Tuesday, January 16, 2007

007 in '007: The PreRamble

If this can possibly be believed, I finally saw Casino Royale this past Saturday night, after weeks of The Don badgering and heckling me for not doing so already. It was never a matter of thinking I wasn’t going to like it; quite the contrary – I was certain I would. But Bond is this little universe many of us have grown up with, and once the floodgates opened and phrases like “Best Bond ever” and “Negates everything that came before it” started being tossed around, I instinctively pulled back a little bit, and my interest somewhat waned. I’m not going to review Casino Royale at this time, but suffice it to say despite being pretty taken by the whole affair and recognizing that this is where the series should have been when Pierce Brosnan took over, its existence didn’t poke even a minor hole in all that came before. Indeed, Casino Royale may have given me an even deeper appreciation for the series.

Which leads directly to a project that will be ongoing here at The Rued Morgue over the next 12 months: “007 in ‘007” – a laid back exhumation and autopsy of the longest running movie franchise in film history; a franchise so needlessly and obnoxiously repetitive that the mind almost boggles at its ability to keep on truckin’. Of primary importance will be reviews of each film, but the project may veer into other areas, analyses, lists and/or commentaries along the way if and when inspiration hits, so it's anyone's guess what this could morph into.

Having received for Christmas (thanks to my dad & JJ) Volumes 2 & 3 of the James Bond Ultimate Edition DVD box sets and having the other two on the way (thanks to some clever eBay bidding on my part), my love for Bond has in recent weeks been reinvigorated. For some bizarre reason, the last time I collected Bond was on VHS as a teenager. I skipped not only the previous DVD releases, but also – inexplicably - the laserdisc versions, which should have been a no-brainer as they were my first opportunity to own the series in widescreen. Since obtaining these sets over the holidays, it’s beginning to feel like fate: Bond has never looked as good on home video as he does on these new releases and I'm glad I waited.

In some cases it’s been years since I’ve seen an installment and in two cases, I’d never seen them at all! While these new sets feature much previously released-on-DVD bonus material, for me it’s all brand-new and quite a treat to sift through. On top of everything else, these editions feature newly recorded commentaries by Sir Roger Moore on all seven of his outings and as Rog is my favorite Bond, his thoughts, memories and anecdotes are icing on the cake sort of fare. Say what you will about Moore (I may not even argue with you), but I don't see Sean Connery taking time out of early retirement to reward loyal fans with the same.

So if you are a Bond fan, hopefully you’ll check in to the Morgue periodically and see how the project is coming along and throw down your own insights. If you are not a Bond fan, there’ll be plenty of heckling and poking fun along the way. After all, if Roger Moore is my ideal 007, it should go without saying that I don’t take Bond as seriously as the idea of this project might imply -- and yet I wouldn't tackle it if I didn't love me some Scaramanga, Blofeld and Tiffany Case.

First up? Comin’ outta the gate with my favorite Bond flick of them all (if for no reason other than to get it out of my system): Roger Moore’s freshman outing, Live and Let Die.