Bond In Review: Thunderball Part One

After “Goldfinger” was a massive hit, EON-the production company that makes the film-had a lot more money back then ($2.5 million extra) to play with…and there’s a bit of a difference right away.

It’s the first Bond film to really go “wide” with 2:35:1 aspect ratio. This also meant that the film would have to reshoot the gunbarrel, which they did with Sean Connery properly in it instead of stuntman Bob Simmons. The smaller ratio would return for the first two Roger Moore films, but would pretty much return to the wider ratio for the rest of the series.

In the opener, Bond is at the funeral for Jacques Bouviar, a SPECTRE leader who has been killed-but not before killing two of Bond’s colleagues (Possibly other 00s).  He’s accompanied by French agent Madame La Parte, who he briefly flirts with-until he notices something extremely unusual about Jacques’s widow-that she opens the car door herself (Hey, it was the 60s!)

 

Following the “widow” back to her mansion, offering his “sincere condolences” with a punch to the face, revealing that the widow is in fact the “dead” colonel, who faked his death and is dressed in drag to fool Bond. What follows is a very, very high speed and chaotic fight (OHMSS would use a lot of similar “sped up” edits later on, perhaps due to the influence of editor-turned-director Peter Hunt). Until Bond is able to strangle him with a poker-but not before getting struck a few times himself.

 

After getting rid of Bouvier, Bond hurries to escape his men- and dons a conveinently placed jetpack to make his escape.

The jetpack of course became one of the iconic Bond gadgets, despite only a brief appearence in this film. Another, somewhat less cool looking one (but without the helmet) would appear in Never Say Never Again (The Thunderball remake/readaptation) in a highly different context, once again piloted by Sean:

…and Bond would later mess around with this very same jetpack in “Die Another Day”, alongside the poison knife shoe and the Octopussy alligator sub.

 

After a safe landing, Bond gets into his classic DB5, which uses it’s bullet shields and aptly, water jets, to evade further pursuit.

The jets turn on the camera, and then segue to the title sequence. In keeping with the underwater settings of the later film, there’s a lot of women-and some divers with harpoons-swimming around the multicolored water. Tom Jones is a bit different in his approach, but the song is a lot more exciting than the previous male-sung Bond song, “From Russia With Love”.

The film also has a secondary song that was rejected for the title, but is still prominent in the music score instrumentally many times-Dionne Warwick’s “Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”.  Both songs are pretty much about Bond himself, and his certain set of skills. The practice of a secondary or rejected song being the source for much of the instrumental score is something we see in later Bonds- Both “Pretenders” songs in The Living Daylights are used for the romance and action much more than the main title; and of course there’s Tommorow Never Dies “Surrender”, whereas Sheryl Crow’s main title tune really isn’t in the film at all….

We then are introduced once again to SPECTRE, who is joined by their “Number two”, Emilio Largo. Of course No.1-Blofeld-is back, but like in FWRL we don’t see his face, only his cat. His voice is also notably different, less of an accent but with what seems like some form of distortion effect. This seems to be the only moment Blofeld is really seen deliberately covering his face in the series (Although it’s possible his different appearences in the three films he appears in later are the result of heavy plastic surgery, as “Diamonds Are Forever” implies.) The meeting room also has a cover operation-The International Brotherhood for the Assistance of Stateless Persons. Somehow I think that they’re not really helping refugees here…

Blofeld gets some updates on the various criminal organizations, but he’s displeased with two of the operatives, who he feels are keeping the money for themselves. One guy seems particuarly nervous, the other seems very cocky. The cocky guy gets made an example of  via electric chair. This scene was actually parodied in the first “Austin Powers” with Will Ferrell’s character (and of course No.2 was based on Largo).

 

Largo’s reaction is just to coldly look over, offer no expression and then go back to his papers. Which is kind of funny, considering he’s probably one of the more emotional Bond villains in the series-at least in regards to his anger.

One special note about Largo…although the eyepatch Big Boss wears in the Metal Gear series is probably closely related to Snake Plissken from “Escape from New York”, I wonder if perhaps there’s some relationship to Bond as well. When the character first appears in the MSX game, he was pretty much a nuke-hoarding villain in the series (before the prequel games revealed another side to him) like Largo here.

 

Although certainly his original look in MG2 looks awfully familiar to this film’s star:

 

Getting back on topic, Largo’s got an ambitious plan for Blofeld-to hold the world at ransom-specifically-the North Atlantic Treaty Powers. His agent in this is Count Lippe-who of course, is pretty much at the exact same place Bond is, and like Largo and Fiona Volpe later on, lets Bond in to something suspicious-in this case a Tong symbol. Nice one, Lippe. If Bond hadn’t noticed the symbol he wouldn’t figure something was up at this health clinic….

 

Next: Bond gets some ‘excercise’ at the health clinic as SPECTRE creates a double to steal nukes.

 

Other films that inspired Metal Gear-Part one

Like I’ve done with the James Bond and Metal Gear comparisons, I’ve tried to note some interesting parallels between the series, as well as more direct influences (especially with James Bond) Hideo Kojima is, of course, a big movie buff, and friends with directors such as JJ Abrams and Guillermo Del Toro (On who he collaborated with on the canceled Silent Hills, and now on his current project, “Death Stranding”.

The names of the Emmerich family-Huey Emmerich, Dr.Strangelove, and Hal “Otacon” Emmerich-are all references to films from the 60’s and 70’s.

Huey-who debuts in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (although he’s referred to in Solid II and III) is a reference to the damaged robot from “Silent Running”.

Also, Huey’s haggard appearance, at least in “The Phantom Pain” (although motion-captured in part from his American voice actor, Christopher Randolph) and highly questionable morality are a bit similar to Bruce Dern’s character Freeman Lowell.

Dr. Strangelove of course is from the movie of the same name, and she does have a physical resemblance to the Peter Sellers character, complete with sunglasses and suit.

Lastly, we have Hal “Otacon” Emmerich, who first meets Solid Snake in Metal Gear Solid I. and is named after the intelligent computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

This is also reflected by the real name of Solid Snake, “David”, after David Bowman, the astronaught who has to deal with the psychotic computer on-board his spaceship.

Of course, Big Boss and Solid Snake had to deal with some villainous AIs of their own, including the Peace Walker AI, one patterned after his mentor the Boss, and Solid Snake later on with the Patriots AI system. Like the computer Hal, the Peace Walker AI units have a red-light “eye”

As for the last name, Emmerich, it’s based mainly on film director Roland Emmerich,  who director Stargate, Independence Day (as well as it’s sequel), 10,000 BC and the disaster films, Day After Tomorrow and 2012.

Although not in particular from any movie,The term “Otacon” is short for Otaku Convention, a reference to anime fans and a convention. Part of the reason Huey works on the Metal Gear series pioneered by his parents is his love of giant robot mecha from anime.

In fact, one of his early lines in the series-upon seeing the cyborg ninja:

James Bond/Metal Gear Comparisons- Double O Snake

Now this is a bit more on the nose than the Star Wars comparisons. Both Metal Gear and James Bond are action-adventure stories that involve action, romance, and over-the-top villains, and are set in the backdrop of the ‘real world’. Both series start in the cold war backdrop of the 1960s, although this fact wasn’t really revealed until the third Metal Gear Solid game (a prequel to the previous four games, revealing the past of Solid Snake’s father, Big Boss), although the James Bond series largely dropped the cold war setting when it was revamped in the 90’s (The Big Boss prequels-set in the 70-80s-Peace Walker and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain-are still set firmly in it though).

The middle-aged Big Boss’s Metal Gear 2 portrait looks awfully familiar….

Like Bond, the original Snake-“Naked Snake”, later to be known as Big Boss, is an operative of an elite unit. Like Bond’s boss M, his boss has a code name-0 (or “Zero”) although while M usually holds the rank of an admiral (Unknown with the Judi Dench one though), Zero is a major. Although Snake is American, Zero is very British. And he’s a huge fan of Bond-in particular, the first two Bond films released in the early 60’s: Dr. No and From Russia With Love.

This is revealed in a radio codec conversation between Snake, Para-Medic (who provides medical advice, and in the game’s context, also saves the game) and Major Zero.

Para-Medic: Snake, have you seen 007: From Russia with Love?

Snake: I don’t like those movies. Real spies are nothing like James Bond. It’s pure fantasy.

Para-Medic: Snake, I don’t think the Major’s going to like you saying that.

Snake: And even though it’s fiction, I can’t help but comparing myself to Bond.

