The 1980s were a difficult period for James Bond. Helmed almost exclusively by director John Glen, the series had its brief highs and sluggish, lengthy lows. For Your Eyes Only is the beginning of a new generation of Bond. As Roger Moore fires his way through into the 1980s, one thing is clear. Nothing has changed. He is still the formidably cheeky airhead that, at the same time as saving the world and getting the girl, gurns his face in the most fascinating of ways. Much of that is seen in the opening, where Bond struggles to gain control of a helicopter piloted by a camera-shy Blofeld, who does not face the camera. That is the start Bond made to the 1980s, and it is no wonder a slump was on the way.
Changing tact, the James Bond series preserved James Bond not just as a womanising secret agent with foul intentions and a penchant for getting the job done, but also as a clumsy scamp who is one eye-roll away from parody. Roger Moore was the reason for that, and some of his features are better for it. They feel awkward and janky, but The Spy Who Loved Me at least straddles the shark-jumping opportunities as well as it can. Live and Let Die did too. All the natural elements of the Bond feature are here, from the Russian villains to the suave and steady one-liners. But it is their implementation here that strikes up some surprisingly confident turns from Moore.
Don’t judge a book by its cover, but judge a film by how similar it feels to the other projects of its director. Hal Needham stormed into the 1980s with the topics and styles that made him so popular just four years prior. The Cannonball Run doesn’t just feel like Smokey and the Bandit, it has the same riffs, gags and protagonists that cajole and connive as they try and achieve the great, modern American Dream, cash. Dragging Burt Reynolds into his piece once again, the bond between Needham and Reynolds is, apparently, inseparable. If only it were, for the two have not, in hindsight, offered us their best works together. An oddly long-winded take on Wacky Races and a sure piece of inspiration for Rat Race, there is no sign of stopping Needham’s desire to find the funny in the American outlaw.
Because of how often the Roger Moore led Bond films are shown on television, I feel like I’ve assimilated much of his work into my system without really noticing. Case in point, Octopussy, which I remembered a few set pieces of without having any real memory of watching the film in its entirety. Perhaps I should have left it that way. Inevitably there was no desire to view this, nor was there any point in doing so. Once you’ve seen the few big explosions, heard the one-liners and, if you’re a nerd, read the book, you’ve already seen more than what this adaptation can offer to audiences.
Britpop died, not with a bang, but with the ushering in of a new brand of music, one that soon pulled the curtain back to showcase itself as pop music all along. Scoundrels. The Spice Girls aren’t too bad of a pop group, and their foray into film with Spice World seems rather an inevitability when you come to think about it. It was certainly a financial hit; they blew The Beatles out of the water entirely in that regard. But when discussing the quality of the overall product, there is only one, clear winner. It’s certainly not Spice World, for it fails to reach the surprising consistency of the album it shares its name with.