I mentioned in my Thunderball review that it’s becomes very apparent that the budget/scope of the earlier Bond films are increasing with each consecutive film. You Only Live Twice takes this to another level, with a story focused around the space race, lots of beautiful large scale landscape shot, aerial gun fights and a huge hollowed-out Volcano for the villains lair which features a large scale ninja fight!
Unfortunately, this actually works to the films detriment when viewing it today. The special effects used for the space sequences especially have not aged well and it’s hard to review objectively as it contains a lot of elements that have since been spoofed in recent decades as “Bond cliché”.
But even taking the era into consideration, I found the first half of the film hard to get into from a story perspective. A lot of things happened that don’t seem to serve any purpose other than to show off the fact that this was filmed in Japan, and although this all looks great for an aspirational “holiday advert” it doesn’t make a great narrative.
This sounds a bit harsh, as overall I did enjoy the film and it’s story concept of setting up Russia and the USA against each other would have been a relatively new concept in 1967. The hollowed-out volcano is still a masterpiece of engineering, the battle inside it is great and it’s fun to watch.
The HD picture quality is pretty solid on blu-ray, with only a few noticeable shots where the resolution drops. I’ve read a few reviews which say this transfer isn’t that good but I didn’t notice anything particularly bad, and it’s a noticeable improvement on Thunderball.
You Only Live Twice is definitely the weakest of the first 5 Sean Connery film’s but it’s a fun and easy watch.
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