Zencat's DAD review: "THE BEST BOND MOVIE EVER?"
Posted 23 November 2002 - 08:35 PM
A review of DIE ANOTHER DAY
By John Cox aka zencat
Halfway through DIE ANOTHER DAY, as Bond is traveling into Iceland, I turned to my companion sitting beside me in the Director's Hall of The Bridge Theater--our very own Bryce (more on the amazing evening Bryce organized here)--and I asked him in all seriousness, "Is it possible we are watching the BEST James Bond movie EVER?"
Better than FRWL? Better than Goldfinger? Better than OHMSS? Better than TSWLM?
Is it possible for #20 to be #1?
I held my breath for the rest of the movie as scene after scene worked a Bond magic I haven’t felt in years. I got a little nervous when I felt the narrative getting overwhelmed by the action in Iceland, and yes, it went a bit OTT with the much maligned CGI stunt (but it wasn’t that bad, relax). Then that amazing climax kicked in and I'm breathless again. Then the Moneypenny beat at the end hits like an unexpected grand slam home run and when DIE ANOTHER DAY is over I’m sitting in my seat absolutely stunned. I decide then and there it was, indeed, the BEST James Bond movie I had ever seen!!
After the movie, I, and 55 other formally attired Bond fans, recovered from the experience over pints of Guinness and fish and chips at an English pub (the whole place reserved for us and all was on the house, thank you again Bryce!). I decided maybe DAD wasn't the "best" Bond film of them all -- but it was damn close! And it's very possible when I see it again (which I MUST do ASAP) I'll come out saying it is indeed #1.
Yes, I liked this movie that much!
Okay, breathe, breathe… For those of you interested, I’m going to briefly bullet point my thoughts and reactions to the major sections and elements of the movie. Here we go.
Pre-titles: A surprise here. Despite was what others have been saying, I thought the pre-titles was nothing special. I feared a re-hash of the TND pre-titles, and it was. I also didn’t care for that washed-out overly saturated look the DP gave the whole sequence. Bond movies are not supposed to look that way. Stop trying so hard, I thought. But then there was something about Bond hanging on the bell after the hovercraft goes over the waterfall that made me sit up and say, hmmm, nice Bond moment there. Then…
Titles: Amazing, breathtaking, inventive, interesting, incredible! Even the Madonna song with that annoying audio drop out couldn’t ruin it. Here I realized DAD was boldly experimenting with the formula without betraying it. This was Bond, but not the same old Bond and it worked beautifully. Oh, Scorpion Girl…I love you, you little savage cutie-pie.
Bearded Bond/Hong Kong stuff: This was so bold, so unexpected, so unBond, and so overtly dramatic, I should have hated it. But I didn’t. I loved it. Loved it! Bond goes into cardiac arrest and dies on the table? I was stunned. The audience was stunned. The movie had us all by the throats. We’re not just watching a great Bond movie here—we’re watching a great movie, period. Amazing. And then Bond walks into the Hong Kong hotel in his ragged condition but still with full Bond aplomb and, hey, this movie is working!
Cuba: Okay, for everyone who says Dalton was the book Bond...no, you’re wrong. Pierce is the book Bond here, Pierce is Connery’s Bond here, Pierce IS James Bond here! This is the best part of the film, in my opinion. Classic Bond. I love, LOVE, that Bond and Jinx hit the sheets right off the bat. Of course this is how it should be. I realized I’ve gotten very tired with the Bond-has-sex-with-the-main-girl only-at-the-end formula. I think it works much better that Bond and the main girl START their relationship with pure, animal lust, then arc to respect one another. It’s Bond and Tracy. Sex first...love later. Nice.
London calling: All the London stuff is fabulous. I loved the Blades swordfight, classic Bond and villain duel turned up to the maximum. (Re Madonna’s cameo--can someone say, “Vaseline on the lens.” How vain. Madonna has become Barbara Walters.) I wish I didn’t know about the VR training sequence because that would have blown me out of my socks (curse the internet!). John Cleese IS Q. ‘Nuff said. And the invisible Vanquish...yes, yes! It’s about time we got more than rockets behind headlights. (Shame we didn’t see Bond’s flat in all this.)
