1. CBn Reviews 'Octopussy'

    By Devin Zydel on 2005-11-08

    Over the last several months, members of the CBn Forum have been reviewing all the James Bond 007 films in the “Countdown Threads“. If you wish to join in on the forum discussion all you have to do is register. Now here are some selected reviews, varying in opinion, of Octopussy

    ‘Octopussy’ by tdalton

    'Octopussy' litho by Jeff Marshall

    ‘Octopussy’ litho by Jeff Marshall

    Octopussy represents the only time during Roger Moore’s tenure as James Bond that he put together 2 consecutive solid Bond outings. Connery did it twice (or 4 consecutive: Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, and Dalton did it with his only two outings). But whenever Roger put up a great Bond movie, it was generally followed by a turkey. Live and Let Die (decent Bond film) followed by The Man With The Golden Gun and The Spy Who Loved Me followed by Moonraker.

    The thing that makes Octopussy work is its cast of strong villians as well as the fact that it continues on with the For Your Eyes Only approach of realistic villians and a plausible plot. Steven Berkoff as General Orlov and Louis Jourdan as Kamal Khan are two very treacherous villians and are two villians who could feasibly exist in the world, unlike a Jaws character. They both light up the screens with their performances, pushing their characters to the edge and truly display their insanity very well on the screen.

    It is clear from the start of the film that Roger Moore is starting to show his age, but this does not stop him (this time, anyway) from playing Bond as well as he had ever played him. Moore keeps Bond somewhat serious again, and it pays off. There is definitely more humor in Octopussy than in the previous Bond outing, but it is not silly and is kept within the framework of a serious Bond film.

    Maud Adams redeems herself for the debacle that was The Man With The Golden Gun with a good performance as the title character. Octopussy’s character doesn’t serve much purpose to the story, but Bond always has to have a beautiful woman to fall for in the films, so she fills this purpose as well as provide some entertaining scenes.

    Octopussy also marks a change of the guard of sorts. Robert Brown replaced the late Bernard Lee as “M”, after the characters abscence in For Your Eyes Only. He is the perfect replacement for Bernard Lee, and continues on with the character until GoldenEye.

    John Barry returns once again for another solid Bond score. Rita Coolidge’s title song, “All Time High”, is a solid, yet forgettable, Bond theme song.

    ‘Octopussy’ by DLibrasnow

    Octopussy has had many criticisms leveled at it since it slipped into cinema’s in 1983. One complaint is that there are simply too many villains – is the crazed Gen. Orlov the main villain or the suave Kamal Khan? Another objection postulates that its choice of India as a location sends Bond into a pure fantasy land with a depiction of tribal princes, mysterious islands populated entirely of impossibly beautiful women and bungling local thugs. Still more point to its inappropriate rather juvenile schoolboy humor, from Bond’s Tarzan yell to our heroes ogling over a young woman secretary’s bust as a reason why the movie fails.

    These objections are perfectly legitimate, but one has to feel that the movies detractors were missing the point. Bond is a fantasy figure who in the past has battled armies inside bases hidden inside hollowed out volcano’s (in 1967’s You Only Live Twice) and shot into space to save the world from poisoned orchids globes (in 1979’s Moonraker). Bond belongs in the fantasy realm and the over-the-top formula is perfectly suited and indeed complimented by the India depicted here.

    In addition the villains are similarly over-the-top and the movie audience is treated to two wonderful performances. Who can forget the fantastic performance of Steven Berkoff as Orlov in the Kremlin meeting room – “Never, the West is decadent” Orlov states as he struts around one of Peter Lamont’s amazing sets.

    The humor is also perfectly suited to the Roger Moore portrayal of Bond and in fact the adventures had become for fantastical at this point that it was necessary for Moore to not take events too seriously. The only truly embarrassing scene is the one in Q’s workshop where Bond focuses a camera in on a woman’s bust. But other scenes referred to pop culture of the 1900s, such as Bond doing his Barbara Wodehouse impersonation telling a tiger to “sit-t-t” and swinging through the vines like Johnny Weismuller in an old Tarzan picture. Neither is particularly intrusive and both elicited belly laughs from the audience I saw the movie with. Similarly the complaint that Bond ends up in a clown suit at the end should be taken in context, he is undercover at a circus, a clown outfit is in fact the perfect disguise.

    The movie starts with one of the most famous action sequences of the 1980s. Captured trying to destroy a spy plane in Latin America 007 escapes by using the worlds smallest jet even flying it through a hanger as the doors close. In fact the jet, called an Acrostar, actually exists and had been originally planned for use in 1979’s Moonraker, it deserves its place in the Bond movie’s pantheon of gadgets alongside the mini helicopter Little Nellie from 1967. Rolling up to a gas station at the end of the sequence Bond delivers my favorite line in the movie, smiling to the undoubtedly amazed attendant and asking him to Fill her up please.”