Major: What exactly don’t you like about James Bond? Is it the fantastic gadgets? The cars? The guns?

Snake: Major…!

Major: Snake, wouldn’t you like to have a gun shaped like a pen?

Snake: What good is a pen going to do me in the jungle? I’d look like a fool.

Major: Then what about a snake-shaped gun? You could make it look like you’re grappling with a giant snake and then get a shot in on the enemy while they’re distracted.

Snake: OK, now you’re being ridiculous.

Major: We’ll make you a snake-shaped gun that folds up and fits into an attaché case.

Snake: Will you give it a rest?

Major: Oh, I get it. You’re worried about how to handle the ladies, aren’t you?

Snake: No…

Major: I knew it. Hmm…To tell you the truth, I don’t like the idea of playing hanky-panky with enemy femme fatales, either. But that’s part of Bond’s appeal. You could learn a thing or two from him. What about this EVA? What are you planning to do with her?

Snake: I…I don’t even trust her yet.

Major: That’s not what I mean. You can’t let yourself get involved. This is a game of spy versus spy. She’s using you just as much as you’re using her.

Snake: I realize that.

Major: You’ve got to grab the initiative. And to do that, you have to get the upper hand in the relationship. That’s what a spy is supposed to do.

Snake: Get the upper hand…I don’t think I’m cut out for that mission.

Major: Maybe if you changed your code name to Double-O-Snake?

Snake: Major…

Major: 007 is the biggest thing to come out of England since the Mayflower. I wouldn’t be surprised if they made 20 more of those movies.

Para-Medic: Didn’t you know? The Major is a huge James Bond fan. Don’t get him worked up like this.

Snake: Worked up?

Para-Medic: Maybe you don’t realize this, but now that you’ve got him started talking about Bond, I’m going to have to listen to him lecture for a whole hour after he gets off the radio.

Snake: You have my sympathy.

Para-Medic: It’s too bad you can’t enjoy such a great movie, though.

Snake: I guess I’m just one of those people who can’t enjoy spy flicks.


Ironically, Major Zero-who in some ways, becomes a sort of Bond-esque villain eventually, leading a secret villanous organization (Although one started with good intentions)-has a scar over his right eye, in turn slightly resembling Bond’s nemesis Blofeld (or at least the Donald Pleasence version from “You Only Live Twice).

Blofeld and Zero’s last appearances in their original continuity both feature them in a wheelchair (Although in Blofeld’s case, in “For Your Eyes Only” apart from his physical impairment he is able to seriously mess with Bond’s helicopter via remote control, whereas Zero is in a vegetative state, kept alive only by machines).

Big Boss would in turn have an eye injury of his own-the iconic eyepatch-but in case it more closely resembles Bond’s enemy in Thunderball (and Blofeld’s No.2 in the SPECTRE organization: Largo).

Speaking of villains, both franchises feature often over-the-top villains and henchmen.

Bond’s got henchvillains such as Oddjob, who uses a hat with a metal rim as a weapon (and ultimately his own downfall).

and Jaws, a giant with bolted teeth:

Although Snake’s got his share of weird fellas too:

Such as the pyrokinetic man on fire (Actually Metal Gear Solid III’s villain Volgin brought back to life and driven by rage):

And Vamp, a guy who is kept alive-and with supernatural skills-granted to him by nanomachines in his system. Like the name implies, his attributes are similar to vampires-albino skin, an ability to die unless a certain weapon is used (in this case, a syringe eliminating the nanomachines), a taste for blood etc. He doesn’t turn into a bat though, although he can certainly move like one at times.

Also both Bond and the snakes often utilize more practical suits when in action:

Bond however has more of a life outside of the mission (Big Boss/Snake really don’t-one of the main themes of the Metal Gear series), as well as certain missions requiring a certain amount of class,  Bond often wears suits or tuxedos/dinner jackets.

 

However, there is an option for Snake to wear a Bond-style tux too. To do so usually requires beating the game on a certain difficulty level at least once.

Perhaps the biggest homage to the Bond series-and the most obvious-is the Snake Eater opening. Like the Bond films, the game opens with a sort of ‘teaser’ chapter-the virtuous mission-which then leads into the opening song and credits-which is pretty much as Bond as it gets (Via Imagine Games Network, via youtube):