This was the first James Bond adventure produced after the success of Star Wars, so it jumped on the sci-fi bandwagon by combining the suave appeal of Agent 007 (once again played by Roger Moore) with enough high-tech hardware and special effects to make Luke Skywalker want to join Her Majesty's Secret Service. After the razzle-dazzle of The Spy Who Loved Me, this attempt to latch onto a trend proved to be a case of overkill, even though it brought back the steel-toothed villain Jaws (Richard Kiel) and scored a major hit at the box office. This time Bond is up against... Drax (Michel Lonsdale), a criminal industrialist who wants to control the world from his orbiting space station. In keeping with his well-groomed style, Bond thwarts this maniacal Neo-Hitler's scheme with the help of a beautiful, sleek-figured scientist (played by Lois Chiles with all the vitality of a department store mannequin). There's a grand-scale climax involving space shuttles and ray guns, but despite the film's popular success, this is one Bond adventure that never quite gets off the launching pad. It's as if the caretakers of the James Bond franchise had forgotten that it's Bond-and not a barrage of gizmos and gadgets (including a land-worthy Venetian gondola)--that fuels the series' success. Despite Moore's passive performance (which Pauline Kael described as "like an office manager who is turning into dead wood but hanging on to collect his pension"), there are even a few renegade Bond-philes who consider it one of their favourites. --Jeff Shannon]In the new "making of" featurette the enormous complexities of putting together a feature of this scope are talked about by all those involved, from genius production designer Ken Adam to special effects whiz and Thunderbirds alumnus Derek Meddings (Lois Chiles reveals that to this day she is delighted to have had the most obscene name of any Bond girl; the behind-the-scenes tale of the boat hanging over the waterfall is astonishing). Sensibly enough the supplementary documentary celebrates the work of the special effects men from John Stears to Derek Meddings and John Richardson. The audio commentary has executive producer Michael Wilson in conversation with director Lewis Gilbert, screenwriter Christopher Wood and associate producer William Cartlidge, who are all obviously having a good time watching the movie together again. Altogether, another handsome DVD presentation in this impeccable series. --Mark Walker [show more]
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