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The 20th and final entry in the classic Bond universe was, sad to say, something of a disappointment. Oh, it made plenty of money to be sure, but it was not nearly as well received as some of its predecessors. The plot is fairly standard by this point: James Bond must save the world from the power-hungry son of a North Korean general, who has harnessed the power of the sun to conquer the world (ok so I’m oversimplifying the plot somewhat, but it’s fairly accurate too if you’ve seen the movie). The trick is, there’s a big twist regarding the villain, and if the movie had been made today, I’m sure there would have been accusations of “whitewashing” the character (because that’s literally what happens, then again, there may very well have been accusations made in 2002 and I just didn’t notice (I was only in middle school at the time)).
There was a lot of anticipation involving Die Another Day, for several reasons:
- Die Another Day was the 20th entry in the James Bond franchise
- 2002 marked 40 years since Dr. No was released
For both of those reasons, people expected a lot from this latest film in the series. But before the movie was released…September 11, 2001 happened. This major terrorist attack produced a sharp change in how audiences perceived villains doing acts of terrorism (however fictional they may be). The problem? Well, according to some, the producers of Die Another Day failed to adapt the story to the changing climate of the times, and instead produced a story that basically took place in a world where 9/11 had not happened (it tried to carry the same tone as The World is Not Enough (1999)). However, the audience no longer wanted to see this kind of story, and so it fell flat in a lot of places.
And that wasn’t all, a growing criticism had been that, once again, the Bond series was relying far too heavily on gadgets instead of building a proper story (several Moore films had received the same criticism).
Now musically, things are not much better. For the third straight time, the score was composed by David Arnold. For this film, he included several cues that were originally created for The World is Not Enough. Notably, he includes “Renard’s theme” and “Christmas in Turkey.”
Then there’s the title song itself….for the first time since Dr. No, the title sequence directly reflects the plot of the film (usually this sequence has no bearing on the film’s story). In this film however, the title sequence reflects Bond being tortured by North Koreans for 14 months (with the opening sequence explaining how he got into that mess). The song itself is performed by Madonna, who believe it or not has a cameo in the film as a fencing instructor.
Reviews of the song were…mixed…to say the very least. While it WAS nominate for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song, it was also nominated for a Golden Raspberry for Worst Original Song (in the same year!!!) Madonna also WON a Golden Raspberry for Worst Supporting Actress (relating to her cameo in the film).
I remember really wanting to go see this movie in the theater, but my parents deemed me too young still. Thankfully, that changed with the next film, Casino Royale. In fact, everything changes with Casino Royale, so I’ll pick up there next week! (I can’t believe we’ve finally made it to the Daniel Craig era!!)
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