RETRO REVIEW: Thunderball (1965)

James Bond (Sean Connery) swims with sharks — Photo: United Artists / Eon Productions.

Directed by Terence Young — Screenplay by Jack Whittingham, Richard Maibaum, and John Hopkins.

In this day and age, where we just had a six year wait between Sam Mendes’ SPECTRE and Cary Joji Fukunaga’s No Time To Die, it actually is a little bit tough to wrap you head around the fact that United Artists and Eon Productions released a Bond-film every year from 1962 to 1965. Add to that, the fact that Terence Young directed three of those films and it becomes even more astounding. However, this was actually Young’s final Bond-film, and that occasion was marked by the fact that the budget was much, much bigger than when Young introduced audiences to the character.

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RETRO REVIEW: Goldfinger (1964)

Shirley Eaton as Jill Masterson in GOLDFINGER — Photo: United Artists / Eon Productions.

Directed by Guy Hamilton — Screenplay by Richard Maibaum and Paul Dehn.

Here we go. Goldfinger is the first major James Bond-film. This is arguably the most iconic film in the franchise. Following the commercial success of Terence Young’s Dr. No and From Russia With Love, the producers handed Guy Hamilton, who had turned down the directing duties on Dr. No, the reins to the film series and provided the production a sizable budget of $3 million (the previous two films’ budgets combined). This was the movie that changed everything for the franchise, and, looking at it today, it is easy to see why.

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RETRO REVIEW: From Russia With Love (1963)

Robert Shaw as Red Grant and Sean Connery as James Bond in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE — Photo: United Artists / Eon Productions.

Directed by Terence Young — Screenplay by Richard Maibaum.

Dr. No was a huge financial success, so United Artists doubled the budget for its follow-up, From Russia With Love, which was allegedly the final film President John F. Kennedy screened at the White House. Though it is, naturally, a little bit dated, Terence Young’s From Russia With Love is a significant improvement on Dr. No. This feels much more ambitious and extravagant, even though it does suffer from some of the same issues that the first film did.

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RETRO REVIEW: Dr. No (1962)

Sean Connery as James Bond in Dr. No — Photo: United Artists / Eon Productions.

Directed by Terence Young — Screenplay by Richard Maibaum, Johanna Harwood, Berkely Mather.

Though it makes references to other Bond stories, Terence Young’s Dr. No was the very first James Bond film. With a small budget of just $1 million, Terence Young created many of the cinematic trademarks we know the franchise for. Like, the gun-barrel introduction, the iconic theme, the MI6 cast of characters, or SPECTRE. And, of course, it also features Sean Connery, one of the most iconic James Bond-actors. Looking at it today in 2021, Dr. No does seem a tad dated, and it definitely looks like a small-budget Bond film. However, it is a solid introduction to a now-iconic cinematic character.

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RETRO REVIEW: Quantum of Solace (2008)

Daniel Craig as James Bond and Judi Dench as M in QUANTUM OF SOLACE — Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing / Eon Productions.

Directed by Marc Forster — Screenplay by Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis, and Robert Wade.

Although Quantum of Solace is often disregarded as nothing more than the nadir of Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond, which it is, I don’t think this film is as disastrous as others may. I have previously described this film as a misstep or a disappointment, but, in reality, Quantum of Solace feels like it is a film that was stuck in the mud already in pre-production due to the late 2000s WGA screenwriters’ strike. Quantum of Solace probably should have had its production delayed, but instead the producers opted to fast-track it, and, to me, that resulted in the follow-up to Casino Royale not being able to reach its potential. The most interesting thing about Quantum of Solace, though, is the fact that it brought the continuity and ongoing story arc, which would come to be indicative of Craig’s tenure, to the franchise.

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RETRO REVIEW: Casino Royale (2006)

Eva Green as Vesper Lynd and Daniel Craig as James Bond in CASINO ROYALE — Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing / Eon Productions.

Directed by Martin Campbell (GoldenEye) — Screenplay by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Paul Haggis.

