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James Bond (Agent 007) must investigate the murder of a fellow agent who was clutching a priceless Fabergé egg at the time of his death. The trail leads to the mysterious Octopussy, whose traveling circus features a company of gorgeous, athletic women. Bond and Octopussy share a passionate attraction, but soon 007 discovers that the elegant Kamal Khan is working with a mad Russian officer to hurl mankind into World War III. As Bond tries to stop the nightmarish scheme, his exploits include a tense chase through the streets of India, a deadly brawl on top of a speeding train, and a treacherous mid-air knife fight on an airplane wing.
For more about Octopussy and the Octopussy Blu-ray release, see Octopussy Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on October 5, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Roger Moore, Maud Adams, Louis Jourdan, Kabir Bedi, Steven Berkoff, Kristina Wayborn
Director: John Glen
» See full cast & crew
Octopussy Blu-ray Review
Great title, mediocre Bond movie.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, October 5, 2012
The gadgets. The guns. The girls. The exotic locales and sexy cars. The white-knuckle action sequences. The suave flirting and cheeky double entendres. He's been played by six actors—Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig—but there's only one Bond, James Bond. Every man wants to be him, and every woman wants to be with him. (Some men too, I'm sure.) He's the epitome of super-spy cool, and for fifty years now—fifty years!—he's been an indelible part of our pop-culture consciousness. In terms of universal recognition, Bond is right up there with Mickey Mouse and Darth Vader and Superman. Everyone knows his name, knows he likes his martinis "shaken, not stirred," and knows his favorite pistol is the compact Walther PPK. You're probably even humming or whistling the iconic 007 theme song to yourself right now, and if you aren't, I guarantee it'll worm its way into your brain sometime in the next five minutes. Instantly, more like. Admit it, it's playing on a loop in your head right now. Bond isn't just a franchise, it's a revered institution. Yes, there have been a few duds along the way, but over the span of twenty-two films—soon to be twenty-three, with the upcoming Skyfall—the series has defined the international espionage sub-genre, all the while reflecting the cultural and political changes of its times. Sure, in one sense, these are just action movies—popcorn entertainments— but for their fans, these films are the height of cinematic escapism.
By 1983, the Bond franchise and its third star, Roger Moore, had grown long in the tooth. At 57 and unable to perform many of his own stunts, Moore wanted out, but producer Albert R. Broccoli—pressured by the fact that a rival production company was making Never Say Never Again, an independent 007 picture starring a returned Sean Connery—convinced him to stick around for two more films, Octopussy and 1985's A View to a Kill. The latter is widely considered one of the worst movies in the series, and the former is only marginally better, an adventure through India that tries to be all Bond movies—cheeky and dangerous, sexy and romantic, kitschy and classy—but is unfortunately more tedious than anything. It has its moments, you could say, but more bad than good.
In the good column you can add the fantastic pre-title song sequence, where 007 cleverly escapes capture in Cuba and makes off in a red, white, and blue mini-jet, zipping into one end of a military hanger and out the other end just before the base explodes. Most of the rest of the film isn't nearly as exciting. I mean, really, the story's McGuffin is a Faberge egg. This diamond-encrusted bobble is initially found at the British Embassy in East Berlin, rolling out of the hand of the dying Agent 009, killed by the twin knife-throwing henchmen Mischka and Grischka (David and Anthony Meyer). It turns out to be a fake, and when the real egg appears at Sotheby's, Bond is sent in to investigate, hoping to prove a theory that the Soviets are somehow behind a series of recently disappeared relics.
Bond's sleuthing leads him to India and Kamal Khan (Louis Jourdan), an exiled Afghani prince in cahoots with General Orlov (Steven Berkoff), a rogue Soviet commander who wants to destabilize the nuclear disarmament process and expand the motherland into Western Europe. These two make for a rather realistic pair of politically motivated supervillains—less megalomaniacal than Blofeld or Dr. No—and while Khan does have a suave bad guy charm, and Orlov makes for a pitch- perfect stereotype of deranged Red Scare military fanaticism, the two just aren't as memorable as some of the previous series baddies. The same goes for the two Bond "girls" this time around. The blond Magda (Kristina Wayborn) is a pretty face without much to do, and the titular Octopussy—played by Maud Adams, who was also in The Man with the Golden Gun—has a saucy name but a bland disposition.
The film drags considerably in its overlong middle stretch, but what's most damaging to Octopussy is how flat much of the humor falls. It's odd that such a comparatively grounded plot would have so many goofy sight gags and references. It's a toss up as to which is the worst offender: when 007 swings through the trees on a vine, giving an awkward Tarzan yell, or when he's forced to wear dopey clown costume at the circus. And then there's the crocodile submarine, which is exactly what it sounds like and as dumb as it sounds. The climactic airplane rescue/crash sequence is thrilling, but after so much dry plotting it feels like too little too late.
Octopussy Blu-ray, Video Quality
Like the other new-to-Blu-ray Bond releases, Octopussy has received a thorough restoration from the fine folks at Lowry Digital, and the results are spectacular, especially when compared side-by-side to the old DVD release. The film's 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer has been treated with care, preserving the 35mm grain structure—no detail-smothering digital noise reduction or halo-inducing edge enhancement here—while making sure the print is free from specks, scratches, and other possible debris. The increase in clarity is immediately noticeable; everything looks better refined, from clothing textures and facial features to the wide landscapes and composite effects shots. Any softness that is present is certainly attributable to the source material, but fuzzy/overly grainly shots are few and far between—the anamorphic cinematography is almost always clean and crisp. Color is handled well too; although the later Moore films don't have that creamy, period-perfect 1960s/1970s tone, Octopussy has its share of vibrancy, particularly when the setting moves to India, with it's bright saris and colorful signage. Skin tones , saturation, and contrast are nicely balanced for a natural-looking picture, and there are no overt compression issues to spoil the mood. Another all-around excellent transfer.
Octopussy Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Along with all the other films in the series, Octopussy has been granted a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, giving the mix an appreciable sense of room-filling immersion. The action scenes benefit most—missiles tear through the rears, jets swoosh and zoom, explosions expand outward, tuk-tuks roar between channels, helicopter rotors pulse overhead— but you'll also hear ambience when you'd expect to, like scenes in crowded market streets or at the circus. John Barry's score also blasts with force from all speakers, sounding rich and full, and although Rita Coolidge's "All Time High" title song is a dud, it has plenty of verve and dynamic presence here. Dialogue is always clean and easy to understand, and there are no pops, hisses, or crackles to worry about. The disc includes several dub and subtitle options; see above for details.
Octopussy Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Octopussy Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Roger Moore's second-to-last Bond film, Octopussy, has a few too many tentacles. It wants to be tongue-firmly-in- cheek funny and deadly serious, a spy thriller and grand sub-continent adventure, a more down-to-earth, realistic plot but one with some of the series' most ridiculous gadgets. (Crocodile submarine, anyone?) More than anything, it feels long, which isn't usually a good sign. Still, Octopussy has its fans, and they'll definitely be pleased by the film's Blu-ray release, which featuring a striking new high definition transfer, lossless audio, and bonus features ported over the DVD. It's worth the price of the upgrade, I'd say. The film is available in the Bond 50 set, but also as a standalone release that's currently a timed Walmart exclusive. For fans' eyes only.
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