The Spy Who Loved Me

The Spy Who Loved MeSynopsis: Nobody does it better than Bond, and he proves it once more in this explosively entertaining adventure that takes him from the Egyptian pyramids to the ocean floor to a gravity-defying mountaintop ski chase! Roger Moore brings inimitable style to Agent 007 as he teams with beautiful Russian agent Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach) to stop the megalomaniac Stromberg (Curt Jurgens) from unleashing a horrific scheme for world domination.

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Welcome to The Critical Eye’s ‘Mission Briefing Version’ commentaries of the James Bond movies.

Via thirteen key categories, over the course of the next few months we will rate and/or comment on each picture in brief. These MBV blurbs will also sometimes feature guest commentators, Bond fans and non-fans alike, thus offering a variety of perspectives on this iconic series.

We hope that you will enjoy TCE’s unique take on the world of 007.

The Spy Who Loved Me

Date of viewing: July 4, 2013

TSWLMOpening credits

The Thorn: 7.0 – I love the slow set-up of the opening segment, which is entirely connected with the rest of the plot – even if  the way that Bond is chased is preposterous (“Comrades, let us not pick off this capitalist pig with a sniper rifle; it isn’t sporting, and Lenin would disapprove. Instead, we shall show the West how good we ski with no poles, while shooting.”). As for the opening credits, well, I guess naked women doing acrobatics and being chased around by Bond didn’t hurt my eyes none.

The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – It’s a typical opening made of various silhouettes of guns and naked girls. However half of the time the girls are doing gymnastics which makes no sense in the context.

The Consultant: 6 – So, traditionally, one is to comment on the pretty ladies at this time. I, however, noticed that Mr. Bond shot the camera while holding his gun with not one, but both hands. Methinks he is now overcompensating for having shot his gun off prematurely last time. The ladies were indeed fine, lots of bouncing. Clearly, bras were optional, if not down right forbidden.

***

TSWLMStory

The Thorn: 7.0 – I like the “megalomaniacal baddie who wants to rule the world” bit, and love that MI6 and the KGB have to collaborate on this mission, but I dislike that its development is wholly lifted from ‘You Only Live Twice’ and that Bond’s partner is supposed to be his match but turns out to be too lame to ever be his equal. As for Stromberg’s plan for world domination? Well, it’s pretty silly, really; it simply doesn’t hold water.

The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – This movie is a remake of “You only live twice”; the story is exactly the same. However, even though the movie does include a lot of special effects and gratuitous action scenes, the story is better presented and developed.

The Consultant: 6 – Attack one nation while letting them believe it was another nation. Well, that works, however, doing it with nuclear missiles is not recommended. The ecosystem is all interrelated. Eventually the marine life Stromberg adores so much would suffer. Seriously, he ought to have asked himself: “What would Captain Planet do”. And he calls himself a World Dominator with a minor in marine biology, pffft.

***

TSWLMBanter

The Thorn: 6.5 – There’s lots of Bond-liners and plenty of exchanges between the characters, but at least half of them were too corny or lame to even be chuckle-friendly. To lift an à propos exchange between Bond and Q: “Q, have I ever let you down?” “Frequently”.

The Horrible Dr. B: 0 – Tiresome.

The Consultant: 6 – Meh, the delivery was smooth, but it seems to lack wit.

***

TSWLMVillains

The Thorn: 6.5 – Stromberg is an okay substitute for Blofeld (the producers couldn’t use the character, nor SPECTRE, because they were both tangled up in a lawsuit), but he comes off as bland, lacking the teeth one would expect from a Bond mastercriminal. Meanwhile, Jaws suffers from having too much teeth and a lame name to boot (Spielberg’s film had just been a monstrous success, you have to understand…); he’s a great comic book villain, à la Dick Tracy, perhaps, but he’s not realistic at all. Um… which I suppose makes him perfect for the Roger Moore era.

The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – Stromberg was an ok villain; his lair and gadgets are his most impressive resources. However, the movie feature the best henchmen: Jaws! He may not be the smartest henchman, but he’s loyal, has gigantic strength and instill fear in his opponents by slowly biting their head off. He’s my first pick to be on my dodge-ball team.

The Consultant: 7 – Stromberg or Blofeld, they seem quite interchangeable. Jaws was something, let me tell you what. He is an unstoppable machine. Even deadly creatures are no match for him. Think of Solomon Grundy pimped out with a gansta grill. The dude was fierce. Too bad that he couldn’t deliver on killing Bond, if there ever was a henchman who could do it, it would have been him.

