27 November 2012

Moonraker (1979)

To the Summary!
Its Bond!  In SPACEEE!!!!!  Oh, and there's a guy, Hugo Drax who wants to populate the Earth with pretty people.  And there's lasers, bad science, bad jokes, and BOND!  IN! SPACE!

To the Cast!
Roger Moore - James Bond, 007
Lois Chiles - Dr. Holly Goodhead
Michael Lonsdale - Hugo Drax
Richard Kiel - Jaws
Bernard Lee - M
Desmond Llewelyn - Q
Lois Maxwell - Miss Moneypenny

To the Deeper Thoughts!
Le sigh.  This is the movie that triggered my theory of Bond.  There are no bad Bond movies, just some that are better than others.  This is near the bottom of the pile, in my opinion.  I mean, I know that at the time this was made, sci-fi was really taking off (thanks Star Wars!) so I can see why they took Bond where they did.

This is Roger Moore's fourth outing as Bond, and he has settled into the role.  Maybe a bit too much.  Moore's interpretation of Bond was always a bit too aloof for me.  But, this again could be the product of the time in which it was made.

But the cheese.  Oh my, the cheese.  I mean, I  know Bond is known for cheese, but this almost gets over the top.  Basic premise is that Hugo Drax wants to kill all the people on the planet, and replace us with his hand picked beautiful people.  A plus to this movie is the introduction of Jaws.  And by introduction I mean his second appearance, the first being The Spy Who Loved Me.  Jaws is an interesting villain, what with his mouth full of metal teeth.  Who also can't seem to die.

*** I've been working on this review for way to long.  Time to call it quits.  Summary:  Moonraker is probably lowest on my list of favorite Bond movies.  Sure, it has its moments, but overall its pretty weak.  Absolutely see it if you are a completionist like me, but not a good one to start with.

19 November 2012

Skyfall (2012)

This review is For Your Eyes Only, as it contains massive state secrets, also known as spoilers.

To the Summary!
James Bond faces his most personal attacks yet, as the one family he knows comes under attack.

To the Cast!
Daniel Craig - James Bond
Judi Dench - M
Javier Bardem - Silva
Ralph Finnes - Gareth Mallory
Naomie Harris - Eve
Berenice Marlohe - Severine
Albert Finney - Kincade
Ben Whishaw - Q
Rory Kinnear - Tanner

To the Deeper Thoughts!
Bond, James Bond has returned.  Making a triumphant return to the screen since the lackluster Quantum of Solace, Daniel Craig once again holsters the Walther to fight the enemies of Queen and Country.

We join Bond in pursuit of a hard drive that contains a list of all NATO agents embedded in terrorist organizations.  Chasing an assassin through, well over, Constantinople Bond ends up fighting him on a moving train.  His partner in this mission, Eve, is tracking them and finally has a (not clean) shot.  With little remorse, M orders Eve to take the shot.  She misses and Bond is presumed dead.

Cue the opening credits and the requisite song.  All I will say here is that Adele knocks it out of the park.

We rejoin the world of Bond three months later.  He's been hiding in some island country, playing drinking games with scorpions.  That is until he hears about an attack on MI6.  He breaks into M's flat, and declares he wants back in.  MI6 has done the reasonable thing and retreated in the tunnels below London.  Bond is tested, and although he fails, M declares him fit for duty to her boss, Gareth Mallory.  After a fitting out by Q, Bond starts chasing down to clues, and those clues lead to Raul Silva.

Raul Silva.  It is easy to make the argument that he is the now the greatest villain in the Bond film cannon.  He has quite possible the greatest entrance ever.  Descending from an open air elevator, Silva starts telling Bond how best to get rid of a rat infestation.  Short form:  get the rats to eat each other until there are only two left.  And here we have our two rats.  See, Bond was not the first agent that M left for dead.  Silva was once an agent in Hong Kong that went bad, and M turned him over to ensure a peaceful transition of Hong Kong back to Chinese control.  And here we have a similarity to Bond.  Bond could have easily made the decision to get revenge and work for the bad guys, or to set himself up nicely.  As Silva did when he hacked into MI6 and rigged an explosion.  That's right he used a computer to rig an explosion.  Gives you an idea of the kind of bad guy we are facing here.  An enemy who has no known affiliation, and lives in the shadows; who can strike anywhere.

So, obviously Bond has captured Silva and brought him back to the MI6 secret base.  Except, Silva has planned for this.  Q gets to work on hacking Silva's computer, but wait!

Its a trap!


