James Bond 25: Craig’s 007 so far.

Daniel Craig will return as James Bond, and the next film is set for a November 8th, release date. The film will reportedly be Daniel Craig’s last as James Bond, but one has to wonder, what direction will the series take in this new installment, and going forward?

While many of the earlier films had a self-contained nature, with little linking them apart from Bond himself, his supporting staff at MI6 (M, Moneypenny, Q, and occasionally Bill Tanner and Felix Leiter) occasionally the plans of Blofeld and SPECTRE (in the 60’s) and of course your basic Bond formula of “Martinis, girls, and guns,” the Craig films attempted to start (more or less) fresh (as Judi Dench was still M, with no explanation as to how this fit into anything), with Bond being a newly minted 00 who gradually grew into the more familiar spy, and with a somewhat more grittier, more back-to-basics approach than the space weapons, crazy stunts, and over the top villains that often appeared in the earlier films . CASINO showed him becoming somewhat more ‘sophisticated’ due to Vesper’s guidance…from this:

 

to this:

But it also hardens him, when it turns out Vesper had been blackmailed into stealing the Casino winnings.

Although by the end of Quantum of Solace,  as the title suggests, he at least partially understands what happened (hence the title).

In “Skyfall” he’s become a somewhat more familiar Bond, cracking quips and doing impossible feats, as well as a sense of class, pulling his cuffs up after a huge jump…

 

Although he’s kind of reverted to his early Casino Royale self after getting shot and lying low for a few months…

But he’s pretty much back to his prime halfway through.

Skyfall of course is notable in that it introduces Bond’s supporting cast of MI6, apart from M and Tanner, as well as a new Male M, Mallory, played by Ralph Fiennes. Moneypenny and Q in particular are far less office-bound than their predecessors (although Desmond’s Q did occasionally equip Bond on the field, especially in “Licence to Kill” where the roles of M and Moneypenny were minimalized).

 

Of course the film most notably killed off Judi Dench’s Q, pretty much removing the only real narrative link to the previous continuity (As Judi Dench’s M was also Brosnan’s)

 

 

SPECTRE of course introduced the Bond villain organization of the 60’s back into Bond’s world, and also (retroactively) ties the villanous plots of CASINO, QUANTUM and even the seemingly self-contained SKYFALL into the machinations of one man: Hans Oberhauser, Bond’s spiteful stepbrother who faked his death, built a criminal organization and did it all in part to spite his stepbrother. Of course, he also uses a new name, Ernst Stravro Blofeld.

 

This is in part accomplished by bringing back Mr. White, one of the players in the “organization” established in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, and called “Quantum” in the latter film, turning out to be SPECTRE all along.

Asked by Mr. White to protect his daughter, Madeline Swann, Bond and Swann end up falling for each other and foiling Blofeld’s plans, but also Bond, figuring he’s got something “better to do” spares Blofeld’s life and rides off with her into the streets of London in his  rebuilt Aston Martin, possibly into retirement.

 

 

But with Craig returning, retiring’s not something his Bond is really good at. He tried in Casino Royale, and we all know how that turned out.

And of course, SPECTRE leaves Blofeld alive, and the last time in the series Bond left Blofeld alive (although it’s possible he considered him dead) and tried to settle down, it ended badly, in an event often brought up in later Bonds as a bit of a continuity nod-the death of his new wife, Tracy.

Dialing back a bit, there’s something familiar about the framing of OHMSS and SPECTRE’s endings here….

Although Bond 25’s still a bit way off, I’ll continue to offer more speculation into where the general Bond series direction is going, and how this might close Craig’s Bond ‘story’, perhaps paving the way for another reboot at some point (Perhaps even kill off Bond somehow? I’m not a big fan of the ‘code name’ theory-a fan theory cooked up to explain the changes in Bond actors and ages, like how a 60ish Roger Moore suddenly became 40something Timothy Dalton-so I’d rather something like him passing the torch does not happen, or the “this never happened to the other fella” quip) but rather a mostly fresh reboot like CASINO). Could Bond beyond Craig stick with the same basic continuity, but just change the actor without any explanation as the old films did?

