Spectre Thoughts

Spectre James Bond movie poster 2015Ok, so I finally got to see Spectre last night – so it’s time for a reaction.

To be brief – I liked some parts of Spectre, but there wasn’t enough good in it to redeem all the weaknesses. So yeah, sadly it was very disappointing.

I have to say I’m pretty proud of myself for avoiding most of the gossip, onset reports, speculation and early reviews for it. Other than seeing the teaser trailer, official trailer and listening to Sam Smith’s song I went into Spectre as blind as one could nowadays.

They give away too much stuff today with movies. I get we’re all excited for a new Bond movie – or any big tentpole movie today – and we have to talk and read about something on the internet, but I never understood why folks want to know everything they can about the story and movie before going to see it. That kind of takes the air out of the balloon of

discovery when you actually get to watch the movie. It’s almost not even necessary at this point to see the actual movie. I like to allow myself a little bit of mystery when I walk into the theater – or at least try to.

Anyway, instead of a straight up written review I thought I would use that Bond Blueprint I did five-six years back as a template for Spectre since this is the most traditionally constructed Bond movie Craig has done. We see a lot of the classic Bond story beats and elements in it. I’ll cover the blueprint component and share some thoughts on how Spectre handled them.

Fair warning – there are major spoilers laying ahead!

Granted the movie has been out awhile and most likely if you’ve wanted to see it and are reading this you probably saw it already, but I don’t want to be responsible for spilling the beans on a Bond movie for any fans.

So here’s my initial thoughts after my first viewing of Spectre. And yes, it’s long.

 Gun Barrel Opening

– Finally we get the Gun Barrel to open one of Craig’s Bond films! See, it’s not that hard to do. I think Craig walked a bit too fast in it though.

Pre-Credit Sequence

Spectre Daniel Craig Mexico City Day of the Dead

Mexico City, Day of the Dead celebration, building explosion, helicopter fight – all pretty good. It felt like a throwback to the crowd chases in Thunderball and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (….and Quantum of Solace too, but this time it was better). I was genuinely surprised it was Bond in the skeleton costume. Ever since seeing the clips I thought it was Waltz and Bellucci in those outfits.

I liked the one-single take of Bond going from the street to the hotel to the roof. Although the extended one-take device has lost a bit of luster for me. I’m betting it was not just one filmed take, but there was some post-CGI help with it. We’ve seen the one-shot thing a lot nowadays, so it’s not as unique as when Welles and Scorsese did it. But I’m sounding like I’m whining and I still enjoyed it.

It was a pretty large scale impressive sequence. I’m sure there were effects used that helped increase the crowd size too, but it worked. Much better than the some of the shoddy CGI done during the tight shots of the aerial fight. Skyfall had a few of those lousy CGI Craig face bits, but here they were much more blatant and stood out.

I’d really like to try to avoid nitpicking and go with the whole ‘suspension of disbelief’ in Bond’s world, but I was left confused as to why after shooting the guy in the apartment did it cause an explosion. Did Bond hit a bomb in the computer, was it a suicide bomb the bad guy set off? And the indifference of the crowd after the building comes down was pretty strange. They just went on celebrating! I know there were cool skeleton floats to look at and the building was a block or two from the giant square everyone was gathered in but panic didn’t really grip the streets.

The Title Sequence

I didn’t care for Sam Smith’s song ‘Writing’s On the Wall’ when I first heard it, but I have to admit it sounded better playing alongside the titles. It’s still not going to be one of my favorite Bond songs though. The title sequence itself was pretty cool. Love the octopus imagery wrapping around the guns and the girls. Was surprised to see faces of former Bond alumni in there. I didn’t care for Craig standing there shirtless in some shots though. It just looked odd. They should have put a tux on him.

The Bond Theme

Spectre skull mask

Honestly, I don’t remember very much about the score. The Bond theme came in I know, but there was nothing that really stood out to me about the music.

I think there was a problem with the sound in my theater. At one point Bond and Tanner are on the boat talking with music playing in the background and I could barely hear what Tanner was saying since the music was so loud, so I missed some exposition. I told my projectionist friend that I thought the mix was off with their sound system. I’m not sure what was going on.