Iceland: Don’t get me wrong, I love the location, the ice palace, the Icarus demonstration, the dragster, Miranda, etc...but I did feel the wall-to-wall action in this part of the film started overwhelming what up until then had been a very clean narrative. Jinx is captured and saved twice in the same location? Overkill. Seemed like a hard choice should have been made here and a major set-piece should have been sacrificed to lighten the load on the storyline (and the audience). In my opinion, the big glacier surfing stunt could have been lost, cool as it was. My objection to this scene wasn’t with the cheesy CGI, it’s with the fact that it was SO big it played like a sequence ending climax and took away from the ice ballet car chase that followed. The audience was exhausted. But the ice ballet was so well done that it still worked beautifully and Bond saving Jinx brought the narrative back to emotional clarity. Still, I got a bit lost amid all the action in Iceland, but this is my ONLY complaint.
Climactic battle: Awesome, incredible, one of the most exciting Bond climaxes ever filmed! I love the Icarus satellite burning it’s way through Korea as the plane disintegrates. Loved that Miranda took the time during all this chaos to change into that sexy fencing outfit for her battle with Jinx. Miranda’s death was a bit shocking, but effective. And Graves died the way a Bond villain should die—big! The audience cheered.
Then there was the final Moneypenny scene that had the audience almost on their feet with cheers and laughs and, yes, DAD in my mind at that moment was the BEST JAMES BOND MOVIE EVER!
Now to address a few of the elements of controversy I had heard before going in.
DAD goes OTT with the sci-fi element: What? How? I think DAD did what all the “spectacular” Bond films do and that’s bring it right to the line without crossing it. Nothing in DAD is impossible—it’s improbable, yes, but it’s not impossible and that’s the Cubby Broccoli edict. No probs. I welcome the return the BIG fun Bond film, and DAD is certainly that.
Halle Berry/Jinx: Come on, she was awesome! Like it or not, Halle Berry as Jinx enters the pantheon of great Bond girls. She was also flippin' hot! It's been a long time since I�ve had a sexual fantasy about a Bond Girl and, well, Jinx delivered.
Gunbarrel CGI bullet: What's the big deal? It's fine. I like it.
Too much CGI: Nah, it was fine. Even the much-maligned glacier surfing stunt didn’t bother me. Hey, I didn’t let the Tarzan yell ruin Octopussy, I’m not going to let one bad special effect ruin DAD. I’m there to have fun, and I did. So should you.
Congrats Eon, MGM, and everyone involved with DIE ANOTHER DAY. Even if—when I come down from my high—I decide it’s not the best James Bond movie of them all, it’s still the best Bond movie in over a decade and one that reinvigorates the series and that’s an amazing accomplishment.
Posted 23 November 2002 - 09:48 PM
Posted 23 November 2002 - 10:16 PM
Although it might be my #1 choice, it is definitly in my top 3.
Posted 23 November 2002 - 10:36 PM
I only hate it so much because it lead me to believe it could be great but left me sitting in my seat wanting to cry. That's how abominated with the second half I was. More than TND's weak second half. This was plane (literally) awful. Never do I want to see a Bond film like this again. if this is the way Bond is going then I;m not coming with it.
Posted 23 November 2002 - 11:23 PM
Thats not what we want. TWINE was the last Bond film I saw in reality.
Posted 23 November 2002 - 11:29 PM
Posted 23 November 2002 - 11:31 PM
Agreed with the review Zencat, I walked away from DAD not believing that I had just seen the best Bond film in a long time
Posted 23 November 2002 - 11:32 PM
Because I'm a DAD lover.
This movie was a fantastic celebration of 40 years of Bond. I had my 20th Birthday celebration last night, and how better to celebrate it -- with 40 years of Bond.
There is a great, high-charged opening. There is a real, genuine nasty villain. That opening scene with Col. Moon practicing his martial arts on a "punching bag" only to reveal a poor Korean underling, was an impressive preface to the sheer evilness of this character. Try that Elliot Carver. And the Hong Kong scene with Rachel Grant -- heh, the audience got a great laugh out of that. And so did I.
In my opinion, Bond fans will either hate or love this film because 1) it works the tradition wonderfully or 2) it takes the tradition to the limit and experiments BOLDLY with the formula.
Personally, I find that this movie does superbly what a Bond movie should do - provide solid entertainment, and put smiles on people's faces.
