HULK VS. JAMES BOND: STARING INTO THE ID OF A BONER INCARNATE

Day 1 of a four-day, Hulk-sized examination into every single James Bond film. 

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, FRIENDS AND COUNTRYMEN, LET US GATHER ROUND SO THAT WE MAY TALK OF AN ICON OF INFLUENCE.

* * *

OBLIGATORY PREAMBLE: WHEN HULK FIRST STARTED THIS HERE COLUMN IT WAS INTENDED TO BE A LITTLE BLURB ABOUT THE CHARACTER OF JAMES BOND AND HIS SIGNIFICANCE AS WE APPROACHED THE NEWEST ENTRY IN THE BOND SERIES: SKYFALL (YES, HULK STARTED THIS PROJECT THAT LONG AGO). BUT AS HULK PRESSED ON WITH SAID BLURB, IT NATURALLY GREW AND GREW INTO SOMETHING MORE... COMPLICATED. BECAUSE THERE'S THIS WEIRD THING THAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT JAMES BOND, IN THAT THERE IS SO MUCH HISTORY TO THE VARIOUS INCARNATIONS THAT TO EVEN TALK ABOUT HOW JAMES BOND "WORKS" IN A BROAD SENSE, YOU CAN'T REFERENCE ONE THING WITHOUT REFERENCING ANOTHER THING. AND SOON YOU JUST KEEP TALKING ABOUT THE INTERRELATION TO THE POINT THAT IT BECOMES WAY TOO DENSE TO APPROACH IN SUCH AN INDIRECT MANNER. AND THAT'S WHEN HULK REALIZED THAT IT JUST MADE TOO MUCH SENSE TO DIG INTO EVERY SINGLE BOND MOVIE AND TALK ABOUT THEM IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. IT REALLY IS THE BEST WAY TO EXPLAIN THE EBBS AND FLOWS OF THE CHARACTER, ALL OF WHICH ARE THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING THE REAL ISSUES WITHIN HIM (AND ALSO WITHIN US).

THE END RESULT OF THAT DECISION IS THE FOLLOWING BOOK-LENGTH SERIES OF COLUMNS, WHICH COMPRISE ABOUT 25 INTER-DEPENDENT ESSAYS / EVALUATIONS AND 72,866 WORDS IN TOTAL. PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT HULK MERELY OFFERS THESE FIGURES AS A WARNING (OR PERHAPS THREAT). OR PERHAPS THIS IS JUST HULK'S WAY OF SAYING, "HEY HULK WROTE YOU A BOOK FOR FREE!" (WE'LL GET TO THE MEANING OF THAT LATER). BUT REALLY HULK JUST WANTS YOU TO UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE GETTING YOURSELF INTO. THIS SILLY OPUS STARTS WITH AN INTRODUCTION ABOUT WHY THE CHARACTER SEEMS TO HAVE RESONATED WITH THE PUBLIC FOR SO LONG, THEN THE COLUMN MOVES ON TO HULK'S TAKE ON THE 23 CANONICAL MOVIES BY EON PRODUCTIONS IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. RATHER THAN SPILL OUT ONE PER DAY, WE WILL BE RELEASING THEM IN BATCHES FOR MORE DEXTERITY. ON DAY 1 WE WILL TACKLE THE CONNERY ERA. DAY 2 IS "THE AWKWARD TRANSITION" YEARS. DAY 3 WILL BE THE 80'S. AND DAY FOUR IS FROM THE 90'S ONWARD. AND PLEASE NOTE THAT THERE WILL ONLY BE MINOR DISCUSSION OF THE BOOKS IN THIS COLUMN SERIES (FOR REASONS THAT WILL BECOME CLEAR OVER TIME).

HULK HAS TALKED ABOUT THESE COLUMNS A BUNCH IN PUBLIC AND MANY OF YOU HAVE ASKED IF YOU SHOULD RE-WATCH THE SERIES BEFORE READING AND, QUITE FRANKLY, HULK'S NOT ENTIRELY SURE. IT'S CERTAINLY NOT NECESSARY, AND MIGHT EVEN BE FUN TO SEE HOW HULK DESCRIBES SOME OF THE CRAZINESS OF THESE FILMS WITHOUT ANY REFERENCE POINTS. AND FOR SOME OF THESE ESSAYS IT MIGHT ALSO BE FUN TO DEPEND ON YOUR RUSTY MEMORY AND THEN REVISIT THEM THROUGH THE LENS OF HULK'S TAKE. BUT FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO WANT TO REVISIT ALONG WITH THE COLUMN ITSELF, TO THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE TIME, THEN YES: IT MIGHT BE A TON OF FUN TO READ ALONG AS YOU WATCH. BUT AS FOR WHATEVER YOU CHOOSE TO DO, HULK'S HONESTLY NOT SURE AND IS MOST CURIOUS TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE IN YOUR RESPONSES.

THIS ALSO COMES WITH ONE LAST WARNING: THE FOLLOWING IS NOT A "HISTORY OF JAMES BOND" OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT. IN FACT, THERE ISN'T A SINGULAR APPROACH TO ANY OF THESE ESSAYS. SOMETIMES THEY'LL SUMMARIZE THE HILARITY OF A PLOT. AT OTHER TIMES IT DELVES INTO DEEP-TISSUE ANALYSIS ABOUT THE FUNCTION OF BOND MOVIES. SOMETIMES IT WILL GET INTO THE HISTORICAL SITUATION OF THE ERA. AND SOMETIMES IT WILL EVEN PULL BACK TO LOOK AT THE ART OF CINEMA ON THE WHOLE. AND YES, WHILE THE COLUMNS TOUCH ON THE HISTORY OF THE CHARACTER OR THE PRODUCTIONS, IT SHOULD BY NO MEANS BE REGARDED AS "A COMPLETIONIST GUIDE TO THE SERIES," OR ANYTHING SO CONCRETE AS THAT.

INSTEAD, ALL THIS COLUMN SERIES IS TRYING TO DO IS WHAT HULK IS ALWAYS TRYING TO DO: TO MAKE A THOROUGH AND EARNEST ATTEMPT TO ENGAGE THE MOST INTERESTING CONVERSATION ON A GIVEN SUBJECT. AND THIS TIME, OUR SUBJECT IS NONE OTHER THAN 50 WILD AND WEIRD YEARS OF JAMES BOND.

WITH THAT, LET'S GET TO IT.

INTRODUCTION - WHY JAMES BOND?

LIKE MANY FOLKS IN THIS FINE WORLD, WHEN HULK WAS LITTLE (WELL, LESS HULK-SIZED), HULK HAD  A GREAT LOVE FOR THE JAMES BOND MOVIES. IT SEEMS LIKE EVERY GENERATION OF YOUNG BOYS SORT OF GROWS UP ON THOSE THINGS, DOESN'T IT? HULK ESPECIALLY REMEMBERS BEING DELIGHTED WHEN THEY SHOWED UP ON THOSE NEWFANGLED THINGS WE CALLED "V/H/S CASSETTES," AND HULK CAN REMEMBER RENTING THEM OVER AND OVER AGAIN. AND LATER ON, WHO DIDN'T LOVE HAVING SICK DAYS FROM SCHOOL WHERE WE GOT TO PARK OUR BUTTS ON A SOFA FOR THE WELL-TIMED T.B.S. BOND MARATHON? BUT OF COURSE LITTLE-HULK LOVED THOSE MOVIES. THAT'S BECAUSE WHEN YOU'RE A YOUNG LAD, THE JAMES BOND MOVIES JUST SEEM TO DEFINE COOL. THEY ARE FULL OF ACTION, ADVENTURE, GADGETRY, PRETTY LADIES AND IT'S ALL THROWN TOGETHER WITH A SENSE OF GOOD OLD-FASHIONED FUN. BUT AT THE HEART OF LOVING JAMES BOND THERE IS AN INESCAPABLE, PESKY, LITTLE PROBLEM THAT COMES TO LIGHT WHEN LOOKING AT THE CHARACTER THROUGH AN ADULT LENS...

JAMES BOND IS THE SUPERHERO OF MALE INDULGENCE.

THAT MAY NOT NECESSARILY SEEM LIKE A PROBLEM TO MOST OF YOU. HECK, SOME OF YOU WOULD PROBABLY CLARIFY THAT AS A GOOD THING. BUT LET'S DEFINE THE CHARACTER CONCRETELY: JAMES BOND KICKS IMPOSSIBLE AMOUNTS OF BUTT, ALWAYS SAVES THE DAY, GETS ALLLLLLLLL THE LADIES, ANNOYS HIS SUPERIORS, SCREWS AUTHORITY, DRESSES WELL, GAMBLES WELL, IS SOMEHOW ALWAYS DEBONAIR - YET HE DOESN'T CARE ABOUT THE RULES, AND NO MATTER HE WHAT, HE ALWAYS, ALWAYS GETS HIS WAY. AND YEAH, THIS DEVIL-MAY-CARE ATTITUDE MAKES HIM OBVIOUSLY SUPER AWESOME AND COOL, BUT IF WE'RE BEING HONEST...

IT IS ALSO THE THING THAT MAKES HIM KIND OF SUPER-DANGEROUS TOO.

NOW.

THERE IS AN UNMISTAKABLE DANGER HERE THAT READERS MIGHT MAKE ASSUMPTIONS THAT HULK IS BEING SOME OVER-SENSITIVE NINNY. BUT REALLY, THIS IS ETYMOLOGICAL AND PURPOSEFUL. HULK IS ACTUALLY SORT OF OBSESSED WITH THE ICONOGRAPHY OF BELOVED CULTURAL FIGURES AND LOVES DELVING INTO THE PSYCHOLOGY OF WHY WE LIKE/LOVE/WATCH/IDENTIFY WITH SAID HEROES. THERE IS A PSYCHOLOGY TO WHY WE LOVE SUPERMAN AND THERE IS A DIFFERENT PSYCHOLOGY TO WHY WE LOVE BATMAN. AND HULK FINDS THE WAYS WE LOVE THINGS TO BE REALLY INTERESTING. AND WHEN YOU LOOK AT JAMES BOND IN TERMS OF WHY WE LOVE HIM AND HOW WE LOVE HIM, THEN IT ALL BECOMES REAAAAALLY INTERESTING. BECAUSE, SURE, ALL THOSE REBELLIOUS TRAITS ARE ATTRACTIVE AND MAYBE EVEN HARMLESS IN A CERTAIN FLUFFY ENTERTAINMENT CONTEXT, BUT THE PROBLEM IS THAT WE ARE DEALING WITH A HERO WHO, GIVEN THE DESCRIPTION ABOVE, SEEMS LIKE A PERFECT ANTI-HERO, RIGHT?

BUT THAT'S THE WHOLE THING. JAMES BOND ISN'T AN ANTI-HERO. NO ONE WOULD GO AROUND DESCRIBING HIM AN AS AN ANTI-HERO. INSTEAD, HE'S A CHARACTER WHOSE EVERY NEGATIVE, IMMATURE BEHAVIOR IS OUTRIGHT REWARDED. AND WORSE, IT SEEMS THAT EVERY HUMANE OR DECENT EMOTION HE OFFERS IS ONE THAT IS ULTIMATELY PUNISHED. EVEN THEN, THERE IS NO MORAL PLAY INVOLVED TO ANY OF THESE MOVIES. ALL OF JAMES BOND'S HEROIC EFFORTS TO SAVE THE WORLD RARELY COME FROM A PLACE OF ETHOS, BUT INSTEAD A PLACE OF EGO. IT'S NOT, "Oh no! I'm worried about people!" IT'S MORE LIKE: "Fuck you, bad guy! I'm the best!" AND SO IT'S NOT REALLY ANY ONE THING, BUT MORE WHEN YOU PUT ALL THESE PIECES TOGETHER YOU GET A LARGER PICTURE OF THE STARK TERMS AND LARGER PSYCHOLOGY OF "WHY." AND IT IS THERE THAT THE NOTION OF JAMES BOND'S GOOD GUY STATUS AND THE PROSPECT OF "WHY WE LIKE HIM" GETS A LITTLE DICEY. AND AGAIN, HULK KNOWS THAT THE EDGES ARE SOFTENED SO THAT'S HE'S MORE PALATABLE FOR THE PUBLIC, BUT HULK IS ASKING "WHAT ARE WE ACTUALLY SOFTENING HERE? NOTE HOW ALAN MOORE ONCE APTLY EXPOSED THIS KIND OF SUPER MALE HEROIC PSYCHOLOGY FOR EXACTLY WHAT IT WAS. AND NO, HULK ISN'T JUST TALKING ABOUT BOND'S CAMEO IN LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, WHERE HE IS A HARD-NOSED, EVIL RAPIST WORKING FOR THE GOVERNMENT, BUT ACTUALLY WITH THE CHARACTER OF THE COMEDIAN TOO; WHO IS A PERVERSION OF THE MALE DREAM AND EVERY WHIM GETTING REWARDED TEN-FOLD. AGAIN, THIS IS A PROBLEM OF THE PSYCHOLOGY. AND PSYCHOLOGICALLY-SPEAKING, HULK WOULD ARGUE WE GO DOWN AN EXTRAORDINARILY COMPLEX AND TROUBLING PATH OF MOVIE-WATCHING ENJOYMENT WHEN WE ENJOY JAMES BOND.

PICTURED: NON-COMPLEXITY.

... AND HULK STILL WORRIES THAT A LOT OF YOU ARE BUYING THIS CONCEIT RIGHT NOW.

IT'S CERTAINLY UNDERSTANDABLE. BUT AT THE ROOT OF ALL OF THIS, THERE'S THE BASIC HUMAN UNDERSTANDING THAT JUST BECAUSE AN IMPULSE FEELS GOOD OR SEEMS GOOD DOESN'T MEAN IT IS GOOD. SO LET'S PUT IT LIKE THIS: TO MANY PEOPLE, SEAN CONNERY IS THE DEFINITIVE VERSION OF THE MOVIE-UNIVERSE JAMES BOND CHARACTER, RIGHT? (CUE ARGUMENTS, BUT KEEP IN MIND HULK SAYING DEFINITIVE, NOT BEST). NOW, HULK UNDERSTANDS WHY THIS IS THE CASE: NOT ONLY DID CONNERY FIRST DEFINE THE ROLE, BUT THERE WAS JUST SOMETHING SO EFFORTLESSLY COOL ABOUT THE WAY HE DID IT (SADLY, THIS SAME EFFORTLESSNESS IS WHAT USHERED IN HIS LATER “GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS” ATTITUDE OF HIS LAST FILMS). NOW, THE PROBLEMS WITH CONNERY’S BOND ARE SOMEWHAT OBVIOUS. WHILE HE IS BOTH STRONG AND CONFIDENT, HE IS ALSO RATHER SURLY IN THOSE ATTRIBUTES. HE SEEMS TO INSTIGATE INSTITUTIONAL REBELLION NOT FOR ANY GREATER CAUSE, BUT ONLY FOR REBELLION'S SAKE. AND MUCH MORE PROBLEMATIC, HIS BOND IS, LIKE, RIDICULOUSLY HYPER-SEXIST. PEOPLE ALWAYS TOSS THIS OFF WITH AN EXPLANATION THAT IT IS JUST DATED, BUT PEOPLE REALLY SEEM TO FORGET THAT BOND WAS INTENDED TO BE A THROWBACK EVEN THEN. REALLY. AND BECAUSE OF ALL OF THESE ANACHRONISTIC COMPLICATIONS, IT MANIFESTS TO MOST MODERN VIEWERS AS A SECRETLY (OR NOT-SO-SECRETLY) CONFLICTED EXPERIENCE.

BECAUSE ON ONE HAND, IT'S EASY FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE TO LAUGH OFF THE HYPER-SEXISM OF JAMES BOND AND SAY "HA! LOOK AT THIS RIDICULOUS, ANTIQUATED PERSON, HOW SILLY DID WE USED TO BE?" BUT ON THE OTHER HAND ISN'T THIS THE SAME EXACT GUY WE'RE SUPPOSED TO BE MINDLESSLY INDULGING IN? AND THE FILMS ALWAYS SEEM TO HAVE THIS PROBLEM WHERE, FOR EVERY CHANCE WE HAVE TO LAUGH IT OFF, THERE WILL BE ANOTHER MOMENT THAT IS IMBUED WITH AN UBER-CREEPY ATTITUDE OF "BUT ISN'T THIS THE WAY IT SHOULD REALLY BE? EH? EHHHHH?" ESPECIALLY IF YOU GO BACK TO THE ROOT OF THE CHARACTER AND LOOK AT IAN FLEMING'S BOOKS, WHICH WERE FAR WORSE OFFENDERS IN THIS REGARD AND FEATURED ALL SORTS OF TANGENTIAL HOMOPHOBIC RANTS AND THE WHOLE NINE YARDS. HULK ALSO REALIZES THAT EVEN BRINGING THIS UP GETS US INTO A PRECARIOUS DISCUSSION WHERE ALL OF US HAVE DIFFERENT ATTITUDES AND VALUES TOWARD WHAT EVEN CONSTITUTES SEXISM, BUT IN AN EFFORT TO CUT THROUGH A LOT OF BULLCRAP OF WHAT IS/IS NOT OKAY, CAN WE AT LEAST AGREE THAT THERE IS A STRONG ELEMENT IN THE BOND SERIES OF WHAT OUR MODERN SOCIETY DEEMS AS "A SEXIST ATTITUDE" ALONG WITH A SUPER-STRONG EMPHASIS ON MALE FULFILLMENT? WHETHER OR NOT YOU MAY FIND SAID SEXIST ATTITUDE INNOCUOUS, CAN WE AT LEAST DO THAT? BECAUSE WHILE THERE IS NO DENYING THE ALLURE TO MALES OF A SUPER AWESOME SECRET AGENT WHO GETS TO SLEEP WITH ANYONE HE WANTS, HULK JUST WANTS TO ENGAGE THE COMPLICATED THINGS THAT COME OUT OF IT... LIKE HOW HE SEEMS TO TAKE PARTICULAR PLEASURE IN BEDDING OTHER PEOPLE'S SPOUSES/GIRLFRIENDS, OR HOW HE TREATS WOMEN LIKE SHIT, OR ENDANGERS THEIR LIVES OR SEXUALLY BLACKMAILS THEM. IT'S FAIR TO SAY MOST MODERN ENTRIES HAVE ATTEMPTED TO CORRECT THIS TO SOME DEGREE, BUT THIS INDULGENT SEXUALIZATION (OFT WRIT INTO A WEIRD PSYCHOLOGY) HOPELESSLY REMAINS A KEY PART OF THE CHARACTER'S IDENTITY.

WHICH LEADS TO A WHOLE DIFFERENT SET OF QUESTIONS: WHY IS THAT BEHAVIOR SO NECESSARY FOR THESE FILMS? WHY IS IT SO BAD? ARE THERE KINDS OF SEXUALITIES PRESENT THAT ARE GOOD? SHOULDN'T THERE AT LEAST BE ROOM FOR SEXUALITY IN OUR PG-13 HOMOGENIZED TENT-POLE CULTURE? HOW COULD YOU EVEN MAKE A DE-SEXUALIZED BOND ANYWAY? (THOUGH QUANTUM OF SOLACE CERTAINLY TRIED). IN WHAT FORMS IS THAT HYPER-SEXUALITY SAFE? IN WHAT FORMS IS IT DANGEROUS? AND WHAT IS IT ABOUT THAT SEXUALIZATION THAT CREATES SO MANY DISTINCTLY NEGATIVE TRAITS?

WE COULD SIT HERE ARGUING THE MERITS OF THESE QUESTIONS ALL DAY, BUT TO HULK ALL THESE QUESTIONS LEAD UP TO THE GRANDDADDY QUESTION OF THEM ALL:

"WHO IS JAMES BOND AND WHAT DO WE GET OUT OF WATCHING HIM?"

BESIDES BEING AROUSED.

BUT LET'S GO BACK TO WHAT HULK SAID BEFORE: JAMES BOND IS A SUPERHERO.

EVEN IN THE MOST LOGICAL SENSE, THERE IS ALMOST NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HIM AND BATMAN, OTHER THAN THE FACT THAT ONE HAS FULL GOVERNMENT APPROVAL AND THE OTHER HAS TACIT CITY APPROVAL. BUT THE THING THAT MAKES JAMES BOND UNIQUE IS THAT WE CAN TRULY CLASSIFY HIM AS THE MOST UNAPOLOGETICALLY MALE SUPERHERO IN OUR MODERN MYTHOS. THINK ABOUT IT. POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE, HE'S ALL THE CLICHÉS: HE'S STRONG. HE'S POWERFUL. HE IS THAT CLASSIC ARCHETYPE OF "THE PROTECTOR" - ONLY WHAT HE PROTECTS, FIRST AND FOREMOST, IS ENGLISH SOVEREIGNTY. HE EVEN BEHAVES IN A WAY THAT IS SELF-INTERESTED TO THE POINT OF VIGILANTISM. BUT IN ALL THIS CRITICISM, LET US NOT FORGET THAT HE'S ALSO SMART AND CAPABLE. DESPITE HIS OVER-CONFIDENCE, HE CAN HANDLE ANY SCENARIO AT A GIVEN MOMENT. HE'S CULTURED AND DEBONAIR. HE CAN TRAVEL ABOUT THE WORLD WITH EASE. HE ALWAYS SEEMS TO BE FRIENDS WITH EVERY KIND OF LOCAL, NO MATTER THEIR RACE OR NATIONALITY (THIS CAN ALSO HAVE ITS PROBLEMS AS THE FILMS ARE OBVIOUSLY GOING OUT OF THEIR WAY TO SHOW THIS ENGLISH SQUARE GUY IS COOL AND DOWN WITH ALL THE LOCALS. BUT OF COURSE HE WOULD BE, AS THAT'S THE MOST INDULGENT CHOICE). SO IN MANY WAYS, JAMES BOND REPRESENTS AN OUTRIGHT CELEBRATION OF TRADITIONAL MALENESS, WITH ALL THE GOOD AND BAD THAT COMES ALONG WITH IT, BUT THE KEY DIFFERENCE IS THAT REPRESENTATION TREATS BAD AS GOOD TOO. IT'S THE UTTER EMPOWERMENT OF EVERYTHING MALE. AND EVEN THOUGH HULK IS USING THE TERMS MALE AND FEMALE THROUGHOUT THIS ESSAY, PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT HULK IS ONE OF THOSE FOLKS WHO WHOLLY ADVOCATES THE "GENDER IS SELF-IDENTIFICATION" LINE OF THOUGHT, SO WE'RE STRICTLY TALKING ABOUT POPULAR SOCIETAL CLASSIFICATIONS HERE, MEANING THE KIND OF "MALENESS" WE'RE DISCUSSING IS JUST TRADITIONAL WESTERN MALENESS.

IT KEEPS GOING BACK TO THE TOTAL INDULGENT CELEBRATION THING. BECAUSE IF WE WERE STUDYING ALL OF THESE POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE BOND TRAITS IN FILMS THAT WERE CONSTRUCTED AS ANALYTICAL CHARACTER PIECES, THEN IT WOULD BE ALL WELL AND GOOD. MAYBE EVEN FASCINATING. BUT AGAIN, THE BASIC PROBLEM COMES DOWN TO THE FACT THAT WE ARE NOT STUDYING BOND IN THESE MOVIES, WE ARE INDULGING IN HIM. AND WE ARE INDULGING IN A VERY SPECIFIC, NON-DISTANT WAY. FOR...

RARELY DO WE SIT BACK AND THINK ABOUT JAMES BOND.

RARELY DO WE EVER REALLY EMPATHIZE WITH BOND.

INSTEAD, WE JUST WANT TO BE JAMES BOND.

WE WANT TO BE COOL. WE WANT THOSE GADGETS. WE WANT TO DO ALL THOSE COOL THINGS HE'S DOING.  WE WANT THE GUNS. WE WANT THE GIRLS. AND JUST ABOUT EVERY BOND FILM KNOWS THIS. THAT'S THE REAL REASON THEY BECOME REPETITIVE VEHICLES FOR THE SAME OLD STUFF. THAT'S WHY EVERY ACTOR WHO PLAYS THE ROLE STARTS TO CATER TO THE INDULGENCE MORE AND MORE AS THEY GO DEEPER INTO THEIR RUN. WE ARE JUST GIVING INTO THE CINEMATIC EXTRAVAGANCE OF THE WHOLE THING. THAT'S WHY WE'RE THERE, RIGHT? AND IT'S PRECISELY THE SAME REASON JAMES BOND HAS SEX WITH JUST ABOUT EVERY WOMAN WHO APPEARS ON SCREEN. COULD HULK JUST CHALK ALL THIS UP AS SHAMEFULLY OBVIOUS AND CHUCKLE? MAYBE. BUT IF HULK DID, THEN HULK WOULD ALSO BE SHRUGGING OFF THE TROUBLING TIMES WHEN BOND'S SUCH AN ASSHOLE TO THESE WOMEN. THESE FILMS ARE SO TOTAL IN THEIR EXCESSIVE APPROACH + PROBLEMATIC PSYCHOLOGY THAT THE WHOLE MECHANISM SIMPLY CAN'T BE SHRUGGED OFF.

