Mar 122012

Dr. No

We’d like to introduce guest contributor Brett, who has kindly reviewed this film for us. Recently Brett has decided to go back and watch a few classics which have been on his list for far too long. The first of these is the very first James Bond film, 1962’s Dr. No. Thanks Brett!

Check out Brett’s review after the jump.

I should start this review by pointing out that when I grew up, James Bond was played by the man who gets a piece of fruit thrown at the back of his head by Mrs Doubtfire.  Beyond having watched The Living Daylights one night on TV (and quickly understanding why Timothy Dalton only lasted two films), I had never ventured any further into Bond’s back catalogue. Any fan of the series would surely call this a travesty of the highest order. Thanks in part to inspiration by Dan Benjamin and John Gruber, I decided to remedy this. Being the highest rated Bond film on Rotten Tomatoes, and the first, Dr. No seemed like the obvious place to start.

I will forego the need to provide any kind of plot summary for a fifty-year-old movie. Instead, I was curious to see how the original stood up against more recent efforts, of which I have always made a point of watching.

Dr. No

To cut to the chase – it’s much better. Bond’s appeal has always been rooted in his smoothness, his charm, and his ability to stay one step ahead of the bad guys. There’s perhaps a very good reason why Daniel Craig’s version of Bond has focused much more heavily on more traditional hand-to-hand combat. Yes, electronic gadgets and weaponry are cool to watch on-screen, but Bond’s been captivating audiences for decades before all this, and towards the end of Pierce Bronson’s run the gadgets were overshadowing the agent. In Dr. No, however, Bond’s fancy weaponry extends about as far as a silencer, along with a pack of cards to bide his time. I’d buy that over an invisible car any day.

The way Bond is first introduced on-screen – showing his back and his hands for a good minute before his face – is a simple, clever trick, but it works beautifully. Sean Connery is well-known for playing the role of Bond the best, and it takes all of five seconds to be convinced of this.

"Bond. James Bond."

Forgiving the technical limitations which result in a very unrealistic rear-projection car-chase scene midway through, the film holds up incredibly well for its age. There are a few plot holes (as you would expect from any Bond film), and the film is wrapped up perhaps a bit quickly by today’s standards. Although not only is that an unfair comparison, it’s also irrelevant, as by time the credits start to roll you know exactly what you need to know – Bond has saved the day, killed the bad guy, and gotten the girl. It’s not a complicated formula, but it doesn’t have to be – it’s exquisite in its simplicity.

Very thankfully, and most unsurprisingly, Dr. No was well worth the watch. Even if you’re not a Bond fan, it’s a classic film which has well-earned that status on merits far higher than just the fact of its age.

By Brett.

Have you seen this film? Do you agree or disagree with Brett’s thoughts on the film? Let us know in the comments.