Thursday, October 18, 2012

50th Anniversary Bond Rewatch "The World is Not Enough" (1999)

As a fan of the popcorn, guilty pleasure, mindless entertainment aspect of the Bond series of films, I thought it would be interesting to revisit the films with the company of my brain. Maybe there is more to be found than escapism. Maybe some of the culture and thinking of the past 50 years has left its imprint…

Some rank this as the worst of all the Bonds. That is overkill. For all of its shortcomings, none are much worse than many of the other ridiculous entries in the series save perhaps Denise Richards. And, in comparison to all of the other “stinkers” that are ranked with this one near the bottom of the list, this has got to be the most watchable and fun.

The most interesting thing about this entry is (once again) the cultural attitudes it reflects towards women.

First, we have M. Brosnan’s era saw M become a woman, but it is here in the third entry that we see their relationship solidify. It is when M is taken that Bond’s energy rises to a new level. He has always been available for Queen and country, if in a bit flippant way, but now we see a personal involvement. We see his respect for this female figure in a way that we may not have ever seen before.

Then there is Electra King. Our first main female villain. Perhaps the most cynical of the whole lot. She may be one of the better enemies Bond has faced, but what we have here is a Nineties story. No real lofty ideals. Just money and a little bit of revenge. And she is crazy in a mentally disturbed, not just silly cinematic, way.

And, finally, yes. There is Doctor Christmas. Of all the silly Bond girls she is the silliest. Is it sexist to think that we can’t have a young nuclear scientist? Perhaps. The real problem here is the portrayal, not the character. This is bad, but in a guilty pleasure way.

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