Sunday, October 10, 2010

James Bond Teaser Round Up

For almost fifty years, the James Bond films have almost universally beloved, not only because of the exciting stories and excellent actors who have been cast as the main character, but because of the familiar formula almost all of the films follow. We know the man will introduce himself at least once as "Bond, James Bond," order a martini "shaken, not stirred," bed at least a half dozen beautiful women, and save the world once again from some monomaniacal super villain. Even the latest films starring Daniel Craig have followed this formula by attempting to poke fun at the cliches. But my favorite piece from the James Bond formula are how (almost) every film begins with an opening teaser before the main titles that is almost a short film all by itself. Sometimes the teaser connects to the main plot, but usually it seemed to be wholly unconnected, almost as though they were beginning a film with the previous adventure of James Bond coming to a close.

Anyway, as you may have guessed, I'm going to go down the list and discuss each film's opening teaser, giving my brief opinions and comments. Why? Because I want to, that's why!

Dr. No (1962):
This is the only James Bond film that doesn't start with a teaser before the main title sequence. So I'm mentioning it here just to point out why I'm not actually going to mention it.

From Russia With Love (1963):
This films opens with the ultimate teaser: The death of James Bond! Of course, it's not really the death of the real James Bond, but just a guy in a ridiculously realistic James Bond mask. It turns out that it was all an elaborate training exercise for S.P.E.C.T.R.E. agent Red Grant. As opening teasers go, this one is light on action big high on suspense. Also, it's just cool. It perfectly sets up Robert Shaw's Red Grant as the best Bond villain ever, and that's saying a lot.


This sequence is also notable for being the first James Bond teaser... and it doesn't even feature James Bond at all.


Goldfinger (1964): 
One word: classic. James Bond comes out of the water wearing a wet suit, sets a bunch of explosives, and then goes to a bar where he reveals himself to be wearing  a full tuxedo under his suit. Bond then seduces some babe and goes back to her room, where he is attacked by some enemy agent, whom he tosses into a bathtub and electrocutes him with a fan. "Positively shocking," he says, capping the scene.


This teaser has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the plot, but it has lots of action, big explosions, a beautiful woman, and a great one liner. This teaser is better than most of the later Bond movies.


Thunderball (1965):
Bond attends the funeral of one of his adversaries, which is revealed to be a sham. Bond unmasks the villain, who is alive and well, and actually attended his own funeral dressed as his window. Bond kicks his ass and then flys away in a jetpack.


Not without its charm, but this teaser was a bit of a let down after Goldfinger. Then again, Thunderball as a whole was a letdown after Goldfinger. Still, this was all just a bit silly. The fight scene was cool, however, and the jetpack is classic James Bond. But this wasn't the best.


You Only Live Twice (1967): 
James Bond gets killed again. This time, the death was faked by Bond and MI6. Or something. I hardly remember. I just remember it being one of the lamer Bond teasers, and that YOLT was one of the lamer Bond films. This was one of those teasers that just sets up the rest of the film, and doesn't stand alone as a separate piece.


On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969):
Another good one. Bond watches Diana Rigg try to drown herself in the ocean, but when he tries to save her, he's jumped by a bunch of goons. What follows is an absolutely fantastic fight sequence on the beach, ending with Rigg stealing Bond's Aston Martin. Bond is revealed to be the new actor George Lazenby, who looks at the camera and says, "This never happened to the other fella."


What a cheesy line, but it makes me laugh every time I hear it. It probably marks the only time James Bond ever broke the fourth wall and talked directly to the audience (ala' Zack Morris on Saved by the Bell), but it worked because the filmmakers had to address the change from Sean Connery to George Lazenby. Anyway, it was just a good fight scene.


Diamonds Are Forever (1971): 
Sean Connery is back for one more adventure (well, never say never, I guess), and it begins with him seeking to avenge the murder of his wife (spoiler if you haven't seen the previous movie!!!). Bond tracks down Blofeld and finally beats the crap out of him, drowning him in a pit of mud in some health spa. Neither a great teaser nor a very good film, but it's a pretty fun opening sequence. Connery should've stayed retired from the series.


Live and Let Die (1973):
This film is notable for being the first to star Roger Moore as James Bond, and for having the lamest pretitle teaser ever. It's just a bunch of scenes where various agents get killed. James Bond isn't seen. It sets up the rest of the film, but it's still lame.


The Man With the Golden Gun (1974):
By this point, opening a James Bond film with the death of James Bond has become a cliche of its own. This one doesn't really open with the death of Bond, but it does have the main villain shoot a wax statue in the shape of Bond. Anyway, this teaser has some unknown guy wandering through some deadly funhouse as he's tracked and eventually murdered by the titular villain. It's a lot of fun, in my opinion, but I could see how you might think it's also kind of dumb. Aside from as a statue, James Bond doesn't appear, making it two for two of Roger Moore's Bond films where he doesn't actually appear in the teaser. Lame.


The Spy Who Loved Me (1977):
We had to suffer through two dumb opening sequences that didn't even feature James Bond before we got to this one, but it's pretty awesome. The film opens on Bond making love to some chick in some mountain cabin. He receives orders and has to leave, which leads to him being attacked and having to flee on skis down the mountain with the enemies following closely behind. Awesome action sequence that is a return to form for the James Bond opening teasers. This is the first teaser since Diamonds that doesn't directly lead into the actual film's plot.


Moonraker (1979):
Terrible movie, amazing opening sequence. Bond is attacked by villains on an airplane (including the return of Jaws from the previous film, making him the second Bond villain since Blofeld to make a return appearance... I think. Right?). They fight in the plane, and then out of the plane in free fall. This sequences features some of the most amazing aerial stunts ever captured on film, and it is incredibly thrilling and well done. After Goldfinger, this is probably the coolest teaser in my opinion. Just be sure to turn off the movie after the teaser is over.


