7 – 7.5

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

James Bond film #18 (Pierce Brosnan Bond)

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

The second Brosnan Bond, Tomorrow Never Dies (18), had quite an act to follow after 1995’s GoldenEye (17). Producers Barbara Broccoli (Albert’s daughter and associate producer for the Dalton movies (15-16)) and Michael G. Wilson (stepson of Albert and producer with him since A View to a Kill (14)) had brought Bond back in a big way; could they manage to do it again? With no more Ian Fleming stories to adapt, an original story was written (also the case with The Spy Who Loved Me (10)), and the story that Bruce Feirstein came up with was a wonderful merger of classic Bond plots and modern global issues. Tomorrow Never Dies (18) continues the modernization of the series that GoldenEye initiated, bringing more of the Bond tropes back for an Information Age update.

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GoldenEye (1995)

James Bond film #17 (Pierce Brosnan Bond)

GoldenEye (1995)

GoldenEye was released in 1995 after 6 years of a world without Bond, still the longest gap between any two 007 adventures. Because of the delay and all the legal tanglings that caused it, Timothy Dalton opted out of the role and Pierce Brosnan stepped into his place, a man who has come to define James Bond for pretty much all of Generation Y. Also huge is the fact that this is the first post-Cold War Bond, a point referenced to extensively and used to hang the plot on. In a lot of ways, it seems like a reboot of the series; the big change-up in production personnel is clearly evident. GoldenEye brings Bond up to speed in the modern world, finally stepping out of the mold it crafted in the 60s and 70s.

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Licence to Kill (1989)

James Bond film #16 (Timothy Dalton Bond)

Licence to Kill (1989)

If anyone ever wanted to see James Bond in rampage mode, they need look no further than 1989’s Licence to Kill. Running with the darker realism of The Living Daylights (15), Licence to Kill sees Bond going vigilante after a Colombian drug lord destroys Felix Leiter’s life. The film that follows has the most graphic violence of any Bond to date and an almost complete lack of light-hearted moments. It’s the most we’ve ever strayed from the Bond film formula, replacing all the campy elements of the franchise while retaining the spectacular action, and the film excels because of its willingness to stand apart from its predecessors

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For Your Eyes Only (1981)

James Bond film #12 (Roger Moore Bond)

For Your Eyes Only (1981)

For Your Eyes Only (12) sees James Bond bursting into the ’80s, and with the new decade, the series takes another turn off its well-worn path. For the past few films, the Bond series has been digging itself into the ground as it went further and further into the realm of gadgetry and comic relief. Moore’s tenure has so far seen psychic mediums, tri-nippled assassins, underwater fortresses, and giant space stations, and while the Connery Bond films always had their own silly moments (like the jetpack in Thunderball (4) or all of Diamonds Are Forever (7)), they never got quite as outlandish as Moore’s. For Your Eyes Only (12) puts the brakes on crazy-town Bond, scaling back the theatrics and getting much grittier than he’s been in a long time. In this film, Bond tries to acquire a missile command system while getting manipulated and attacked by shady Greek businessmen. Fighting alongside him is Melina Havelock, a vigilante with a crossbow seeking vengeance on whoever murdered her parents. Though it’s different in tone than what we’re used to, the level-headedness of For Your Eyes (12) results in a fully satisfying, if not entirely memorable, Bond film.

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Halloween (1978)

Halloween (1978)

John Carpenter’s 1978 horror film Halloween has often been cited as the first major slasher film, and while that’s not exactly the case (Black Christmas, anyone?), it is a seminal entry to the subgenre, establishing many conventions and centering the film around the murderous antagonist Michael Myers.

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The Woman in Black (2012)

Film #26: The Woman in Black (2012)

The Woman in Black is a horror movie based on the ghost story of the same name written by Susan Hill. The film stars Daniel Radcliffe in his first non-Harry Potter film role since 2007’s December Boys. Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a solicitor living with his 4-year-old son in Edwardian era England (early 20th century). He’s a bit disgruntled, having never fully gotten over his wife’s death during childbirth, but that doesn’t stop him from getting dispatched to the English countryside to deal with the estate of the recently-deceased Alice Drablow. Center to her estate is her giant manor, the Eel Marsh House. During his time at the house, he sees the specter of a woman (in black). Soon afterward, children in the town begin to commit violent suicide, and the townspeople blame Kipps for invoking the curse of the Woman in Black.

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Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

Film #22: Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

Despite some of my best friends in high school making constant reference to the cult film Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, I had never actually seen the movie until a week ago. It was… pretty much exactly the way I expected it to be. To be honest, I don’t know how anyone could watch this movie for the first time without the whole thing seeming familiar. Pee-wee Herman, the indelible man-child played (for a decade straight) by Paul Reubens, is so intractably entwined in American popular culture that it’s impossible not to know his antics. What I wasn’t aware of, however, is that this movie was the first time Pee-wee hit the big or small screen (I just assumed that his television show “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” had preceded the film); nor was I fully aware that this was the very first feature-length film directed by Tim Burton. Knowing these things puts the film in an interesting historical context. Oh yeah, and it’s a pretty enjoyable watch in and of itself.

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Hugo (2011)

Film #18: Hugo (2011)

Hugo is unusual fare for director Martin Scorsese, whose films usually revolve around violent crimes or troubled psyches (or, in the case of Cape Fear, both). Instead, Scorsese’s latest work is an about-face, a family mystery film following its 12 year-old title character in 1931 Paris. Hugo lives within the walls of a large railway station, a drab existence resulting from an accident that killed his father (Jude Law) and the negligence of his drunken uncle (Ray Winstone). Before his father, a clockmaker, died, he infected Hugo with the wonders of machinery, especially in the case of an old broken automaton. Hoping to find some sort of message from his late father, Hugo sets to work fixing the machine with the help of Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), the goddaughter of an angry shopkeeper (Ben Kingsley) who resents Hugo for his thievery.

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You Only Live Twice (1967)

Film #15: You Only Live Twice (1967)

James Bond film #05 (Sean Connery Bond)

Sean Connery is back as James Bond in the fifth film of the series, You Only Live Twice. SPECTRE’s back again, trying to goad the US and the Soviets into a war by eating up their astronauts with a big ole hungry spacecraft. Despite the fact that SPECTRE just stole two atomic bombs in Thunderball, the Americans and Soviets blame each other, so of course it takes level-headed Britain to take care of things. Noting that the mysterious hungry hungry spacecraft landed somewhere in the sea of Japan, they dispense their top agent to the land of the rising sun to see what’s up. During his mission, Bond finally comes face-to-face with SPECTRE’s number 1, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, as played by Donald Pleasance and as spoofed by Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers series.

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Thunderball (1965)

Film #15: Thunderball (1965)

James Bond film #04 (Sean Connery Bond)

After their absence from the third Bond movie Goldfinger, SPECTRE is back in Thunderball to screw with the world and try to kill James Bond in the process. This time, hook-nosed, eye-patched #2 Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi) hijacks two atomic warheads from NATO and threatens to destroy Miami unless he gets 100 million pounds in diamonds. It’s a classic hostage situation that must have reminded audiences of the contemporary Cuban Missile Crisis, and it’s a great return for an evil organization that uses Cold War fears to enrich themselves.

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