Collectively, GoldenEye is probably Arcade Attack’s favourite Bond film, it doesn’t hurt that it’s one of our favourite 64-bit games either! Who better to chat about the film, game and Bond in general with than creator of the popular GoldenEye Dossier blog, Nicolas Suszczyk!
You can follow him and his GoldenEye escapades on Twitter here.
To say he’s a Bond fan is a bit of an understatement, I think the featured image says it all…
Nicolas, you are arguably GoldenEye and James Bond’s biggest fan. Can you recall how you first fell in love with the 007 films and which was the first JB movie you ever saw?
It was between December 1997 and January 1998. By then, Tomorrow Never Dies was about to be released in Argentina, GoldenEye was having its cable TV premiere and the N64 game of that film was already as successful and popular as Super Mario 64. My first movie was, indeed, GoldenEye. I had known the game and played it on a couple of times whenever there were kids at toy stores and the manager allowed them to try a couple of games. Shortly afterwards, I saw a huge billboard of Pierce Brosnan wearing a tuxedo and posing with the Walther PPK handgun. I related that image to the game and found out that this great game I tried came from a movie, so I was looking forward to watch it since it was being shown on TV. Then I watched Tomorrow Never Dies on the big screen with my dad and I started renting or buying the old ones in VHS, starting with The Man With The Golden Gun, Live And Let Die and Moonraker in that order.
James Bond has been one of the most successful film franchises of all time. What to do you think makes the films and characters so popular even today?
It’s the essence of the character. There were different approaches to his portrayal given by six actors in nearly 60 years, some were closer to what Ian Fleming wrote in the novels and some were more “action hero” types following the mandate of producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. However, all the films reflected in a way or another the exotic life, which is what Fleming wrote about. In the end, the books of Fleming have elements of espionage but they are more inclined to adventure and living an exotic life: everything is bigger and greater. A first novel called Casino Royale: that immediately puts you in a place of luxury, glamour and richness and appeals to a huge male fantasy which is gambling hard. In fact, this hero has to beat the villain on a casino table. Then the action develops and it is in the second novel Live And Let Die where the literary character deviates into a globe-trotting adventure. I think the producers didn’t adapt the Fleming books verbatim, but they understood what was Bond about and adapted that idea into a different era taking into account some of the trends. Many times it is discussed if Bond should be rebooted and adapted into the 1960s. They did that with the current novels, but I don’t think it’s a good idea for the films, mainly because the franchise has showed that Bond is relevant now and is not an hero for the 1950s or the 1960s, but a man for all seasons. That was the whole idea behind GoldenEye, showing people that this character could work in the 1990s with some slight adjustments. Same happened with the 2006 adaptation of Casino Royale: the soul of a 1953 novel placed into the 21st century, with Bond having to beat the villain on a card table in an European casino. They had to add a lot more of action after and before the big game to make it cinematic, but the huge success of that film showed that what Fleming wrote has a relevance in these times.
What made you start the successful GoldenEye Dossier blog and what were your goals when starting this blog?
I based The GoldenEye Dossier on a couple of Bond sites dedicated to particular films like Thunderball and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. People who had bought a lot of DVD and VHS editions of those movies as well as posters and other stuff and explained why they loved those out of the rest. I tought GoldenEye deserved the same, plus it was not only an iconic film, it was also an iconic game which is highly regarded in the gaming community. My goals were to show the world that the film was loved. Of course, I knew it was loved, but I wanted to gather all the fans and make an enduring tribute to the movie that it was kind of the Goldfinger of the 1990s babies.
Which is your favourite and least favourite James Bond film and can you explain why?
My favourite is, of course, GoldenEye. James Bond exists now thanks to this movie, I don’t know if Tomorrow Never Dies or The World Is Not Enough, even with Pierce Brosnan, would have saved the franchise. GoldenEye was a bridge between the old-school Bond and a more millennium-influenced Bond. It was the last one where we have seen Russian politics involved and 007 shooting down those olive-uniformed soldiers with the red stars in their berets, it was also the first one to introduce the Internet and more modern gadgets. We needed GoldenEye to accept the following Bond films of Brosnan and Daniel Craig.
As for my least favourite, I have to say Quantum of Solace (we agree! – Ed). Lately, I’ve been rewatching it and it is entertaining and has a great soundtrack. But there’s something unstylish about it, the action sequences rely heavily on Dan Bradley, the second unit director who worked in the Jason Bourne films, and they feel careless and untidy. There are points where director Marc Forster wants to be exaggeratedly auteurish. I was glad Skyfall brought back some of the old style of Bond, but I also wanted they had given the villain a bigger ambition than just killing an old lady.
