When you start to get older, you find yourself constantly complaining that things aren’t what they used to be. You always promise yourself that you won’t (and you promised you wouldn’t say things like ‘You’ll sleep tonight’ and ‘Take your coat off or you won’t feel the benefit), but there it goes, tripping off your tongue. Chocolate bars and crisps aren’t as big as they used to be, products change names to something stupid for no apparent reason (if you ever want to get me incandescent, just say Cif and Snickers…) and everything has to be tinkered with – just because.
This even applies to things that have a tried and tested formula that has worked for decades. Take Bond films, for example. Now, as you all know, I’m very easily entertained, but put on a Bond movie and I’m guaranteed to be quiet and happy for hours. Some of them aren’t so good in places (I can’t watch A View To A Kill at all, nor most of Timothy Dalton, and Die Another Day is a bit of an issue), but that’s what we have a fast-forward button for, isn’t it?
It’s an easy formula for success. Exciting pre-credit sequence with a big stunt or two, into sexy credits with a catchy song, exotic locations, unfeasibly gorgeous women, mad megalomaniacs building secret bases, more stunts and explosions, a few single entendres (even the Carry Ons would quail at some of them) and bob’s your uncle. To quote Nigella, how hard could that be?
But then they started to tinker with it. As the girls got more recognisable, they got less interesting and less glamorous (think any of the Brosnan Bond girls). The credits got less exotic and clever thanks to doing them with CGI (Maurice Binder, how we miss you) and you never had to squint hard to get the briefest flash of nipple – they were all clear (which somehow takes all the fun out of it. Apparently). The songs got less catchy on the whole, missing the whole point of being as glossy as the film itself and getting the title in as soon as possible (you don’t think so? Sing a Bond theme to yourself right now. The ones that spring to mind will have the name of the film within the first few lines).
Much as I enjoyed Pierce Brosnan’s Bond, I can’t deny that the films got progressively more and more stupid as they went along. I still love Goldeneye (which fits the formula above), but by the time we hit Die Another Day, the wheels had seriously come off the trolley. So I cautiously welcomed a reinvention to save the franchise, but was very vocal in my dismay at the casting of Daniel Craig. Not because he was blond, but because he wasn’t, well…Bond.
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But he was, I’m happy to say, and, although I don’t really count Casino Royale as a proper Bond movie (too much of a setting out the stall really), he was the best thing in it. And although the film as a whole brought back the thrills and glamour of old, the credit sequence and song were dire, the whole thing lacked pace and Eva Green is very far from being a proper Bond girl.
And now we discover what Bond 22 is to be called, prompting me to spend a whole afternoon moaning about how things aren’t right these days. The announcement of Quantum of Solace seems to have been greeted with dismay and amusement all round. My other half has already dubbed it The Quantum Menace and I had KLF in my head all afternoon. I don’t care that it’s the title of a 1960 collection of short stories by Ian Fleming – how are you going to get that into the chorus of a theme song? Perhaps we should get KLF in after all?