***

TSWLMBond Girls

The Thorn: 7.5 – Our main Bond Girl is called Agent XXX (haha… geddit?) and she’s okay in a “doe-in-the-headlights” sort of way. Bond also beds a blonde Russian operative, who’s kind of cute but short on screen time. Stromberg, however, has mixed taste in women: on the one hand he has an assistant who looks like a reject from ‘La Cage aux Folles’, and on the other he employs a scrumptious pilot who walks around in a bikini at all times, baring the nicest abdomen this side of the Atlantis. Oddly enough, she’s the only one whose acting chops were tolerable. Then again, perhaps I was slightly distracted…

The Horrible Dr. B: 0 – Major Anya Amasova is cute but has an immature agent name (triple-x) and although she’s an integral part of the movie, she rarely do anything except for following Bond. So in effect, she’s pretty useless. Naomi, Stromberg’s secretary, is one of the sexiest woman of the series; unfortunately we briefly see her, but what a delicious moment.

The Consultant: 6 – XXX was a farce. She really had no skills in getting the microfilm. At the end, just to show how fickle she was, when she’s about to shoot Bond for having killed her boyfriend, she ends getting naked with him. I understand that Bond is fictional, but come on, whatever happened to “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”? Naomi was indeed an interesting piece. What I liked about her was that she was on part with Bond in terms of cockiness. Her helicopter piloting skills are sick! I wonder who taught her to drive a stick like that.

***

TSWLMGadgets

The Thorn: 7.0 – While many of the gadgets play key roles (skipole gun, microfilm reader, stun gas cigarette, telex watch) in Bond’s adventure, Jaws’ teeth is by far the only truly memorable one of the lot. It’s an utterly useless invention, however, in that it requires its user to pin down whatever he/she wants to chomp on and then slowly, for accuracy’s sake, clamp down. Thankfully, Jaws is colossal and has strength to boot, but in any other maw this gadget would lack bite.

The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – Tons. Lamest: Bond’s “label maker fax machine” watch. Best: soporific cigarette that Amasova uses to subdue Bond and steal the microfilms.

The Consultant: 6 – The ticker tape used to mimic the fax Bond received on his watch brought back fond memories of childhood, thank you for that. The cigarette gag was lame though but good on Bond to bring a microfilm reader. The scene where they were testing out the gadgets in the temple didn’t really show anything inspiring.

***

TSWLMVehicles

The Thorn: 8.0 – This picture is bursting with neat-o, if frequently impractical, vehicles: the Lotus Esprit (second greatest Bond car, but wouldn’t actually work), the Liparus supertanker (whose gaping bow is reminiscent of the rocket in ‘You Only Live Twice’), a submarine (an actual, real one!), a jet ski (which Bond somehow assembles in 2 minutes), a helicopter with big guns (two sets, if you know what I mean…), a motorcycle with a bomb sidecar (to give your passenger the ride of their life. Uh… death) , and a camel (cue the James Bond Theme!).

The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – The submarine version of the lotus is really cool (however not believable that its the same vehicle).

The Consultant: 8 – You would think, being out in the desert, they would make their vehicles more durable. A few hits from Jaws and the thing crumples up quicker than a contortionist stricken with a case of diarrhea. The lotus was a sweet looking ride. The fact that it is a convertible is even better (converting into what I wonder…). The Tanker was impressive. People were having a gun fight and threw grenades in the thing and no one was concerned about busting a hole in the hull.

***

TSWLMLocales

The Thorn: 10 – Without a doubt, this Bond movie has some of the most impressive locales and sets of the whole series. There are too many to count, and all of them are as breathtaking or awe-inspiring as the last. This is Bond on the grandest of scales, perhaps never to be outdone (Atlantis, Stromberg’s lair, looks like a ship out of War of the Worlds, for crissakes!). Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if the crappers were lavish too (unfortunately, we’ll never know: they remained off-screen). Ken Adams and the location scouts must have had a blast putting this together. I’d hate to see the bill for all of this, though: it must have been massive (which probably accounts for not having any real actresses on hand – to save money).

The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – This is one of the best aspect of the movie; the movie takes part in gorgeous locations in the Alps, Egypt and Sardinia. The models and interior sets of the tanker and Stromberg’s lair are grandiose.

