We continue our look at one of 2012’s biggest and most anticipated Blu-ray sets… Bond 50.
The set celebrates fifty years of Bond with special feature-filled Blu-rays for each film, and while most have already seen HD releases the collection also includes Blu debuts of You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds are Forever, The Spy Who Loved Me, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, The Living Daylights, Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies.
The box-set breaks the 22 films into two halves, twelve from 1962-1981 and ten from 1983-2012, each in their own sturdy book. Due to the sheer volume of material this Disc Spotlight will be broken into two halves as well. Keep reading for a look at 1983’s Octopussy through 2008’s Quantum of Solace, and go here for part one covering 1962’s Dr. No through 1981’s For Your Eyes Only.
Villain – 3, Girls – 3, Gadgets – 3, Action – 5
“Having trouble keeping it up Q?”
Bond (Moore) uncovers an international jewel smuggling effort when a fellow agent is killed, and he traces the ring back to a woman named Octopussy. Ahem. Further spelunking on Bond’s part leads to the discovery of an impending nuclear attack against NATO forces.
The brief respite of For Your Eyes Only ends here as Moore’s final entries return to the bottom of the barrel. The problems here are numerous and only start with the lead female’s name. Puns are one thing, but names like Octopussy mean ones like Candy Beaver can’t be far behind. It leaves witty far behind in favor of bold, bald humor. The action here is okay as should be expected from director John Glen, and scenes like the taxi chase and train fight stand out as entertaining. But the rest of the film is just too dull, and in the case of the chick army, it’s also too silly. The one good thing to come out of this entry was the Matchbox toy I had as a kid that included the car and horse wagon with the hidden mini-jet plane inside. Good times.
A View to a Kill (1985)
Villain – 5, Girls – 5, Gadgets – 4, Action – 4
“The bubbles tickle my… Tchaikovsky!”
With the world apparently completely at peace MI6 gets involved in an investigation into horse-racing fraud. As luck would have it though the man (Christopher Walken) behind the scheme is also planning to create a microchip monopoly by causing massive physical damage to Silicon Valley.
The elements that work best here can be directly attributed to director John Glen, but as with his previous two efforts he’s also to blame for everything else. The action under his tenure continues to impress including most notably an opening ski setpiece and stunt that would be copied more than once in other films. The rest of the action isn’t so lucky though including a fire truck chase through San Francisco that is poorly conceived and executed. Walken is always fun even as he plays it big from beginning to end, and Grace Jones makes for a semi-interesting sidekick… but assassination by butterfly lure on a fishing pole? If nothing else though the movie is notable for being Dolph Lundgren‘s film debut.
The Living Daylights (1987)
Villain – 4, Girls – 4, Gadgets – 5, Action – 4
“It’s something we’re making for the Americans. It’s called a ghetto blaster.”
Fed up with cases involving Faberge Eggs and stallions, James Bond (Timothy Dalton) is pleased to be assigned a case involving an arms dealer bent on supplying and starting another world war. The mission begins when an assassin takes out an MI6 agent during training with the implication that the rest of the agency is also being targeted. Bond heads to Eastern Europe and beyond to stop the red menace once more.
Dalton’s first go at the Bond franchise feels a little smaller and a little darker than previous films, the Moore years in particular, but the intimate setting works to the actor’s less flamboyant advantage. John Glen returns as director, but even with the famed 2nd unit director calling the shots the action scenes here suffer from the same minimized fate. They’re smaller and less effective.
Licence to Kill (1989)
Villain – 7, Girls – 7, Gadgets – 4, Action – 6
Bond’s CIA opposite, Felix Leiter, is brutalized on his wedding day, and 007 walks away from MI6 intent on revenge. The drug lord behind the attack is a far more aggressive and cruel villain than Bond has faced before. Granted, that doesn’t stop him from planning elaborate deaths involving sharks when a bullet to the head would have done the trick far more reliably, but whatever.
Director John Glen and star Timothy Dalton both end their Bond run here, and while Dalton’s films are regularly looked down upon they should both be proud of their accomplishment. Not only does Christopher Nolan owe the opening to The Dark Knight Rises to this film’s mile high plane snatch, but the Daniel Craig films borrowed the film’s tone as well. The violence is darker and more permanent, the female lead (Cary Lowell) is beautiful and capable, and the action is grounded while still managing to be exciting and bloody. It’s a fantastic entry in the series that deserves a re-evaluation.
Villain – 6, Girls – 6, Gadgets – 5, Action – 7
“Ready to save the world again?”
A Russian research center is attacked, and James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) teams up with the lone survivor to stop the bad guys from accomplishing their goal of stealing a nuclear space weapon. Bond’s mission reveals a surprising face behind the threat in a fellow agent (Sean Bean) believed to have died years prior while the two were on assignment together.
Brosnan’s debut is considered by many to be the very breath of life the series needed, and thanks for that most likely goes to the sharp direction of Martin Campbell. The pre-credits scene features some strong stunt work (and a terribly obvious double for Brosnan’s first running scene), and there’s a spectacular chase involving a giant Russian tank that is a thrill to watch. This is also the debut of Judy Dench‘s M, and she immediately makes the role her own. The weakest element by far here is the terrible score that mistakes electronica for actual music that someone watching a Bond film would like to hear.