Pierce Brosnan

REVIEW: Black Adam (2022)

Nearly 5,000 years after he was given the powers of the gods Teth-Adam (Dwayne Johnson) is freed from his earthly tomb, to find his home country of Kahndaq is now besieged by mercenaries, so he sets about unleashing his unique form of justice on the modern world.

The best thing Black Adam has going for it is Dwayne Johnson. He does make an imposing villain/anti-hero and it is kind of fun seeing him be so ruthless with a bunch of bad guys without then second guessing it. It’s clear from the outset that the people who have invaded this country are not good people and deserve anything that is coming to them.

Naturally Black Adam needs some superpowered good guys to go up against and that’s where the Justice Society of America (JSA) comes in. Like all the superpowered characters in this film, I knew nothing about the JSA and I still know little about them and how the Justice Society works as this film gives very little backstory or characterisation to any of them. Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) is the new guy, Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell) has pretty cool and colourful wind powers, Hawkman’s (Aldis Hodge) main thing is saying “heroes don’t kill people” over and over again, and Dr. Fate (Pierce Brosnan) is just the best and steals just about every scene he’s in – even when he’s going toe to toe with Black Adam.

Everyone gives fine to good performances and the JSA team are all generally likeable and have decent charisma but it was hard to really care about them all. Also naturally, as Black Adam couldn’t be an out and out villain, there was always going to be something that would unite him and the JSA as they fight some other big bad. It’s a superhero movie cliché and unfortunately in this instance, the random new baddie wasn’t particularly interesting either.

Something that the film treats as a Big Reveal and a plot twist, is diminished as it’s in the trailer and it’s not even a subtle thing. If you’ve seen the first trailer, the trailer below in fact, you may be like me watching this film, just waiting for something seemingly obvious to be spelt out, but that thing is only so obvious when you’ve seen the trailer. It’s poor marketing on the studios part as any dramatic heft is lost.

I did like what Black Adam had to say about Western (super) powers not being interesting in the strife of a Middle Eastern country such as Kahndaq, until they have their own powerful guardian and then they are seen as a threat. That kind of on the nose but different (for a superhero movie) political commentary was unexpected but welcome.

Black Adam is neither particularly good nor particularly bad. If I was a kid, I’d probably have a great time with this as it reminded me a bit of those “middle tier” superhero movies like Fantastic Four (2005), it has a lot action set pieces and bombastic fights while also not being very memorable. Some of the CGI is a bit dodgy and trying to stuff so many new and somewhat obscure characters into a two-hour movie means that characterisation is left by the wayside. 3/5.

REVIEW: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

As Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) prepares to open the hotel on a Greek island like her mother Donna (Meryl Streep) always dreamed of doing, she learns about how her mother as a young woman (Lily James) discovered the island and found love and heartache along the way.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is the sequel to the hit 2008 film Mamma Mia! and it manages to be a sequel and a prequel at the same time. Nearly the entire cast of the original film are back, and their chemistry is just as good all these years later. There’s some fun editions too with Andy Garcia as the hotel manager and Cher as Sophie’s grandmother. The young cast all do a fantastic job of bringing their own take to the characters we already know. Lily James has big boots to fill with Donna, but she is great as a young Donna who is fun, adventurous and loving. The moment when she starts singing “Mamma Mia!” when she’s broken hearted but then turns it into a moment of strength and joy is infectious.

The songs here are a mixture of the well-known ABBA songs, a lot of which were naturally featured in the first film, and some lesser-known B-sides but they were no less enjoyable. There’s a combination of sad songs and the toe tapping feel-good songs that will have you dancing in your seat. The songs, the drama and the characters all come together to make Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again just as entertaining as the first film.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is a love letter to the relationship between Sophie and Donna. They have such a wonderful mother/daughter relationship and this film manages to make you cry over them. It’s beautiful to have this relationship being the heart of the film, and the story works so well because both characters don’t have to be on screen for you to see how much they mean to one another.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is also very funny. Christine Baranski and Julie Walters are scene-stealers as Donna’s best friends Tanya and Rosie, and their younger counterparts Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies are also brilliantly funny.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is a film that plays with all your emotions. It’s surprisingly sad and touching at times but overall it is a funny and joyful film that makes you forget that the real world isn’t all blue skies and dance numbers for the moment. 5/5.

REVIEW: The Greatest (2009)

Struggling to cope with their son Bennett’s (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) death, Allen (Pierce Brosnan) and Grace’s (Susan Sarandon) world is shaken again when Rose (Carey Mulligan) shows up on their doorstep three months pregnant with their son’s child.

