Well, my annual Bond movie marathon began earlier this evening. The difference is, my DVD boxed set remains on the top of my bedroom wardrobe gathering dust as this year I am watching the films from my newly purchased Blu-Ray set! Like my other thread in the Fleming section I'm hoping the illustrious fellowship here will allow me to use this thread to share my thoughts and musings, and actively encourage and participate toward any discussion organic to them.
First, I was absolutely blown away by the picture quality on Blu. BLOWN AWAY. I thought the DVD looked good, but this is even better. The colours are crisp and vibrant, the new sound mix is top notch. As for the movie itself, it's a good thriller but not a great one. I watched this with my 5 and 7 year old daughters. Toward the end my oldest girl got bored and went to play on the computer, but surprisingly the younger one stuck the film the whole way through.
The problem with this movie for me, is I just did not like the book. The film is a very faithful adaptation but to me the actual story isn't very compelling. Bond goes from A, to B, to C and the villain is bland and uninteresting.
However, the best thing for me here is Connery's performance. I think if any other actor were playing the role, this film would be nigh unwatchable. Connery has a charisma that literally burns through the screen and he's mesmerizing. It's rare that an actor's sheer magnetism can make a pretty damn average movie feel like a better one. The beautiful Ursula Andress also adds a bit of pleasing eye candy.
Joseph Wiseman is not threatening at all as the title villain, and the wonderful Jack Lord is criminally wasted.
If that sounds like sacrilege please accept my apologies. This is only my opinion after all. One must remember that this isn't the first one I saw, and the ones I saw first conditioned me to me to expect bigger, more spectacular and more complex stuff. This one just seems too quaint when watching it now.
From Russia With Love
For me, it all starts here. This one is easily in my all time top three favorites. The book is one of my favorites of Fleming's, and the film more than does it justice. Again, top marks on the Blu-Ray. Connery is just as brilliant as he is in the previous film. Here, he is given a wonderfully enjoyable sidekick in Kerim Bay (played with charm by Pedro Almendariz) a stunning love interest in Daniella Bianchi (who isn't just there as eye candy, and is actually an integral part of the story).
Surprisingly the film is almost stolen from Connery by Robert Shaw as Red Grant. One of the best bad guys of all time, he feels like a real threat to our man and Shaw makes him extremely menacing. Even though I've seen the film countless times, I still genuinely think he is about to kill Bond in the tense box-car scene on the train.
This is a rare action film that is just as intelligent as it is bombastic. For every spectacular explosion, there is a plot development that keeps things fresh - and the film moves along with perfect momentum. It's truly structured like a theme park ride.
Surprisingly, my 5 year old stuck with me all the way through this one too! Even though she asked a lot of questions bless her.
This is a truly excellent movie.