Friday 19 August 2011

I'm going to explain to you what most boys your age... have known for like five years already.

Goldfinger is usually held up as the standard for Bond movies, but to be honest, I've never been much of a fan, probably because I saw it long after I'd seen Moonraker, where Bond goes into space and attempts re-entry after a space-ruckus because the US has platoons of laser-toting space-marines waiting around on launchpads just in case. In the context of a progression from the first two outings, however, I can see why it's so fondly thought of given the introduction of so much of the Bond filmic canon that originates here, from the crazy death traps, dry one-liners, the momentary softening of the 007 facade of steel-hard British assassin when faced with the deaths of innocents (usually one of a parade of women he sees as little more than a means to an end), right up to the outrageous setpieces, outlandish gadgets, the first appearance of Q Branch proper, and honest-to-goodness supervillain schemes so damn crazy even Bond is taken aback by the audacity. Context is everything where Goldfinger is concerned, but while it's enjoyable as a period piece I still have one or two niggles, mainly what the point was with the exposition scene where Goldfinger tells everyone what his Fort Knox scheme is all about, then kills everyone he's just told the plan to. So why bother telling them? There's a bit where one of the assembled mobsters backs out of the scheme and Goldfinger lets him go, gives him gold, has him shot, then crushed in a car crusher, then goes off to separate his gold from the crushed car/mobster and I couldn't understand why he didn't just have his manservant Blojob grab the gold and leave the car/mobster thing in the scrapyard. Why create all that extra effort? Why tell so many people a different version of his master plan if he was just going to kill them anyway? Also, I'm pretty sure Bond saves the day by more or less raping some sense into Vagina Galore, plus this:

This is just asking for trouble.
Thunderball continues the Bond trend of being about supercriminal plans rather than animosity with the Soviets, making me wonder why anyone ever thought that the character was lost without the Cold War before Goldeneye came along. It's a decent espionage flick, but feels like a step back to the pre-Goldfinger model for the franchise, with the Bond gimmicks being bells hung on a story that could have got along just fine without gadgets and cabals of faceless supervillains. The underwater scraps are a nice change of pace for an action movie, too - I couldn't see the slow pace of such a thing going down well with the jump-cut and slo-mo-addicted directors of today, but there's a sort of madcap Tom and Jerry vibe to the two factions going at it underwater. Bond also seems to carry jetpacks around with him and then leave them on rooftops, but I suppose he knows what he's doing - he uses a woman as a human shield twice in this film, so he's clearly a man who can think ahead and on his toes. A decent period romp, this.

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