GoldenEye is a true Arcade Attack favourite, both film and games-wise. When did you first play this N64 classic title and what were your initial thoughts?
The first time I played it I was in a toy store, with a lot of kids giving a try at the first level. Then after watching the movie my dad rented the console and the game and we spent hours on the multiplayer mode or trying to beat the levels. Back then, Facility was hard to beat for me, even on Agent difficulty. I remember I always cherished every time my dad rented me the N64 with the GoldenEye. He even one day skipped to pay a bill just to give me the pleasure of renting the game!
Do you think there is room for a fully remastered version of GoldenEye for modern consoles?
Yes there is! In fact, my friends Ben Colclough and Yannick Zenhäusern are already working on a freeware single player PC mod based on Unreal set for a 2022 release. It’s called GoldenEye 25 (facebook.com/goldeneye25). As for an official version, I think that’ll be complicated because there are too many rights involved and no-one fully owns the material, but I’m glad the game has inspired so many fans to take on 3D design and game development to try and find a way to make this 1997 classic be relevant into the modern game, as it happened with GoldenEye: Source.
Many actors have played James Bond, can you rank your best to worst James Bonds and briefly explain why?
I’ll start saying that naming a best or worst Bond is indeed a passionate answer, because, quite simply, it’s hard to rationally say what are the standards to say if a Bond was good or bad.
Everyone has been accepted and loved. You could argue that Timothy Dalton was the closest to Ian Fleming’s idea, yet he wasn’t extremely popular back then and is been vindicated now, The same occured with George Lazenby who starred on a single film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In the case of Roger Moore, he was far from Fleming but he played the role in the 1970s and 1980s so he has a huge fanbase.
In my case, I say my best Bond is Pierce Brosnan: he had the unique ability of balancing the best qualities of his predecessors and also add something of his own. His Bond could fall in love and get emotionally involved with a woman he had to protect, he could face the betrayal of a friend, he was protective… but he could be deadly and blast an enemy with a single blow. He even shot in cold-blood a woman he loved when she double-crosses him, then he caressed her body in a slight act of regret, which gave him an human side. Brosnan was a fantastic James Bond, sadly overlooked in the past years.
As for the “worst”, I’ll have to say maybe George Lazenby needed a couple of films to show more of himself in the role and that Timothy Dalton, unlike Daniel Craig, needed to relax a little and feel more natural in the few comic moments of his two films. But It’d be unfair to call them the “worst”, they just didn’t attract me as much as the others. There’s also the common place of calling Sean Connery the best Bond ever, and I adore him of course, but I have to say that if in 1998 I watched Goldfinger or Thunderball I wouldn’t have been hooked on James Bond at all. So I do think the Connery Bond is too much stuck into the 1960s. I needed the Brosnan films to love the old ones, and I doubt I would have liked the old Bonds first if it wasn’t for Brosnan or GoldenEye.
Can you share with our readers your favourite James Bond fact below?
I have a couple from GoldenEye: some communist factions in India protested at the main title sequence where scantly-clad ladies were throwing down Soviet iconography, also during the chase between the Aston Martin DB5 and Ferrari, the hand of Bond pulling the handbrake was the one of Christopher Brosnan doubling for his father, who had surgery after a domestic accident.
Also, GoldenEye was the most successful film in the box office since 1979’s Moonraker and the title has had many uses in the Bond universe: Ian Fleming’s house in Jamaica, a 1989 telefilm based on the life of Ian Fleming starring Charles Dance, the Bond film, and its video game adaptation which derivated into a spin-off and a remake in 2004 and 2010.
If you could share a few drinks with any James Bond character from any film who would you choose and why?
I guess it’ll have to be Xenia Onatopp. She’s incredibly sexy and beautiful! Other than that, who else would I like to meet except for James Bond himself? I mean, had he existed in real life, it would have been fascinating to see what does he thinks of today’s world and of the different adaptations of his adventures. There’s even a book written by Ian Fleming’s biographer John Person titled The Authorized Biography of 007, where the author has a fictional encounter with James Bond and he gives his toughts on the popularity given to that “image” the books have made of him. It’s a slow book for today’s standards, I admit I haven’t finished it, but the whole idea is interesting.