From Russia with Love (James Bond #2)

RussiaFrom Russia with Love
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The tremendous success of Dr. No instantly demanded a follow-up leading to Sean Connery returning as James Bond in From Russia with Love a year later. The film, based on another Ian Fleming novel of the same name, continued to create elements that would define Bond film franchise for the next 50 years.

The criminal organization SPECTRE begins the film looking to get its hand on a Soviet cryptographic device, the Lektor, as well as get revenge on James Bond for his actions in Dr. No. Using the plan created by “Number Five” with personnel selected by “Number Three”, Bond is lured to Istanbul with full knowledge that he’s being set up. Followed by both Bulgarian and SPECTRE agents, Bond meets station chief Ali Kerim Bey before heading to his hotel. Afterwards, the SPECTRE agent Donald Grant kills one of the Bulgarians beginning a blood feud between the British and Soviet agents that Bond and Bey have to deal with before meeting with Tatiana Romanova. With Grant providing unknown aid, Bond and Romanova are able to plan and steal the Lektor then aided by Bey they board the Orient Express in an escape planned by Bey. Grant though kills Bey and a Soviet agent then a British agent in Belgrade taking his identity so as to kill Bond and take the Lektor. However, Bond is able to kill Grant then use the SPECTRE agent’s own escape plan to get Romanova and the Lektor to Venice only to face “Number Three” in one last fight to secure both the Lektor and the girl.

Though quickly written and filmed, the plot of From Russia with Love is actually better than its precursor. Though filled with more action than Dr. No, the story is tight and avoids any serious plot holes allowing Connery to expand his characterization of Bond. The film also showcases one of Bond’s most dangerous antagonists in Donald Grant that is played by the excellently cast Robert Shaw, who is probably best known as Quint in Jaws. As stated above, the film added more motifs to the franchise: a pre-title sequence, the Blofeld character (referred to as “Number One”, a secret-weapon gadget for Bond, a postscript action scene after the main climax, and a theme song with lyrics (though this film’s is at the end instead of the beginning like those going forward).

Given the quick time turnaround from the success of Dr. No to when From Russia with Love was released, it is surprising about how good the film is. Though it’s not perfect, it’s a tighter yet action-packed film that continued the slow build-up of the emerging James Bond film franchise. Whether or not you enjoyed Dr. No, From Russia with Love is a better all-around film.

James Bond Film Page

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Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650

ReformationsReformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650 by Carlos M.N. Eire
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Half a millennium after a lone monk began a theological dispute that eventually tore Western Christendom asunder both religiously and politically, does the event known as the Reformation still matter? In his book Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650, Carlos M.N. Eire determined to examine the entire period leading up to and through the epoch of the Reformation. An all-encompassing study for beginners and experts looks to answer that question.

Eire divided his large tome into four parts: On the Edge, Protestants, Catholics, and Consequences. This division helps gives the book both focusing allowing the reader to see the big picture at the same time. The 50-60 years covered in “On the Edge” has Eire go over the strands of theological, political, and culture thoughts and developments that led to Luther’s 95 theses. “Protestants” goes over the Martin Luther’s life then his theological challenge to the Church and then the various versions of Protestantism as well as the political changes that were the result. “Catholics” focused on the Roman Church’s response to the theological challenges laid down by Protestants and how the answers made at the Council of Trent laid the foundations of the modern Catholicism that lasted until the early 1960s. “Consequences” focused on the clashes between the dual Christian theologies in religious, political, and military spheres and how this clash created a divide that other ideas began to challenge Christianity in European thought.

Over the course of almost 760 out of the 920 pages, Eire covers two centuries worth of history in a variety of ways to give the reader a whole picture of this period of history. The final approximately 160 pages are of footnotes, bibliography, and index is for more scholarly readers while not overwhelming beginner readers. This decision along with the division of the text was meant mostly for casual history readers who overcome the prospect of such a huge, heavy book.

Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650 sees Europe’s culture change from its millennium-long medieval identity drastically over the course of two centuries even as Europe starts to affect the rest of the globe. Carlos N.M. Eire authors a magnificently written book that gives anyone who wonders if the Reformation still matters, a very good answer of if they ask the question then yes it still does. So if you’re interested to know why the Reformation matters, this is the book for you.

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Dr. No (James Bond #1)

Dr. NoDr. No
My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The film that launched the James Bond franchise, Dr. No, not only introduced the world to James Bond but also was the breakout role Sean Connery. Based on the sixth novel by Ian Fleming of the same name, this film created the motifs that would last throughout the franchise.

In brief, the plot of the film follows James Bond as he looks into the disappearance of the MI6 resident in Jamaica and his secretary, who were seen getting murdered at the beginning of the film. Upon his arrival on the island, Bond is followed by several agents of the titular Dr. No and Felix Leiter, a CIA agent working with the missing MI6 agent to investigate mysterious radio interference with NASA rockets. Through various clues, Bond realizes one of the last men to see his missing colleague in the employ of Dr. No and hid the fact that samples the MI6 agent asked for analysis were radioactive. Bond slips onto the Dr. No’s private island and finding Honey Ryder collecting seashells. Captured by the island’s security, Bond and No verbally square off before the Doctor has enough and has Bond put in a cell. Escaping the cell, Bond infiltrates No’s control center that contained a nuclear reactor that he overloads then throws No into the reactor pool. Finding Ryder, Bond escapes the island and is found by Leiter onboard a Royal Navy ship.

The film’s plot is serviceable though nothing spectacular. Yet, what makes the film click and smooth over the rough edges of the plot is Connery. Although today it’s cliché that Connery and Bond are synonymous, but honestly if any other actor were to have been on screen or delivered lines than it just feels that the faults of the plot would have become more glaring. The action sequences and some very good shots, especially in the relation to No’s ‘Three Blind Mice’ assassins in background shots following Bond in several scenes helped give the film some added tension. As I stated several motifs associated with the Bond franchise first appeared, namely the gun barrel opening, the stylized main title sequence, and the Bond’s signature introduction; but luckily the gadget motif that became fantastically elaborate as the franchise progressed was nowhere to be seen.

Honestly, I had a hard time on how to rate this Dr. No. It isn’t perfect and has some plot holes, most importantly how does a nuclear reactor play into radio jamming of rockets, so it would not be a 5-star film but because of its success it spawned a franchise that has spanned 24 films over 55 years it had to be better than 2 ½. And unlike Gojira, there was no nuance that could make up for the film’s faults. So I feel that 3 ½ is a good rating for the first Bond film given it’s imperfects and its influential significance.

James Bond Film Page

Series Tab

Hi everyone,

I’m still reading away at Carlos M.N. Eire’s Reformations, but I’ve decided to keep my blog active with a new “feature”. So with that in mind I happy to announce that I’ve created a new tab on my menu headline entitled Series.

This tab goes to a page listing 14 series of books, films, and television that I’ve begun reviewing. All 14 series listed are linked to their own individual pages that lists everything connected with that series, if I’ve reviewed anything on that list then it’s linked to the review. Think of the Series tab as a quick way to search my blog for everything related to a particular, well, series than going through the tags.

This is only the first phase of my organizing efforts on the blog as I’ll be linking the reviews to one another and the series’ page, eventually.

Until my next review or another general post.

2017 Reading Plan (October Update)

Hello everyone,

October is past and so are six more books on my reading list, giving me a total of 52 for the year. This is the fourth straight year that I’ve reached the half-century mark in books read! Honestly I didn’t know if I would even approach this many books after how slow I started in January & February, but after deciding to read short “tame” or “religious” books on Friday nights & Saturdays things quickly changed. I still have 12 books from my original list that I haven’t gotten to and chances are that at least 11 of them I won’t read this year.

