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Wednesday, 20 April 2011

BlogalongaBond: Thunderball

Way back in 2011, my favourite film critic The Incredible Suit figured out there were exactly the same amount of months preceding the release of Skyfall as there were Bond films. And thus BlogalongaBond was born, in which international film critics from around the world (hence the international bit) reviewed one Bond film a month until Skyfall dropped.

Being the top bloke that I am, I convinced my then-girlfriend (now wife) to take part in BlogalongaBond with me, seeing as how she hadn't seen a Bond film before, or couldn't remember having done so.

Her: Well, that was actually a good one. I enjoyed that.

Me: And yet you fell asleep halfway through it last week and we had to try again.

Her: I got tired. Sorry.

Me: That's ok. I'm just glad you actually liked it. Maybe this whole James Bond thing is growing on you.

Her: Maybe - let's not get carried away. But yes, Thunderball is, in my opinion, the first really good one.

Me: Even better than Goldfinger?

Her: Yeah. I mean, that underwater battle at the end is great. I've never seen anything like that before.

The 1965 synchronised swimming finals were a bloodbath.

Me: Indeed. And how cool is Bond in that sequence, just cruising through the fight, stabbing a guy here, cutting off a dude's oxygen there. It's brilliant - we get to see 007 in a whole new scenario.

Her: Plus I think the plot in this one is great. None of this "irradiating the world's gold" nonsense - just some good old-fashioned nuke stealing.

Me: I like the way the plot sort of rolls along. Bond happens into it all by chance really, and then detectivates his way closer and closer to the nuclear missiles.

Her: "Detectivates" isn't a real word.

Me: So what? Neither's "Thunderball".

Her: Whatever.

Me: Did you like the Bond girls?

Her: Yeah. The red-headed assassin chick (Volpe) is great because she seems like the first real equal to Bond, even more so than Pussy Galore. And Domino was a good character. But that Paula chick - she was useless. Why was she even in the film? Her character could have been cut and it wouldn't have made any difference.

"Umm ... what the fuck are you doing, James?"

Me: True. Although I found Felix Leiter mostly useless. Although he often is in the Bond films, except to pop up conveniently and save 007's arse.

Her: Do you think this is a good Bond film?

Me: Absolutely. It's certainly on a par with Goldfinger and I rate that one highly. The formula is set, Connery's on a roll, and they haven't gone totally berserk with trying to up the ante on the previous films.

Her: Except for the rocket pack?

Me: What about it? Those things were real.

Her: Oh come on. That bit was naff.

Me: Whatever.

Her: Well, what did you like about the film... other than the stupid rocket pack?

Me: Thunderball has my favourite line of any Bond film: "Do you mind if my friend just sits this one out? She's just dead.". That's awesome.

Her: What else?

Me: The aforementioned underwater battle is very cool. And the SPECTRE meeting is so iconic, especially with the explosive chairs. Tom Jones does a great job with John Barry's hastily written theme song - that last note is a killer. And Largo is an excellent villain - you can't go past a villain with an eye patch. But the beauty of his role in the film is similar to Goldfinger's. In both films, they get to share a lot of time on screen with Bond, sussing each other out while remaining gentlemanly and polite. It creates great tension and fleshes out the villains a bit more, so they're not just cardboard-cut-out bad guys.

Her: And what didn't you like?

Me: That final bit on the out-of-control boat... that hasn't aged well, with its shoddy rear projection and horribly sped-up footage. But I can't think of much not to like about Thunderball.

Her: Well, I'm glad we watched it.

Me: And I'm glad you stayed awake.

BlogalongaBond will return in You Only Live Twice.

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