Jurassic Park in Review: Jurassic World Part I

In 2013, perhaps emboldened by the recent Disney sale of Star Wars and the promise of new films, Universal Studios began to work on briging back one of their big franchises: Jurassic Park. Although the last two films had been set on people getting stuck on the “factory floor” island Isla Sorna. However, the new film “Jurassic World” would return to the concept that started it all, and on the original island.

Despite the inciddents in the original trilogy, at some point Ingen-after the passing of John Hammond-came under the control of Masareti, who like Hammond, is well-meaning but a bit naive about things. Using what’s left of the original park’s Dinosaurs, he succesfully rebuilds the park (although on the other end of the island, apparentally, leaving the old Visitor’s center abandoned and decaying)….and manages to run it sucessfully…for a time.

The concept of a Jurassic Park that actually was completed and functions was also the idea behind the simulation Operation Genesis, which came out in the early 00’s, during the height of the Sims/tycoon genre of games.

 

 

Paying a visit over the holiday season are the the sons of the Mitchell family, who are being sent to the island with the mother’s sister, Claire Dearing (Operations manager of the Park), to watch over them. Similar to the first film with Tim and Lex, this is actually in part to help them cope with their parent’s divorce.

The film begins with a creature quickly hatching from an egg, alongside another egg, looking somewhat like the Raptor hatchling from the first film….but this thing isn’t a Raptor….well, sort of.

We then cut to a scary-looking foot, but one that turns out to be simply that of a bird; once again selling the Dinosaur/bird connection first established in the original film.

Image result for Bird foot Jurassic world

 

….and then an unusual setting for a Jurassic Park film-a snowy house. It’s around Christmas, and we meet the two kids of the film, Zach and Gray.  They’re sort of similar to Tim and Lex thematically-their parents are getting a divorce, so they’re being sent to the island over Christmas vacation, with the mom (Played by Judy Greer, who played a  divorcee in Ant-Man later that same summer) jokingly telling the kids to ‘run’ if something chases them. Now that’s some advice that’s going to come in handy…and of course they’ll be in the care of her sister/their aunt, Claire, who it turns out pretty much runs the day-to-day operations of the island-also reflecting in part, Hammond’s relationship with Tim and Lex in the first film.

Since this is a fully-fledged Jurassic Park, it has it’s own ferry from the mainland, instead of the helicopter from the first film. Gray states that there were “eight species” when the Park first opened, which might be a slight reference to the number of different Dinosaurs seen in the original Jurassic Park film (although off by one). The film never really explains what happened to the Dinosaurs of the original park, with the exception of the Tyrannosaur who the directors and writers confirm is the same as the original, and even given a name (off-screen) “Rexy.” I’m guessing these are mostly new Dinosaurs, as it’s stated that they’re all female, which means that Wu might’ve gone back to the drawing board and gotten rid of the frog DNA (or used something else) that caused the mutation. Except for Rexy, but presumabely she’s the only one of her kind on the island.

Isla Sorna is also not brought up at all, despite being the setting of the last two films (although there a few nods, here and there, to the other sequels).

 

Here we also meet Zara, Aunt Claire’s sort of secretary, who clearly doesn’t want to deal with these kids. She’s also at the core of one of the film’s more controversial moments, later on.

And of course we get the ‘gate’, supposed to be the same one, but rebuilt, relocated, and placed on a monorail track.

And we get our first real look at the Park’s main center, which seems to have gotten some design tips from Disney and Universal’s own parks-a bunch of fancy restaurants-including a Margaritaville!(more on that later) and booths.

 

Soon, we’re introduced to Claire, our heroine, although she initially comes off as a bit cold and unlikable, at first. She’s giving some stockholders a bit of a private tour of the Hammond creation lab, JW’s genetics chamber (It’s presumed that, unlike the original park, that most of the Dinos here are bred on the island-it seems like a much larger operation than JP’s small hatchery anyway).

 

Speaking of said hatchery, we meet Jurassic World’s only familiar (non-Dinosaur) face-Dr.Henry Wu.

