For Your Eyes Only (UK - BD)
Scott McKenzie takes a look at Roger Moore as James Bond, licence to meh...
Following on from the overblown interstellar action of Moonraker, the producers thought Bond deserved a more down to earth story for his first movie of the 80s. Looking back at the series, this may well be the first of 007’s regular reinventions that we’ve now become used to over the last twenty years or so. However, the screenplay feels like little more than a re-hash of Bond movies that have gone before with one of the least colourful sets of characters throughout the whole series.
First of all, the plot is undoubtedly the most unmemorable from Roger Moore’s time in the series. Bond is sent to recover a decoding machine and there are some run-ins with Russians and ice hockey players along the way, but I’m still struggling to make the story sound interesting and I’ve seen this movie plenty of times. Most interesting of all is the fact that the pre-credits sequence gives us Bond’s final confrontation with Blofeld, who is unnamed for legal reasons. However, no reference is made to this scene throughout the rest of the movie. I’ve heard suggestions that this is a dream, but I didn’t hear any mention of this is in the extras.
It’s because of the over-the-top action of all of Moore’s other Bond movies that For Your Eyes Only feels so dull, but it does have its moments. The scene where Bond and Melina are tied to the back of a boat and dragged through a reef is lifted directly from Live And Let Die the novel and the car chase in a Citroen 2CV early on is exciting enough to hold your attention early on. The final assault on the mountain-top base is overshadowed by Bond’s nail-biting ascent, even if he appears to be able to share exchanges with Topol et al hundreds of feet below.
However, it’s clear that this is the point when Roger Moore’s time as Bond took a nosedive, in no part due to his increasing age. With Bond getting older, the men he hangs around with and the women he beds get older as well, so much so that with the Mediterranean setting you could be forgiven for thinking you’re watching Grannies Gold Wild. This is particularly telling when he’s hit on by young ice skater Bibi and instead of immediately jumping in the sack with her like he's supposed to, Bond tells her to put her clothes back on.
Whether he’s knocking back a nubile young blonde or blowing up the Lotus we all know and love, For Your Eyes Only is an attempt by the filmmakers to give us an anti-Bond film. The only problem I see with this is that at all other times that the Bond series has been reinvented, it was necessary. Licence To Kill gave Dalton’s Bond a harder edge that wouldn’t return until Casino Royale and after a six year break, Goldeneye ushered in Brosnan’s greatest-hits style Bond. The producers may have felt that they needed to get over Moonraker, but For Your Eyes Only wasn’t the best way to do it and it marked the start of an incredibly patchy decade for 007.
I may not think the movie itself is much cop, but I can’t argue against the quality of the picture. There’s more detail on offer here than in the other Bond high definition releases I’ve looked at so far and if you want to analyse the wrinkles on Roger Moore’s face, this is a great opportunity to do so. Colours are strong, most of all red, which stands out very brightly in early scenes. There is a surprising lack of dirt and damage to the print and while there is a small problem with grain in the underwater scenes, I have to say that For Your Eyes Only has scrubbed up pretty well.
The movie is presented with a DTS-HD Master Audio track and while the quality is clean and strong, no amount of remastering could ever make me appreciate the soundtrack. Bill Conti’s score doesn’t feel like music for 007 to kill people to and the synthesiser tunes have aged very badly. The music is also too loud at times, drowning out the action and dialogue. Certain scenes highlight the fact that some characters' voices were dubbed as well, but this is more a problem with post-production work in 1981 rather than this transfer. It’s also obvious where Bond’s one-liners were added in for comedic effect, most of all during the opening scene.
The first of three commentaries comes from Roger Moore, who again provides an easy listening track where he comments on the fact that this is the second of his Bond movies to reference his wife and that he was unaware of any conscious decision to give this movie a more serious tone. The second commentary is an edited affair hosted by David Naylor from the Ian Fleming Foundation that includes interviews and comments from John Glen and members of the cast including Lynn-Holly Johnson who talks about the implications of the movie being directed by someone who had previously been an editor. The final commentary is another combination of interviews with producer Michael G Wilson and members of the crew, including Bill Conti who talks about how Sheena Easton got the job of singing the theme song.
The two deleted scenes include comments from John Glen about the reasons for their exclusion, one which would have made Bond even less Bond-like than he already is in this movie. ‘Expanded Angles’ includes one scene that was edited together in two different ways in post-production, which can be viewed simultaneously. ‘Bond in Greece’ is a compilation of vintage behind the scenes footage with commentary by Michael G Wilson, as is ‘Neptune’s Journey’. ‘Inside For Your Eyes Only’ is where the meat of the featurettes can be found, clocking in at thirty minutes and giving us interviews with the cast and crew about how they went back to the original novels after the excesses of Moonraker. We then get a couple of very short animated storyboards of an underwater scene and a snowmobile chase. Finally we get the usual selection of trailers and Sheena Easton’s music video for the title song, which is just the opening titles without the credits.
I really want to like For Your Eyes Only, but it’s just too boring and generic to stand out in a series that so frequently delivers action and adventure. At least we should be thankful that the producers have finally got the harder-edged Bond right with Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace (I’ll save that argument for another day). I have no major complaints about the transfer and the extras offer a decent insight into the production, even if there are no Blu-ray exclusives.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page.
Review by Scott McKenzie
General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children
Release Date: 20th October 2008
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Mono English, Dolby Digital Mono Spanish, Dolby Digital Mono French
Subtitles: English HoH, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, French, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Danish
Extras: Commentary with Roger Moore, Commentary with John Glen and Cast, Commentary with Michael G Wilson and Crew, Deleted Scenes, Expanded Angles, Bond In Greece, Neptune's Journey, Inside For Your Eyes Only, Animated Storyboards, Sheena Easton Music Video, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: John Glen
Cast: Roger Moore, Carole Bouquet, Topol, Julian Glover, Lois Maxwell
Genre: Action and Adventure
Length: 127 minutes