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A View to a Kill (1985)

James Bond film #14 (Roger Moore Bond)

A View to a Kill (1985)

A View to a Kill marks the 7th and final appearance of Roger Moore as James Bond, Agent 007. It’s been a fun ride that’s lasted 12 years, but as anyone who watches this film could tell you, Moore is 57 years old and looking it. It’s time for some new blood, but not before Moore takes down Christopher Walken, co-starring as the rich and insane Max Zorin. Despite the promise that an unhinged Walken might suggest, A View to a Kill is as worn-out and tired as its leading man.

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Octopussy (1983)

James Bond film #13 (Roger Moore Bond)

Octopussy (1983)

The Bond series becomes a baker’s dozen with 1983’s Octopussy (13), a movie which may very well win the “Worst Title Ever” award. The film itself isn’t so great either, excelling only in setting and severely lacking in story. A Soviet general who’s something like a mix between Dr. Strangelove and Buck Turgidson is attempting to expand the USSR’s borders into Europe through a convoluted disarmament plan. Somehow, an Afghan prince and his unfortunately named business associate get involved, and Bond ends up dressing like a clown. If it weren’t for the absurd name, this subpar Bond film would be long-forgotten by now.

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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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Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)

Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)

Warning: This review contains spoilers for the first three Paranormal Activity films, but I’ve avoided spoiling too much about Paranormal Activity 4 itself (until the Stray Observations – read those at your own risk!)

Back when it first received a wide release in 2009, the original Paranormal Activity was a breath of fresh air. Compared to the 5-year old Saw series, for instance, its thrills and scares were generated not by the amount of blood onscreen but by the unseen terrors that it set off in our imaginations. The found-footage genre wasn’t exactly new at that point (having already been used in, for instance, REC and Cloverfield), but it hadn’t reached the seemingly ubiquitous status that it has now. Audiences responded and the film grossed nearly $200 million worldwide. Because of that huge success, there’s been a new Paranormal Activity movie released every October since, and 2012 is no different, bringing us Paranormal Activity 4.

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Moonraker (1979)

James Bond film #11 (Roger Moore Bond)

Moonraker (1979)

After the success of Star Wars in 1977, Cubby Broccoli decided to jump in on the emerging science fiction craze and choose Moonraker as the next Eon Productions Bond movie. Roger Moore returns for his fourth Bond film, investigating a stolen space shuttle that leads him to Hugo Drax of Drax Industries. Drax’s plan is very similar to Stromberg’s from The Spy Who Loved Me (10) – he plans to destroy humanity and repopulate the Earth as he sees fit. There are a few slight differences – instead of nukes, he’s planning on using poison, and instead of hiding out underwater, he’s planning on chilling in space during the apocalypse – but this déjà vu is symptomatic of Moonraker‘s tendency to coast on the coattails of its spectacular predecessor.

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The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

James Bond film #10 (Roger Moore Bond)

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

Released in 1977, The Spy Who Loved Me comes three years after The Man With the Golden Gun, the longest gap between Bond films so far. The series benefits from this brief hiatus – instead of feeling like the same movie we’ve seen nine times already, there’s something fresh to this film. Starting with an amazing pre-credits scene and never letting up, The Spy Who Loves Me brings  a new standard of excitement and artistry to a series 10 films deep.

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The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

James Bond film #09 (Roger Moore Bond)

The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

Roger Moore returns as James Bond in 1974’s The Man With the Golden Gun to uncover a devious plot by an assassin with a third nipple. It was  a year in which the effects of the energy crisis were still at the forefront of Britain’s collective consciousness, so Francisco Scaramanga’s plot involves using newly-developed solar energy to take control of the world. Though Moore made an impressive entrance to the series with Live and Let Die, Golden Gun plays like an attempt to emulate the Connery films. The resulting film is a disappointing follow-up and the worst Bond film in the series so far.

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Live and Let Die (1973)

James Bond film #08 (Roger Moore Bond)

Live and Let Die (1973)

James Bond is dead. Long live James Bond.

Bond never really died, of course (the closest he ever came was when he faked it in You Only Live Twice), but with the conclusion of the Connery era, we begin a new chapter in the series with Roger Moore as our sexy super spy. While George Lazenby’s stint mostly stuck to the conventions of Connery’s Bond, Moore ushers in a radical departure with Live and Let Die, a 70s-tastic blaxpoitation film. In it, Bond uncovers a plot involving a Caribbean dictator and the heroin trade, taking him to such locations as Harlem and New Orleans and causing him run-ins with oracles and Voodoo Loas.

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Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

James Bond film #07 (Sean Connery Bond)

Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

After George Lazenby’s solo run as James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli were told to get Connery back in the suit at any cost – and that cost ended up being 1.25 million pounds, an amount that equals out to about $32 million in today’s dollars. Having spent so much on their lead actor (in fact, the highest salary to an actor for a role ever at the time), the pair of producers aimed to recreate the commercial success of 1964’s Goldfinger, hiring that film’s director (Guy Hamilton), using Shirley Bassey to sing the title song again, and originally centering the story around Auric Goldfinger’s twin. After Broccoli dreamt of recluse Howard Hughes getting replaced by an imposter, however, the plot was changed to that fantastical idea, creating the character of Willard Whyte and setting most of the story in Las Vegas.

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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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