Wu of course was the chief geneticist in the original movie, who cast doubts on Ian Malcolm’s reasoning about the Dinosaurs being able to breed.  Despite his being wrong-and being involved with the troubled first park-he’s been re-hired, and is breeding a new ‘designed’ Dinosaur, Indominous Rex, since people are apparently getting bored of the same ol’ Dinos (JW’s apparently been open for around a decade according to some of the supplemental stuff for the movie, but I gotta echo what Owen says later on: “They’re Dinosaurs. Wow enough”). Of course Wu does have his own motives for creating this ‘new’ Dinosaur.

Next we get the innovation center, a new Visitor’s center but far more high-tech, with holographic dinosaurs and touchscreens instead of bones.  It also sees the return of Mr. DNA, the cartoon mascot from JP’s short film on creating the dinosaurs (and also mascot of pretty much every tutorial in a Jurassic Park video game).

Claire visits her nephews in the center, but it’s obvious she’s completely out of touch.

We next meet the Park’s control room, with Lowery and Vivian, who function largely as the film’s comic relief (and they’re certainly more likable than the original control room crew from JP, especially Nedry), while also functioning as a bit of meta-commentary on the film itself. Lowery in particular, is frustrated that the park is a bit too commercial-an accusation levied at the first film’s product tie-ins, especially the cafe scene (A criticism-well, at least of that scene as there’s no denying JP is a major universal cash cow-that I debunked a bit in my JP review a few months back). He’s also a fan of the original park, which Claire finds in bad taste because of the deaths involved-and wears a JP T-shirt. He figures since the I. Rex is sponsored by Verizon Wireless, next thing is that they’re going to let the corporations name some new Dinosaurs, like “Pepsisaurus”. He also refers to the Dinos and mess on his desk (Well, that’s one thing he shares with Nedry) as a ‘living system to keep the system from collapsing into anarchy’-which seems like something Malcolm would say.

Which is fitting, since he’s reading Malcolm’s book (It’s unclear whether this is the one Eric was referring too in the last film).

We also learn that despite being a tighter operation than the original (which was still being developed anyway and never opened) Jurassic World’s got it’s ocassional glitches. Instead of the electrical fences of the original park (as well as bits of Isla Sorna), The Dinosaurs are implanted with ‘invisible fence’ implants, which unfortunately get shorted out when certain Dinosaurs butt heads-literally, as we learn with the Pachycephalosaurus. (It seems that with the Raptors, Mosasaurus, Rex and I. Rex, they’re not taking too many changes, and we clearly see both fences, concrete or unbreakable glass surrounding them.).

Next we see Simon Masarani, Ingen’s current head, and like Hammond, doesn’t really care as much about the bottom line as much as people having fun. He also comes off as slightly less naive about the dangers of a Dino park. This scene-set to pretty much the same music as the old copter scene from the original (What I like to call the Park’s “Adventure” theme) also confirms that Hammond died, and apparently didn’t completely go from Capitalist to Naturalist entirely as Malcolm stated in The Lost World, as he asked Masarani to pretty much rebuild his “dream”. Kind of reminds me of his old qoute….

 

You’re right, you’re absolutely right. Hiring Nedry was a mistake, that’s obvious. We’re over-dependent on automation, I can see that now. Now, the next time everything’s correctable. Creation is an act of sheer will. Next time it’ll be flawless!”

I guess he didn’t take Malcolm or Ellie’s advice to heart-especially this from Malcolm:

If you want to leave your name on something, fine. But stop putting it on other people’s headstones.

Masarani flies over to the I.Rex’s Paddock, and takes a look at the new Dinosaur. To quote JP once again…ou stare at him…and he just stares right back. (Although I’m pretty sure I.Rex here is a she).

Although he hasn’t seen too much of what she can do, Masarani is somewhat alarmed by a few signs of problems with the Dinosaur-it’s thermal vision, the near-loss of a worker, it’s cannibalism of it’s sibling, and cracked glass. Like the Raptors in the first film, this thing knocks it’s locked up and it’s testing for weaknesses. It wants out. Masarani figures it’s time to bring in more of an expert to make sure the paddock is super safe. Enter: Owen Grady, the film’s hero.

 

 

 

Bond in Review: Never Say never Again Part V

Bond shows up on the Flying Saucer, in a wetsuit, but he’s expected, but his ‘hosts’ are nice enough to give him a bathrobe. Bond seems to wear these almost as much as he does tuxedos, going back to Dr.No, it seems.

