Mockingjay: Part 1

Turns a political struggle into something thrillingly personal.

The Beat Beneath My Feet

A toe-tapping indie that is, quite simply lovely.


An extraordinary true tale made disappointingly ordinary.

The Battle of the Five Armies

"Why does it hurt so much?" Because the rest of it felt so real.


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Unsung Movie Santas: Roger Moore

Yes. In 2004, this happened.

Director Dan Chambers - who once made a cartoon in which every creature inhabiting the seven layers of hell had the face of Roger Moore - convinced the world's worst 007 to play Santa Claus in a short seasonal film for UNICEF (Roger has done lots of UNICEF work), titled The Fly Who Loved Me.

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Moonraker title - BlogalongaBondBlogalongaBond. One Bond film a month until Bond 23 turns up.

Moonraker. The film that actually manages to make less sense than its meaningless title song. No-one knows what a Moonraker is. Or what it does. Or how anything can go “like the Moonraker goes". And no-one really cares.

Following The Man with the Golden Gun – the Moonraker of 1974 – it fell to Lewis Gilbert to fart out this turd of unscientific cackwaffle. And so we got Moonraker – the Moonraker of 1979.

A film more concerned with sex, one-liners and lasers than anything resembling a plot, Christopher Wood spent his time shoehorning in references to The Magnificent Seven and Close Encounters of the Third Kind rather than writing a script. And it shows. Boy, does it show.

Jumping from one incoherent action sequence to the next, Richard Graydon and Jake Lombard’s stuntwork is astonishing stuff, but doesn’t offer any emotional pay-off. Every time Bond escapes a life-threatening situation, you’re not elated or even a little bit relieved. Instead, you end up stabbing yourself in the face with a plastic fork, shouting “WHY WON’T YOU DIE?”

It’s no surprise then, that the one redeeming aspect of Moonraker is the fact that it ends. After the introduction, in which Roger Moore falls out of a plane without a parachute and (spoiler) DOESN’T die, the 126 interminable minutes are begging for a decent finale. Or any finale at all. And Moonraker almost manages it – in many ways, it’s the most famous ending to a Bond film of all time.

Which is why I wasn’t surprised to find this informative leaflet in my special edition DVD box set. Right next to the rubber tube and canister of carbon monoxide.

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BlogalongaBond The Spy Who Lived Me Title

BlogalongaBond. One Bond film a month until Bond 23 turns up.

Glang. Glang-a-lang-a-lang-a-lang-a-lang-a-lang. 

Given the existence of Alan Partridge's BlogalongaBond entry, there's almost nothing left to say about The Spy Who Loved Me. Easily the best of the Moore era, the 1977 epic of silly proportions has nothing to do with Fleming's book (a fascinating female-narrated tale). Instead, it follows You Only Live Twice and throws everything at the screen, from spectacular ski stunts (see George Lazenby's guide to skiing) to submarine-eating tankers and underwater cars.

But alongside the nonsense, (BAFTA and Oscar-nominated) director Lewis Gilbert fashions some impressively serious moments. There's the eerie sequence in the Pyramids, where ancient architecture is overlaid with green lights and loud synths, and the bit where Bond snaps about his dead wife, Tracy. At another point, he casually knocks a guy off a building without hesitation - an unexpectedly cold move that almost tricks you into thinking Roger Moore is a good 007 - providing you've never seen any of his other Bond films.

Apart from the technical brilliance and Roger Moore's surprisingly good performance, The Spy Who Loved Me brought something else iconic to the 007 franchise: Jaws. Richard Kiel's towering villain adds a much-needed sense of danger to events. Even at an interview at Birmingham's The Electric cinema a few years ago, he was intimidating. And that was after he gave someone in the audience a hug.

So it wasn't a surprise to discover this informative pamphlet in my The Spy Who Loved Me DVD box...

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The Man with the Golden Gun title

BlogalongaBond. One Bond film a month until Bond 23 turns up next year.

It's 1974. Moonraker doesn't exist yet. But Guy Hamilton doesn't let that stop his own attempt at making the worst Bond movie of all time. And he's astonishingly successful, producing a solid gold piece of turdy cackwaffle. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you The Man with the Golden Gun - The Moonraker of 1974.

