Best Of: James Bond Franchise

Skyfall officially comes out in the U.S. at midnight tonight. The James Bond film franchise is undoubtedly one of the most successful (sorry, Police Academy), so there is plenty of material here to check out the best (and worst) of the franchise.

Top 4 Bond Films

1. Goldfinger (1964)

The iconic Bond film with plenty to offer: a gorgeous Aston Martin, even more gorgeous women, unusual villains…and Pussy Galore. Goldfinger is considered to be the best Bond film by many critics, and even won an Academy Award. Everything about this film is so memorable, Oddjob is one of the most beloved Bond Villains and the death of Jill Masterson is such a striking visual.

2. Casino Royale (2006)

Ah yes, the fear of “Blonde Bond” straying away from the classic Bond look and feel. Well, Daniel Craig really helped those concerns fade with this brilliant reboot of the series. Casino Royale promised to bring back a grittier Bond, freed from the goofy gadgets supplied by Q (and John Cleese). The opening parkour-fueled chase scene really set the tone for the film, and when the guns went away, fans were treated to a tense, entertaining poker game, featuring a rather subdued, unique villain.

3. From Russia With Love (1962)

The second film in the series, From Russia with Love, was a timely film for the Cold War Era. Bond took on his first female villain, adding the complex tug-of-war between Bond’s survival and his libido. Because of the success of Dr. No, the producers of this film were able to get a bigger budget, allowing From Russia with Love to set the standard for the franchise’s blockbuster potential.

4. GoldenEye (1995)

Pierce Brosnan was a great Bond, but he suffered from poor writing. GoldenEye was a great showcase for the Bond of the 90s, with great villains in Sean Bean’s 006 and Famke Janssen’s seductive Xenia Onatopp (yes, on top) providing a refreshing reboot after six years. The first film since the failed Timothy Dalton project, GoldenEye certainly delivered. However, it’s sticking power is not because of the film, which I’ll get into later…

 

Bottom 3 Bond Films

1 (worst). Moonraker (1979)

Guys. Hey, guys….guys! What if, wait, guys, what if we took James Bond, guys…what if we took James Bond…and put him in space???

2. Die Another Day (2006)

After GoldenEye, the Pierce Brosnan era followed up with the eh Tomorrow Never Dies and the somewhat decent The World is Not Enough. The expectations for Die Another Day were huge, specifically because Halle Barry was joining the franchise as a Bond Girl. Said expectations were not met.

3. Octopussy (1983)

What better way to some up Roger Moore’s stint as James Bond than have him wear a clown suit? This contrived Bond film was just as ridiculous as its title. With boring villains and plenty of scenes demeaning the always suave Bond, Octopussy broke the Bond mold…and not in a good way.

 

Ranking the Bonds

1. Sean Connery, the True Bond.

2. Daniel Craig, the Blonde Bond.

3. Pierce Brosnan, the Bond with the Looks.

4. Roger Moore, the Goofy Bond.

5. Timothy Dalton, the Bumbling Bond.

6. George Lazenby, the One-Hit Wonder Bond.

 

Top 3 Bond Villains

1. Alec Trevelyan, aka 006

Betrayal, resurrection, facial scars, and Sean Bean. This is what makes a great bond villain. Like any Bond villain, he seemed indestructible, but only once he returned from the dead.

2. Jaws

Look at the face. How can you not love the guy? Jaws is perhaps the most popular Jaws villain, and managed to make it into two films, Moonraker and The Spy Who Loved Me. I don’t care if those aren’t the two greatest Bond films, because they do have Jaws. (Imagine Rob Gronkowski with those choppers, they’d be twins!)

3. Oddjob

What a smug, hat-throwing bastard. Seriously, who throws a hat?

 

Top 5 Bond Girls

Maybe these are just on looks, maybe not…

1. Giancinta “Jinx” Johnson, played by Halle Barry

2. Honey Rider, played by Ursula Andress

3. Xenia Onatopp, played by Famke Janssen

4. Miranda Frost, played by Rosamund Pike

5. Pussy Galore, played by Honor Blackman

 

Top 3 Bond Songs

1. “Skyfall” by Adele

It’s new, but this song is absolutely amazing and will certainly withstand time. Good luck to the artist who has to follow this. Hopefully it’s not PSY…

2. “Live and Let Die” by Paul McCartney & Wings

Not the best film of the series, but certainly one of the better Bond songs.

3. “Diamonds Are Forever” by Shirley Bassey

It was tough to choose between this and Bassey’s other Bond song contribution on Goldfinger, but I went with this one because of its sticking power. I mean, Kanye and Jay-Z have sampled it!

 

Top 3 Bond Games

1. GoldenEye on N64

Absolute classic game that revolutionized (yes, revolutionized) first-person shooters on consoles. For kids of the 90s, this was THE videogame, from paintball mode, to “Slaps Only!” to disagreeing when the game suggested that you were the “most cowardly.”

2. 007: Nightfire on PS2/Gamecube/Xbox

Tied to no movie specifically, Nightfire was still a blast, especially when you could play against AIs in multiplayer mode, something that does not really exist today. Anyways, there were plenty of fun things to do with this one, from remote controlled helicopters, to being able to kill characters with Oddjob’s hat, to yelling at your friends for using the sentinel way too much.

3. James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing on PS2/Gamecube/Xbox

Everything or Nothing went with a third-person approach in this shooter, while giving nods to some Nightfire gameplay as well. You could still play against AI bots, making it the last of the series with this capability. It had a pretty great plot (I couldn’t even tell you Nightfire‘s) and the anti-gravity cheat made multiplayer hilariously fun.

Well that’s it, the early reviews for Skyfall look great, and after the disappointment that was Quantum of Solace, that’s certainly a welcome sight.

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