it’s pure spectacle. It doesn’t shy away from that. In fact, it full on embraces it…at least during the 60s, 70s, and 80s.
What people don’t realize about the Sean Connery through Timothy Dalton era is that the plot DOES NOT MATTER. At all. Not in the slightest. They’re all screenplays based on story beats: 1) Cold open 2) Titles 3) Moneypenny/Q/M 4)Intro to villain, etc etc. and it always ends with the villain lair exploding and Bond fucking the Bond Girl. The facade of a story is always in service to hitting those beats.
It’s like listening to a Phil Spector produced album where the sheer scale of the production covers up the limitations of the artist.
Now Moonraker crosses the line from being spectacle to straight up insanity. It’s obvious that the producers were just throwing shit up on the screen in a desperate attempt to compete with Star Wars. But underneath all that bullshit, there is a decent James Bond film.
The scene that is often cited as being the moment Bond jumps the shark is the gondola chase. But did you know that that scene is completely useless? It advances the plot in no way. Who’s chasing Bond? Why are they chasing him? It’s assumed to be the villain’s henchmen, but that’s never made clear. As far as Bond knows, it’s just random dudes. There are no consequences for the chase either. You can cut it out completely, and nothing in the story would have been missed. Not even a story beat. The very next scene is a fight with a henchmen where a shit ton of glass gets broken. There is literally no point in the gondola chase.
Honestly, half the shit that takes place in Venice could be cut. Only two important things happen there: you learn that the villain is using a chemical agent in his diabolical plot and the Bond girl is actually a CIA agent. The death of the first henchmen takes place there, which explains the appearance of Jaws later in the film, but I’d argue that this character could be cut completely and nothing would be missed.
Could Jaws be cut out? Probably not. Unlike most things in this film, Jaws actually advances the plot. But his character could be made less ridiculous by introducing him in the Rio Carnival sequence (who cares why he’s there? It should be obvious). Unfortunately that stupid ass love interest ends up becoming useful for Bond at a key point, so that shit has to stay in. BUT all that crap afterwards can be cut out.
Now the film goes completely off the rails after Bond escapes the ambulance, and not much can be done to fix that. 007 has to go into space 🤷♂️. But if roughly 1/4 of the movie gets edited out, you’d have a nice little spy film.
A lot of people don’t know this about me, but between laughing hysterically at shit and cum jokes I obsess over the historicity a man named Jesus of Nazareth, aka our Lord and Savior.
I even read the New Testament in Koine Greek (it’s a lot easier than you think).
For the record, I’m not a “mythicist”-or those that believe Jesus was a myth that the Romans or later believers fabricated. That’s stupid. Modern archeology and scholarship affirm that Jesus almost certainly existed.
Sure, some of my opinions my be a little bit outside the mainstream. I tend to agree with John Dominic Crossan’s assessment that perhaps Jesus’s ministry needs to be viewed in light of Roman authority. The Roman’s notoriously ruled with an iron fist. Jesus, by contrast, appeared more as a pacifist that appealed to neighborly love. His “Kingdom of God”, which Jesus almost certainly believed was going to be on earth rather than in some supernatural realm, directly challenged Roman Rule. So in many ways, Jesus was more than just a religious figure-he was a political one (not that anyone distinguished between the two in those days). Could this be wrong? Sure. But I think this view is worth taking seriously.
When viewed in this light, Jesus’s message remains just as radical today as it was in the first century AD: it was a direct challenge to the violence of the era.
But another interesting perspective on early Christianity is how it provides insight into the nature of radical politics: it starts off as fringe then branches off into rivaling sects before becoming mainstream. Once it becomes mainstream, it becomes orthodox and therefore conservative-if not authoritarian-in nature.
I’ve always thought that this subject, the “real” Jesus, would make an excellent film.
Unfortunately no such film has been made.
So the next best thing is Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, based on the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis.
Is it a perfect film? No. I can appreciate some of the modern characterizations of Jesus, the Apostles, Judas Iscariot, and so on. But Paul Schrader’s dialogue comes across as academic, which at times undermines the effectiveness of the story.
But Scorsese’s frenzied take on a familiar story is refreshing. Of course Peter Gabriel’s soundtrack might be one of the best in film history (a hill I’m willing to die on).
What I love most about this movie though is it’s influence on my favorite film franchise: the James Bond series.
“The fuck are you talking about?” you might ask.
Think I’m crazy? Well you’re right. But I’m also correct.
Watch the final act of The Last Temptation of Christ. Then go watch the final act of Casino Royale.