The worst part of watching the film? Knowing that they had a great book to base the whole thing on. Adaptations don't have to stick to the words on the page, but when a novel is ready-made for a film treatment, why create something inferior from scratch?

Published posthumously in 1965, Ian Fleming's thriller was a proper old-school spy yarn. It saw an old, out-of-shape Bond return from his MIA status after You Only Live Twice's failed mission. Dazed, confused, and convinced he was a Japanese fisherman, Bond was swiftly taken in by the KGB, brainwashed and sent back to London to assassinate M.

Whether Fleming finished it before dying or not, it's a corker of an opening that begs to be made into a film - why Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz chose to leave it out of the script is a source of constant bafflement. His brain unscrambled, Bond is assigned to track down Francisco Paco "Pistols" Scaramanga, last seen somewhere in the Caribbean. Not because Scaramanga sent a bullet to MI6 (NONSENSE NONSENSE NONSENSE) but because M reckons he's the right-sized kind of target for 007 to get his mojo back.

What follows is 150 pages of 007 sitting around a half-finished hotel, working his way into Scaramanga's inner circle and waiting for the chance to shoot him. With this ridiculously brilliant source material in mind (perhaps my favourite of Fleming's Bond books), I was unsurprised to find this informative pamphlet addressed to Albert R. Broccoli in my DVD case...

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BlogalongaBond. One Bond film a month until Bond 23 turns up in November next year.

Not content with cheesifying James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever, director Guy Hamilton returned once again to take the formula established by Goldfinger to unnatural extremes with one of the worst films in the entire Bond canon: The Man with the Golden Gun.

Before that, however, he made Live and Let Die. And it was quite a lot of run really. If by fun, you mean camp, silly and obviously made in the 1970s.

How can you deduce its 1973 vintage? Well, aside from the clothes, the Paul McCartney & Wings theme song and the fact that it stars Roger Moore as 007 (before his one-liners completely took over the scripts), Live and Let Die is marked out as a product of its time by the number of Afros wandering around on set.

Of course, these Afros are attached to people. And these people are, more often than not, black. It was clearly a great step up in equality for black actors to be seen playing parts that weren't just Henchman#3 or Man who Sails Boat. With its entertaining use (or perpetuation) of blaxploitation stereotypes, you could almost say Live and Let Die was the first truly politically correct film of the decade. Which is why I wasn't surprised to find this empowering pamphlet in my special edition 007 DVD box.

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BlogalongaBond. One Bond film a month until Bond 23 in November 2012.

Ah, the 1970s. The decade when Bond lost its way. Bringing back Goldfinger director Guy Hamilton and the familiar (i.e. old) face of Sean Connery, EON did a complete U-turn away from the daring notes of On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Instead of character and gritty violence, they ramped up the jokes - but these aren't good jokes we're talking about. These are the kind that your drunk aunt tells at a wedding, which you can just about tolerate until she starts joy-riding a moon buggy across Vegas.

Yes, Diamonds are Forever is the film that sees 007 become boring, the one-liners become unbearable, and Blofeld become a woman. Then, halfway through, it turns out the film isn't about diamonds anyway; it's about a giant laser in space. (They could have at least given it a title that made sense, like Lasers Are Forever.) The glitzy garbage is almost enjoyable on a trashy level, but it's best summed up 15 minutes in, when Bond hides from an enemy by pretending to make love to himself in a dark alley. This is what Britain's top spy has come to. It almost makes you look forward to the arrival of Roger Moore. If, you know, it wasn't Roger Moore.

Naturally, this shiny pile of neon-covered bilge comes with two of the most laughable villains of the entire Bond series: Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd. Bizarrely, these two hitmen are never seen taking instructions from anyone - the closest they get to an employee seems to be providing regular business for Morton Slumber's funeral parlour, which is a front for Blofeld's diamond smuggling ring.

With this ludicrous subplot in mind, I wasn't surprised to discover this pamphlet in the box of my special edition Diamonds Are Forever DVD...

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BlogalongaBond. One Bond film a month until Bond 23 in November 2012.

