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Customer Review

33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag, but an entertaining one., May 12, 2005
This review is from: Live and Let Die (Special Edition) (DVD)
In 1973 Roger Moore made a smooth transition from his most famous role - that of Simon Templar - to yet another literary character who had been made famous by another actor. Whereas the Saint had been immortalized by George Sanders in a series of movies much earlier (allowing Moore to make it his own in the highly successful television series), the memory of Sean Connery as James Bond was much more recent in the publics mind so Moore had his work cut out for him.
It is hardly surprising then that "Live and Let Die" plays it relatively safe. Moore went on record as saying that he read one line detailing how Bond had to kill once, but didn't very much like it (from the novel "Goldfinger"), and took his portrayal from that. In fact in his first couple of movies Moore plays the character much closer to his television Simon Templar persona than later in the series (the producers subsequently felt it was too close to Connery's interpretation of the role). This is a sad development as Moore never really had the chance to show he could play both charming and ruthless as he had plenty of chances to portray on The Saint.
Taking one of Fleming's most controversial novels (the villains are all black) the producers were faced with a vexing problem. They overcame this by not only giving Bond a black ally, but also allowing the villains to get the better of 007 on several occasions. They also threw in a redneck sheriff as comic relief for good measure.
The movie is essentially one long chase and in a definite break with tradition we are offered up a pretitles sequence in which James Bond does not appear. In the opening we see two British agents killed by ingenious means - first a man is killed at the United Nations through use of what can only be assumed a sound weapon and a second by snakebite on the Caribbean island of San Monique. James Bond (in only the second and last time we see a glimpse of his London apartment) is assigned by M to investigate.
What follows is a chase as Bond pursues the Prime Minister of San Monique Dr. Kananga and an underworld gang leader named Mr. Big across the United States to a fiery, explosive (literally) climax in the Caribbean. On the way our interepid hero must escape from all manner of tricky situations, such as being stranded on a tiny island surrounded by crocodiles. The action highlight is most probably a boat chase half way through the movie that has probably only been bested by an even better boat chase sequence in "Puppet on a Chain."
This movie does seem to have trouble deciding if it wants to be humorous or serious and I liked the introduction of the voodoo element that makes this a very unique 007 picture.
Truth be told, the initial Bond movie by Roger Moore is a mixed bag in my book. Whereas the supporting villains are excellent, the main villain is underwhelming and his plot (flooding the US with drugs) is rather ho-hum compared to bigger plots like destruction of the world (Moonraker) or the nuclear attack of British cities (For Your Eyes Only).
Roger Moore is also still finding his way in the part and apart from a few glimmers of what he would eventually deliver, the movie and his performance seems to be on remote control.
The DVD is one of the refurbished releases of late 1999. Previously the Bond movies had been released by MGM in the accursed snapper cases with few special features. MGM corrected this oversight throughout 1999 and 2000 releasing special editions of the movies in a series of three waves.
"Live and Let Die" was one of the seven movies released in the Oct. 19, 1999 wave (the first). For this reason its format is slightly different from releases in subsequent releases with this one serving up two audio commentaries and one documentary on the making of the movie.
It is in the commentaries were the real joy of this DVD lies. We are treated to a scene specific commentary from writer Tom Manckiewicz. The fact that he is sitting in the studio watching the movie with us is very obvious - he even noticeably yawns during the opening credits (hold in there Tom there's another couple of hours to go). His commentary is informative and very enjoyable. There is also a commentary by Guy Hamilton which is also entertaining. Aside from this the special features are very recognizable to collectors of these DVDs with trailers and tv spots and a still gallery with over 150 images. There is of course the requisite "Making of" documentary and a very short "On the set with Roger Moore" featurette that will prove interesting to Bond fans. Perhaps most curious of all is a UK Milk Board commercial that was released to tie in with the new James Bond movie. One special feature also here (and one I really miss on MGM releases these days) is a very handsome collectible booklet with trivia and notes on the production.
UPDATE- It should be noted that there is a rerelease of this movie coming up on DVD which will feature a newly recorded scene specific audio commentary by Bond actor Roger Moore. So, it may well be worth holding off on a purchase until these Ultimate Editions are released towards the end of 2006.
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