James Bond
For Your Eyes Only
Ultimate Edition 2-Disc DVD Set

Starring: Roger Moore
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RRP: 16.99
Certificate: PG
Available 17 July 2006

When a British spy ship is sunk in the Ionian Sea, James Bond is assigned to recover a weapons system known as ATAC, which can control - or cripple - the UK's submarine fleet. 007 must contend with a formidable foe known as "the Dove", but he does have the lovely and talented Melina, the daughter of a murdered scientist, on his side...

Following the high-blown fantasy of Moonraker, this movie brings Bond quite literally back down to Earth. As the documentary features explain, debut director John Glen and writers Richard Maibaum and Michael G Wilson forgo the usual reliance on gadgets - a policy decision that is graphically demonstrated by the destruction of 007's Lotus Esprit. The creative team also attempt to restore Bond's harder edge. There is a limit to how far this added grit can take effect with Roger Moore still in the role. Witness how Bond kicks the villainous Locque (Michael Gothard) over a cliff, but only after Locque's car has already begun to fall. However, we do see the seeds of a style that would reach fruition in the (sadly underrated) Timothy Dalton films.

This is also the movie in which Moore's age really begins to show, so we should be thankful that 007 has the decency to resist the sexual advances of the youthful Bibi Dahl (Lynn-Holly Johnson).

A curious aspect of this movie (and also its successor, Octopussy) is that while certain scenes strive to ensure that the story is taken more seriously, other elements seem to get sillier. On the one hand we have the tense rock-climbing sequence and the scene in which Bond and Melina (Carole Bouquet) are dragged across coral reefs, while on the other we have Janet Brown's comical impersonation of Margaret Thatcher and Blofeld offering Bond "a delicatessen in stainless steel". The latter was actually a popular mafia commodity during the roaring '20s, and so is a valid bribe, not that the majority of the viewing public can be expected to know that.

The aforementioned coral-reef torture sequence is lifted from Ian Fleming's novel Live and Let Die (the subsequent Licence to Kill would also borrow from this book), while the short stories "For Your Eyes Only" and "Risico" also provide plot elements and character names for the largely original story.

No review of this movie would be complete without mention of Bill Conti's disappointingly lightweight musical score. His disco-style mixes of "The James Bond Theme" work quite well, but his other "action" music actually distracts the viewer from the visuals rather than heightening one's appreciation of them. An interesting extra feature that we don't get would have been an alternate soundtrack by the likes of John Barry, Marvin Hamlisch or David Arnold. Even stock music would have sufficed, as the original trailers testify. Congratulations to the makers of this DVD's menu screens for finding some relatively catchy excerpts to play in the background.

Also on a musical note, this is the earliest of the Bond films on DVD to include a pop video among its special features. In this instance, however, the "video" to Sheena Easton's song is merely Maurice Binder's title sequence but without the titles. Interestingly, this reveals some naughty bits that the credits were intended to cover up, so one wonders whether this video was ever shown on Top of the Pops! Essentially the same sequence is presented as the "textless titles" in the 007 section of the 007 Mission Control menu.

In addition to the usual features, and no fewer than three audio commentaries, there are also animated storyboard sequences for the snowmobile chase and the underwater retrieval of the ATAC. New to DVD are two deleted scenes and a multi-angle view of the death of Locque, all of which are introduced by the director. Never-before-seen location and underwater footage is presented in the featurettes Bond in Greece, Bond in Cortina and Neptune's Journey.

As with its predecessor, For Your Eyes Only is a decidedly mixed bag. As such, this is for dedicated fans' eyes (and ears) only.

Richard McGinlay

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