Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Bond Review #4: The World Is Not Enough
Ah yes, The World Is Not Enough... This one was the first Bond movie I saw in theaters. Of course, by that time I had seen every Bond movie that came before it. I can remember being so excited to see the movie, as at the time I was even more obsessed with the series than I am now. I also remember being slightly disappointed in the movie after seeing it. It had not lived up to the two previous Brosnan Bond films, Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies. Even to this day it seems to drag to me. I now realise that I was not alone in that sentiment. It seems that most had, and still do, consider this movie to be a drop in quality from the other 1990s Bond movies.
Don't get me wrong. It's not horrible. It's just a very "meh" movie. "Meh" is a step above "ugh". It has its bad points, (Denise Richards, bland locations, a stupid plot), and it has its good ones, (Sophie Marceau, the action sequences, the theme song).
Let's start with the less than stellar, shall we? First, let's try to comprehend the plot. James Bond, (Pierce Brosnan) is sent to protect a girl, (Sophie Marceau) from a man named Renard, (Robert Carlyle) who once kidnapped her and held her for ransom. He's apparently interested in killing her and sabotaging her oil pipeline so that he can control the world's oil supply. By the end of the movie there's helicopters with buzzsaws, snowjets with parachutes, a hijacked submarine, and Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist. Yes, you heard me right, nuclear physicist. I don't know who decided that would be a good casting decision, but that person should never do casting again. We're talking about a girl most consider to be a ditz in real life, and you want us to believe she's a nuclear physicist? Ooooookkaaayyyy... Not happening here. Also not happening are the locations. My God, the director here, Michael Apted is a noted documetarian. He should be able to pick locations well, but the best we get is... an exterior shot of the Guggenheim and a small island fortress about the size of a lighthouse. It's really THE most drab looking Bond film ever made. Sure, we go skiing in the film once, but that's the most we get.
Now, before I start making it sound like this is the worst Bond film ever, (it's not), or that I absolutely hate it, it does have its good points. The action here is your standard James Bond action. Ski chases, gunfights, remarkable escapes... But with additional directoral flair that the previous two films didn't have. It is not really better than the rest of the films in terms of amount of the sequences or the type, but it's staged better. Also I should mention that Judi Dench gets more screentime in this movie, and Dame Dench is always a delight, so that's a great plus. Michael Apted wanted to bring to the forefront more character interaction, which he didn't really succeed in except with Dench. Finally she's in the action for a film! Sophie Marceau is also a pretty good Bond girl, even if she isn't all that she seems. She's stunning to look at and isn't too annoying, two positives that few Bond girls have both of. She also gives us the first unintentional nipple shot in the Bond series. (Either unintentional or the censors didn't catch it!) She also has a past, and issues coming from that past that are important to the story, which I believe is a first for the Bond series.
Locations: 2/10 Ugh... A submarine, Bilbao, a little fortress on an island off Istanbul, and Kazakhstan. Not really the most photogenic of places. This is THE most drab Bond film. I have no idea what Apted was thinking. According to the commentary he wanted to put in actual exotic places... as in buildings. Um, yeah, not a great idea Mr. Apted.
Villain: 4/10 I love Robert Carlyle, but he's just not that great here. I dunno if it's because he's just a pawn and that diminishes his charm or if it's that he's given nothing to do but look evil and be bald like all the other bad guys in the movie... He doesn't even respect Bond as most villains do He doesn't wine and dine James Bond. It's something new for the series but it doesn't quite work.
Bond Girls: 5/10 Denise Richards is not the worst Bond girl. I'm sorry to those that hate her, but there are worse. At least she's good looking in a slutty way. She's smart in the movie as well. The ONLY problem is that she's so horribly miscast. Sophie Marceau, as I mentioned earlier is a great Bond girl being mysterious, stunningly beautiful, and smart. Good casting on that one.
Direction/Design: 7/10 The movie is overall drab looking, but the direction is spot on. Michael Apted is a documentary filmmaker most of the time, and the look of the film shows that. Natural lighting whenever possible, cloudy days, and a lot of copter shots. It's a bit odd to watch really, and Apted was an interesting choice to direct.
Theme Song: 10/10 This is one of my five favorite Bond songs. It's performed by Garbage and it is astounding. The music video, which is on the Blu-Ray is also a very good music video. I think it harkens back to the Bond themes of the 60s, which was a welcome departure from the 80s rock songs. I mean those are great, but a change is good sometimes.
Overall: 5/10 It's not a bad movie, but the plot is hard to follow, it's not pretty to look at, and it seems to drag so much, especially in the middle. In all, quite a forgettable film, and the only forgettable Brosnan Bond. (Though one is memorable for how bad it is.)
The blu-ray for this one is sadly just like the film. Pretty meh. It's filled with fluff pieces and the commentaries don't really tell you much. The reason it's like this is that all the special features were ported over from the first DVD releases which were right after the movie was released. It's not newer original stuff, which is usually more truthful. The picture and audio also are a bit disappointing. You think a newer movie like this wouldn't be as subdued.
James Bond will return in a week in... Goldfinger.