"For Your Eyes Only" is a classic Bond adventure in every imaginable way. But, the weak finale and tiresome plotting kill the third act, robbing the film of its potential to be one of the best Bond outings ever made.
James Bond 12 - For Your Eyes Only (1981, Blu-ray)
Directors: John Glen
Producers: Albert Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson
Writers: Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson
Features: * Commentaries * Declassified: MI6 Vault * Mission Dossier * Mission Control * Image Database * Ministry of Propaganda
Roger Moore ... James Bond
Carole Bouquet ... Melina Havelock
Topol ... Milos Columbo
Lynn-Holly Johnson ... Bibi Dahl
Julian Glover ... Aristotle Kristatos
Cassandra Harris ... Countess Lisl von Schlaf
Jill Bennett ... Jacoba Brink
Michael Gothard ... Emile Leopold Locque
John Wyman ... Erich Kriegler
Jack Hedley ... Sir Timothy Havelock
Lois Maxwell ... Miss Moneypenny
Desmond Llewelyn ... Q
For Your Eyes Only Blu-ray Review
Itís odd. Almost every time I glance over the Bond classics, I always stumble when it comes to the plot of "For Your Eyes Only." Perhaps itís because Iíve only seen the film a few times, or because the plot is, more or less, a retread of several previous installments. Either way you cut it, "For Your Eyes Only" has never been a memorable experience for me. But, for many, this is the quintessential Roger Moore Bond picture.
After taking a dark turn with the comic book space adventure, "Moonraker," producers sought to revitalize the character. Much like producers are doing now with "Casino Royale," Bond was stripped of his over-the-top gadgets, his paper thin babes and his silly one-note quips. Instead, heís given a much tidier plot, a rounded Bond girl and more of an emotional core. The result is engaging and refreshing.
In "For Your Eyes Only," Bond finds himself uncovering a plot within the Greek underworld to capture a device capable of controlling the British nuclear fleet. Along the way, he ends up being paired with Melina, a woman scorned by the mysterious assassination of her parents. Together, the duo soon uncovers a deadly plot that may place the fate of our world in the hands of some truly deadly foes.
The film moves quite swiftly, shifting gears (and locations) as often as the plot will allow. The various action set-pieces are extremely exciting, particularly the filmís mid-act car chase. The skiing sequence, another staple of the series, is equally as extraordinary.
Roger Moore is fitting comfortably now in the role of James Bond. Heís beginning to show his age, but heís still fully capable of playing the part. John Glen does his usual good job of directing the material. He barely adds any panache to this outing, instead, he returns to the more simplistic shooting style we saw in earlier pre-Moore Bond adventures like "Thunderball" (directed by Terrence Young) or "On Her Majestyís Secret Service" (directed by Peter Hunt).
The film only takes a stumble during the rickety final act, after the dazzling underwater battle. The action is turned down to a near simmer as Bond sneaks his way to the anti-climactic finale. The film is built with such energy that by the time we reach this sequence, weíre ready for more, not less. The result is a tiresome finale that lacks the usual memorable punch of other Bond adventures. Perhaps adjusting the opening sequence, in which Bond kills Ernst Blofeld, and placing it at the end of the picture, might have spelled a more memorable finale and a clever tie-in of that long-standing rivalry.
"For Your Eyes Only" is a classic Bond adventure in every imaginable way. It features the best performances of any Moore-era Bond adventure and enough action to fill two pictures. But, the weak finale and tiresome plotting kill the third act, robbing the film of its potential to be one of the best Bond outings ever made.
Film Report Card:
Entertainment Value: B+
Film Value: B
MGM finally gets Blu-ray right! "For Your Eyes Only" is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen at 1080p/AVC video on a BD50 disc. The old DVD, released back in 2006, was pretty strong in some ways, but inconsistent when it came to digital intrusions (artifacting, ghosting) and dust. Here, those blemishes have been washed away thanks to a brand new restoration of the original print. Gone are little color inconsistencies, dust, white specks and wavering details. This disc is eons better than its DVD counterpart.
The encode itself is sharp, with solid black levels, great contrast and a fine, if somewhat drab palette (though itís not quite as inconsistent as "Die Another Day"). The image is occasionally soft, a fault of this eras film stock. Some DNR has been applied to certain scenes in order to soften film grain as well, which is sure to disappoint some and delight others. But, itís not distracting from the overall presentation. I imagine there will be better restorations as these sets continue to roll out, but this is easily the best version of this film available on home video.
MGM provides a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track for fans to enjoy. I wasnít really expecting much in terms of an enveloping experience with the older Bond titles, but MGM aims to please, presenting an aggressive 5.1 mix for fans to enjoy. Discrete effects flow back and forth between the front and rear surrounds while the score is evenly balanced between each channel. Even bass effects are aggressive and well mixed.
Some effects, like explosions, wind and gunshots, are a touch hollow at times, not really sounding like fresh, organic effects. Dialogue is also a bit muffled and mono-like. Compared to last DVD release, this track is far more realized and significantly better. In fact, this track might even be more aggressive and enveloping than the theatrical experience. Great job, MGM!
MGM ports over the special features from the original two-disc DVD set released back in 2006. Iíll lightly skim over most of these since fans have likely indulged in these goodies before. The only thing missing from this release is the collectible booklet.
ē Commentaries -- Three tracks total, the first features director John Glen and cast, the second features producer Michael G. Wilson with several crew members. The final track is a solo track from Sir Roger Moore. The first two tracks are merely re-edits of audio clips, interviews and the like. Theyíre informative, but not scene-specific. The final track is pretty dry with Moore phoning in a rather worthless commentary. Still, Iím glad to see Moore contributing to this set. His commentary might be boring, but heís a class act individual.
ē Mission Dossier (SD) -- Here, youíll be treated to the same three quick featurettes from the 2006 DVD along with two deleted scenes and a multi-angle vignette called Ďexpanded anglesí (these features are in HD).
ē Declassified: MI6 Vault (SD) -- Here youíll find a rather hodgepodge collection of featurettes and other odds and ends detailing the production. There are also a few animated storyboards with script-to-screen comparisons and a music video. In all, the material here runs about 45-odd minutes
ē Mission Control (HD) -- Basically a clip reel with footage from the film helping introduce newcomers to the characters.
ē Image Database (HD) -- Finally, thereís an extensive image gallery of all things Bond.
ē Ministry of Propaganda -- Cute name. This was missing from "Die Another Day," but itís packed into this set. Basically, this is a promo section with trailers, teasers, TV spots and radio spots.
Bond doesnít get any new HD gadgets with this release, other than an updated A/V presentation and a sleek menu. But, methinks this isnít the last weíve seen of Bond on Blu-ray. Expect PiP tracks on the next release when Daniel Craigís third Bond outing reaches theaters in 2010.
MGM knocks this one out of the park in terms of presentation, and the design of the packaging is no different. MGM mixes things up, presenting a quality look to a quality release thatís fresher than any Fox/MGM Blu-ray release yet.
"For Your Eyes Only" is a back-to-basics Bond outing, a stark contrast from the overblown comic book adventure that is "Moonraker." Unfortunately, the film plays things a little too safe at times, making the film feel a tad stale. But, when it comes to great action, fun characters and a rock-solid plot, "For Your Eyes Only" is one of the better Bond outings. The Blu-ray disc sports a near reference A/V presentation and several great bonus features. But, donít be surprised though, when MGM returns to this franchise for a more high-def exclusive double dip. For now, this is Bond at his best.
Blu-ray Report Card:
HD Content: N/A
Recommendation: Worth owning.
On Blu-ray Disc: October 21, 2008.
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----R. L. Shaffer