FOR YOUR EYES ONLY - Blu-ray review

...the second best Bond film starring Roger Moore.

DeanWink

"For Your Eyes Only" is the fifth James Bond film to star Sir Roger Moore and one of the films I fondly remember as a youth. While I was only eight when the film hit theaters, the magic of cable television found this to be a popular choice a couple years later when I discovered a distinct enjoyment of big stunts and cool explosions; all key elements of a Bond film with Moore wearing the tuxedo. This wasn't "Moonraker" with the Space Shuttle or "View to a Kill" with the cool Duran Duran theme song, but it was a James Bond film that played heavily on television at a formative time in my life. In my older and wiser days I have grown to appreciate Sean Connery as James Bond, but I was introduced to the character through the performance of Roger Moore and this is one of the finest films starring the tall and handsome Brit as Bond.

Moore's portrayal of Bond found the character relying heavily on gadgetry and wit to win his battles. The actor didn't have the thuggish brutality of Connery and played Bond as a more gentlemanly figure. Moore's Bond was a product of the Seventies and Eighties when the blockbuster was born and to be better you had to be bigger. These films became larger and louder with each successive film and that culminated with the film prior to "For Your Eyes Only," the 1979 "Moonraker." Thankfully, the producers of the series realized that the space-based laser rifle gunfight was far too over the top and the filmmakers decided to bring Bond back to Earth and give the series a reboot with beautiful women and exotic locations providing much of the spectacle for the film and have Bond take part in some exciting chases and have a lesser reliance on science-fiction and gadgets.

In bringing Bond back to Earth, "For Your Eyes Only" did start the film off with a bang as long-time Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld was dropped into a smokestack. I now find it peculiar that Blofeld was given a relatively unceremonious death in a pre-credits sequence, but this unsuspecting end to a long-time Bond nemesis starts "For Your Eyes Only" out with a bang. The film then reveals that a super-secret British targeting computer, the ATAC is lost when the covert ship carrying the device is sunk outside of Greece. The British intelligence community hires Sir Timothy Havelock (Jack Hedley) to locate the sunken vessel, but he and his wife are murdered by a Cuban assassin during a visit by his daughter Melina (Carole Bouquet). With Havelock murdered and Melina now promising revenge, James Bond (Moore) is called in to rectify the situation.

The investigation sends Bond to the hitman's Cuban estate where Gonzalez (Stefan Kalipha) captures Bond and begins to question him. When Melina puts an arrow through the hitman's chest and puts Bond's mission into failure mode. He and Melina escape in a rather humorous, but not too over-the-top car chase that I remember enjoying a good deal when I was younger. Two things are quickly learned. The first is that Melina is the film's ‘Bond Girl' and love interest and the second thing is that Martinez was not the pivotal figure behind Havelock's murder. After traveling to talk to Greek business man Aristotle Kristatos (Julian Glover), Bond learns that another hitman Emile Locque (Michael Gothard) and Greek businessman Milos Columbo (Topol) are behind the murder of Havelock.

A few twists and turns occur and Bond finds himself the target of affection for Kristatos sponsored Olympic skating hopeful Bibi Dahl (Lynn-Holly Johnson) who is far too young for Bond, but desperately wants to make love to the suave British spy. Bond also learns that Columbo is not the primary villain, but that Kristatos is actually the criminal who had hired Locque and is looking to sell the ATAC device to the Russians. As with most Bond films, some hair-raising chases and stunts surround Bond as he attempts to battle evil, bed the girls and throw out enough cheesy one-liners to spin off a Mike Myers series. Bond will never die and you know he'll be victorious and I'll avoid filling in the details of how he reaches the final credits.

What I enjoy about "For Your Eyes Only" is the minor reboot the series received after the debacle that is "Moonraker." As a child I loved the idea of Bond fighting in space with lasers, but now as I'm older I find that film to be perhaps the worst Bond film of all time. This more mature and grounded film has a better story that reminds one of the old days when Sean Connery was involved in car chases around ocean-front locations. Moore is given a rougher edge that is apparent in the scene where Locque is taken care of, which is one of the darker moments in Bond's history. There aren't too terribly many over-the-top sequences that left me scratching my head. Instead we are treated to Bond climbing a mountain and avoiding hungry sharks. This film returns to many of the elements that made Bond so good in the first place and I applaud that.

