Friday, November 16, 2012

Thunderball


Two themes sort of co-habitated in my mind while I watched this one. First is just how many of the mockable tropes of the Bond franchise really come straight from this movie. I mean, the first Austin Powers flick is basically Thunderball with a few wrinkles. The stolen warhead. The ridiculous ransom demand delivered to the authorities (the Hank Scorpio gag, another mile post in the Bond trope mockery industry). The second-in-command with an eyepatch. The murder of a henchman at the crime syndicate meeting. It's all here; I feel like I'm not doing justice to just how many of the cliches get their first test drive here.

The second theme is how fucking bloated and self-indulgent the movie is. It's not even so much that it's long (although it is the longest one so far, but not by a ridiculous amount), it's how conspicuously *expensive* it all is, for no discernible reason. Dr. No had major mid-movie problems because the film went down to Jamaica and just sat there, lifeless. Well, Thunderball does essentially the same single-location shoot, this time at the Bahamas, but instead of filming crab shacks and ugly beaches the camera films helicopter shots of helicopters and parade scenes. And underwater.

My wife got back from her scuba trip to the Keys a few weeks ago and she has quite literally not stopped talking about scuba diving since. Well, that's what this movie is. It's a movie that won't stop talking about scuba diving, except instead of "talking about scuba diving" it's "taking the camera underwater and filming people scuba diving." They bought a sweet underwater filming rig and they want to get good use out of it so there it is, again and again and again. And again. By the time you get to the climactic battle (underwater, as if I had to say) you've already been down there about a half dozen times, so instead of a cool final conflict it just comes across like one of those dumb underwater Super Mario levels, where the geometry is all fucked up and you just want it to end already.

Sexist/Racist - I'll probably have to retire this temporarily, because there really wasn't any notable racism here. Plenty of sexism, no adulterants (he tells a woman near the beginning that he is surprised at how well she swims because women usually just flop around in the water. And yeah, another underwater scene.) He basically blackmails the first woman he beds into sleeping with him. Nah, not basically. That's precisely what he does.

The scene where the gathered leaders get together to discuss what to do about the ransom demands by SPECTRE features the world's shittiest map. It looks like something drawn in the 16th century, when people still thought the east coast of Africa was inhabited by mermen or whatever the fuck.

Claudine Auger (Domino) is, for my money, the hottest Bond girl so far, but her part is badly underwritten and she doesn't bring much to the table. Still better than Ursula Andress though.

I will immediately, and regrettably, have to walk back my comment about all of Bond's clothes being awesome because virtually everything he wears in this film kind of looks like shit. He spends a lot of his time in bathing suits, which Connery fills out just fine (although he seems just a tad paunchier here than he was previously). But he also spends way too much time in scuba gear and let me tell you, *no one* looks cool in scuba gear. Felix Leiter even says, as he's helping Bond zip into a bright orange or red scuba suit, "you look good in anything" or something like that. But he is wrong. The clothes in this movie fucking suck.

Bond sleeps with, I believe, two women. I kind of lost track because several of the women in this movie look pretty similar, so I had trouble remembering which women Bond fucked, which ones he wanted to fuck, which ones wanted to kill him, and which ones were all of the above. By my count, he bedded a nurse (or a doctor? I don't know, some sort of health care professional) who counts as a rando, and the Bond girl. The villain girl gets a bullet in the back, courtesy of one of her allies, because someone tries to kill Bond and since he's dancing with her at the time he uses her as a human shield
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