Tuesday 23 August 2011

Tremble as you sleep, villains in the Valley of Night Fog!

Still watching my way chronologically through the Bond series, and of You Only Live twice I have vague memories of the film igniting a fascination with Japan that still endures, and Kissy Suzuki is one hot tamale. I love how Bond undergoes advanced Japanese surgical techniques to make him look Japanese and at the end comes out looking exactly the same except for a bowl haircut. Also, from this point in the series, Bond is officially a ninja.
On Her majesty's Secret Service - my main issue with this is only that it's too long. It's a bit Austin Powers in Bond's dress and he seems to have achieved a lot of fame for a "secret" agent, but there's a great bobsleigh chase - because obviously if you have to escape a mountain a bobsleigh is your first choice of vehicle - and Diana Rigg is good, especially when she's threatened by a nameless thug and tries to slice his face off with a broken bottle before pulling him through a wall, or when she looks less than bothered to have driven her car into a stock car race. Neat pre-credits sequence, too.
Diamonds Are Forever - upping the slapstick a bit too much, there's also no getting away from the odd plot point of Bond working in the interests of South African diamond miners circa the mid-70s. A couple of potentially great setpieces (Bambi/Thumper and the oil rig assault) are wasted with pedestrian direction and editing. Nice Moon Buggy chase.
Live and Let Die - great for all the wrong reasons, especially Bond smoking a cigar while hang gliding and lines like "great disguise you got there - a white face in Harlem" and "I saw those cards on the way up - spades, James." not helping things. It's also pretty low-tech until about fifteen minutes from the end when Bond just stumbles into a secret underground base complete with shark tank and bullet train. And "Pimpmobile" is an actual make of car according to the CIA. Which is fantastic.
The Man With The Golden Gun - Christopher Lee! My only memory of this one is of the little person Nick Nack, the breathtaking scenery of "China" - which is apparently actually Thailand - and Christopher Lee voicing Scaramanga in the game Goldeneye: Rogue Agent as a dark alternate to Q, providing your anti-Bond super-assassin with his fancy gadgets so he can track down and kill Pussy Galore and Dr No and the like for SPECTRE. The film is a little different from the usual Bond as it's basically about him versus the world's greatest assassin, and although there's some international intrigue shoehorned in with a super-efficient solar conversion cell that will change the world somehow, I didn't like it much despite all the good stuff like Britt Ekland looking great, a pretty good car stunt and Bond fighting a little person as it's basically a couple of great moments in a still-overlong outing.
The Spy Who Loved Me - held up as the greatest film of all time by Alan Partridge, this is probably not that. It features some pretty memorable moments like the first appearance of Jaws and a car so fantastic it could only be better if it was a robot and made of money, but from here things get a bit outrageous for the franchise for better or worse. Great model work (remember that before CGI came along?) and a daffy plot that seems more at home in a pastiche of Bond than in an actual Bond film make for a memorable outing, though.
Moonraker takes things to illogical heights with US marines making an assault on an orbital space station, but I remember this being up there with Star Wars when I were a nipper - then I remember that I wasn't really that into Star Wars and this is no recommendation at all. Still good fun, but Bond driving a hovercraft gondola around Venice complete with funny-noises double-takes from disbelieving pigeons is a bit too far into parody territory even if Moore admirably plays the whole thing deadly serious. The villain is a bit boring and the whole thing is far too long for my liking, but as badly dated sci-fi matinees go this one's still pretty watchable.

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