Sunday, 4 November 2012

Thank You From The Watchers

So it's been a week since our challenge and we've managed to catch up on sleep and our sanity! We thought we would wrap up our coverage of everything 007 with a couple of things - well two shows actually! You lucky things! Below are the links to the both of them - one is a new vidcast and the other is a Podcast exclusive. Both are retrospective of the event.

The vidcast has our insights on the franchise after we completed the challenge, our spoiler free chat on Skyfall & we discuss in our opinion what are the Top Ten Bond Films!

The Podcast Exclusive - well thats the Un-Cut chat we had at 1:30am after we successfully finished, we chat about Bond, the experience itself and of course a very off the record spoiler filled Skyfall Geek Chat! So enjoy!

I would just like to give a heart felt thank you to all those who donated and also those who helped to get the message out there. So many helped, but a few need a mention and- of course- not in any order! Ioan Dyer at GTFM, Cineworld Cardiff, Hannah-Jane Davies & Avanti Media, South Wales Echo,, Simon Columb, ITV Wales News, my fellow watcher Tezza.

Rhys :)

I'd also like to say a huge thank you to a few people for their help and support over the Bondathon weekend itself and the months leaving up to the event. Firstly, my partner Alex, who has put up with a whole load of Bond shenanigans with no complaints and exceedingly good grace and has also helped to get the word out. Love you loads. Secondly, to my family who have supported us wholeheartedly- I owe my love of the Bond franchise to watching them with my Dad and my family so it's been a fitting way to raise some funds. 

To everyone who took the time to sponsor us, read the blog, listen to the podcasts and send messages of support by social media: thank you so much. I'd also like to echo Rhys's thanks to Ioan, Simon, Hannah, Cineworld Cardiff, Videomajic, Avanti Media, ITV Wales News and the South Wales Echo for their support. Our JustGiving site is still active until the end of November so you can still donate to this wonderful cause if you'd like to.

Tez :)

A Thank You From The Watchers: A Bondathon Retrospective from The Watchers Film Show on Vimeo.

The Un-Cut Geek Chat!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

THE WATCHERS on GTFM's James Bond Special Last Sunday!!

We were guests on the local radio stations 007 special last sunday, the interview was recorded the Friday night, while doing our Bondathon. Take a listen & you can still donate? Thanks

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Bondathon Podcast Part 7!!! We did it!!

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Here you go the final Podcast of the challenge at least - Daniel Craig. Casino Royale, Quantum Of Solace and SkyFall (NO SPOILERS) Enjoy!!!

Skyfall (2012)

The film began and the anal Bond fan in me from the first frame of this film, just said “oh for God’s sake, where the ... is the GUN BARREL!” I was sat there like a spoilt child saying my head, “oh come on just make a Bond MOVIE, stop trying to be different, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” Well, this fan was right and happily so wrong!!! It is quite frankly the most original, the most simple plot in the world, an ex-agent from M’s past wants her dead and Bond is on hand! What you have here is a classic styled thriller, with just an absolute respect for the franchise. You can tell Sam Mendes is British and grew up watching what we have been watching over the last 3 days. Skyfall is an amazing piece of filmmaking – everything across the board is just so well done.

You have a cast at the very top of their game. Craig is just immense as Bond and further more his Bond has aged the four years he’s been off screen, giving even further believability of this re-booted franchise; Judi Dench is fantastic as M, given an extended role (really she should be included in the main cast rather than the ‘and’ credit). Ralph Fiennes is great as government official Mallory, whilst Ben Whishaw is fanastically geeky as the new Q. The villain- Silva- is played by Javier Bardem and he is just amazing; he’a bit camp but utterly menacing and there’s more than a hint of Hannibal Lecter to him (especially when M comes to visit him in prison). Naomie Harris and Berenice Marlohe are great as the Bond girls and Albert Finney makes a great cameo appearance as Kincade.

The stunt work is immense – the opening pre-title sequence when Bond rips the train apart with a JCB really sets the scene; it’s a slightly larger-than-life start which is against the reality of the previous two films. However they keep it within the style of the Craig universe.

This quite simply deserves the praise it is receiving and I won’t talk any more because there are so many twists and spoilers that this geek wants to talk about.

