Friday, November 16, 2012

The Man With The Golden Gun




The theme song is really grim. I know some of you think "Die Another Day" is the worst Bond theme and maybe you're right but you at least have to listen to this one to compare.



There's some actually moderately interesting detective work in the first third of the movie, and Q is even put to work doing actual forensics. I thought, hey, this might not be too bad after all. I was wrong, of course.

Bond, with a gun pointed at a dude's crotch, delivers the line, "I'm now pointing the weapon directly at your groin. So speak or forever hold your piece." That's solid punnery!

When we get to Macau Bond goes to a casino where they're playing some weird Chinese game. I always appreciate the Bond films' attempts at showing local color. Then we meet the Bond girl, Mary Goodnight, played by Britt Ekland in full Ursula Andress mode (nice blonde hair, wears a bikini most of the time, has zero charisma on screen). They let her use her own voice which is a weird choice for this series, since she's supposed to be British but has a distinctive Scandinavian accent. More on Ms. Goodnight in a bit.

We go to Bangkok and then things get Japanese for some reason, where the villain has a dojo and the movie absolutely crawls to a screeching halt as Bond engages in some light kung fu or whatever. There's also a scene where he grabs two big handfuls of sumo wrestler asscheek because why wouldn't there be?

There are two girls there who are onscreen for about 2 minutes tops, but in those two minutes they manage to exhibit more pluck and self-regard than almost every other woman in all the Bond movies so far combined.

Nick Nack is a terrible idea on paper but Herve Villechaize does his best with the role, bringing to bear all the dignity he can muster as Hollywood's Favorite Little Person Joke. Plus, his French accent is boss.

I know it's conventional wisdom that Christopher Lee is the best part of this film but, eh. I tend to prefer my Bond villains a bit more theatrical (I thought the Blofelds got worse as they got more realistic) and Lee's performance is just too damn small for me.

Two words pretty well sum up this movie (or rather, one word plus two letters.) JW Pepper. The filmmakers loved him so much they brought him back for a second go-round and he is somehow even worse this time around. Moore gets so much shit for his comical Bond but, I mean, it's not his choice to have a character as irritating as that give running commentary throughout the movie's only big action setpiece.

That action setpiece is another boat chase, because this film is pretty much completely creatively bankrupt. It is less interesting than the one in Live and Let Die. The action in this movie sucks, I mean really sucks, although it is the movie with the corkscrew car jump. Now, that is a stupid scene, but in the days before CGI you have to give the filmmakers credit for pulling it off. Then you have to deduct all of those points because they score it to the sound of a slide whistle.

At the end of that chase, Scaramanga and Nick Nack present their surprise, which is that the old beater they are driving turns into a plane. And that seems cool on paper, but the execution is so mindnumbingly stupid, with a set of plane wings tied to their old-ass car, which then takes off.

There is a subplot about solar power which is obviously not in the book (not that I've read any of the Bond books, but you can tell that this plot runs orthogonal to the basic conceit of the film). This plot allows the stakes to be raised artificially (because otherwise it's just Bond chasing after an assassin) and also allows for a final act set piece in which Bond's life is in danger from some sort of doomsday-ish machine, because that's the damn formula at this point.

I don't have anything to say about the way Scaramanga is dispatched. It is painfully obvious just what gambit Bond is using to get the upper hand, and then he shoots him, and he's dead. Whatever.

Sexist/Racist - Ah, then there is this. Sexist, without question, because of the aforementioned Ms. Goodnight. She is, without a doubt, the stupidest Bond girl yet, and there have been a lot of stupid Bond girls. She's supposed to be some kind of agent or whatever but her entire function in the plot is to fuck everything up, constantly. After Bond kills Scaramanga, she *accidentally* sets his lair to blow up. So Bond has to fix the problem, and then she nearly fucks that up too. There is obviously a significant degree of sexism running through these movies in general (duh) but this character really feels like the culmination of that, like the filmmakers' views of women really bottomed out here and they wanted to prove just how stupid and useless they are. Ugh. This character is an abomination, and even if it weren't for JW Pepper Mark II and the lack of good action, I'd still hate this movie just for every second Mary Goodnight is in it.

Bond boinks two women - Goodnight (natch) and the secondary Bond girl whose name I don't remember but who is played by Maud Adams (who shows up multiple times in this series.)

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