Roger Moore took over the role of James Bond in 1973’s “Live and Let Die.” Made at the height of the black film explosion, (better known as blaxploitation,) Moore’s debut featured an African-American villain, with African-American henchmen. (Sadly, the movie also featured a great deal of street-talk, better known as jive.) The movie also played to Moore’s strengths, namely, more innuendo, more gadgets, less believable plots. A Bond fan, going by the name of Grevious Angel Draven has taken on “Live and Let Die,” in an effort to make it a better film.
His first step was to remove any of the slang and lingo thrown about to make the movie seem current. He then tightened up some of the action sequences to remove the unnecessary humor and just to tighten up the film overall, bringing it down under the 2 hour mark.
I should admit from the outset that I’m a Bond fan and find even the shortcomings of the films kind of endearing. So, keep that in mind when I make any complaints. Overall, the work is flawless. It fits in well with the original film and, in fact, much of the work is flawless.
If I did have one complaint, it’s that too much was cut out of the action sequences. The airport chase sequence was marred in the original by the appearance of an old lady taking a flying lesson. However, in this cut, things seem to go by too quickly. The same could be said for the boat chase towards the end of the movie. Draven had the right idea by removing Sheriff J.W. Pepper from the proceedings, but cut so much out it no longer feels like the climatic chase it should. The other issue is the sound cues. George Martin didn’t write a ton of music for the film, letting sequences play with only dialogue for long stretches at a time. Here Draven adds music from “Thunderball” and “A View to a Kill,” to cover Martin’s shortcomings. I think it works well in the airport chase, but not as well in the boat chase. Part of what makes the sequence work so well for me in the original, is the fact that you get caught up in the chase and aren’t reminded what you should feel. I understand what Draven was trying to do, but I think he tried to fix a problem that wasn’t really there.
All of that said, there are some great additions. The opening credit sequence is the same, save for a better title screen, and it fits in almost flawlessly. The pre-credit scenes are all shown in black and white, with occasional flashes of color, to highlight certain aspects of the sequence. While it might appear completely dated in a year or so, right now, it looks good. (And is a nice compliment to “Casino Royale,” who did the exact same thing with their pre-title sequence.)
The audio mixing isn’t perfect, (sometimes the newly added music seems laid over the soundtrack instead of integrated with the movie,) but that’s a minor quibble. For someone who is looking to see a more serious side to the Moore Bond, check out “For Your Eyes Only,” and then, check out “Live and Let Die- Gator Bait Edition.” -Sam