Rewatched May 28, 2012
Steve Grzesiak’s review:
In the 2 years around the time and between Thunderball and You Only Live Twice, a lot had happened in the spy film genre. Suddenly, James Bond had a bespectacled Cockney rival in the form of Harry Palmer. The Ipcress File and Funeral In Berlin had come and gone, been box office and critical successes, and Billion Dollar Brain was looming on the horizon.
So, with the slightly more serious minded spy film now being covered elsewhere, the Bond series had to move forward - and it did so by getting sillier. Much siller. It's a decision that still, to this day, doesn't sit well with many people, but it was certainly proved to be necessary in the evolution of the series and its continued box office success at least.
As such, Bond decamps for pretty much the entirety of the film to Japan as he stops Blofeld and chums from pinching space rockets from Russia and USA in an attempt to start a new World War between the two. He unfurls a mini helicopter, becomes unconvincingly Japanese for a short while, and meets a bloke who, genuinely, says "Ahh so!" No, really.
The fake assassination at the beginning of the film is still its best moment but the ending is still really impressive in its scale and packed with excitement, even if the stalled attempt at assassinating Bond, properly this time, is stupid even by the standards of the series. It's one of the very best endings to any Bond film, though, and one that still impresses even now.
Of course, the series was about to hit its first major bump in the road, but after, arguably, the two least memorable entries in the pre-Dalton Bond era, it perhaps needed it. Despite that, You Only Live Twice thankfully lacks the stretches of boredom present in Thunderball and is a really good romp for the most part.