Top 5: James Bond Actors.


Since 1962 6 actors have worn the mantle of James Bond (not including the original Casino Royale’s David Niven and the TV adaptation starring Barry Nelson). Like a cinematic Dr Who, a new actor takes over periodically and adds a whole new perspective to the worlds most famous spy and everyone has a favourite actor who in their opinion played the part the best. Here is my Top 5 Bond’s. 

Honourable Mention: George Lazenby.

Following the shock news of Sean Connery’s resignation from the role after You Only Live Twice, the role was passed on to Australian actor George Lazenby for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, it was to be the Aussie’ only turn as Bond. Though lacking the magnetism and presence of Connery in my opinion, Lazenby did however lend the character a little more humanity during the film’s devastating climax.

5: Pierce Brosnan.


Taking the mantle from Timothy Dalton, Brosnan’s first film in the role Goldeneye marked the characters return after a 6 year hiatus, the longest absence from cinema screens since its inception. Brosnan brought with him a broader take on the character after Dalton’s more thoughtful & deep interpretation. His was an era that fell flat for me, too many misses, not enough hits and subsequently sours my appreciation of him as Bond.

4: Roger Moore.


Following on from Sean Connery’s 2nd but not final exit as Bond, Roger Moore, more commonly know from his TV role in The Saint became the next actor to take the 00 as his own. Moore was Bond through the majority of my childhood so does hold a very special place in my heart, his daring-do and turn of phrase comprising many a happy childhood memory. He should be much higher on this list if not for the caliber of performances that follow.

3: Timothy Dalton.


Dalton represented a bold new approach to Bond, an attempt to contemporise and add new muscle and depth to a character that had become in danger of becoming cartoonish. Dalton only held the role for 2 films but in that time he made one hell of an impression, possibly one of the most faithful representations of the character and a tenure that should have lasted much, much longer.

2: Daniel Craig.


Daniel Craig pulled Bond back from the brink. After diminishing returns at the end of Brosnan’s run, a change was needed and what a change. Craig, as with Dalton, added a much needed layer of depth and realism to the part taking it to unprecedented new heights. The choice between 3rd & 2nd was like Sophie’s Choice, it was so impossibly close and difficult to make as I like them equally but with more turns in the role, Craig pips it.

1: Sean Connery.


The first man to take the part on the big screen is to many, myself included, the best Bond. Effortlessly cool, imposing, magnetic and setting the standard against which all following actors would be measured by when taking on the role. A pretty much faultless run as Bond (we’ll forget Never Say Never Again shall we?) and too many classic moments to list, Connery was the frickin Don.

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You Know His Name: My thoughts on Daniel Craig returning to the Bond role.


Following the release of 2015’s Spectre, a question mark hung over whether Daniel Craig had any intention in staying in the much coveted role of 007. During press for that film, a apparently unhappy Craig was said to have remarked that he would “rather slit his wrists” than return as Bond and implied that a return would be purely for the money. After much rumour and conjecture regarding the future of the series and indeed the starring role, Craig decided to break his silence. During an interview with Steven Colbert on The Late Show in the U.S. Craig revealed that despite his remarks following Spectre’s release, he will indeed be returning as Bond one more time.

During his tenure as the spy, Craig has truly made his mark in the role in my opinion, going from strength to strength with each successive turn and adding some darkness and depth to the role that hasn’t been present since the short lived reign of Timothy Dalton. Before his casting, Bond films had hit the doldrums with the likes of the lacklustre World Is Not Enough and the utterly lamentable Die Another Day muddying the usual top notch quality of the series, Craig’s arrival was well timed, much needed and breathed new life into the part and garnered much critical praise and commercial success for the franchise though by the time of hitting the promotional run for Spectre, his 3rd outing in the role, it could be said that the cracks were beginning to show. I primarily believe this to be a case of the guy feeling burnt out, coming out of an arduous shoot and then having to promote the thing, answering the same tired questions again and again took its toll and Craig snapped and uttered some ill advised and not very well thought out words on his future in the role. I’m not sure that I truly believe Craig felt that way about his role as Bond, just rather that he needed a break, he needed to decompress and was having a bad time slogging through promo, I can’t blame him for that, I’d probably feel the same truth be told. The sordid question of pay being a factor in his return is almost certainly going to be raised considering his prior comments, he netted $65 million for Spectre so I can only imagine what he will receive for this last outing.

