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Bond flick stoops to new lows

Posted: Sunday, June 22, 2003

In response to the latest James Bond movie installment, "Die Another Day," I say, why put off until tomorrow what you can do today?

I had the misfortune of renting this movie recently, and the further misfortune of being too cheap to abandon the three bucks I paid for it by turning it off after the opening credits.

This movie was terrible! Who died and put the creator of "Beavis and Butthead" in charge of the Bond scripts? This movie consisted of 10 percent totally implausible plot developments, 10 percent even more implausible techno-gadgets and skin-of-the-teeth getaways, and 150 percent extraordinarily cheesy sex jokes.

If you watch Bond movies you have to expect some blatant sex jokes and a few scenes where women for no apparent rational reason hop into bed with him, even after they just get done trying to kill the guy.

At least in past movies they were clever sex jokes the kind that most middle-age men secretly wish they could come up with when they're drunk and hitting on cocktail waitresses.

Not so in this movie. The jokes in "Die Another Day" were on par with comments preadolescent boys would make to each other in locker rooms. By the end of this movie I was actually expecting one of the actors to use the word "boobies."

These are the kind of jokes that make viewers involuntarily emit guttural sounds of incre-dulous disgust (in my case it was "Gluaaugh!") kind of like the sounds a Himalayan yak would make when choking on a clump of grass, except more disbelieving like a yak that's really surprised to be choking on a clump of grass.

The implausibility factor really got out of hand in this movie, too. I realize implausibility is a major cornerstone of the Bond movie legacy, a trend that was cemented when Timothy Dalton a man who bears a striking resemblance to a constipated marmot took a stint as Bond in the late 1980s. But this installment went too far. Not only does Pierce Brosnan who is well past his time to go the route of Clint Eastwood and transition from action hero to sedate, fatherly roles surf in this movie, but the bad guy's evil weapon is this giant satellite thingy that can focus the sun's light at the push of a button and reflect it down to Earth to torch anything that stands in his way.

Right! Most men can't program VCRs, and we're supposed to believe this dude can operate the remote for that technologically advanced piece of equipment?

Perhaps the most disturbing element of this movie was the absolute trashing of the Bond mystique by the poor use of the ultra-cool Bond line, where he introduces himself as "Bond, James Bond."

In previous Bond flicks, this line is always reserved for the coolest of cool situations, like right before Bond enacts some daring escape or bedazzles some starlet who's lacking in intelligence, but not in fake "boobies."

In "Die Another Day," this line is utterly wasted on the most mundane situations. He uses it when checking into a hotel, for crying out loud! I shudder to think how it will be used in future movies. Ordering pizza, perhaps?

"OK, so that's a large, anchovy-and-sausage with extra cheese. And what's the name on that?

"It's Bond, James Bond."

Or maybe during a prostate exam? (If they don't switch to a younger Bond soon, it's bound to happen.)

"All right, if you could just put this gown on, Mr. ..."

"Bond, James Bond. And here's my urine sample."

I tried not to let these things bother me while watching the movie, but I just couldn't help it. I genuinely like those undercover spy, secret agent, espionage-type movies, so it really annoys me when they're so inexcusably lame.

I think my interest in these flicks comes from the fact that I grew up in Alaska, the state that defies all laws of Hollywood. These movies have always held an interest for me because they are so contrary to the Alaska experience. You certainly couldn't make a Bond movie, or any type of high-tech spy movie here.

This is mainly because so many of these movies rely on high-speed car chase scenes, which would be downright laughable to try to stage in Alaska. Even if you started the scene out in Anchorage, which could look somewhat plausible at first, the cars would have to leave the city eventually.

Let's say they take the Seward Highway down to Kenai. The first dose of ridiculousness would come when they get to the cliffs outside town. The cars Hollywood uses for these scenes are invariably super-charged, sleek sports cars, which are so light they'd be blown into Cook Inlet by the first gust of wind that came up.

Even if they made it to the peninsula turnoff, the cars' super-shiny windshields would cause every moth, butterfly and mosquito for a mile around to swerve and splat onto their windshields, making it impossible for the drivers to see the moose that walk in front of them. Again, with cars as light as those, a run-in with even a day-old moose calf would be enough to crunch those vehicles into something resembling a wad of used Tinfoil.

For the sake of argument, let's just say they make it through the moose-dodge zone to Cooper Landing the ultimate nemesis to any high-speed endeavor. If the hairpin turns don't do the cars in, the RV drivers stomping on the breaks every five feet because they think they saw a bald eagle certainly would.

About the only way a car-chase scene could be made to look realistic in Alaska is if authentic Alaska vehicles were used. It would have to be 20- or 30-year-old, rusted-out, diesel-engine pickup trucks where duct tape and garbage bags are used for the windows and a piece of rope replaces the tailgates; the kind of trucks that you can hear coming from a mile away and smell coming from two miles away.

But, knowing how Hollywood likes to corrupt reality, they'd probably go for some shiny new sports car without so much as a speck of mud on it or even a hairline crack in its windshield.

To that, I say: "Gluaaugh!"

Jenny Neyman is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion.



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