The Greatest is all about grief and how people deal with it in different ways. Allen refuses to speak about Bennett while Grace is single-minded in her mission to find out everything there is to know about her son’s death, rewatching the CCTV footage and talking to nurses and doctors about the night Bennett died. Both parents are so caught up in their grief, or in Allen’s case trying to ignore it, that they almost forget sbout their younger son Ryan (Johnny Simmons) who’s also struggling. Rose is also grieving for a love that has been brutally cut short but she has their child to think of. Sometimes Rose appears more level-headed than Grace and Allen put together.

The Greatest might be a bit predictable but the story is told with such sincerity that you can’t hold the usual genre tropes against it. This story of grief and hope is sometimes like a punch to your emotions and that’s down to the very talented cast. You feel all their pain and Carey Mulligan shows in one of her early film roles what a skilled young actress she is. The Greatest is well worth a watch. 4/5.

My Bondathon is Complete! My thoughts on the James Bond films

I have completed my Bondathon! All the Bond films from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig have been watched and reviewed so now it’s time to have a look at which films are my favourites, who’s my favourite Bond and which Bond song is my favourite. You can check out all my James Bond reviews here in the Bondathon tag.

Favourite Bond Film(s) – I’m going to cheat and break it down into my favourite film featuring each Bond actor.

GoldfingerSean Connery – Goldfinger (1964)
Goldfinger is the definitive Bond film and the template of all Bond films to later follow. It’s got great action, great gadgets and a great Bond girl in Pussy Galore. It also has a clever yet simple plot and an iconic villain in Oddjob.

George Lazenby – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)On-Her-Majestys-Secret-Service-1969-movie-George-Lazenby-Diana-Rigg
OK so George Lazenby only had one outing as Bond but On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is such a great film it deserves a mention. It has Tracey, one of the best Bond girls, and some great action scenes in the snow. It’s also one of the more grown-up and touching Bond films. (more…)

REVIEW: Die Another Day (2002)

Die Another Day Poster 2James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) investigates diamond mogul Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens) and his connections with a North Korean terrorist named Zao (Rick Yune).

The opening sequence was suspenseful and action-packed and Bond’s actions in those first ten minutes had an effect on the rest of the film. It was also good to see how Bond’s escapades have repercussions for M (Judi Dench) and MI6.

Seeing Q (John Cleese) with all the old gadgets was like a trip down memory lane. There was the shoe with a hidden knife from From Russia With Love (1963) and the jet-pack from Thunderball (1965) and probably a lot more that I missed. It was a nice call-back to previous films in the series.

There’s a sword fight between Bond and Graves which was a lot of fun – Madonna even makes a cameo which was weird. The scenes in Iceland and the ice palace hotel are extravagant and they look great but due to a lot of the stunts they also seem quite ridiculous.

Graves wasn’t that much of an intimidating villain, Zao both looked and acted more threatening and his fights with Bond were a lot better. Jinx Johnson (Halle Berry) is the Bond Girl this time round and she’s an American government agent but is not necessarily working towards the same goal Bond is. She’s quite capable and has her moments to shine but does still need rescuing.

Die Another Day is an interesting film. In many ways it’s like the later Roger Moore Bond films as it goes rather outlandish and over the top. There’s the invisible car and a lot of CGI in the film which makes things go slightly unbelievable.

During my Bondathon, I don’t think I’ve ever commented on how a film was shot because nothing that interesting or noticeable has happened before. In Die Another Day there is frequent slow motion shots, that may or may not suddenly then be at double speed, and there’s sudden quick pans around a character a few times as well. It’s different and often jarring as it’s something incredibly noticeable – I don’t think it added anything to the film.

Die Another Day may look good and very modern compared to previous films even in Brosnan’s run, but the characters aren’t compelling and are all cardboard cut-outs of the standard Bond tropes. Also the overuse of special effects makes the film feel dated and a cheap copout for some of the great stunts seen before. 2/5.

REVIEW: The World Is Not Enough (1999)

The_World_is_Not_Enough_Theatrical_PosterJames Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is sent to protect Elektra King (Sophie Marceau) an oil heiress who is under threat from her former kidnapper Renard (Robert Carlyle), a terrorist who can’t feel pain and has plans for nuclear weapons.

The World is Not Enough kicks off with a great boat chase along the Thames and it shows London and the Millennium Dome (now known as the O2 Arena) nicely – I wish the woman Bond was chasing (played by Maria Grazia Cucinotta) was in the film more as she seemed pretty cool. There was also a ski chase in The World Is Not Enough and we haven’t had one of those in a while so it was nice to see a Brosnan-era take on it.

In The World Is Not Enough you see M’s (Judi Dench) softer side and she and Bond are more on a level footing. Bond definitely seems to respect her more than in the previous two Pierce Brosnan films. Also M has a chance to show why she is the head of MI6 and how resourceful she can be even when she seems defenceless.

Elektra is smart and compassionate and definitely one of the more interesting and complex Bond Girls. Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards) is the other Bond Girl and she’s quite competent and smart as she’s nuclear physicist who saves Bond a couple of times.