I personally could not be happier to see Daniel Craig take up the mantle one more time even if it is just for the money, he deserves it, he has been utterly fantastic and a close contender for my favourite Bond, though not quite, that will be revealed in an upcoming Top 5 of which I’m already nervous about as someone is going to have to be relegated to an Honourable Mention. With talk of directors such as Christopher Nolan taking the chair for Craig’s last film, the hype is real and most certainly palpable.

Blonde Has More Gun: An Atomic Blonde review.


Directed by: David Leitch.

Starring: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Til Schweiger, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, Bill Skarsgård.

Plot: At the close of the 1980’s and with The Berlin Wall close to falling, MI6 agent Loraine Broughton is sent to the city to retrieve intel that could unveil evidence of an espionage ring.

There is a glorious cinematic tradition of the spy movie, that marrying of intrigue, butt-kicking & breathtaking action can be for the most part an incredibly enticing prospect. We’ve had Bond, we’ve had Bourne, we’ve had Wick (ok, he’s not strictly a spy but you get my drift) and now into that pantheon of ass-kickers step’s Loraine Broughton. Is this a new action hero worthy of being named alongside these illustrious takers of names?

Atomic Blonde is a big screen adaptation of the graphic novel The Coldest City by Anthony Johnston & Sam Hart, not a title widely known and certainly not by myself making such an adaptation a slight risk if not marketed and cast correctly. Atomic Blonde certainly has not problems in the style stakes, it drips with 80’s cool coming from its styling and impeccable period soundtrack, amongst the first things to strike you about the film and then we get to the action. The fight sequences in Atomic Blonde are brutal and I do not use that word lightly, I consider myself to be pretty desensitised to violent action but there were some things occurring on screen in Atomic Blonde that even made me wince, it is brilliantly choreographed carnage that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the Bourne movies or John Wick, it really is that good. What Atomic Blonde unfortunately suffers the most from however is its pacing, there are some lulls in the action that bring the tempo right down and the writing doesn’t feel quite on par to carry the film alone through those moments, whereas for example John Wick carried some emotional heft to back up the action, Atomic Blonde falls flat on this count and it felt slightly overlong to me clocking in around 2hrs long and possibly could have benefited from a good 15-20mins shaved off that running time.

Charlize Theron kicks ass in this film, she is absolutely incredible and is carving herself quite the side career as an action movie icon for the 21st century. She’s an utterly magnetic screen presence anyway but factoring in the insane fight sequences she is party to in this film and even more respect is earned by her performance in Atomic Blonde, its exceptional. We get some worthy support from the likes of James McAvoy who, as with most performances he gives, adds an extra layer of class to the proceedings and some strong support is also offered from the likes of John Goodman, Toby Jones and Eddie Marsan.

Atomic Blonde is a flawed film that is redeemed by its brutal and exquisitely choreographed fight sequences and a tour-de-force lead performance from Charlize Theron. if anything, Atomic Blonde deserves a second outing to correct the mistakes of the first because with a little more finesse in the writing department and tweeks in pace, this could become the next great action franchise to rival Wick & Bourne.

Hello Dolly!: An Annabelle-Creation review.


Directed by: David F. Sandberg.

Starring: Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Baterman, Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto.

Plot: The Mullins family lead a seemingly ideal in family live until a terrible tragedy occurs. More than a decade later a group of orphans go to live with the Mullins and become very aware of another presence in the house.

I did not expect much from Annabelle: Creation when I initially heard of its production, a sequel to a mundane spinoff of a much better film, the curse that is ever diminishing returns of a horror franchise before it has inevitably been stripped of all it’s worth hanging ominously over its head, even its title suggests they aren’t even trying anymore. However, I then saw who was attached to direct the film, David F. Sandberg, Annabelle: Creation was to be the sophomore effort of the director who last year brought us his impressive debut Lights Out, suddenly a faint ray of light had cast itself over this film, was this a good omen?

