The James Bond Story was not a documentary that was screened at any theaters. Its simply a 50 minute history of the character and the film franchise, incorporating interviews with the actors who have played Bond over the years. I went back and forth as to whether or not I should bother reviewing this, but in the end I decided to take the opportunity to explore a little of my impression of James Bond.

I feel like I missed out seeing the best Bond films in a movie theater, which were during the Sean Connery years. I was not born during the Connery run and so my first introduction to Bond was with Roger Moore in Octopussy. I remember greatly enjoying this film and enjoying the subsequent A View to a Kill even more. I was a huge Roger Moore fan, but I was continually reminded of how much better Connery was. I eventually watched the Sean Connery films, which I liked, but because he was not the Bond of my childhood, Roger Moore remained my favorite Bond.

Over the years, my film tastes have matured and I have refined my standards of what constitutes a great film. In looking back at why I preferred Roger Moore over Sean Connery’s James Bond, my preference was nothing more than a childhood first impression. In other words, Roger Moore came first and therefore, he was the best Bond (I also think the awesome Duran Duran song for A View to a Kill had a LOT to do with Moore being my favorite). However, I have come to realize over the years that the enduring appeal of Connery derives from a number of things that cannot be overlooked by any Bond fan. For one, Sean Connery’s rising star status in the subsequent decades following Bond has cemented his interpretation of the character as the most iconic version. Second, when compared to the literary character, Connery better embodied the spirit of the books by perfectly mixing the deadly, cold seriousness of the spy with a romantic sense of charm and humor. Finally, Connery’s physical attributes endeared himself to audiences better than the genteel snobby qualities that Roger Moore seemed to display. You were more convinced that Connery could take on the impossible tasks that were set before him than the comparably frail and much older Moore.

When Roger Moore was finally ready to hang it up after A View to a Kill, the producers had a difficult job of finding a replacement that would match, if not exceed, the enormous success brought by Connery and Moore (I’m not counting George Lazenby for obvious reasons). Timothy Dalton was, to put it mildly, a radical departure from what audiences had seen before. I remember actually enjoying Dalton’s interpretation in The Living Daylights and License to Kill, with the latter being one of the best Bond films I have ever seen. Audiences did not take to Dalton’s hard-edged and serious take as much as I did and his films ended up being financial disappointments. I find this ironic considering that Daniel Craig’s version of James Bond is identical to what Dalton was going for. However, following the light, humorous touch Roger Moore gave the character, audiences were not yet ready for a 180 degree turn in the character.

In 1995, James Bond found an actor who appeared to have been destined and born to be 007: Pierce Brosnan. The documentary mentions that Brosnan had actually been approached to play Bond during the 80s, but his contract under Remington Steele prevented him from taking the role. I remember the weeks leading up to the opening of Goldeneye and how excited fanboys were to see Brosnan play Bond. Brosnan incorporated the best aspects of Sean Connery and Roger Moore in both physical looks and characteristic attributes. Brosnan successfully re-launched the Bond franchise and he continued to play the character for 3 more films after Goldeneye. I was surprised to find that I didn’t care much for Goldeneye, which can perhaps be attributed to my insanely high expectations for the film. Although I liked Pierce Brosnan very much, the only Bond film of his that I consider any good is Tomorrow Never Dies. My biggest issue with these films was that they felt too over-the-top with the use of technology and the Austin Powers-like ridiculousness of the villains. The rule of thumb was bigger is better and, consequently, the films felt overbloated.

The Brosnan films eventually made me not care for James Bond anymore. I felt the producers had lost touch with the essence of the character. It was to my delightful surprise when Daniel Craig came on board and gave the whole franchise a back to basics facelift. Casino Royale, in my opinion, is the best James Bond film yet and even the far weaker Quantum of Solace is an overall good Bond movie. I look forward to see what Craig will continue to do with the character and audiences have shown with their wallets that they agree as well.

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