AND REALLY, THIS WHOLE NATURE OF INDULGENCE ACTUALLY GETS INTO HULK'S ONGOING IDEAS ABOUT ART AND PORNOGRAPHY, THE CONCEIT OF WHICH BASICALLY GOES LIKE THIS:

ON THE SPECTRUM OF CONSUMING MEDIA THERE IS "PURPOSEFUL ART" ON ONE END AND "PORNOGRAPHY" ON THE OTHER. NOW, THERE'S NOTHING NECESSARILY WRONG WITH EITHER, AS BOTH HAVE ROLES IN OUR LIVES. BUT THE IDEA OF "PORNOGRAPHY" IN MEDIA CONSUMPTION IS THAT IT IS OF A STRICTLY FUNCTIONAL AND UTILITARIAN PURPOSE. IT'S ABOUT RELEASE, SEXUAL OR OTHERWISE. IT'S ABOUT ESCAPE AND FANTASY. IT'S ABOUT FEELING ECSTASY AND EVEN MENTAL MASTURBATION. IT'S ABOUT DISPLACING YOU FROM YOURSELF AND PUTTING YOU INTO AN EXPERIENCE WHERE YOU ARE GETTING ALL THE THINGS YOU WANT. FOR PORNOGRAPHY OBLIGES. AND THERE'S A LOT OF DEBATE OVER WHETHER OR NOT ANY OF THIS IS INHERENTLY SOMETHING BAD AND HULK WON'T EXPRESSLY TRY TO ANSWER THAT ONE AT THE MOMENT, BUT LET'S AT LEAST AGREE THAT MOST PEOPLE NEED THESE KINDS OF RELEASES, BUT LIKE MOST THINGS IN OUR LIVES, IT IS REALLY ABOUT UNDERSTANDING AND CREATING BALANCE.

NOT PICTURED: BALANCE.

THE PROBLEM IS THAT RIGHT NOW IT REALLY SEEMS LIKE MOST OF THE POPULATION CONSUMES MEDIA IN AN INDULGENT, PORNOGRAPHIC FASHION. THERE ARE ENTIRE SECTIONS OF THE POPULATION WHO ONLY WANT MOVIES TO DO WHAT THEY WANT. WHO VICARIOUSLY PLACE THEMSELVES INTO THE SITUATIONS AT PLAY AND WANT ONLY GRATIFICATION FROM THEM. FORGET ABOUT THIS EFFECT ON DRAMA OR STORY, IT'S ABOUT WHAT WE FEEL WE'RE OWED. AND IT'S HOW WE GET A SERIES OF IMPOSSIBLE AND UNSTOPPABLE BADASS HEROES. IT'S HOW WE GET HYPER-ATTRACTIVE LADY-PLACEHOLDERS TO LOOK AT. IT'S WHY WE HEAVILY REWARD EVERY DESIRABLE BEHAVIOR AND RENEGADE ATTITUDE. HELL, OUR PROPENSITY FOR SUCH COLOSSAL INDULGENCE GAVE US ENTOURAGE, WHICH IS PERHAPS THE MOST LIFESTYLE-PORNOGRAPHIC SHOW EVER MADE (EVEN THE CONFLICTS COULDN'T BE BOTHERED TO ACTUALLY BE DRAMATIC). BUT HEY, MAYBE THIS HAPPENS IN MOVIES/TV BECAUSE LIVING VICARIOUSLY THROUGH THEM IS SO DAMN EASY. WE JUST SIT IN THE DARK AND LET THESE FILMS LIVE IN OUR BRAINS. BUT HULK CAN'T QUITE SAY THIS IS EVIL OR ANYTHING, BECAUSE HULK WILL ADMIT THAT CONSUMING MEDIA IN A PORNOGRAPHIC WAY CAN BE A FAIRLY INNOCUOUS ENDEAVOR IN AND OF ITSELF... BUT IT CAN STILL DEFINITELY LEAD TO PROBLEMS WHEN WE WORSHIP IT.

PUT IT LIKE THIS: ON THE OTHER END OF THE SPECTRUM, WE HAVE PURPOSEFUL ART. HULK'S TALKED ABOUT THE REFLEXIVE, EVASIVE NATURE OF TRYING TO DEFINE ART BEFORE, SO LET'S DO THE SHORT VERSION. YES ART CAN BE ANYTHING AS LONG WE CALL IT ART, BUT HULK IS TALKING ABOUT THE SPECIFIC FORM OF ART THAT IS AT THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING IN OUR LIVES. PURPOSEFUL ART IS THE REASON WE TELL STORIES AND ENGAGE IN THIS COMMON EXPERIENCE. IT'S HOW WE SHAPE THE STORIES OF OUR LIVES AND PROVIDE CONTEXT AND MEANING TO THOSE LIFE STORIES. AND THAT KIND OF ART ISN'T REALLY ABOUT WHAT WE WANT, BUT INSTEAD WHAT WE NEED. IT GIVES US CONFLICT, AND CHALLENGES OUR NOTIONS AND INFORMS LIFE'S GREATER NARRATIVE. IT MAY FIND ITS WAY INTO OUR HEARTS AND MINDS THROUGH AN EMOTIONAL AND VICARIOUS EXPERIENCE, BUT THEN ART HAS THE ABILITY TO ACTUALLY TRANSFORM US WITH ITS THOUGHTFUL WAYS. ART MAKES US AWARE AND IT NEVER OBLIGES US. AND THE POINT IS THIS: WHEN YOU LOOK OVER THE TWO ENDS OF THE SPECTRUM, THERE IS NO DENYING SOMETHING OBVIOUS...

THE JAMES BOND MOVIES ARE DOWNRIGHT PORNOGRAPHIC.

WHICH SOUNDS PRETTY AWFUL, BUT AGAIN PORNOGRAPHY ISN'T BAD IN AND OF ITSELF... THE PROBLEM IS WHEN WE TAKE PORNOGRAPHY SERIOUSLY AND TREAT IT THE SAME WAY WE TREAT ART. WHEN IT BECOMES OUR MODEL FOR LIVING. WHEN IT BECOMES A PART OF THE WAY WE INTERPRET OUR WORLD AND HOW IT WORKS. YOU MAY SHAKE YOUR HEAD AT THE NOTION OF SOMEONE LOOKING TOWARD PORNOGRAPHY AS A MODEL FOR RELATIONSHIPS, BUT THE FACT IS THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT MANY PEOPLE DO, WHETHER THEY REALIZE IT OR NOT. IT BECOMES THEIR MODEL FOR SEX AND THEN THEY CAN'T HELP BUT LET SEX FRAME HOW THEY SEE SAID RELATIONSHIPS. SERIOUSLY, THIS CONSUMING-PORNOGRAPHY-AS-ART-IS-MEANT-TO-BE-CONSUMED THING HAPPENS ALL THE TIME. AND BRINGING IT BACK TO JAMES BOND, WE HAVE A WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE TAKING THESE MOVIES REALLY, REALLY SERIOUSLY. TO THE POINT THAT THEY ARE MODELING THEIR WANTS IN LIFE ON THEM AND LETTING IT IMPACT THEIR BEHAVIOR. WHEN THAT LINE IS CROSSED, THEN YES, PORNOGRAPHY AND THE WAY WE INDULGE IN IT BECOMES A REALLY SERIOUS THING.

SO WHAT DO YOU DO ABOUT IT?

GIVEN THESE STATEMENTS IT WOULD BE EASY FOR HULK TO SIT BACK AND START JUDGING EVERYONE, TO START CALLING FOR A RADICAL CHANGE TOWARD ELIMINATING THIS KIND OF ENTERTAINMENT, BUT 1) THAT WOULD BE RIDICULOUS, 2) WE'D LIKELY BE ELIMINATING A LOT OF GENUINELY GOOD STUFF TOO AND 3) IF HULK DID THAT HULK WOULD BE TAPPING INTO ONE INTRINSIC AND SERIOUS BIT OF HYPOCRISY...

BECAUSE HULK STILL REALLY, REALLY LIKES THE JAMES BOND MOVIES.

WELL, MOST OF THEM, AT LEAST.

AND DOES THIS CONTRADICTION MEAN HULK IS AN IDIOT JERK? NO. DOES THAT MEAN HULK IS GUILTY OF LIKING A PORNOGRAPHIC PIECE OF MEDIA STRICTLY FOR THAT REASON? CLEARLY NOT. DOES IT EVEN MEAN THAT HULK WILL MAKE CEREBRAL ARGUMENTS TO JUSTIFY INDULGENT FANTASIES THAT CATER TO HULK'S PREFERENCES? FOR SOME MAYBE, BUT HULK IS GOING TO ARGUE NO. WHAT HULK HOPES THIS DYNAMIC REVEALS IS THAT THERE IS ALWAYS A WAY TO INDULGE OURSELVES IN THE PORNOGRAPHIC EXPERIENCE AS LONG AS WE FULLY RECOGNIZE WE ARE ACTUALLY INDULGING IN A PORNOGRAPHIC EXPERIENCE AND NOT CONFUSING IT WITH OTHER PSYCHOLOGICAL OR PHYSIOLOGICAL FUNCTIONS. IT'S NOT JUST BECAUSE EVERYONE EARNS THE RIGHT TO DISPLACE AND ESCAPE EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE AS LONG AS IT IS HEALTHILY BALANCED WITH THE DESIRE TO EXPAND, TO GROW, TO CHALLENGE OURSELVES. BETTER YET, ANALYZING OUR INDULGENT EXPERIENCES IS A REMARKABLE WAY TO COME TO UNDERSTAND OURSELVES AND OUR MOTIVATIONS. TO DISCOVER THE WAY OUR PSYCHOLOGY MANIFESTS AND PERHAPS EVEN UNDERSTAND THE WAY IT MAY BE NEGATIVELY AFFECTING OUR BEHAVIOR. BETTER STILL? IT IS THROUGH UNDERSTANDING OUR OWN AWARENESS THAT ALLOWS US TO TALK ABOUT HOW CINEMA REALLY WORKS, WHICH HAPPENS TO BE CENTRAL TO THE ENTIRE HULK MISSION ITSELF.

SO LET'S THINK ABOUT THE LARGER CONCEPT OF "AWARENESS" IN TERMS OF THE COMPLICATED NATURE OF JAMES BOND'S MOST HEINOUS, SEXIST SHIT. IF WE ARE AWARE OF IT, THEN WE ARE IN CONTROL OF THE VICARIOUS EXPERIENCE. AND THAT MEANS WE DON'T HAVE TO GET MINDLESSLY SWEPT AWAY INTO THE ADORATION OF THE CHARACTER SO THAT WE END UP (SUBCONSCIOUSLY) VALUING THE SAME BAD THINGS OUR HERO IS PARTAKING IN. IT'S HOW WE ARE ABLE TO WATCH JAMES BOND AND NOT WANT TO COPY HIS BEHAVIOR AND DISPOSITION. AND IT SEEMS SILLY, BUT AS FILM-GOERS WE ACTUALLY HAVE TO TEACH THIS KIND OF AWARENESS. SURE, WE TELL KIDS "IT'S JUST A MOVIE" AND IT'S WHAT KEEPS THEM FROM LITERALIZING AND HOPEFULLY STOP THEM INTERNALIZING THE THINGS THAT BOTHER THEM, BUT IF THEY LIKE JAMES BOND AND ALL THE COOL THINGS HE DOES, THEN REALLY WHAT IS TO STOP THEM FROM LIKING HIS MOST EGREGIOUS SEXIST BEHAVIOR? AS A LITTLE-HULK THAT AWARENESS WAS MOST DEFINITELY NOT THERE AND HULK CAN GUARANTEE IT CREATED A LOT OF PROBLEMS AND RIDICULOUS EXPECTATIONS AND GENDER BELIEFS. IT IS AWARENESS, BOTH OF THE ISSUE ITSELF AND HOW TO PROCESS IT, THAT IS THE ONLY THING THAT CAN STOP IT.

AND THE TRUTH IS THAT ADULT SOCIETY ISN'T MUCH BETTER. WE OVER-VALUE FILMS WITH INDULGENT PSYCHOLOGY AND THEN TRY TO CLAIM MOVIES DON'T INFLUENCE US, BUT FUCK THAT NOISE. OF COURSE THEY DO. WHY DO YOU THINK SO MANY PEOPLE ABHOR AWARENESS AND CEREBRAL MEDIA CONSUMPTION IN GENERAL AND COMPLAIN WHEN THINGS "TAKE THEM OUT OF THE EXPERIENCE"? WHY DO PEOPLE GET UP IN ARMS WHEN THEY WANTED CHARACTERS TO DO SOMETHING ELSE? WHY DO PEOPLE GET MAD AT THINGS WITH SAD ENDINGS? DAGNAMMIT, WE HAVE TO DO BETTER THAN THAT. WE CAN SEPARATE AND COGNITIVELY RECOGNIZE BEHAVIORS IN CONTEXT. ALL OF US CAN. IT'S THE REASON HULK LOVES VIOLENT MOVIES AND YET CAN OF COURSE HATE VIOLENCE IN REAL LIFE. IT'S THE SAME REASON HULK CAN WATCH SLEAZY GRINDHOUSE MOVIES AND BE FASCINATED BY THE LURID PSYCHOLOGY OF THE FILMMAKER. IT'S THE REASON HULK CAN BE ATTRACTED TO A PERSON AND NOT LET THAT ATTRACTION DEFINE THE PERSON. IT IS AWARENESS OF WHAT THE EXPERIENCE IS GIVING US THAT LETS US SEPARATE THE INDULGENCE FROM THE ART. IT'S ALL ABOUT CONSCIOUSNESS.

AND ULTIMATELY, THAT'S ALL THIS COLUMN IS REALLY TRYING TO BE ABOUT. AWARENESS OF WHO JAMES BOND IS AND HOW HE AFFECTS US.

... BEYOND THE OBVIOUS.

* * *

NOW, AT THE CENTER OF THE ENTIRE JAMES BOND SERIES ITSELF IS AN ONGOING BATTLE OF HOW TO HANDLE ALL THIS, WHETHER CONSCIOUSLY OR UNCONSCIOUSLY. FOR AS THEY GO ABOUT MAKING THESE MOVIES, THE FILMMAKERS ARE ESSENTIALLY TRYING TO DECIDE JUST HOW MUCH THEY SHOULD INDULGE US IN THIS CHARACTER / WORLD / STORY AND HOW MUCH THEY SHOULD NOT.

NATURALLY, SOME OF THEM JUST THROW UP THEIR HANDS AT THE PORNOGRAPHIC ANGLE OF THE WHOLE THING AND TURN IT INTO THE SILLIEST EXPERIENCE IMAGINABLE. MEANWHILE, OTHER FILMMAKERS TRY TO STRIP AWAY ALL OF THAT AND GET RIGHT TO THE SERIOUSNESS OF BOND AND TRY TO MAKE HIM REALISTIC OR SOMETHING. THE THING IS THAT NEITHER IS INHERENTLY RIGHT; AS HULK HAS FOUND THERE ARE SOME DIRECTORS THAT DO THE SILLY WAY PRETTY WELL OR PRETTY HORRIBLY, AND THERE ARE THE FILMS THAT DO THE WHOLE SERIOUSNESS THING PRETTY WELL OR PRETTY HORRIBLY. WHICH MAKES IT LIKE MOST THINGS.

THE KEY DIFFERENCE IS THAT HULK HAS COME TO BELIEVE THERE IS A WINNING FORMULA IN APPROACHING THESE MOVIES THAT ALLOWS US TO MAKE THE WHOLE THING WORK AND IT'S NOT WHAT YOU MIGHT EXPECT (BUT WE'RE GOING TO SAVE IT FOR LATER, IF THAT'S COOL).

THE UNIFYING FORMULA THEORY ISN'T ALL, EITHER. IN WATCHING ALL THESE FILMS AGAIN IN THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS, HULK BEGAN TO REALLY SEE THE SEAMS. YOU GET TO SEE THE INTERESTING WAYS THE PATTERNS MANIFEST THEMSELVES. THERE IS REALLY A WHOLE SET OF FORMULAS AND TRENDS TO THIS SERIES: LIKE HOW THE ENTRIES FEATURING A NEW PERSON PLAYING BOND ARE OFTEN AMONG THE BEST EFFORTS. FOR ONE, THEY ALL SEEM TO BE THE MOST CONCERNED WITH INGRAINING THE CHARACTER WITH BOTH THE ESSENTIALS OF BEING "BOND" WHILE TRYING TO DEFINE THEM IN A NEWER, CURRENT EXPERIENCE. AND EVEN IN THAT PROCESS THEY SOMETIMES GET AT SOMETHING MORE HUMAN AND RELATABLE. AND BEYOND THAT, THE MAJOR CONSTANT TRAIT OF THIS SERIES IS THAT EACH NEW BOND MOVIE WILL LARGELY BE AN OVERREACTION TO THE PERCEIVED FAULTS OF THE LAST FILM.

EVEN WITH THOSE CONCERNS, WHAT HELPS ALMOST EVERY SINGLE BOND ENTRY IN EXISTENCE IS THAT THE ENTERTAINING PARTS ARE ALMOST ALWAYS TRULY ENTERTAINING. THIS SERIES OFFERS US THE BEST OF SLICK HOLLYWOOD ENTERTAINMENT. WE'RE TALKING TOP-NOTCH AND TRENDSETTING FILMMAKING. FILMS UTTERLY UNAFRAID TO BE BIG AND BOMBASTIC. EVEN THE GLOBE-TROTTING TRADITION ENSURES THAT THE LOCATIONS ARE ALWAYS WHOLLY SEDUCTIVE AND LARGELY UN-FAKED. ITS HISTORY OFTEN ENSURES THAT THE ATTRACTIVE ACTORS EMBRACE RECKLESS ABANDON AND ARE OFTEN DRIPPING WITH ALMOST CARTOONISH SEXUALITY. BUT PERHAPS THE MOST WONDERFUL PART OF BOND AS A HIGH-END ENTERTAINMENT BRAND IS THAT THE SERIES HAS AN ONGOING OBSESSION WITH RAISING THE BAR ON PRACTICAL STUNTS. AND FOR ANY OF YOU THAT LOVE STUNT-WORK (AS HULK DOES), IT'S REALLY THE BEST TRADITION IN ALL OF MOVIEDOM. THIS IS BIG, GREAT, CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD STUFF (THEY JUST HAD TO GO TO PINEWOOD TO DO IT, OF COURSE), AND AS HULK SITS HERE GOING OVER ALL THE GREAT THINGS ABOUT THESE FILMS, IT BRINGS UP ANOTHER GOOD PAIR OF QUESTIONS:

DO WE LOVE JAMES BOND?

OR DO WE MERELY LOVE WHAT JAMES BOND DELIVERS?

REALLY, IS THAT THE KEY DIFFERENCE? DO WE CAVE TO THAT INDULGENCE PURELY THROUGH VICARIOUS MEANS AND HIGH-END HOLLYWOOD FILMMAKING? IS THAT WHY THIS ONE SINGULAR AND MORALLY COMPLICATED CHARACTER HAS LASTED GENERATIONS OF FILMS AND PROBABLY A DOZEN MORE ENTRIES THAN ANY OTHER FRANCHISE ON THE PLANET?

HULK WOULD ARGUE MAYBE, BUT HOPEFULLY, NO. THERE'S SIMPLY GOT TO BE A REASON JAMES BOND WORKS SO WELL BEYOND INDULGENCE, BEYOND THE HOLLYWOOD MACHINE, ESPECIALLY WHEN COUNTLESS IMITATIONS HAVE FAILED. HONESTLY, HULK HAS SPENT A GREAT DEAL OF TIME THINKING ABOUT THIS, AND HULK HAS COME UP WITH TWO CENTRAL IDEAS THAT MAKE IT SO.

1. THE FIRST REASON IS SOMETHING HULK WILL TALK ABOUT CONSISTENTLY THROUGH THE REMAINDER OF THIS ESSAY... AND IT CONCERNS THE ROMANTIC NATURE OF STORYTELLING ONE NEEDS TO MAKE THE LIE OF JAMES BOND BOTH PALATABLE AND EXHILARATING.

2. THE SECOND REASON SIMPLY GOES BACK TO THE COMPLICATED CHARACTER OF BOND HIMSELF.

HULK HAS THIS THEORY ABOUT THE WORLD AT LARGE AND IT GOES SOMETHING LIKE THIS: WHAT WE LIKE FROM PEOPLE IS, ESSENTIALLY, FOR THEM TO BE CONSISTENT. TO BE THEMSELVES. FOR US TO FEEL LIKE WE REALLY KNOW WHO THEY ARE. WHEN TIGER WOODS HAD HIS BIG KERFUFFLE A FEW YEARS AGO, THE REASON THE PUBLIC WENT NUTS AND TURNED ON HIM WAS NOT BECAUSE HE DID BAD THINGS, BUT BECAUSE THOSE BAD THINGS SO RADICALLY CONFLICTED WITH WHO WE THOUGHT HE WAS. THINK ABOUT IT. CHARLES BARKLEY DID FAR WORSE "BAD STUFF" (RIDICULOUS DRUNK DRIVING TO GET A BLOWJOB FROM NOT HIS WIFE, ETC) AND IN THE PERIOD AFTERWARDS WE ALL THREW UP OUR COLLECTIVE ARMS AND DIDN'T REALLY CARE. WHY? BECAUSE WE THOUGHT "OF COURSE CHARLES BARKLEY WOULD DO THAT" OR "THAT'S JUST CHARLES BEING CHARLES!" AND THEN WE WENT ON WITH KNOWING WHO CHARLES BARKLEY WAS... TIGER WOODS ON THE OTHER HAND? THAT WAS A BETRAYAL TO LOTS OF PEOPLE; A BREAK OF THE SOCIAL CONTRACT. AND SO MAYBE IT REALLY COULD BE THAT SIMPLE: ALL WE WANT IS FOR PEOPLE TO BE WHO WE THINK THEY ARE. BECAUSE, IN THE END, THERE IS NO ONE ELSE WE WILL ACCEPT.

AND AT THIS POINT? JAMES BOND IS DEFINED. UNLIKE SO MANY OTHER KINDS OF HEROES, WE KNOW WHO HE IS. SURE, HE'S THE SEXIST DEMAGOGUE, BUT HIS DEVIL-MAY-CARE ATTITUDE STILL SAVES THE PROVERBIAL DAY AND DAMMIT IF HE DOESN'T DO IT IN STYLE. AND MORE IMPORTANTLY TO US THAN THAT, HE IS ALWAYS HIMSELF WHILE DOING IT.

AND THAT IS THE REASON JAMES BOND HAS MOSTLY REFRAINED FROM COVERT ESPIONAGE. THAT'S WHY THESE AREN'T REALLY SPY MOVIES. THAT'S WHY ALL ATTEMPTS TO PUT HIM IN DISGUISE HAVE ALWAYS SEEMED SO LAUGHABLE AND DISAPPOINTING. THAT'S WHY HE HAS ALWAYS USED HIS REAL NAME...

HE'S ONLY BOND, JAMES BOND.

AND NOT ONLY DOES NOBODY DO IT BETTER...

BUT THERE IS NO ONE ELSE WE WILL ACCEPT.

PICTURED: ACCEPTANCE.

* * *

BEHOLD... HULK VS. ALL THE BOND MOVIES!!!

SO HERE WE GO!

FIRST WARNING! EACH FILM GETS ITS OWN WRITE-UP, BUT THE M.O. WILL DEFINITELY APPEAR TO SHIFT OVER TIME. AT FIRST, HULK USES THE CONNERY ERA TO SURVEY ALL THE WEIRD, TINY DETAILS THAT MAKE BOND'S WORLD SO UNIQUE AND SILLY AND WEIRD. BUT LAME SUMMARIES ARE NO WAY TO WRITE UP EVERY SINGLE FILM, SO EVENTUALLY HULK TRANSITIONS TO WRITING ABOUT THE LARGER CONTEXT OF EACH FILM, OR CINEMA, OR WHATEVER MAKES IT INTERESTING IN HULK'S EYES.

SECOND WARNING! IT'S IMPORTANT TO CONSIDER THAT HULK WENT BACK AND WATCHED ALL THE BOND FILMS IN THE LAST YEAR, IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. IT WAS REALLY A GREAT WAY TO GLEAN THE EVOLUTION AND CONSTANT CYCLES OF JAMES BOND AND DEAL WITH AN ONGOING FACET ON HOW EACH FILM IS A REACTION TO THE LAST.

THIRD WARNING! A LOT OF HULK'S WRITING ABOUT THESE FILMS WILL BE FAR MORE TONGUE-IN-CHEEK THAN USUAL. FOR HULK, THIS IS DIRECT RESULT OF WHAT THE MATERIAL CALLS FOR. SOMETIMES THE BEST CONVERSATION IS A SILLY ONE. COOL? COOL.

FOURTH WARNING! OPINIONS ABOUT BOND MOVIES ARE PRECARIOUS THINGS. PEOPLE SEEM TO HAVE THE RANDOMEST OPINIONS ABOUT WHICH ONES THEY LIKE AND THEY'LL BE EQUALLY UPSET IF YOU LIKE ONE THEY HATE. UNDERSTAND THAT AGREEMENT OF WORTH ISN'T REALLY THE INTENT OF ALL OF THIS AND WE'LL GET INTO DIFFERING OPINIONS SOON ENOUGH!

FIFTH WARNING! HULK WROTE A GOOD DEAL OF THIS COLUMN WHILE DRINKING JAMES BOND MARTINIS... ACTUALLY NOT JAMES BOND MARTINIS BUT PROPER MARTINIS, PER BILL NORRIS' INSTRUCTIONS, OF COURSE!

SIXTH WARNING! IT WOULD BE FUN TO GO BACK AND WATCH THE MOVIES NOW!

ENOUGH WARNINGS! START NOW!

