Thursday, July 3, 2008

Top Bond Films: Shaken, Not Stirred

With the release of Bond 22, or Quantum of Solace, as it is titled, I felt it appropriate to re-examine this franchise. The James Bond 007 movies are the most successful line of movies (grossing more worldwide during its time than even the Star Wars franchise) of all time and the longest-running of all time. Of course, that doesn't mean every installment has been the cream of the crop. In fact, while I enjoy watching any Bond film, I must admit, there have been some losers. I'll also be the first to admit that making a list of the top Bond films isn't my idea — it's been done all over the Web before. However, after I had the idea and searched for these lists, I found most of them were done before Casino Royale released, and I didn't find any that referenced the upcoming 22nd film in November 2008. I don't necessarily agree with all the other lists out there either. So, here's my take on the top five Bond films. Feel free to disagree, comment, and even to leave your own list in the comments.

Top Five Bond Films

5. You Only Live Twice — Sean Connery stars in the movie with the first full appearance of Blofeld. Here, Bond fakes his death, only to resurrect himself in Japan to find the whereabouts of a missing space shuttle. This is the first film in what is referred to by fans as the "Blofeld trilogy," and it is in this film where Bond stages a marriage to Japanese girl, Kissy Suzuki — go Bond! Also, Little Nellie, the autogyro, gets points for being one of the coolest Bond gadgets of all time.

4. The Man With the Golden Gun — Roger Moore faces off against villain Francisco Scaramanga and his tiny minion, Nick Nack, in this film that is full of mystery and memorable moments. Bond pretends to have three nipples, becomes a ninja and stuffs one girl in a closet to get in bed with another. There's even an exploding island and a surprise midget-attack ending, and who can forget the stunning Mary Goodnight?

3. Die Another Day — Pierce Brosnan stars opposite Halle Berry, who plays Jinx, in this icy final Brosnan film. The diamond-faced Zao and Gustav Graves, the arrogant, new-faced villain once thought to be a dead man, make a great pair of villains, and Bond's eventual pairing with Miranda Frost heats up the ice quite a bit. The opening torture scenes and Madonna's hit single start this Bond movie off with a bang, and it's a heck of a ride all the way through, invisible car and all. Perhaps the best part about this film, though, is that is was the 20th film, and it marked the 40th anniversary of the franchise. Therefore, references to every single preceding film and allusion to some Bond novels were included. (If you watch closely enough, there's even a Monty Python reference, notable because John Cleese has replaced Desmond Llewelyn as Q by this point.)

2. Goldfinger — This one isn't just good for the classic Sean Connery-slaps-a-girl-on-butt-and-says-"man talk" scene, where Bond needs his love of the day to scoot along so he can chat with his pal. However, if such a scene were recreated today, I can only imagine the reactions it would get. Honor Blackman guest stars as one of the best, if not the best Bond girl of all time — the infamous Pussy Galore. This Bond film, though the third in the series, really seemed to set the precedent for all the films to come. The story for this Bond movie is great, too — bad guy Auric Goldfinger attempts to infiltrate Fort Knox and detonate a bomb inside the gold depository. His minion, Oddjob, the Korean with the razor-sharp hat, also makes an appearance. This movie is just a good time all the way through, and without it, we may not have the Bond we know and love today.

1. Goldeneye — While many may not pick this as number one, I beg to differ. This Bond film, the first starring Pierce Brosnan, rejuvenated the series after a six-year hiatus following the not-so-well-received Timothy Dalton. If it weren't for this 1995 masterpiece, the Bond franchise may have died an early death instead of enjoyed the success it has had since. Classic Bond girls Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen, later X-Men's Jean Grey) and Natalya Simonova bring the epitome of sexy back to Bond. This film also introduced the amazing Judi Dench as M, and Bond faced what was probably his most personal foe in Alec Trevelyan. The race to stop the Goldeneye satellite from destroying London was on, and it became even more fun when the Nintendo 64 game of the same name was released, allowing us all to play along at home for hours on end. This action-packed, tank-driving Bond gave the franchise the new life it needed to continue in to the 21st century.

Runner up: On Her Majesty's Secret Service starring George Lazenby as Bond

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