Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bond Barbie Keeps the Streak Alive

From the day Barbara Broccoli was promoted to producer, there's never been a blond Bond girl. No true blond "main Bond girl" (what other franchises would call a "leading lady") since Maryam d'Abo as Kara Milovy in The Living Daylights, to be precise. And two movies later, Brunette Barbie assumed producer duties.

Well, as long as Brunette Barbie stays in charge, I trust she won't tolerate any Bond girl more beautiful, uh, blond than her. The fact that Barb lost her boy toy to a blonde won't help matters much, I'm afraid.

But then, given the esthetic nosedive the Bond franchise has taken with the reboot, with virtually all the fun elements — from humor to gadgets — gone, either Bond is headed for a slow slide into oblivion, or the production team will have to be rebooted.

Be it Brunette Barbie or the end of the Cold War — since License to Kill, Bond has never been the same. And no, it's not that I've grown up. I still like to watch the classic Bond movies.

And it's not only my subjective dissatisfaction at not getting the quantum of blond I paid for with the ticket. (No, Daniel Craig doesn't count. I'm not gay. And even if I were, I'd prefer tall dark strangers. Call me old-fashioned, but chicks are supposed to be blond; guys, dark. 'Nough said.)

No, even in the nineties, Bond was running out of steam, out of credible opponents. I've watched every one of those movies, and the plot of every one of them was forgettable, straight-to-DVD material.

If North Koreans and Chinese can be made to stand in for soviets, the writers sure didn't manage to pull it off. (With the possible exception of Die Another Day, which was quite tolerable, or would have been, had Brosnan's presence not reminded me of his three preceding bombs.)

The fullest expression of that degradation can be observed in the rebooted Casino Royale: the movie trying to become relevant by latching onto the destruction of the WTC. Of course, Bond movies always tried to be topical. Think The Man with the Golden Gun and the seventies energy crisis.

However, before the nineties, Bond was larger than life. He did not play second fiddle to a real-life terrorist attack.

Nowadays, Bond is no longer larger than life (fighting villains scheming for world domination or the annihilation of mankind) or even as large as life (fictionalizing the Cold War or the war on drugs) but just your garden variety hero, no, protagonist, struggling to impersonate a secret agent, badly, and losing even that fight. A sad shadow of his former self.

As a former Bond fan, here my ultimatum:

(1) I want Blond girls, uh, blond Bond girls, and not James Blond.

(2) Craig shall never again be permitted to act in a movie, except maybe as Frankenstein's monster. A yellow dog could act better than he.

(3) I want Timothy Dalton back. Or even George Lazenby. Too bad Sean Connery and Roger Moore are probably too old by now. Anyway, Dalton should have made more Bond movies. Pierce Brosnan sure looked the part, but now he's associated with those stupid nineties Bond movies. I guess I could settle for Gerard Butler.

(4) There shall be writing that manages to create some credible villains, and without catering to the very worst populist clich├ęs.

(5) I want that sense of humor and those gadgets back.

(6) All Bond movies after License to Kill shall be booted from the canon, particularly that sick joke of a reboot.

Until these conditions are met, don't expect me to buy any merchandise, any DVDs, or any tickets (unless I have to write a review).

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