1. DR. NO (1962)

THE FASCINATING THING ABOUT DR. NO IS THAT EVEN AFTER 50 YEARS OF JAMES BOND, THE FILM ITSELF STILL COMES OFF AS FRESH AND ORGANIC. SERIOUSLY. EVEN IF SO MANY OF THESE MOMENTS AND DEVICES GO ON TO BECOME BONDIAN CLICHÉS, THERE IS A DISARMING WAY THAT THIS FILM LETS THEM ALL UNFOLD ONSCREEN WITH SUCH A LACK OF PRETENSE. THERE ARE NO KNOWING SMILES. NO WINKS. NO NEED TO GO OVER THE TOP. THE FILM ALMOST FEELS DOWNRIGHT GRACEFUL. AND A LARGE PART OF THIS IS BECAUSE THIS PARTICULAR FILM HAS TO DO WHAT MOST FILMS HAVE TO DO: WORK FOR AN AUDIENCE THAT DOES NOT UNDERSTAND THE WORLD YET AND THUS INTRODUCE IT.

THAT NOTION IS ALMOST FOREIGN TO US NOW, AS OUR FAMILIARITY WITH BOND IS PERHAPS LIKE NO OTHER KIND OF POPULAR TEXT. IT'S BEEN NOTHING BUT 50 YEARS OF REPEATING THE SAME TROPES WITH ONLY THE MOST MINOR OF VARIATIONS. BUT WITH DR. NO, WE HAVE A TIME MACHINE THAT TRANSPORTS US TO THE MOMENT WHERE JAMES BOND IS A NEW IDEA, CINEMATICALLY SPEAKING. AND YOU CAN PRACTICALLY FEEL CONNERY AND THE FILMMAKERS STUMBLING INTO THESE GRAND REVEALS, DUMBFOUNDED AND DELIGHTED BY THEIR GUSTO. THERE IS EVEN A LOOSENESS HERE THAT IS UNMISTAKABLE (AND NEVER REPEATED IN THE ENTIRE SERIES). OR PERHAPS IT IS JUST BECAUSE THE FILM IS SO DAMN GOOD THAT IT MEANT WE GOT TO START WITH A FULLY-FORMED BOND FRANCHISE RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING? HULK KNOWS A LOT OF THIS GOES BACK TO THE UNIVERSE ALREADY BEING IN THE BOOKS, BUT AGAIN, THIS IS ABOUT THE CINEMA OF IT ALL. AND WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT EVERYTHING WE IDENTIFY AS BEING "BOND," THE GLOBAL CONSPIRACIES, THE OPULENCE, THE CORDIALITY OF VILLAINS, THE DISAFFECTED HUMOR: IT'S ALL THERE.

AND SO WAS CONNERY.

HULK IS ACTUALLY GOING TO SAVE THE FULL-BLOWN CONNERY TALK FOR LATER, BUT THERE IS NO DENYING HOW MUCH HE EMBODIED THE ROLE RIGHT FROM THE OPENING. HE WAS SO EFFORTLESS. HE WAS SO COOL. AND LIKE MANY STARS OF THE TIME, HE WAS A GAWDDAMN MAN. AND TO WHAT DEGREE CONNERY MADE BOND AND TO WHAT DEGREE BOND MADE CONNERY IS SOMEWHAT DEBATABLE, BUT WHAT IS NOT DEBATABLE IS HOW FROM THAT POINT ON THEY WERE INSEPARABLE (AND IN SOME WAYS, STILL ARE), AND IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING THAT HIS VERY ESSENCE WAS THE FOUNDATION OF ALL THAT FOLLOWED.

BEYOND THAT ESSENCE, DR. NO LAID THE FOUNDATION FOR JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING TANGIBLE, TOO. LIKE HOW BERNARD LEE WAS RIGHT THERE FROM THE BEGINNING AND WENT ON WITH HIS LONG REIGN AS THE ORIGINAL "M." OR HOW BOND'S AMERICAN PAL, CIA AGENT FELIX LEITER, WAS RIGHT THERE FROM BEGINNING TOO (PLAYED BY JACK LORD! MAKING HIS FIRST AND ONLY APPEARANCE IN THE ROLE BEFORE HE WOULD LATER GO ON TO HAWAII 5-0 FAME). OR LIKE HOW DR. NO WAS A PART OF SPECTRE AND THEY WERE VERY MUCH SETTING THE WHOLE ORGANIZATION UP IN A BEAUTIFUL WAY. THEY EVEN DID THE WHOLE "DEMURE AND RESPECTFUL TREATMENT FROM THE MAIN VILLAIN" THING TOO. IT'S ALL THERE. BUT AGAIN, WHAT MADE IT ALL WORK WAS HOW MUCH THEY TREATED THESE THINGS LIKE A MOVIE SHOULD TREAT THEM.

CINEMA IS A LANGUAGE LIKE ANY OTHER, AND SO MUCH CLARITY DEPENDS NOT ONLY ON CAREFULLY ARTICULATING A CONTEXT TO AN AUDIENCE, BUT SETTING IT UP IN THE RIGHT WAY. AND LUCKILY, LIKE MOST THINGS, CINEMA OPERATES THROUGH A SERIES OF SET-UPS AND PUNCHLINES FOR ACTION AND EMPHASIS. OUR ABILITY TO EXECUTE THOSE SET-UPS AND PUNCHLINES IS KEY TO MAKING CINEMA EFFECTIVE.

LET'S PUT IT LIKE THIS: HULK KEEPS USING THESE WORDS LIKE "FRESH" AND "ORGANIC" IN DESCRIBING HOW THE MOVIE FEELS, BUT LET'S TALK ABOUT HOW THEY ACHIEVE THIS CINEMATICALLY IN A CONCRETE WAY. FOR EXAMPLE, WITH THE FILM'S REVEAL OF THE SECRET UNDERGROUND LAIR (A BOND TROPE IF THERE EVER WAS ONE), IT IS REALLY SOMETHING THAT IS FELT. AND WHAT HULK LOVES ABOUT THIS FILM IS THEY DO IT WITH OLD-SCHOOL SLEIGHT OF HAND INSTEAD OF SOMETHING BIG AND SHOWY. THE FILM SPENDS ALMOST 90 MINUTES SETTING UP THIS BRAWLING THUGGERY FROM THE BAD GUYS AND USING EXTENSIVE LOCATION SHOOTING. THERE'S A DIRTY AND REAL TEXTURE TO THAT. AND THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN OUR CHARACTERS GO THROUGH A BEACH AND SUDDENLY ARE IN THIS AUSTERE AND POLITE ENVIRONMENT. IT'S A SNEAK ATTACK. NO HINTS THAT IT'S COMING. NO TEASING. NO HUGE OMINOUS MUSIC. NO GRAND REVEAL. JUST A QUIET TURN INTO A MODERN SETTING AND SOME SUDDEN GRACIOUSNESS AND HOSPITALITY. THEY'VE TAKEN YOU OUT OF BLINDING DARKNESS AND PLUNGED YOU INTO DAYLIGHT. WE REALLY DO FEEL IT WHEN THE ENVIRONMENT CHANGES. THINK OF THE PHYSICAL WEIGHT YOU FEEL AT THE END OF THE FILM GRAVITY, THAT IS THE RESULT OF PLUNGING US INTO A NEW TEXTURE AFTER GETTING US USED TO ANOTHER. IT'S AMAZING HOW MANY FILMS IGNORE THIS CAPACITY AND JUST DRENCH THE FILM IN A UNIVERSAL TEXTURE.  THE LESSON SHOULD BE THAT SOMETIMES THE BEST WAY TO MAKE SOMETHING STAND OUT IS NOT BY TRYING TO AMP IT UP AS FAR AS POSSIBLE, BUT BY TAKING US TO A "LOWER VOLUME" BEFORE WE ACTUALLY DO. YOU CAN BUILD EMOTION WITH CONTRAST. OR BETTER YET, YOU CAN ALSO HAVE CHARACTERS REACT TO THE CHANGE IN TONE ALONG WITH US, RATHER THAN FOR US. SO WHEN BOND AND HONEY GO INTO THE LAIR AND FIND THE AUSTERE ENVIRONMENT AS STRANGE AS WE DO, IT'S BECAUSE OF THESE TWO SIMPLE THINGS THAT A LITTLE SLEIGHT OF HAND TACTIC WORKS BETTER THAN ALMOST ANY MASSIVE LAIR REVEAL THAT FOLLOWS. THEY JUST DID THE CINEMATIC WORK. THEY MAKE IT REAL WITHIN THE CONTEXT AND THE STORY. AND JUST ABOUT EVERY OTHER BOND FILM GOES ON TO HAVE ITS LAIR REVEAL BE FULL OF BOMBASTIC MUSIC AND IMPRESSIVE DESIGN, BUT THEY'RE JUST TRYING TO MAKE UP FOR THE FACT THAT THERE IS NO CONTRAST. OR THE FACT THAT EVERYONE WALKS INTO THE LAIR AND ACTS LIKE IT IS SOMETHING EXPECTED. RARELY WAS THE SERIES ABLE TO CAPTURE THE SAME FRESH OR ORGANIC FEELING AS THIS ORIGINAL MOVE. NEVER COULD THEY REACH THAT SAME HIGH (ODDLY ENOUGH, HULK THINKS IT WAS MOONRAKER THAT CAME THE CLOSEST). AGAIN, THERE IS A SIMPLE ART TO THE EXECUTION OF CINEMATIC LANGUAGE. AND WHAT SETS DR. NO APART IS HOW MUCH IT WAS TRYING TO EARN IT, PERHAPS, IF ONLY BECAUSE IT FELT LIKE IT HAD TO.

THIS WHOLE NOTION OF "EARNING IT" IN TERMS OF STORY IS ONE OF THE CRUXES AT THE HEART OF THE BOND SERIES, AS THERE TENDS TO BE A LOT OF CONFUSION ABOUT WHAT THAT ACTUALLY MEANS. TO WIT, JUST BECAUSE THE MOVIES CAN OPERATE WITH A REAL SENSE OF SHORTHAND WITH ITS AUDIENCE DOESN'T ALWAYS MEAN IT SHOULD. BECAUSE SOMETIMES IT FEELS LIKE THEY FOCUS ON ALL THE WRONG THINGS AND END UP SHORT-CHANGING THE RELATIONSHIPS OR DRAMATIC MOMENTS THEY SEE AS OBLIGATORY, BUT ARE REALLY THE THINGS THAT MATTER. AND BECAUSE SOME OF THE AUDIENCE LOVES THESE BITS OF SHORTHAND SO MUCH THEY'LL INSTINCTIVELY DEMAND THEM WHETHER OR NOT THEY ARE NECESSARY. AND HECK, SOMETIMES IT SEEMS LIKE NOBODY KNOWS WHAT THEY WANT. THE SAD RESULT OF ALL THIS IS THAT SO MANY OF THE THINGS THAT MADE DR. NO GREAT IN THE FIRST PLACE ARE THE VERY THINGS THAT EVENTUALLY BECOME PART OF THE ROTE OR OBLIGATORY NATURE OF THE WHOLE ENTERPRISE, AS IF THE SUCCESSIVE FILMMAKERS WERE JUST GOING THROUGH THEIR BOND MOVIE CHECKLIST. BUT IT'S IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT, FOR ONE SHINING MOMENT, EVERYTHING ABOUT CINEMA'S JAMES BOND WAS ALL SO WONDERFULLY NEW.

AND BETTER YET, IT ACTUALLY FELT LIKE IT.

SO NEW. SO HOT!

NOW, IT'S VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO TALK ABOUT BOND MOVIES WITHOUT TALKING ABOUT "BOND GIRLS."

AND OHHHHH DEAR, DO WE HAVE SO MUCH TO TALK ABOUT, FOR THERE IS NO SUBJECT MORE FASCINATING AND FRAUGHT WITH COMPLICATION THAN THIS SERIES' TREATMENT OF WOMEN. THERE IS NO SERIES THAT SO DEIFIES THE AESTHETIC BEAUTY OF WOMEN QUITE LIKE THIS ONE, AND ALSO NO SERIES THAT IS SO OBVIOUSLY FULL OF RESENTMENT OF THAT SAME BEAUTY. JUST AS THERE IS NO SERIES SO READY TO CATER TO THE IRRECONCILABLE MALE DICHOTOMY OF WANT AND SEXUAL OWNERSHIP, AND YET NO SERIES THAT (OFTEN INADVERTENTLY) SHOWS THE OBVIOUS AND UGLY UNDERSIDE TO ALL OF IT. HECK, EVEN THE TERM "BOND GIRL" IS TROUBLING. AND WHEN YOU PUT IT ALL TOGETHER IT MAKES THE JAMES BOND SERIES A STRANGE BELLWETHER FOR THE MOST INDULGENT TAKE ON FEMININITY IMAGINABLE.

AND AS A RESULT, THERE IS THIS EQUALLY PROBLEMATIC TENDENCY IN WHICH ALL AUDIENCES SEEM TO DO IS COMMENT ON THE RESPECTIVE LOOKS OF BOND ACTRESSES. IT'S ALL: "WHO IS THE PRETTIEST? WHO IS NOT THE PRETTIEST? WHICH ONES POSED NAKED, YADA, YADA, YADA." WE'LL GET TO THE HEART OF THIS ISSUE MUCH, MUCH LATER, BUT FOR NOW HULK WOULD JUST LIKE YOU TO NOTE HOW NOTHING SPEAKS TO THE PORNOGRAPHIC IMPULSES OF THE SERIES QUITE LIKE THE DISCUSSION AROUND BOND GIRLS. BUT AT THE SAME TIME, HULK HAS TO ASK THE QUESTION: FOR A SERIES THAT IS PRETTY MUCH ABOUT PORNOGRAPHIC IMPULSES, DOES IT THEREFORE MEAN IT IS OKAY TO ACKNOWLEDGE AND PARSE IT ALL OUT IN THOSE SAME ARCHAIC TERMS?

PICTURED: ARCHAIC TERMS.

WELL, SINCE THIS IS A COLUMN SERIES ON JAMES BOND, THE ANSWER IS GOING TO HAVE TO BE YES. AND HULK ACKNOWLEDGES THAT IT IS GOING TO BE A TIGHTROPE WALK. AND TO EVEN PULL IT OFF, HULK IS GOING TO HAVE TO DO A FEW THINGS. 1. HULK IS GOING TO TRY AND STAY AWAY FROM LOOKS FOR THE MOST PART IN TERMS OF JUDGMENT, ALBEIT WITH THE OCCASIONAL DALLIANCE INTO SOME PERSONAL INDULGENT FEELINGS. AND 2. HULK IS GOING TO SPEND AS MUCH TIME AS POSSIBLE TALKING ABOUT EACH BOND GIRL'S CONTEXT WITHIN THE LARGER PROBLEMATIC HIERARCHY, WHICH SADLY MIGHT HAVE TO DO WITH HER LOOKS AND ARCHETYPE. MEANING HULK IS GOING TO HAVE TO DO A SOMEWHAT UNCOUTH THING AND JUST WORK WITH THE ASSUMPTION THAT "YES, THIS IS MOSTLY AWFUL, BUT WE NEED TO MOVE PAST THAT IN ORDER TO TALK ABOUT THE FINER POINTS THAT DISTINGUISH THE RANGE AMONG THE AWFULNESS." DOES THAT MAKE SENSE? FOR ALMOST NOTHING HERE IS A SHINING EXAMPLE, BUT WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO TALK ABOUT THE SPECTRUM OF WOMEN WHO APPEAR IN THESE MOVIES AND WHY.

AND THERE IS NO BETTER PLACE TO START THAN WITH THE ORIGINAL:

URSULA ANDRESS PLAYS HONEY RYDER. AND LIKE JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE IN THIS MOVIE, URSULA SET THE STANDARD FOR THE BOND GIRL, BOTH IN TERMS OF WHAT THEY REPRESENTED AND HOW THEY FUNCTIONED WITHIN THE NARRATIVE (FOR GOOD OR FOR ILL). THE FIRST THING YOU WILL NOTICE IS THAT, EVEN THOUGH SHE LOOKS TO BE A WOMAN WITH A CAPITAL W (SHE WAS 26 AT THE TIME), THE MOVIE SEEMS DEAD SET ON PLAYING UP HER NAIVE ADORABLENESS AND PURELY INFANTILE NATURE. SHE'S 26 GOING ON 12. BUT EVEN WITH THAT BEING THE CASE, IT'S PRETTY TELLING THAT SHE IS STILL SOMEHOW ONE OF THE BETTER BOND GIRL ARCHETYPES IN THE SERIES. BUT HOW TO CLASSIFY HER ARCHETYPE? WELL, SHE'S "THE GOOD GIRL WHO GETS UNWITTINGLY INVOLVED IN THE BOND ADVENTURE, BUT HAS HAD A PERSONAL TRAGEDY AS A RESULT OF THE MAIN VILLAIN." BELIEVE IT OR NOT, THIS CHARACTER ARCHETYPE WILL ACTUALLY SHOW UP A BUNCH. AND THE WOMEN WHO PLAY THIS ARCHETYPE ARE OFTEN KIND, IMPOSSIBLY BENEVOLENT AND HAVE A WHOLLY UNFORTUNATE VACUOUSNESS TO THEM. BUT (THANKFULLY?) DR. NO IS WEIRDLY TRYING TO MAKE IT COME OFF AS NOT THAT BAD. THERE'S A FUNNY REALIZATION IN THAT THIS IS PROBABLY THE ONLY BOND FILM THAT TRIED TO MAKE HER CHARACTER NAME MORE PALATABLE BY SAYING HER FULL NAME WAS ACTUALLY “HONEYCHILE" (SOON THEY WOULD BASICALLY GIVE UP AND STARTING GOING WITH “FEMALE ANATOMY MCSEXALOT”). SO EVEN WITH ALL THE NAIVETY, THE FILM STILL SEEMS TO HAVE A KIND OF BASIC RESPECT FOR HER. HER CORE BEING AND PURPOSE IS ULTIMATELY RIDICULOUS, BUT IT'S A FILM THAT IS TRYING TO BE (KIND OF) REAL AND WANTS HER TO COME ACROSS AS (KIND OF) REAL.

GRANTED, IT IS SOMEWHAT REMARKABLE THAT ONE OF THE LEAST OFFENSIVE FEMALE CHARACTERIZATIONS IN THE BOND FRANCHISE SPENDS THE ENTIRE FILM IN A BIKINI.

PICTURED: FEMINISM!

SO THEN THERE WAS ZENA MARSHALL AS MISS TARO, WHOSE BOND GIRL PROTOTYPE WAS THE BAD-GUY-EMPLOYED FEMME FATALE WITHOUT HINT OF... OH, WHAT'S THE WORD? OH YEAH: PERSONALITY. HER ENTIRE PLOT BASICALLY INVOLVES HAVING TO TRAP BOND AT THE HOUSE IN ORDER TO KEEP HIM OCCUPIED FOR... SOME... REASON. AND THE SCENE THAT UNFOLDS ACTUALLY BECOMES A REGULAR STAPLE OF BOND MOVIES, AND IT'S REALLY PRETTY GROSS. IN THE BEGINNING OF THE SCENE IT'S CLEAR THAT MISS TARO IS A BADDIE AND SHE'S ORDERED TO KEEP HIM OCCUPIED, BUT BECAUSE SEAN CONNERY IS JAMES FUCKING BOND SHE'S ALSO KIND OF INTO HIM. BUT IT’S ALSO CLEAR THAT BOND KNOWS SHE'S WORKING FOR THE BAD GUYS TOO (AND PRESUMABLY KNOWS OTHER BAD GUYS ARE COMING AND DOESN'T CARE?) SO BOND "MAKES THE BEST OF THE SITUATION" BY BASICALLY HAVING HER PUT ON A SHOW AND STARTS COMING ONTO HER HARDCORE. SO THE TWO OF THEM JUST GO THROUGH THE MOTIONS OF THIS CHARADE AS HE FORCES HER INTO A SITUATION WHERE SHE HAS TO HAVE SEX WITH HIM.

SIGH... LOOK. WE'LL TALK ABOUT THIS STUFF MORE IN DEPTH AS WE GO, BUT THESE SORTS OF REALLY RAPEY THINGS HAPPEN A LOT IN BOND MOVIES. AND THEY ARE, IN THE VERY LEAST, FUCKING UNCOUTH, BUT HULK SWEARS WE ARE GOING TO TURN THIS INTO A LARGER CONVERSATION ABOUT WHY THESE KINDS OF CONTRIVED SITUATIONS KEEP HAPPENING. IN THE MEANTIME, WE'LL JUST EXPLAIN IT LIKE THIS:

PICTURED: NOT FEMINISM!

WE ALSO HAVE EUNICE GAYSON AS SYLVIA TRENCH. SHE'S ACTUALLY ONE OF HULK’S FAVORITE LITTLE BLIPS IN THE BOND SERIES AND SHE'LL EVEN SHOW UP IN THE NEXT ENTRY. IN BOTH MOVIES SHE PLAYS THE SAME BORED SOCIALITE WHO LIKES TO PLAY A BIG TÊTE-À-TÊTE FLIRTING GAME WITH BOND, BUT INSTEAD OF GIVING HIM THE RUNAROUND, THEY STILL ALWAYS END UP HAVING SEX BECAUSE THEY'RE BOTH LOOKING FOR PRETTY MUCH THE SAME THING. AND THE REASON IT ACTUALLY WORKS ON A CINEMATIC LEVEL? BECAUSE GAYSON'S A GOOD ACTRESS. SHE'S ALL IRON WILL, ARCHED EYEBROWS AND NO-BULLSHIT FLIRTATION. MEANING SHE'S ACTUALLY ONE OF THE FEW THAT CAN CONVINCINGLY STONE-WALL CONNERY. AGAIN, THIS IS CINEMA AND NO MATTER HOW MUCH WE MAY KNOW THE END RESULT, IT'S ALL ABOUT EARNING IT. WE KNOW CONNERY WILL GO "FULL JAMES BOND" ON THE LADIES IN THIS FILM, BUT IT'S ALWAYS AT ITS BEST WHEN WE ACTUALLY BELIEVE IT. AND THUS THE SUCCESSFUL CINEMATIC NATURE OF THIS INTERPLAY IS MOST WELCOME. BUT YOU HAVE TO ADMIT...

WHEN THIS IS ONE OF THE HEALTHIEST RELATIONSHIPS IN YOUR 20+ MOVIE SERIES, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM.

AND LASTLY, WHO COULD FORGET THE MOST IMPORTANT BOND GIRL OF ALL?

LIKE PRETTY MUCH EVERYONE IN THESE MOVIES, LOIS MAXWELL WAS THERE FROM THE BEGINNING AND HERE SHE BEGINS AN IMPRESSIVE RUN AS REALLY THE ONE AND ONLY MISS MONEYPENNY (WELL, NOT REALLY THE ONLY ONE). AND LIKE MOST OF THESE PEOPLE, HULK HAS A WHOLE THEORY ON HER CHARACTER, AND WE'LL GET TO THAT AT THE END OF THIS MONSTER COLUMN SERIES, BUT FOR NOW JUST KNOW THAT HER RELATIONSHIP IS A VERY IMPORTANT PREDICTOR RE: BOND'S CHARACTERIZATION. AND FROM THIS FIRST OFFERING IT'S FRANKLY KIND OF NEAT TO SEE HER PINING AWAY AND SO OBVIOUSLY SMITTEN WITH JAMES, IN WHAT WILL TURN OUT TO BE ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR ONGOING FLIRTATIONS IN CINEMA HISTORY. BUT TO BE HONEST, THIS RELATIONSHIP WILL ALSO TURN SOMEWHAT FREAKING BIZARRE OVER THE YEARS (HER “OLD MAID” STATE IN THE LATER MOORE FILMS IN PARTICULAR). SO PART OF THE THING THAT HULK LOVED ABOUT GOING BACK AND WATCHING THE FILMS FROM THE START IT IS ALWAYS GREAT TO SEE HER AT THE VERY BEGINNING.

THIS IS WHERE HULK ADMITS TO HAVING A CRUSH ON YOUNG LOIS MAXWELL:

BUT WHO WOULDN'T?

LAST BITS OF NOTE!

-ONE OF THE THINGS HULK WANTS TO MENTION IS HOW THIS FILM ALSO HAS JOHN KITZMILLER PLAYING "QUARREL" IN THE FILM. NOW HE GETS THE REAL HONOR OF BEING THE LEAST OFFENSIVE “GENERIC BLACK GUY PAIRED WITH JAMES BOND TO HELP DRIVE HIM AROUND AND STUFF” ROLE IN THE ENTIRE SERIES - AND YES, THAT'S AN ARCHETYPE IN THESE THINGS! SERIOUSLY, IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME. AND THAT MAY ALL SOUND REALLY DEROGATORY (AND IT IS), BUT IN THIS MOVIE QUARREL IS ALSO KIND OF AWESOME. HE GETS TO, LIKE, DO STUFF FOR ONE! ... OKAY MAYBE YOU JUST HAVE TO WAIT TO SEE HOW THE SERIES TREATS THESE GUYS LIKE AN EXPENDABLE DIME A DOZEN, BUT QUARREL REALLY GETS THE MOST RESPECT OUT OF ALL THEM (AGAIN, BECAUSE THE MOVIE WAS ALWAYS TRYING TO EARN IT AND TELL A REAL STORY)  BUT WHY HAVE THIS KIND OF CHARACTER AROUND AT ALL? WHAT'S THE REASON FOR IT? IT'S ACTUALLY PRETTY SIMPLE: THIS IS THE BURGEONING 60'S AND SWINGING LONDON AND ALL THAT, SO THEY JUST WANT TO SHOW HOW JAMES BOND WAS COOL WITH MINORITIES AND STUFF. THAT MAY SOUND RIDICULOUS AND SHALLOW, BUT JUST WATCH IT AND SEE SAID RIDICULOUSNESS AND SHALLOWNESS ON SCREEN. IT'S ALL THERE. AND AGAIN, THIS PARTICULAR INSTANCE IS TRANSCENDENT COMPARED TO WHAT WILL FOLLOW. HECK, QUARREL EVEN GOT A DEATH SCENE THAT ACTUALLY MAKES YOU FEEL SAD INSTEAD OF, YOU KNOW, NOTHING... SO THAT'S SOMETHING.