 

This scene is largely similar to the scene in Thunderball where Bond is invited to Largo’s estate, except in this case it’s much later in the film. Except of course Bond is allowed to leave in this case, whereas the Flying Saucer has already set sail to Palmyra (which is the name of Largo’s estate in Nassau in Thunderball, but here is located somewhere in North Africa).

…of course he also gives Bond a look at his situation room, which of course gives Bond an idea.

He meets with Domino in the gym (with that awful music playing), aware that Largo’s probably in his observation room behind the mirror (as we saw earlier in the film). He kisses her, to get a ‘reaction’ so Largo will freak out, and Domino also pushes the fire alarm so that the situation room will be evacuated, allowing Bond to send a distress call to M. He also gets amused by Largo’s nuttiness as he takes a fire axe to the piano and stereo, and apparently the music in the gym is so loud he can’t even hear the fire alarm until he smashes the stereo!

He doesn’t do anything until they arrive at Palmyra, which is much larger and ornate than Thunderball’s oceanside estate, where he quickly orders Bond to be taken away. We then get a very, very tense scene where Largo creeps around her and messes around with a green statue (Her “Wedding present”).

It’s far more psychological than his physical torture of her in Thunderball, with Largo embracing his craziness when accused of it: “Ja. Maybe.”

And one nasty forced kiss too.

Largo

He also delivers a monologue to Bond a bit later, revealing the location of one of the nukes (Washington) and leaving him chained up. Thankfully he forgot to confiscate Bond’s watch…which of course has a laser.

Domino is put up to be sold as a wife to local bidders (Her “wedding”) and we hear that music again, but Bond quickly saves the day on a horse, leading to an awkward close-up of Connery as he shouts “HOLLLD ONNNNN!” as they jump into the sea. Including the horse.

Image result for Horse never say never again

Although part of this is accomplished via some sort of crappy green screen effects, the last shot seems to show a real horse falling sideways into the water. This actually caused some controversy, and it’s said that the “No animals were harmed” disclaimer is a result of this scene….although other sources seem to indicate that it’s been in place since 1939’s “Jesse James”.

Palmyra gets shot up by the navy, but the saucer’s already on it’s way out. Tracking them in a nearby sub, Bond figures out that the pendant Domino has is where the second nuke is being placed-right near some oil fields in an ancient underground temple. Cue Bond using the jetpack, although one nowhere near as cool as the original Thunderball version IMO.

 

Sure, the helmet’s a bit corny, but there’s just something in the less complicated design, and the fact that Bond’s wearing a suit while using it that says “Bond” more to me than whatever tactical suit he’s wearing here. Sure, Bond often wears several more tactical clothes in the films many times, but if they were trying to re-create the jetpack here, it could’ve been done better.

 

After telling a delighted Blofeld (The last shot of him we’ll see in the movie, talking once again to the skull camera), the big end battle begins in the ground temple. Although maybe it might seem a bit more fast-paced than the big underwater battle that ended Thunderball, it just seems to lack tension and excitement…and this is from the same director who did some of the most tense battles ever in film.

Yes, this one-what else?

In all the confusion-which does include a kind of cool stunt of Bond knocking the head off a statue-Largo manages to escape with the nuke, much like he did in the original, except this time he’s underwater. The result is pretty much the same. Death by Domino’s harpoon.

 

Although I think the original is far better in this regard.

Instead of crashing the Flying Saucer and getting extracted via fulton balloon like in the original, we have them lounging in a pool (probably in the Bahamas)

Domino is wearing a tiger swimsuit, which was the focus of a lot of the film’s marketing, of course, much like her predecessor’s look in the original.

 

They’re interrupted by an intruder, who just happens to be Nigel Small-Faucet, who says that

“M says,  without you in the service,he fears for the security

of the civilized world!”

But Bond state’s “never again”, recalling the title of the film…but then gives a wink to the audience, while being encircled by the pseudo gunbarrel “007”…hinting this Bond might come back.

