No Bond can top the Connery originals

OPINION

The latest James Bond flick is not as good as the first, made 50 years ago, not for my money.

Conclusion: no amount of new movie-making wizardry, slick production or extra millions can make up for the almost indefinable pizazz that made the early Bonds global game-changers.

This is not to shoot down the new film, Skyfall. It's well worth seeing.

I rate the last three, starring Daniel Craig, as second best to the first batch, including Dr No, Goldfinger and Thunderball, just as I rate Craig second best - and this is high praise - to the one and only Bond, Sean Connery.

Craig, however, is a little too dour. Bond should have much more fun than he does. He rarely smiles and there's no twinkle in his eye, even in the bedroom scenes.

But if I can't have Connery, I'll settle for Craig.

Thank goodness the Bond brand survived the trashing dished out by the worst lead of all, the foppish Roger Moore.

Why did we all keep going to see the rubbish he served up? Moore failed because he tried to send the character up. No supercilious grin has been more infuriating, up to and including Peter Costello. I wanted to wring his neck. We all know Bond is a couple of hours of harmless escapism, but he is no laughing matter. He must be taken very seriously indeed.

Judi Dench, surely one of the great actors of our day, has been simply marvellous as M, but again I'm not sure even she outshines the perfectly gruff Bernard Lee.

I'm not happy that she gets killed off in Skyfall - I'm sorry to spoil it but surely you have heard that by now - especially if her replacement Ralph Fiennes won't drop the poncey pronounciation of his name.

No amount of new Qs, including John Cleese, have been a match for the original, and neither have any of the new gadgets, which seem to be getting phased out.

The titles are mostly duds, too. Despite repeated visits to the dictionary, the only word I dig in "Quantum Of Solace" is the two-lettered middle word.

And I doubt if the Moore-era marketeers could have come up with a single title if you banned the words like Kill, Die, Never and Tomorrow.

The girls aren't quite up to the old standard, either, in my eyes.

The music is, but that's because it's so good it has never changed. Skyfall opens, in a real touch of class, with just two notes, the beginning of the unmistakable brass signature theme of the Bond franchise.

The baddies aren't as weirdly, wonderfully bad as they used to be - how do you go past the cat-stroking Blofeld? - and the plots aren't as good.

Some are so vague you are hard-pressed to recall what they were all about. The latest is straightforward - villain hacks into the MI6 computer network and starts uncovering Britain's spies.

But if you really hacked into the nation's most secure network, wouldn't you want to wreak a bit more havoc than that?

What's wrong with a spot of world domination? What about raiding Fort Knox and cornering the world's entire gold bullion market? Oh yes, that's been done.

You won't find any sly product placements, like a green Heineken bottle, in the oldies, either. Or gratuitous shots of Range Rovers.

Enduring classics are those that remain by definition better than all their successors and imitators. Like the Bond originals.

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