-HULK ALSO LOVES JOSEPH WISEMAN’S BROAD TV-SERIAL-LIKE TAKE ON THE CARTOONISH CHARACTER OF DR. NO. IT NOT ONLY SET THE TONE FOR THE SERIES, BUT HE SEEMS TO BE HAVING GREAT FUN WITH IT (AND IT WOULD BE A FEW MOVIES BEFORE SOMEONE ELSE DID TOO).

-THE LAST THING HULK WANTED TO MENTION WAS THAT, FOR A FILM THAT SO DEFINED THE TONE OF THE SERIES, THE FILM'S BIZARRE “THREE BLIND MICE” OPENING STILL FEELS COMPLETELY ALIEN TO ALMOST EVERY SINGLE THING THAT HAS FOLLOWED, STYLISTICALLY OR EVEN TEXTURALLY. SOME WOULD CALL IT A TONAL MISSTEP, AND IT CERTAINLY FEELS OUT OF PLACE IN THE MODERN BOND WORLD, BUT THE WHOLE THING IS FASCINATING TO HULK. BECAUSE YEAH, IT'S SO WEIRD, BUT IT'S ALSO COOL AND DOWNRIGHT GOOD. SERIOUSLY, HULK COMPLETELY LOVES THE SCENE. AND PUT IT THIS WAY, IF QUENTIN TARANTINO ACTUALLY GOT TO MAKE HIS BOND MOVIE (AND YES THIS WAS ALMOST A THING THAT ALMOST KIND OF MAYBE HAPPENED FOR CASINO ROYALE, BUT WHO KNOWS WITH HIM) THEN HULK FEELS LIKE THE TONE OF THE THREE BLIND MICE OPENING WOULD TOTALLY FIT WITH WHAT HE DOES. DOES THAT MAKE SENSE? ... HULK'S WORRIED THAT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE.

AND EITHER WAY, THE POINT IS THAT DR. NO WAS ONE HELL OF A START.

AND MOST DEFINITELY THE REASON WE STILL SEE BOND MOVIES TODAY.

2. FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (1963)

OKAY, HULK LIED. HERE'S A BETTER REASON THE SERIES IS STILL GOING STRONG AND THAT'S BECAUSE THE SECOND ENTRY IS EVEN BETTER THAN THE FIRST.

HECK, IF WE'RE GOING TO START DOING THE WHOLE SILLY "RANKING" THING FROM THE ONSET, THEN PLEASE KNOW THAT HULK CONSIDERS FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE TO BE IN THE RUNNING FOR THE TITLE OF “BEST BOND FILM EVER.”

HULK ALLUDED TO IT BEFORE, BUT PART OF WHAT MAKES THE EARLY CONNERY RUN SO EXCITING IS THAT THERE WAS ACTUALLY A SENSE OF SERIALIZATION AND PALPABLE GROWTH ACROSS THE FIRST FIVE FILMS. OFTEN IT WAS JUST THESE MERE TANGIBLE THINGS, BUT IT WAS ALSO GENUINELY FUN TO SEE HOW THE SHADOW OF SPECTRE EXTENDED FURTHER THAN A MERE ISLAND OPERATION AND RIGHT INTO WORLD INFLUENCE. AND AS THE SCOPE OF SPECTRE BROADENED, WE GET THINGS LIKE THE MORE AND MORE TECHNICALLY IMPRESSIVE VERSIONS OF THE "EVIL LAIR" THAT POPULATES THESE MOVIES. AND AS MUCH AS HULK ADORES THE SLEIGHT OF HAND REVEAL IN THE FIRST FILM, HULK ADMITS THERE IS STILL A GREAT JOY FOR MODERN AUDIENCES TO GET TO SEE THESE COOL THINGS THAT MOVIES USED TO USE CALLED “SETS” (INSERT SARCASM FONT). THAT'S RIGHT, INSTEAD OF USING BLUE-SCREENS TO DIGITALLY PAINT STUFF IN LATER YOU HAD TO ACTUALLY BUILD WHAT YOU WANTED TO SEE! IF YOU WANTED MOVIES TO HAVE SCOPE AND REALISTIC TEXTURE BEYOND THE STORY THEN THEY'D NEED TO ACTUALLY SHOW SUCH THE PRODUCTION VALUE. AND LUCKILY, THE BOND MOVIES HAVE ALWAYS (WELL, ALMOST ALWAYS) BEEN WELL-FUNDED AFFAIRS. NOT ONLY DID FAMOUS LOCATIONS ABOUND, BUT THE MOVIES ARE FULL OF THESE ABSOLUTELY MASSIVE SETS WHICH WOULD BE FULLY TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF.  AND IF WE'RE GOING TO HAVE ANY KIND OF LOVE AFFAIR WITH AN OLDER HOLLYWOOD STYLE THERE ARE WORSE WAYS TO GO ABOUT IT THEN TOURING THE PRODUCTION DESIGN OF OLD BOND FILMS SUCH AS THIS ONE.

BUT IF WE'RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT THIS FILM'S REAL IDENTITY BEYOND THE SURFACE STUFF, THEN LET'S GO BACK TO HULK'S CENTRAL THEORY ON HOW EVERY BOND FILM IS MERELY A REACTION TO THE PUBLIC'S RESPONSE TO THE PREVIOUS FILM. LIKE, NOT ENOUGH GADGETS? THE NEXT ONE HAS CRAZY GADGETS EVERYWHERE! TOO MANY GADGETS? THE NEXT ONE GOES EASY ON GADGETS. AND THAT EXACT CYCLE HAS NEVER REALLY STOPPED. AND YES, THIS EVEN QUALIFIES FOR FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. YOU SEE, THE FIRST FILM CAME OUT AND WAS A MASSIVE HIT. AND PEOPLE REALLY SEEMED TO LOVE THE LITTLE TANGIBLE DETAILS LIKE ALL THE GADGET STUFF. SO THIS TIME THEY WENT ALL IN AND EARLY ON BOND GETS A REALLY NEAT BRIEFCASE THAT'S JUST CHOCK FULL OF THEM! AND YOU SEE, AT THE SAME EXACT TIME THERE WERE SOME PEOPLE WHO FELT LIKE DR. NO WAS NOT SERIOUS ENOUGH OF A SPY MOVIE (NATURALLY, SOME AUDIENCES WEREN'T USED TO THE IDEA OF A "JAMES BOND MOVIE" YET CAUSE IT, YOU KNOW, DIDN'T EXIST). THUS THE NEW ENTRY OBSCURES SOME OF THE CAMP OF THE FIRST ONE AND FAVORS A MORE CONCENTRATED AND CLASSIC ESPIONAGE/LOVE STORY AT ITS CENTER. AND IN THIS HULK'S OPINION? THE EFFECT IS DOWNRIGHT LOVELY. THIS FILM, DESPITE SOME SERIOUS PROBLEMS, ACTUALLY HAS A REAL SENSE OF ROMANCE AND SUSPENSE TO IT. AND PART OF WHAT MAKES THAT TRUE IS THAT THE FILM REALLY JUST USES A MEASURED AND CLASSIC CINEMATIC APPROACH.

MEANING IT HAS A SUBSTANTIAL HITCHCOCK INFLUENCE ALL OVER IT.

"SUP."

FROM THE SWEET HELICOPTER CHASE RIGHT OUT OF NORTH BY NORTHWEST, TO THE CAREFUL, ALMOST VOYEURISTIC SNIPER SCENE, TO THE QUIET AND TENSE STRANGERS ON A TRAIN FINALE. THERE'S NOT ONLY SOME REAL FLAIR, BUT TRUE HOMAGE GOING ON UP IN HERE. BEST OF ALL, THE CLOSE-QUARTER FIGHT SCENE IN THE TRAIN CAR REMAINS ONE OF THE MOST FORWARD-THINKING AND BEST CHOREOGRAPHED FIGHT SCENES OF THE ENTIRE 1960S. IT'S ALL THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF PROPER CHAOS AND DIORAMA-LIKE GEOGRAPHY, COMBINING FOR SOMETHING PROPERLY VISCERAL THAT STILL SEEMS VIBRANT RIGHT ALONGSIDE OUR MORE MODERN LANGUAGE. THE FOLLOWING CLIP MAY NOT SEEM REVELATORY TO YOU NOW, BUT IT WAS REALLY DOWNRIGHT FUCKING AMAZING AT THE TIME, AS FIGHTS WERE SIMPLY NOT SHOT LIKE THIS:

IT'S JUST MORE EVIDENCE SHOWCASING THE FACT THAT TERENCE YOUNG WAS ONE HELL OF AN UNDERRATED DIRECTOR (REMEMBER, HE DID WAIT UNTIL DARK TOO). AND HULK DIDN'T MENTION IT ALL IN THE DR. NO ESSAY, BUT YOUNG WAS THE DIRECTOR OF THAT FILM TOO (ALONG WITH THE LATER FOURTH ENTRY IN THE SERIES). IT SHOULD GO WITHOUT SAYING, BUT HIS INFLUENCE ON THE SERIES WAS BEYOND CRITICAL. IT WASN'T JUST THE ASSURED HAND WITH CINEMATIC LANGUAGE, IT WAS THAT YOUNG SEEMED TO HAVE A SIXTH SENSE FOR HOW TO PERFECTLY BALANCE THE TONE OF THE MATERIAL. HE KNEW PRECISELY WHEN TO AMP UP THE MORE OVERT CINEMATIC INFLUENCE AND EXACTLY WHEN TO CHILL THINGS OUT, PULL BACK AND LET CONNERY DO HIS WHOLE CHARISMA THING. HE DIDN'T TREAT THE BOND FILMS AS SILLY, BUT HE DIDN'T TREAT THEM TOO SERIOUSLY EITHER. HE JUST HAD A NATURAL CADENCE FOR ALL THINGS THAT DEFINED THESE EARLY BOND FILMS: ALLURE. SEXUALITY. COOLNESS. SUSPENSE. FISTICUFFS. AND HE COULD MAKE A MOVIE THAT EMBODIED THOSE TRAITS WITH EASE. AND WHILE SOME PEOPLE THINK RUSSIA IS A LITTLE TOO BORING AND NOT “BOND ENOUGH,” (IN THE SENSE THAT WE KNOW THE SERIES NOW), HULK THINKS THE WHOLE MOVIE IS A PERFECT BLENDING OF THOSE PURE-BOND STAPLES WITH THE SWEEPING TECHNICALITY OF HITCHCOCKIAN CINEMA AND THE ROMANTIC ALLURE OF AN OVERTLY SEXUAL HERO. SO YEAH. FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE IS NOT A PROTOTYPICAL BOND PICTURE. INSTEAD, IT'S THE BEST OF WHAT A BOND STORY CAN BE.

MENTAL NOTE FOLKS: REMEMBER THE USE OF THE WORD "ROMANTIC" HERE... AS HULK WILL BE USING IT QUITE A LOT!

AND IF HULK'S GOING TO MENTION THE RELATIVE MERITS OF ROMANCE IN THIS FILM, IT PROVIDES A PERFECT SEGUE TO TALK ABOUT THE FILM'S MAIN BOND GIRL: DANIELA BIANCHI AS TATIANA ROMANOVA. HER BOND GIRL ARCHETYPE IS "RIVAL AGENT SET UP TO BE VILLAINESS, BUT WHO WILL STILL OBVIOUSLY FALL FOR BOND." AND LIKE HONEY RYDER'S CHARACTER, THIS ARCHETYPE WILL SHOW UP A LOT, THOUGH IN THIS PARTICULAR INCARNATION SHE'S SORT OF AN UNWITTING PARTICIPANT, FOR ROMANOVA IS BEING SENT ON THE MISSION AND DOESN'T REALIZE SHE'S BEING USED AS THIS KIND OF BAIT IN A LARGER GAME. AND PROBLEMATIC GENDER POLITICS ASIDE, THE THING THAT MAKES THIS KIND OF ARCHETYPE GOOD FOR BOND MOVIES IS THAT IT'S FUNCTIONAL AND HELPS OUT WITH THE TRADITIONAL SCREENPLAY NEEDS OF THIS KIND OF STORY. MEANING WE GET PROPER ARCS AND CONFLICTS. BOY MEETS GIRL. BOY AND GIRL HATE EACH OTHER (OR BOY AND GIRL HAVE TO HATE EACH OTHER BASED ON ESPIONAGE OR WHATEVER). BOY AND GIRL FALL IN LOVE. IT'S NOT THE ROCKET SCIENCE EQUIVALENT OF PLOTTING, BUT IT'S AMAZING HOW MUCH THIS LITTLE BIT OF TEXTURE AND TREATMENT OF A ROMANCE AS ANYTHING OTHER THAN OBLIGATORY CAN REALLY MAKE THESE MOVIES WORK LEAPS AND BOUNDS BETTER. BECAUSE USUALLY BOND MOVIES ARE LIKE "OH, HEY THIS HOT GIRL IS HERE! LET'S HAVE SEX WITH IT!" SO IN COMPARISON, THIS IS SO MUCH BETTER FOR BASIC CINEMATIC NEEDS.

THE ONE PROBLEM IS THAT IT STILL SADLY CONTINUES THE BOND GIRL TRADITION OF OUR MAIN LOVE INTEREST DISPLAYING A SURPRISING LEVEL OF VACUOUSNESS, WHICH IS ALL THE MORE WEIRD CONSIDERING SHE'S SUPPOSED TO BE A QUALIFIED RUSSIAN AGENT OR SOMETHING. SHE SPENDS A WEIRD AMOUNT OF TIME KIND OF BUMBLING AND FAWNING FOR HELP (SILLY WOMEN!) - AND DESPITE ALL THIS NONSENSE, THE THING THAT MAKES TATIANA ROMANOVA REMARKABLE IN THIS MOVIE SERIES IS THAT DANIELA BIANCHI STILL MAKES HER FEEL A LIKE REAL PERSON. AND THAT'S THE THING ABOUT ACTING, THE PEOPLE WHO ARE TRULY GOOD AT IT HAVE A CAPACITY TO IMBUE ANY CARDBOARD CUTOUT WITH SOME KIND OF EMOTION OR HUMANITY (FILMMAKERS GET INTO TROUBLE WHEN THEY JUST ASSUME THAT WILL HAPPEN, THOUGH). AND THIS FILM'S SECRET WEAPON IN MAKING HER CHARACTER WORK IS A DECEPTIVELY SIMPLE ONE: WE JUST GET TO SPEND SO MUCH TIME WITH HER, LIKE, WAY MORE THAN ANY OTHER BOND GIRL IF HULK'S NOT MISTAKEN. AND THESE THINGS MATTER. IN A SERIES WHERE SO MANY BOND GIRLS FIT THE MOST BASIC SEXUAL OR RUDIMENTARY PLOT NEEDS, HULK CAN'T TELL YOU HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO MERELY SEPARATE A BOND GIRL FROM BOND HIMSELF. AND LO AND BEHOLD IT WORKS WONDERS FOR THE FUNCTIONALITY OF THESE FILMS TOO (RUSSIA EVEN PASSES THE BECHDEL TEST! THEY TOTALLY TALK ABOUT WORK ONE TIME!). SURE, IN THE END THEY'RE JUST SEXY FOILS, BUT AT LEAST THEY CAN FEEL LIKE INDEPENDENT SEXY FOILS WITH THEIR OWN GOALS. AND SO EVEN IF TATIANA IS TECHNICALLY OUR SECOND SURPRISINGLY NAIVE HEROINE IN A ROW, BOTH HER LOOK AND CHARACTERIZATION COME ACROSS FAR MORE LIKE AN ADULT WOMAN IN COMPARISON TO THE PARADE OF INFANTILE GIRLS THE BOND FILMS USUALLY SHOVE IN FRONT OF US (ESPECIALLY LATER ON). BUT THEN AGAIN, BIANCHI’S ROMANOVA REALLY IS MUCH MORE OF A TRUE HITCHCOCKIAN FEMALE LEAD (WHICH HAD THEIR OWN OBVIOUS PROBLEMS OF SEXISM LEST WE FORGET) CROSSED WITH SOMETHING THAT, AT LEAST IDEALLY, SHOULD COME ACROSS AS FAR MORE CAPABLE BY TITLE ALONE. SO AGAIN, HULK KNOWS WE HAVE REALLY, REALLY LOW STANDARDS HERE, BUT FOR ALL THOSE REASONS SHE STILL IS ONE OF HULK'S FAVORITES IN THE SERIES...

... OKAY, THERE MAY BE OTHER REASONS.

BUT COME ON, WE CAN'T GIVE THE FILM TOO MUCH CREDIT FOR TURNING TATIANA INTO A KIND OF PERSON AND GIVING HER A LOT OF SCREEN TIME, BECAUSE THIS IS ALSO A FILM THAT GIVES MARTINE BESWICK AND ALIZA GUR THE UNIQUE PLEASURE OF PLAYING TWO GYPSIES WHO ARE MADE TO FIGHT TO DEATH FOR THE RIGHT TO MOUNT JAMES BOND’S DONG. NO, REALLY. HULK IS NOT KIDDING ABOUT THAT. THIS IS SOMETHING THAT REALLY HAPPENS:

HINT: THEY BOTH WIN.

... LET'S ABRUPTLY CHANGE THE SUBJECT.

HEY KIDS, IT'S ROBERT SHAW! QUINT FROM JAWS! ERIC VESPE'S SPIRIT ANIMAL! AND WHAT'S UBER-NEAT IS HE PLAYS THE MAIN VILLAIN IN THIS ONE. GONE IS THE CIVILIZED PRATTLING OF DR. NO AND HERE IS SOMETHING MUCH MORE... UM... TRADITIONAL? HE'S JUST AN ARYAN BLONDE HITMAN NAMED “DONALD GRANT” WHO IS SENT BY SPECTRE TO KILL JAMES BOND. ONLY IT SEEMS THAT HIS REAL JOB IS TO NOT TALK, LOOK MENACING AND TRACK BOND SOMEWHAT AWKWARDLY ACROSS EUROPE (WHILE USING ROMANOVA AS A PAWN OR SOMETHING... TO BE HONEST, AS MUCH AS HULK LIKES THE STORY, THE INTENTION OF THE PLOT IS NOT ENTIRELY CLEAR). AND SINCE HE DOESN'T REALLY TALK OR ANYTHING, ALL GRANT NEEDS TO HAVE IS A GREAT LOOK AND NATURAL PRESENCE, SO YEAH ROBERT SHAW IS BASICALLY PERFECT. BUT LATER THIS IS ALL TURNED ON ITS HEAD IN THE FINALE WHEN GRANT GETS TO SURPRISE THE AUDIENCE WITH THIS COVERT BRITISH ACCENT OUT OF FUCKIN' NOWHERE AND THEN ENGAGES IN A GREAT TÊTE-À-TÊTE SCENE WITH BOND, WHICH ALL BUILDS INTO THE AFOREMENTIONED KICKASS FIGHT SCENE. THE EXECUTION OF THIS ENTIRE ARC IS SO GOOD THAT IT EASILY TURNS ARYAN ROBERT SHAW INTO ONE OF HULK’S FAVORITE BOND VILLAINS.

HE ALSO LOOKS A LOT LIKE DANIEL CRAIG... IT'S KIND OF WEIRD.

BUT THE OTHER GREAT THING ABOUT THIS FILM IS THE FIGURATIVE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING... LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, IT IS THIS FILM WHERE DESMOND LLEWELYN MAKES HIS FIRST APPEARANCE AS Q!!!!

OKAY, OKAY, HULK KNOWS HE WAS JUST CALLED “BOOTHROYD” AT THIS POINT AND HE WASN'T QUITE IN HIS FULL-ON Q GLORY YET, BUT THAT'S OKAY BECAUSE WE STILL GET TO SEE THE FIRST INKLINGS OF HIS LOVELY SHTICK. AND WHEN YOU SEE HIM HERE IT'S SO FUNNY TO THINK ABOUT JUST HOW MUCH LLEWELYN WAS SYNONYMOUS WITH THE SERIES ITSELF. THERE MIGHT EVEN BE A WEIRD, GOOD REASON FOR THAT TOO: LLEWELYN DIDN'T REALLY ACT IN ANY OTHER ROLES BESIDES THIS ONE. AND HE WAS NOT ONLY AN OBVIOUS SERIES STAPLE, BUT THE PERSON WHO WAS INVOLVED WITH MORE PRODUCTIONS OF JAMES BOND FILMS THAN ANY OTHER LIVING PERSON, EVEN MORE THAN ALBERT BROCCOLI (WE WILL GET TO WHO THAT GUY IS LATER). IT'S KIND OF A REMARKABLE FACT AND THERE'S SOMETHING COMFORTING ABOUT IT TOO. HE FEELS LIKE FAMILY. A PERSON WHO WAS A CONSTANT TO DEPEND ON AND REALLY SEEMED TO EMBODY EVERYTHING ABOUT A PARTICULAR ROLE. AND HERE IN THIS FILM, IT'S SO WONDERFUL TO SEE HIM AT THE GENESIS OF IT ALL.

PICTURED: HANDSOMENESS.

ALSO WORTH NOTING IS PEDRO ARMENDARIZ WHO PLAYS ALI KERIM BEY. HE IS YET ANOTHER OF THE SUPPORTING CHARACTERS WHO SHOWS UP PRETTY MUCH JUST TO DIE IN THE SERVICE OF BEING JAMES BOND'S MINORITY FRIEND AND SPY-BUDDY. THIS ONE MADE ALL THE MORE AMUSING BY HAVING A FAMOUS MEXICAN CHARACTER ACTOR PLAY TURKISH GUY (THE 60'S DID THAT A LOT... MOST PEOPLE'S INSTINCT IS TO LAUGH AT THIS, PLAYFULLY ADMONISHING THE INSENSITIVITY, BUT WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE MODERN CLIMATE AND REALIZE WE'RE STILL PRETTY PARTIAL TO PAN-ASIAN CASTING AND THE LIKE, IT BECOMES MUCH LESS COMFORTABLE). TO BE FAIR, PEDRO IS ALSO PRETTY GOOD IN THE FILM. MEANING HE'S SORTA LIKABLE AND NOT TOTALLY EMBARRASSING AS A BONDIAN STEREOTYPE. AGAIN, WITH THE BOND FILMS IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS, LIKE WORKING AN OUNCE OF HUMANITY AND GRACE INTO YOUR NOTHING ROLE. AND ALSO WORTH NOTING: PEDRO'S STORY IS A BIT OF A SAD ONE AS HE FOUND OUT HE HAD TERMINAL CANCER WHILE FILMING THIS AND DIED SHORTLY AFTER ITS COMPLETION :/

BUT WORTH NOTING FAR MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE IN THIS MOVIE, WORTH THINKING ABOUT EVERY DAY OF OUR LIVES REALLY, IS LOTTE LENYA AS ROSA KLEBB.

TO MANY SHE KIND OF KILLS THE WHOLE ROMANTIC, SERIOUS HITCHCOCKIAN VIBE OF THE MOVIE, AND THEY'RE RIGHT! SHE REALLY DOES. BUT IT DOESN'T MATTER CAUSE SHE'S SO OUT THERE AND AWESOME THAT IT DOESN'T END UP MATTERING. SERIOUSLY, SHE'S JUST TOO FANTASTIC TO DESCRIBE ACCURATELY. HER GIRL-HUNGRY MINCING ALPHA LESBIANISM AND PATENT ABSURDITY ARE EVEN BETTER THAN HER AUSTIN POWERS STAND-IN. SERIOUSLY, HULK IS NOT LYING TO YOU. 

... AMAZING.

HULK WOULD LINK TO CLIPS, BUT THEY ARE KIND OF HARD TO FIND, SO HER COVERT MAID OUTFIT WILL HAVE TO DO.

3. GOLDFINGER (1964)

SO GOLDFINGER IS WIDELY CONSIDERED TO BE THE BEST BOND OF ALL TIME. AND NOT THAT IT REALLY MATTERS, BUT HULK REALLY, REALLY DISAGREES WITH THAT ASSESSMENT. BUT IN ORDER TO DISCUSS THIS DISAGREEMENT, WE HAVE TO REALLY DIG INTO THE SUBJECT OF DIRECTION AT LARGE.

IT IS OFTEN SAID THAT FILMMAKING IS A DIRECTOR'S MEDIUM.

