Note: Welcome to the first of many James Bond film reviews. Here's the deal: I'm not going to review these like some of my other films. Its hard to do so because I love these films with more than a normal sense that a person should. So what I'm going to do is rank the film in categories and rate each category. The overall rating is at the top but I'm going to give each 'Bond Category' it's own ranking. It keeps the review from getting too jumbled with my rambles. Okay then, lets start this bad boy rolling.
Being the first James Bond film, "Dr. No" does have a sense of keeping to the novels it was based on and limiting itself in many ways. Before the days of ridiculous gadgets and world location jumping, this film seems far more humble than the rest. Of course, it works to its benefit more often than not and comes across as a great way to start the franchise. This makes "Dr. No" not only a great place to start for new Bond fans, but allows it to be a tidbit more realistic.
STORYLINE: This mission has Bond going down to Jamaica to investigate another missing agent. He discovers that there are funny doings on the island that all trace back to the mysterious Dr. No. He teams up with CIA agent Felix Leiter and a local, Quarrel, to get to the bottom of a murderous plot to hijack American missiles.
PLOT 4/5: Of course, as I mentioned, "Dr. No" is one of the more realistic Bond films out there. It is almost more like a detective story at times than an all out action flick. We get to see how Bond works and thinks on more intimate levels showing us how he pieces together the clues and comes about to conclusions. It's a slow moving piece that really builds on Bond's instincts and intellects than it does his quick draw or wittiness. Of course it does have its over the top moments, Dr. No's mechanical hands for one or even the idea of an underwater nuclear power plant that no one seems to notice.
BOND 5/5: This is the first time Bond is portrayed by the ever suave Sean Connery. He does the film quite a bit of justice and balances the suave and the cold mechanical quite well. At times his quirky remarks don't quite work (the humor seems almost out of character for a more subtle Bond) but Connery has the look and aura of a great Bond. I do appreciate the ballsyness of this Bond - the scene with Bond and Dr. No at the dinner table and his eagerness to fuck with Dr. No's ego for example - and it lends a nice layer to the character.
VILLAIN 4/5: Dr. No is the villain of this one, if you haven't already gathered and his is a pretty nasty one. Granted, he doesn't actually show himself until the final act they do give the villain this air of untouchable power throughout the film that creates great atmosphere. When No talks to Prof Dent through an empty room with a speaker comes to mind for this. When he does show he has this wonderful sense of elegance and pure evil to him with his cut white clothes and black mechanical hands and almost ageless face. Almost as if he isn't a human combatant at all but this idea. This is added to when he mentions being a member of SPECTRE (which is only touched upon here) and in a grander scheme of pure evil.
BOND GIRL 3/5: With one of the most memorable Bond girl entrances in film history, Honey Ryder appears out of the ocean towards the end of the second act, which is odd since it is so late in the film. It's almost hard to call her a Bond girl due to this fact, but ideally, she fits more than any of the other women in the film. She is mostly a 2D character in this film (as with most women in this film) only given one scene with Bond that gives her any depth. She does have a charm in her simplicity, but she also seems pretty eager to follow this random man out of the blue. Perhaps its his charm.
Overall, "Dr. No" is a fantastic piece of culture history and a solid film after that. The plot is really the highlight here that is made even more impressive with Bond at one of his most serious moments in film and a very mysterious and scary villain. I like the more simple and detective approach to the film even if the ending gets pretty ridiculous. I'm pretty sure its not okay to just unleash nuclear explosions off the coast of Jamaica without some sort of backlash. Oh well. This is the start of a wonderful friendship with Bond and his fans.
Written By Matt Reifschneider
This rough-edged first outing for James Bond 007 may have been aced by a few of the later films, but as a stand-alone film there is still nothing quite like it.