    Of course this scene has nothing to do with the movie as a whole but it’s a nice little mini-adventure to start things off with and set the tone for the rest of the movie. Following the erotic main titles, in which designer Maurice Binder makes full use of lasers and gorgeous women, we are plunged headlong into the main plot with two assassins chasing a British agent in full clown make-up (shades of what is to come later) as he attempts to get a fake Faberge egg to the British embassy.

    Understandably a little miffed at the death of their agent and curious as to the reason why he was carrying a fake egg the British send Bond to observe the auction of the real egg at Sotheby’s. Here is one of my favorite scenes, there are no explosions, no meglomaniacal speeches from super villains and no incredible sets but merely Bond testing the determination of Khan in a standoff which reaches its final conclusion thousands of miles away over a game of backgammon. Here we see shades of Goldfinger cheating at golf in the 1964 movie except this time its loaded dice on the backgammon table.

    Special mention must go to the very alluring Maud Adams who holds the distinction of being the only actress to play two leading roles in the EON Bond series (Ursula Andress played two, the first in Dr. No and the second in the non-Eon 1967 spoof Casino Royale). Adams is a stunning Scandinavian beauty and plays the title role with a sense of both amusement and conviction.

    The plot for what its worth involves jewelry smuggling and nuclear brinkmanship, but that’s really not what is important here, that merely serves as a canvas on which to stage fun set pieces and a generous selection of stunt action sequences.

    What we have here is a fun action adventure movie, just don’t go in expecting anything serious. If you approach this movie with the right frame of mind you might find this entry in the James Bond canon to be one of the series most entertaining – for entertainment’s sake.

    ‘Octopussy’ by Qwerty

    I simply love Octopussy. It’s a James Bond 007 film that works on many fronts. It has an intriguing storyline and plot, and did well with the fans. (Had a very good American box-office at the time, if I recall correctly), and was down only marginally on the whole from For Your Eyes Only.

    Roger Moore is still on top of the game as James Bond here, his age only really becomes too noticeable in A View To A Kill, in my opinion. There is a terrific supporting cast with him as well. Of all the Roger Moore James Bond films, he shares the best chemistry with the leading lady in this one. Maud Adams is a classic Bond film star, and her character in Octopussy doesn’t dissapoint. Louis Jordan is also one of the best villains in the series, and very much overlooked. He gets some fantastic lines all throughout the film and his performance stays excellent through the end. Gobinda is one of the better henchmen in the series as well. Can not overlook Magda though either, her limited scenes are good ones.

    And of course….General Orlov. So over-the-top. “The West is decadent and divided!

    India featuring as the prime location for much of this film works very much to it’s advantage. The audience gets a classic Taj Mahal shot, as well as the thrilling ‘dangerous game’ chase and the spying on Octopussy’s palace. What really helps the film is John Barry’s score. While somewhat reserved, it keeps the tension throughout many scenes going and the classic action cue in the final assault is very well done.

    Two sometimes overlooked/underrated sections of the film that I also enjoy are the main title sequence and Rita Coolidge’s title song. One of my favorite main-titles from Binder.

    Classic Bond.

    ‘Octopussy’ by Scottlee

    Roger’s second best Bond, in my opinion. It has an effective storyline, a great variety of villains, a limited amount of over-the-top humour, a good soundtrack, a fantastic pre-credits, a cliffhanger ending between Kamal and Bond, and most noticablely of all, beautiful scenary.

    Moore gives one of his most serious performances, too, which adds to the effectiveness of the film. Stunts and action sequences involving moving vehicles would go on to annoy me in the later Bond films, but in this film, despite being used pretty much all the time, I can’t think of one sequences that irks me. Even the sight of Bond esaping the villains in a rickshaw gets pulled off.

    Great film.

    ‘Octopussy’ by Genrewriter

    I’ve always been amazed by how well this film works. Roger Moore delivers a stellar performance and Louis Jourdan and Steven Berkoff make great bad guys. What makes the film work as well as it does is the seamless, gradual shift in tone. For the first hour or so it’s fairly lighthearted, a little like Moonraker but the humor is done a little bit better and placed in more appropriate spots. As soon as the film introduces us to Octopussy however, the tone slowly shifts to a more serious one as Vijay is killed and the threat of the bomb comes into play. John Glen keeps the tension up quite well as he builds to the defusing scene, not even letting the sight of Bond in clown attire take away from the threat. Once the bomb is defused we relax a bit more as Bond wraps it up with a nice raid on Kamal’s palace and a breathtaking plane finale. At the risk of sounding like a cliche, this is truly Bond’s all time high.

