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Blast From the Past: Tamahori on DIE ANOTHER DAY


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#1 Loomis

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 11:14 AM

Found a fascinating interview with Lee Tamahori conducted just before the release of DIE ANOTHER DAY (http://actionadventu...2/aa111202a.htm). Apologies if it's been put up here in the past, although I don't think it has been. Very interesting stuff indeed - plenty here that I didn't know. Enjoy. :)

Lee Tamahori Talks Die Another Day

Part One: Playing with the 007 formula
It used to be that one director would make several James Bond movies, but starting with Goldeneye, each entry in the series became an opportunity for a new director to try their vision on a 007 film. For Die Another Day, that director is Lee Tamahori.

Tamahori toyed with some of the series' conventions. Right at the beginning, the traditional opening iris shot features a CGI bullet zooming towards the camera. The film also includes a lengthy Bond torture scene, which most of the other films have avoided. Of course, there are still the staple action scenes.

A rapid-fire speaker, Tamahori called for an interview from his room at the Four Seasons hotel. Some mild spoilers and plot details of the first act follow, but I've been careful to be as vague as possible and nothing ruins the film's surprises.:

What was the decision to enhance the opening iris shot? That I flung the cartridge, the bullet. Well, I decided to have a lot of fun on this movie. I said, "Guys, can I change some things? I only want to do it for one movie. I don't want you to do it for all of them." When I always saw that shot, I always felt like I was being shot, which you were supposed to feel. I thought, can we for the 20th movie and 40th anniversary, can we fire a bullet straight at the audience and put it in the surround speakers and make people feel like they're being shot? They said, 'Sure, you can do that." It's really done with a touch of love and reverence of the old movies and just shaking up them, but I hope they don't continue with it because I don't think it should become a staple of the movies that follow.

Were you involved with the talk of including Blofeld's daughter in this film? No, I don't know anything about that.

What about the rumor of a Sean Connery cameo? I was very involved in not the rumor, but I wanted a Sean Connery cameo. Michael [G. Wilson] and Barbara [Broccoli], with some well-reasoned thought behind it, it was one of the few ideas that was rejected. I think they thought if we put Connery in it with Brosnan, they thought [audiences] were going to get too confused. I'm not so sure that that's accurate. If they had followed my approach, which I think was a very good approach, it would have explained exactly why there were two Bond's in one movie. But they have a very loyal fan base and after 19 pictures, I'm not the guy to come in here and say that my idea is right and theirs is wrong. Some caution and some wisdom prevailed on that one.

What was the idea? My idea was basically that there have been several Bonds. It's just a prefix and a code name Even James Bond is not the guy's name. That's the way I've always been able to view these things from when Connery left and Lazenby and Moore took over, right up to Brosnan. How could this guy be so young still? Of course to me, it is just a prefix and a code name. That means that Connery either died or retired, Moore died or retired and so on. Following that, that allows you to have possibly two James Bonds in a movie. What happened to the others? Were they retired from active service or were they killed? That's where I came from. I thought what if there was a scene where Bond meets one of the originals, an older 007 who got out of the service and acted as a mentor to him, taught him some stuff about what was about to happen to him because he was being left behind and he was out of the secret service and people were trying to come and kill him. It was a different script at that stage, but I thought it was an interesting idea and I thought an audience may love it.

Awesome idea, but I have to bring up a fanboy point. Why are the other James Bonds mourning the same dead wife? Well, they don't.

Moore visits her grave in For Your Eyes Only. Oh, he does, does he. I didn't know that.

What would your answer have been had I not brought that up? I was not aware that he visited it. I thought if you sprung that on an audience, it may open up a whole new avenue or way of viewing Bond movies. Another reason I was proposing that as an idea was for future movies, when Pierce leaves and someone else comes on board, you may actually be able to do that as an introduction. You might be able to introduce the new guy as a new guy and look, there have been several before you, you're a new one. Don't rock the boat and don't do this and don't do that.