AND IT IS A SAYING THAT HULK COMPLETELY UNDERSTANDS THE INTENTION OF, BUT STILL DOESN'T LIKE ALL THAT MUCH. NOT ONLY BECAUSE DIRECTING IS REALLY JUST THE ART OF COLLABORATION, BUT BECAUSE IT FUNDAMENTALLY UNDERCUTS BOTH THE NEED FOR / EMPHASIS ON SOLID SCREENWRITING. AND IN CASE IT ISN'T OBVIOUS (WHAT WITH HULK'S HARPING ON IT AD NAUSEAM ROUND THESE PARTS) THE NUMBER ONE WAY TO IMPROVE THIS INDUSTRY IS THROUGH A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT IS FIRST PUT ON THE PAGE. YOU SEE, THERE'S THIS MYTH THAT EXECUTIVES DON'T CARE ABOUT SCREENWRITING, WHEN HULK ASSURES YOU THAT THEY VERY MUCH DO. THE PROBLEM IS THAT CARE RUNS AGAINST THREE DISTINCT OBSTACLES. 1. THEY ARE GIVEN A STUDIO MANDATE TO LOCK RELEASE DATES LONG BEFORE A SCRIPT EVEN EXISTS, CREATING A PROBLEMATIC DEADLINE. 2. THEY OPERATE BY COMMITTEE, NOT TO THE POINT OF COMMUNAL AGREEMENT, BUT TO THE POINT OF SWELLING A SCRIPT WITH DISPARATE DIRECTIONS, MAKING FOR A SIMPLE CASE OF TOO MANY COOKS IN THE KITCHEN. AND 3. WHILE MOST EXECUTIVES CARE A GREAT DEAL AND HAVE GOOD TASTE, A LOT OF THEM HAVE TROUBLE SEEING THE APPROACHING STORY PROBLEMS AT THE SCRIPT LEVEL. AND WHEN THE EDITS START COMING BACK THOSE PROBLEMS BECOME PLAIN AS DAY, OF COURSE, AND SO THEY THEN TRY TO RETROACTIVELY FIX IT WITH MAGIC EDITING OR RESHOOTS. WHICH IS NOT ONLY VERY EXPENSIVE, BUT OFTEN IMPOSSIBLE TO RECONCILE GIVEN WHAT ALREADY EXISTS. THERE ARE MORE THINGS THAT ARE ESSENTIALLY UNFIXABLE THAN PEOPLE REALIZE. THUS, GETTING MORE OF THE FILM RIGHT AT THE SCRIPT LEVEL IS THE BEST WAY TO ENSURE THE OBVIOUS MOVIE-CRUSHING PROBLEMS DON'T HAPPEN IN THE FIRST PLACE. THE KEY IS JUST TRAINING PEOPLE TO RECOGNIZE THEM ON THE PAGE INSTEAD OF DURING THE EDIT.

SO WHAT THIS "DIRECTOR'S MEDIUM" THING COMES DOWN TO IS THE FACT THAT EVEN A GOOD SCRIPT IS STILL DIRECTOR-DEPENDENT. DIRECTORS MAY NOT BE ABLE TO POLISH A TURD, BUT THEY CAN STILL COVER A TROPHY IN FECES (THIS METAPHOR IS AWFUL, BUT YOU GET THE POINT). DIRECTORS AREN'T THE END-ALL-BE-ALL, BUT THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CRUX OF EXECUTION ON VIRTUALLY ALL LEVELS. DOES THAT DISTINCTION MAKE SENSE? THEY HAVE TO GUIDE A FILM ALONG A SERIES OF CHOKE POINTS TO BE SURE IT COMES OUT THE OTHER SIDE. AND YOU WOULD BE SURPRISED HOW EASY IT IS TO TAKE A SOLID DRAMATIC FOUNDATION AND RENDER IT COMPLETELY INERT. MAKING MOVIES IS HARD, FOLKS. AND MEASURING ALL THE FACTORS IN ONE'S HEAD IS ENORMOUSLY DIFFICULT. UNDERSTANDING THE EFFECT AND BALANCE OF EVERY MOMENT, CRAFTING IT INTO AN EXPERIENCE FULL OF INTENT AND PURPOSE.

SO NOW THEN... THE REASON HULK BLABBED ON FOR TWO PARAGRAPHS ABOUT THIS VERY BROAD SUBJECT OF THE REAL IMPORTANCE OF WRITERS AND DIRECTORS AND WHAT THEY ARE ACTUALLY DOING (AS OPPOSED TO THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM) IS THAT IT IS CRITICAL TO OUR DISCUSSION OF THE BOND SERIES. WHY?

BECAUSE MOST OF THE BOND SCRIPTS ARE VIRTUALLY IDENTICAL. REALLY. IN FACT MOST OF THEM WERE WRITTEN BY THE SAME DUDE (AND LATER, BY THE SAME DUDES). DID YOU KNOW THAT? HULK'S SURPRISED HOW MANY PEOPLE DON'T. HIS NAME WAS RICHARD MAIBAUM AND HE WROTE ON ALMOST EVERY BOND MOVIE, ALL THE WAY THROUGH LICENSE TO KILL. IT'S KIND OF A REMARKABLE 30-YEAR RUN. AND IT'S A TRADITION THAT (KIND OF) CONTINUES AS EVERY ONE OF THE BROSNAN BOND FILMS WERE WRITTEN BY PRETTY MUCH THE SAME GROUP OF GUYS, AND THE SAME CAN BE SAID FOR EVERY DANIEL CRAIG ENTRY. AND THE POINT IS THAT UNIFORMITY OF ORIGINAL "VOICE" IS IMPORTANT TO OUR DISCUSSION BECAUSE IT HIGHLIGHTS JUST HOW MUCH OF THE VARIATION OF THIS SERIES IS ACTUALLY DIRECTOR-DEPENDENT.

AND BELIEVE IT OR NOT, NOTHING HIGHLIGHTS THE TRICKY INTERPLAY OF TONE AND INTENTION QUITE LIKE THE BOND FILMS. BECAUSE THE BEATS, THE DETAILS, THE DIALOGUE, THE BROAD PERSONALITIES... THEY ARE ALL ALMOST ALWAYS THE SAME. AND THUS WE READILY GET TO SEE HOW EACH DIRECTOR UNDERSTANDS THAT MATERIAL AND WHAT THEY THINK WE SHOULD GET OUT OF IT. BOND FILMS ARE, EFFECTIVELY SPEAKING, CONSTANT DIRECTORIAL INTERPRETATIONS OF THE SAME MATERIAL AND TROPES OVER AND OVER AGAIN. AND HULK TRULY BELIEVES THAT THE ROSETTA STONE FOR UNDERSTANDING HOW THE TONE OF BOND FILMS SHOULD WORK ALL GOES BACK TO GOLDFINGER.

THAT'S NOT NECESSARILY A POSITIVE COMMENT, AND WE WILL GET TO HOW AND WHY IN A SECOND, BUT HULK HAS TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THERE'S THIS WEIRD THING THAT PEOPLE DO WHERE THEY TEND NOT TO THINK OF THE BOND FILMS AS SOMETHING BEING “DIRECTED” AT ALL. WITH 23 ENTRIES AND A CONSTANT PARADE OF CHANGES SET AGAINST A CHANGING PARADE OF CONSTANTS MAKES IT FEEL LIKE THE SERIES DOESN'T REALLY BELONG TO ANYONE. MEANING THE AUTHORIAL VOICE IS ONE OF SUBTLETY. AND IN TERMS OF POPULAR CONSCIOUSNESS, THE ONLY PERSON THAT BOND BELONGS TO IS "BOND: THE ICON."

WHICH IS NOT ONLY A LIE IN A TECHNICAL AUTEUR SENSE, BUT A LIE BECAUSE HULK BELIEVES THAT THE BOND MOVIE SERIES ACTUALLY HAS TWO DISTINCT "AUTHORS" BEHIND IT. THE FIRST IS OBVIOUSLY IAN FLEMING. NOT ONLY WERE HIS BOOKS THE SOURCE MATERIAL FOR MOST OF THE FILMS, BUT EVEN TODAY, THE FILMS HAVE A PENCHANT FOR GOING BACK TO THE BOOKS TO MINE DETAILS, SHORT STORIES OR EVEN PROPER NOUNS TO HELP SHAPE THE FILMS TO COME. BUT THE BOND SERIES ACTUALLY HAS A SECOND AUTHOR, AND HE IS ONE THAT HULK WOULD ARGUE IS FAR MORE CRITICAL TO THE MOVIES THEMSELVES... THAT WOULD THE BROCCOLI FAMILY, WITH DEAR OLD ALBERT BROCCOLI BEING THE FIGUREHEAD FOR THE VAST MAJORITY OF THAT RUN. ALBERT BROCCOLI WAS THE PRODUCER BEHIND EON PRODUCTIONS WHO OBTAINED THE RIGHTS TO THE BOND FILMS AND WAS TRULY SET ON MAKING THEM. THE SERIES ACTUALLY BECAME HIS PRIDE AND JOY FOR MOST OF HIS LIFE. HE LOVED THE BOND FILMS. HE LOVED HOW MUCH THE PUBLIC LOVED THE BONDS. HE EVEN TOOK THE ENTERPRISE AND TURNED IT INTO A BIT OF A FAMILY AFFAIR BECAUSE HE LOVED WORKING WITH HIS FRIENDS SO DAMN MUCH. AND WHILE HE WASN'T NECESSARILY THE CENTRAL STORYTELLER BEHIND IT ALL, HE WAS STILL THE LAST WORD ON INTENTION, MAJOR DECISIONS AND ANYTHING BEING TOO OUTSIDE THE EXISTING "BOND BOX," SO TO SPEAK. AND IT WAS HIS PASSION, DEDICATION AND LEADERSHIP THAT KEPT THE SERIES ON TRACK FOR DECADES. IN THAT SPIRIT, HULK ACTUALLY LIKES TO THINK OF HIM AS THE CURATOR OF THE PROVERBIAL BOND ESTATE.

BUT PERHAPS IT'S BEST THAT THIS INFLUENCE IS ALSO A "SECRET" ONE. SINCE THE PUBLIC HAS NO AUTHORIAL VOICE WITH WHICH TO ASSOCIATE THE SERIES, IT IS ALMOST LIKE PEOPLE THINK BOND FILMS EVOLVE AND EXIST IN THEIR OWN NATURAL STATE AND ARE WHOLLY DICTATED BY THE GOOD AND BAD CHOICES MADE BY WHATEVER ACTOR IS PLAYING BOND AT THE MOMENT, WHICH HULK WOULD ACTUALLY ARGUE IS THE GREATEST POSSIBLE ILLUSION THAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE IN FILMMAKING. IT'S FUNNY, A LOT OF DIRECTORS LIKE TAKING CREDIT FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF A FILM, BUT NOTHING QUITE PROVES THAT CRAFT LIKE THE AUDIENCE FALLING RIGHT INTO A CINEMATIC WORLD AND HAVING THEM BELIEVES THE ACTORS ARE MAKING IT UP AS THEY GO ALONG. IT'S ONE OF CINEMA'S MANY LOVELY LIES. AND THIS IDEA OF LACK OF AUTHORSHIP IS WHY HULK HONESTLY BELIEVES THAT THE BOND FILMS EXEMPLIFY THE HEART OF POPULAR FILMMAKING.

BOND ONLY BELONGS TO BOND.

AND HULK PROMISED YOU THIS WAS ALL PART OF AN IMPORTANT POINT REGARDING GOLDFINGER, SO HERE GOES...

NOW, HULK ALREADY TALKED ABOUT HOW MUCH HULK LOVES TERENCE YOUNG'S DIRECTION IN THE FIRST TWO FILMS (HE ALSO DIRECTS THE FOURTH, ALSO VERY GOOD FILM IN THE SERIES, THUNDERBALL), BUT IT'S WORTH SAYING AGAIN: HE WASN'T JUST A SMOOTH OPERATOR WHO MADE SEXY, WELL-PACED, EVEN-HANDED FILMS. HE COULD ALSO IMBUE CONNERY’S WORLD WITH AN ORGANIC SENSE OF “REALITY” NO MATTER WHAT CRAZY STUFF WAS ACTUALLY HAPPENING IN THE MOVIE. YOU ALWAYS BELIEVED HIS BOND MOVIES IF THAT MAKE SENSE. AND FOR HOWEVER MANY TEXTUAL OR SUBTEXTUAL PROBLEMS REARED THEIR UGLY HEADS, WHEN IT CAME TO MERE STORY FUNCTION HE COULD STILL INTEGRATE SEXUALITY IN A NON-CHEESY, OR MAYBE EVEN SWEEPING AND ROMANTIC WAY.

BUT GOLDFINGER, ON THE OTHER HAND, WAS DIRECTED BY A MAN NAMED GUY HAMILTON AND, WELL, HOW TO SAY THIS... HULK THINKS HE WAS PROBABLY THE WORST DIRECTOR IN THE ENTIRE BOND CANON. NOW, THAT MAY SOUND CONFUSING BECAUSE GOLDFINGER IS A BELOVED MOVIE AND EVEN HULK ADMITS IT'S PRETTY GOOD (HULK WILL EVEN ARTICULATE WHY IT SUCCEEDS IN A MINUTE), BUT IN ORDER TO SEE WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON WITH THIS FILM YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT THE OTHER FILMS THAT HAMILTON GOES ON TO DIRECT IN THE SERIES, FOR HIS LATER FILMS ARE CHOCK-FULL OF SUCH UTTERLY BIZARRE AND DUMB CHOICES AS TO OFTEN RENDER HULK SPEECHLESS. HECK, HIS ENTIRE CAREER IS AN EXAMPLE OF POORLY AGED, BATSHIT FILMS AND UGLY DECISION-MAKING. HULK BELIEVES HE IS SIMPLY A TERRIBLE CHOICE FOR BOND AND ONE THAT EXACERBATES EVERYTHING THAT IS PROBLEMATIC WITH THE TEXT. AND WITH GOLDFINGER, DESPITE THE FACT THAT THIS PARTICULAR MOVIE WORKS, YOU STILL GET TO SEE ALL THE HINTS OF THE BAD DECISIONS THAT ARE GOING TO COME, THEY'RE JUST TEMPERED BY WHAT APPEARS TO BE A LACK OF AUDACITY FOR THE TIME. MAYBE HAMILTON JUST WASN'T EMPOWERED ENOUGH TO GO "FULL HAMILTON" YET. OR MAYBE THIS IS REALLY WHAT HE WAS AIMING FOR.

BUT EITHER WAY, YOU JUST HAVE TO LOOK CLOSELY TO SEE THAT THIS IS INDEED THE FIRST BOND TO HEAD FULL-TILT IN THE“GIMMICKY” DIRECTION THAT WILL LATER BE THE SERIES' UNDOING (AT TIMES). MAYBE THE REAL PROBLEM IS THAT THIS IS THE FIRST TIME WE ARE SEEING THE GIMMICKS. AND AS SUCH, THEY JUST FEEL LIKE NEW AND OFTEN FUNNY INVERSIONS OF WHAT CAME BEFORE. YOU COULD MAYBE EVEN ARGUE THAT THIS FILM IS JUST A NATURAL EVOLUTION OF THE SILLY ELEMENTS OF JAMES BOND THAT CAME BEFORE. IN WHICH CASE, IT CERTAINLY STARTED THE GRAND TRADITION OF MAKING BOND SEQUELS MORE “AWESOME” AND FILLING THEM WITH AMPED-UP VERSIONS OF THE STUFF WE'VE SEEN BEFORE IN PREVIOUS MOVIES. NO MORE SIMPLE CAR WITH BULLET SHIELDS, NOW WE GET GATLING GUNS AND EJECTOR SEATS! PERHAPS THE ASTON MARTIN IN THIS FILM DEFINES SO MUCH OF THE SERIES BECAUSE IT WAS THE FIRST TIME A BOND CAR WAS TRULY FUN.

BUT THE THING ABOUT "AMPING UP" ANY KIND OF SERIES INTO THE FULL-TILT DIRECTION OF FUN AND RIDICULOUSNESS IS THAT YOU ONLY GET TO PLAY THAT CARD ONCE BEFORE THE CINEMATIC EFFECT OF DOING SO IS TECHNICALLY LOST. BECAUSE HULK ARGUES THIS FILM WAS ALSO THE LAST TIME THE TRULY GIMMICKY PARTS OF BOND'S OEUVRE WERE REALLY "FUN" IN THAT CRUCIAL WAY OF JOYFUL CINEMATIC DISCOVERY AND SURPRISE. THEY ARE EFFECTIVELY MAGIC TRICKS (AND AS SOME SMART GUY ONCE SAID "Repetition is the death of magic"). AS HULK WATCHED ALL THE BOND FILMS AGAIN IN THE LAST YEAR IN CLOSE SUCCESSION, IT'S AMAZING HOW QUICKLY THE CARS AND GADGETS BECOME REPETITIVE. HULK SWEARS TO YOU, AFTER THE EVOLUTION OF THIS FILM, THERE WAS NO REAL PLACE FOR THAT STUFF TO GO IF IT WAS ONLY PREDICATED ON "THE NEATNESS" AND NOT A LARGER CINEMATIC PURPOSE. ALL THE GADGETS AND CARS BECAME MORE CRAZY AND SCI-FI AND... DOWNRIGHT POINTLESS? AND YEAH, WE MAY ALL HAVE OUR OWN TIMELINES OF PERSPECTIVE WITH THIS KIND OF STUFF AND THE FIRST BOND MOVIES WE SAW AS KIDS, BUT AS FAR AS THE SERIES ITSELF GOES, THIS IS WAS THE POINT OF NO TURNING BACK. HECK, WE EVEN GOT OUR FIRST NOVELTY BAD GUY HENCHMAN WITH AN ODD JOB IN THIS FILM (NOTICE THE NOVELTY BAD GUYS GO AWAY AND DON'T RETURN UNTIL HAMILTON RETURNS TO THE SERIES... HMMM). AND IT'S EVEN THE FIRST TIME WE GET A WHOLE BUNCH OF LADY BAD GUY HENCHWOMEN IN MATCHING CLOTHES! AND THEY'RE PILOTS!

PICTURED: NATIONAL THREAT.

AGAIN, HULK JUST HAS TO POINT TO TERENCE YOUNG'S ORIGINAL BOND FILMS AND HOW THEY TOOK FACT THAT BOND HAS THESE OBVIOUS AND INHERENTLY SILLY ASPECTS AND SMOOTHED THEM OVER INTO THIS WEIRD, YET COHERENT AND ALLURING TONE. HE TURNED BOND INTO PART OF THE GRAND LIE OF CINEMATIC ROMANCE. AND INSTEAD OF INTEGRATING THAT SILLINESS, GUY HAMILTON LOOKS AT BOND'S OBVIOUS AND INHERENT SILLINESS AND INSTEAD LIKES TO GO ALL OUT WITH IT. HE REVELS IN THE RIDICULOUSNESS AND PUSHES THE BOUNDARIES OF BELIEVABILITY INTO SOMETHING... ELSE. AND DON'T GET HULK WRONG, THE LOGIC OF DOING THAT MAKES SENSE IN ONE WAY, FOR IT IS CERTAINLY HIS "TRUTH" IN TERMS OF HOW HE SEES THE CHARACTER. AND HEY, THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE WHO REALLY LIKE THIS SILLY STYLE OF BOND MOVIE. EVEN FOR HULK, SOMETIMES THE SILLINESS WORKS (BUT MOSTLY IT DOESN'T). BUT EITHER WAY, THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THESE TWO DIRECTORS STILL HIGHLIGHTS EVERYTHING ABOUT HOW BOND FILMS WORK IN TERMS OF FUNCTION.

FOR WE HAVE TWO DIRECTORS WHO WERE ESSENTIALLY WORKING WITH THE SAME EXACT MATERIAL, ONLY HAMILTON DIDN'T SMOOTH OUT THE EDGES OF FLEMING'S PROBLEMATIC STORYTELLING. INSTEAD, HE SHINED A LIGHT ON IT. LIKE THE FACT THAT THIS IS ONLY THE THIRD BOND FILM IN THE SERIES, YET IT IMMEDIATELY HITS THE APEX OF THE BOND-GIRL DOUBLE ENTENDRE NAME WITH “PUSSY GALORE.” HULK MEAN... GOOD GRAVY. AND WHETHER OR NOT THE NAME ITSELF IS HIS RESPONSIBILITY, IT IS STILL REPRESENTATIVE OF EVERYTHING HAMILTON IS BRINGING TO THE FILM AND, FOR BETTER OR WORSE, THE BOND UNIVERSE FROM HERE ON OUT TOO. BUT STILL, GOLDFINGER ITSELF IS A FILM THAT COMES OH-SO-CLOSE TO BEING OUT OF CONTROL AND RIDICULOUS, BUT ROUGHLY CHARMS YOU WITH THAT AUDACITY AND SOMEHOW MANAGES NOT TO LOSE YOU. WHICH IS HARD TO DO IN A MOVIE WHERE A WOMAN IS KILLED BY BEING PAINTED IN GOLD.

CUE STRATEGICALLY PLACED PILLOW!

SO WHY DOES HAMILTON PULL OFF HERE WHAT HE COULDN'T PULL OFF LATER? PART OF THE REASON WAS THAT RICHARD MAIBAUM WAS STILL THERE TO PROVIDE A SOLID-ISH SCRIPT FOR THE FILM (THIS WAS BEFORE TOM MANKIEWICZ JOINS WITH HAMILTON TO RUIN EVVV-ERRR-REEE-THING SAID GARY OLDMAN-STYLE). PLUS MAIBAUM STILL FIRMLY ROOTS THE FILM IN THAT EARLY 60′S ROMANTICISM BEFORE IT STARTS GOING TACKY AND OFF THE RAILS (NOTE: HULK IS TALKING ABOUT CLASSIC DEFINITIONS OF EARLY 60'S ROMANTICISM HERE. HULK KNOWS ENOUGH ABOUT HISTORY TO KNOW THAT IT HAD A DARK UNDERBELLY TOO. YOU DON'T NEED MAD MEN TO CONFIRM THIS FACT. HECK, THIS ENTIRE MOVIE SERIES PRETTY MUCH CONFIRMS IT). ALSO TO THE FILM'S ADVANTAGE IS THAT THIS SEEMS TO BE THE LAST TIME IN THE  BOND SERIES WHERE SEAN CONNERY TRULY SEEMED TO GIVE A FUCK... BUT REALLY, HULK JUST KEEPS INSISTING THAT HE WAS HOLDING BACK, NOT READY TO GO "FULL HAMILTON" YET.

BUT IF YOU LOOK, IT'S ALL THERE. LIKE THE LAZY PLOT CONSTRUCTION THAT DOESN'T EVEN TRY TO HOODWINK YOU. YOUNG WOULD ROLL WITH A LAZY PLOT POINT AND SEDUCE YOU INTO IT WITH A BAIT AND SWITCH. HAMILTON INSTEAD MERELY WINKS AT YOU AND SAYS "ISN'T THIS STUPID?!?" LIKE WHEN THE MAIN VILLAIN INVITES THE CRIME SYNDICATES TO HEAR HIS LONG-WINDED AND IN-DEPTH MASTER PLAN THEN IMMEDIATELY KILLS THEM FOR WHAT APPEARS TO BE NO REASON WHATSOEVER, WHICH MAKES HIS SPEECH DELIVERY TO THEM ALL THE MORE RIDICULOUS. NOW, HULK SAYS TO IGNORE PLOT HOLES AND STUFF, BUT THIS GETS RIGHT INTO THE ARENA OF IMMEDIATE EFFECT. ANY TIME YOU SET UP A LONG, CONTRIVED SCENE WHOSE SOLE FOCUS IS TO DELIVER A LONG-WINDED, CONVOLUTED EXPLANATION, YOU'RE IN TROUBLE, AND THEN WHEN YOU DO AWAY WITH THE ENTIRE IMPORTANCE OF THAT SAME SCENE, WELL, YOU GET SOMETHING THAT AUSTIN POWERS WILL PROPERLY MAKE FUN OF DECADES LATER.

AND HOPEFULLY HULK WILL PROVE THE FOLLOWING OVER THE COURSE OF THESE COLUMNS, BUT WHAT IS MOST TROUBLING ABOUT HAMILTON, AND PRETTY MUCH THE WHOLE REASON THIS "IT'S ALL A JOKE!" ATTITUDE IN THE FILMS IS BAD FOR THE BOND SERIES, IS THAT IT TAKES THE LAZY, CONFINING, BUT WITH A MERE BASELINE OF RESPECT TOWARD WOMEN IN THE FIRST FEW FILMS (AGAIN, WE'RE GRADING ON A HORRIFIC CURVE HERE), AND TURNS IT INTO SOMETHING DOWNRIGHT INSIDIOUS.

TAKE SHIRLEY EATON AS JILL MASTERSON. AT FIRST WE MEET JILL MASTERSON, GOLDFINGER’S ASSISTANT WHOSE SOLE REASON OF EMPLOYMENT SEEMS TO BE HELPING HIM CHEAT AT CARDS. BOND SLEEPS WITH HER AND THE POWER OF HIS WIENER CONVINCES HER TO MESS UP HER JOB, WHICH THEN RESULTS IN GOLDFINGER KILLING HER BY PAINTING HER IN GOLD. SO… YEAH. THAT'S ALL SHE REALLY HAS TO DO, SO HER BOND GIRL ARCHETYPE IS "DISPOSABLE LAY." (UGH HULK HATES JUST WRITING THAT, BUT THIS SHOWS UP A LOT). BUT KEEP HER IN MIND AS THIS IS THE FIRST BOND FILM TO REALLY START EMPLOYING THAT KIND OF CHARACTER (SYLVIA TRENCH AT LEAST HAD THE ILLUSION OF A RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM). WHAT'S SOMEWHAT RATHER TELLING ABOUT THE NATURE OF BOND GIRLS AND THE WAY THEY ARE REGARDED BY BOTH THE MOVIES AND SOCIETY AT LARGE IS MASTERSON ENDED UP HAVING A MODICUM OF FAME BASED ON THE WHOLE GOLD-DIPPED ICONOGRAPHY. AND HULK GUESS PEOPLE REALLY LIKE HER BECAUSE SHE FITS THE BOMBSHELL PROTOTYPE? BUT YEAH, THE MAIN REASON IS PROBABLY BECAUSE SHE GOT NAKED AND PAINTED IN GOLD (DESPITE CLEARLY SEEING HER UNDERWEAR!):

AND FOR WHATEVER IT'S WORTH, SHE ALSO LOOKS LIKE SHE SMOKES A PACK FOR BREAKFAST AND COULD DRINK LOHAN UNDER THE TABLE (NOTE: BELIEVE IT OR NOT HULK WROTE THIS JOKE LIKE 3 YEARS AGO, BACK WHEN IT WAS HACK BUT HACK DU JOUR AND NOW IT'S JUST WEIRD SO HULK'S KEEPING IT CUZ POSTERITY OR SOMETHING).

