Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Octopussy


  Often called the 'Indiana Jones' one, Octopussy is a lot of fun, if little else. This 13th 007 outing has Sir Roger playing the iconic British secret service agent once again in a convoluted story involving an atomic bomb, an angry Russian general, a sisterhood of smugglers, the circus, and Faberge eggs. A lot of people deride this one for several reasons, all of which I'll get to in good time. Let me start out however, by simply saying, Octopussy is a big ball of hyperactive, snappy, witty, and ultimately complicated fun- but it is fun. Which is more than can be said for some of these movies. Thankfully J.W. Pepper is nowhere to be found, but the filmmakers insist on getting cheeky, applying a Tarzan yell as Bond swings from a vine to escape some enemies. I'm sure something like that would be cute for a five year old, but even my little brothers rolled their eyes at that. If the movie had persisted with silliness like that, I wouldn't be about to give it a positive review...

  However, Octopussy redeems itself, over and over. With fantastic action scenes, gorgeous scenery, exotic settings, and all sorts of fabulous eye candy. It's impossible to be bored with this one. It may be extravagant and even bordering on overkill, but it's surprisingly practical for the most part. Bond's gadgets are kept low key throughout the movie, with the exception of a few silly parts. It never gets out of hand like Moonraker did. Nevertheless, this movie feels alien to the James Bond franchise. People really aren't far off in saying this feels more like an Indiana Jones movie. If Bond had been chasing down an artifact instead of his usual espionage business, it would've been no contest. It would have literally been another Indiana Jones flick. Regardless, Octopussy has Bond running on top of speeding trains, being chased through the streets of Rajasthan, India, escaping from a palace, running through the jungles, taming a tiger, and surviving more assassination attempts than I could keep count of. It's just fun.

  Moore's age is showing though, and at this point I feel like his stunt doubles almost have equal screentime with him. It's pretty obvious he should've quit by this point. Undeterred however, Moore went on to do one more. Maud Adams as the eponymous anti-heroine/Bond girl, Octopussy, is a real delight. Keeping her out of the picture until halfway through was a puzzling choice, although it does build an atmosphere of mystery around her character, which is neat. She's the lavish living daughter of a spy who died in India, leaving her to use her smuggling skills to amass not only her own fortune... but her own private female army of acrobats and smugglers. They're incredibly formidable, and while a little tacky with some of the uniforms, they're actually a really neat part of the movie. They lend themselves to the swashbuckling nature of the movie. Given the exotic setting and tone of the movie, you half expect Sir Roger to unsheathe a scimitar. bellow out a heroic battle cry, and single-handedly save India from a horde of pirates or something. It's not a bad thing, but both Roger and this movie feel like they belong to a different era.

  There's also a great trio of villains here with General Orlov (Steven Berkoff), Kamal Khan (Louis Jordan), and his lackey Gobinda (Kabir Bedi). Orlov brings the megalomaniac personality to the table in his outlandish conquest to lead Russia to world domination. He's in full scenery chewing mode, leaving nothing in his path un-masticated. He's loud, boistrous, and a fantastic Bond villain who might be more memorable if he hadn't perfected the same kind of role in Rambo: First Blood Pt.II. Kamal Khan is more of a classic Bond villain, a smooth talking, self assured, traitorous man with many henchmen to order around. His glares and sneers are the bread and butter of his performance, which is largely enjoyable. His chief lackey, Gobinda, is also quite fun. After 007 defeats and exposes his boss at a rigged game of backgammon, the dude stares down Bond while crushing the loaded dice into powder with his hand... nuff said!

  The villains, the settings, the sheer extravagance of this outing make it worth a watch or two. Yet it still feels like Moore is tired. Just when you think he's keeping up and putting his own punches in, you notice it's a stunt double. Which isn't hard to do when you're watching it in hi-def on a nice HDTV. The movie moves along at such a breakneck pace that it looks like Sir Roger is scrambling just to actually appear in his own scenes. The franchise was begging for a younger man at this point. Roger was already in his mid to late 50's. Nevertheless his sarcasm and swagger make him a delight to watch, even if the movie around him is a little odd. Which is probably the perfect way to describe Octopussy. It's just odd. From the story to the plot, and especially the circus ending. It's just odd. It feels like a flashy over-the-top spy caper, but somehow doesn't feel quite like a 007 movie. Especially not when Bond's heroic saving the day moment occurs while he's wearing a clown outfit. Makeup and all. As if he didn't look tired and sullen enough, that bright red frown painted on his face didn't help matters.

  I don't know if I really dislike Octopussy. I think it's too much fun to dislike. Yet with some painfully silly moments, an aging Moore, and a franchise running out of steam... it's strictly middle of the road fare, something to watch to scratch the 007 itch, nothing more - nothing less. It's an exotic visual feast, for sure, which often distracts from Moore's age, or the ridiculous story, but all in all, Octopussy was never destined to be one of the best. It's good, in a very old-fashioned and swashbuckling way, and it's fun... but it was ready to be outdone. Moore glides through the movie on charm and wit, but seems more like he should be doing retirement commercials at this point. I'll say this though, if retirement looked anything like his time in Octopussy, I can't wait til I'm his age. Sign me up for that old folks home. To quote Q...

  "-Double-0 seven on an island populated exclusively by women? We won't see him till dawn!"

No comments:

Post a Comment