A mixed bag of emulating the best and worst of Bond history for the… MoreA mixed bag of emulating the best and worst of Bond history for the 20th 007 film, the fun but far from fantastic Die Another Day excellently mirrors the classic wit and spit of the Connery years while it unfortunately embraces the over-the-top action and corny gadgets of the Moore era. The good: With Jinx, the producers give viewers an invigorating superspy equal to Bond with an actress awesome enough to realize her kick-ass abilities. The bad: With eye-rolling gizmos such as an invisible car and a palace made of ice, the special effects take center stage over story. Oh, and Madonna plays a fencing instructor.
In this PG-13-rated spy thriller, James Bond (Brosnan) gets sent to investigate the connection between a North Korean terrorist and a diamond mogul who is funding the development of an international space weapon.
For his last outing as 007, Brosnan steps up his performance from the previous adventure, which sported sub-standard material that did little for inspiration. Likewise, Berry presents filmgoers with someone who's intriguingly much more than a mere Bond Girl, sharpening the rough edges of a character so enjoyable that she nearly got her own spin-off. Still, for all of Bond and Jinx's entertaining and action-packed interplay, there are laughable stumbles. For instance, the big bad is Colonel Moon, a North Korean villain with diamonds imbedded in his skin who uses gene therapy technology to alter his appearance. Oh, and Madonna plays a fencing instructor.
Bottom line: Madonna and Child-Like
Even with a title purloined from Bond classic On Her Majesty's Secret… MoreEven with a title purloined from Bond classic On Her Majesty's Secret Service, such phrasing ultimately proves to be the most interesting thing about this often silly and miscast rote spy romp. The World is Not Enough in name refers to the Bond family's motto, bringing up thoughts of restlessness and a desire for intrigue and passion. The World is Not Enough in total, however, summons none of this save for making the audience restless. Sloppy all around, the franchise seems content to let the latest Bind adventure simply operate on cruise control, an easy-to-follow cake recipe starring a charismatic lead and explosions. For a series boasting Gold Standards such as From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, the aforementioned title bearer, and The Spy Who Loved Me, it's not enough for chapter nineteen to rest on the sum parts' laurels with a plot creakily by-the-book. The film needs to offer up some aspects that filmgoers have never seen before and, save for Judi Dench's M getting captured and bringing in John Cleese as Q, not enough happens to qualify.
In this PG-13-rated spy thriller, James Bond (Brosnan) uncovers a nuclear plot when he protects an oil heiress (Marceau) from her former kidnapper, an international terrorist (Robert Carlyle) who can't feel pain.
Even the actors seem to put their feet up in this tiring exercise. Brosnan's gives the worst performance of his run and Carlyle, though menacing and funny in Trainspottiing, is just one-half of that equation here: laughable. Even with a film featuring a lot of one-note acting, one particular character and performance pretty much sums up how sloppily this film got executed: Denise Richards gets plays a nuclear physicist, Dr. Christmas Jones. Unless you count the whiplash that results from laughing at such casting, the entertaining action scenes can't redeem this fair to middling adventure unlike its predecessor, Tomorrow Never Dies.
Bottom line: Christmas Blues
Despite painting the super-spy into an oftentimes boring corner,… MoreDespite painting the super-spy into an oftentimes boring corner, Brosnan's second Bond outing boasts pulse-pounding action set pieces never say die. Okay, so the 18th 007 adventure fails to put forth the most ambitious story but the dust-ups that result boast enough explosive awesomeness to warrant your full attention. Take for example one ridiculously exciting bit of staging that results in a BMW motorcycle jumping over the rotating blades of a chopper hovering between rooftops. It's winning moments like this, however, that punctuate a largely connect-the-dots tale where even an ace actor like Pryce can't make spiked lemonade out of a lemon of a villain that's so dull on paper.
In this PG-rated spy thriller, James Bond (Brosnan) heads to stop a media mogul's (Pryce) plan to induce war between China and the UK in order to obtain exclusive global media coverage.
