December 3rd, 2002
I haven't made any fresh posts this evening because I was out at the cinema. The positive word on Die Another Day persuaded me to catch a Bond film on the big screen for the first time since Timothy Dalton played the role.
The verdict: not bad, and better than the last couple of Brosnan Bonds, but no classic. I did like Brosnan's grittier take on the role, especially in the first half of the film. Toby Stephens and Rick Yune tucked into the roles of the villain and his sidekick with appropriate relish (not to mention a side order of ham in Stephens' case). Rosamund Pike was simply gorgeous, outshining even Halle Berry, and Judi Dench and John Cleese were as solid and reliable as ever. Berry did what she could with a pretty thankless role. (No way does Jinx merit a spin-off film, on the basis of what we saw here.) The story used this time was the basic villain-has-satellite-which-can-rain-down-destruction theme, but worked well enough for the most part. The sword fight scene was terrific, despite the presence of Madonna.
Talking of whom: I don't care if she performed the (awful) theme song, Madonna should just accept that she's not a good actress and get the hell off our screens. The editing of some of the action scenes was pretty poor in places, with shifts into slow motion here or a "bullet time"-style shift in camera angle there which only served to keep me from following the action. The biggest problem for me was the quality of the special effects. A distinctly mixed bag, with one paragliding scene looking horribly fake and several scenes stretching my credulity beyond the limit as regards the way the laws of physics supposedly work in the film. My least favourite special effect was the invisible car. I know Bond films aren't exactly hard SF, but Q's account of how it worked simply made no sense.
The bottom line is that the Connery days aren't coming back, even now that Pierce Brosnan has a decent grip on the role. I'll probably catch the next film as a DVD rental.
(Finally, I must mention that I abhorred the last scene with Moneypenny. It was a rotten way to treat the character with the most thankless role in any Bond film.)