BUT AS AN IMPORTANT COUNTERPOINT TO ALL THAT, WE HAVE TANIA MALLET AS TILLY MASTERSON! WHICH IS WAY MORE LIKE IT. HULK WILL BE HONEST. HULK THINKS TANIA MALLET IS SUPER-DUPER BEAUTIFUL. SHE'S DOWNRIGHT GRACE KELLY-LIKE. AND HER LIFE STORY IS ACTUALLY INTERESTING IN THAT SHE IS ONE OF THE RARE ACTORS WHO GOT FAMOUS AND THEN JUST WASN'T THAT INTO BEING EITHER AN ACTRESS OR FAMOUS. SHE LIKED WORKING AS A MODEL FAR MORE AND LEFT ACTING SOON AFTER GOLDFINGER, ONLY WITH A COUPLE CREDITS TO HER NAME. AND SHE WAS A REALLY GOOD ACTRESS TOO! PART OF WHAT MAKES HER CHARACTER SOMEWHAT INTERESTING IN THAT SHE IS TECHNICALLY THE SECOND “FALSE START” BOND GIRL IN THE MOVIE. SHE JILL’S SISTER AND WANTS TO AVENGE HER DEATH BY KILLING GOLDFINGER. MEANWHILE, BOND THINKS SHE'S ACTUALLY HUNTING HIM, SO THERE ARE A FEW NEAT SCENES LATER WHERE THEY COME TO AN UNDERSTANDING AND WORK TOGETHER! IT'S LIKE AN ARC AND STUFF! BUT SHE'S DEFINITELY AN AWESOME BOND GIRL, ONE WHO WAS REALLY OUR FIRST INDEPENDENTLY BADASS AND WHOLLY CAPABLE FEMALE FIGURE WITH HER OWN INTERESTS, WHICH IS A RATHER RARE ARCHETYPE IN THIS SERIES. SHE COULD HAVE BEEN IN THE PANTHEON OF GREAT BOND GIRLS... BUT RATHER THAN HAVE HER STICK AROUND AND FINISH HER INTERESTING STORY ARC, SHE'S RANDOMLY (AND CONFUSINGLY) SHOT DEAD A FEW SCENES LATER... SO MUCH FOR TANIA.

... HULK ADORES HER THOUGH.

AND LASTLY WE HAVE HONOR BLACKMAN AS PUSSY GALORE, THE "FINAL GIRL" OF THE FILM (A MUCH DIFFERENT MEANING IN BOND FILMS THAN IN HORROR). SHE'S GOLDFINGER’S RASPY-VOICED PILOT HENCHWOMAN WHO IS AS TOUGH AS NAILS, COMPLETELY NO-NONSENSE, AND NOT-SO-LIGHTLY HINTED AT AS BEING A LESBIAN. BESIDES HAVING THE MOST RIDICULOUS NAME IN BOND ICONOGRAPHY, BOND ALSO CLEARLY RAPES HER. SERIOUSLY. GO BACK AND WATCH THE SCENE. IT'S HORRIBLE. AND TRY TO PASS IT OFF AS ANYTHING ELSE! HULK DARES YOU, BECAUSE IT WILL GO LIKE THIS: "Yeah, Hulk he's a good guy! He just kind of... um... forces himself on her and... she ended up being glad it happened!!!... Yeah okay, you're right." ANYWAY, SHE ENTERS THE FILM SO LATE THAT HULK REALLY HAS NO INTEREST IN HER AND BOND'S SO-CALLED "RELATIONSHIP" (THE RAPE CERTAINLY DOESN'T HELP MATTERS). PERHAPS WHAT IS MOST NOTABLE ABOUT PUSSY GALORE IS SHE IS THE PROTOTYPE FOR THE “DEVOTED HENCHWOMAN WHO IS TURNED TO GOOD THROUGH THE POWER OF JAMES BOND’S WIENER.” YOU WILL SEE THIS KIND OF CHARACTER A LOT. AND THIS ONE HAS THE NOTED DISTINCTION OF ALL THE HORRIFIC IMPLICATIONS OF "TURNING" GAY WOMEN STRAIGHT THROUGH THE POWER OF OVERT MASCULINITY. WHICH IS JUST HASKLFJKAL;EKJF. LIKE HULK NEEDS TO GO TAKE A WALK FOR A WHILE.

TO BE FAIR, SHE ALSO PITIES FOOLS AND WROTE AN AWESOME BOOK ABOUT SELF DEFENSE. HULK IS NOT KIDDING. PROPS TO UNCLEMUSTACHE FOR THE FIND!

IT SHOULD BE NO SURPRISE THAT, GIVEN GUY HAMILTON'S INTERESTS, GOLDFINGER, IS REALLY THE FIRST BOND MOVIE TO START PLAYING WITH THE CONVENTIONS AND THROWING OUT A REAL MIXED BAG OF NICE APPROPRIATION AND SOME REALLY HEINOUS, FUCKED-UP SHIT. AND HULK WOULD ARGUE THIS IS FUCKING PRECISELY WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU THINK THIS INDULGENT WORLD OF JAMES BOND IS REALLY SILLY AND YOU THROW UP YOUR HANDS AND MAKE THE SEXUAL POLITICS A BIG GAME OF BLATANT "WHO GIVES A FUCK?" HULK COULD GO ON AND ON ABOUT THIS, BUT WE'LL ACTUALLY TALK MORE WHEN HAMILTON COMES BACK INTO THE FOLD.

FOR NOW, WE SHOULD JUST COVER THE OTHER THINGS OF NOTE IN THE FILM.

LIKE HULK SUPPOSES WE SHOULD TALK ABOUT AURIC GOLDFINGER HIMSELF (AURIC: AU = GOLD... GET IT? HULK WOULD ASSUME HAMILTON MIGHT RENAME HIM GOLDY GOLDFINGER BECAUSE IT'S MORE "HONEST"). SO ANYWAY, GOLDFINGER IS PLAYED BY A MAN NAMED GERT FRÖBE, COMPLETE WITH UMLAUT (NOW THAT NAME IS FUCKING AWESOME). HE IS WORTH NOTING BECAUSE WE HAVE OUR FIRST NON-SPECTRE VILLAIN TO APPEAR IN THE SERIES! AND IS THUS INDEPENDENTLY MOTIVATED! AND DESPITE HIS AMUSING “I LIKE GOLD A LOT!” GIMMICK HULK STILL FINDS HIM TO BE ONE OF THE MOST BORING VILLAINS OF THE ENTIRE BOND OEUVRE. SURE HE GETS A FEW FAMOUS LINES, BUT HIS PLAN AND MOTIVATIONS ARE STUPID EVEN FOR A BOND MOVIE. FOR ONE, HIS TEAM OF HOT LADY PILOTS OBVIOUSLY DOESN'T SHARE HIS INTERESTS. HIS MAIN HENCHMEN THROWS A HAT. AND WORSE THAN THAT, HE CHEATS AT GOLF AND CARDS. LIKE, HOW CRAPPY AND NON-THREATENING IS THAT? DOES HE EVEN DO ANYTHING WELL? IS IT ALL A BIG METAPHOR FOR BIG BUSINESS CEOS? (THAT WOULD BE INTERESTING, ACTUALLY). BUT REALLY, THE ONLY INTERESTING THING THAT GOLDFINGER EVER DOES IS THREATEN TO KILL THE SOURCE OF JAMES BOND’S POWER…

#OBVIOUSLYITSHISPENIS

#HASHTAGSOUTSIDEOFTWITTER

HULK WOULD ALSO LIKE TO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE TWO LAST RANDOM JOKES ABOUT THIS MOVIE.

1. ODD JOB IS THE MOST UNFAIRLY USED PLAYER IN THE GOLDENEYE GAME. SERIOUSLY.

2. THIS WAS CEC LINDER’S ONE AND ONLY PERFORMANCE AS FELIX LEITER AND HULK HONEST TO GOD DIDN'T REMEMBER HIM EVEN JUST AFTER WATCHING THE MOVIE!

"I EXISTED!"

ALL JOKES ASIDE, IT IS NOT THE FACT THAT GOLDFINGER IS ABLE TO CONJURE UP SOME FANTASTIC, CLASSIC MOMENTS. NO, HULK WOULD ARGUE THAT THE FILM'S INESCAPABLE LEGACY ALL COMES DOWN TO ONE SIMPLE FACT: THAT IT WAS THE FIRST BOND MOVIE TO TRULY ENCAPSULATE ALL THE THINGS THAT WOULD LATER COME TO DEFINE THE SERIES (FOR BETTER OR WORSE). AND FOR THAT REASON ALONE IT IS, AND PERHAPS MAYBE EVEN SHOULD BE, LOVED. IT IS A COMPLETE "BOND FILM" THROUGH AND THROUGH. MEANING IT HOLDS THE RANGE OF EVERYTHING THAT COULD BE OF INTEREST TO YOU IF YOU LIKE THESE MOVIES IN SOME WAY. IT IS AT ONCE A CLASSIC BOND FILM, ONLY DRAWN THROUGH THE PRISM OF HOW WE LOVE A MODERN BOND FILM. IT EMBRACES THE FULL-ON GADGETRY FUN, POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE... IT ALSO HAS A CASUALLY OVERLOOKED RAPE AND PROVIDES ONE OF THE MOST OBVIOUS EXAMPLES OF BLATANT BOND MISOGYNY EVER:

YUP. THIS IS THE TOTALITY OF JAMES BOND.

... LET'S JUST MOVE ON.

4. THUNDERBALL (1965)

THERE'S A POPULAR NARRATIVE THAT THUNDERBALL IS THE FIRST BOND FILM THAT GOES OFF THE RAILS A LITTLE BIT AND / OR COULD BE CONSIDERED A FORGETTABLE ENTRY.

HULK CAN UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE THINK THAT, AS A LOT OF IT GOES BACK TO HULK'S "TANGIBLE DETAILS" THEORY ABOUT HOW PEOPLE LATCH ONTO THE MOST OBVIOUS THINGS ABOUT A MOVIE, ALL WHILE MAYBE MISSING THE THINGS THAT ARE REALLY MAKING THEM FEEL A CERTAIN WAY. AND IN THIS FILM THERE ARE A FEW TANGIBLE DETAILS THAT SEEM TO PUSH THE FILM EVEN FURTHER IN THE SO-CALLED SILLY / INEFFECTIVE DIRECTION (THE JETPACK FOR INSTANCE). ALSO THERE'S A LOT OF REPETITION FROM IMAGES AND DETAILS OF DR. NO, WHICH PERHAPS MAKES THE MOVIE FEEL MORE REPETITIVE THAN IT ACTUALLY IS. BUT PERHAPS THE MOST DAMNING ISSUE AT PLAY IS THAT AFTER THE GO-FOR-BROKE STYLE OF GOLDFINGER, IT'S BOTH A LITTLE WEIRD AND MAYBE IMPOSSIBLE TO GO BACK TO SOMETHING MORE STATIC LIKE THIS. REGARDLESS OF QUALITY, AFTER YOU GO FOR BROKE, EVERYTHING ELSE FEELS A BIT LIKE A STEP BACKWARDS.

... BUT THAT'S ACTUALLY WHY HULK REALLY LIKES IT.

FOR TERENCE YOUNG HAS RETURNED, AND WE'RE BACK TO BUSINESS AS USUAL. AND MAYBE YOU COULD SAY THAT "BUSINESS AS USUAL" JUST MEANS "MAKE A GOOD MOVIE," BUT REALLY HE'S JUST IMBUING IT WITH MORE OF THE SAME KIND OF STUFF THAT HULK LIKED ABOUT THE FIRST TWO ENTRIES. THERE'S A REAL QUIET CONFIDENCE ABOUT THIS FILM. CALL IT SURE-FOOTED. AND THE PLOT IS ACTUALLY KIND OF ESPIONAGE-ISH TO BOOT! BOND IS NOW MOVING UP THE SPECTRE RANKS AND NOW HE'S GOING AFTER A GUY CALLED “NUMBER TWO” A.K.A. EMILIO LARGO. A.K.A. NOT-ROBERT-WAGNER. AND THERE'S A SOMEWHAT NIFTY BIT ABOUT BODY SWITCHING WITH PLASTIC SURGERY DOUBLES THAT HULK LIKES IN THIS ONE. EVEN IF THE TONE OF THE FILM IS MORE SUBDUED, THE TECHNICAL STAKES OF THE NARRATIVE ARE STILL BEING UPPED WITH SOME SERIOUS NUCLEAR BOMB THEFT (AGAIN, WHAT MAKES IT FUNCTION IS LESS "THE FATE OF THE WORLD IS IN YOUR HANDS!" AND MORE THE GRIPPING WORRY EVERYONE HAS THAT THEY'VE LOST NUCLEAR BOMBS. SCREENWRITING LESSON: IF YOU WANT THINGS TO MATTER THEN THEY HAVE TO MATTER TO THE CHARACTERS). AND THEN THERE'S THE PLAIN OLD FUN THINGS. LIKE THE WHOLE PRE-CREDITS OPENING WHICH INVOLVES JAMES BOND PUNCHING A WIDOW IN THE FACE. THERE'S EVEN A CORRUPTED “SPINAL TRACTION MACHINE” WHICH IS TOTALLY FILMED LIKE JAMES BOND IS FUCKING SOMETHING TO DEATH.

THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED.

NOW, YOU MAY LAUGH AT SOMETHING LIKE THIS (AND YOU SHOULD), BUT IT BRINGS UP A PERFECT WAY OF "HOW TO TALK ABOUT JAMES BOND'S HYPER-MANHOOD." WHILE THE MARGINALIZATION OF WOMEN AND "MAN TALK" BITS ARE PART OF THE UGLY KIND OF HONESTY (THAT HELPS ADVOCATE AN UGLY KIND OF INDULGENT VIEWING), THERE ARE MOMENTS LIKE THIS ONE WHICH ARE BETTER WAYS TO BE UPFRONT ABOUT THE PHALLOCENTRIC THEMATICS IN THESE FILMS. YOU KNOW, LIKE GETTING FUCK-MACHINED TO DEATH. OR EVEN THE CASTRATION LASER FROM GOLDFINGER. HULK THINKS IT JUST WORKS SO MUCH BETTER WHEN THE PRESENTATION IS CLEAN AND SELF-AWARE, BUT NOT GOING SO FAR THAT IT'S WINKING AT YOU WITH A DEAD-ON JOKE. AT THE SAME TIME, HULK ARGUES THIS STUFF HAS TO BE A PRESENT CONCERN, EVEN IF YOU FEEL IT RUINS A "SERIOUS" SPY MOVIE. BUT HULK WOULD FURTHER ARGUE THAT BOND FILMS ARE AT THEIR WORST WHEN THE PSYCHO-SEXUAL-MACHOISM STUFF IS BURIED UNDER THE SURFACE IN A WAY THAT MAKES IT SNEAKY OR INSIDIOUS. OR WHEN THEY TURN BOND INTO A BROODY ANTI-HERO, AS THOSE KINDS OF FILMS USE THE ALLURE OF OTHER BONDIAN THINGS TO SAY REALLY UGLY THINGS ABOUT GENDER. BUT WHEN IT'S OUT IN THE OPEN LIKE THIS? IT JUST FEELS LIKE THEY'RE BEING HONEST ABOUT WHAT BOND IS, AND NOT IN A WAY THAT FEELS LIKE THEY'RE NUDGING YOU TOO HARD OR MAKING LIGHT OF THE COMPLICATIONS... IT'S TRICKY.

YOU MAY WONDER HOW IT'S EVEN POSSIBLE TO SHOW AN ON-THE-NOSE SCENE ABOUT BOND FUCKING SOMETHING TO DEATH AND IT WOULD SOMEHOW NOT BE CARTOONY, BUT THAT SPEAKS TO THE REAL ONGOING DIFFICULTY OF FINDING THE RIGHT TONE FOR A BOND MOVIE. THE LINES BETWEEN INSIDIOUS, BROAD, SUBTLE AND OBVIOUS ARE OFTEN RATHER SMALL, ESPECIALLY WITH EVERYONE WORKING WITHIN THE SAME CONFINES OF PLOTTING AND ICONOGRAPHY AND EXPECTATION. BUT IN THE END, HULK THINKS THAT TERENCE YOUNG KNOWS HOW TO STRADDLE THOSE LINES PERFECTLY AND ROMANTICIZE BOND IN THE EXACT RIGHT KIND OF WAY. MEANING THE FUCKING MACHINE SCENE IS PLAYED COMPLETELY SERIOUS AND WORKS WITHIN THE FABRIC AND CONTEXT OF THE MOVIE. THIS KIND OF TONE BALANCE IS EVERYTHING. AND THROUGHOUT THIS SERIES WE WILL SEE DIRECTORS MAKE THE MISTAKE OF GOING TOO TONGUE-IN-CHEEK WITH IT, OR TOO GRIM, OR TOO CURRENT, OR TOO WHATEVER. BUT A FILM LIKE  THUNDERBALL, AS SOMEWHAT PEDESTRIAN AND GOING-THROUGH-THE-MOTIONS AS IT IS, STRIKES HULK AS A FILM WITH JUST THE RIGHT BALANCE TO MAKE IT ALL WORK.

BUT EVEN IF HULK LOVES THE TONE OF FILM, THERE STILL NOT TOO MUCH ESPECIALLY DISTINCT ABOUT IT TO DISCUSS IN AN ANIMATED WAY. AND THAT'S WHY HULK FEELS LIKE THERE ARE NEVER ANY BIG ARGUMENTS OR DISCUSSIONS ABOUT IT. IT'S THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WHOLE "TANGIBLE DETAILS" THING WHERE THERE'S NOT A LOT FOR THE AUDIENCE TO POINT TO IN TERMS OF “THAT WAS AWESOME!!!” OR "THAT WAS STUPID!!!" SO REALLY, THERE'S NOT MUCH TO TALK ABOUT IN A FUN, GOSSIPY WAY. REALLY THE THING HULK MOST ADORED ABOUT THE FILM WAS HOW IT USED ITS CARIBBEAN LOCATION TO MAXIMUM EFFECTIVENESS!

PICTURED: MAXIMUM EFFECTIVENESS

... LOOK AT SEAN CONNERY IN THOSE SHORTS! HE SPENDS BASICALLY THE ENTIRE RUNNING TIME IN SHORT SHORTS!!! ... WAIT, WHAT DID YOU THINK HULK WAS TALKING ABOUT?

ANYWAY, SAYING THERE'S NOTHING ELSE GOOD IN THIS MOVIE ASIDE FROM "SURE-FOOTED DIRECTION" AND "EVEN-HANDED TONE" IS THE KIND OF STATEMENT THAT COMPLETELY UNDERMINES THE DIFFICULTY OF ACTUALLY DOING THOSE THINGS. THIS FILM IS EXCEPTIONALLY WELL-MADE. ESPECIALLY IN THE INCREDIBLE FINAL ACTION SEQUENCE UNDERWATER WHERE ALL THE SCUBA DIVERS ARE HAVING A HARPOON BATTLE OVER THE NUKES. THE SEQUENCE IS PRETTY DARN GOOD AND ALL, BUT FROM A PURE CRAFT AND PRODUCTION PERSPECTIVE? IT'S FUCKING AMAZING. SHOOTING SOMETHING THAT LONG AND THAT COMPLICATED UNDERWATER MUST HAVE BEEN ABSOLUTE HELL. AND BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS PRACTICAL, THE WHOLE THING STILL HOLDS UP REMARKABLY WELL (ALL THE CGI IN THE WORLD COULDN'T REPLICATE THIS SEQUENCE, LIKE, EVER). IT'S THE SAME REASON CAR CHASES FROM THIS ERA HOLD UP WELL TOO… GOOD PRACTICAL EFFECTS AREN'T SO MUCH ABOUT REALISM AND LOOKING GOOD, IT'S ABOUT SELLING THE IDEA OF SOMEONE REALLY DOING SOMETHING. BECAUSE WHEN THAT HAPPENS? OUR BRAINS RESPOND WITH MORE ELATION. AND PERHAPS IT'S JUST MORE IMPRESSIVE BECAUSE NOBODY IS BOTHERING TO TAKE THE TROUBLE ANYMORE OR DEAL WITH THE LOGISTICS, BUT IT'S PRECISELY THIS KIND OF SEQUENCE THAT MAKES THE BOND FILMS SO DAMN RELEVANT EVEN TODAY.

THE OTHER NEAT THING ABOUT THUNDERBALL IS IT IS DEFINITELY ONE OF THE "ALL-STAR" OUTINGS FOR VA-VA-VOOM SIXTIES BOND GIRLS. NOW, HULK GETS THAT IT'S WEIRD THAT HULK KEEPS BRINGING UP THE BOND GIRLS AND WHICH ONES HULK LIKES AND WHICH ONES HULK DOESN'T LIKE, BUT THE MODES OF EXPRESSION OF WOMEN IN THESE FILMS ARE FASCINATING IN THE WAY THEY ARE PORTRAYED. WHY? BECAUSE WHEN YOU CAN PARSE OUT THE THOUGHT PROCESS OF THE NATURE OF THESE VAPID ATTRACTIONS IT IS THEREFORE LIKE:

STARING INTO THE ID OF A BONER INCARNATE!

... THAT'S THE TITLE OF THIS COLUMN SERIES!

... GET IT!??!

FIRST UP, WE HAVE CLAUDINE AUGER AS DOMINO, PICTURED ABOVE. AUGER'S CHARACTER IS THE SAME AS THE HONEY RYDER ARCHETYPE, ONLY SHE'S SOMEHOW EVEN MORE OF A DOE-EYED INNOCENT. BUT THEY ARE STILL THE SAME IN THAT SHE HAS A PERSONAL TRAGEDY CAUGHT UP IN THE MAIN GAME OF THE PLOT. YOU SEE HER BROTHER WAS KILLED IN THE SCHEME TO GET THE NUKES, BUT LITTLE DOES SHE KNOW THAT SAME SCHEME WAS CONDUCTED BY HER UNCLE LARGO! ... WAIT, WAS LARGO HER UNCLE? HULK FORGETS EXACTLY HOW LARGO WAS RELATED TO HER. WAIT, WAS HE HER BOYFRIEND?!?!?!?! SHIT, HULK HONEST-TO-ODIN DOESN’T REMEMBER. WAIT NO. SHE WAS HIS MISTRESS! HULK IS NOW REMEMBERING ALL THESE PARTS WHERE LARGO DIDN'T GIVE HER PROPER LOVING AND STUFF CAUSE HE WAS TOO BUSY BEING AN OLD MAN AND DEALING WITH EVIL SPECTRE STUFF AND THAT'S WHY JAMES BOND'S BONER WAS SO APPEALING. YEAH THAT SOUNDS ABOUT RIGHT... (HULK IS JUST GOING TO LEAVE THAT MENTAL TANGENT IN BECAUSE YOU CAN SEE BOTH HULK'S THOUGHT PROCESS AND ALSO HOW INSANE THESE MOVIES ARE THAT THE BAD GUY COULD HAVE EASILY BEEN HER UNCLE OR BOYFRIEND AND IT WOULDN'T MATTER IF HE WAS EITHER BECAUSE IT WOULD STILL BE SAYING THE SAME THING). ANYCRAP, THE THING HULK LIKES ABOUT DOMINO IS THAT THERE IS AN ACTUAL HUMAN GENTLENESS TO HER. AS IN SHE ACTUALLY SEEMS LIKE SHE COULD BE AN INNOCENT PERSON WHO IS JUST CAUGHT UP IN ALL THE MASSIVE NUCLEAR HIJACKING CRAZINESS. SHE'S NOT JUST SOME CARDBOARD CUTOUT DESPITE THE BEST EFFORTS OF THE SCRIPT TO MAKE HER AS INNOCUOUS AND GENTLE AS POSSIBLE (A.K.A. THEIR SIGN OF THE PERFECT WOMAN!) AND NOT TO GIVE HER, LIKE, A PERSONALITY OR ANYTHING.

WHICH REVEALS A SAD TRUTH: THAT OUTSIDE OF THE FEW CASES OF ACTUAL SHARP WRITING, MOST BOND GIRLS ARE PRETTY MUCH LEFT UP TO THEIR OWN DEVICES IN TERMS OF TRYING TO BRING ANYTHING SUBSTANTIAL OR INTRIGUING TO A ROLE.