Part Two: Making Die Another Day

What are the limits and freedoms of the James Bond formula? Well, it's a mixed bag. You get certain freedoms and then certain limitations. The limitations are not imposed by producers or the studio. They're actually imposed by the genre itself. And sometimes you impose them upon yourself. You know going into this what the genre is and you know you better not shake it up too much. You don't want to put him in therapy and you don't want to have him crying in a corner. So, the limitations are girls, gadgets and big action and humor required, usually in the form of double entendres and puns. You have to deal with it. It's like product placement. The big action must occur at a certain point and that Bond must drive the car at a certain point and there will be girls of a certain caliber in there. So, I immediately started with that. Let's start with the girls, I said. When it comes to the girls, can they please not be appendages and handbags to Bond. Let's make them smart. Let's have good actors in there and let's beef their characters up so they're really something I can be proud of rather than be ashamed of, to just have some old chicks in there that are just there for Bond to bonk. If you look carefully at what Halle is doing, she's kind of controlling the whole lovemaking scene in this movie and then she leaves him in the morning and leaves him behind. These were nice revisionist touches we could do with an old franchise. When it comes to big action, I say, bigger action or even spectacular action because that's what people expect. You may as well give it to them. Then you have to find something you haven't done before, and I thought we did a good job of it. So, they give you an enormous amount of freedom now to move within that.

How big a risk to have Bond get tortured? Well, it was something we spent a lot of time talking about. Will people buy this? Will they actually go to this? Will they believe it for a start was my point. First of all, it was three years [originally]. They were going to do it from the end of the last movie to this one so that the opening of the movie was somewhere around 1999 to he gets out of jail after the title sequence. I said, "No one's going to believe three years. I think we'll be lucky to get away with a year" but we needed to have a year because of [a plot device]. So, what we did was try to make it as credible as possible by just doing this great old cold war spy thriller genre piece on it and making it as dramatic as possible. For me, it was far more nerve-wracking with the hair and makeup. Would people actually buy Bond looking like Jim Morrison or Jesus Christ? I think they do. It's an unusual look for Bond to be incarcerated, looking kind of grubby and beat up. Having long hair and looking like Robinson Crusoe is a tough call but people buy it. I think the great thing about that though is there's something about North Korea and these failed, enclosed states that you can't get behind. You've got impenetrable walls like North Korea which seem to be the most hellish places on earth. If Bond were thrown in a Zimbabwe prison camp for example, I don't think people would buy it for a minute. Something about that Manchurian Candidate type of North Korean gulag-ish type of thing. We figured if we set it in such a remote and inhospitable place that people might buy it.

Are you involved in the new James Bond video game? No, I wish I had been because I love video games, but that's an entirely different branch of the Eon monster and I don't know anything about it. I was surprised to even see it.

What do you think of XXX? I saw XXX, I loved it. I thought it was a brilliant movie and I think it's excellent. Of course it's the competition now, but at the same time, I think there's room for all these movies out there. I have no such qualms that this is the opposition and I shouldn't like their movie. I think they did a great job.

What was the most complex stunt you shot for Die Another Day? Probably the sword fight because we shot all that live and it was done with the actors with real swords, so it's actually quite hair raising and it was great for the actors to do.

Why use real swords when you could use plastic and add the sound effects? No, plastic doesn't work. Looks like [censored] and then it bends and it warps. What you use is blunt swords but it's still real. It's not steel. It's aluminum but it's still metal and it'll hurt you. It's much better that you have substance and weight to the sword and you just make sure the actors don't hit each other and they don't. I agree, it sounds dangerous, but plastic won't save you either. If you go for the same lightweight material, they're still going to hit each other with a piece of plastic. All that soft rubber stuff, it doesn't work. You see it bending and waving and it looks stupid.

Finally, can you talk about Bond's relationship with M and how you play with that in Die Another Day? Well, I love their relationship. I think the producer and the writer and Martin Campbell set that up beautifully in Goldeneye. Once that kind of adversarial relationship was set up, it allowed an obvious affection to develop and I think you've seen that through all four of these movies with Pierce and Dame Judy that she really loves this guy. It's a maternal love and she's really extremely fond of her finest agent and cares for him a lot but can't show it because she has to run a corporation. And I always think that's a really good place to come from with this because they both have huge admiration for what each other does, but they get brittle with each other, and it's as it should be.

