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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 17.95%
Average: 5.13%
Pretty Bad: 5.13%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 33 user ratings

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You Only Live Twice
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by MP Bartley

"The One Where He Dies, Goes To Japan And Gets Married."
5 stars

'Thunderball' was a worrying film for Eon. It was a dull rehash of the first three Bond films and raised worrying questions. Had the Bond phenomenon blown its load? Was there anywhere else to go for Bond? Was the Bond series going to go out with a whimper? Of course not which is why they returned with one of the best yet.

The pre-credit sequence this time round is pretty shocking and addresses the fears they had about Bond's life-span (he's shot and killed!). After Nancy Sinatra's dreamy ballad we see Bond's 'funeral' and subsequent rescue by a British submarine.

Bond is to be sent to Japan because America and Russia are at the verge of war with each other and Japan may hold the key. An American space shuttle has disappeared in mid-orbit, swallowed up by another mysterious craft, and the American's are naturally blaming the Russians. Russia deny this however and are planning on sending their own space shuttle up in a few weeks. The British government believe the Russians and have a trace of the mysterious craft coming down in Japan somewhere. Bond is sent to discover the owners of the craft and avert a nuclear war.

Anyone who complains that Bond films are too silly and far-fetched shouldn't even bother with 'You Only Live Twice'. After all we're talking about a film where space shuttles are launched into space from an extinct volcano and no-one in Japan notices.

Those who don't mind the general insanity of the plot however, will know that 'You Only Live Twice' saw Bond back with bang. After the disappointing 'Thunderball' it would have been understandable if Eon productions had lost their nerve on Bond and let the series degenerate into formula. Happily however they don't and everything here feels new and full of energy. Director Lewis Gilbert is having enormous fun and directs the action sequences with flair and he makes the more outlandish sequences resonate and not seem overly silly.

From a brawling fight with a Samurai sword to a car chase that sees an ingenious use of a helicopter and industrial magnet, Gilbert makes the film feel like anything but the fifth in an on-going series. Remarkably there's no sense of nerves from the film about whether they could recover from the stumble of 'Thunderball'. Instead they come out fighting with both guns blazing. It has all the feel of a talented production team knowing they have their world at their feet and are proud to stand cocky and tall displaying how big their balls have grown to the world.

It's best summed up in the sequence where Bond takes on four SPECTRE helicopters in Little Nellie, his own gyrocopter. Perhaps the most ambitious sequence in the series sofar, it's certainly the most dazzling. And you also get Ken Adam's astonishing set design. Bigger is most certainly better here with the huge creation of a hollowed-out volcano base scene for the series best climax yet.

It also has the rare aspect of a Bond film having a real feel for the exotic locations. Whereas most Bond films are content simply to go somewhere beautiful for nice backgrounds, Gilbert really dips the film into the beauty of the Japan. This respect shows in one extended sequence where Bond is initiated into Japanese life from Ninja school to a fishermans life (it goes without saying however that Connery couldn't look less Japanese if he tried).

This new confidence also finds Connery with a fresh spring in his step. Connery fans should savour his last, great showing in the role. He really should have left it here, as his Vegas comeback was dull and flabby. The regulars too, all get a good run-out here and although there's no Leiter, Tetsuro Tamba is excellent as Tiger Tanaka head of Japan's secret service. It's a real shame that he never get another look. Perhaps the only drawback is in its Bond girls. Akiko Wakabayashi as Aki is excellent but is unfortunately is replaced half-way through by the dull Mie Hama as Kissy Suzuki. There's no real need for two Bond girls and it's a shame that Wakabayashi was jettisoned before the end.

