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You Only Live Twice

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: You Only Live Twice

Starring: Sean Connery, Mie Hama
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Rated: PG
RunTime: 120 Minutes
Release Date: June 1967
Genres: 007, Action, Suspense

*Also starring: Akiko Wakabayashi, Tetsuro Tamba, Karin Dor, Charles Gray, Donald Pleasence, Tsai Chin, Lois Maxwell, Desmond Llewelyn

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review
2.  Andrew Hicks read the review movie reviewmovie review

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

In the opening to the fifth Bond film and almost the last one starring Sean Connery, an American astronaut is just beginning an EVA (Extravehicular activity) from his spacecraft. In shock, the world witnesses another spacecraft coming up to attack them. The second craft

swallows the first, cutting off the lifeline for the EVA astronaut and leaving him to drift forever in space. The Americans immediately suspect the Russians and tell them that, if this happens again, they will consider it an act of war. The loyal Bond audience knows in an instant that it is SPECTRE up to its old tricks and not the Russians.

The 1967 film YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE has arguably its most surprising moment during the opening credits. Although it is based on an Ian Fleming novel, the screenplay is by none other than Roald Dahl, the classic author of such dark children's tales as MATILDA and JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH. No one could ever read one of his children's books without being mesmerized by his shockingly bleak but highly literate writing. Even more surprising than his being chosen to adapt a Bond novel is that none of Dahl's gifts for dark humor or sparkling writing is evident. Although the script is good, it is a direct descendent of all of the preceding Bond scripts and breaks no new ground.

(As the title suggests, Bond is killed early on, but it is merely a

ruse, and he lives on to fight the forces of evil.)

Since the British suspect that the foreign satellite was launched from Japan, Bond makes his first visit to that country. In order to identify himself to the Japanese spy network he is given a password of "I love you," which provides opportunities, largely underutilized, for funny encounters. The one where he accidentally says "I love you" to someone not a spy never occurs, for example.

In Q's bag of tricks this time for James is "Little Nellie," a tiny, personal helicopter with heat seeking air-to-air missiles and many

other gadgets of warfare. It's so fast moving and highly maneuverable that four full-sized attack helicopters are no match for its adroitness.

Bond also gets a killer cigarette, and we're not talking about the effects of second-hand smoke.

Not all of the technology is as impressive as Little Nellie. When SPECTRE's rocket lands, the cheap model looks like a parody of an old Flash Gordon film.

Through a make-over Bond is made to appear Japanese. And he is trained in the ways of the Ninja. The not particularly impressive result is a slightly different Bond with a few new fighting skills.

Bond, who has bedded half of the good looking women of the world --

all in the service of her Majesty's government, of course -- has to get married this time and to one with supposedly a face like a pig. The joke is that she turns out gorgeous afterall. Why he has to go through with an elaborate wedding ceremony makes little sense, but this is a Bond film so logic is largely irrelevant.

Up until YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, we only saw SPECTRE's #1 operative's waist as he strokes his snow-white cat. This time, played by Donald Pleasence, he comes out from behind his chair and shows off his hideously knife-scarred face.

Connery, who was full of energy and confidence in his previous Bond

outings, seems to be losing heart and interest in this film. He said afterwards that he'd "never" do another one. When years later the studio made him an offer he couldn't refuse, that show was aptly named NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN.

YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE runs 1:57. 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 this movie but still liked THUNDERBALL the best and DR. NO second best of the first five Bond films. His favorite parts of YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE were the big battle scene and all of the Ninjas.

Copyright 1998 Steve Rhodes

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