My “plan” for the rest of the year is to finish Eire’s Reformations, which I think will take a good chunk of November given it’s length and how many pages I’m reading per day so far. Next will be Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance, the 2nd book of The Stormlight Archives series, which I purchased earlier in October (along with many other books). The other two books I plan to read is They Came for Freedom by Jay Milbrandt, a birthday gift from my Aunt, and rereading Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time. I might attempt to get in a book from the 12 below the —, but it’ll all depend.

This past month my blog had it’s most views ever for a month, with a total of 177, which breaks the record set just in August and the 6th time this year alone. So thanks to everyone who’s has been following my blog, I appreciate it and don’t be shy in leaving comments.

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavendra
The Acts of the Apostles by Ellen G. White*
Centuries of Change by Ian Mortimer
Dangerous Women 1 edited by George R.R. Martin (The Princess and the Queen)
The Great Controversy by Ellen G. White*
In Search of the Golden Rainbow by Charles Armistead*
Lighter of Gospel Fires by Ella M. Robinson*
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 2 by Edward Gibbon
A Bold One for God by Charles G. Edwards*
Scars of Independence by Holger Hoock
Blood Stain (Volume Two) by Linda Sejic*
Herald of the Midnight Cry by Paul A. Gordon*
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (Discworld #28) by Terry Pratchett
Home to Our Valleys! by Walter Utt*
Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea (Hinges #4) by Thomas Cahill- REREAD
Prairie Boy by Harry Baerg*
Blood Brothers by Philip Samaan*
The Millennium Bug by Jon Paulien*- REREAD
The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson*
National Sunday Law by A. Jan Marcussen*
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 3 by Edward Gibbon
The New World Order by Russell Burrill*
The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Sabbath Roots by Charles E. Bradford*-REREAD
Night Watch (Discworld #29) by Terry Pratchett
The Antichrist and the New World Order by Marvin Moore*
Rogues edited by George R.R. Martin (The Rogue Prince)
Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck
The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer
Tell It to the World by Mervyn Maxwell*
The Wee Free Men (Discworld #30) by Terry Pratchett
Mysteries of the Middle Ages (Hinges #5) by Thomas Cahill- REREAD
Heretics and Heroes (Hinges #6) by Thomas Cahill
Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales and Poems
Spy Schools by Daniel Golden
Monstrous Regiment (Discworld #31) by Terry Pratchett
The 12th Planet (Earth Chronicles #1) by Zecharia Sitchin- REREAD
Daniel and the Revelation by Uriah Smith*
Christianity by Roland H. Bainton
The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela
A Hat Full of Sky (Discworld #32) by Terry Pratchett
Op-Center (Op-Center #1) by Jeff Roven- REREAD
The Republic by Plato
Gilgamesh
500 Years of Protest and Liberty by Nicholas P. Miller*
Going Postal (Discworld #33) by Terry Pratchett
Renegade: Martin Luther, the Graphic Biography by Andrea Grosso Ciponte & Dacia Palmerino*
William Shakespeare’s The Force Doth Awaken by Ian Doescher*
The Stairway to Heaven (Earth Chronicles #2) by Zecharia Sitchin- REREAD
Blood Stain (Volume Three) by Linda Sejic*
The Division of Christendom by Hans J. Hillerbrand
Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650 by Carlos M.N. Eire
Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2) by Brandon Sanderson
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey- REREAD
They Came for Freedom by Jay Milbrandt

Evita: The Real Life of Eva Peron by Nicholas Fraser
Beowulf
Thud! (Discworld #34) by Terry Pratchett
Mirror Image (Op-Center #2) by Jeff Rovin- REREAD
A Brief History of Seventh-day Adventists by George R. Knight
Foundation (Foundation #1) by Isaac Asimov
Wintersmith (Discowrld #35) by Terry Pratchett
The Wars of Gods and Men (Earth Chronicles #3) by Zecharia Sitchin- REREAD
Politics by Aristotle
Foundation and Empire (Foundation #2) by Isaac Asimov
Making Money (Discworld #36) by Terry Pratchett
Games of State (Op-Center #3) by Jeff Rovin- REREAD

* = home read