Hearne: Flaming Out with Honest Abe & Double Oh Seven

Better late than never, right?

Look, I totally get that the moviegoers of America pronounced me dead wrong when I told you last summer “Ted” was a snooze. Maybe I was having an off day. I’m going to try it again on video and we’ll see.

That said, this past weekend I saw back-to-back movies that nearly caused me to come down with a case of trypanosomiasis in the middle of both “Lincoln” and “Skyfall,” the new James Bond flick.

Lincoln being the drowsier of the two.

I went at my 15 year-old daughter’s request. One of her teachers in Blue Valley asked students to go see it and offered extra credit if they could prove they had. To that end Liza retained her movie ticket and Hollywood retained our 15 bucks.

And while I can’t sing Jack Poessiger‘s movie reviewing praises enough, I’ve got to tell you guys, up until maybe the last hour or 45 minutes, Lincoln was a snore. Jack said it was too long too.

I hate to say it, but Oliver Stone would have kicked Steven Spielberg’s ass if he’d made the movie instead.

It might not have been 100 percent historically accurate, but who knows how accurate Spielberg’s Lincoln is? Or cares.

There was sporadic applause at the close of the movie at The Legends where I saw it. Not surprisingly, when the lights came on, it became crystal clear that the majority of the crowd were oldsters. Well rested oldsters because I didn’t hear snoring sounds or see anybody rubbing their eyes on the way out.

So let your conscience be your guide. Go see “Lincoln” if you want – especially if you can get extra credit – but allow me to suggest pounding a Red Bull or latte before the movie starts.

Then yesterday I saw Bond, James Bond, again at The Legends.

After Saturday’s Spielberg marathon, I can tell you that I know Lincoln pretty well and James Bond is no Lincoln.

It starts out with an unmemorable theme song written and sung by Adele. Really unmemorable, which is too bad. And like Lincoln, the movie’s too long – nearly two and one half hours.

Secondly, like Jack said, the opening sequence is so good that nothing else in the movie comes close to matching it. About a third of the way through my wife turned to me with a disappointed look and said, “Awww, it’s not very good.” She was right.

Where’s Ian Fleming when you need him?

The former British naval intelligence officer penned a dozen James Bond novels and two short story collections before checking out in 1964 at age 56.

“Skyfall” is the 23rd James Bond movie, so obviously movie makers have no intention of letting the franchise die merely because there are no more Fleming novels to be adapted.

The villain in “Skyfall” didn’t seem very real or threatening to me. And even though the writers have tuned things up a bit – modernized them – somehow it just didn’t connect overall.

Think about, for example, some of the Bond movie villains of the past. They were too corny even at the time, let alone by today’s standards. That’s why Austin Powers had such an excellent time spoofing them.

Who actually thinks anybody today would find a Goldfinger believable or entertaining? It’s a different world, why not make Bond a more contemporary spy, a real spy, and place him in believable predicaments, situations and locations?

There’s certainly no shortage of material out there in the real world.

In part, the problem with James Bond movies is times have changed. The concept of a debonaire spy dude bedding smoking hot, sophisticated babes with the bat of an eye is so 1960s. Or 70’s, maybe 80’s.

Look at Jason Bourne

The Bourne films blow James Bond away by being far more real and believable.

Like Bond, Bourne scores with attractive women, but only after laying the prerequisite groundwork. Not merely by bedding them upon first meeting at some silly casino after cashing in $4 million in chips.

On top of that, “Skyfall” tries too hard.

We all knew about Bond drinking Heiniken months before the movie opened because the product placers wanted us to know. What about the martinis, “shaken but not stirred” many wondered?

Not to worry, in one scene a bartender shakes up a martini and pours it for Daniel Craig who says something like, “Just the way I like it.”

Craig by the way is looking a little haggard and long-in-the-tooth for some of the action sequences in this movie. However Jack tells me he’s signed for two more films, with Bond 24 slated for 2014 two years from now.

Filmmakers downplay Bond’s getting older in “Skyfall” by having him tested for his physical abilities and failing at a measly 40 percent score. Craig may need counsel from Lance Armstrong if he’s to get in shape for the movie two years from now and presumably the one two years after that.

The ending is a little queer as well, too tidily stitched up.

