"A View To A Kill" (re-watch)
This actually is the only Bond film I went to see not only with my father but also together with my mother and my older sister back then - which might say a lot about how Bond films were considered family entertainment in those days. I was 16 and I was... well, underwhelmed. The film felt slow, uneventful, tired. I did not watch it again for some time, then I tried it on VHS - and it didn´t change my opinion. I tried it on DVD - still no change. I tried it again... and I thought it was not as bad as I remembered it. But still the film remained at the bottom of my list of personal Bond film favorites.
Now, after watching the others in a row, I did feel more entertained than ever. Say what you will about John Glen - but he surely knows how to construct a film efficiently, using only the necessary images for the right amount of time to convey the story. And Roger Moore, despite being overtanned in many sequences (hey, now I get it why Daniel Craig is so tanned in the backseat with Vesper - it´s an homage!), still is a fine Bond, and, frankly, all the reviews that point to the many stuntmen overstate that fact IMO. Moore has to do lots of action scenes, and the use of stuntmen is not as jarring as I had believed it to be.
What I do like about the film very much is the down-to-earth approach, every action sequence is believable and not over the top. So are Bond´s escapes. And the fight on top of the Golden Gate Bridge is a splendid idea, well done. John Barry´s score is magnificent. And Grace Jones cuts a striking figure as a female henchman.
The story is told efficiently as well - but one cannot help noticing that it once again is a greatest hits collection. More of the same. Still likeable but... one expects more from Bond, a fresher perspective.
As for Christopher Walken... Make no mistake, I do like him as an actor because of his unusual rhythms and speech patterns. And he works as Zorin. But not as well as I thought he could have. In fact, there are some scenes ("We´ll have to find him") his delivery is even amateurish or at least sluggish. Sometimes I get the feeling that he even forgot his lines for a moment, pausing just to save the scene. Either he was not guided enough by the director or he was underestimating the whole enterprise. I do love, however, his final smile before losing the grip on the bridge and falling down - as if Zorin cannot believe that he actually will lose.
One other thing: I do not think that humor was John Glen´s strength - he always goes for the very broad laugh instead of subtlety. Or was it the producers who pushed him to do that? Mostly, AVTAK is a rather serious affair with no big laughs or overbearing one-liners (and no, I do not think that "California Girls" is that bad an idea, enjoying David Lee Roth´s cover version during the 80´s and the fact that the song fits in with Bond visiting California in this film and that it is in line with the musical quotes of "Lawrence of Arabia" or "The Magnificent Seven" in the Gilbert-Moore-Bonds). But then, as in FYEO, the last scene of AVTAK crams in the "Bond is caught by Q having sex"-joke once again. I don´t mind the actual idea (or should I say motif) getting another variation - but to have Q drive to Stacy´s house and not just ask her whether Bond´s there but letting his little spy robot enter the house looking for 007... naw, that is a stupid idea that should have been improved on.
Then again, having Sir Roger´s last line as James Bond being "Oh?!" is a lot of tongue-in-cheek. See what I did there? (Sorry, still under the influence of that kind of humor, I must be.)
Oh, and a few words about Tanya Roberts... I know this will cost me credibility but I do not think she is that bad. The 80´s hair and make-up can be laughed at now - but rest assured, today´s fashion WILL be laughed at just the same in a few years. Her delivery of the dialogue also is not worse than the achievements of other Bond girls (or other actresses in general who were not trained in this profession but chosen mostly for their beauty). And since she is saddled with lots of exposition or reacting with panic, she really had a difficult job that few could have done better.
Looking back, I rate the Moore era much more highly now - the re-watch sessions enabled me to lose lots of prejudices against Moore´s films which have been cemented by the press during the last years. Moore is not a constant joker but approaches the character with more seriousness than I remembered. And his last three films do contain great moments that rehabilitate them even if the formula grew a bit stale (save "Octopussy"!). AVTAK, for me, remains on the bottom of the list during his tenure, but only slightly behind FYEO.
My Moore-Bond list: