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For years, ET: The Extra-Terrestrial was the biggest hole in my movie knowledge. I may have seen it as a child, but the most I could remember of it were scenes from a Warner Bros video advert on a James Bond video (I think it may have been Moonraker). Despite my love of Steven Spielberg (I may hate Ready Player One and think Bridge of Spies is weak sauce propaganda, but this guy made Jurassic Park), his supposedly greatest and most personal movie never appealed to me. I watched ET a couple of years ago and thought it was a schmaltzy, borderline creepy mess of a movie. That fucking alien possessed that little boy, people! I know the eighties were a creepy time in movies (just watch John Hughes in a modern context), but ET sets up all of these weird scenarios and never follows through on them. Perhaps I’m too old – maybe you have to be young for this movie to imprint on you. Or just young enough not to notice the major creep factor at play here.
Ridley Scott Can’t Tell a Story
I think Ridley Scott is a wonderful director. His mastery of genres and world-building is on par with Kubrick – but this guy can be an awful storyteller. Take any Scott film that isn’t Blade Runner or Alien, and you’ll see the problem. For as good a visual artist as the man is, he always needs a strong script from someone else to make his movies work. Take the Alien prequels as an example – Alien itself is a masterpiece due to a director, his actors, screenwriters, and crew being in perfect harmony. His two prequels, while stunning to look at, show Scott at his worst. The stories are jumbled, the logic nowhere to be seen. The same can be said for the likes of Body of Lies, The Councillor, Exodus, and many more. There is a reason that, after such a storied career, it’s still his second and third films that get all of the attention.
Pierce Brosnan is the best James Bond
Back when Brosnan was playing James Bond, this was not a controversial opinion at all. Then Daniel Craig took up the mantle that proved that, along with Sean Connery, most people’s favorite Bond was between the two most misogynist of the lot. I’m not saying Brosnan’s Bond was perfect, but he doesn’t rape anyone or suck on a traumatized woman’s fingers for fun. He only had one truly brilliant movie in Goldeneye, but even his worst efforts had a style and humor to them that every Bond had – well, before Batman Begins and Jason Bourne convinced everyone that those crucial character traits were surplus to requirements. I urge you to revisit Brosnan’s time in the role – Tomorrow Never Dies is a good laugh, and The World is Not Enough has some of that harshness that pour off the Craig era, while Die Another Day should be rediscovered as the Batman and Robin of the James Bond franchise.
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By Kevin Boyle
(header image via Esquire)