Sorry, quantumofsolace - but since there was no thread about it yet I thought I should start it.
1983. I was 14 years old. Of course, I was looking forward to a new Bond - well, even two Bonds - but this was the year of STAR WARS coming to a close. Or so I thought. It was also two years since RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, and that one had upped the ante for action movies. I was still a Bond fan and enjoying it. But somehow I remember being just as lukewarm towards the film as I had been towards FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.
Expectations. Oversaturation. And the competition was gearing up majorly.
Even in the next years OCTOPUSSY had never been one of my favorites - although I do love them all - and I did not watch this one too often. Maybe even discouraged by the well known nitpickers ("Moore is too old", "the film is too camp", "the story does not make sense", "it is prejudiced against India" etc.)
Well, this time I enjoyed every second of it. Even more, I think this is one of the most underrated Bond films and definitely one of the best during the Moore era. I was entertained throughout, the story has a much better pace than FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, the location work is excellent, Moore - IMO - seems to be much more relaxed, enjoying his role the most since THE SPY WHO LOVED ME. The action scenes are very well done and fresh, the one-liners are funny, and John Barry´s score is wonderful.
And yes, I love the title song as well. Because it is a beautiful melody, mixing the light fun of "Nobody does it better" and the melancholy of "Moonraker". Also, it´s the main theme of the score, so - why do people complain about it? Because it was time to do so?
Let´s turn to the well-known arguments against the film.
- Moore is too old.
Well, his age is showing but he still commands the screen, and he is visibly doing most of the action scenes himself (and those he doesn´t do no actor would have been allowed to do anyway).
- The film is too camp.
Maybe I have a high tolerance for it, but the camp-factor only really is ramped up, IMO, when Octopussy´s amazons attack... and Bond is flying in with Q in a balloon showing the Union Jack. But, hey, this is a nice nod towards THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, and at this point of the film it was fun for me. Yeah, yeah, yeah - John Glen loves to combine Bond and animals, especially in this one (tiger, spider, snake, crocodile, ape (2x)). And the Tarzan yell... and the... Oh! The way Louis Jordan stresses the "pussy" everytime he says "Octopussy" - hilarious!
Okay, maybe the film is more camp than I want to admit. But still, I enjoyed it. And maybe you have to take into account that this film as every film and especially every Bond film is a mirror of the zeitgeist. During the early 80´s it was all about escapism and fun. And all those elements today´s audiences cringe at were hugely successful during that time. Does that make them bad? No, it only proves that perception is influenced by socialization. In a few years, people will complain about the 00´s being drab and joyless. Oh, sorry, that has already begun.
- The story does not make sense.
Doesn´t it? Orloff does destroy the real Fabergé egg (which is enhanced by Q). Octopussy thinks that she is just smuggling jewelry with Kamal Khan and Orloff - but Orloff is using the circus to transport the bomb, and Khan just wants to be rich and good friends with the man who wants to expand Russia. Am I wrong?
- The film is prejudiced against India.
And Russia. And Germany. And US soldiers. And... well, arrogant Englishmen. And men in general. And women.
C´mon, none of these characters are meant to be taken as a representative for a nation or a sex. And the way Bond utters his "curry"-line towards his Indian colleague is just harmless amusement between friends. Should I as a German be offended because the film depicts this annoying old couple eating bockwurst and offering beer while offering Bond a lift? Or the German woman who just can´t stop blabbering on the phone when Bond needs to inform the police? Or the young Germans in the car making fun of Bond?
And yes, I am aware that the film disregards the actual location of the Taj Mahal and uses clichés like the nail bed etc. So what? Was "Slumdog Millionaire" really an honest description of life in India, with people dancing in unison all the time?
For me, "Octopussy" is probably my third-favorite Moore film.
AND... I became aware (wow, finally!) that SKYFALL´s PTS actually quotes/steals from the fight on the train in OP. I also noticed (finally, yeah not too quick up there, am I) that M has travelled with Bond so many times before Dench-M did it. So, nothing to accuse her for.