Brosnan has his shtick down pat by Tomorrow Never Dies, which is good and bad. Connery and (later) Craig got better as they went along, which enhanced sometimes sub-standard material. The actor formerly known as Remington Steel by this point in his career, however, seems to operate on charismatic auto-pilot. Being only as good as your material only works insofar as the quality of the material and co-stars. Action aside, Michelle Yeoh as hard-hitting Chinese spy Wai Lin proves way more memorable than Bond's ex-girlfriend, played by Teri Hatcher, which is perfect summary as to the film' concentration on stylish over substantive. Sadly, the material behind his next such outing wouldn't have Brosnan's back nearly as much.
Bottom line: Sociopath Media
Keeping an Eye on the Double-Oh tropes that kept Bond so endearing for… MoreKeeping an Eye on the Double-Oh tropes that kept Bond so endearing for over 30 years, Pierce Brosnan's debut relishes a Golden opportunity to roll the charisma of Connery, the suaveness of Moore, and the cheekiness of both into one jolly good high-tech adventure. Updating the superspy for the '90s but keeping him rascally, GoldenEye remains Brosnan's best Bond outing and one of the series' best overall. The film earns extra points for marking Judi Dench's first foray as M, beginning the tenure of one of the series best and most inspired
In this PG-13-rated spy thriller, James Bond (Brosnan) teams up with the lone survivor (Izabella Scorupco) of a destroyed Russian research center to stop the hijacking of a nuclear space weapon by a fellow agent (Bean) formerly believed to be dead.
Stylish and silly in one fell swoop, the film succeeds based chiefly on the winning choice of lead but the action-packed story packs a punch all of its own. Making 006 the villain makes for some ace intrigue. The casting of Bean, however, is an intriguing notion all of its own. It takes a strong actor such as this to play off of Brosnan, who makes the part his own by ironically not throwing out previous Bonds with the bath water. Firing on all cylinders with this, his very fun debut outing, it's a pity that the follow-ups lower themselves to becoming so formulaic. Still, the opening scene that finds Bong bungee-cording off of a ridiculously high dam takes a hold on your interest that rarely lets go save for a semi-climatic finale that doesn't come close to matching the gleeful thrills that result from the pre-credits sequence.
Bottom line: Remington Zeal
Arming 007 with a rousing amount of darkness and edge, the first… MoreArming 007 with a rousing amount of darkness and edge, the first PG-13-rated Bond film finds Dalton in top form and the series getting down and dirty. Yes, Casino Royale shakes and stirs Bond into pitch blackness, but License to Kill tries it first and to mostly good effect. Featuring explosively thrilling action scenes and Benicio Del Toro in a breakout role, the film's worst offense (it still holds the record as the lowest earning Bond in the franchise) is debuting in a pre-9/11 world where Michael Keaton - not Christian Bale - assumes Batman's cowl.
In this PG-13-rated spy thriller, James Bond (Dalton) goes rogue and sets off to unleash vengeance on a drug lord (Davi) who tortured his best friend, a C.I.A. agent, and left him for dead and murdered his bride after he helped capture him.
The fact that the producers changed the title from License Revoked says everything about this middling attempt to make Bond go dark. Reportedly having little faith in the ability of American audiences to understand the meaning of the word "revoked," the Brits went with the much more marketable phrasing License to Kill. It demonstrates an unsureness that shows up in many aspects of this production. Dalton's 007s gets locked on intensity even more than his previous outing, which brings the tone down more than makes the character dirty. Still, the explosions and chases keep this off-the-grid caper intense in the right ways as well. If only the producers lightened up the character a bit and found the winning formula, Dalton's otherwise ace version of 007 might've booked passage to GoldenEye rather than just dying in development another day.
Bottom line: Rogue Notion
Undeservedly shouldered with a bad reputation that still wrongly… MoreUndeservedly shouldered with a bad reputation that still wrongly scares The Living Daylights out of Bond fans, Timothy Dalton's thrilling 007 debut ushers in a much more serious secret agent whose biggest foe proves to be a noticeable lack of humor. Getting jiggy with the (then) modern age in which AIDS scars the landscape and misogyny is way beyond passť, Bond becomes monogamous and improbably shows less emotion than Daniel Craig's earliest adventures. Still, the excitement and intrigue hit full throttle and rarely let up, allowing for a better-than-average 007 adventure where the explosions suit the story and not vice-versa. If the audience laughed more, this would be one for the ages.