Now that Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond appears to have come to an end after the release of 2021’s No Time To Die, I thought it would be fitting to take another look back at his first Bond-film, Casino Royale. From GoldenEye-director Martin Campbell, 2006’s Casino Royale was meant to reinvigorate the franchise and bring it into a new era distinctly different from Pierce Brosnan’s tenure that ended in 2002. With this film, the series’ new leading man, Daniel Craig, who was, bafflingly, the subject of much online and press criticism due to his blonde hair and blue eyes, proved to the world that he had the potential to be arguably the best Bond on the big screen.

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REVIEW: Nobody (2021)

Bob Odenkirk as Hutch Mansell in NOBODY — Photo: Universal Pictures.

Directed by Ilya Naishuller (Hardcore Henry) — Screenplay by Derek Kolstad (John Wick).

At this point, it feels like we’re being inundated with action-thriller films that are trying to ape what made John Wick a huge success and a competent film franchise on its own. While I think these kinds of films can be quite good and entertaining, I also think films like Gunpowder Milkshake or Atomic Blonde have largely missed the mark, so I have become more trepidatious with this action subgenre than I was initially. This is exactly why it was so refreshing to me that I greatly enjoyed Ilya Naishuller’s Nobody, which is yet another action-thriller in the vein of John Wick (also co-written by Derek Kolstad).

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REVIEW: Free Guy (2021)

Jodie Comer as Molotov Girl and Ryan Reynolds as Guy in FREE GUY — Photo: Alan Markfield / 20th Century Studios.

Directed by Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum) — Screenplay by Matt Lieberman & Zak Penn.

It feels like I have been waiting for Free Guy for so long, and, in a way, I have. The first trailer was released back in 2019, then its theatrical release was delayed again and again due to the COVID-19 pandemic until it was finally released in the summer of 2021. And now it has finally been released on Disney+ in select regions. I actually always enjoyed the trailers, but, I must admit that, a small part of me was trepidatious about the film because I worried that I would have the same problems with Free Guy that I had with Ready Player One. But even though Free Guy does have plenty of references, I never thought it was as overwhelming as I thought the aforementioned modern Spielberg dystopian action film was. I quite enjoyed this movie, warts and all.

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REVIEW: No Time To Die (2021)

Daniel Craig as James Bond and Ana de Armas as Paloma in Cary Joji Fukunaga’s NO TIME TO DIE — Photo: Nicola Dove / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios / Universal Pictures.

Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga — Screenplay by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Cary Joji Fukunaga, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

When I rewatched Sam Mendes’ SPECTRE the other day, I was reminded of the fact that the previous film in the Bond-franchise was released all the way back in 2015. A lot has happened since then, so much so that you may have even forgotten about all of the behind-the-scenes drama that transpired long before No Time To Die became the first major film to be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After several rounds of rewrites, the shift in director, production, and the pandemic, the fifth and supposedly final film in the Daniel Craig-era of the James Bond-franchise has now finally been released. Thankfully, in spite of the real world drama that threatened to ruin it, this is actually a spy epic that is suitable as a true tribute to Daniel Craig’s bumpy but extraordinary time as the iconic agent. It isn’t the best film in the Craig-era, but it is a very memorable chapter in the franchise.

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‘The Chestnut Man’ is the Best Danish Netflix Original Thus Far – Netflix in the State of Denmark

Mikkel Boe Følsgaard & Danica Curcic, the stars of Netflix’s THE CHESTNUT MAN — Photo: SAM PRODUCTIONS.

In recent years, Netflix has gained a foothold in basically all corners of the world. As it becomes a global streaming service, Netflix is also starting to churn out local foreign language content that can grow a global audience. In recent weeks, that has happened with a show like the South Korean survival drama Squid Game, which has been compared to everything from The Hunger Games to Saw. But, of course, the most famous non-English language Netflix original series are Money Heist from Spain and Dark from Germany.

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