#2 Jim

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 11:42 AM

The FYEO point...well, it's a fanboy point - seems to rattle him though!

However, the following seems significant.

Are you involved in the new James Bond video game? No, I wish I had been because I love video games, but that's an entirely different branch of the Eon monster and I don't know anything about it. I was surprised to even see it.

What do you think of XXX? I saw XXX, I loved it. I thought it was a brilliant movie and I think it's excellent. Of course it's the competition now, but at the same time, I think there's room for all these movies out there. I have no such qualms that this is the opposition and I shouldn't like their movie. I think they did a great job



#3 Tarl_Cabot

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 12:29 PM

I'm Glad he's not on board for the next Bond film. :)

#4 Loomis

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 12:38 PM

I think he did a terrific job, but only because his hands were to an extent tied by Broccoli and Wilson. Imagine what he'd have done if given total artistic freedom. Multiple Bonds? *Shudder*

#5 Simon

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 01:07 PM

A case where Producing control was to the series' benefit!

I'd be happy for him to return - I'm sure the CGI elements, now tried and tested (and failed) wouldn't return so the rest of his output by degrees would be top notch - energetic and cool.

#6 Johnboy007

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 02:31 PM

I think they thought if we put Connery in it with Brosnan, they thought [audiences] were going to get too confused.

Brosnan didn't look that old.

Glad to see Tamahori gone!

#7 Qwerty

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 02:41 PM

Hrm, well I don't agree with all about what he said:

I saw XXX, I loved it. I thought it was a brilliant movie and I think it's excellent. Of course it's the competition now, but at the same time, I think there's room for all these movies out there. I have no such qualms that this is the opposition and I shouldn't like their movie. I think they did a great job.


And other tidbits as well. Interesting read, but I'm gald we won't be seeing him for the next one.

#8 Xenobia

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 09:46 PM

LT, here's a tip:

When you are directing someone, it's usually a good idea for kiss-up purposes to know the films of the dead wife of your co-star.

Equally important is knowing the background of the characters you are dealing with.

:)

-- Xenobia

#9 Harmsway

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 09:58 PM

Yeah, I remember this inteview a while back. It's fascinating - some of his ideas however... ughhhh. Oh well. If anything, he made Bond visually interesting again (the series was starting to look very boring... just look at the embarrasingly bland TWINE).

#10 Turn

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Posted 07 July 2004 - 12:38 AM

That multiple Bonds idea thing is one that gets kicked around the Ain't It Cool News talkbacks quite a bit. Doesn't get much better when it's the director spouting it.

And I love Bond movies, I think they are brilliant and excellent. Can I direct one?

#11 Righty007

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Posted 07 July 2004 - 12:40 AM

What was the idea? My idea was basically that there have been several Bonds. It's just a prefix and a code name Even James Bond is not the guy's name. That's the way I've always been able to view these things from when Connery left and Lazenby and Moore took over, right up to Brosnan. How could this guy be so young still? Of course to me, it is just a prefix and a code name. That means that Connery either died or retired, Moore died or retired and so on. Following that, that allows you to have possibly two James Bonds in a movie. What happened to the others? Were they retired from active service or were they killed? That's where I came from. I thought what if there was a scene where Bond meets one of the originals, an older 007 who got out of the service and acted as a mentor to him, taught him some stuff about what was about to happen to him because he was being left behind and he was out of the secret service and people were trying to come and kill him. It was a different script at that stage, but I thought it was an interesting idea and I thought an audience may love it.

What!? He did not just say that. That is so stupid. I hate this guy! :)

It sounds like this guy hasn't seen any of the other 19 films. Why did Eon hire this loser?