With Sean Connery officially too old and bored with 007, it was time for a new, younger Bond, someone with all the charisma of an Australian model. Enter George Lazenby, everyone's fifth favourite James Bond.

Sticking closely to Fleming's original book, On Her Majesty's Secret Service is a notable departure from the formula that erupted into silliness with You Only Live Twice. Dawdling around for its epic 140-minute runtime, OHMSS covered everything from dodgy hypnotism and brilliant, character-building romance to kilts and Telly Savalas' earlobes.

But Peter Hunt's Bond film brings something far more exciting to the franchise than a sneaky glimpse of George Lazenby's inner thighs: skiing. After hanging around in the Swiss Alps for 90 minutes, Hunt suddenly hits us with six minutes of glorious snow-bound action, which are so brilliant that the series spent years scrambling to repeat such superb set pieces. Which explains why I found this letter inside my DVD box:

Dear Mr. Lazenby,

I've always been a big fan of your work, ever since I first saw you in those Fry's Chocolate adverts - you're easily my fifth favourite James Bond.

In On Her Majesty's Secret Service, I loved your hunky physique, sexy kilt and the way you said "That never happened to the other fellow!" but your skiing skills really raised my eyebrows. Could you teach me how to ski? It might come in handy one day...

Yours with eyebrows raised,

Roger Moore (aged 47 - I really am this old)

Inevitably, this instructional pamphlet was underneath...

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The Bond 23 release date has been moved from November 2012 to Friday 26th October. But while that heralds earlier profits for Sony and means we get Sam Mendes' take on Daniel Craig's 007 before the US, it's catastrophic news for something more important: BlogalongaBond, the monthly Bond mass-blogging series, which has now been thrown off schedule. Thunderbollocks.

Indeed, the internet was in total chaos as soon as Sony made the announcement:




Stay tuned for further news on what this means for BlogalongaBond. Here's hoping we can all skip Quantum of Solace. Or Die Another Day. 

In the meantime, get back to building your own volcano lair



BlogalongaBond. One Bond film a month until Bond 23 comes along in November 2012.

After Thunderball's underwater bilge, Bond faced a challenge: how do you top nuclear weapons and sharks? The answer: go to Japan.

It's a bold move, which distracts from the same old formula with exotic scenery, fat men throwing 007 through paper-thin walls, and Bond's impressive Japanese linguistic skills.

"You forget, Moneypenny, I got a first in Oriental Languages at Oxford," says Sean Connery, before going on to spend the entire film speaking in English. With a thick Scottish accent.

But while Bond's How to Speak Japanese guide would be an easy read (Step 1: Look like Leonard Nimoy), You Only Live Twice did something far more important for the Bond franchise. Not only did it show Blofeld's face for the first time (spoiler: he looks like Donald Pleasance), it also gave Bond's nemesis a new home: a hollowed-out volcano. And that volcano became one of the most iconic images associated with 007. 

Which would explain why I found this authentic Japanese haiku sitting inside the box of my special edition You Only Live Twice DVD:

Blofeld, you are cool.

Your volcano rules. Tell me

how to build one too.


And, inevitably, underneath that haiku was an instructional pamphlet that went a little something like this...

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BlogalongaBond. One Bond film a month until Bond 23 turns up in November next year.

We all know Thunderball is a bit of underwater guff. Yes, the ocean fight sequences were groundbreaking and bad girl Fiona Vulpe (Luciana Paluzzi) is a steaming hot sex crumpet, but let's be honest: Terence Young’s third Bond movie is a load of watery cackwaffle.

So it’s no surprise that a remake came along in 1983. While Roger Moore was dipping his fingers into Octopussy, Kevin McClory was following through on his lawsuit against Ian Fleming/United Artists over the origins of the Thunderball screenplay. The result? Never Say Never Again.

The new take on the Thunderball story (SPECTRE steal nuclear weapons and hold the world to ransom) turned out to be a box office success, taking $160 million - better than Thunderball’s $141m. So just in case someone else comes along wanting to make a few bob by tampering with the official Bond canon, here’s what Never Say Never Again teaches us about how to remake a Bond film.

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