Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Ten Statements About....OCTOPUSSY (1983)

Yes, he's dressed like a clown...but the scene is actually
quite tense...
"Mr. Bond indeed is a rare breed...soon to be made extinct."

1) As if overcompensating for the soberness of For Your Eyes Only , this film sees the return of the broad Roger Moore humor.  It can be difficult to see past the double-taking camels, swamis complaining about people lying on their bed of nails, Tarzan yells and other annoying gags...especially the seeming endless stream of lame puns coming directly from Moore’s mouth.  That being said...

2) We still get hints of the Bond we could have gotten if Moore had taken things seriously.  There is one moment in particular, involving a circus and a bomb, where Moore conveys some real emotion.

3) One of the clever things about casting Maud Adams as...*ahem*...Octopussy is that, because she is a mature woman, Moore’s advancing age is not an issue.  As such, the romantic moments aren’t as creepy as they could have been (and as they’re going to get soon).

4) As for the other Bond girl, Kristina Waybourne is an odd personage as Magda--and not just
Somehow, this version of Charlie's Angels didn't catch on...
because she looks very striking from one angle and frighteningly weird from another--because there’s no clear sense of her loyalties.  Supposedly she’s part of Octopussy’s organization, yet she behaves as if she is Louis Jordan’s Kamal Khan’s right hand doxy.  The script needed to take a more forceful stand on her.

5) Wait a minute...a Roger Moore Bond film that actually has some connection to an actual Bond story?  Say it ain’t so!

Well, I can’t.  I find it satisfying that the story the title is derived from is summarized at one point and connected to the film, making it a sequel to the Fleming short.

6) Much like Hugo Drax in Moonraker  Louis Jordan underplays Kamal Khan.  Unlike Drax, however, it works for him.  There’s an icy sort of self-assuredness to Jordan’s presence that makes him an effective Bond villain.
That weird-looking girl is looking over my shoulder again,
isn't she?

7) Steve Berkoff, a New York stage actor, is certainly...vigorous as General Orlov.  This serves to balance out Khan, but also provides the sort of playing-to-the-rafters grandiosity that is expected of a Bond film.

8) Go away, crocodile sub.  Just...go away.

9) There is an extended sequence beginning on a train that, even with some questionable fast changes and another broad bit of humor with The German Sausage Couple, should have been the film’s climax.  It is extremely tense, full of great fighting, and manages to skillfully conceal the age discrepancy between Moore and his stunt double.  This could have been a satisfying ending, but instead we get a silly assault on the Monsoon Palace by the circus and a sequence on a plane where the discrepancy between Moore and his stunt double is all too evident.

10) Unfortunate name to the contrary, Adams’ Octopussy is a surprisingly effective, willful and competent Bond girl...until the last ten minutes, where the script suddenly decides it needs a girl’s school screamer and have her kidnapped and menanced.

Overall...nowhere near as bad as some will lead you to believe--pretty good, actually.  If you block out the broad Moore/Glen humor, you’ll have a great time.

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