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Zardoz Zed Sean Connery, Charlotte Rampling, Sara Kestelman, John Alderton, Sally Anne Newton, Niall Buggy, Bosco Hogan, Jessica Swift,

Zardoz: when a ‘brutal’ unintentionally enters ‘the vortex’ he poses a major threat to the peaceful sanctuary, which is ruled by immortal ‘Eternals’. This my friends is drug-induced 1970s sci-fi on a scale you’ve probably not experienced before. The initial five minutes consists of a floating disembodied head explaining the set-up, then a massive talking stone head that vomits guns and ammo in exchange for grain… and the rest of the film is even weirder. If you’ve ever seen this unexplainable photo of Sean Connery in thigh high hooker boots, wrestling undies, bandolier belts, and a double-whammy ponytail / mexican bandit ‘tache combo, this is where it’s from. If you hadn’t seen that before, I can only apologise. On one hand the film muses over some high-brow questions about mortality, sexuality, philosophy, religion – and references films from 2001 to The Wizard of Oz. On the other hand you’ve got a nearly-nude anti-hero trying to make sense of his trippy surroundings, erection stimulus experiments, gratuitous boob shots every five minutes, and hordes of bored zombie pensioners milling around in tuxedos. Some of the special effects and camera trickery  – like the projecting rings/floating heads etc – are great, even by today’s standards, yet other moments – like a hammy ‘learning montage’ – are beyond kitschy and laugh out loud terrible. Zardoz is the hardest kind of film to rate: it’s intentionally camp & outlandish; and deliberately indulgent, unruly, and confusing – to the point where it feels like nobody (stars, director, writers) really knew what was going on. The one thing it did get right is hitting the cult jugular; whether you love it, hate it, or are simply confused by it, Zardoz is a film that really has to be seen to be believed.

Score: 6/10
Real Score: WTF/10

Zardoz Dream Machine Sean Connery, Charlotte Rampling, Sara Kestelman, John Alderton, Sally Anne Newton, Niall Buggy, Bosco Hogan, Jessica Swift, Zardoz Sean Connery, Charlotte Rampling, Sara Kestelman, John Alderton, Sally Anne Newton, Niall Buggy, Bosco Hogan, Jessica Swift,

Zardoz Blu Ray Menu Sean Connery, Charlotte Rampling, Sara Kestelman, John Alderton, Sally Anne Newton, Niall Buggy, Bosco Hogan, Jessica Swift,

The Rock: when some miffed ex-military seize Alcatraz and aim chemical rockets at San Fran, a SWAT team is sent in to the save he day. Unlike most run-of-the-mill action films this is genuinely intense in parts, and has a substantial story – particularly the bad guys cause, which makes you question if it’s wrong to be rooting for them. Connery plays a blinder, reprising the James Bond role (great article here) and owning every scene he’s in with all the best lines. Cage does his crazy/comedy acting that somehow fits the tone of the film perfectly, and you couldn’t hand pick a better bunch of bad guys if you tried. The only downside is that there are some ridiculous attempts at comedy that fail terribly, and undermine / cheapen the film. Despite that little niggle, It’s almost incomprehensible that Michael Bay used to make films this good. Brilliant 1990s action affair. Ahhhh, Nicolas Cage and his green balls…

Score: 8.5/10

Diamonds Are Forever: After killing off two Blofelds in the pre-title credits Bond is sent to investigate a diamond stockpiling scheme that turns out to be far greater and more dangerous than anyone initially thought.

Ahhh, now we know why Connery came back to the role...

Returning to the role, Connery looks crazy-old here; wild eye brows, a massive chest wig and a little jowly on the cheeks. This is supposed to be the world’s most effective spy, not someone’s lazy uncle on an early retirement jolly! Despite clearly going through the motions Connery still has a sparkle in his eyes.

This is what a perfect spy looks like!! I'm 1/2 way there!!!

The promiscuously gay henchmen Mr Wint and Mr Kidd are genuinely freaky and despicable characters that give me the willies (!!) – like two halves of one person they work exceptionally well together, bounce dialogue between themselves and have some morbidly dark Bond-style quips. They are also the ultimate in over-elaborate and protracted Bond deaths.

Not everyone rates these guys, but they are menacing and memorable

The main setting here is America (namely Vegas), but it’s a pretty grotesque characature – everything’s in excess, the lights are bright, and the glamour’s slapped on, neon signs, casinos, cabaret, muscle cars… no stereotype is left untouched.

