Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"50 Years of Bond" Retrospective - #13: Octopussy

Roger Moore’s downfall had begun with the release of For Your Eyes Only, and over time, the reception of every new release would only get worse, and worse. The second step of the downfall came two years later in Octopussy, a confusing and downright dry exercise in Bond filmmaking. The Roger Moore films always had a knack at being downright absurd, which either hurt or helped the movie’s case, depending on how it was used. Octopussy isn’t always so absurd, but it does have its moments, but that’s not why it’s so bad. It isn’t just ridiculous, it’s boring, which you could argue is even worse.

Thankfully, the opening action sequence isn’t disastrous as the last movie, but after that, the film goes down the tube fast, which sees Bond taking over a mission from fallen agent 009… who for whatever reason was dressed up as a clown, but I digress. Anyway, we follow Bond investigating criminals specializing in collecting Russan relics. What he eventually finds out is that these criminals intend to unleash a nuclear attack against Europe because… I don’t know. BECAUSE THEY CAN!

Remember how I said I could barely follow For Your Eyes Only? I don’t think I at all could get what was going on here. Maybe it had to do with the sloppy script, or maybe it had to do with my short attention span. Maybe it’s the latter, but in my defense, the movie is not very good at holding your attention. The pacing lacks any discipline, and once again, John Glen just proves why he was not qualified to handle such a huge franchise as this.

However, in the movie’s defense, it is one of the prettiest to look at. It definitely captures that lovely native essence. The screenwriters always seem to be playing mad-libs whenever they decide to send Bond to a new location, and they just happened to pick India. That’s actually pretty neat. It gives them a chance to show off the culture, and allows us to just marvel at the locales, especially in the establishing shots of towns. However, not much effort is put anywhere else.

Once again, Roger Moore is just lacking any presence. God help him, I’m sure he’s trying, but he really needed better material. He feels desperately aimless, and that same charm that made him work once is just gone. The Bond girls in this movie are about as wooden as a ruler, and the motivations and performances of the villain are just so tasteless. It’s true that the characters in Bond aren’t ever particularly deep, but that doesn’t mean they have to be so bland either.

As for the music, I don’t remember a note. The action is pretty underwhelming, aside from one plane sequence that wreaked havoc with my vertigo. The once great, delightful charms of Bond had all but vanished for this series. Something needed to give, and fast. However, no one could have prepared for the devastation that was to come afterward, which many would agree was the final nail in the coffin for this era of Bond. As for this one, I cannot, for any reason, recommend it someone. I wouldn’t recommend it to a dog. I guess I have nothing left to say than it’s definitely a skip.

*1/2 / *****

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