The story is still a little deep and convoluted. If you don't pay full attention the plot twist involving the characters of Kristatos and Columbo would be mighty confusing. Bond goes running around the globe and Greece trying to ascertain what is going on in the world around him as he tries the solve the mystery and there are times when the story is a continual string of heavy plot moments loosened up by a fast-pace chase sequence. The story is taken from the short stories For Your Eyes Only and Risico and uses story portions from the novel Live and Let Die. It is a better story than some of the previous adventures and while "For Your Eyes Only" is derived from three different Ian Fleming stories, the film flows better than most of the Roger Moore era pictures.

Moore's performance as Bond shows that the actor had a pretty good handle on the character by the time he starred in his fifth Bond picture. His Bond has a snappy one-liner for everything and wears a far more casual wardrobe than what Connery was typically seen in, but the character better suits the sensibilities of the Eighties. He was not as much a man of action as he was a man of situation and Moore's Bond always seemed to have the training or smarts for any situation and didn't typically need to slug his way out of a situation. By the time he starred in "For Your Eyes Only," Moore was 54 years old. His age did no permit him to be as action-oriented as the three year younger Connery was able to do when he played Bond at the younger age of 37 for his fifth outing as 007.

While "For Your Eyes Only" may not be as good as "The Spy Who Loved Me," this is, in my honest opinion, the second best Bond film starring Roger Moore. It contains a heavy, but good story with an underscore on special effects to keep Bond grounded in one of the more realistic (not that it is truly realistic) James Bond films that starred Moore. The actor was still perhaps a little too old for the role, but his wit and charm made up for his age. The film moves along nicely and has enough humor, action and beauty to place the film among the better half of James Bond movies. The truly classic theme song fondly sends me back to my younger days and reminds me that once I truly believed that James Bond was one of the coolest men in the world.

Video:

"For Your Eyes Only" is a huge step up over "Live and Let Die" in the quality of its visuals as the AVC encoded Blu-ray is detailed and colorful. The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The exotic locations and underwater sequences in this film all look spectacular and while the first Roger Moore film I had watched on Blu-ray looked overly dated, this film is a noticeable upgrade over previous DVD releases. There are still elements of "For Your Eyes Only" that look dated, specifically the special effects sequences used in the film. The beautiful island and Greek scenery contained in the film looks simply gorgeous and the texture of the water is fluid and looks wet. The higher level of detail isn't friendly towards everybody as Moore looks older than I remembered as each wrinkle in his skin is now revealed. Coloring is somewhat subdued, but natural looking. Black levels are good and detail holds up even during the dark underwater sequences. Source materials used for the film were clean and I was surprised at how well this film looked.

Audio:

The last two Bond films I watched on Blu-ray were "For Your Eyes Only" and "Die Another Day." The first four films were all original mono films remastered into the DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless audio mix that each film contains. "For Your Eyes Only" was originally mastered in Dolby Surround and a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround mix is contained on the Blu-ray for those that prefer to remain purists. The multi-channel mix benefits from more recent source materials in providing a far more convincing surround experience than any of the older films were able to deliver and the volume problem with vocals is now gone as well. From the very good sounding title song by Sheena Easton to the film's action sequences, "For Your Eyes Only" may not be able to compete with a modern film such as "Die Another Day," but it sounds clean and the DTS HD 5.1 mix is actually an improvement. Vocals are very clean and there is some limited presence in both the rear surrounds and the subwoofer for this film.

Extras:

Three commentary tracks are provided under "MI6 Commentary." The first Commentary by Sir Roger Moore finds the British actor spending a little quality time with his audience in a dry, but informative commentary track. Moore should be commended for recording these commentary tracks, but his delivery is so deliberate and dry that it can be a chore to listen to the quality information he provides. The Commentary by Director John Glen and Members of the Cast is another quality compilation, but narrated this time by David Naler. I miss John Cork, but Naler is a good narrator and these pieced together commentary tracks provide a lot of information. The third and final Commentary by Michael G. Wilson and Crew is another compiled bit of interviews and stories with Naler again providing narration. This is just as good as the first such commentary on the disc.