Renard is quite a manic villain. Having him be a man who feels no pain makes him a formidable villain but he is also quite over the top. His relationship with Elektra is creepy and I’m not sure it was always handled that well as it was sometimes not clear who was in control.

Robbie Coltrane is back as Valentin Zukovsky who we last saw in Goldeneye (1995). He is still a great character and is a lot of fun (though is sometimes a little corny) and his relationship with Bond is a joy to watch.

The World Is Not Enough is Desmond Llewelyn’s last appearance as Q and he’ll definitely be missed. It’s kind of incredible how he’s been in the series since the beginning. But with Q retiring that allows the introduction of R (John Cleese) who seems a bit of a bumbling idiot in comparison to Q.

The action scenes are some of the best in Brosnan’s tenure as Bond – the finale in the submarine is great. The characters are quite different and interesting though some of the performances weren’t always that great. Overall The World Is Not Enough is good fun and an easy watch. 3/5.

REVIEW: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

tomorrow_never_dies_ver3_xlgElliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce), a media mogul plans to induce war between China and the UK in order to get exclusive media coverage. James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) and Chinese secret agent Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh) team up in order to stop him and save both their countries.

There are certainly some memorable action and chase scenes in Tomorrow Never Dies. The sequence in a multi-storey car park with Bond on the back seat of his car, controlling it by remote has been one of my favourites since I first saw the film as a child. Also the sequence where Bond and Wai Lin are handcuffed together and have to ride a motorbike together is well put together and is full of crazy stunts.

Wai Lin is just as smart and resourceful as Bond, though naturally she needs rescuing once or twice. Still she’s a competent agent and has her own scene staling moments.

Elliot Carver is a very over the top villain. The media angle and looking at how far the press will go to get the news first, even manipulating the news to their own ends is quite creepy and today it perhaps even more relevant and scary with today’s focus on phone-hacking and surveillance. But Carver at the head of the operation seems more of a joke, though he can seem threatening, mostly due to his henchmen like Stamper (Götz Otto). Carver also has his own weird ship that can’t be seen on radar and it’s design, both inside and out, is very reminiscent of some of the older Bond films and their eccentric villains seen in the Roger Moore-era films.

Tomorrow Never Dies continues where Goldeneye (1995) left off in setting up M (Judi Dench) as a cool character who often clashes with men in power who don’t always believe that she’s up for the job. The scenes with her and Admiral Roebuck (Geoffrey Palmer) are great.

The action sequences are thrilling and while the power and threat of the media is still incredibly relevant, Elliot Carver is almost a pantomime villain which is rather disappointing. 4/5.

REVIEW: Goldeneye (1995)

Goldeneye_posterJames Bond (Pierce Brosnan) teams up with Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco) the sole survivor of a destroyed Russian research centre to stop the hijacking of a space weapon called Goldeneye that can destroy everything with an electrical signal.

Goldeneye is Pierce Brosnan’s first outing as Bond and probably the first Bond film I ever saw – but I watched Brosnan’s Bond films so long ago when they were on TV that I couldn’t remember much of it at all.

While Desmond Llewelyn still portrays Q – and his relationship with Bond is actually quite fraught and they really don’t seem to like each other which is a stark change to how they were like in Licence to Kill (1989) – Miss Moneypenny is now played by Samantha Bond and Judi Dench steps into the role as M. M’s introduction was great as you got to see how her male colleagues don’t react to her that positively and Bond really doesn’t seem to like her – the scene of them in her office is great and really affirms what sort of woman M is and how she is totally up for being in charge of MI6.

Xenia Oonatopp (Famke Janssen) is a deadly woman who seems to really enjoy causing death and destructions. She’s certainly a memorable Bond Girl. And Natalya was a computer programmer who gets caught up in Bond’s quest to find those who want to hijack Goldeneye. She helps Bond out and while she does need rescuing, she’s also smart and can do things he can’t.

Valentin Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane) is a Russian criminal that kind of helps Bond out. He is a lot of fun and I liked how he and Bond interacted because one is obviously a good guy while the other is the bad guy and they know where each other stands but aren’t afraid to use or help the other out in order to get what they want.

Goldeneye has a great cast and I could talk about them all and their roles at length. Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean) is 006 and his relationship with Bond is fascinating. Boris Grishenko (Alan Cumming) is one of Natalya’s colleagues and he’s not the most likable character but he’s still strangely charming.

There’s a lot of twists and turns with some people from Bond’s past coming back to haunt him in Goldeneye. There’s big action sequences including Bond driving a tank through St Petersburg which is very entertaining. The final showdown in a satellite base is tense, fun and has some great fight scenes. Pierce Brosnan’s run as Bond certainly starts with a bang. 5/5.