Review by Alex Haberstroh
Roger Moore, Maud Adams, Louis Jourdan, Steven Berkoff
Director: John Glen
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0
Video: 1.77:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Features: See Review
Length: 131 Minutes
Release Date: October 17, 2000
The Bond series had been going on for twenty-one years when Octopussy debuted in theaters in 1983. To many, this film was seen as the continuation of a good idea that had outlived its time. Bad plots, weak acting, and tired dialogue had made the last few Bonds “luke-warm hits.” Octopussy, competing against Connery in a different Bond film released at the same time entitled Never Say Never Again, worried many that, after thirteen films, the Bond series was nearing the end of its life. Many lamented that the Bond films were becoming too formulaic and too dependent on only action plots that left no room for stories, which made the first Bond films the classics that they were. In many respects I agree this assessment applies to Octopussy.
Octopussy’s plot has several different levels, which made it take longer for me to realize the problems with it. The first element concerns a megalomaniac Russian general (Berkoff), who wants to invade half of Allied Europe and is willing to do anything, including setting off a nuclear bomb in West Germany, to achieve his goal. The other plot point is that Russian artifacts are being stolen and replaced with clever forgeries including one Faberge egg that leads Bond to India and from there, to an exotic island, owned by Octopussy (Adams), a beautiful jewel smuggler. One problem with the plot is that the connection between the two points almost seems last minute or forced by the screenwriters, making the end of the film seem very awkward. Another problem with the plot was by that time the screenwriters had already mined the best nuggets from Ian Fleming’s novels, and they had to stretch to explain English intervention in matters of countries that had nothing to do with English national security.
Maybe it’s just the fact that it’s “lucky number thirteen” in the Bond series, but this film just doesn’t work. The acting is bland throughout and Moore appears as a pale reflection of Sean Connery. As I write this review, I begin to wonder to myself, what happened to the “Bond series” of the seventies and eighties? (I'm sure I’ll get hate mail from all you Roger Moore fans out there, but I don’t care) Moonraker, The Spy who Loved Me, and most importantly, Octopussy, are all seriously crappy, non-thought out films. Perhaps the filmmakers were under the impression that since the other films before that were generally solid, that they could bombard the fans with anything and they would go for it. Someone fell asleep at the wheel and ended up hitting a tree.
The beginning of Octopussy can be seen as “campy” and unrealistic to say the least, but at least it’s plausible. The rest of the film is an unrealistic joke, almost a Bond satire, with Bond doing everything from swinging on vines to sound clips from the originally Tarzan movie, to stopping a nuclear weapon from exploding by simply pulling it out of a case. I think the worst part of this movie was the “climatic” end where James Bond hangs on to a small plane miles above the ground. Then he holds on when the plane does dips, dives, and barrel rolls. How the hell can he hold on at that speed? Hell, how can he breathe?
This is one part of the disc
that doesn’t come up short. The
film received the same visual treatment the other Bonds films did and is in
Anamorphic, giving it a fresh look and resulting in a much better transfer than
on video. The picture looked clear
and didn’t seem to have any problems with shimmering at all.
The explosions were well done and the colors contrasted well with each
other without any bleeding together.
Well…at least for this film the sound comes
out of more then the center channel. The
effects never overpower the dialogue, which at times I wish they had.
Even though this was one of the worst Bond
films, MGM has once again done a good job making a “special edition.”
The animated menu screens are very well designed and look very flashy and
hi-tech. As with the other two Bond
films reviewed on this site, a documentary on the film seems to come
standard, and this disc is no exception. Next
is a documentary called “Art Directing with Peter Lamont,” a really
fascinating look at the man that has helped create the sets and items used in
the Bond movies since Goldfinger. Finally,
besides the usual documentaries, the film had four trailers, storyboard
sequences, and the music video to the Octopussy theme, “All Time
In conclusion, while “Octopussy’s” audio
was okay and the supplements good, compared with the other Bond films it pales.
This film I judge was just a cheap and easy way to make an easy buck and
is a caricature of the films that came before it.