#12 Harmsway

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Posted 07 July 2004 - 12:46 AM

What was the idea? My idea was basically that there have been several Bonds. It's just a prefix and a code name Even James Bond is not the guy's name. That's the way I've always been able to view these things from when Connery left and Lazenby and Moore took over, right up to Brosnan. How could this guy be so young still? Of course to me, it is just a prefix and a code name. That means that Connery either died or retired, Moore died or retired and so on. Following that, that allows you to have possibly two James Bonds in a movie. What happened to the others? Were they retired from active service or were they killed? That's where I came from. I thought what if there was a scene where Bond meets one of the originals, an older 007 who got out of the service and acted as a mentor to him, taught him some stuff about what was about to happen to him because he was being left behind and he was out of the secret service and people were trying to come and kill him. It was a different script at that stage, but I thought it was an interesting idea and I thought an audience may love it.

What!? He did not just say that. That is so stupid. I hate this guy! :)

It sounds like this guy hasn't seen any of the other 19 films. Why did Eon hire this loser?

Well, in Mr. Tamahori's favor, the average film goer (even one who has seen numerous Bond films) wouldn't remember that Bond had a wife, much less that Bond visits her grave in FYEO. But nonetheless, it's an awful idea and makes me thank God that he didn't get free reign.

#13 Qwerty

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Posted 07 July 2004 - 01:27 AM

What was the idea? My idea was basically that there have been several Bonds. It's just a prefix and a code name Even James Bond is not the guy's name. That's the way I've always been able to view these things from when Connery left and Lazenby and Moore took over, right up to Brosnan. How could this guy be so young still? Of course to me, it is just a prefix and a code name. That means that Connery either died or retired, Moore died or retired and so on. Following that, that allows you to have possibly two James Bonds in a movie. What happened to the others? Were they retired from active service or were they killed? That's where I came from. I thought what if there was a scene where Bond meets one of the originals, an older 007 who got out of the service and acted as a mentor to him, taught him some stuff about what was about to happen to him because he was being left behind and he was out of the secret service and people were trying to come and kill him. It was a different script at that stage, but I thought it was an interesting idea and I thought an audience may love it.

What!? He did not just say that. That is so stupid. I hate this guy! :)

It sounds like this guy hasn't seen any of the other 19 films. Why did Eon hire this loser?

Well, in Mr. Tamahori's favor, the average film goer (even one who has seen numerous Bond films) wouldn't remember that Bond had a wife...

I can see and deal with the idea that the average Bond fan wouldn't know of his visiting her grave in For Your Eyes Only, but I would think his one time marriage with his wife would have been more common language.

#14 Triton

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Posted 07 July 2004 - 01:51 AM

Thank goodness the films have never provided evidence to support the code name theory for James Bond. Using Tamahori's logic, you could also make a case that M's secretary is codenamed Miss Moneypenny since the character was portrayed by three actresses.

Interesting to hear that there was some truth to the Sean Connery cameo rumors. Thankfully the producers had the sense not to cast Sean Connery for a cameo. Why only have a cameo of one James Bond? Why not have a film with all five official James Bonds!

Can't be too hard on Tamahori though for not remembering that Bond visited Tracy's grave in For Your Eyes Only. I doubt that he re-watched each film in the series when he was hired as director.

#15 Qwerty

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Posted 07 July 2004 - 03:48 AM

Thankfully the producers had the sense not to cast Sean Connery for a cameo. Why only have a cameo of one James Bond? Why not have a film with all five official James Bonds!

Why not have the rumors/thoughts drop the idea of a past Bond cameo?

#16 Harmsway

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Posted 07 July 2004 - 04:10 AM

What was the idea? My idea was basically that there have been several Bonds. It's just a prefix and a code name Even James Bond is not the guy's name. That's the way I've always been able to view these things from when Connery left and Lazenby and Moore took over, right up to Brosnan. How could this guy be so young still? Of course to me, it is just a prefix and a code name. That means that Connery either died or retired, Moore died or retired and so on. Following that, that allows you to have possibly two James Bonds in a movie. What happened to the others? Were they retired from active service or were they killed? That's where I came from. I thought what if there was a scene where Bond meets one of the originals, an older 007 who got out of the service and acted as a mentor to him, taught him some stuff about what was about to happen to him because he was being left behind and he was out of the secret service and people were trying to come and kill him. It was a different script at that stage, but I thought it was an interesting idea and I thought an audience may love it.