In this PG-rated spy thriller, James Bond (Dalton) crosses all seven continents in order to stop an evil arms dealer from starting another world war.
Though docked some of Bond's aforementioned defining trademarks, Dalton emerges as more of an action hero in one movie than Roger Moore did during his entire run. His iteration simply wants more for Bond's razor-sharp wit. Thankfully taking the spy game more seriously than eyebrow arching Moore years, The Living Daylights ultimately takes itself too seriously, in need of lightening up during a time when filmgoers were used to intelligent but fun espionage in the pre-9/11 form of The Hunt for Red October as opposed to the deathly intensity in the post-9/11 form of The Bourne Identity.
Bottom line: Roll of the Dicey
Spiking some - but not enough - punch into the ultimate novel of… MoreSpiking some - but not enough - punch into the ultimate novel of manners by trying to bring both horror and deadpan humor to the society ball, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies breaks even in its attempt to lift the petticoat on mash-ups to show what works (more humor) and doesn't (less backstory). We have Seth Grahame-Smith to, ahem, thank for the trend that mashes up classic literature with horror. His 2009 New York Times Bestselling novel mixing improbable bedfellows into a catchy buzz-worthy title, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, sold over one million copies and inspired other novelists to turn out such genre-benders in the form of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, Android Karenina, and Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter. The mashed bag that results from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, however, means that moviegoers probably won't have to worry about these heel-spawns trudging to the big screen. It's not that the flick earns a complete shun from society, mind you. What works is the fact that the movie doesn't go too Jane Austere. Grahame-Smith's first adaptation to make it to the big screen, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, took itself way too seriously and turned off both critics and audiences. If done in a Grindhouse, tongue-in-cheek style, the mashing-up might've worked. Here, the script maintains the societal mores central to the source-source material with an Buffy, the Vampire Slayer angle (monster-stomping with tongue stuck firmly in cheek) thrown in for good measure (think: Night of the Living Debutante). The problem comes down to fleshing out both ends of the spectrum - manners and horror - with equal measure but an uneven tone.
This PG-13-rated horror flick retells Jane Austen's classic tale of the tangled relationships between lovers from different social classes in 19th century England, albeit with a twist - they must also face an army of undead zombies.
Just as with Austen's classic, the story spends a good deal of time establishing the loves (Pride) and lives (Prejudice) of the Bennett sisters. During this character development stage, the undead (Zombies) get furloughed for long boring periods. When they return, however, they shuffle back with some development all of their own. Honestly, moviegoers don't need an explanation as to the zombie outbreak and the possibility of a cure. With a zany title like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the movie just needs to act on some B-Movie-inspired bedlam more. Boasting a cast so good that they should've just adapted Austen's original as a BBC mini-series while they had them all on set, the flick boasts the right ingredients just not the proper execution.
Bottom line: Petty Dreadful
With a spot-on presentation of '50s-era H'Wood as its back-drop, Hail,… MoreWith a spot-on presentation of '50s-era H'Wood as its back-drop, Hail, Caesar! extends the Coen Brothers "Trilogy of Idiots" (along with the George Clooney starrers O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Intolerable Cruelty, and Burn After Reading) into a mirthful madcap caper that divisively plays somewhat better to cineastes than Average Joes and Janes despite the motion picture-perfect casting. Amid releasing more audience-friendly fare (Raising Arizona, Fargo, True Grit), the Coens usually release a critical darling that boasts much less of a broad appreciation (The Man Who Wasn't There, A Simple Man, Inside Llewyn Davis). Their latest adheres more to the audience-pleasing tone of O Brother... than, say, the oft-kilter, critical darling, H'Wood-set Barton Fink, but the film's ultimate appeal to filmgoers falls somewhere in-between. With a loving eye for period detail and film history, Hail, Caesar! impeccably recreates the films of the era and flawlessly presents the goings-on as if it were all playing out as one of these films. Fortunately, or unfortunately, film students and snobs can appreciate this precise homage to the Golden Age H'Wood much more than movie buffs who don't know the CV of Kirk Douglas from Michael Douglas.
