Roald Dahl's implausible script is padded out with the usual exotic locations, stunts, and trickery.
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The New York Times by Bosley Crowther
Although there's a lot more science-fiction than there is first-vintage James Bond in You Only Live Twice, the fifth in a series of veritable Bond films with Sean Connery, there's enough of the bright and bland bravado of the popular British super-sleuth mixed into this melee of rocket-launching to make it a bag of good Bond fun.
Tired, poorly paced Bond from 1967, with Sean Connery displaying his discontent. Donald Pleasence's Blofeld has a memorably creepy softness, but that's about it.
Director Lewis Gilbert effortlessly marshals the intricacies of the plot (a nutty plan by SMERSH to ignite a world war), the exotic Japanese locations, and the extravagancies of having hundreds of ninja warriors abseiling into a huge enemy base unfathomably constructed in the belly of an extinct volcano (quite the engineering feat!).
ReelViews by James Berardinelli
Unfortunately, this is also among the weakest of the early Bond films, although Connery is in peak form.
Rolling Stone by Peter Travers
From the Eastern flavor of the opening theme, hauntingly sung by Nancy Sinatra, to the Japanese setting, the fifth film is the Bond series just gets better and cooler with age. The tasty script by Roald Dahl junks most of the Fleming novel, spinning its own witty Cold War fantasy.
Chicago Sun-Times by Roger Ebert
Connery labors mightily. There is still the same Bond grin, still the cool humor under fire, still the slight element of satire. But when he puts on his cute little helmet and is strapped into his helicopter, somehow the whole illusion falls apart and what we're left with is a million-dollar playpen in which everything works but nothing does anything.