Technically, he would return in another remake of one of his old classics, but this time the video game version of “From Russia With Love”. I’ve heard the game’s actually pretty good, but from Connery’s voice in the game it sounds very different-his scottish accent, in particular, is much more present. There were also rumors about Connery returning to film another Thunderball remake, although this time as the villain(!) against Timothy Dalton-Warhead 2000, which I brought up quite a while back. Connery of course has been retired from acting for over a decade, and is well into his 80’s, so beyond this I doubt we’ll see him in any Bond film down the line. (He also has had some mixed feelings about the character, especially given the typecasting in the 60’s).

As for the film, it’s an unusual beast. I prefer the original Thunderball, but there are certain aspects that are a bit better, such as the villains. Largo in the original was pretty much just a tough guy, whereas the new Largo feels much more dangerous and psychotic. Ditto with Fatima (Can’t really say much for Sydow’s Blofeld, though, he’s not given much to do) Connery also gives a much better performance here-and looks better-than in his official sendoff, “Diamonds Are Forever” (It also feels far less campy and dated, despite the video game aspects and the wackiness of Barbera Carerra’s Fatima). Some of the changes here-such as the gadgets, the idea of Bond losing his edge and considering retirement, and the MI6 staff changes-also foreshadow future developments in the series. The action scenes seem a bit uninspired though, the settings somewhat more bland at times (with some exceptions such as the Casino and Palmyra), and of course this lacks some of the series trademarks-the gunbarrel, the opening credits, the theme music-which help make Bond, Bond. Sure, the Craig films played around with this a bit, but they still largely kept the theme music and opening credits. So the film’s sort of an oddball, but overall, worth a look.

Metal Gear Profiles-The Philosophers

Slightly different format here, instead of focusing on one particular Metal gear character or piece of technology, I’ll focus on some of the many organizations that play big parts in the series.

The Philosophers is the granddaddy of them all.

After World War I, a group of wealthy, intelligent people from the United States, Soviet Union, and China pooled their resources together to work together to form the Philosophers-a group dedicated to World peace (This initial line up of Philosophers was known as the Wiseman’s comittee). However, like their successors, the Patriots, things got out of hand by the 1930s, and soon the Philosophers became involved in the very thing they tried to stop in the first place….and it created divisions among them, especially during the second World War.

Their influence and vast wealth funded several projects. While their backing of the Manhattan project was made public, they also experimented on soldiers, forming the Joy/ boss’s cobra unit. In addition, the Joy/The Boss’s father was one of the original “Wisemen”, so she was knowledgeable about their influence. They also ran schools to train spies, like Eva.

 

However, a member of the Philosopher during  World War II-Boris Volgin-made away with a huge chunk of the group’s funds, and scattered it throughout various banks. The location of the banks was concealed on a microfilm, and the money and the microfilm were known as “The philosopher’s Legacy”, giving most of it’s power to the Soviet Union-and it’s vast wealth allowing Volgin’s son to build his massive fortress of Grozny Grad and the Shagohod weapon.

Image result for Volgin's father

However, a faction of American philosophers still did exist, and manipulated the life of the Boss, taking her child (the future Ocelot) away from her, and holding him as a form of leverage, as well as blaming her for various missions-a NASA test flight, a mix up including a double agent-and forcing her to kill The Sorrow. (Her apprentice, Jack/Snake remained unaware  of this).

During the Virtuous mission, the Boss’s mission was to get the Legacy back from Volgin, under cover of defecting to the Soviets. She hoped that grabbing it for the US would help to reform their organization and united the world once more.She eventually succeeded, and the microfilm was later passed on to Snake himself, while Ocelot managed to get part of it as well. A third copy, gained by Eva for the Chinese faction of the philosophers, turned out to be a fake.

Eventually, those who were part of Operation Snake Eater obtained the parts of the legacy themselves. They used the vast wealth and networks of the Philosophers to form the Patriots-dedicated to the Boss’s dream of a united world and the original goal of the Philosophers. But like them, things soon got warped. But that’s another article.

The original philosophers still had a small role to play-as a distraction. The Big Shell inciddent orchestrated by Solidus Snake in 2009 was an attempt to learn the actual names of the Patriots. However, the AIs which now ran the organization planted a false lead-the names of the Wiseman’s comitee-confusing Otacon and Solid Snake.

 

Otacon : Snake, you there? It’s me. I’ve finished going over that disc.

