Special Feature - The Bond Franchise
*Editor's Note: As promised, threatened, The Movie Ark will be tackling The Bond Franchise in podcast form. Scheduling, recording, and editing for said episode took a bit longer than expected but it will release very soon. Thankfully our amazing staff writer Matthew J. Blanchard went above and beyond when preparing his list, which was to be featured on the cast; and gave me enough material to craft the awesome article you're about to read...
In honor of the late great Sir Roger Moore, Matt ranked his entries in the franchise. Though they were not always the best films for the character, Moore always brought a sense of fun and charm to the role that was uniquely his own. He was my (Noah) first Bond, and while I can't argue strongly for him being the best, he'll forever be My FAVORITE Bond. Editors Note End*
The Moore Outings: Worst to Best
7. Moonraker - Between the laser guns and the terrible villians this is not only the worst Moore Bond, it may be the worst Eon Productions Bond over all.
6. The Man with the Golden Gun - Great premise, starts out strong and falls the fuck apart. Christopher Lee and Herve Villechaize cannot redeem this one.
5. Octopussy - Maude Adams' second appearance in a much more "serious" styled Bond film, despite the failings of the film this is Roger at his most charming.
4. A View to a Kill - Aging less than gracefully he still nailed this 70's comic style/80's mashup. Also: Christopher Walken
3. For Your Eyes Only - This film is the quintessential Roger Moore Bond at the height of his powers.
2. The Spy Who Loved Me - The first film in the Roger Moore style. The villains are bigger than life, the gadgets are crazy, the movie is fun.
1. Live and Let Die - Darker and smaller than any other Moore Bond, this is an intimate Bond-as-Shaft-US-romp and it has a charm that never gets duplicated by any other Moore entry.
And now on to the other actors in the franchise...
Bond Actor Rankings
6. Roger Moore
Charming and affable, but I prefer the darker tone of the rest of the franchise to the wackiness of Moore’s 70’s films.
Came out of the gate with a great starting film, but followed up with a Bond movie so bad that it put the franchise on hiatus for the next seven years while the producers attempted to figure out the direction to move forward with.
4. George Lazenby
The story of HOW George Lazenby became Sean Connery’s replacement is worthy of a lengthy podcast episode in its own right. The result is an uneven performance that takes place in one of the most loved films in the franchise.
3. Sean Connery
The original James Bond. Connery is only edged out on my list due to the strength of performance by the remaining two actors.
2. Pierce Brosnan
Another casting worthy of deeper discussion. Takes the number two slot because no matter how terrible The World is Not Enough is, Brosnan’s performance in GoldenEye cements him as one of the greatest Bonds of all time.
1!. Daniel Craig.
Craig, aside from his hair color, is the living embodiment of Ian Fleming’s James Bond. Casino Royal and Skyfall are masterpieces, not only in terms of great direction but also in terms of Craig’s performance.
Top Ten Bond Movies
10.) The Spy Who Loved Me – Introduced a much more charming and comedic tone for Roger Moore’s films, is the most fun of his films and has the best globetrotting; gadget filled Bond plot of all.
9.) You Only Live Twice – one of the most true adaptations of Fleming’s novels, this film has the best possible villain in the form of Donald Pleasance playing the original Ernst Stavro Blofeld in an adventure that has Bond fighting for the future of the space program before Connery leaves the franchise (for one whole movie)
8.) Live and Let Die – The Bond in America adventure that strips down the excess of Diamonds are Forever and has Bond as a street level hero investigating Mr. Big – Yaphet Kotto as a Harlem Crime Boss. Roger Moore’s first and best.
7.) From Russia With Love – The second outing from Sean Connery, could easily be a tense little thriller even without the Bond character, but begins to cement the Bond formula.
6.) The Living Daylights – The first Timothy Dalton Bond film, and an adaptation of one of Ian Fleming’s last James Bond stories. Had the follow up continued with this tone and style, Dalton may have been Bond for a long time after.
5.) On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – George Lazenby. Telly Sevalis, Diana Rigg An almost direct adaptation of one of Fleming’s best novels. Note perfect Bond movie.
4.) Goldfinger – the Bond movie all other Bond movies want to be. Every movie after it follows its formula exactly. Connery at his gruesome best.
3.) Casino Royale – The perfect adaptation. This film gives us Daniel Craig as Ian Fleming’s James Bond, warts and all.
2.) GoldenEye – Who is James Bond when the cold war is over? One of the most realistic and unique Bond films of all, Brosnan’s absolute best.
The fiftieth anniversary Bond film celebrates the entire franchise with an amazing story that honors all eras of the film series. Yes Silva’s plan is WAY too complicated, but so was Blofeld’s.
RANDOM BOND FRANCHISE THOUGHTS:
As a fan of the Ian Fleming Bond novels I often end up having to explain that Bond is a far more complex character with a rich character arc that takes him from thuggish gun for hire through to emotionless suave sophisticate. I realize now that this character arc can finally be replicated by watching a select grouping of the films in the following order. Granted, you will have to push the "I Believe" button to ignore things like cell phones existing at the start of the arc and not then suddenly being replaced with 60's technology, or the appearance - disappearance and then reappearance of Judi Dench as two very different versions of M.
From Russia With Love
You Only Live Twice
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
The Living Daylights
Note that this list does not include Roger Moore, Connery's cash grab film, crappy drug cartel/Tanker truck wheelie stories or the poorly written subsequent Pierce Brosnan films (even though he was great in them, it is fair to say that the movies themselves got progressively worse after GoldenEye)
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