I approached Annabelle: Creation with fairly low to middling expectations after the godawful 2014 Annabelle, I was surprised to be met with an actually quite entertaining and well crafted horror movie. Sandberg handles the ensuing chills and thrills with a deft hand and a technical artfulness on some well considered tracking shots and stedicam work to capture the wonderfully conceived scares, some of which you might see coming a mile away but still dished out in a fun and effective manner that with raise a game grin from the most stoic of genre enthusiasts and fans of The Conjuring series alike. Horror movie sequels can be approached by studios with a ‘shooting fish’ mentality, throw enough jump scares in and the kids will turn up in droves, it gets as though they don’t even have to try, a direction that the franchise looked to be going with the dire and certainly inferior, Annabelle. Thankfully that mentality has not been taken with this instalment in an actually pretty consistent franchise minus the aforementioned blip, strong scares wrapped up in a decent, well crafted spook story.

There are some decent turns from the minimal cast, the child actors all deliver strong performances, avoiding the peril of poor acting and becoming annoying which can sometimes plague younger characters in horror films. The adult contingent of Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto and Stephanie Sigman all offer excellent support in a film that is predominantly driven by its younger cast members.

Fans of The Conjuring series are not going to feel let down by Annabelle: Creation, it is a strong and scary addition to the franchise that will entertain and frighten in equal measures even perhaps the most hardened sequel cynic. 

Out there: A look into Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace.


In 2004, Channel 4 in the U.K. Broadcast a new comedy series from the writing partnership of the then relatively unknown comedians, Richard Ayoade and Matthew Holness. It was an absurd homage to badly conceived horror fiction, TV and films, particularly of the 70’s & 80’s delivered with it tongue firmly in its cheek, that show was Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace.

Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was a show within a show concerning fictional horror novelist Garth Marenghi, played by Holness, who in the 1980’s decided to make the leap from the page to the screen and develop his own TV show with his publicist Dean Learner, played by Ayoade. In ‘Darkplace’ Marenghi cast himself as the shows lead, Dr Rick Dagless, a Doctor at Darkplace Hospital which just so happens to be situated “over the very gates of hell, in Romford, Essex” and his constant fight in repelling the forces of evil whilst coping with the “burden of day to day admin”. He is joined by his administrator Thornton Reed played by Learner, best friend Dr Lucian Sanchez played by ‘Todd Rivers’ who is in turn played by actor/musician Matt Berry and Liz Asher played by ‘Madeline Wool’ who is played by the fantastic Alice Lowe. 

Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was presented as a retrospective of the making of and reaction to this fictional show, a superbly crafted meta-comedy if you will. Presented as being rescued from the vaults of Channel 4 by Marenghi and presented to a willing new audience, Maregenhi, Learner & Shanchez intersect the show with talking-heads of their memories of it’s production, It really is an fantastically realised and original idea for a comedy. The 80’s Darkplace is spot on its playful swiping at bad TV of the era, from the original Channel 4 ident at the start, the muffled analogue synth score, bad editing, fitfully funny dialogue overdubs, ropey sets and even more ropey acting, it is an absolute joy for fans of intelligently written, witty and original comedy and a lot of fun for fans of the horror literature, film & TV genres that it sends up. 

The cast of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace reads today like a who’s who of British comedy, Holness, Ayoade, Berry and Lowe all deliver note perfect performances of bad actors, a feat that isn’t as easy as it sounds when you are in fact a really good comedic actor trying to achieve gut laughs at the same time. From Holness’s deluded, pretentious and egocentric turn as Marenghi/Dagless and the comedy that lies in the fact they are both exactly the same in personality sending up Marenghi’s out of whack ego even more, Berry’s Sanchez is full of macho bravado and he has an innate ability to deliver a comedic line like no other in my opinion and Lowes simpering send up of outdated gender stereotypes really do make this show something special. Aside from the principle cast there are also wonderful cameos from the like of Steven Merchant, Noel Feilding, Julian Barrett and Graham Linehan.

Relatively unnoticed on its initial broadcast and obtaining a cult following in the proceeding year, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace is a show that will appeal to fans of the horror genre and though looking for daft yet expertly crafted comedy. If you haven’t already, I’d highly recommend a visit to Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace.

Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace is currently available to stream via All4.

Another Dimension: A The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension review.


Directed by: W. D Richter.

Starring: Peter Weller, Ellen Barkin, John Lithgow, Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Lloyd, Clancy Brown, Dan Hedaya

Plot: Rocket scientist Buckaroo Banzai perfects a device that allows one to travel through solid matter. Attaching his ‘Oscillation Overthruster’ to his jet car, Banzai drives through a mountain to prove his theory, unwittingly entering another dimension and picking up an unexpected stowaway.