Yo! Respect to Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson for killing off perhaps the most important character in film history (spoilers! 🤷♂️) Don’t believe that James Bond isn’t the most important? Well without this franchise, we probably wouldn’t have the modern action blockbuster. He was the model for the postmodern, morally questionable hero…before Han Solo, before Indiana Jones, before John McClain. James Bond was doing that shit before everyone.
And now he’s dead.
That takes balls.
I say fuck the fanboys. As Star Trek II director Nicholas Meyer said when he was told that he couldn’t kill Spock (paraphrase): “of course you can, as long as you do it well.”
Did they do it well? Don’t know. No Time To Die hasn’t been released in the States yet (they probably didn’t). But I will respect any filmmaker that takes chances.
Audiences be damned.
So where does the franchise go from here? The answer is obvious: HBO Max (or Apple TV, or Netflix, or Amazon Prime, etc). The James Bond Expanded Universe on television is the next logical step.
“But nobody cares about that universe without James Bond”
Perhaps. But the good thing about this universe is that the timeline does not matter. Seriously. Does Goldeneye happen before or after the events of Live and Let Die? Does it matter? Is Ralph Fiennes’ M the same as Bernard Lee’s? Does THAT matter?
You see, nothing in the James Bond timeline matters. With the exception of the Daniel Craig films, each film and each actor sort of takes place in its own timeline.
So in this James Bond extended universe, James Bond is still alive because why not?
So is James Bond the main character in this new series? If yes, then the series writes itself.
But if the producers made this dramatic move in No Time To Die just so they can free themselves to explore this universe, here’s my pitch (since Barbara and Michael aren’t taking my calls):
Series name: 00
Characters: Ralph Fiennes as M, Ben Whishaw as Q, Naomi Harris as Eve Moneypenney, Rory Kinnear as Tanner
001: (Male, 50-60yrs) An old Irish bastard. Hard hitter, hard drinker. Has been a 00 longer than anyone. Was actually a family man at some point against the wishes of Her Majesty’s Service, but naturally fucked it up. Has been wanting to reconnect with his son for years, but his son wants nothing to do with him.
002: (Male, 40s) Borderline autistic, has no close personal relationships. But make no mistake: this mother fucker can kill. Not much is known about his background.
003: (Female, 20s) the newest member of the service. She was one of the first women to get into the SAS before joining MI6. Fresh off of her first mission, she appears to be experiencing a degree of PTSD. 001 takes her under his wing and treats her as a surrogate daughter to make up for his deficiencies as a father.
004: (Male, 20-early 30s) a total cad. Along with James Bond, he often stays in trouble with M. Not liked by many in M16. A snarky, fratish type.
005: (Female, 40-50s) a seasoned veteran of MI6. There’s no situation she can’t handle masterfully. Often a part of M’s “A-Team”, she gets dispatched on the more difficult missions. The perfect female counterpart of James Bond, an expert seductress.
006: Alec Trevelyan (Male, 30-50)-James Bond’s best friend in the service. However, he holds a secret grudge against the British government. Will later be “betrayed” by 007.
007: James Bond (Male, 30-50)- The GOAT.
M is ripping one of his agents a new asshole. It’s 001. He’s too old, M says. He’s a drunk and they already have enough alcoholics on the force (James Bond). But there’s still one more mission for 001.
“Don’t cock it up,” says M.
It’s not a difficult mission, but he’s getting a partner: 003. 001 resents this but follows orders. He banters with Moneypenny and goes to Q to gather his equipment. But instead of the flirty charm of 007, he’s cantankerous and crusty. He understands none of the technology that Q gives him.
001 and 003 go through the usual formula: they go undercover, enjoy the finer things in life, go to bed with numerous individuals, and cause plenty of property damage. And they do it with their own spin and charm. However, the mustache-twirling villain has a much bigger plot under his sleeve, one which has international implications.
With the plot spread globally, the mission comes under the direction of Tanner. We are introduced to the other 00 agents and their individual missions in different parts of the world.
But when things start to get real, M has no other choice but to bring in the big guns: 006 and 007. This culminates in 007s supposed “betrayal“ of 006, and while Bond temporarily plays the hero, 001 and 003 overcome their differences to save the day.
The mission is interwoven with the personal drama of 001 and 003.
Bond once said that 00s often have short life expectancies. 001 is aware that he faces death at every turn; the next mission could be his last. And he has been on too many missions. His demise in the season finale will serve as a reminder to 003: death is never an option.