Posted 24 November 2002 - 12:09 AM
Posted 24 November 2002 - 12:16 AM
I loved DAD! I had read a bunch of negative remarks about this film and I was expecting to hate it. But alas, I didn't.
The CGI wasn't bad. I kinda laughed at it's cartoonish effect.
I do admit that Iceland did seem like it was a bit much, but I think it worked overall.
I left the theatre the same way a lot of others did: Like I've just seen a damn good Bond film!
I'm kinda upset at the fact that I didn't see it with an enthusiastic audience, but I might see it for the 3rd time, tonight. We'll see what some friends of mine think of DAD.
Posted 24 November 2002 - 12:18 AM
Is it just me or does that scene remind you of Airplane when Leslie Nielsen walks into the cockpit to find Julie Haggerty w/ the automatic pilot?
Posted 24 November 2002 - 12:21 AM
I actually loved the second half. I kept hearing about how horribly dissapointing it was and it was a pleasant surprise. The finale was the best in decades.
Posted 24 November 2002 - 12:24 AM
I loved the CGI effects on the Antonov as it's breaking up. It was amazing.
PS- Congrats on making the FDC!
Posted 24 November 2002 - 12:26 AM
Posted 24 November 2002 - 12:37 AM
P.S btw, I am from Canada ... and we love bond movies. The theaters are packed showing after showing of DAD here at the local multiplexes!
Posted 24 November 2002 - 01:38 AM
Each Brosnan Bond has brought back the styles of previous Bonds. Goldeneye was a mixture between the early Connery years and the Cold War subplots of the '80s. Tomorrow Never Dies was a full-on late-Connery YOLT-style epic with a '60s feeling to boot. TWINE paid its dues to some of the more serious, intimate Bonds such as OHMSS and FYEO. But, until DAD, no recent Bond had paid homage to the cheesy, campy but unbelievably entertaining Bonds of the '70s such as Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker. It brought me back to the campy fun Roger Moore would give enthusiastic audiences every second summer (or thereabouts) from 1973 to 1985.
I have so much more to say about DAD, but I'm gonna have to focus and come back to it later. Nearly 24 hours later and I'm still on a huge rush.
Posted 24 November 2002 - 01:44 AM
I think anyone who hated this movie is a frigging moron. You all know that I was hating this movie going in for many reasons, but It was a Bond Classic and will definately never be forgotten. Pierce was OUTSTANDING and Halle Berry was definately not as bad as she was put up to be in the trailers and what not, although she still is a horrible actress. Nonetheless, the action.. superb... Miranda Frost...unbelievable gorgeous... Zao... one of the best villians/sidekicks ever...Vanquish... best car ever by A LANDSLIDE. I really couldn't understand this CGI bullsh**, seriously. ITS THE 40th ANNIVERSARY, for gods sake. LET IT ALL HANG OUT!. M... great, as always... Oh the list goes on and on. WHAT AN AWESOME MOVIE. DEFINATELY TIED NUMBER 1 or NUMBER 2. Anyone who puts it below 5 is definately not a TRUE BOND FAN.
Posted 24 November 2002 - 01:57 AM
Posted 24 November 2002 - 03:55 AM
Posted 24 November 2002 - 04:17 AM
1) Halle Berry: Not a bad performance, just a boring character. I pray that we never see a Jinx movie.
2) The Iceland scenes: Too long, the movie really grinded to a halt. When the cars entered the ice palace, I was ready for the chase to be over... no such luck. Action overkill.
3) Far too much CGI. Way, way too much. Is it just me, or did the Bond series used to be renowned for it's breathtaking, REAL stuntwork?
Overall it was one of the best Bond movies ever, a nice rebound from TND and TWINE. I'd place it at a cool #11 on my series ranking.
Posted 24 November 2002 - 04:21 AM
This is Brosnan's best Bond....and I think what everyone keeps refering to...the editing of the second half...is not all that bad. And for those who think it is...here's hoping the DVD release makes it better for you.
I love this film, I love the man, and Sean Connery just got knocked off his throne.
Ladies and gentleman -- Brace yourselves. The Queen's greatest servant is a citizen of the Republic of Ireland.
BROSNAN GO BRAH!
Posted 24 November 2002 - 04:40 AM
I need my DAD fix!
Posted 24 November 2002 - 07:43 AM
Going to see it tomorrow though, FOR SURE!