Rarely did genre films come along in the early 1980’s that were so well realised, so full of insane invention and bristling with so many ideas & possibilities, that were so god damn odd yet fiercely original, the little films that could. The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension for me was one of those films that ticked all those boxes.

Try and explain the premise of Buckaroo Banzai to someone and you might struggle. Not the easiest of films to big up and convince someone of watching, Buckaroo Banzai’s storyline is gloriously daft, for example, all of the Alien Lectroids go by the name of John as part of their disguise because what’s more human than the name John right?! Nothing suspect to see here humans! Banzai is a wonderfully overblown comic-book pastiche teeming with pop-culture and science references all the while with its tongue jammed firmly in its cheek. It would be easy to dismiss it as a trashy piece of b-movie sci-fi and to misrepresent it in that respect would not do it justice in the slightest. It is complex, strongly written, brilliantly performed, knows exactly what it is trying to be and isn’t afraid to take risks to achieve it even if the audience are initially left out in the cold as to the richly worked out backstory for our hero and his cohorts the first time round, you’ll pay more attention and notice more things the second time you view, it really is a gift that keeps on giving on repeated viewings. The 80’s hipness on display may raise a titter now although you could probably spot any one of the Hong Kong Cavillers in the more fashionable parts of Shoreditch these days and I defy anyone to not raise a grin during the hipper than hip end credits montage in the concrete L.A flood channels, seriously, if you haven’t even seen the film, go on YouTube type in Buckaroo Banzai end credits and you’ll probably be hooked and won’t quite know why.

Buckaroo Banzai’s eclectic cast suit the movie perfectly. From Peter Weller’s effortlessly cool & hip Banzai, making bow ties cool long before Matt Smith ever did. Part scientist, part rock-star, all win! He is an 80’s icon that never got his fair billing in my humble opinion and shines brilliantly here. Gloriously film stealing support comes from a frantically scenery chewing turn by John Lithgow as Dr Lizardo/John Whorfin, the diabolical alien overlord of the Red Lectroids and an able stooge turn from Christopher Lloyd as Red Lectroid John Bigbooté who’s onscreen chemistry with Lithgow is a constant high point of the film, particularly in Lizardo’s comical mispronunciation of his underling as John Bigbooty. Throw in some able support from 80’s genre stalwarts such as Ellen Barkin, Clancy Brown & Jeff Goldblum and you’ve got yourself a winner.

The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension is a perfect slice of intelligently written 80’s sci-fi that is effortlessly cool, wonderfully humorous and will leave you wanting more, alas, with the much touted Kevin Smith backed Buckaroo Banzai TV show now looking unlikely, this may be all we get of Buckaroo and The Hong Kong Cavaliers but when it was this well realised, I can live with that.

A Mr Mid Announcement.

I have been writing as a pop culture blogger now for over a year and have enjoyed it immensely so it was only inevitable that I would eventually feel the need to branch out further. With that in mind I am moving into the realm of podcasting with Five By Five Reviews. 

Five By Five is a pop culture podcast predominantly covering film but also touching on Tv, Gaming, comics and all in between. Joining me on this venture is my good friend Chris Jones who is just as enthusiastic about discussing and debating films and will no doubt make each episode of Five By Five an interesting & engaging experience for our listeners.

There is a Facebook page which can be found at..

https://m.facebook.com/fivebyfivepod/

A Twitter feed at..

http://www.twitter.com/@fivebyfivepod

Via Talkshoe at..

http://www.talkshoe.com/talkshoe/web/talkCast.jsp?masterId=144713&cmd=tc#.WYJDiIFl6nQ.facebook

You can contact us via our email address at..

Fivebyfivepod@yahoo.com

And lastly and most importantly, on iTunes..

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/five-by-five-reviews/id1267533963?mt=2

The opening gambit on Five By Five will be a series of podcasts on the Alien series, running from the Ridley Scott original up to Alien: Covenant over the course of the first 6 episodes, each being released bi-weekly on a Wednesday. Past the Alien series we have an exciting and varied lineup in store for you all that I think a lot of you will really dig.

So, give us a listen, drop us some feedback and maybe even a review if you are so inclined and most of all, Enjoy.

M