Another run-of-the-mill day in 'Vegas

Being the third actor to play Blofeld Charles Gray tries his best to put yet another spin on the character; adding sophistication, arrogance (and cross-dressing) but there wasn’t much he could do placed in this ridiculous situation. It also adds weight to the notion that Blofeld is a chameleon-style master of disguise, and at the forefront of plastic surgery!

Sledging down a hill on a cello case was less ridiculous than the 'moon buggy'

Overall, Diamonds goes back to Dr No territory, with a greater emphasis on conspiracy and clandestine activity than super-crazy action or zaney schemes. The master weapon isn’t unveiled until the end, along with the only big action set piece on the oil rig; which wouldn’t be complete without a goon shouting instructions and ultimatums over the PA system. As a Bond film, this one’s pretty middle of the road.

He's a... wheelie good driver *sorry*

Score: 5/10

 

 

Once again Bond saves the world and wet's the girl

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: Blofeld, again, but with hair!!! Lets Bond play with the master computer though – fail!!! 5
Henchmen: intelligent weirdos couple – experimental and effective. Bambi/Thumper acrobats – rubbish. 7
Bond Girl: Plenty O’Toole – Annoying but amazing / Tiffany Case – Also very hot. 7
Action: Lift Fight / Moonbuggy Chase / Vegas Car Chase / Oil Rig at end. 6

As a Scot, there's olny one answer to the question: "Who's your favourite James Bond". So long Connery!

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You Only Live Twice: as USSR and American space ships disappear above the sea of Japan, and US-Soviet tensions reach boiling point only one spy can get to the bottom of this…

Commander Bond PUNK's his colleagues

No doubt inspired by the space race, the opening credits are out of this world. Then WTF – Bond gets killed! This is the first film where the emphasis and scale of the action is pushed to the next level; there’s a board room fight with the sumo wrestler; large dock fight with all the sailors moving up to the roof; an aerial dogfight in Little Nellie; Ninja trainign camp, and storming of the secret volcano lair…

Little Nellie - Such a cool autogyro. Real too!

Japan is the backdrop of this and plays a large part in the story; it’s represented pretty well – a fine balancing act between the (then) cutting edge technology and the historic & traditional. Also, Japanese James Bond = Lloyd Christmas.

"We got no food, no jobs - our Pets' heads are falling off!!!"

This also has one of the most unforgettable real sets of any film, in the hollowed out volcano lair with full-scale control room, launch pad, monorail, helipad. Such a great achievement for Pinewood studios.

This mammoth set would all be CGI today!

Other than a couple of long-ish story sections – like the marriage – this is a top-drawer Bond flick, with plenty of action, a gripping story and just a little bit of ridiculousness – making it oh-so easy to spoof in the likes of Austin Powers.

Score: 7.5/10

First look at Ernst Stavro Blofeld - another plan to start WWIII foiled

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: Ernst Blofeld – Head of SPECTRE and legendary original megalomaniac. 8
Henchmen: Mr Osato – Old Businessman / Ronald Rich – Red Rip-off. 3
Bond Girl: Ginger Helga – Looking good pre-piranha  / several Japanese wimin. 6
Action: Too much to mention. 8

although the at the door sign reads "Beauty Parlour" this is a sumo match!

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Via 51
The Reviewer
Does Writing Excuse Watching?
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Thunderball: A NATO bomber carrying nukes ditches in the sea prompting a ransom from SPECTRE and 7-day ultimatum – and James Bond is the only person with a lead.

Ciao... Seeing double vision

Thunderball is a pretty shocking follow-up to Goldfinger, with almost zero memorable – let alone iconic – scenes /or lines. It’s also punctuated with too many lengthy and boring underwater set-pieces, peaking with a battle that goes on forever and lacks any audio element.

What's that sound? Nothing...

The only vaguely famous scene would be the card game in the casino with one-eye’d Largo. As far as villains go, Largo is pretty poor, but his main henchman – straight-edge Vargas, takes the piss: what a pitiful baddie. I almost felt sorry for those two.

Aye aye cap'n

If Thunderball’s good for something it’s showing us deeper into Bond’s psyche – he blackmails and forces himself upon women,  will sleep with absolutely anyone, does whatever it takes for King and Country, and is so reckless that he doesn’t care who’s life he endangers!

