Review for Octopussy
Octopussy came out in 1983, and back then, the one thing I never had to worry about was spoilers. There was no Internet, no social media, just Film XX with Barry Norman, and he remained suitably circumspect when it came to reviewing movies. These days, I have to break my back to avoid spoilers, and even then they creep up in unexpected places. The other day, I went to a supposedly reputable entertainment website and clicked on an article about who the next actor to be cast as Bond might be. And top of the first paragraph, the first sentence related the end of No Time To Die. It took me a second look to see, in a font usually employed by entertainment lawyers for small print in labour contracts, the words ‘Spoiler Warning’. Not that it would have made any difference, as the spoilers weren’t masked, and you didn’t have to scroll down to read them. From this I can only assume the following; the scumbags who stood outside cinemas, yelling out the twist to The Sixth Sense as punters walked in, have now got jobs as entertainment journalists.
When 009 shows up dead, with a Faberge egg in his possession, James Bond is assigned to investigate. The elaborate piece of jewellery looks as if it’s part of the Soviet collection, which suggests that the Russians are looking to make some liquid money really quickly. This raises the question as to just what they need the money for and it’s made more complicated when it turns out that the Egg is a fake. The real item is coming up for auction, and Bond realises that his best lead might be finding out just who buys it. That person turns out to be an exiled Afghan prince named Kamal Khan, who lives in a heavily guarded palace in India. And he’s connected to the notorious Octopussy smuggling operation. The third vertex of this triangle turns out to be General Orloff of the Soviet army, a hot head who is keen to wage war on the West before disarmament talks neuter the Soviet military.
Octopussy gets a 2.35:1 widescreen 1080p transfer with DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround and DD 2.0 Surround English, DD 5.1 Surround Spanish and Portuguese, and DTS 5.1 Surround French and German, with subtitles in these languages and Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish. Octopussy gets a fine presentation on this disc, a comparatively recent film that avoids some of the issues introduced when restoring some of the earlier Bond movies. The image is clear and sharp, and colours are lush and vivid, making the most of the Indian settings and costumes. Detail levels are good, and signs of compression and the like are minimal. The audio is fine, presenting the action with suitable impact, while keeping the dialogue clear. The music drives the story well, but is quite forgettable, not least the theme song.
You get one disc in a BD Amaray case which boots to an animated menu. There is also a UV code, which has probably expired by now.
You get two commentaries with the film, one with Sir Roger Moore, and one with director John Glen.
In Declassified: MI6 Vault you will see the following.
Shooting Stunts Part 1: Crashing Jeeps (3:46)
Shooting Stunts Part 2: The Airplane Crash (3:26)
Ken Burns On-Set Movie (6:40)
On Location with Peter Lamont (4:43)
Testing the Limits – The Aerial Team (4:31)
James Brolin Original Screen Tests
--Brolin On Bond (4:26)
--James Brolin: The Fight Scene Screentest (1:38)
--James Brolin & Maud Adams: The Love Scene Screentest (2:58)
--James Brolin: The Vijay Screentest (1:44)
James Bond in India – Original 1983 Featurette (29:26)
In Mission Dossier...
Inside Octopussy – An Original Documentary (33:06)
Designing Bond – Peter Lamont (20:57)
All Time High – Music Video (3:03)
Storyboard Sequences x2 (6:54)
Exotic Locations (4:37)
Ministry of Propaganda has 4 Theatrical Trailers
Image Database offers 18 categories of picture galleries.
I loved Octopussy when I was a kid, an entertaining and colourful action adventure which takes the world’s greatest spy to India. As a child of Indian heritage, that meant a lot. It didn’t take long for the shine to tarnish, once I realised that the portrayal of India was one that a lot of films used back in the day, where the population was exploited as extras, but when it came to the main cast, the filmmakers looked elsewhere. It also has the usual Moore-era issues of goofy and misplaced humour, an obviously aging lead, and adhering to a, by this point, tired formula. In addition to this, Octopussy suffers from a near terminal structural issue.
Yet there are aspects of Octopussy that still stand out. That microjet sequence in the banana republic makes for one of the more memorable pre-credits sequences in a Bond movie, and certainly a whole lot of fun, while the stunts in the film still stand out. I remember one of the recent Mission Impossibles with Tom Cruise hanging off the side of a plane as it took off, yet a stuntman did it in Octopussy over thirty years previously. One of the elements in the story is a circus, which the antagonists use as a cover for smuggling, and that brings circus acrobatics to some of the action sequences which give the film a different tone. And of course you have Vijay Amritraj battering a villain with a tennis racquet.
The acting talent on call here is strong, with Louis Jourdan bringing a suave menace to Kamal Khan, whereas Kabir Bedi has the steel of Jaws, but none of the levity, as Khan’s henchman. Maud Adams’ second turn as a Bond Girl is a big improvement over her first in the Man With The Golden Gun, with her Octopussy more of an equal to Bond. But I have to say that Steven Berkoff was wasted as Orloff, a role that lacked nuance even for this era of Bond movie. Ultimately, there is also that structural issue, with the dramatic climax of the film happening half an hour before the end (leave the nuclear countdown to the end of the movie; that’s just common sense), and everything that comes after feels like an afterthought, with Bond mopping up the villains once the danger is over. It’s easy to drift away from the film in the last 20 minutes.
But ultimately, I’ll remember Octopussy for the stupid bits, the crocodile disguise, the Tarzan call, and the Union Flag hot air balloon. A weaker Bond movie gets a good presentation on this disc, and gets the usual excellent selection of extra features.