A THUNDERBALL ADDENDUM ::: NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN (1983)
The Super Ugly
by Jay Maronde
So if you read my review of Thunderball, you probably remember that there was a prolonged legal battle stemming from the very beginning of the film. As part of the settlements, one of the original collaborators, Kevin McClory, was awarded the film production rights to the story. In 1983, Mr. McClory, and Warner Brothers film studios put those rights to use and released the extremely controversial Never Say Never Again, in which the entire story of Thunderball is re-imagined. This was not an “Official” James Bond film, as EON productions released Octopussy the very same year, and as such I will not be writing an official review of the film, (at least not with this collection of essays.) I do, however, believe that this film deserves some note and so this ever brief commentary will serve as such.
I like this film. I find it amusing. However, I feel Thunderball is infinitely better. The plot is essentially the same. In what may be the most shocking case of "cash-making-someone-eat-their-words" in Hollywood history, the Bond is the same; a "retired" Sean Connery was coerced into reprising his role. Despite Connery's usually welcome presence, this is one of the huge gaping flaws with the film. Bond looks super-duper old, borderline geriatric, and the fact that he is staying at a health farm during the start of the movie should come as no surprise, because compared to his Bond of almost two decades before, he looks decrepit. The film also has a very beautiful actress playing Domino, a very young Kim Basinger, who I will gladly admit is great in her role, exceedingly beautiful, and actually a better casting decision than the aged Connery. But for my money, she’s no Miss France, Claudine Auger, who is so beautiful I currently have one her press photos from Thunderball as the wall paper for my phone.
The one part of the film that I will concede to be better than Thunderball is the yacht. The yacht is bigger, which was mostly due to that fact that 20 years of yacht building technology had happened, and yachts had gotten bigger. This isn’t even to say I don’t like the original yacht because I do, but the new one is certainly bigger. The yacht also highlights for me where this all went wrong: the movie lacks all the standard class of James Bond. The new yacht is named the English translation of the old yacht’s name (The Disco Volante became the Flying Saucer).
This "dumbing-down" underscores the common critical complaint about this particular Bond: almost all of the usual class and suave has been removed from the character by various directing/script decisions. As far as I am concerned, the rest of this movie is tasteless, and in a way almost only worth viewing as a sideshow piece to be compared to the canon of true Bonds.