Bond getting ready to pump for information

The most memorable scene is the ridiculously sped-up projections at the end, genuinely laugh out loud material – yet Thunderball won the Oscar for best SFX. It’s a bit of a car crash for a Goldfinger follow-up and far, far, far too long given how little happens.

Score: 2.5/10

Now pay attention 007

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: Largo, one eyed sailor – Number 2 – just following orders. 5
Henchmen: Ginger Fiona / Straight-Edge Vargas – the worst henchman ever. 2
Bond Girl: Bikini girl Domino / Spa Worker Patricia. 4
Action: Tranny fight / Boat Chase / Scuba War. 4

Vargas does not drink... does not smoke... does not make love... loser

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Undy A Hundy
Klaus Ming
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Goldfinger: 007 is sent to investigate a gold-smuggling operation, but uncovers a much larger plot involving Fort Knox, a nuclear bomb, lethal gas, and a lot of gold bouillon…

Epidermal Suffocation - debatable, but iconic!

It’s impossible to do justice in such a short review, but Goldfinger is  cinematic gold (!!). It’s crammed end-to-end with iconography, from unforgettable imagery through to the timeless – but slightly cheesy – script. The opening scenes where Bond stealthily snorkels behind enemy lines and blows up a secret base (the first proper pre-credits mini mission) sets the tone for Goldfinger, and from there on in the story thunders through until Bond’s capture, when it slows down until the raid on Fort Knox.

Aston Martin - arguably Bond's true sweetheart

Despite almost every scene being recognisable, some of the highlights are; the Aston Martin debut – packed with gadgets, Golf playoff (should be boring!), / Pussy Galore, scuba gear to white tux, ‘shocking’, Laser Scene “Do you expect me to talk”, ticking nuke, Auric and his Gold fetish, explosive decompression, hundreds of collapsing soldiers, Oddjob and his hat, gold body paint…

Goldfinger - Star of the show

Random Task - Oddjob and his current hat

It’s also the pinnacle of Bond’s unbelievable sexist streak – when he condescendingly explains to his female colleague: ‘run along dear, man talk’ then proceeds to give her a massive slap on the arse. They just don’t make ’em like that these days!

As Felix stares on... wrong on so many levels

Another interesting aspect is that of all the physically dominating, power-hungry, and certifiably insane Bond villains we’ve seen over the years, it’s a small, fat (& dubbed) – and in the end, greedy -German that sits up there with the best of them. Despite the film’s greatness some questions are best left unanswered, like why is there a mass of asian labour in the middle of Kentucky? or how did such rubbish gangsters ever make it big (“What’s this?” “Who’s that!?”).

Perhaps the single still that sums up the franchise

The final product is an unforgettable, and near-perfect blend of the two themes that make Bond films great; mystery-thriller and large-scale action. Fantastic as a stand-alone film, and one of the highlights of the franchise.

Score: 8/10

Pussy Galore - proof that even lesbians digg Bond

TOP TRUMPS

Villain: Auric Goldfinger – Golf, Gold and laser-loving menace. 9
Henchmen: Oddjob – Silent but violent. 9
Bond Girl: Pussy Galore / Masterton Sisters – three’s a crowd. 8
Action: Car chase, opium explosion, golf, long Fort Knox fight. – 7

Still haven't seen a game of golf this tense

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Klaus Ming
The Reviewer
Go, See, Talk
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From Russia With Love: James Bond must assist a Soviet Defector, while watching his back as SPECTRE are out to avenge the death of Dr No.

Bond and Bey - an espionage dream team

First appearance of Ernst Stavro Blofeld - Number 1

As with Dr No, this film expands on several more recurring themes in the series; most notably Q Branch and the gadgets, pre-title action (although technically a mini mission), and Red Grant – the first of Bonds larger-than-life opposite numbers – and more generally ‘henchmen’ carrying out the grunt work on behalf of the main villain. More than anything else From Russia is quite the sexist film, with crass lesbian overtones, full-on belly-dancing credits, a ridiculously overlong scantily-clad girl fight and continual put-down of the women – what happened to the ladykiller from Dr No?!?

Tatiana Romanova - Bond Girl and defecting agent

For me this film is summed up by “Trains and Tunisia”, as it takes around an hour for anything substantial to happen. Unfortunately, Bond doesn’t even make it to Russia (Cold War tensions were high at the time), yet the film’s full of Terrible Russian – and English – accents. For being one of the most celebrated and highly rated films I personally don’t think that there’s much to like in From Russia, and that the majority of the film is mediocre and forgettable.

