I'm back again, with yet another installment in my chronological series on the early James Bond films. If you want to start at the beginning, click here to read my review for Dr. No, and follow the links at the end for the following movies in the series.
The fourth Bond movie is Thunderball, again starring Sean Connery in the role of superspy 007. Terence Young returns as director, after sitting one out for Goldfinger. This time around, evil organization SPECTRE returns, holding the world hostage with stolen atomic bombs. The villain this time around is Emilio Largo, Number 2 in SPECTRE's hierarchy. The primary Bond girl is Domino, who also happens to be Largo's mistress.
At this point, most of, if not all of the James Bond formula has been established. He has his Aston Martin, his gadgets from Q, the theme song (this time by Tom Jones), etc. A lot of the action this time around is set underwater, which is pretty ambitious even by today's standards. The final battle at the end is a huge, no-holds-barred SCUBA melee in shark filled waters, and it is awesome.
As enjoyable as Thunderball is, and there is a lot to enjoy about it, the Bond series is also beginning to show signs of fatigue at this point. Things are starting to cross that line into the absurd. The opening sequence features Bond beating up a man in drag before blasting off with a jetpack. We're getting into silly territory.
Another thing that kind of bothered me is the amount of sharks that they must have killed to make this movie. There are points where sharks are shot with harpoons on camera. There are scenes where an already dead shark is used to act as a live one. They didn't really have any kind of rules in the 60's about harming animals in movies. I'm not huge into animal rights or anything, but seeing animals get hurt still bugs me.
Thunderball is the biggest and most ambitious movie up to this point in the 007 series, with triple the budget of the previous entry, Goldfinger. Unfortunately, it's also the point where the series shows signs of weakness. With all the staying power that Bond movies have shown over the decades, Thunderball serves as the point where the movies become more of a hit-or-miss affair.
James Moore will return with his review of YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE.