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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Thunderball

Starring: Sean Connery, Claudine Auger
Director: Terence Young
Rated: PG
RunTime: 129 Minutes
Release Date: December 1965
Genres: 007, Action, Suspense, Classic

*Also starring: Adolfo Celi, Luciana Paluzzi, Rik Van Nutter, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell, Desmond Llewelyn, Roland Culver

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1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review
2.  Andrew Hicks read the review movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
3.  Dragan Antulov read the review movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

Sometimes the most dated parts of an old film can be the most enjoyable; so it is with Bond's fifth movie, THUNDERBALL. In the opening, Bond surreptitiously witnesses the funeral of one of his foes. As the dead man's heavily veiled widow leaves the church, he deduces that it's really the bad guy in drag. The giveaway? She opens the car door herself!

For my almost 9-year-old son it was an entirely different scene that won his heart. He literally went wild when Bond broke out that classic Flash Gordon device, the personal jetpack, as a means of escape. (I can understand his feelings. When I was his age, I dreamed of my own rocket strapped to my back, but the closest I ever came to it was the fast car -- Chevy 409 -- that I drove in high school.)

The setup for 1965's THUNDERBALL is that SPECTRE has taken control of a jet containing 2 atomic bombs, which they bury in the ocean under military-style camouflaging. They demand 100,000,000 pounds sterling, or they will destroy a major British or US city. The tension is on. Will Bond, played beautifully again by Sean Connery, find the bomb first or will a city be wiped forever off the map?

THUNDERBALL goes back to the Caribbean where the first Bond film was set, but this time it is the Bahamas rather than Jamaica. Poor Bond has to drive an Aston Martin just like the last movie -- later Bond films were less interested in such recyclables.

Bond has to go up against SPECTRE's number 2 operative known as Emilio Largo. The casting of Adolfo Celi as Largo and his playboyish costumes makes Largo less like a villain than a rich member of the International Yacht Club.

Continuing the tradition begun with Jack Lord in DR. NO, CIA agent Felix Leiter (Rik von Nutter) wears conspicuous dark sunglasses. Might as well have worn a CIA T-shirt.

THUNDERBALL, which relies a bit too much on a larger than normal bevy of beauties to carry the story along, needed the writers to have spent more time in plot development.

The movie could have used crisper editing. Some of the underwater sequences in particular run on way too long, especially a full scale underwater battle between a couple of hundred men. The staging becomes confusing and it is frequently not clear who is ahead or what is happening.

Bond is always one fortuitous guy. When he is about to be shot he wheels around his evil dancing partner. The bullet goes into but not through her. She dies instantly, but he gets off completely unscathed. Life's like that when you're the world's most handsome spy.

THUNDERBALL runs 2:13. It is rated PG for violence and sexual innuendo and would be fine for kids around nine and up.

My son Jeffrey, almost 9, liked the movie a lot, especially the jetpacks and the full-scale underwater battle. THUNDERBALL is his favorite of the first four Bond movies.

Copyright 1998 Steve Rhodes

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