Snake : Did you find the Patriots’ list?

Otacon : Of course. It contains the personal data of twelve people. There
was a name on it — Snake, it was one of our biggest
contributors.

Snake : What’s going on around here?

Otacon : I don’t know…

Snake : Anyway, where are they?

Otacon : Well, we were right about them being on Manhattan, but…

Snake : But what?

Otacon : They’re already dead. All twelve of them.

Snake : When did it happen?

Otacon : Well, ah…about a hundred years ago.

Snake : What the hell?

Bond in Review: Never Say Never Again Part IV

 

Nicole drops Bond off at Largo’s fancy fundraiser, which he quickly gets in by intimidating a guard with a device that he pretends is explosive (in fact, just a fancy cigar box).

As we enter a Casino, one wonders if we’ll get a fancy round of Bacarrat, or even poker or crap tables. But nope! The casino, it turns out, also functions as an arcade, showing that this particular Bond, like Wargames, Tron, and the Last Starfighter, wanted in on the whole video game mania (although the plot of course doesn’t revolve around video games as much; just this particular sequence).

Some Bond fans have remarked that one of the extras looks like Timothy Dalton. I seriously doubt it, though. Dalton at the time was pretty much established in Britain, and it wouldn’t make much sense for him to have a one second cameo in a Connery movie.

His face just doesn’t seem anywhere near as severe as Dalton’s, either (The eyes and mouth, especially). Sure, the hairstyle, and thick eyebrows, as well as the tux are similar to his “License to Kill” Casino look, but yeah, I’m not buying it anyway.

Image result for Timothy dalton license to kill casino

Just for comparison’s sake, here’s a look at Dalton in 1983, the year NSNA, from a similar angle.

Funny thing is, McClory did consider making a Dalton James Bond film as a rival to the Brosnan ones-another remake of Thunderball, called “Warhead 2000” (About the least Bondy title one can think of), where he would face off against Connery as Largo or Blofeld! One of the stranger Bond film concepts…

This is also the only scene where we see Fatima really interact with Largo as well. It’s clear she sort of has feelings for him, sort of a mutual sadism.

It’s pretty much the analog to this scene from Thunderball, although there was really no chemistry at all there.

 

Bond mean while, is cozying up to Domino by buying her a drink, despite their awkward last encounter, and asks about her brother, but Largo quickly intervenes, introducing his own video game-Domination. This is perhaps one of the best remembered and unique scenes in the film. The official Bond films wouldn’t really deal with anything really video-game related until Die Another Day, where Bond dons VR glasses for a simulated takeover of MI6. (and they of course figure into the film’s later Moneypenny gag).

The game, played over a long table with a holographic display in the middle, sort of parallels the plot, involving the two nuclear missiles. Gameplay wise it seems a bit like a 3D version of “Missile Command”.

Of course this being a Bond film, there’s some real world stakes, such as electrically-charged joysticks that’ll shock you if you lose, and of course Largo and Bond start to pump them up to near lethal levels, something that almost kills them both.

Bond, being Bond of course wins the game, and we get a great line from Connery as Largo asks: “Do you lose as gracefully as you win?” to which Bond replies, “I wouldn’t know, I’ve never lost”. Bond’s only request is a dance with Domino.

Whereas in THUNDERBALL Bond revealed the details of her brother’s death to her on an empty beach, here he’s doing it while they’re dancing the tango. It’s a pretty well shot sequence, and I like Kim Basinger’s expressions here as she sort of tries to keep a look between composed and shocked.

Bond’s facts about her brother seems to be confirmed by Largo being kind of dodgy on the subject of her brother, but Largo invites him over to his yacht anyway.

Meanwhile, back at the villa he shares with Felix and Nicole, we’re given the somewhat nasty and disturbing shot of Nicole drowned in a small pool, pretty much confirming her as this film’s Paula (Although Paula took her own life to avoid leaking information, the culprit here is Fatima).

Bond notices Fatima get away, and we pretty much get this film’s gadgety chase scene, this time with a motorcycle. This is something also rather unique. While many motorcycles feature in Bond chase scenes, there’s only been a few with Bond himself as the rider apart from this one-the Goldeneye escape where he jumps from it to a falling plane, “Tomorrow Never Dies” Saigon chase, the short one in Quantum of Solace (where he mainly uses it to help get on the boat) and the Istanbul chase that is part of Skyfall’s opening….and none of them were Q brand, just something Bond just picked up on the way. This one has rocket launchers and boosters.