Silva executes one hell of an escape and heads to some governmental building where M is giving testimony as to why MI6 should even still exsist.  Well, the stuffed shirts are about to get a lesson.  Silva barges in and starts shooting the place up.  Bond shows up, and with the help of Eve and Mallory, force Silva to run.  Bond decides to get ahead of Silva, and takes M to his childhood home in Scotland, Skyfall.  Oh, and they get there in THE Aston Martin DB-5.  If you don't know what I mean, go watch Goldfinger and Thunderball.

The final battle at Skyfall is nothing short of epic.  Devising some pretty cool bobby traps (including said car) Bond, M, and the groundskeeper Kincaid, fight off the first wave of Silva's men.  But then Silva shows up in a helicopter with more.  Losing ground fast, Bond blows up the castle, taking out the helicopter and more of Silva's men.

Tracking Kincaid and M to the onsite chapel, Silva corners M.  He attempts to get M to kill themselves, but at the last minute Bond shows up, kills Silva and declares: "Last rat standing."

And then it got dusty in the theater.  Having been shot earlier in the battle, the stress and blood loss are too much for M, and she dies.  Side note: just prior to the movie, my wife and I were talking about who should replace Judi Dench as M.  We get that answer very soon.

And so begins my favorite sequence in the film.  Bond is standing on the top of MI6 as Eve shows up and presents him with a ceramic bulldog that used to sit on M's desk.  Eve suggests that perhaps its a message from M to Bond to take a desk job.  Bond states that it is quite the opposite.

Walking into a room with a familiar coat rack, Eve says she is not cut out for field work, and that she is taking another assignment.  Oh, and her last name is Moneypenny.  And then the door.  The door with the leather padding from so many Bond films opens, and you see that first glimpse into The Office.  Tanner (M's Chief of Staff) walks out, and tells Bond "He's ready to see you."  Bond walks in to see Mallory behind the desk as the new M. M tosses a file at Bond and says: "We have work to do."

This has got to be the best of the Criag Bond's, and quite possibly one of the greatest of all.  If Casino Royale was a bump, and Quantum of Solace was a (weak) set, then this is the spike.  Bringing back familiar elements (Q, Moneypenny) and setting up a new world of evil for Bond to fight, this movie declares that Bond is back.

Also, this is the 50th anniversary of the Bond film franchise.  So, there were subtle reminders and tributes throughout.  A few of my favorites:
  1. Q telling Bond to return the gear in one piece, and that they don't do exploding pens anymore.  Hell, all the exchanges between Q and Bond were fantastic and reminded me of past Bond movies. (Goldeneye, et al.)
  2. Bond escapes from some Komodo dragon's in a very familiar way (See Live and Let Die)
  3. The Aston Martin DB-5.  Need I say more?
There were many others, but these are my favorites.

Skyfall is a hell of a movie.  I think its the first that has a chance of some acting Oscar nominations, especially for Javier Bardem.  He just plays Silva with the right amount of sinister, mixed with the right amount of crazy.  He approaches the edge of campy, but then steps back.

I LOVE this film.  It is a high note for the franchise.  I can only hope the next chapter can carry this wave of momentum.

18 November 2012

Training Log - Week of 11 NOV 12

12 NOV 12
ABD: Ramp up for stripe testing next week.  Two gun defenses plus the second half of our muay thai combination.  Really pushed at the end (drill consisting of punches, groin kicks and sprawls)

BJJ:  Worked on a side mount submission that is taught by Marcio Stambowsky, our head head instructor.  Ends with the paper cutter choke.  And then there was rolling.  Tonight happened to be a HUGE class, so I rolled with what felt like 15 other people.  I had fun.  Got tapped out several times, managed to hold my own others.  Got a good sweep and an almost submission with one guy.  Overall, a good session

13 NOV 12
ABD:  More ramp up for stripe testing.  Felt pretty good, considering how hard I pushed the night before.  As I write this (on the 14th), I'm still feeling the last two days of training, especially in the shoulders.  Ah well, it was still awesome.

12 November 2012

Training Log - Week of 4 NOV 12

5 NOV 12 - Second week of month two.  More gun defenses to learn.  More parts of our current Muay Thai combination.  Tonight was a really great class, in no small part because of my partner.  One of my friends from high school joined the school a while ago, and tonight I worked with him.  We both pushed each other during the drills.  It was awesome because as we trained we'd claim past offenses (usually made up) from high school.  It was pretty awesome.

8 NOV 12 - Day two of week 2 of month 2.  Refined the stuff learned on Monday.  Had a great BJJ class today as well.  I'm still new, and get tapped out a lot, but instead of getting tapped out every 10 seconds, I would only tap out 2 or 3 times in a two minute round.  Which was kinda cool.  Especially when rolling with my instructor (a brown belt)

06 November 2012

01 November 2012