Put Simply Rating: 5 out of 5

With this we have succeeded in our own mission, we have watched the entire franchise in 3 days. But, never fear as James Bond will Return, so shall we.
This mission is complete – but we will debrief Skyfall further beyond the challenge.

We are going to record a spoiler Watchers Geek Chat of Skyfall (obviously over a beer) – so watch out for that extra post.

Thank you all who have sponsored us and all the support. It has been an experience to say the least.

Rhys Jones

Quantum Of Solace (2008)

Starting immediately after Casino Royale finishes, Quantum Of Solace starts with Bond interrogating Mr White to learn more about the mysterious organisation he works for. Whilst following leads to the organisation- Quantum- Bond, still seeking vengeance for the death of his lover Vesper, comes into contact with environmentalist Dominic Greene whose philanthropy masks a more sinister plan.

The opening section of the film is just astounding – the car chase through the Italian countryside leading into the fight scene at the Palio horse-race in Siena is just outstanding. The section in Austria during the opera Tosca is very well done as well, athough Bond does have a point- every time I’ve been to the opera, people get glared at and shushed if they so much as clear their throat, let alone carry on a conversation.

Mathieu Amalric’s performance as Dominic is that of a stereotypical sociopathic villain which is disappointing. Even as an agent of Quantum, he doesn’t impress.  The plan is interesting- an environmentalist planning to hold Bolivia’s water supply to ransom- but the performance just isn’t there. It also doesn’t help that his henchman Elvis- Anatole Taubman- is a buffoon. However, Greene’s demise at the end of the film is quite appropriate and satisyfing.

Luckily the rest of the cast turn in decent performances to compensate Gemma Arterton is good as Agent Fields, Bond’s link in Bolivia. It’s very much a supporting role and she doesn’t last long before she’s offed: left on Bond’s bed, drowned in oil (a not-so-subtle homage to Jill Masterson’s death in Goldfinger). Olga Kurylenko gives a strong performance as Camille, a former Bolivian secret service who is romantically linked to Greene. She has her own agenda- seeking revenge for the death of her family- and teams up with Bond in order to see it through. The lack of a romantic relationship between Camille and Bond is refreshing- both are hurting, damaged people and seeking closure. 

Giancarlo Giannini gives a decent turn as Bond’s contact Mathis, as does Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter, both reprising their roles from Casino Royale. Indeed, with the ongoing plotlines of Quantum and who was blackmailing Vesper, this could have easily been Casino Royale: Part Two. It does feel like the subplot of Greene and the water has been tacked on, as if they needed to find something to flesh the film out.

At a positively svelte 102 minutes, every moment needs to hit its mark- and sadly there are sections that don’t. Marc Forster’s direction is occasionally lacklustre and, much like Casino Royale, the pace lags in places. The announcement of each new location with a title card soon becomes incredibly annoying. The biggest criticism I can probably level at the film is that this is a perfectly serviceable thriller but doesn’t feel like a Bond film.

Rating: 3 out of 5


Casino Royale (2006)

After watching the previous twenty films, this one is a hard thing to write about. Why? Simply because I really shouldn’t judge it on anything that’s come before it. The film is based on Fleming’s first James Bond book and is rightly so the choice of story to not only launch a new actor, but the producers have deliberately drawn a line in the sand. This Bond is the start of a new canon, for it is a reboot. This is BOND BEGINS!

So, with that in mind, what do we have?  James Bond, a highly trained naval commander, has just made 00 status at MI6. His first mission is to must stop a man called Le Chiffre, a banker to the worlds terrorist organizations, from winning a high-stakes poker tournament at Casino Royale in Montenegro.

With the pre-titles sequence, we know we are watching something very, very different. Shot in black and white, styled like a noir cold war thriller from the Sixties. Daniel Craig is introduced with two assassinations, one brutal fight in a men’s public toilet and the second a quick simple kill. The gun barrel is kind of here!