The Consultant: 9 – Clearly the budget went here. Scenes such as the one in Egypt fight Jaws, and walking down a pier with a real submarine in the background were actually astonishing, given the context of the movie and the era and all.

***

TSWLMStunts

The Thorn: 9.0 – By this point in the series, the James Bond crew had the best stunt people in the world, capable of any challenge. This film doesn’t have anything as amazeballs as in ‘The Man With the Golden Gun’, but there is so much action that the crew must have kept plenty busy. And it’s all done so spectacularly well that it all comes off without a hitch. But then there’s the blue screening, which poorly inserted Roger Moore into the action (“Oh, look at me… I’m skiing, but not moving!”). Le sigh…

The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – There are plenty of actions but nothing that really stands out.

The Consultant: 7 – The opening scene with the ski chase ending with a sky dive off the cliff was pretty epic. Too bad Bond had to be in front of the blue screen.

***

TSWLMSoundtrack

The Thorn: 6.0 – Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does it Better” was a massive hit, and for good reason: it’s a terrific pop song. Pop song, not Bond song. The score is also a departure for the series, in that Marvin Hamlisch (filling in for John Barry) incorporated classical music, the theme from ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and disco. Yes, the “James Bond Theme” gets discofied as “Bond ’77”. It’s actually not as bad as it sounds – especially if you’re wearing your boogie shoes.

The Horrible Dr. B: 0 – Worst soundtrack of the series. Very cartoonish.

The Consultant: 7 – It was nice to see a departure from the norm in terms of score. I definitely recognize the piece leading to the boat just before XXX knocks out Bond. The main song for this flick was not in key with the movie however.

***

TSWLMBest Bond moment

The Thorn: While I mostly enjoyed this film, there isn’t a stand out “Bond moment” for me. I suppose that the whole Lotus Esprit sequence is probably the most notable for me, what with its endless chase as well as the underwater bit. Having said that, the moment that impressed me the most was to watch Bond and the Minister walking on the quay, with a real submarine in the background, keeping pace. What a coup by the filmmakers!

The Horrible Dr. B: There are 2 for me: When Jaws fights Bond in the train; as Jaws is slowly lifting Bond by the neck, we can see how huge Jaws really is: his hand is bigger than Bond face. The second best moment is after being thrown out of the train, Jaws simply stand up and methodically dust himself off and straighten his tie. This makes me laugh: he might be perceived as a brute because of his size and strength but he has as much class and dignity as Bond. Hurrah for Jaws!

The Consultant: There were two for me, but both for the same reason, I jumped in my seat. The first was when Bond was tracking a short chubby henchman and an arm suddenly appears in the scene, knocking Bond’s gun away I think. The other was when Jaws… came out of the closet!

***

TSWLMWorst Bond moment

The Thorn: Without a doubt, Bond and XXX’s romp through the desert with the beat-up van has to be one of the lowest points of the series. Not only was it unnecessary (there was no reason for Jaws to pick the van apart like that), but they had us watch them bump around the dunes to the sounds of humourous music, like something out of cartoon. Did it really have to come to this?

The Horrible Dr. B: Being forced to watch multiple close up shots of Moore kissing. Not a pretty sight.

The Consultant: The 5 times XXX told bond to lookout as he was being chased by cars, helicopters, and mini subs. I mean seriously, did she really think Bond wasn’t aware he was being pursued? After the third time I was expecting Bond to hit her ejection seat.

***

TSWLMOverall impression

The Thorn: 7.0 – After ‘Diamonds Are Forever’, ‘Live and Let Die’ and ‘The Man With the Golden Gun’, this was a nice reprieve for me; ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ is entertaining enough and doesn’t hurt as much as the last few. So I enjoyed it, for what it is. It’s too much like ‘You Only Live Twice’, though, down to the tanker that east ships, but at least it’s not nearly as crummy as that one was. So it’s like a watchable ‘You Only Live Twice’. But with Roger Moore. Who doesn’t turn “Japanese”. And no sock puppet ninjas.

The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – This movie has some good elements (Jaws, Naomi, Lotus, Locales and sets), but is not worth it otherwise; you might as well watch “You only live twice”.

The Consultant: 5 – Well, I can say that I’ve seen it but will I brag about this fact? Not likely.

James Bond will return inFor Your Eyes Only

3 responses to “The Spy Who Loved Me

  1. Pingback: The Man with the Golden Gun | thecriticaleye·

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