A Bond with more over-the-top action than before, yet it's a very exciting action film...
I don't think I have read all of the original editorial reviews for You Only Live Twice, but I do remember this. I had all the Bond movies from Dr. No to Licence to Kill that were released on VHS as The James Bond 007 Collection sometime in the late 1990s. Each video box has a quote on the back by a critic who enjoyed the movie, except for You Only Live Twice. In place of where you would find a critic's quote, there is simply a tagline for the film. It made me think. Was this film so bad back in 1967 that no critic had anything good to say about it? I don't know, but from the things about the film that I did read, it does seem that the fifth Bond movie was less intelligent than the previous four.
Yet, I don't fully agree. I can see how it emphasizes more action than characterization, but it is still so much fun to watch. I like the various hand-to-hand combat scenes that Bond gets involved in. Other scenes involve vehicles, and the dogfight with Little Nellie and SPECTRE helicopters is an awesome spectacle that continues to be one of my favorite scenes. The action isn't stupid or pointless. It's eye candy that has some good flavor.
It's true that Sean Connery in You Only Live Twice does not look the same as before in Goldfinger, but he doesn't look too worn out yet. The Bond girls, Aki and Kissy Suzuki (whose name is never mentioned in the movie) are OK in my opinion. However, I do like Ernst Stavro Blofeld and the menacing look he has. He definitely makes a memorable appearance as a Bond villain and exemplifies what a Bond villain should be. My other favorite character is Tiger Tanaka, who is both a resourceful and friendly man as Bond's ally in Japanese intelligence.
This Bond movie begins the trend of having Bond movies in one of two categories: a Bond film with less action and a Bond film with more action. You Only Live Twice easily fits into the latter category. Every other Bond film falls into one or the other depending on what the filmmakers were thinking at the time, which is based a lot on the changing tastes of the movie audience. Personally, I see nothing wrong with having a lot of action while sacrificing a bit of character and dialogue, just as long as the movie is fun to watch.
I try not to judge a Bond film by more recent standards, but I'm tempted to make an exception with this one. I simply enjoy watching this movie whenever I do. Simple as that. It is still a James Bond movie because it involves a suave secret agent surrounded by danger, women, and excitement. OK, I'll also admit that You Only Live Twice was one of the first Bond movies I've ever seen, so that might be a factor as well. Still, all that matters is that I enjoy this film every time I see it.
For more information about You Only Live Twice, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my reviews for the following:
Official James Bond Films