The film opens with a very impressive stunt sequence; so not everything is new. The producers still use current trends within the Bond film franchise. This time in 2006 Parkour or Free Running was at its height within popular culture and watched mostly on YouTube. The film casts one of the main pioneers of this extreme sport, Sebastien Foucan. He plays a bomb maker that 007 chases down on foot, which leads to an awe-inspiring foot chase through a building site, jumping from high rise crane to crane and to a shoot out at an embassy. A very fresh action scene, but undenably Bondian.

Daneil Craig was a shock casting to fans and at the time it gave to negative press coverage, claiming him to be Bland Bond or Blonde Bond? Yes, I agree physically he doesn’t look like a traditional 007, that being tall, dark and handsome. But after a few minutes watching him as the character, you soon realise why he’s Bond, especially within this rebooted new franchise. They have taken Bond into a modern setting, foregoing the gentleman spy making his way round to megalomaniacs and fellow gentlemen spies from other nationalities. The world we live in is not the 1950s or 1960s, the world we live in is very complex and so are our enemies. This James Bond is a very believable 007, a orphan, Oxford University graduate who joined the navy, a career seaman reached the rank of Commander, would definitely spent time with the SBS regiment, before being recruited by MI6 for black ops. We find him at the start of his 00 promotion and Daniel Craig plays this part perfectly. He owns this Bond, he is a stone cold brutal killer, a highly educated man who can fit in a crowd and disappear just as fast. Ladies and gentleman, Bond is back… or more importantly, Bond has re-begun.

With the rebirth of an icon and also managing to deliver believable Bondian action scenes that thankfully don’t rely on CGI to complete them (see Die Another Day), they manage to get so much wrong, After the Parkour action, we have a fantastic chase/fight across runways of an airport, this brings us an hour into the film and we are introduced to Vesper a HM Treasury Agent, played by Eva Green. She accompanies Bond to the poker match at the casino.

Suddenly we are treated to the most expensive filmed re=enactment of Channel 4’s Late Night Poker! To make a card game exciting for a movie audience is a hard task, which this film proves– even with various distractions away from the game, from fights on stairways and Bond being poisoned. No matter what the script has for us it just never makes the poker scenes punch. However, what happens away from the poker table is interesting, not just the action – more importantly this new franchise, bravely and rightfully shows the effects upon our heroes. They are human, they feel, not everything can be repressed; no man is a robot. A scene where Bond cleans himself up after killing two men in the stairway while Vesper watched is just electrifying. No words are spoken, Bond cleans himself up and it’s just with a look and body movement that Craig delivers exactly what he’s feeling. Taking life is never easy and he didn’t want Vesper to see that side of him.            

Mads Mikkelsen plays the villain. What’s interesting is he is not a top dog, not a conventional villain. However, because of his involvement with various organized crime and terrorist organisations, he is at the top of Bond’s watch list. It’s the information Bond wants from this accountant, who is desperate to replace money he’s ‘borrowed’ from these various unsavoury people and gambled it away. Le Cheffre makes an interesting villain, a man very much desperate, on the edge and very sinister.

The relationship between Vesper and Bond is a complex affair, but completely central to the story. They start as bickering work colleagues, more importantly it’s obviously flirtatious. They smoulder on screen, the chemistry is undeniable – this is why Bond hated her having to see what he can do, especially when he killed the men in the stairway. When Bond is captured and tortured, but survives and spends time recuperating in hospital. Vesper visits him. It’s here in the earliest start of his 00 status that Bond wonders if this is the life for him, he has fallen in love with her. His shield has fallen, he talks of leaving the service, this is the real thing for 007. So, when her betrayal is revealed it is that much more heart wrenching for us the viewer. Finding out that the person you love and trust the most in the world can destroy a man. Or in Bond’s case make a man, the man we know him to be.

The film does everything it should do, for some it didn’t have enough action or Bondian moments –well it shouldn’t, because he’s not there yet. He’s not fully that man yet, that’s to come – but first he must get revenge. Even if she betrayed him and he says he’s glad “.the bitch is dead”. We the audience and M know different. Alas, this is merely Part 1 of this story and for once in the franchises history the story continues directly on, straight after Bond pays Mr White a visit!

One of the best Bond films ever and one of the greatest re-boots ever!

Rating: 5 out of 5


Bondathon Podcast part 6

This Bondathon Podcast we review the Brosnan years - enjoy