For Your Eyes Only (1981): 
Did you think that Bond really killed Blofeld back in Diamonds Are Forever? Well, think again! Bloefeld returns as a foil in an opening teaser by kidnapping Bond with a radio controlled helicopter. Bond manages to free himself and take control of the helicopter, and then finds Blofeld and drops him down a smokestack. Did he really kill him? Keep watching those Bond teasers. Only time will tell for sure. This one was... ok. It had some good helicopter stunts and some funny lines from Blofeld, but all in all it was pretty mediocre.

Octopussy (1983):
As teasers go, this one almost has enough to add up to a full film. Bond and some woman infiltrate an enemy base. They escape and then Bond gets into a little plane, flies through the hanger, and blows up the base with a misdirected heat seeking missile. I'm not doing this one justice, but way too much happens to recap here. But it's a really good one. This one was like a mini movie. I liked it. Too bad the rest of the movie is really, really dumb.

Never Say Never Again (1983):
Not an official part of the Bond series, I'm still including it here because, well, it's a Bond film starring Sean Connery. A lot of people give this film a hard time, but it's really not that bad, and it's certainly better than Octopussy. Anyway, this film opens with... you guessed it... the death of James Bond. Bond attacks some enemy compound, rescues the hostage, who then turns on him and kills him. Of course, she doesn't actually kill him, since it was revealed to be some elaborate training exercise. This leads to a scene where M tells him he failed because he's old and out of shape. This is funny because it's true. Still, it was a fun opening teaser that did a pretty good job of setting up an older, slightly rounder James Bond. 

Interesting tidbit: The made a note to address Connery's age in this film, but he is actually three years younger than Roger Moore.

A View to a Kill (1985): 
Another ski chase sequence, which are always fun. This one adds a little twist by having James Bond invent the snowboard, but balancing on the ski of a broken snowmobile while "California Girls" by the Beach Boys plays on the soundtrack. And I swear to god I'm not making any of this up. It sounds stupid, but it's actually awesome. I remember seeing this opening night in the theater and the entire crowd went nuts. People were actually hollering and cheering. Of course, because this was A View to a Kill, the hollering and cheering didn't last very long. The Extraordinary teaser aside, this was a terrible movie.

Not so interesting tidbit: This opening teaser led into the title sequence that features my all time favorite Bond song: A View to a Kill by Duran Duran.

The Living Daylights (1987):
This films opens with another double 0 training mission, that turns deadly as it turns out one of the trainees is actually a double agent who tries to kill Bond! Bond takes down the badguy and then parachutes into a yacht carrying a beautiful woman. Classic James Bond, even though it all features the debut of new lead actor Timothy Dalton. I like this movie, I like Tim Dalton, and I like this teaser. It's a good one that's full of action.

License to Kill (1989):
James Bond and Felix Leiter capture druglord Franz Sanchez by hijacking his plane midair while it passes through American airspace. Great opening teaser that works as an outstanding action set piece and as a set up to the rest of the film. Good stuff.

Goldeneye (1995):
I don't like this movie and I never really bought Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, but this is a pretty fantastic opening sequence. Agents 007 and 006 infiltrate a Soviet base, kill lots of bad guys, and are about to escape, when it is revealed that 006 is a bad guy! This leads into the rest of the film, which sucks, but it does have a lot of action and cool explosions. This film is notable for opening with an amazing bungie jump stunt that is one of the best in any Bond film. Fun stuff.

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997):
I don't even really know what happened in this scene. Bond is in some black market where people are selling illegal weapons. He steals a jet and blows everybody up. It's pretty cool. I'm not a fan of the Brosnan Bond films, but they definitely do have some amazing action sequences, of which is is one of the best. But, again, it didn't really make a whole lot of sense, and I can't remember if it tied into the rest of the film or not.

The World is Not Enough (1999):
Another awesome action sequence: Bond gets into trouble at some bank, kills some people, and then has a great boat chase on the Thames. Well done and exciting, but lacking in personality and originality. But it was a good boat chase.

Die Another Day (2002):
James Bond fights some Koreans. It's basically the same opening as every other Brosnan Bond film, only this one takes place in Korea and has tanks instead of boats or jets. Not bad, but nothing special. It ends with Bond being captured, which sets up the rest of the film.

Casino Royale (2006):
James Bond kills some guy. There is a flashback to some incredibly brutal fight scene in a bathroom. Good scene and a good set up to the rest of the film, but not an amazing teaser as far as these things go. The action sequence that begins after the opening titles is way more memorable and exciting.

Quantum of Solace (2008):
This teaser pretty much starts right where the previous film ends, which is a first for any film in the series. Every Bond film has a certain amount of overlap (like references to his late wife, for example), but this is the first film in the series that really feels like a direct sequel. Anyway, it starts with an awesome car chase, that is probably the best scene in the movie. Good chase, good sequence, ok teaser. The probably with the teasers in the Daniel Craig films are that they don't really feel like teasers, so much as just the first scene in a movie. That's all fine, but it makes them lack charm, and it makes them hard to discuss on a list such as this. Anyway, good chase scene. 

3 comments:

television lady said...

ZACK MORRIS!

Justin Garrett Blum said...

I just watched the opening to the Spy Who Loved Me on YouTube. That's shorter than I remembered, but despite some terrible blue screen, it will always be a classic. I love the Union Jack parachute.

Man of la Book said...

In "The Spy Who Loved Me", didn't Bond kills the leading actress' husband on the mountain?

Just saying because it leads into the story.