THEY ARE PRESENTED WITH THE  MOST BASIC OF ROLES AND ARCHETYPES POSSIBLE AND THEIR NATURAL PERSONALITY OR RELATIVE LOOKS END UP DOING ALL THE WORK OF GETTING THE AUDIENCE TO LIKE THEM FOR MORE THAN THE OBVIOUS. AND SADLY, IT'S JUST HOW THESE THINGS GO. WAITING FOR A BOND WRITER TO UNDERSTAND HOW TO WRITE WOMEN SEEMS FUTILE (WHY NOT HIRE A WOMAN? DID THEY EVER EVEN TRY?). AND AT SAME TIME THE SCRIPT DESERVES CREDIT FOR NOT MAKING HER VAPID ENOUGH TO JUST THROW HERSELF WILLINGLY AT BOND FROM THE GET-GO. THAT'S SOMETHING, RIGHT? AT LEAST THEN, SHE'S NOT CONSTANTLY AT HIS MERCY TO BE GUIDED AROUND AIMLESSLY LIKE A HELPLESS VICTIM.

MOVING ON…

NEXT WE HAVE LUCIANA PALUZZI AS FIONA VULPE. LADIES AND GENTLEMAN, MEET THE FIRST IN A LONG LIST OF BADASS BOND GIRL HENCH-WOMAN ENEMY ARCHETYPES!! (PUSSY GALORE IN GOLDFINGER DOESN'T REALLY COUNT. SHE JUST SORT OF FLIES PLANES AND HAS A RASPY VOICE AND BECOMES PART OF A HORRIBLE GENDER STATEMENT. IT'S ALL WEIRDLY PASSIVE). MEANWHILE, FIONA VULPE IS THE FIERY RED-HAIRED VOLUPTUOUS ASSASSIN WHO WEARS FULL LEATHER SPANDEX AND RIDES AROUND ON A MOTORCYCLE ARMED WITH MACHINE GUNS… YEAH IT'S LIKE A 13-YEAR-OLD BOY’S BRAIN EXPLODED:

VROOM VROOM! BOOBS!

AND AGAIN WITH VULPE WE GET EVIDENCE OF TERENCE YOUNG'S MASTERFUL BALANCE OF TONE WITHOUT GOING OVER THE EDGE. HE SOMEHOW MANAGED NOT TO MAKE THE WOMAN PICTURED ABOVE COME OFF LIKE A CARTOON (MOSTLY 'CAUSE SHE GETS THAT GREAT PRAYING-MANTIS-LIKE OPENING). AND PALUZZI IS PRETTY DAMN GOOD IN THE ROLE. SHE'S ALL SWAGGER AND DEADPAN GLARES OF VENOM. EVEN THAT SCENE WHERE SHE DANCES WITH BOND WHILE ANOTHER CHARACTER IS TRYING TO KILL HIM? EVEN IF IT ENDS WITH A TERRIBLE, UNDERCUTTING STATEMENT FOR HER CHARACTER, IT'S STILL GREAT CINEMA.

AND LASTLY...

THERE IS MARTINE BESWICK AS PAULA, A FELLOW MI6 AGENT WHO HELPS BOND ON HIS MISSION. NOW HULK HAS A QUESTION FOR YOU AND NEEDS YOUR INPUT: WHAT'S UP WITH BOND NOT HAVING SEX WITH ALL THE GIRLS HE WORKS WITH? AS IN HE HAS NO INTEREST IN BEDDING THEM. ARE WE SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE HE IS TOO MUCH OF A """"PROFESSIONAL""""" -IN-EXTRA-EXAGGERATED-QUOTES THAT HE WOULD NEVER DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT? BECAUSE JAMES BOND IS A GUY WHO HAS HAD SEX WITH EVERYTHING THAT HAS A PULSE. AND HAS HE EVER NOT DRUNK ON THE JOB? SO HULK IS PRETTY SURE HE WOULDN'T GIVE TWO SHITS ABOUT HAVING SEX WITH A FELLOW AGENT, SO WHAT'S THE DEAL? MAYBE THE FILMMAKERS DRAW THAT LINE OF DISTINCTION EVEN THOUGH BOND CLEARLY WOULDN'T? EITHER WAY, GO BACK AND WATCH HIS SCENES WITH PAULA, ESPECIALLY THE ONE WHERE HE ABANDONS HER TO GO ON DOMINO’S BOAT. IT'S CRAZY WITHIN THE TEXT OF THE BOND UNIVERSE. BOND JUST HAS NO INTEREST IN HER.

OFF SET THOUGH... DIFFERENT STORY.

AND AS FOR THE LAST BOND GIRL...

SO MOLLY PETERS PLAYS PATRICIA FEARING (BOND'S PHYSIOTHERAPIST BUT THEY BASICALLY TREAT HER LIKE A NURSE), AND WE GET YET ANOTHER MOMENT OF THIS SERIES' CRAZY MISOGYNY WHEN BOND USES THE SPINAL TRACTION MALFUNCTION PROBLEM (THE FUCKING MACHINE) TO TRY AND GUILT-TRIP PATRICIA INTO HAVING SEX WITH HIM. AND SHE CLEARLY WANTS NO PART OF IT, BUT HE THEN SAYS HE'LL TELL HER SUPERIORS, WHICH MEANS, YES, FOLKS, HE IS BLACKMAILING HER INTO SEX AND, YES, THAT IS RAPE AND... YEAH. BOND WOULD GO TO JAIL FOR THIS NOWADAYS. BUT IN THE BOND-ESQUE 60′S? HAVE AT IT BOY-YO! OH, AND IN TYPICAL BOND FASHION THE FRIGHTENED, HORRIBLY MANIPULATED NURSE IS NOW OF COURSE FULLY-SATED AFTER GETTING THE GLORIOUS GIFT OF BOND'S PENIS… THEN HE JUST PROMPTLY LEAVES HER AND SHE'S NEVER SEEN OR HEARD FROM AGAIN.

AGAIN, HULK JUST CAN'T CHALK THIS STUFF UP TO "IT WAS A DIFFERENT TIME!" BECAUSE EVEN AT THAT DIFFERENT TIME IT WAS A VERY CLEAR CHOICE TO BE A THROWBACK AND ARCHAIC. MEANING, YES THIS STUFF WAS UGLY TO AUDIENCES EVEN THEN, BUT IT WAS A BRAND OF UGLY THAT WAS SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE TO JOKE ABOUT. AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, IT'S NOT LIKE THIS IS MORALLY GRAY BEHAVIOR AND THEY'RE JUST ROLLING WITH IT; THIS IS THE BEHAVIOR OF THE FILM'S HERO AND IT'S MEANT TO BE CELEBRATED. IT'S THE SCRIPT SAYING "HOW AWESOME IS BOND! HE'S BLACKMAILING HER TO GET SOME!" AND THAT'S WHY, AS MUCH AS HULK LOVES THESE FILMS, HULK SIMULTANEOUSLY HAS A HUGE PROBLEM WITH THE SERIES. OR, THAT IS TO SAY, OUR UNBLINKING CELEBRATION OF IT. IT IS AS IF ALL THE INSANELY NEGATIVE THINGS ARE MEANT TO BE CELEBRATED ALONG WITH THE REASONS JAMES BOND IS LEGITIMATELY AWESOME. THERE'S NO SEPARATION.

WHICH IS WHY THE INTENT BEHIND IT ALL MATTERS. EVEN IF SOME WOMEN ABSOLUTELY FIND BOND TO BE A SEX SYMBOL (AS IS THE RIGHT OF ANY INDIVIDUAL), WE CAN'T FOOL OURSELVES INTO THINKING BOND IS DESIGNED AS A SEX SYMBOL FOR WOMEN. BECAUSE WHEN YOU LOOK AT EVERYTHING ABOVE, IT'S PRETTY CLEAR THAT HE'S JUST A SEX SYMBOL FOR WHAT MEN WANT TO BE. AND THAT DIFFERENCE IS EVERYTHING.

WE'RE ACTUALLY GOING TO BE TALKING ABOUT THIS A LOT THROUGHOUT THIS SERIES. BECAUSE WHAT JAMES BOND LACKS IN TERMS OF BEING "AN EXAMPLE," HE MORE THAN MAKES UP FOR IN BEING AN EXAMPLE OF STUDY. TO DIG IN AND START DISSECTING THE ANATOMY OF THE HYPER MALE BRAIN, THE TITULAR ID OF THE BONER INCARNATE. AND WHILE HULK COULD TALK ABOUT THE LAYERS OF SEXISM IN THESE MOVIES AD NAUSEAM, IT IS NOW THAT TIME OF THE COLUMN WHERE HULK HAS TO MOVE ON TO THE OTHER SEMI-INTERESTING QUALITIES OF THIS MOVIE!

LIKE ADOLFO CELI'S KIND OF IMPOSING BUT STILL BLAND PRESENCE AS LARGO. IT'S WEIRD. HE'S NOT AS LAMELY INEFFECTUAL AS AURIC GOLDFINGER, BUT THERE IS STILL KIND OF THIS WEIRD LACK OF DISTINCTION TO HIM. HULK MOSTLY REMEMBERS THE EYE-PATCH (WHO WOULDN'T?). BUT HULK ALSO REMEMBERS THAT LARGO STARTED THE TIME-HONORED BOND VILLAIN TRADITION OF LOVING SHARKS! LET'S BE HONEST ABOUT THE SHARK THING THOUGH, THOSE KIND OF "HERE'S MY BAD GUY STAPLE!" DEVICES REALLY DO MOST OF THE VILLAINY-HEAVY-LIFTING FOR A LOT OF THESE DUDES WHO CAN'T BRING IT ON THEIR OWN.

HE WILL APPARENTLY GRUMPY YOU TO DEATH!

ALSO… WE HAVE ANOTHER BOND MOVIE, ANOTHER FORGETTABLE FELIX LEITER. WHAT THE HELL IS IT ABOUT THIS CHARACTER IN THE EARLY RUN OF FILMS? THE BOND SERIES GOES THROUGH FELIXS LIKE DARRENS. AND THIS TIME IT'S RIK VAN NUTTER. HULK TRULY HAS NO MEMORY OF HIM BEING IN THE MOVIE OR EVEN SEEING HIS FACE.

APPARENTLY IT LOOKS LIKE THIS.

THE LAST THING TO NOTE ABOUT THUNDERBALL IS THAT IT BEGINS THE LONGSTANDING BOND TRADITION OF BRINGING IN A HUGE STAR TO DO A TERRIBLE THEME SONG. AND YES, TOM JONES’ "THUNDERBALL" ABSOLUTELY SUCKED. THERE. HULK SAID IT.

SORRY, TOM. YOU ARE PRETTY DASHING THOUGH.

WHAT'S EVEN MORE PROBLEMATIC IS THAT IT COST US JOHNNY CASH’S ORIGINAL VERSION OF A THUNDERBALL THEME SONG!

AND SINCE THERE'S NO BETTER WAY TO END THIS THUNDERBALL ESSAY THAN WITH A LITTLE JOHNNY CASH, LET'S MOVE ON TO THE NEXT ONE!

5. YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967)

SO YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE IS A STRANGE, INTERESTING, KIND OF AWESOME, KIND OF HORRIBLE FILM AND HULK DOESN'T EVEN KNOW WHERE TO BEGIN WITH IT.

YOU SHOULD AT LEAST KNOW THAT THIS FILM WAS PRETTY MUCH INTENDED TO BE THE CAPPER OF THE BOND SERIES. LARGELY BECAUSE SEAN CONNERY, WHO HAD ALREADY STARTED TO GO THROUGH THE MOTIONS IN THUNDERBALL, WAS NOW READY TO LAY DOWN THE PP7 FOR GOOD, AND THUS PRODUCERS WANTED TO GO OUT WITH A BANG.

CLEARLY:

WARNING: GERMAN POSTER IS GERMAN.

IT'S NOT JUST IN THE WAY THEY WANTED TO BRING THE OVER-ARCHING STORY TO A CLOSE WITH BOND FINALLY FACING OFF WITH THE ELUSIVE HEAD NEMESIS OF SPECTRE, BUT MORE IN THE WAY THAT THE FILM IS DRIPPING WITH A SENSE OF MASSIVE SCALE AND A DESIRE FOR EPIC-NESS. REALLY, THE AMBITION IS EVERYWHERE, STARTING WITH THE HIRING OF A CINEMATOGRAPHER BY THE NAME OF FREDDIE YOUNG... WHO IS HE? OH JUST A GUY WHO WAS COMING OFF SHOOTING A FEW MOVIES INCLUDING DOCTOR ZHIVAGO AND LAWRENCE OF FUCKING ARABIA (HULK'S SURE THAT'S THE PROPER TITLE). AND EVEN IF IT'S NOT THE KIND OF FILM THAT'S AWASH IN EMOTIONAL DESERT LANDSCAPES, HE STILL SETS EVERYTHING QUITE BEAUTIFULLY AGAINST GORGEOUS, LUSH JAPANESE ISLANDS (IF HULK'S NOT MISTAKEN IT'S MORE PACIFIC ISLANDER). AND IN COMPARISON TO THE REST OF THE SERIES, YOU'LL NOTICE THAT EVERY SHOT HAS A KIND OF LENGTH AND DISTANCE TO IT; EVERYTHING IS HIGHLIGHTING THE PROPORTION OF IT, A WAY OF REVELING IN THE GRAND SCALE OF THE STORY THEY ARE TELLING. AND WITH TERENCE YOUNG GONE OFF TO DO OTHER THINGS, THEY HIRED A POPULAR DIRECTOR BY THE NAME OF LEWIS GILBERT, WHO WAS JUST COMING OFF THE MASSIVE HIT ALFIE WITH MICHAEL CAINE (HE ALSO DID A WEIRD LITTLE BRITISH NOIR HULK LIKES CALLED A LOT CALLED THE SLASHER (1953) WITH JOAN COLLINS!). GILBERT WAS ACTUALLY UNSURE AT FIRST, BUT ALBERT BROCCOLI PERSUADED. MATTERS WERE LARGELY HELPED WHEN THEY HIRED A WRITER FOR THE FILM BY THE NAME OF ROALD DAHL.... AND YES HULK IS TALKING ABOUT THAT ROALD DAHL, WHO WAS FRESH OFF WRITING CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY! IT WAS AS STRANGE AND GRAND A CREATIVE TEAM AS CAN BE ASSEMBLED. AND ARMED WITH THE KNOWLEDGE THAT IT WAS CONNERY'S LAST GO, EVERYONE STARTED THROWING EVERY LARGE-SCALE AND COMPLETELY INSANE IDEA INTO THE FILM TO JUST ADD TO THAT SPECTACLE.

AND WHEN IT WORKS, IT TRULY SOARS!

AND WHEN IT DOESN'T, IT PROVES THIS APPROACH JUST LED TO A HOST OF REALLY, REALLY, REALLY BAD DECISIONS.

SO HULK'S BEEN PRETTY CLEAR ABOUT HOW BOND FILMS RELY ON HAVING AN EVEN-KEELED TONE WITH THE JOKES AND SUPER-BONDY STUFF, RIGHT? AND WHILE FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE IS PROBABLY THE BEST EXAMPLE OF THE WAY TO BALANCE BOND-NESS WITH TRADITIONAL MOVIE-NESS, IT IS YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE WHICH PROVES HOW DIFFICULT IT IS WHEN YOU TIP THE SCALES TOWARD BOND-NESS. AND IF HULK HAD TO EXPLAIN PRECISELY WHY THIS HAPPENED, IT'S LIKELY BECAUSE LEWIS GILBERT JUST DIDN'T HAVE THE SAME "MAGIC TOUCH" AS YOUNG. HE WAS TOO INCONSISTENT WITH THE TONE OF WHAT HAD BEEN ESTABLISHED (THE WEIRDEST THING ABOUT THIS STATEMENT, HOWEVER, IS THAT GILBERT WILL RETURN TO THE SERIES LATER ON IN THE MOORE ERA AND BASICALLY SAVE IT FROM THE BRINK OF DISASTER - THOUGH THAT'S MORE A PROBLEM OF HOW BAD THEY GOT IN COMPARISON TO YOUNG'S EFFORTS). THE POINT IS THIS FILM HAS A BUNCH OF REALLY INSPIRED BONKERS MOMENTS AND SO MANY OTHER BAD BONKERS MOMENTS TOO.

BUT LET'S START WITH THE BEST OF THE BEST. THE THING THAT TRULY MAKES THIS MOVIE WHAT IT IS. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, MEET THE HEAD OF SPECTRE, THE STROKER OF WHITE KITTENS HIMSELF, ERNST STAVRO BLOFELD!!!!!!!!!

DUN DUN DUHHHHHHN

SO THE CHARACTER WILL GO ON TO BE USED MANY, MANY TIMES, BUT THIS OUTING REMAINS THE ABSOLUTE BEST VERSION. THERE IS NO QUESTION ABOUT THIS. AND THAT IS NOT JUST BECAUSE HE IS WRITTEN SO WELL, BUT BECAUSE THE ETERNALLY AWESOME DONALD PLEASENCE PLAYS HIM WITH THIS GREAT, DETACHED, MALEVOLENT YET STILL TOTALLY FAY QUALITY. HE'S ETHEREAL AND DOWNRIGHT STRANGE. AND IF WE'RE GOING TO BE GETTING SUPERLATIVE UP IN HERE, HULK FINDS IT THE BEST SILLY-BUT-STILL-PLAYED-STRAIGHT PERFORMANCE EVER. AND THE WEIRD THING IS IT'S NOT LIKE WE'RE JUST WATCHING THIS GUY BE WEIRD IN A DIFFERENT MOVIE (WHICH IS WHAT KILLS MOST OF THESE PERFORMANCES), INSTEAD IT'S AMAZING HOW DAMN FUNCTIONAL BLOFELD IS TO THIS FILM. HE TERRIFIES EVERYONE AROUND HIM. HE EVEN SEEMS LIKE THE KIND OF GUY WHO COULD INSPIRE THIS MESSED UP ORGANIZATION. WHICH IN TURN BECOMES THE VERY THING THAT HELPS GROUND THE MOVIE IN ITS OWN REALITY. IT'S FUNNY, HULK CAN ACTUALLY BELIEVE THIS PSYCHOTIC LITTLE WEIRDO IS MESSED UP ENOUGH TO HAVE WELL-PAID CRONIES RUNNING AROUND IN JUMPSUITS CARRYING OUT HIS EVIL PLANS. AND YES, FOLKS, PLEASENCE'S BLOFELD IS THE SUPER-OBVIOUS INFLUENCE FOR DR. EVIL (THAT AND LORNE MICHAELS OF COURSE), BUT IT'S AMAZING HOW MUCH YOU FORGET ABOUT THAT CRAP WHEN YOU RE-WATCH IT. HE'S JUST THAT GOOD. AND EVEN THOUGH THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE FINAL CHAPTER OF CONNERY'S BOND, HE WAS SO GOOD THAT THEY KNEW THEY COULDN'T CLOSE THE BOOK ON BLOFELD FOREVER. TOO BAD THEY REALLY, REALLY SHOULD HAVE BECAUSE THE CHARACTER WOULD NEVER COME CLOSE TO BEING THIS GOOD AGAIN.

MEANWHILE, HULK HAS BEEN GOING BACK AND FORTH ON HOW TO SUMMARIZE ALL THE INSANITY OF THIS MOVIE IN TERMS OF GOOD AND BAD DECISIONS, AND DECIDED THE BEST WAY TO APPROACH WAS TO ACTUALLY SUMMARIZE THE PLOT ALL THE WAY THROUGH.

COOL? COOL.

THE FILM STARTS WITH JAMES BOND’S DEATH BEING FAKED SO THAT HE CAN NOW OPERATE IN SECRET... OR SOMETHING. IT'S NOT REALLY ALL THAT CLEAR, TO BE HONEST. AND THIS VERY IDEA IS HILARIOUS BECAUSE HE'S ALREADY SUPPOSED TO BE A SECRET AGENT, BUT APPARENTLY HE'S ALREADY KNOWN ALL OVER... PROBABLY BECAUSE HE ALWAYS USES HIS REAL NAME AND IS A TERRIBLE SPY. BUT THEN HE JUST GOES ON TO KIND OF DO THAT ANYWAY. EH, WHATEVER. IT MAKES MOVIE SENSE. MEANWHILE, BLOFELD IS SECRETLY ABDUCTING RUSSIAN AND AMERICAN ASTRONAUTS (IN SPACE-JACKINGS!) TO TRY TO START WORLD WAR THREE... OR SOMETHING. IT'S ALSO NOT ALL THAT CLEAR. BUT THE KEY POINT IS THAT BLOFELD'S ALSO OPERATING OUT OF JAPAN FOR SOME REASON. IN 100% HONESTY, HULK BELIEVES THE LOCATION CHOICE WAS JUST SO THAT BOND COULD START TAPPING ASIA'S COLLECTIVE ASS, WHICH IS A CRASS WAY OF PUTTING IT, BUT THAT'S HOW THESE THINGS WORK. THIS IS BOND WE'RE TALKING ABOUT, AND THESE ARE THE KINDS OF THINGS THAT MATTER IN BOND'S UNIVERSE.

SO BOND ARRIVES IN JAPAN AND ATTENDS A SUMO WRESTLING MATCH BECAUSE, UNLESS TV AND MOVIES HAVE LIED TO HULK, THAT'S AUTOMATICALLY WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU FIRST GO TO JAPAN. THEN THERE'S THIS WEIRD SCENE OF A FLIRTY CAT-AND-MOUSE GAME WITH THIS MYSTERIOUS JAPANESE WOMAN. THINGS TURN WEIRDER WHEN SHE TRIES TO ABDUCT JAMES BOND AFTER TRICKING HIM INTO FALLING DOWN A SECRET SLIDE THINGY (HULK'S NOT MAKING THIS UP), BUT IT TURNS OUT THIS WAS ALL JUST FUN AND GAMES BECAUSE SHE'S WITH THE JAPANESE SECRET SERVICE AND TOTALLY ON BOND'S SIDE! AGAIN, IT MAKES NO SENSE, BUT WHATEVER. HER NAME IS AKI AND SHE TAKES HIM TO HER BOSS, TIGER TANAKA, WHO TAKES HIM TO SOMEONE ELSE BLAH BLAH BLAH AND HULK IS ALREADY BORED TALKING ABOUT IT. EVEN THOUGH THERE'S LOTS OF STUFF OCCURRING, THIS FIRST 30 MINUTES HONESTLY HAS, LIKE, ZERO CLARITY OR NARRATIVE STEAM. BUT THAT'S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU TRY TO MAKE A SPY MOVIE WITHOUT LEADING INCIDENTS OR ANY ACTUAL SENSE OF INTRIGUE.

UNLESS YOU DEFINE THIS AS NARRATIVE STEAM... SOME OF YOU MIGHT, ACTUALLY.

ANYWAY, SO THEN A WHOLE BUNCH OF OTHER STUFF HAPPENS. THE MOVIE IS SO JAM-PACKED WITH SUDDEN BITS OF INFORMATION AND NARRATIVE "TURNS," BUT HONESTLY, HULK COULDN'T MAKE SENSE OF ANY OF IT. AND HULK IS PRETTY SURE HULK HAS A DECENT LOCK ON THE PLOT OF PRIMER, SO THAT TELLS YOU THIS BOND PLOT IS LIKELY... UM... NEEDLESSLY VAGUE? HULK SUPPOSES THE MOVIE IS REALLY TRYING TO BE, LIKE, AN ACTUAL SPY MOVIE, BUT THEY AREN'T ACTUALLY USING ANY OF THE SPY MOVIE STRUCTURE OR MYSTERY STRUCTURE AND INSTEAD SETTLING FOR "HAVING NO IDEA WHAT'S GOING ON." IT'S JUST THAT AGE-OLD MISTAKE OF ASSUMING THAT UNVEILING NEW PLOT DEVELOPMENTS OR SUDDENLY SHIFTING THE FOCUS = MYSTERY. BECAUSE IF THERE IS NO THROUGH-LINE OR MOTIVE, REALLY IT'S JUST BULLSHITTY MACGUFFIN-HOPPING. BUT WHEN THERE'S GOOD STUFF? HULK'S MORE OR LESS FINE WITH IT. LIKE THERE'S ONE GREAT SCENE WHERE BOND BREAKS INTO OSATA CHEMICALS AND ENDS UP FACING THIS BIG, STRONG JAPANESE GUY. THERE ARE ALL THESE FISTICUFFS AND COUCH-FLIPPING ANTICS, BUT IT IS ABSOLUTELY THE (SECOND) BEST FILMED FIGHT SCENE TO DATE AND THE BEST CHOREOGRAPHED BAR NONE!

GRANTED, MOST OF THE FIGHTING BEFORE THIS ERA WAS IN THAT LAZY “CLASSIC” STYLE WHERE TWO GUYS JUST EXCHANGE PUNCHES AND BLOCK AWKWARDLY, BUT THIS ONE TOTALLY HOLDS UP TO TODAY'S STANDARDS.