In this PG-13-rated comedy, a Hollywood fixer in the 1950s (Brolin) works to keep the studio's stars in line after one studio's biggest star (Clooney) gets kidnapped.
Regardless of your classic film knowledge, these ridiculously talented raconteurs don't ultimately care about mass appeal but they do care about performance, which is why they assemble an A-List cast to play the cast of idiots in the serpentine plot: Brolin (Sicario), Clooney (Tomorrowland), Alden Ehrenreich (Blue Jasmine), Ralph Fiennes (Spectre), Jonah Hill (22 Jump Street), Scarlett Johansson (Avengers: Age of Ultron), Frances McDormand (Moonrise Kingdom), Tilda Swinton (The Grand Budapest Hotel), and Channing Tatum (The Hateful Eight).
Bottom line: Roman Holiday
With jokes and gags that slap you across the face harder than being on… MoreWith jokes and gags that slap you across the face harder than being on the submissive part of an S&M session, this Fifty Shades parody Black-balls spoof films back into virgin territory. In the bland tradition of Date Movie, Superhero Movie, and Meet the Spartans comes Fifty Shades of Black, a one (and a half) note send up of the one-note film spawned from E.L. James' one-note novels. Granted, taking aim at bottom-feeders allows for a ripe proving ground of comedy because these low denominators are unintentionally funny to begin with. Unfortunately, Black aims just as low as it intended victim, trying to wring easy laughs out of material that accidentally ended up to be funny in the source material. If some pointed jokes about race and sex didn't at least hit just inside the dartboard, Fifty Shades of Black wouldn't even rank one (and a half) star. In regards to skewing pop culture, Black is - simply put - whack.
In this R-rated spoof, an inexperienced college student meets a wealthy businessman whose sexual practices put a strain on their relationship.
Not much was expected of the Wayans's parodic oeuvre, mind you. With Dance Flick and Haunted House having already grabbed very low hanging fruit (think: strip mining topsoil) off of other genres rather than play it straight with clever dialogue a la Airplane! or The Naked Gun, this gratuitous exercise follows in very much the same small footsteps. The leads make the most out of cheap shots but some cameos from Fred Willard, Jane Seymour, and - wait for it - Florence Henderson make for the funniest exchanges.
Bottom line: Meh in Black
Trading sports for a sporting adventure, Walt Disney Pictures doesn't… MoreTrading sports for a sporting adventure, Walt Disney Pictures doesn't throw out the baby with the rough waters in presenting a polished old fashioned seafaring rescue mission that's only want is for some edginess. The Mouse House has knack for turning heartwarming and heroic true stories starring marquee leading men into box office hits (The Rookie with Dennis Quaid, Miracle with Kurt Russell, Invincible with Mark Wahlberg). If The Finest Hours is any indication, their Midas Touch now extends to harrowing true stories on much broader playing fields as well. Granted, like the aforementioned, their latest results in a Not-Exactly-Perfect Storm. Part of adhering to this tired - er, tried - and true formula means not taking chances. Indeed, Finest Hours pulls your strings at every juncture, cuing swoons and scares among the audience. It comes down to whether or not you like being a puppet. Using a script based on the bestselling book of the same name by Casey Sherman and Michael J. Tougias, Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl) plays it safe by presenting the facts in a straight-ahead style that's about as edgy as a Nerf ball. It's a classic representation of a classic tale done in a classic style-period.
In this PG-13-rated drama based on real events, the crew (Pine, et al) of the Coast Guard station at Chatham, Massachusetts makes a daring rescue attempt off the coast of Cape Cod after a pair of oil tankers are destroyed during a blizzard in 1952.
Once and future Captain Kirk Chris Pine easily steps into the Disney Pantheon alongside Quaid, Russell, and Wahlberg. Holliday Grainger, meanwhile, makes for a feisty and memorable love interest even though a portion of her scenes wants badly for the cutting room floor. As leader of a nearly-doomed tanker's crew, however, Casey Affleck nearly steals their show and then some.
Bottom line: Just Add Water