I have always been a James Bond fan, just ask anyone on the staff, or anyone of my friends. I can ramble off trivia, tell you in what movie a particular event happened, and create a bulleted list on why Timothy Dalton wasn’t that bad of a Bond actor, he just got in at the wrong time.

For the record I like Pierce Brosnan’s Bond better than any other. Roger Moore had some great movies under his reign, Sean Connery had the classics, and that other guy, um, yeah he did something. When “Bond 20” was announced I was ecstatic, the premise sounded new and intriguing, the overall feel of the movie seemed like it would recover from The World is Not Enough (TWINE), which I liked, but the world panned. It seems as though the creators and producers of the series knew that TWINE wasn’t up to part so they threw out everything they had for Die Another Day and created a balls out action-fest that is full of clever one-liners, great explosions, and some of the crappiest computer effects I have ever seen.

Overall I was impressed with Die Another Day, but there were some very, very big problems with the movie that leave it off of my classics list. Be aware, this is no GoldenEye, but it certainly isn’t A View to a Kill either.

The film starts out with Bond undercover and looking to purchase some guns in exchange for a briefcase full of diamonds. Colonel Moon is the bad guy this time around and his sidekick, Zao, is the coolest thing to come along since Jaws (not the shark). When the Bond is found out, this leads to one of the best chase sequences we have ever seen in a Bond movie, and it will only be outdone by the car chase later in the movie. As Bond is chasing Moon on hovercrafts over a minefield they reach the end of the line that has Moon’s craft jumping over a cliff and Bond being captured by Moon’s father. This is where things turn bad for the first time.

The opening credit sequence has to be the worst I have ever seen. Even back in the 60s and 70s when computer graphics were non-existent it was better than this because it breaks the mold for one simple reason. It shows the movie in the background, and the graphical images, while cool in their own right, are just overlaid on the print. So while the names are appearing on screen, we see Bond being tortured and beaten the background. This is the cardinal rule of the “Bond Credit Sequence” you don’t show any part of the movie at all. From this point on I was disenchanted with seeing just how bad this movie was going to destroy the mold that has been melded over 40 years and four and a half Bonds (Lazenby doesn’t count as a full actor).

From there on the movie is a mix between classic Bond, and money-making ploys. While Bond movies were never really prided on story and plot, this one takes the cake for the most paper thin plot points imaginable. When Bond first meets Jinx (Halle Berry) they exchange one-liners about birds for three minutes and in the next scene they are bumping along in bed. If it were only that easy.

Erich: “I like birds, they are pretty”
Girl: “Wanna do it?”

Frankly I don’t see why Halle Berry won any award for Best Actress, but I can’t be too quick to judge because I haven’t seen Monster’s Ball. Her performance is nothing spectacular than any other Bond girl performance. She doesn’t have the life that Famke Janssen gave Onatopp in GoldenEye. The real life of a supporting character is inhabited by Zao (Rick Yune), you may remember him from The Fast and the Furious. Yune portrays Zao wonderfully through the entire movie as a North Korean terrorist bent on causing disaster. The chase scene between Bond and him on the ice near the end of the movie is wonderfully done, but I wish they would have given his character a better way out, maybe an open door to return later in the series, but that won’t be happening.

I did state before that Colonel Moon is the bad guy this time around, and going into the movie the first time and not seeing him till a revealing point at the end, you may call me crazy. But just think of a cliché way to bring in a character and that is exactly how it is done here, it didn’t think it was much of a spoiler, so no warnings for you!

The real problem with the movie is director Lee Tamahori’s overuse of computer effects. From the very first chase scene on the hover cars you can noticeably tell that the actors are standing in front of a blue screen, and later in the movie when Bond goes over an ice berg in a rocket car it acts like a popsicle stick on a rubber band, and, unfortunately, it looks like one too. If you thought the computer generated Peter Parker/Spider-Man in Spider-Man were poorly done, this is worse, half the time you can’t tell if the blob of Play-Dough is actually Bond or just, well, a blob of Play-Dough. If GoldenEye taught us anything it was that models and cheesy computer effects came make the movie more interesting, but an overuse of them, as seen in Die Another Day, can just make it look like we really don’t need actors anymore.

I’m as much of a Bond fan as you can get, so when a new Bond flick hits the theatres I am there faster than a fat-chick on ham, but with some of the glaring problems that stray too far away from the tried and true Bond, Die Another Day doesn’t fit the bill as a classic Bond movie, yet. After multiple viewings I could change my mind, and a DVD with some deleted footage to fill in some of the glaring plot holes could make things better. Die Another Day is a good Bond movie, it just isn’t a great Bond Movie.

Written by Erich Becker
Thirty-something with a love of everything we cover here, and a few things we don't. Erich has run Entertainmentopia since the site's inception in 1999, countless redesigns, a few crashes, and a lot of media later, here you have it!