What!? He did not just say that. That is so stupid. I hate this guy! :)

It sounds like this guy hasn't seen any of the other 19 films. Why did Eon hire this loser?

Well, in Mr. Tamahori's favor, the average film goer (even one who has seen numerous Bond films) wouldn't remember that Bond had a wife...

I can see and deal with the idea that the average Bond fan wouldn't know of his visiting her grave in For Your Eyes Only, but I would think his one time marriage with his wife would have been more common language.

I guess it depends on what you mean by average Bond fan. In my definition, it's someone who enjoys the films and the character and has seen a majority of the film series. With my limited experience, I've found that it's rare to come across someone who knows James Bond got married (OHMSS is still very much the black sheep of the Bond film series in that respect).

#17 Qwerty

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Posted 07 July 2004 - 04:13 AM

What was the idea? My idea was basically that there have been several Bonds. It's just a prefix and a code name Even James Bond is not the guy's name. That's the way I've always been able to view these things from when Connery left and Lazenby and Moore took over, right up to Brosnan. How could this guy be so young still? Of course to me, it is just a prefix and a code name. That means that Connery either died or retired, Moore died or retired and so on. Following that, that allows you to have possibly two James Bonds in a movie. What happened to the others? Were they retired from active service or were they killed? That's where I came from. I thought what if there was a scene where Bond meets one of the originals, an older 007 who got out of the service and acted as a mentor to him, taught him some stuff about what was about to happen to him because he was being left behind and he was out of the secret service and people were trying to come and kill him. It was a different script at that stage, but I thought it was an interesting idea and I thought an audience may love it.

What!? He did not just say that. That is so stupid. I hate this guy! :)

It sounds like this guy hasn't seen any of the other 19 films. Why did Eon hire this loser?

Well, in Mr. Tamahori's favor, the average film goer (even one who has seen numerous Bond films) wouldn't remember that Bond had a wife...

I can see and deal with the idea that the average Bond fan wouldn't know of his visiting her grave in For Your Eyes Only, but I would think his one time marriage with his wife would have been more common language.

I guess it depends on what you mean by average Bond fan. In my definition, it's someone who enjoys the films and the character and has seen a majority of the film series. With my limited experience, I've found that it's rare to come across someone who knows James Bond got married (OHMSS is still very much the black sheep of the Bond film series in that respect).

Yes, you're right, as it always depends on how you look at it. I guess I just saw that as more common knowledge, although you do have to take how the public knows of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

#18 Loomis

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Posted 07 July 2004 - 10:55 AM

I doubt that he re-watched each film in the series when he was hired as director.

There's an argument that he should have done precisely that (if you're going to make a new film in a series, you should familiarise yourself with all the preceding entries).

But there's also an argument that he shouldn't have (he was a hired gun whose job it was to bring the DIE ANOTHER DAY script to screen ["script to screen" - geddit? You won't unless you're a Bond geek :) ], and that's it - he needed to concentrate on the present, on DAD and only on DAD, and not trawl through all the past Bond films on DVD, wondering how to please all the fanboys; anyway, the series lost all believable and meaningful continuity long ago).

Both arguments have merit, and I'm not advocating one or the other. But it appears that Tamahori decided that DAD would exist in its own universe (the other directors from Martin Campbell onwards probably decided the same with regard to their Bond films) and would not be bound by whatever Roger Moore may or may not have done in the opening sequence of a film by John Glen from 1981. It's a, er, "directorly" way of thinking: this film is my baby, my vision....

But note that Tamahori did at least attempt to reconcile DAD with 19 other pictures (starting with DR. NO way back in 1962), with his codename idea. He attempted to do so, but was stopped by The Powers That Be.

I'm aware that fans hate the codename idea. But how else to explain an apparently ageless spy (and man of five different faces) called James Bond having 20 adventures over 40 years, all happening within the same universe? Don't the exploits of, say, Dalton's Bond mean that FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE could never have happened? (Could never have happened to the same man, that is - which is precisely the point of the codename theory.)

