Over the past few months, I've been (slowly) watching the James Bond movies from the very start. Yesterday, I finished "You only live twice" (you know, the one where he gets married in Japan).
I have mixed thoughts about it. On the one hand, I fell asleep about halfway through. As a movie, it's just not that interesting during the middle parts. (I ended up watching the first and second halves on different nights. The 2nd half was much more interesting then the middle).
On the other hand, as a social scientist, I find the cultural differences between then and now most interesting. In short, the Western clothes and social mores haven't aged that well.
Technology wise, it's a mixed bag. Seeing a mercury rocket launch and the mercury capsule (model or otherwise) in action is great. Recycling mercury launch footage as a Russian rocket? That's just laughable.
Set wise, the movie is fantastic. I kept wondering if the bag guy's base in the volcano was an actual set or a minature. I think the explosions and rocket launches inside of it were done with minatures, but the rest...? I kept thinking, they don't make movies on this scale. Look closely and you can see a working monorail inside the enemy HQ!
Japan. I live here, and have done so for... wow, getting close to a decade. So, I found the Japan parts of the movie both the most interesting and the most agrivating. I found the movie a nice comparision between the Japan of 40 or 50 years ago, and now. Some things are timeless: yukata, the shinto wedding ceremony, the samurai. Interesting insight into the culture both then and now. On the other hand, I was blown away that the "ninja" training base was Himeji Castle! I was actually thinking: wow, I've walked where James Bond walked/landed in a helicopter/did "ninja" training. That was a mind trip.
On the other hand, there were a lot of things that the movie got wrong about Japan. The whole ninja school is the biggest. It came across more as a karate/samurai swordsmanship school, then actual ninja. In fact, the only two characters that I felt were ninja, were the two assassins sent against JB: the one in the training school with the bladed staff, and the one who used the wire to poison.
In summary, watching the movie was a mind trip of: wow, Japan has changed. Wow, parts of Japan's culture are timeless. Wow, Western fads don't age well. Keep awake. Argh, that's just wrong on so many levels. And wow, not only does Blofeld have really good makeup, he's a real bada$$. Oh, and I kept being reminded of Austin Powers (despite having seen this movie before the AP movies!)