Score 4/10

Red Grant - the first of many muscelmen

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: Rosa Kleb – looks mean, pointy shoes but killed by the Bond Girl! – 5
Henchmen: Red – benchpressing benchmark for super-strength bad guys / Footnote for chess Grandmaster – 7
Bond Girl: Tania – Hot Russian – 8
Action: Train fight, helicopter, Boat Chase – 3

The main weapon - "she got her kicks"

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The M0vie Blog
Undy a Hundy
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Dr. No: Britain’s best spy James Bond is sent to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of another agent, when he uncovers a more sinister plot. The first thing we see is Bond’s silhouette crossing the screen then going for ‘the gun barrel shot’, followed by the unmistakable Bond credits.

The now famous gun barrel shot, which opens up every movie

Opening credit silhouette - another hallmark of the films - no nudity in this one

I always wonder if anyone could have known how iconic these scenes would become. As the first film in the series Dr. No does a superb job of delivering a rock solid spy story, while simultaneously setting up the franchise potential by introducing the main people, themes & concepts: Bond, Double O’s, M, Moneypenny, SPECTRE, PPK, exotic locations, universal exports, quips, action, car chases, licence to kill, fights, exploding cars, theme song, Spectre, alcoholism, espionage and boner-inducing bond girls. Bond himself bursts on to screen embodying suaveness, ingenuity, Britishness, intellect, sex appeal, and – of course – sexism!

Bond's entrance, the epitome of cool

We also quickly come to realise that only in a Bond film would you find great and believable gadgets/technology, but the most lenient use of scientific principals like gravity and radiation! There’s a few glaring continuity errors, but that’s another aspect of the films that we’ve all grown to love. Given that this was made in 1962 the film still stands up well today as a touchstone for the genre. While it’s primarily a detective story backed up by a little action, it’s still a great way to open up the series, and the idea of a ‘secret agent’ film.

Score: 7/10

Honey Rider's entrance - still to be topped

TOP TRUMPS

Villain: Dr No – Crushing metal hands & general megalomaniac – solid, archetypal villain. 8
Henchmen: Asian secretary Spy and the Marine Biologist – weak line up. 3
Bond Girl: Honey Rider (Ursula Andress) with the most iconic entrance of any character in the series – Hubba Hubba – 10
Action: Car Chase, several attempted murders, fake dragon, villains base destroyed – more would be gratuitous. 5

Dr. No - the first of many megalomaniacs

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The Reviewer
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As a kid, I was one of the millions that grew up watching the James Bond films in total amazement – over and over on VHS and on the TV every Christmas. In the UK, James Bond is arguably the single biggest institution – everyone from your young cousins to grandparents has watched most of the films and has an opinion on their favourite Bond, film, Bond Girl, villain, poster… Globally, Bond is nothing short of a phenomenon, proving himself to be one of the UK’s biggest exports.

First Bond collection, bought film by film

Starting in 1962 the Bond films are the longest-running franchise in cinema history, and hold the 2nd best all-time non-adjusted box office for a film series after Harry Potter (beating Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Batman, Star Trek…) To pinpoint the one thing that makes Bond so successful would be impossible, but I suspect that it has something to do with 007 having a dream job, dream girls, dream gadgets, dream cars all topped off with a dangerous lifestyle.

At the risk of ruining all of my fond childhood memories, I’m going to watch every single Bond with a critical eye over the next month to find out how Fleming and Broccoli managed to mould a single spy into one of the most cultural, global & timeless icons of all time. Everyone’s welcome to join in. There’s a schedule below this post and more info here and here.


From memory, Bond is a modern day cowboy who’s swapped his six-shooter for a PPK and horse for horse-power. He does little thinking, and lives for danger, jumping foot first into the action. He’s well dressed, and has exquisite tastes in everything from food & drink though to clothes and women. Most importantly for the movies, Bond has blind loyalty to his country and will do absolutely anything to progress the mission – naturally, this always gets him into perilous situations, which is the lifeblood of each movie. Despite spanning almost 50 years it seems like the Bond films have stuck to the same formula for

Hero + Villains + Babes + Danger + Action = Great cinema!

Over the course of January we’ll see how that formula holds up!