SO ANYWAY, EVENTUALLY BOND REALIZES THERE'S SOMETHING FUNKY GOING ON IN THIS REMOTE ISLAND. SO HE GOES TO TANAKA’S NEARBY NINJA ISLAND… YES. TIGER TANAKA HAS AN ACTUAL NINJA ISLAND FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER. ON PAPER IT SOUNDS AWESOME. AND THERE ARE INDEED TIMES IT IS USED EFFECTIVELY AND THERE ARE ALSO TIMES IT IS DEEPLY CRINGE-WORTHY, BUT HULK WAS MOSTLY OKAY WITH THIS WEIRD NINJA ISLAND DEVELOPMENT. IT REALLY STARTS BECOMING MORE FUN ONCE Q SHOWS UP FOR NO REASON AND BOND RIDES IN THIS DORKY LITTLE HELICOPTER TO SCOUT THE STRANGE, FOREBODING ISLAND WHICH IS DIRECTLY ACROSS THE WAY FROM NINJA ISLAND. CONVENIENT! THIS OBVIOUSLY RESULTS IN A HELICOPTER-ON-HELICOPTER FIGHT SCENE THAT IS ACTUALLY KIND OF NEAT. THE ONLY PROBLEM IS THIS CAUSES THE BAD GUYS TO RETALIATE LATER ON (OR MAYBE JUST ATTACK, IT'S ALSO NOT CLEAR) AND THEY GO AFTER BOND AND AKI WHILE THEY ARE IN BED TOGETHER... OH YEAH. BOND IS TOTALLY DOING AKI AT THIS POINT IN THE STORY. AND SADLY, AKI GETS KILLED IN THE ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT... AND BOND IS ACTUALLY SAD ABOUT IT!

BUT THAT LASTS FOR LITERALLY, LIKE, TWO SECONDS BECAUSE THEN BOND IS TOLD THAT HE HAS TO BLEND IN AS BEING JAPANESE, AND THAT MEANS HE HAS TO GET FAUX-MARRIED FOR ABSOLUTELY NO REASON TO A NEW, EQUALLY HOT JAPANESE WOMAN AS PART OF SUBLIMATION INTO THEIR CULTURE. THIS IS SOMETHING THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS IN THIS MOVIE. HULK MEAN... JUST... CAUSE... WHAT?!?! IT'S SORT OF THE BAROMETER FOR MOST OF THE THINGS IN THIS MOVIE. IF YOU CAN THROW UP YOUR ARMS AND ROLL WITH IT. YOU'LL PROBABLY BE ABLE TO DO THAT WITH EVERYTHING HERE. BUT IF YOU CARE ABOUT THE MOVIE ON ANY LEVEL OTHER THAN DELIGHT IN ABSURDITY, IT MAKES FOR A WEIRD EXPERIENCE... AND IT'S GOING TO GET WORSE.

BECAUSE IN ORDER FOR BOND TO BLEND IN ON NINJA ISLAND, BOND IS TOLD HE HAS TO “BECOME JAPANESE” TO BE ACCEPTED... AND THEY MEAN THIS LITERALLY. SO THEY DO THE OBVIOUS THING AND PUT HIM IN A BLACK MOE WIG, CHANGE THE ANGLE OF HIS EYEBROWS AND GIVE HIM MASCARA. IN CASE IT'S NOT OBVIOUS, HE LOOKS NOTHING LIKE A JAPANESE PERSON.

INSTEAD, HE LOOKS LIKE THIS.

THE JAW-DROPPING THING ABOUT THIS DEVELOPMENT IS THIS IS MAYBE ONLY LIKE THE 17TH MOST ABSURD THING TO EVER HAPPEN IN A BOND MOVIE, AND MAYBE ONLY THE 28TH MOST RACIST THING. STILL, EVERYONE NOW TREATS BOND AS A JAPANESE-NINJA-IN-TRAINING-EVEN-THOUGH-CONNERY-CONTINUES-TO-USE-HIS-THICK-SCOTTISH-ACCENT. TO CONNERY’S “CREDIT” HE DOES MANAGE TO ADD THIS WEIRD TIC OF PROPRIETY TO HIS SPEAKING VOICE, WHICH IS CLEARLY JUST A VAGUE ATTEMPT AT REFLECTING WHATEVER JAPANESE PEOPLE SOUND LIKE IN HIS HEAD, BUT TO HULK, IT ONLY MAKES THINGS ALL THE MORE SAD.

LOOK, HULK ARGUES THERE IS SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF IN THE SPIRIT OF THE MOVIE AND SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF AGAINST THE SPIRIT OF THE MOVIE. A LOT OF TIMES THE BOND MOVIES WILL DO SOMETHING RIDICULOUS LIKE THE CROTCH LASER AND IT WILL WORK IN THE SPIRIT OF THE MOVIE. BUT THIS? THIS IS CLEARLY AGAINST. IT'S JUST ONE OF THOSE AMAZINGLY TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE CHOICES THAT YOU CAN'T BELIEVE THAT EVERYONE ON SET KEPT SAYING “YEAH, SURE, THIS IS OKAY," UNTIL IT WAS ALL OVER AND DONE WITH. WHILE THE MODERN VIEWER CAN LOOK AT THIS DECISION THAT IS SOOOOOOO INSANE AND DATED THAT WE CAN ACTUALLY LAUGH AT EVERY SECOND OF ITS NARROW-MINDED STUPIDITY (AUDACITY?), THE PROBLEM IS THAT EVEN AT THE TIME PEOPLE WERE TAKEN ABACK BY ITS BOLDNESS (BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S TOO) AND IT HAS PRETTY MUCH HAUNTED THE MOVIE FOREVER SINCE. AND WHILE YOU CAN COME AROUND ON THE MOVIE ITSELF FOR THE MANY OTHER THINGS IT DOES WELL, THE SEQUENCE GOES ON FOR SO LONG AND IS SO INVOLVED THAT HULK JUST DOESN'T KNOW WHAT TO SAY. IS IT A DEALBREAKER? MAYBE IT'S UP TO YOU. LET HULK KNOW BELOW.

SO BACK TO BOND'S ADVENTURE. REMEMBER THAT AKI DIED, LIKE, MERE MINUTES AGO AND NOW BOND IS REALLY MARRYING THIS NEW RANDOM JAPANESE GIRL. AT FIRST MR. BOND, EVER DEVOTED TO THE MISSION, WAS REALLY, REALLY WORRIED HE WAS GOING TO BE WED TO SOME FAT COW. BUT OF COURSE HE MEETS HIS NEW WIFE AT THE WEDDING CEREMONY AND SHE IS ANOTHER HOT JAPANESE GIRL NAMED KISSY SUZUKI (BOND GIRL NAMING CONVENTIONS FOR THE WIN). SO, NEEDLESS TO SAY, JAMES BOND IS REALLY EXCITED THAT HIS FAKE WIFE IS HOT. AND IT ONLY TAKES ONE NIGHT BEFORE HE PROMPTLY TRIES TO ENJOY HIS NEW FAKE MARRIAGE BENEFITS WITH SOME NOT-FAKE SEXY TIME. BUT GUESS WHAT!?!?! KISSY IS NOT HAVIN IT! WHOA! A PURPOSEFULLY CONSTRUCTED BOND GIRL WITH THE BARE MINIMUM OF PERSONAL MORALS AND SELF-ESTEEM!?!?!?! IS THIS REALLY A BOND MOVIE?!??!?!

REMEMBER THERE'S A SLIDING SCALE.

SO ANYWAY, EVERYONE JUST IMMEDIATELY DECIDES THE LAST ACT CAN START AND THEY GO OVER TO BAD GUY ISLAND AND BOND TAKES WAAAAAAY TOO LONG TO FIGURE OUT THE VOLCANO IS FAKE. BUT YOU HAVE TO ADMIT THE LAST BIT OF THIS MOVIE HAS SERIOUS STAKES AND SCALE. THEY GO INTO BLOFELD’S MASSIVE VOLCANO LAYER AND IT IS QUITE LITERALLY ONE OF THE MOST JAW-DROPPING AND MASSIVE SETS YOU WILL EVER SEE. WE'RE TALKING AN INTOLERANCE-SIZED SET HERE. THEY RUN AROUND TRYING NOT TO GET CAUGHT AND RESCUE THE SPACE-JACKED ASTRONAUTS. THERE'S SOME ARYAN STRONGMAN TYPE LURKING ABOUT TOO FOR SOME REASON. THEN PIRANHAS HAPPEN. AND THE SECOND OUR HEROES GET CAUGHT WE'RE DELIGHTED BY THE FACT THAT NINJA ISLAND ARMY AND MI-6 SHOW UP TO SAVE THE DAY. THERE'S LIKE A MILLION DUDES RUNNING AROUND AND SMOKE GUNS AND PEOPLE FALLING FROM THINGS... IS IT SAD TO SAY IT'S MORE IMPRESSIVE THAN IT IS GOOD? BUT IT IS STILL REALLY, REALLY IMPRESSIVE. AND THEN BOND AND BLOFELD FINALLY THEY HAVE AN EPIC (READ: LAME) CONFRONTATION WHERE BLOFELD SOMEHOW ESCAPES ON THIS CARTOONISHLY TINY MONORAIL. THE IMPORTANT THING IS THAT BOND SAVES THE DAY, STOPS WORLD WAR 3, AND ESCAPES WITH KISSY AND THEY GET LEFT IN A SURVIVAL RAFT SO THAT THEY CAN MAKE OUT (WITH IMPLIED ABOUT-TO-DO-IT-ING). NOTE THE SURVIVAL RAFT BECAUSE THIS BECOMES A GO-TO ENDING DEVICE FOR THESE MOVIES.

IN CASE YOU HAVEN'T FIGURED IT OUT BY NOW, THE PLOT OF THIS MOVIE IS INSANE.

BUT MOST BOND PLOTS ARE INSANE.

SO WHILE WE COULD BLAME IT ALL ON THE INSANITY OF SAID PLOT (AND WE REALLY COULD), IT JUST REVEALS THE TRUTH OF ALL BOND FILMS THAT IT IS NOT THE WHAT BUT THE HOW. AND TERENCE YOUNG HAD THAT DEFT TOUCH WITH THESE INSANE PLOTS. AND GOLDFINGER AMPED UP THE WEIRD DECISIONS, BUT STILL KEPT IT ALL IN CHECK FOR THE MOST PART. AND ULTIMATELY THE PROBLEM WITH THIS FILM WAS THE MIX OF TALENT THAT CREATED THE WRONG "HOW." OUR BRILLIANT CINEMATOGRAPHER IS PRESENTING THE BOND WORLD WITHOUT A SENSE OF INTIMACY OR ROMANCE. IT'S ALL BRIGHT, BIG FRAMES AND SHOWING OFF THE PRODUCTION VALUE, BUT THE RESULT IS A BOND THAT IS PRESENTED "PLAINLY." AND DAHL, EVER THE PLAYFUL SCAMP WITH THE IMAGINATION, GOES BIG WITH THE CRAZY BONDIAN WORLD. AND GILBERT EXECUTES IT ALL BY WEIRDLY JUST PRESENTING THE INSANITY WITH A MATTER-OF-FACT QUALITY. THE END RESULT IS A STRANGE ONE. THE FILM FEELS LIKE IT IS COASTING. NO ONE IS INTERESTED IN DOING THE "CINEMATIC WORK" WE TALKED ABOUT IN DR. NO. EVEN THE JUMPSUIT-CLAD MINIONS NO LONGER FEEL REVELATORY. THEY ARE ALREADY STARTING TO DESCEND INTO PARODY. AND FUTURE FILMS IN THE SERIES WILL MISTAKE BLOFELD’S INNATE STRANGENESS FOR THE REASON HE'S SO GOOD, WHEN REALLY IT WAS BECAUSE PLEASENCE JUST MADE THAT SHIT WORK. AND THE AFOREMENTIONED RACIST STUFF? THE MACGUFFIN HOPPING? THE COMPLETE NONSENSE? THERE IS SO MUCH STUFF HERE THAT JUST SPELLS DOOM FOR THE ENTRY THAT WAS MEANT TO BE “THE END OF THE SERIES.”

BUT EVEN WITH ALL THAT, HULK ADMITS THAT THERE'S SOMETHING WEIRDLY CATHARTIC ABOUT THIS FILM. MAYBE IT WAS THE BIRTH OF THE MODERN BLOCKBUSTER, ALL FOCUS ON THE MASSIVE SCALE AND RECKLESS ABANDON, ALL LIFTED INTO SOMETHING TRANSCENDENT THROUGH AN INCREDIBLE PERFORMANCE BY PLEASENCE. EVEN ITS RELATIVE FAILURES MAKE SENSE IN TERM OF "THE END." WE'VE HIT THE ZENITH. THE NADIR. THE PUNCH-DRUNK-HAPPY CONCLUSION TO SOMETHING THAT WAS MAYBE ALWAYS THIS CRAZY SINCE THE BEGINNING. AND THAT'S POSSIBLY WHY HULK WAS HAPPY TO ACCEPT IT AS THE CONCLUSION TO CONNERY’S RUN.

* * *

NOW FOR THE THE BOND GIRLS DISCUSSION: GOOD NEWS FOR ASIAN FETISHISTS!*

*NOTE: BECAUSE THIS IS THE INTERNET AND IT'S APPARENTLY HARD TO TELL IF HULK IS SERIOUS OR NOT, HULK IS NOT ACTUALLY IMPLYING DATING ASIAN PEOPLE IS EQUATABLE TO FETISHISM, NOR THAT THERE AREN'T MEN WHO ACTUALLY THINK LIKE THAT. HULK MEAN, COME ON. WHAT HULK IS ACTUALLY POINTING OUT IS THE DISTINCTLY FETISHISTIC NATURE TO PRETTY MUCH ALL MINORITY BOND GIRLS THAT COME INTO THE FOLD PRE-HALLE BERRY… AND MAYBE EVEN THEN. HULK WILL ALSO ACCEPT ARGUMENTS FOR GRACE JONES AS SHE IS SORT OF “POST-RACIAL” TOO (OR IS SHE MORE POST-MODERN?) BUT SERIOUSLY. ALMOST ALL BOND GIRLS ARE SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED TO BE FETISHISTIC, SO THIS WAS CLEARLY THE INTENT HERE TOO. THINK HULK IS JOKING WITH THIS FILM? OBSERVE:

THIS WAS ON THE ACTUAL POSTERS.

AT THE SAME TIME, THE RACIAL ATTITUDE OF JAMES BOND FILMS BRINGS UP AN INTERESTING PARADOX. TO AN AUDIENCE TODAY, IT'S LAUGHABLY INSULTING TO THINK STUFF LIKE THE FOLLOWING IDEA WAS “PROGRESSIVE” BUT IT CAPTURES THAT WEIRD MOMENT IN TIME WHERE SAYING THAT WAS NOT COMPLETELY A MERITLESS ARGUMENT. GO BACK AND YOU'LL SEE HOW THE BOND PEOPLE TALKED AT LENGTH ABOUT THEIR FORWARD THINKING ATTITUDE IN THIS FILM AND HOW THEY CAST INTERRACIAL LOVE INTERESTS. OF COURSE, IT'S JUST SO OBVIOUS THAT THE IDEA OF MEN BEDDING WOMEN OF EXOTIC RACES IS NOT FORWARD-THINKING IN THE SLIGHTEST. HECK, IT'S BEEN A FASCINATION OF MALE CULTURE FOREVER (EVEN IN ANCIENT MYTH - GO INTO THE UNKNOWN! KILL THEIR STRANGE MEN! HAVE SEX WITH THEIR STRANGE WOMEN!). THE POINT IS, AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME,  HAVING ANY FORM OF MULTICULTURALISM OR INTERRACIAL RELATIONSHIPS WAS STILL SOMETHING THAT WAS NOT ALL THAT WELL-REPRESENTED IN POPULAR MOVIES. SO YEAH, EVEN THOUGH IT IS FETISHISTIC, EVEN THOUGH THE PORTRAYALS ARE TOTALLY RACIST, AT LEAST IT'S NOT CAPITAL R-RACIST DEMAGOGUERY, WHITE-PURITY BACKWARDNESS??? UM... OKAY, HULK JUST REALIZED THIS IS A TERRIBLE ARGUMENT FOR WHY IT'S OKAY. AGAIN, WE'RE DEALING WITH A SLIDING SCALE HERE. A REALLY BIG SLIDING SCALE. BUT IT'S IMPORTANT TO MENTION THE CONTEXT OF JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING.

AND IT GETS TO AN EVEN MORE IMPORTANT DISCUSSION POINT: THERE'S DATED IN THE SENSE OF "NOT KNOWING ANY BETTER" OR BEING ANTIQUATED (EVEN IF THEY SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER), BUT THEN THERE'S BEING DATED IN A WAY THAT'S STILL BEING DIRECTLY MEAN-SPIRITED, WHICH WE WILL SEE MORE EVIDENCE OF LATER IN THE SERIES. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THESE TWO THINGS IS CRITICAL. IT IS WHAT REALLY ALLOWS US TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE KINDS OF THINGS THAT ARE MERELY A FAULT OF LANGUAGE AND THOSE THAT ARE A FAULT OF ETHOS. THIS HAPPENS IN RACISM IN GENERAL ALL THE DANG TIME. AND WHEN DEALING WITH MOVIES, BOY DOES HULK HATE THE STUFF WITH A MEAN SPIRIT. ESPECIALLY IN THESE MOVIES, BECAUSE AGAIN, THIS ISN'T A SOPRANOS-LIKE EXAMINATION OF CHARACTERS. BOND IS MEANT TO BE WORSHIPED. AND THESE SCENES CAN BE CLUNKY AND WE CAN ROLL OUR EYES, BUT IF IT'S DIRECTLY MEAN-SPIRITED RACISM, IT JUST SUCKS AND ENCOURAGES ALL THE WRONG THINGS.

SO NOW THAT THAT'S OUT OF THE WAY...

SO FIRST UP IS AKIKO WAKABAYASHI AS AKI. SO AKI IS ACTUALLY PRETTY DECENT IN THE MOVIE! PROBABLY BECAUSE THIS IS THE POINT IN THE SERIES WERE SOME BOND GIRLS ARE ACTUALLY ALLOWED TO START BEING CAPABLE OF, LIKE, DOING SPY STUFF. SO THAT'S NEAT! BUT THE THING THAT HULK LIKES IS THAT SHE ACTUALLY SEEMS LIKE A WOMAN WHO IS FULL OF CONFIDENCE, TOO. BOTH HER SPY PARTNERSHIP AND SEXY-TIME PARTNERSHIP WITH BOND DON'T SEEM LIKE THEY'RE DONE OUT OF SOME OBLIGATION, BUT MORE LIKE THIS IS SOMETHING SHE ACTUALLY WANTS TO DO OF HER OWN AWESOME VOLITION. WHICH IS HOW THIS ALL SHOULD WORK TO SOME DEGREE, RIGHT? BUT HULK HONESTLY HAS NO IDEA WHY SHE HAS TO DIE HALFWAY THROUGH THIS MOVIE. HULK MEAN, THERE'S NO ACTUAL DRAMA TO IT. THERE ARE NO STAKES. NO CONSEQUENCES. IT DOESN'T GIVE BOND SOME NEW MOTIVE OR ANYTHING. SHE JUST DIES AND THEY REPLACE HER WITH A LESS-GOOD, LESS-CAPABLE VERSION OF THE SAME CHARACTER. WOULDN'T IT HAVE BEEN MUCH MORE INTERESTING IF SHE GOT TO GO ALL WAY THROUGH THE ACTION, DRAMATICALLY FIGHTING AT BOND’S SIDE? IF THERE WAS NO NEED TO START OVER? IF THEIR RELATIONSHIP CARRIED THE ENTIRE CONTEXT OF THE FILM? REMEMBER HOW WELL THAT WORKED IN FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE? THIS IS PRECISELY THE KIND OF STORYTELLING THING HULK TALKS ABOUT ALL THE TIME WHEN PEOPLE WORRY ABOUT "MOMENTARY EFFECT" OVER LARGER FUNCTIONALITY. YOU CAN IMAGINE PEOPLE SAYING "WOULDN'T IT BE COOL IF WE KILLED THE BOND GIRL HALFWAY THROUGH THE MOVIE!?!?" BUT IT'S SO AIRLESS AND WITHOUT IMPACT THAT IT HAS NO BEARING ON ANYTHING THAT FOLLOWS. IT ALSO SAYS SOME HORRIBLE THINGS WE WILL GET TO IN A MINUTE. BUT FOR NOW:

THEN THERE'S KARIN DOR AS HELGA BRANDT. SO THIS LADY IS IN THE MOVIE TOO, BUT SHE DOESN'T DO MUCH. SHE'S ONE OF THE BAD GUY'S ASSISTANTS AND SHE LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE A CROSS BETWEEN LUCIANA FROM THE LAST FILM AND DIANA RIGG FROM THE FILM COMING UP NEXT. WHICH IS REALLY, REALLY WEIRD. ANYCRAP, HER BOND GIRL ARCHETYPE IS THE MARGINALIZED AND HABITUALLY-USED ASSISTANT TO THE BAD GUY, WHICH ACTUALLY COMES UP A LOT IN BOND FILMS. SHE'S COMMANDED BY HER BOSS TO KILL JAMES BOND. SO SHE PRETENDS TO DEFECT TO HIS SIDE FOR SOME REASON, SLEEPS WITH HIM, THEN TRIES TO KILL HIM BY JUMPING OUT OF HIS FAILING PLANE. SURPRISE THOUGH! BOND ESCAPES THAT EASILY ESCAPABLE SITUATION! THE WHOLE SEQUENCE IS ACTUALLY PRETTY BIZARRE. AND MORE THAN THAT, THESE ADMINISTRATIVE CHARACTERS ALWAYS STRIKE HULK AS THE SADDEST PEOPLE IN THE SERIES. THEY ARE PAWNS IN THE BIGGER MAN’S GAME AND THEIR ENTIRE SEXUALITY IS SECONDARY TO EVERYTHING (AGAIN, EVEN IF IT'S WRITTEN IN A GODLIKE OBLIGATORY WAY BY THE WRITER, AKI AT LEAST HAS HER OWN AGENCY). BUT BRANDT AND HER ILK ARE ALL ABUSED BY THEIR BOSSES, THEN ABUSED BY BOND. THE AUDIENCE IS SUPPOSED BE OKAY WITH IT CAUSE SHE'S A “BAD GUY” CHARACTER AND "HEY, BOND GOT HIS! RIGHT?" BUT THAT SAYS ITS OWN HORRIBLY UGLY THINGS ABOUT THE WAYS WOMEN MUST BE PUNISHED SEXUALLY (AND REMEMBER THIS DISCUSSION FOR WHEN HULK GETS TO SKYFALL... WHICH SHOULD BE ABOUT TWO BAJILLION WORDS FROM NOW). THE ONLY CONSOLATION PRIZE FOR THE AUDIENCE IS THAT FOR HER FAILURE TO KILL BOND, SHE IS TREATED TO ONE OF THE BEST DEATHS IN THE ENTIRE SERIES:

PIRANHA’D!

OKAY, NOW FOR THE LAST ONE:

SO THEN THERE'S MIE HAMA AS KISSY SUZUKI A.K.A. THE INTERCHANGEABLE ASIAN REPLACEMENT. HULK ALREADY DISCUSSED THIS AT LENGTH, BUT THE THING THAT REALLY BOTHERS HULK IS THAT THE "FINAL" BOND GIRL IS REALLY JUST A WATERED-DOWN, LESS TOUGH, MORE MUTE VERSION OF AKI. WHICH SUCKS. ALL KISSY CAN SEEM TO DO IS ALTERNATE BETWEEN THE NOW-FAMILIAR DOE-EYED INNOCENCE OF THE SUBMISSIVE, CORRECT WOMANLY PORTRAIT. SHE DOES HAVE SOME POORLY-FEIGNED COMPETENCE AT MOMENTS, BUT AGAIN, THE WHOLE THING FEELS SO UNDESERVED COMING SO SOON AFTER AKI. SURE THERE'S A SLIDING SCALE TO ALL THIS, BUT ON THAT SCALE AKI WAS BADASS... AND ULTIMATELY SHE'S JUST A BADASS WHO IS "JUSTLY" REPLACED WITH THE POD-PERSON VERSION OF HER CHARACTER WHO WAS MORE MALE-CATERING AND OBLIGATORY. IT'S LIKE THEY COULDN'T EVEN DO A REAL VERSION OF WHAT A BOND GIRL SHOULD BE FOR A WHOLE MOVIE. AND IT REEKS SO MUCH OF INFANTILIZATION AND ALL THESE OTHER CRAPPY THINGS GUYS LOVE IN WANTING DEMURE, CHILDISH WOMEN THEY CAN CONTROL...  SO YEAH, IT ALL JUST BOTHERS HULK.

ACTUALLY, YOU KNOW WHAT?

KNOWING BOND, HE PROBABLY JUST CATERED TO THE HORRIBLE STEREOTYPE AND COULDN'T TELL THEM APART AND FIGURED AKI CAME BACK FROM THE DEAD OR SOMETHING.

FOR THIS FILM, THAT SOUNDS ABOUT RIGHT.

ANYWAY, HULK WILL STOP HARPING ON THIS BECAUSE WE STILL HAVE 18 MORE MOVIES.

AND THE LAST THING HULK WANTED TO MENTION IS THAT DESMOND LLEWELYN TOTALLY COMES INTO HIS OWN AS Q IN THIS MOVIE. HE FINALLY GETS COMFORTABLE WITH HIS GRUMPY, PATERNAL NATURE WITH BOND AND SEEMS TO HAVE FULLY DEVELOPED THE WHOLE Q SCHTICK. AND IT WAS SURPRISINGLY CATHARTIC TO SEE HIM FINALLY DELIGHT IN BOND’S ABILITY TO USE THE EQUIPMENT HANDILY!

"NOW PAY ATTENTION..."

BECAUSE NEXT TIME WE'RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT THE BEST BOND FILM EVER...

(STAY TUNED FOR HULK VS. JAMES BOND DAYS 2, 3 AND 4)

Related Articles

Comments