It’s an OK scene, not the best chase scene but still fairly interesting and with some decent stunts. It’s cut short by Fatima who derails it, and she then traps Bond, and like Red Grant in Never Say Never Again, wants him humiliated and her own ego puffed up.

Of course Bond, like the earlier scene with Grant, can’t resist getting a few insults in just to provoke-and then of course, the pen rocket-which has a delayed reaction, causing Bond to nearly get shot.

But in the nick of time, it ignites and soon there’s just two smoking high-heeled shoes remained of Fatima.

Although I think the death of her Thunderball counterpart is still a bit funnier with the added Bond pun.

 

To evade the police, Felix shows up and remarks at the skill Bond handled her, but then we get a kind of goofy exit as just some guys exercising around the place.

 

 

Star Wars Comics History-Age of the Empire

While it was currently running the prequel-era “Republic” comics, Dark Horse also began a second monthly, featuring events during the Original trilogy era.

 

The series started with the Betrayal arc, in which a series of Grand Moffs-who don’t like being ruled by two Sith Lords-try to organize a coup against the Emperor and Vader. Of course, it doesn’t quite go well.

Image result for Star wars betrayal

The arc also introduced-and quickly got rid of-Grand Moff Tractha, who like Vader has Cybernetic replacements; however, he later showed up in the “early Empire” story Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison, and even got a Hasbro figure.

 

After a brief interlude with Princess Leia (“Princess, Warrior”) taking place slightly before “A New Hope”, and a Boba Fett issue by the team who wrote his one-shots “trilogy”, we’re given the second major arc with “Darklighter”.

The comics largely detailed the backstory of Biggs Darklighter, an old friend of Luke’s, who dies on the Death Star trench run.

A lot of Bigg’s role and backstory in the movie was deleted (although one scene was restored for the special edition). In older cuts, Luke actually appears far earlier in the movie, spotting the space battle overhead and running to tell his friends, including Biggs who is on leave from the Imperial academy. The two get to have a talk, in which Biggs confides in him that he’s joining the Rebellion.

The comic builds heavily on not only this, but also Bigg’s short career as a TIE fighter pilot, with the artistic choice to make the helmet translucent to better show the emotions of the characters. The issues with the Darklighter aren’t actually sequential (perhaps due to the time needed to finish the detailed art) and were broken up between standalones.

After two more standalones-one featuring a Stormtrooper on the Death Star, and another revealing what happened to Vader after his TIE went out of control at the end of the film, we get another new arc after the Darklighter issues finally finish.

 

The next arc deals with an Imperial batallion dealing with a large group of hostile, flatworm-like “Anamamen”

Image result for Janek Sunber to the last man

Represented in the films by this kin of creepy guy.

They’re led by Janek Sunber, whose story also ties into Luke and Biggs…

After this arc ends we get a short interlude with Vader targeted by the Faleen, an alien species who’s homeworld was messed up by Vader (This also ties into the Shadows of the Empire storyline).

What follows are a few adventures with Han, Leia, and Chewbacca, one in particular introducing the character Deena Shan, who plays a significant role in the final arc of the series.

 

The next major arc-after a Boba Fett standalone and a two issue-story where Luke recruits a former Clone trooper into the alliance-we get “In the Shadows of their Fathers”. This is a sequel to the “Battle of Jaabim” arc, with the Jaabim rebels not being too pleased with how things went down during the Clone Wars, where another man by the name of Skywalker abandoned them. It’s got some pretty cool covers…

 

Image result for In the shadows of their fathers 

It ends with Luke leaving the planet, but somewhat unsettled by what he’s learned, that his father might not have been the great hero he thought he was, and  that Obi-Wan was ‘killed’ on the planet. He wonders what Ben was keeping from him…

The final arc is “Wrong Side of the War”, where Luke, Deena, and other rebels go undercover in Imperial outfits as part of a rebel infiltration and strike force. However, things don’t go quite smoothly. Deena falls in love with an Imperial officer during the mission, and Janek Sunber shows up, and recognizes Luke. We learn that Janek is in fact, Luke’s old buddy “Tank”-mentioned in Star Wars as having left like Biggs did to join the Empire, but unlike Biggs, he didn’t join the rebels….he recognizes Luke, but only as his old friend, who he’s convinced also joined the Empire, not knowing that Luke is a rebel hero. Of course, Luke’s true allegiance is finally figured out-but Sunber is reluctant to join the alliance, as he believes in the Order of the Empire.

