No you didn’t accidentally travel through time while microwaving that burrito. Today is in fact November 21st. Pardon the delay.
11/12/12 GoldenEye (1995)
As a disclaimer, I love Tina’s “GoldenEye” title theme; it’s sexy and has that Shirley Bassey class while not sounding as dated — maybe a little dated, though. That song’s writers, U2’s Bono and The Edge, are decidedly terrible teaming with composer Eric Serra. Cheap echoey effects sound like they were ripped straight from the “Beat It” video, and the litany of extra overproduced filler belongs on an old X-Files episode. 1995 never sounded so 1987.
Thomas Newman and Adele may have spoiled this generation of Bond fans, but Skyfall’s focus on 007’s irrelevance had already been done seventeen years prior. Judi Dench, in her debut as M, thinks Bond is outdated. Even colleague-turned-traitor Alec Trevelyan pokes fun at James’ one-liners and asks whether all the booze and sex drown out the screams of the people he’s killed. Definitely not a Roger Moore movie. Any time Sean Bean shares screen time with Brosnan, also in his debut here, my excitement is piqued. Their chemistry — which changes… shall we say halfway through? — is thrilling. However like nearly every non-From Russia MacGuffin, GoldenEye’s plot is boring and stupid if a bit Fight Clubbian in its philosophy; I appreciated Trevelyan’s plans to destroy British infrastructure, that the GoldenEye superweapon was only part of the plan. And Alec himself, Agent 006 and MI6 traitor, is a Red Grant for the 90’s generation.
Xenia Onatopp may very well be the best of the Brosnan Bond girls — yes, including Halle’s awkward turn as Jinx. Famke Janssen and her deadly thighs are a cheesy but sexy combination, and her misogynistic turnons are a nice touch, and a great echo of what has morphed into a very disturbing 007 stereotype: kiss kiss, bang bang, right? Good girl Natalya did nothing for me, doing little more than scream, fuck, and punch a few computer keys; she’s the epitome of the version of Bond that’s come before this and indicative of the character’s inherent problems. To make it worse, the script’s quadruple-teamed effort puts a magnifying glass above 007 and yet never burns him. Calling out James as a relic of the Cold War (in a film where Soviet conspirators are still villains) and then giving Bond license to tear through town on a tank is oxymoronic at best. GoldenEye shouts its high budget effects at you with wanton destruction and exploding set pieces that do little more than give characters a playground to avoid or climb up or shoot at. Compared with Martin Campbell’s quick, slick pacing in GoldenEye’s excellent opening sequence, the rest is almost high treason.
And yet despite the weak writing, I pity Brosnan here as much as I applaud his ability to rise above bad material. More importantly (and more personally), I actually like him. Maybe it’s been long enough since Die Another Day. Or maybe it’s just the way he clicks that Walther PPK.
11/14/12 Spaceballs (1987)
I’ll be the first to trumpet my distaste of spoof and parody. That includes ‘How It Should Have Ended’ videos. I hate the suspension of disbelief those shorts try to rise above. Hey this isn’t real so why take it seriously? Better question: Why watch film if you can only enjoy it ironically? That mentality reminds me of Matt Zoller Seitz’s encounter with From Russia With Love in a Manhattan theater packed with young people. Kids these days.
Or maybe I’m just no fun? We’ll leave it to science for any conclusive answers.
As awe-inspiring as that Blockade Runner chase in A New Hope is, ya gotta love Spaceball’s opening gag with the mile-long ship. Too good. Pizza the Hutt is as amusing as he is obvious, but that’s an even break. I laughed out loud very little but I did enjoy it. And really, Spaceballs is not so much a Star Wars parody as it is a parody of pop sci-fi in general — Star Trek, Alien, Planet of the Apes. Brooks’ President Skroob epitmozies those real-ish elements of life that turn up in science fiction to an appropriately absurd degree: threesomes and ineptitude and greed.
Oh and Yogurt’s bit on merchandising? From where I’m sitting in 2012: prophetic.