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Holy hell, talk about the match-up of weak Bond films. Coming of age during this era of Bond seems a little depressing. Die Another Day had that great Cuba sequence or at least the start of it until Halle Berry and the jackass with diamonds in his face spoil it all, but that still feels like a bitter pill, the deflation of expectations. I had no expectations for Tomorrow Never Dies and though it sucked, it didn't have as much at stake for me personally.
I was disappointed by TND at the time, but I came to see that was mostly because it wasn't "GoldenEye". I've come to actually like it quite a bit, though I still find flaws in it. It's almost creepy how Eliot Carver anticipated Fox News! The first half of DAD is great. I don't think the Cuba sequence is ruined at all. In fact, the film is still strong once they get to London and have that genuinely great sword fight. It isn't until Bond is reinstated and Cleese presents him with the Aston Martin "Vanish" that it stops being a great Bond movie and becomes a mediocre video game.
Wow, I really like Tomorrow Never Dies. There was a time I preferred it to GoldenEye. (I have since seen the error of my ways, but they are my two top-ranked Bond movies.) I really like Pryce's Eliot Carver as a villain, and the strength of Michelle Yeoh's character; it's interesting to have a female character in a Bond movie who can legitimately go toe-to-toe with 007. Anyway, I, too like the opening of Die Another Day, but it's a movie I've spent too much time trying to convince myself it's better than it is. The opening is great, but it gets WAY too Moonraker-ish in the end. Not without its pleasures, it is somewhere in the middle of my 007 rankings.
Funnily enough, screenwriters Neal Purvis & Robert Wade are on record as saying that DAD was intended to parallel "Moonraker", though they were trying to update the Fleming novel more than remake the '79 film (which, itself, got pretty far away from the source material). However much we might all complain about those two, it's worth noting that at the time of their releases, "Moonraker" and "Die Another Day" were each the biggest hits at the box office of the series (not adjusted for inflation).
Which is hilarious. Yet, all you have to do is look at a Transformers movie to see how the masses love over-the-top.
I also have to say that "Moonraker" was the least interesting for me of the Fleming novels. I found it fairly boring, really, and the only interesting thing is that the Bond Girl, Gala Brand, totally gives 007 the cold shoulder and they never actually get together. Both the "Moonraker" film and DAD are improvements.
I genuinely really like Tomorrow Never Dies. It's not like The Man with the Golden Gun or You Only Live Twice, which I do like, but I acknowledge how terrible they actually are. I don't see much wrong with TND, to be honest. In fact, in some ways I prefer it over GoldenEye. The villain is hammy as hell (which I loved) and very memorable, Brosnan as Bond is better than he was in GoldenEye, the score is a massive improvement over GoldenEye's, the action is great, Michelle Yeoh is awesome...what's not to like here? Well, Teri Hatcher, but she doesn't have much screentime. Die Another Day...what went wrong there? Halle Berry aka the worst Bondgirl, laughably bad CGI, a weak villain, an atrocious theme song, weird editing...just wow. Although I will say this: it does have some neat action scenes and it's not boring (and I like it more than TWINE because of this). It's terrible, but I don't think it's the worst Bond.
TND wins for now.
It's been ages since I saw TND, but I can't imagine it being worse than DAD, which is really only memorable for the swordfight and Rosamund Pike IMHO.