Words About Bond: Part V

Another week's gone by, and it's time for more of my reviews(with spoilers) of the various James Bond films:

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Words About Bond, 1-3
Words About Bond, 4-6
Words About Bond, 7-9
Words About Bond, 10-12

Bond: Roger Moore
Villain: Hugo Drax
Bond Girl: Dr. Holly Goodhead
Henchman: Jaws(again)

The first time I saw Moonraker as a kid, I thought it was a spoof of the Bond films, though it would be years before I saw an actual parody. In capitalizing on the popularity of Star Wars®, producer Albert R. Broccoli and his team strayed from the spirit of their series. Bond teams up with the beautiful Dr. Goodhead, in fact an undercover CIA agent, to stop the wealthy Hugo Drax and his mad scheme. Drax plans to eliminate the world's population using nerve gas, while relocating to an orbiting space station with perfect pairs of human specimens to create a people under his rule.

Adding to the ridiculousness of the film, Jaws returns, having survived the events of The Spy Who Loved Me. He's treated as comic relief in this film, and after a struggle with Bond and Goodhead on a cable car, he plummets to the ground, surviving a fall from a ridiculous height not for the first time, and meeting a love interest in the process. Later, Jaws turns on Drax when Bond points out that the giant and his petite girlfriend don't meet the standards of Drax' other perfect humans, and would be eliminated once Drax founded his new society.

The film includes troops in space battling with lasers, impressive technology for both sides in the late ‘70s. It would be impressive today. Bond kicks Drax out an airlock, commandeers a shuttle, and destroys the pods of nerve gas before they breach the atmosphere. Jaws and his girlfriend remain on the space station as it plummets, and he toasts her with a bottle of champagne opened with his teeth. Later, a radio broadcast mentions the pair surviving after hitting a small island. Repeating the gag from the end of the previous movie, Bond's superiors once more discover him in a compromising position with the film's leading lady. Q establishes a connection with the shuttle, where the weightless couple are entangled, and notes without looking up at the video feed that Bond is “attempting reentry”. It's fitting that in elementary school I maintained conversations with my friends based on a Cracked comics lampoon; the actual film wasn't all that different.

14For Your Eyes Only
Bond: Roger Moore
Villain: Aristotle Kristatos
Bond Girls: Melina Havelock, Bibi Dahl
Henchman: Emile Locque

After Moonraker, the series returned to basics, even if it recycled concepts from many of the previous films. In For Your Eyes Only, Bond must recover a device from a sunken ship which would allow villains to control and launch nuclear missiles from submarines. He teams with the beautiful crossbow-wielding Melina Havelock after her parents are murdered, and she joins him on a failed diving expedition to retrieve the device.

Bond gets a tip from Kristatos that Milos Columbo is the smuggler responsible for the sinking of the ship and theft of the device, while fending off the advances of Kristatos' too-young skating protégé Bibi Dahl. As it turns out, Columbo is innocent and Kristatos is the real villain. Bond and Columbo team up, and pursue Kristatos' men, including the assassin Locque, responsible for the murder of the Havelocks among others. Fleeing, Locque loses control of his car and winds up teetering on the edge of a cliff. Bond catches up, tosses Locque a dove pin, the assassin's calling card, then kicks the car over the cliff in one of the hero's darker moments.

The climax of the film takes place at Kristatos' mountain hideaway. Bond scales a cliff to reach it, tossing another would-be killer to his death along the way and momentarily scaring Havelock, Columbo, and the rest of his Greek allies who fear it is James who has fallen. Bond and the Greeks make it to the top and retrieve the stolen device, and Columbo kills Kristatos. When British and Russian forces arrive, Bond tosses the device over the cliff so neither side has it.

Perhaps the most historically significant portion of this film occurs before the credits, however. Bond visits the grave of his wife, murdered in On Her Majesty's Secret Service by Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Bond is called away but in transit, his helicopter pilot is electrocuted and a bald man in a wheelchair takes over by remote control. We never see his face, but his signature white cat and general appearance and mannerisms indicate that Blofeld, after escaping justice yet again in Diamonds are Forever, has returned to take out Bond once and for all. Bond climbs outside and into the cockpit, and manages to fiddle with some wires and gain control. The cat flees as Bond hooks the wheelchair under the skids, and he drops his wife's killer down a smokestack, settling the score once and for all.

Bond: Roger Moore
Villains: Kamal Khan, General Orlov
Bond Girl: Octopussy
Henchmen: Mischka and Grischka, Gobinda

Giggle-inducing title aside, Octopussy is actually one of the better Moore films. After agent 009, undercover as a clown, is murdered by a pair of knife-throwers, the faberge egg in his possession is the only clue to a larger smuggling operation. Bond travels to India and quickly agitates Khan and his muscular henchman Gobinda after besting him at a local game in which he is cheating. Khan seems to be working with Octopussy to smuggle jewels, but is in fact helping the soviet General Orlov smuggle a nuclear bomb in order to start a war. Bond allies with Octopussy, and is seemingly devoured by a crocodile, in fact a disguised personal submarine created by Q. 007 makes his way to a train carrying the bomb and beats the knife throwers Mischka and Grischka. Orlov is gunned down by a border patrol in his pursuit of the train to stop Bond.

At a circus in West Germany, disguised as a clown, Bond catches up to and diffuses the bomb with seconds to spare. Octopussy is relieved that James is alive, and her forces storm Khan's home in the film's final battle while Bond and Q arrive in a hot air balloon. Bond winds up battling Gobinda on the wings of a small plane after Khan takes Octopussy hostage, and he succeeds in besting the henchman and saving the girl as the villain is left to crash into a mountain. All in all, not a bad film, and the exotic locales of India gave it a different look from the previous installments. Also of note, if Maud Adams, the title character, seemed familiar, it was because she'd been seen previously playing a different role in The Man with the Golden Gun, as the mistress of the villain Scaramanga.

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Words About Bond will return!



Blogger SwanShadow said...

For Your Eyes Only carries a special significance for me. Aside from being one of the better Moore Bonds (not that that's saying much), it's also the movie my wife and I saw on our first date.

Yes, we had movies in 1981, you smart-aleck kids!

10/30/2006 12:57 PM  

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