This is the beginning of the 'larger than life' era of James Bond. "Thunderball" was over the top, but this one puts that one to shame in this department. Full of massive moments, most of which are completely ridiculous but memorable, "You Only Live Twice" is a visual treat but lacks a lot of the depth and tenacity that can make a Bond film great.
STORYLINE: The Russians and Americans are at each others throats over disappearing space craft. Of course, only the British are willing to truly investigate before going to firepower as they try to prevent World War III. Bond is sent this time to Japan to find out where this mysterious spacecraft eating rocket comes from and put an end to the madness. He teams up with Japan's best spies to track down the organization behind it all...SPECTRE.
PLOT 2/5: Here's the thing with this movie. It's like when they went to make it they knew that they were going to send Bond to Japan so they decided to write a list of all the sweet ass things they could do with their massive budget. This list includes but isn't limited to: shooting Bond out of the torpedo bay, having him fist fight at least 100 men, having Bond fly a mini helicopter in death defying battle in the sky, have Bond sleep with at least 4 women (and make Asian jokes the entire time), have Bond ignite a dormant volcano, have Bond turned into a Japanese man, have Bond get married, have Bond crash a plane and survive, have Bond killed (and resurrected in an underwater super secret gotcha moment), have Bond train to be a ninja, have Bond fight alongside and against Ninja, and of course, have Bond somehow trick a driver into thinking he is an injured Japanese man with a coat and mask only to be discovered when he is inside the enemy territory. Seriously? When you look at everything included in this movie its kind of ridiculous. Considering that most of it was added for the sake of adding it rather than for the story, then it gets to be almost a joke. Then they take away almost all character work, pacing, and logic to pad the film with these moments. Why does Number 11 fake to defect only to take him in a plane to crash it? Fuck if I know, but it let Bond crash a fucking place and survive and I guess that's cool. It's frustrating when you think about the film this way so here's your warning. Just enjoy the movie for what it is instead of trying to make it out to be a good film.
BOND 2/5: Connery as Bond can't be bad right? Well, if the character has no direction, no build, no arc, and no purpose than to be as awesome as possible (must be the chest hair) then yeah he can be bad. Not his fault. He doesn't even get any real good dialogue with the villain. For shame!
VILLAIN 3/5: Honestly we don't have a 'villain' persay until the last 15 minutes of the film when we discover Blofeld is behind it all. And honestly, I love Donald Pleasence as Blofeld. He makes his 10 minutes of screen time worth it with a quirky film presence. Too bad he doesn't have enough time on screen, nor any good banter with Bond, nor a henchmen to really help him out.
BOND GIRL 3/5: This is another Bond movie that really doesn't have a specific Bond girl in it. Aki (whom is the closest) appears on and off as a Japanese spy and works her time on screen, but she is left somewhat hanging as a character and is wasted rather suddenly only to be replaced by, essentially, her doppelganger for the rest of the film. She works with what she has though and I appreciate that.
"You Only Live Twice" is a very memorable film due to its ridiculous amount of moments. Little Nellie, the submarines, the volcano, and the Japanese setting make this film a little hard to forget. As a kid, I loved this one, but as an adult, when really thinking about the film, it comes off as far too childish and over the top for its own good. They sacrifice too much for the sake of its own enormity of visual work.
Written By Matt Reifschneider