A number of bonus features can be found under "Declassified: MI6 Vault." "Deleted Scenes and Expanded Angles" contains two deleted scenes introduced by director John Glen. Hockey 007 Style (2:05) showing a Zamboni scene that would have occurred after the hockey scene in the film. Joining Forces (1:07) is another quick scene with the film's Bond girl. Expanded Angles are provided for Death of Locque (:43) and the scene can be viewed as the original scene, expanded angle or with the multi-angle feature enabled and begins with an introduction by Glen (1:11). Bond in Greece (5:58) has producer Michael Wilson discuss the decision to shoot in Greece and how the film was created from two Ian Fleming stories. Bond in Cortina (4:17) has Wilson talking more about the film, but this time focuses on the mountain snow sequences in Cortina. Neptune's Journey (3:33) has Wilson talking about the underwater filmed sequences shot in the Bahamas. Credits for the Blu-ray are also included.

"007 Mission Control" and "Image Database" are two submenus that have been included on all six of the first wave of Bond on Blu-ray and can generally be skipped. The Mission Control is nothing more than a set of bookmarks taking the viewer to many different scenes in the film. As is the case with most of the Bu-ray discs, Opening Titles – Textless (2:46) plays the opening song without credits and you can enjoy "For Your Eyes Only" by Sheena Easton as if it were a music video. Exotic Locations (5:02) has the familiar voice of Maude Adams talk about the locations used for the twelfth film and provides some nice trivia about the locations. The Image Database provides photographs from 1981 that pertain to the making of and marketing of "For Your Eyes Only."

"Mission Dossier" contains the meat of materials for "For Your Eyes Only." Inside For Your Eyes Only (29:48) is a decent making of documentary that is a little glossier and promotional in feel than earlier making-of features provided for the first wave of Bond on Blu-ray. It is still a good view and finds Cubby Broccoli's stepson Michael Wilson taking over control of the series. The Animated Storyboard Sequence – Snowmobile Chase (1:14) and Animated Storyboard Sequence – Underwater (1:46) show animated storyboards detailing two of the action scenes from the film and they are set to music from the film and contain footage from the picture to fill in the holes. The final item under "Mission Dossier" is the Sheena Easton Music Video (2:46) of "For Your Eyes Only" that is essentially identical to what appears in the "Opening Titles – Textless" feature found elsewhere.

The "Ministry of Propaganda" concludes the bonus offerings contained on the Blu-ray disc. One Theatrical Trailer (3:49) is contained under "Theatrical Archive" and is worth a quick look to see how the film was marketed back in 1981. Under "TV Broadcasts," three items can be found. The For Your Eyes Only TV Trailer (3:55) and For Your Eyes Only Second TV Trailer (3:55) are remarkably long for television trailers, while the TV Teaser Trailer seems no different that the other two. One must wonder if there wasn't an error here in what was actually put onto the disc. The "Radio Communication" submenu includes two radio advertisements; Bond, James Bond (:35) and When it Comes to Action… (:35). This set of marketing material was not as impressive as the four older films released concurrently on Blu-ray. "Die Another Day" lacked these materials entirely.

Closing:

I would consider "For Your Eyes Only" to be the second best Bond film starring Roger Moore. After the debacle that was "Moonraker," the man with the license to kill needed to come back down to Earth and beat up a few bad guys the old fashioned way and not slaughter them with laser guns. By taking a step back, the filmmakers nicely played into Moore's advancing age and managed to tell a good story and stick to some of the principles that made James Bond a popular character. This new Blu-ray release features a very good transfer that makes Sheena Easton sound incredible. The picture quality is rock steady and while "For Your Eyes Only" lacks the wealth of special features of the older titles that have also been released to Blu-ray, it contains enough to keep the most ardent Bond fan happy. If you preferred Roger Moore as James Bond, then "For Your Eyes Only" should be the first Bond Blu-ray to grab.

Ratings

Video
8
Audio
7
Extras
5
Film Value
7