    ‘Octopussy’ by Double-Oh Agent

    During the previous 12 films, James Bond and EON had little to no competition to worry about. That would change during the production of their 13th entry into the series, Octopussy, as Kevin McClory went into production with a rival 007 picture eventually titled, Never Say Never Again. This was not to be just any movie, this was a virtual remake of Thunderball with McClory holding an ace in the hole–Sean Connery starring as James Bond 007.

    With both films originally scheduled to come out against each other, the press dubbed the faceoff as “The Battle Of The Bonds”. Complications arose, however, that pushed Never Say Never Again‘s release date back a couple of months (to the betterment of both films undoubtedly) and the build-up to the epic battle slowly faded away.

    With all this as a backdrop, the pressure was on Roger Moore and EON to deliever not just a good film, but a great one. When all was said and done, they had done just that.

    Octopussy is an underrated Bond film. In my opinion, it is the most underrated in the entire series. Virtually everything in the production works. There’s humor (but not too much), danger and suspense (lots), a great plot, solid action, and excellent performances throughout.

    The bad: Not much to put here. The Tarzan yell during the jungle chase is better off left unused, the crowd watching the fight during the motorcart chase shouldn’t have acted like they were watching a tennis match, and the circus fight was a tad much. I’m also not a fan of the way Kamal Khan dies. It should have been better and more memorable. But these are minor quibbles. The good far outweighs the bad.

    The good: A tremendous pre-titles sequence kicks off the film. It was a neat trick to have Bond captured before accomplishing his mission, only to escape and complete his assignment another way. The auction at Sotheby’s is well done as is jungle hunt and Bond’s desperate race against time to stop the bomb. I love the scene where the kids stop as if to pick up a hitchhiking Bond only to take off when he gets close. Very ironic. Plus director John Glen builds the suspense well leading up to the bomb going off. One wonders how Bond will stop it when he’s got the West German police and the entire American air force base after him. I especially liked how the detonator harmlessly goes off just after Bond extracts it from its casing. And then there’s the coolest scene in the film–perhaps in the series–where Bond slides down the banister shooting Khan’s men. The scene is capped perfectly by Bond noticing the large decorative knob at the end of the handrail and then shooting it off just before he gets to it, thereby saving the family jewels from harm. Adding that extra oomph to the scene is John Barry’s rousing use of The James Bond Theme. Simply classic all around.

    Miles Messervy aka M makes a welcome return in Octopussy after a one-film hiatus, this time in the guise of Robert Brown. The knife-wielding twins, Mischka and Grischka (Anthony Meyer and David Meyer) are excellent and very menacing–nowhere more so than during their chase of 009. Steven Berkoff as Orlov gives an over the top but humorous performance. He captures the mad Russian general’s insanity very well. Kristina Wayborn as Magda is beautiful and exotic and you’ve got to love her exit from the hotel room after sleeping with Bond. Maud Adams is okay as Octopussy and Vijay Amritraj is very likable as Bond’s ally, Vijay. Kabir Bedi is perfectly menacing and dangerous as Gobinda. Oh those piercing eyes. He’s one of the best henchmen of the series. Equally so on the villain side of things is Louis Jourdan as Kamal Khan–my second favorite villain of the series. He oozes charm and evil in just about every scene he’s in. He’s also got some of the best lines in the series. 1) “Spend the money quickly, Mr. Bond.” 2) “Mr. Bond is indeed a very rare breed–soon to be made extinct.” And 3) “You have a nasty habit of surviving.” You have to admire a villain who can say lines like that.

    Roger Moore gives one of his strongest portrayals as 007. He is at his best in his confrontation with Orlov. He’s determined to stop the general and sickened by his plan at the same time. I love his tone of voice, which is all business, when he says, “On your feet general, you’re going to stop that train.” When he says that, you know he means it.

    The stunts are great from the aerial tricks in the pre-titles sequence to the car on the railroad tracks to the fight on the train to the final assault on Khan’s palace. The music by John Barry is excellent and the title song “All Time High” sung by Rita Coolidge is one of the best of the series. The production design by Peter Lamont is one of his best efforts and the whole India setting is very exotic. And lastly, the plot to explode a bomb on an American air base to force NATO disarmament so the Russians can overtake much of Europe is quite clever and well done.

    All in all, Octopussy is a truly great Bond film. It hits all the right notes and leaves the viewer and Bond on an all time high.