Saturday, December 22, 2012

Dr. No (1962) review

"Bond. James Bond." The legend begins in Dr. No. Everything iconic about the super spy begins in this film. The beautiful girls. The stunning landscapes. The gun shot through a barrel opening. The memorable characters that would be in all Bond films to come. Felix, Q, M, Moneypenny; they're all here. Dr. No is not a great film but it is so memorable because it establishes everything we love about Bond in great style. There is not much action and there is some bad acting (Quarrel) and it isn't as outlandish as some other Bond film but it was the first and without everything that it does, we wouldn't have James Bond.

Dr. No has Bond traveling to Jamaica to investigate Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman), a member of SPECTRE that is planning something against the US space program. In Jamaica, Bond teams up with Felix Leiter (Jack Lord), Quarrel, and Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress) to stop Dr. No and save the US space program.

First off, I will say that Dr. No is pretty slow. Compared to other Bond films, this is like a PBS documentary. There is not much in terms of gun play or fighting and more time spent establishing the character. The villain also is very weak. Dr. No comes into play only in the final twenty minutes of the film and even then his screen time is minute. His plan is never very clear and Joseph Wiseman doesn't quite have the charisma like the other Bond villains that helps him to just control the screen with his performance.

But where Dr. No fails is fixed in the Bond films that came after and the precedents it set are still used in Bond films today. The beautiful girls, the Bond formula, and the characters are timeless and have helped sustain the Bond films for the past 50 years. While Dr. No is not necessarily a great film, it is iconic and must watch for any fan of the franchise. After watching several Bond films and then watching this one, it brought a smile to my face to see it all begin. Dr. No is something that all action fans and all Bond fans must watch.

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