You Only Live Twice (1967)
Each death bring him closer to... well, death
Warning: this review does contain a few vague spoilers.
You Only Live Twice is the 5th James Bond Movie, starring Sean Connery as 007, Akiko Wakabayashi, and Mie Hama. This movie is often remembered as the one where Bond became Japanese.
1967 was an odd year for James Bond, mainly thanks to the unofficial spoof called Casino Royale releasing just before it, which I will never review, plus the movie stage was suddenly plagued with copycats trying to make their own fortune following the success of the previous Bond films. So, with this movie, the writers and producers had to make sure the world new the difference between James Bond and the copycats, and it kinda backfired.
Just to prove that their spy was the best, they "killed him off" and he still survived to win the day! Only James Bond can accomplish such a feat!
The whole idea that Bond needed to look Japanese to progress the story was just silly. Not only did they only require the appearance a couple times, but the modifications would never have passed in real life. It even seems the producers agreed since it didn't take long for his appearance to return to normal for no reason whatsoever. If this was any modern movie, they would have re-shot the earlier scenes with his appearance and tossed that plot onto the cutting room floor where it belonged.
Of course, on the topic on the Japanese, I might as well point out how laughable the "ninjas" were. I'm guessing someone failed to do real research before shooting this film. It was as if they took everything they heard about the warriors of the orient and squished them together, regardless of how Japanese it was or not.
You Only Live Twice did bring some epically memorable moments, too, though.
The tech in this movie was fantastic, almost as good as the gadgets in Goldfinger! James Bond typically had a few cool tricks up his sleeve this time, but the best was definitely Little Nellie. 1960s helicopters were great, especially in battle, but his little personal flying death machine was fantastic. I'm sure it didn't help that it was outfitted with just enough weapons to take out everything that Spectre threw at him.
Spectre had their own toys, too. Sure, they always did, but it wasn't just one of the followers pestering 007 this time, but the main villain himself... You know, the man behind the cat! I don't want to spoil the character, but this man looked perfect for the role, and had all the toys he should have had at this point... And then some! Hell, even today we have problems landing rockets on our little blue planet without them going boom, but Spectre can land them with ease in a small little hatch after eating another one! Now that's impressive!
I did find that the villain was underutilized, though. The cat man was brimming with potential badassery, but he just never had the time to show it off. It is like they were saving him for something better. Although, we would never have gotten Dr. Evil in Austin Powers if it wasn't for this role.
To make it worse, the other characters are very unmemorable. Even Bond doesn't feel like himself, just a man who could easily be replaced by other action hero. This massive character flaw really hurt this movie's charm. Where was the invincible man who could get away with anything?
So, yeah, You Only Live Twice definitely didn't live up to expectations. It had lots of potential, a strong villain, and some fantastic toys, but the weak characters and the plot, especially the parts revolving around Bond trying to be Japanese and his ally, was just too silly. At least they proved to the whole world that Sean Connery was the one and only James Bond, though, right?
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