In it we learn that fellow spy Naomie Harris – who Bond beds early on in the movie – turns out to be Miss Moneypenny, the longtime secretary to Bond’s longtime boss M. And M now becomes actor Ralph Fiennes after actress Judy Dench takes a bullet and checks out. At age 77, it wouldn’t have been wildly surprising if Dench had bought the farm before the movie was even done filming – but what the heck, time for a change.

Older Bond fans will remember that Bond never bedded Moneypenny as she was far to homely to be a “Bond Girl” (even though she joked about having an attraction to actors Sean Connery and Roger Moore in the first 14 Bond flicks).

Demure B movie actress Lois Maxwell snared the Moneypenny role in 1962. But at age 36, Harris – Skyfall’s Moneypenny – is far and away more beddable, even though there was no romantic tension between Moneypenny and Bond in any of Flemings novels.

So there you have it.

If you’re torn between “Lincoln” and “Skyfall” and you’re under the age of 60 – 50 even – go for Bond…James Bond.

And if you love both movies and think I don’t have a clue…take a number.

After all, I thought Lincoln as Vampire Hunter was, you know, fine.


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9 Responses to Hearne: Flaming Out with Honest Abe & Double Oh Seven

  1. jack p. says:

    Sorry Hearne but when it came to old Abe Lincoln as a vampire hunter this past summer, the public just didn’t buy into it. TOTAL RUN domestic ticket sales amounted to a disasterous $37.5 million.
    By comparison “SKYFALL’s” three day domestic opening weekend set an all time Bond boxoffice franchise record of nearly $90 million. Ditto worldwide.
    I agree with you that both films were too long and could’ve easily been tightened up. Or as I always suggest that nothing should be longer than 120 minutes—not even the second coming. (100 minutes sounds even better 🙂

    • admin says:

      Hey Jack, I knew the Vampire Hunting Prez wasn’t Academy Award material, but they wove just enough Civil War and Honest Abe reality into it that it at least moved along.

      My daughter told me she struggled to stay awake because she was worried her teacher would penalize her. My wife stayed awake because she told me she was worried I might snore.

  2. Rick Nichols says:

    Yes, Bond’s stock continues to rise long after Fleming cashed in his chips.
    The old “formula” still works: spies, bad guys, wet lips and shapely hips.

  3. ernnie says:

    Skyfall was too long, and, no it wasn’t SHakespeare, or even good Fleming..but still, worth it for the special FX.

    If you do decide on seeing this pic, definitely worth the theatre price..esp IMAX…

    rather than waiting to watch on home DVD.

  4. rkcal says:

    “Skyfall” is stunning visually; however, it does overstay its welcome. The climax in Scotland goes on way too long. There seems to be a new rule that “event” movies need to be 2 1/2 hours to prove their worth. Craig is ripped; he can pull this role off well into the future. Roger Moore did this schtick until he was damn near 70. Moneypenny 2012 is a definite upgrade.

    • admin says:

      Moneypenny is definitely an “upgrade”

      Something was missing for me though, even though they did try to make it more serious than the spoofy 007 flicks of old.

      Not quite serious enough though. I realize that this is supposed to be a popcorn flick and that for most it undoubtedly was. Daniel Craig is so good though, it would have been nice if they’d let loose of the past and gone further into the future.

      Oh, well.

      What about Lincoln though? Anybody out there think that 21/2 hours was riveting?

      • rkcal says:

        Haven’t seen it. I heard it is more like a play than a movie. I am a history buff, so I’m OK if they leave the vampires out of it. I want to see it, but the previews have convinced me this would be just fine as a home-viewing experience.

      • Super Dave says:

        Lincoln is going to be a love hate type movie. A little long I would agree but since I am a history buff as well I more or less enjoyed this view of him. Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis fans are going to like it no matter what, the same as I like all of Michael Manns stuff no matter what.

        We watch Bond I think because well simply because it’s Bond. I mean yes I will see it as I have all the other and will the ones that come after it. But I don’t really think I see it anymore for the story line because if you really look at it the story never changes. Bond tracks down villain and some way or another villain dies and Bond gets laid several times end of story. Bond films are like the Three Stooges of old, you know what you are going to see each and every time but you are pulled back to watch time and time again. I am a Bond fan anymore I do believe just for the view of the places in the world they shoot in as well as the location the shot is being filmed at, buildings and what not. Some of the toys Bond uses are fun to look at as well as seeing some other rather interesting automobiles. George Lazenby was the only Bond who I just could not identify with, something about him just didn’t click with me. But I grew up with the Bond movies and it appears I will grow old with them as well.

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