 

The storyline continues in the sequel series “Star Wars  Rebellion”, which I will cover in the next article.

 

 

Bond In Review: Never Say Never Again Part III

Bond arrives in the Bahamas, and pretty much right away starts flirting with a girl on a fishing boat. She might look familiar to Bond viewers-she’s Valerie Leon, who  played a hotel receptionist in The Spy Who Loved Me six years earlier (Who likewise flirted with Bond). Here she plays a sort of minor Bond girl/conquest of Bond.

Another introduction is far more familiar-Rowan Atkinson, famous for his Mr. Bean and Black Adder characters. Here, he plays Nigel Small-Fawcett, sort of a goofy character who is rather clumsy with the spy stuff.

Although I suppose you can say he got a bit better at it…(but not by much).

 

He pretty much just gives him some info on Largo, and of course provide some comic relief. Not exactly Bond’s best local contact….

Image result for Barbara carrera bahamas

While observing the disco, Bond observes Fatima waterskiing, and then flips onto the bar Bond is at, and we get the great line:

Fatima: “Oh, I’ve made you all wet!”

Bond: “Yes, but my martini’s still dry”.

For some reason,  Bond agrees to her wanting to ‘help him find what he’s looking for’, which isn’t exactly clear. I mean, obviously he’s up for a “little fun” with her, but it’s sort of putting him in harm’s way and doesn’t really have much to do with the rest of the mission. Especially the last part which I’ll get to.

Of course this leads to innuendo and the two get together, but the last part is a bit odd. He goes scuba-diving with her and she has him look into a wreck for some reason, and then plants a homing device on his back which attracts some Sharks with devices on them. How did Bond think this was going to work out, anyway? Did he think the nukes were in the wreck and this woman who he already knew was a villainess would just let him know?

 

Never Say Never Again (1983): the lost recap (part 3 of 6)

Bond evades the sharks, much like he did in the original Thunderball, and emerges to find Valerie Lion’s unnamed character going fishing nearby.

We get a sort of goofy scene of  Fatima camping it up dancing to steel drums, when the girl’s boat docks and Bond is showing off his ‘catch’.

She follows Bond and the girl to the hotel, and plants a device in Bond’s room, detonating it, in this shot which is one of the film’s best-Fatima of course is sort of doing her SPECTRE mission, but also sort of has the look of almost being spurned. Fortunately, he decided to go to the local woman’s hotel room instead.

Bond then learns that the Saucer has left for France. Did Bond even need to really go to the Bahamas in the first place, just to keep an eye on the Yacht? Couldn’t he have had Faucet tell him in London over the phone? Oh well, guess they needed to somehow keep at least part of the setting of the original Thunderball, and have Bond face off a bit with Blush. But it just seems a little too much time spent with little plot development.

In France, we get to meet Nicole and a new Felix, played by Bernie Casey. Felix plays a similar role to his Thunderball counterpart, while Nicole is pretty much a stand-in for Paula in the original film, but doesn’t really do much at all compared to her.

They check out the Flying Saucer from the POV of a local villa with bionoculars, and spot Largo and Domino, and of course Bond, learning that Domino is the sister of the air force pilot, goes to check her out, posing as a massage guy. We get another one of those “ladies stare longingly at Bond” scenes the main series seems to use a lot.

 

He then starts to massage Domino, and there’s some slight creepiness here, but then this is Bond I’m writing about. He gains some information that there’s a charity ball tonight at a casino. After he spots the real masseuse arriving, Bond quickly leaves, and the real one tells her that Bond doesn’t work there. Instead of immeadiatly calling Sûreté nationale, she looks slightly alarmed for a second before breaking out in a bit of a goofy grin. Seriously.