“You Only Live Twice”
Bond: Sean Connery
Classic, Cheese, or Crap?: CLASSIC
When looking back on “You Only Live Twice” as a modern viewer, it suffers greatly from one factor completely beyond its control.
Yes, Austin Powers. Mike Myers’ uber-popular spoof of Spy movies, and the James Bond series in particular. While the titular character bears little to no resemblance to Bond – in fact in many ways being the anti-Bond – the chief villain of the series is unmistakably Blofeld, circa “You Only Live Twice”. While he borrows from many elements of the Bond villains throughout the “Powers” series, Dr. Evil is firmly rooted in the bald, scarred, kitty loving, henchman killing Blofeld who first appears in full here. So many elements that “Powers” mocks are on full display here, and it’s honestly difficult not to recognize them as ridiculous when seen in such a light.
There are numerous, numerous factors that add “cheese” flavoring to this movie. Bond’s “Japenese disguise”, Little Nelly, the SPECTRE rocket capable of eating other space vessels – which by the way, seem to be getting launched on a daily basis in this movie, the helicopter equipped with the super magnet, why doesn’t Blofeld just KILL bond? LOL I mean, if someone were looking to, they could really tear into this flick.
But &%$# all that. “YOLT” is classic.
C’Mon!! Blofeld is at his best. I mean – Donald Pleasance only played him once, and this was the undeniable apex of the character. He’s arrogant and cold, and he’s got an incredible look. There’s a ninja training school that mobilizes to assault the volcano base in the coolest large-scale sequence of the Bond movies ever. Bond proves that his “way with women” translates into Japanese as well. Tons of gadgets and cool cars, I mean, this is the Bond formula in high gear. It’s big budget, high production value, large-scale 007 goodness.
The biggest complaint I have with this movie is actually Connery himself.
It’s well known that after “Thunderball”, Sean Connery began to ask out of his role as James Bond. They were CRANKING these movies out (5 in 5 years), the parts were physically demanding, and he didn’t have time to do many other roles. Although I don’t see the wisdom in biting the hand that feeds – especially given the quality of his filmography for about 20 years after being released from Bond – I do understand where he was coming from. But he wasn’t able to get out of the role for this movie. He was given a salary increase and production commenced. Unfortunately, you can almost feel his resentment throughout. The spark, the enjoyment in the role… it’s just noticeably missing to me. This is easily his weakest performance of the series (not the worst movie, mind you, but at least in DAF he seemed like he was trying again).
Regardless, this movie remains a Classic to me. It’s a cold war confrontation featuring a secret volcano base, an army of ninjas with machine guns, a mini helicopter, the beauty of Japan, and the coolest major villain the Bond series has ever seen. It’s got the primary ingredient I look for in a Bond movie – FUN – in spades.
YOU may only live twice, but this movie will live on forever.