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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

BlogalongaBond: For Your Eyes Only

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.

Me: Wow, that was soooo much better than Moonraker. I know that's damning it with faint praise, but it's hard to believe they came from the same series because this one is so good.

Her: Absolutely. Moonraker is as bad as For Your Eyes Only is great.

Me: Indeed. After the extravagant insanity of Moonraker, this seems like a back-to-basics approach. Just good, old-fashioned Cold War shenanigans with the film following the classic spy formula - none of this "I'm trying to take over the world" nonsense or massive space battles with frickin' laserbeams or stupid sup-plots about giant henchmen falling in love.

Her: And thank the gods for that. But you can tell we're into the '80s for this one, which creates all new problems. I'm not sure that I like Sheena Easton's theme song, and some of the other music in the film is a bit too "holy crap, we've just invented synthesizers" for my liking.

Me: True. And the title sequence under the Easton song was pretty average.

Her: That's an understatement. I would have said it was crap.

Me: So '80s-bashing aside, what makes this a good Bond film?

Her: The stunts were amazing. The chase down the luge track is very cool.

Me: Hell yeah. I'm not sure who did a better job - the Bond stuntman skiing down the luge track with no ski poles or the motorcycle stuntman chasing him.

"I said, 'You can't park here'."

Her: Also the helicopter scene at the start was great - that was some tight chopper piloting.

Me: The stunt that blew my mind was in the mountain climbing scene where Bond is climbing up to the Greek monastery. The stuntman had to take a massive fall halfway down a cliff face and then hope that the rope would hold him - I don't care how many safety wires and back-up plans you have going on, it's still scary as hell. That was a 100-metre plummet, maybe more.

Her: As always, the stuntmen are awesome. And the stunt drivers.

Me: Oh yeah, the car chase is great. And I don't think I've ever seen a car chase where the characters have had to get out of the car, roll it back onto its wheels and then push-start it to get the chase happening again.

Her: Yes, that was very cool.

Me: So what else did you like?

Her: I dunno... it just felt more grounded and less silly. The plot was a lot more believable.

Me: Agreed. The race to recover a piece of secret military hardware is much better and more exciting then repeating the idea of starting a new society in space or under the ocean. Or whatever the hell Diamonds Are Forever was about.

Her: So what did you like about it?

Me: Aside from the slightly more realistic Cold War intrigue of it all, I liked that Bond was a little more ruthless and the film was less jokey... except for the ridiculous Margaret Thatcher post-script. Also, the Bond girls were better developed. Melina had her whole revenge plot, and even the ice-skater, for all her annoyances, felt like a fresh and unique character.

Her: The ice-skater wasn't a Bond girl. You're only a Bond girl if you shag Bond.

Me: I think you're a Bond girl if you get a decent-sized role in a Bond film.

Her: Nope. He's gotta shag them. That's the rules.

So none of these are Bond girls?

Me: Umm... OK. Anyway... overall, I think For Your Eyes Only was a strong, solid Bond film.

Her: I've got a couple of questions though. Bond visiting the grave at the start of the film - what was all that about?

Me: That was the grave of his wife who died in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Her: Hmm, I thought so. But why put that in there?

Me: I dunno. I've always liked the theory that James Bond was a persona... like a position that you got promoted to at MI6. "Yeah, I started here on work experience, worked my way up to field agent, and now I'm James Bond."

Her: The grave scene doesn't fit with that theory.

Me: Unless this James Bond was doing it as a sign of respect to the previous Jame Bond....

Her: Wouldn't he just visit the previous Bond's grave?

Me: Ok, I think my mind's slowly blowing... let's stop talking about that.

Her: Another question: why the hell did Melina leave an oxygen tank on the bottom of the ocean?

Me: Lazy plotting?

Her: Final thought: my favourite bit was the villain dragging Bond and Melina behind a boat to kill them. That was cool.

Me: Yeah, but I wish villains would just shoot people, like in the wild west. Those were the days....

BlogalongaBond will return in Octopussy.

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