But there's only piece of casting that really merits talking about here. One of the lessons seemingly learnt from 'Thunderball' was that it was time to stop pussy-footing around and show us Ernst Stavro Blofeld. It increases the gravitas of the situation to finally meet the head of SPECTRE and Donald Pleasance is magnificent, carving himself a niche as Best Villain Ever. Face it, most of Mike Myers career relies on how memorable Pleasance is in the role. He plays Blofeld with an eerie, un-naturally calm icy fury (just try to catch him blinking in the role). As well as that, he just looks scary with the webbed eye and calm manner of feeding his failed sub-ordinates to the piranas. A true tragedy he was never kept on in the role. His casting is the icing on the cake, when the cake is made up of the best ingredients available to make the tastiest meal sofar.

Confidence is the key for 'You Only Live Twice'. There's never been a more confident rendering of what makes a great Bond and everyone responds to the challenge. It's got some of the best action sequences, the best Bond in his last great outing and the best villain. What more do you want?

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originally posted: 07/20/04 01:47:32
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User Comments

7/07/18 Suzanne Enjoyed the stunts, location, and plot. 4 stars
3/31/12 keith miron The best part of this movie, it was made in Japan 2 stars
4/12/10 Black Lance Awesome 5 stars
6/13/09 Odin966 Very good Bond film. Don't get Mr. Bartley's fixation on T-Ball as a major disappointment. 4 stars
12/13/08 Ravenwest Superb !!! 5 stars
10/07/08 Mark Gibson awesome one of the best Bond movies ever stuck to my dvd player, Connery, Dahl, and Gilbert 5 stars
1/28/08 JV35 A great film with a great music 5 stars
7/21/07 Sugarfoot I always liked this movie much more than Roger Moore's entries. 4 stars
6/02/07 action movie fan great sets and stunts and exciting plot-a very memorable bond 5 stars
4/24/07 David Risser Finally! This is where Bond starts to get good! 4 stars
9/16/06 ProSneakyD Gyrocoptor, volcano lair & Blofeld stroking a cat makes this a phenominal classic, awesome. 5 stars
1/03/06 Anthony Feor Now this is James Bond! 5 stars
11/21/05 chris brilliant bond movie exellent storyline good acting by connery 5 stars
10/26/05 Nick One of the best Bond movies 5 stars
9/28/05 Indrid Cold Complex and epic; possibly the best Bond movie, although Goldfinger is the most definitive. 5 stars
6/27/05 sbpat21 Best Bond next to Goldfinger 5 stars
5/26/05 tony An EXELLENT way to sequel Thunderball. EXELLENT plot and everything!!! Even Villian 5 stars
11/17/04 C Vega My Favourite Bond Movie A Classic! 5 stars
8/17/04 Herolder In terms of action one of the best Bond movies 5 stars
2/07/04 Mikey T Cool movie with hot chicks. You expected something else? 5 stars
11/29/03 john Bond goes to Japan - very solid entry into the series 4 stars
9/10/03 Dreafre Connery as 007 is king, and this one is an enjoyable delight 4 stars
7/06/03 Paul S. Classic moments: volcano, Blofeld w. cat & piranhas, little Nellie, ninjas 5 stars
5/16/03 Andrew Carden Pleasance Is Superb; Lee Is Great; But Once Again Connery Overacts. Overblown Ending Too. 3 stars
2/28/03 Paul Coleman Action packed & exotic locations! One of Connery's best!! 5 stars
1/30/03 Nevz Vintage Bond. 5 stars
10/31/02 Bob Sweet as hell! Blofeld kicks ass!!! 5 stars
10/14/02 Charles Tatum By the book entry, not too bad 4 stars
9/17/02 CVJ best bond movie ever!! sean connery is the best bond ever!!! 5 stars
2/24/02 R.W. Welch By the numbers 007 opus, recommended for series fans only. 3 stars
9/09/01 Henry Ginsberg Best villian ever. 5 stars
4/08/00 Gremlin Cool movie, cool mini copter, too bad Charles Gray is reincarnated in Diamond are Forever 5 stars
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Directed by
  Lewis Gilbert

Written by
  Roald Dahl

  Sean Connery
  Donald Pleasance
  Bernard Lee
  Lois Maxwell
  Desmond Llewelyn

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