Cheers,

Paul
Paragraph Film Reviews

3rd Jan – Dr No
4th Jan – From Russia With Love
5th Jan – Goldfinger
6th Jan – Thunderball
7th Jan – You Only Live twice

10th Jan – On Her Majesties Secret Service
11th Jan – Diamonds Are Forever
12th Jan – Live and let Die
13th Jan – Man with the Golden Gun
14th Jan – The Spy Who Loved Me
15th Jan – Moonraker

17th Jan – For Your Eyes Only
18th Jan – Octopussy
19th Jan – A View To A Kill
20th Jan – The Living Daylights
21st Jan – Licence to Kill

24th Jan – GoldenEye
25th Jan – Tomorrow Never Dies
26th Jan – The World is Not Enough
27th Jan – Die Another Day
28th Jan – Casino Royale
29th Jan – Quantum of Solace

Quick follow-up from my last post about James Bond January – more details here. It’s still not too late to sign up; from today there’s over seven weeks – or 54 days – until the Quantum of Solace posts get published. That’s a Bond flick every 2 1/2 days, so still totally achievable if you wanted to do every film!

Content wise, the posts don’t have to be limited to reviews, they can be memories, features, lists, observations, pictures, critiques or even anti-Bond posts! Anything that will generate discussion on the franchise is cool by me.

A final clarification – you can do one film, all twenty-two films, or any number in between. Just be sure that they match the schedule in this post and are all tagged “James Bond January” so everyone can follow this.

Here’s a list of the current participants, I’ll keep this as up to date as I can.

Aiden (Cut The Crap Movie Reviews)
Darren M (The M0vie Blog)
Marc (Go See Talk)
Heather (Movie Mobsters)
Caz (Lets Go To The Movies)
Andrew (Andrew at the Cinema)
Andy – (Fandango Groovers)
Clara (Via-51)
Mikey (The Reviewer)
Nicola (Average Film Reviews)
Andrew (Row Three)
Clarabela (Just Chick Flicks)
Sledge (Battle Royale with Cheese)
Erik (Film Jabber)
Klaus (Ming)
Jason (The Athletic Nerd)
Sarah (She Likes to Watch)
Joem (Does Writing Excuse Watching?)
Stu – (Undy a Hundy)
The Peoples Movies Blog
Susannah -(Not Really Working)
Java – (Java’s Journey)
Steve – (Watching the Detectives)

If you fancy spreading the word by re-blogging / linking / e-mailing / tweeting some info on your blogs – or to individuals that may be interested in this – it would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks,

Paul,
Paragraph Film Reviews.

Calling all film reviewers!!

Given that the Bond films are THE most successful, and one of the few universally-loved franchises in the history of cinema I thought it would only be fitting to to give the world’s greatest spy his own awesome feature.

The idea’s simple; everyone that wants to take part watches all – or any – of the Bond movies and posts up their reviews to the schedule (below) throughout the January, tagging them all “James Bond January” so we can all keep up with the event.


UPDATE POST HERE

Best case scenario: over the course of January the 22 clustered film reviews bring this project worldwide notoriety, re-emphasises why Bond is so great, the next movie is finally green-lighted and we all get a million blog hits!!!!Awesome!!!

Worst case scenario: a massive group of avid Bond fans all get to watch and discuss the villains, gadgets, cars and babes of every James Bond film – from Dr No through to Quantum of Solace!!StillAwesome!!

If you’re interested in participation, please comment or send an e-mail to the address below and I’ll put your name/blog link on list I’ll publish nearer the time. If you think you know anyone that would be interested, please, please, please forward this message to them. And feel free to re-post, hot-link, podcast or tweet this post.

It doesn’t matter if you want to do one, two or every single film; the more people that muck in, the better!

Cheers,

Paul
Paragraph Film Reviews
paragraphfilmreviews@hotmail.com


James Bond January – Schedule

3rd Jan – Dr No
4th Jan – From Russia With Love
5th Jan – Goldfinger
6th Jan – Thunderball
7th Jan – You Only Live twice

10th Jan – On Her Majesties Secret Service
11th Jan – Diamonds Are Forever
12th Jan – Live and let Die
13th Jan – Man with the Golden Gun
14th Jan – The Spy Who Loved Me
15th Jan – Moonraker

17th Jan – For Your Eyes Only
18th Jan – Octopussy
19th Jan – A View To A Kill
20th Jan – The Living Daylights
21st Jan – Licence to Kill

24th Jan – GoldenEye
25th Jan – Tomorrow Never Dies
26th Jan – The World is Not Enough
27th Jan – Die Another Day
28th Jan – Casino Royale
29th Jan – Quantum of Solace

UDATE POST HERE