"There have been several Bonds. It's just a prefix and a code name. Even James Bond is not the guy's name." This idea may be anathema to fans, but it's the best explanation I've ever heard to support the view that everything that happened to the cinematic 007 (from DR. NO right through to DAD), happened.

#19 Simon

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Posted 07 July 2004 - 01:56 PM

Why did Eon hire this loser?

What was the last thing you did that earned your employers $450m?

Conversely, what will you ever do?

#20 Loomis

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Posted 07 July 2004 - 03:56 PM

DAD would have been an absolute dog in the hands of a director less talented than Tamahori (okay, I know a lot of Bond fans think it is an absolute dog, but never mind). Let's face it: the script was pretty darn poor. Imagine what the film would have been like if directed by someone like Rob Cohen or McG - terrible. Tamahori did the best he could with less-than-wonderful material, and I think he did very well.

Or, as I'm fond of saying, did the good bits of DAD just direct themselves? Was Lee T responsible only for the bad bits? :)

#21 Harmsway

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Posted 07 July 2004 - 06:45 PM

DAD would have been an absolute dog in the hands of a director less talented than Tamahori (okay, I know a lot of Bond fans think it is an absolute dog, but never mind). Let's face it: the script was pretty darn poor. Imagine what the film would have been like if directed by someone like Rob Cohen or McG - terrible. Tamahori did the best he could with less-than-wonderful material, and I think he did very well.

Or, as I'm fond of saying, did the good bits of DAD just direct themselves? Was Lee T responsible only for the bad bits? :)

That's actually an incredibly valid point. While the script was terrible, there are moments that shine. I still disagree with some of Tamahori's choices, after all, he was the one to come up with the idea for that ridiculous super-suit that Graves wears, but I absolutely love the first half of this film.

To be honest, I've been all over the place on DAD, always moving between "it sucks" to "it's a classic." The more I think about it, Tamahori didn't do that badly. He certainly shook the series up and broke the boring feel that the series was beginning to develop.

#22 Righty007

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Posted 07 July 2004 - 10:21 PM

Why did Eon hire this loser?

What was the last thing you did that earned your employers $450m?

Conversely, what will you ever do?

They could have made the same amount or more with a director that knows the series. I'll never make my employers $450m and neither will you.

#23 Simon

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Posted 07 July 2004 - 10:29 PM

They could have made the same amount or more with a director that knows the series.

I'll never make my employers $450m and neither will you.

As far as sweeping generalisations goes, that's about as far reaching as they come - and about as redundant.

As far as my making anyone that amount of money, I never said I would, but then I'm not throwing insults around against people who aren't around to answer back.

#24 Jack Bauer

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 12:20 PM

I hated the camera work of this one. The slow...FAST...slow...stuff had me upset, a little. Not sure if it was his doing, but I disliked it anyways.

#25 Qwerty

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 03:04 PM

I hated the camera work of this one. The slow...FAST...slow...stuff had me upset, a little. Not sure if it was his doing, but I disliked it anyways.

Not Tamahori, but editor Christian Wagner. Upon seeing another film which he edited, I am firmly against seeing his name associated with a Bond film ever again.

#26 Dunph

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Posted 09 July 2004 - 12:36 AM

Oh dear, I hope I'm not the only fella to like that speed ramping?

#27 Harmsway

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Posted 09 July 2004 - 01:57 AM

Oh dear, I hope I'm not the only fella to like that speed ramping?

No, you're not. I like some of the speed ramping, like in the surfing scene, the "Bond in Iceland" scene, and the car chase. Other than that, I thought it was out of place. The speed up into the Ice Palace gala, the twirl of Zao's jacket, the speed up after Bond's shot out in the ice sled, and generally the slow-mo editing in the finale just didn't work too well. But it's not THAT horrible, and when it works, it's great.

#28 Qwerty

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Posted 09 July 2004 - 02:24 AM

I never got why he included it for something as simple as Zao walking around Jinx. Just the way I looked at it, I suppose.




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