Countdown to Skyfall

The James Bond Files

After wading through the MGM bankruptcy hiatus, pre-production, principal photography, marketing and release anticipation, the latest James Bond adventure is finally upon us. (If you live outside of the U.S., there’s actually a good chance that this wait ended a week or two ago, but we’ll let that go.) Skyfall hits theaters early in IMAX on November 8 and then in wide theatrical release on November 9. Now you have a chance to finally see the brand new, completely original Bond. Sort of. One of the great things about Bond movies is they have a certain level of familiarity. If made well, you can expect some common elements that make it feel like a quintessential Bond film. Sure, we all like originality, but you can trust almost any James Bond film to cover familiar territory. Here’s a James Bond history lesson and how it relates to the upcoming film.

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The James Bond Files

James Bond is no longer merely a name, nor even just a character. James Bond is an international cultural icon. His legend extends from one corner of the planet to the other, and 007’s world-wide popularity has seldom waned in half a century. Over the years, hundreds of companies have vied to get a piece of the lucrative James Bond pie by releasing merchandise and memorabilia designed to capitalize on the spies’ craze. In some cases this yielded tremendous collectibles on whose value a monetary price cannot really be placed; despite what those greedy jerks at eBay say. I NEED that Oddjob nosehair trimmer dammit! Anywho, that brings us to the other side of the coin, in which some rather shoddy and sometimes incomprehensible wares are pushed on fanatics. Let’s take a look at some of the things you’d better buy us for Christmas or else.

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The James Bond Files

For diehard fans of the James Bond franchise, each and every film is sacrosanct in some small fashion or another. Even those titles that flirt shamelessly with being totally unwatchable will offer at least a kernel of merit for those willing to hunt for it. Yes, even Die Another Day. That being said, an obvious hierarchy exists to stratify these films in terms of both excellence and their overall significance to the franchise. The natural assumption here is that, much like the geological methodology on which this metaphor is predicated, the strata composed of the oldest material would be of most significance. In other words, a Bond film’s recency is inversely proportional to its importance within the franchise. The fact is that one of the franchise’s most important films was released thirty-three years after its inaugural entry. In 1995, Goldeneye relaunched the James Bond film legacy in tremendous fashion. It offered unique balance between Bond’s past (the title being a reference to Ian Fleming’s Jamaica home in which he wrote most of the novels) and his future. Among many, Bond connoisseur and novice alike, Goldeneye is well-regarded, so assigning it underrated status is wholly inaccurate. However, what does often get overlooked is how critical the success of this one movie was to ensuring the series’ continuation.

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The James Bond Files

No single character that spans more than twenty films can do it on his or her own, and James Bond is no exception. While James Bond is unquestionably the focus of the Bond films, he is supported by various key characters over the years. Some of these characters have been essential in setting him up on his missions, while others have been there to offer comic relief or general background. While James Bond is the only character who has appeared in every single James Bond movie ever made, certain characters have helped in out in almost every one. In fact, if you’re talking the legacy of James Bond, some of the actors behind the supporting characters have been featured in the most movies over the years. When the Bond franchise was rebooted in 2006 with Casino Royale, some of these characters were lost completely while others were left to be introduced in later films, but they have been as essential to the franchise as the gadgets, guns and girls that change from film to film

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The James Bond Files

If you want to make the perfect Vesper, you’ll follow James Bond’s off-the-cuff recipe with the key elements of Gordon’s gin, vodka, Kina Lillet, and slice of lemon peel. If you want to make a memorable James Bond movie, you’ll include the key elements in the franchise’s recipe which has been honed over the past 50 years. Sure, there are plenty of Bond films that have deviated from the full recipe. Some elements have been left out of films intentionally to reset the Bond actor (I’m looking at you, Live and Let Die). Other times they have been downplayed for a fresh view of the series (such as 2006’s Casino Royale reboot). And sadly, there have been moments when the missing elements were left out completely or flubbed (like the sometimes awkward Quantum of Solace). However, every good Bond movie has most – if not all – of these key elements that make up the great recipe for the entire franchise.

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The James Bond Files

World domination is not a solo enterprise. In fact, all the doomsday devices and stolen nuclear warheads on the planet will get you nowhere if you don’t have a top-notch inhuman resources department. The villains of the James Bond universe seem to understand this better than anyone. Of the many recurring tropes of the Bond franchise, apart from the fast cars, sexy women, and why-don’t-I-have-one-of-those gadgets, is the parade of sinister sidekicks that aid the various villains in their heinous hijinx. Revisiting pretty much the entire series of late, thanks to the gorgeous new Bond 50 Blu-ray set, it was high time we ranked our favorite henchmen. They may all be #2’s, but who managed to rank #1?

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The James Bond Files

Not only are FSR’s resident Bond nerds (specifically yours truly and my partner in espionage, Brian Salisbury) gearing up for the release of Skyfall in November, but we are also rubbing our hands together with anticipation of opening our new Bond 50 Blu-ray box sets that came out this week. Since we’re in the movie news business, we can watch all 22 of these films, we can chalk up the 40+ hours of movie watching to a full work week. We bet you’re feeling an extreme amount of jealousy right now (or an extreme amount of pity for us… not quite sure which). But as we prepare to watch all the James Bond movies again, we’ll also reflect upon the different actors who have played James Bond in the past. Here’s a quick breakdown of the legendary (and one not-so-legendary) Bond actors over the years. Fortunately, since Daniel Craig has signed on for some additional post-Skyfall movies, this piece should still be relevant for a while, and that’s a valuable commodity in the ever-changing world of the Internet.

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The James Bond Files

 This is a glorious year, and not just because we’re like 56% sure that the Mayans are incorrect with their calculation that the world will end. Their apocalyptic inaccuracy notwithstanding, this November, the sky will fall. For this, ladies and junior mints, is the year of Skyfall. Any year that boasts the release of a new James Bond film is one of note. But the turmoil experienced by MGM, which jeopardized this celebrated franchise’s future, it’s especially exciting to be but mere months away from the release of the twenty-third installment. Here at FSR, we are Bond nerds. More specifically Mr. Kevin Carr and myself are absolute James Bond freaks. We will therefore be celebrating the impending release of Skyfall every week with various articles about the Bond universe until that fateful November 9th. To kick things off, we thought we’d help you hold your own against Bond nerds you may encounter in your own life. The great thing about these films is that no matter your level of cinephilia, if you’ve resided on planet Earth throughout a goodly portion of your life you are bound to have seen at least one or two of 007’s movies. We’d even hazard you’ve liked a couple. However, whenever you cross paths with someone as obsessed with Britain’s deadliest cinematic spy as Kevin and I are, calling yourself a fan is an invitation for interrogation. Immediately they will begin firing trivia questions at you designed to test your Bond mettle. Here are a […]

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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