The Plan Is Unhatched

What are Spectre’s objectives? It’s to control the intelligence community with their ‘Nine Eyes Program’. So once again the Double-0 section is a target and in jeopardy of being shut down.

I gotta be honest – I’m a little tired of this storyline. What makes it even more aggravating is that we just did this in Skyfall. The Double-0’s were deemed unnecessary and M gets into a power struggle trying to prove they are a vital organization. I thought in the end everyone finally realized they were needed, let’s get on with business fighting in the shadows – isn’t that what Fiennes says at the end of Skyfall? I thought it was all settled.

Now here we go again. The smoldering ruins of Skyfall are laying all over place. We get throwbacks to Silva, Dench’s M, the demolished remnants of MI6 and it’s the same problems again – Fiennes’ M is in a battle with C (Andrew Scott) who’s trying to get his Joint Intelligence Service to wipe away the Double-0 section. It’s a nasty plan all headed by Spectre, which in turn will allow them unlimited access to worldwide intelligence.

Spectre James Bond cast

You know how I started with saying how movies give away too much and fans know the movie even before seeing it. Even setting aside little bits of movie news that might be read, the casting itself was a huge tipoff to all of us as to what would be going down and how it was going to play out.

Remember when he was cast we all said Christoph Waltz is probably Blofeld. And they were all like “No, no, no, he’s not Blofeld his name is Franz Oberhauser”. I have to give them credit for trying their best to keep it a surprise, but we’re just too smart for those kind of games. Waltz is a talented actor, but I’m betting he’s not getting many calls for romantic comedies. When he gets asked to be in a movie the odds are pretty good it’s for a bad guy role or a Tarantino movie. And it’s no wonder, he’s very good at them.

I would have loved to have been surprised by his reveal, but I – and all of us – were onto who he would be from the very beginning. The movie’s called Spectre and they cast Waltz in it – oh he’s Blofeld.

Just think if none of us knew Waltz was going to be in this at all. Imagine if he never showed up to a press conference, no mention was made of him in the publicity and there was no indication he was associated with Spectre at all. When we were sitting in the theater and he showed up onscreen it would have been a great surprise.

Spectre Andrew Scott C

Similar baggage went with Scott’s casting. Now I only really know him as Sherlock’s Moriarty and immediately when I saw he was going to be in this thought – ok, so he’s probably going to be a weaselly backstabbing guy. So the whole time I was just waiting for the reveal of him being a skunk and yep it came. It didn’t really help the whole ‘Double-O section is in jeopardy’ storyline.

There’s not a lot of casting gambles going on with these big-budget movies. Maybe for mainstream audiences it works better, but for us films geeks it’s harder to surprise us. We know Will Smith is going to be a good guy. Mark Strong is going to be a bad guy. Jai Courtney is going to be a bland guy. They generally don’t do too much gambling with their choice of actors for these big movies.

M/The Call

Spectre Ralph Fiennes M James Bond

I thought it was somewhat strange that even after we established that Bond has a new M at the end of Skyfall with Fiennes, Judi Dench’s dead M was still handing out Bond’s missions! Maybe next time Ralph.

Granted this whole ‘the Double-0 section is being shut down’ story creates some drama for M to get involved in. He gets to have intense meetings and confrontational scenes fighting with bureaucrats on the homefront, but I think it’s pretty played out. Can’t we just let M sit at his desk, give out the mission and relax for the rest of the movie. Maybe we can use all that extra time that has been spent on M to further focus more on Bond’s mission in the field and the characters he’s meeting. Ok, so maybe it might not seem like such a challenging role to be desk-bound, but Bernard Lee never complained – and he did it for eleven movies!

So this whole side of the movie with M and C and the Nine Eyes thing just didn’t grab me. I liked seeing the whole gang running around together, but I didn’t get invested in that story. It played as very routine and it felt like at a certain point it was really starting to drag the movie out.

Moneypenny

Spectre Naomie Harris Miss Moneypenny

Naomie Harris has really grown on me as Moneypenny. She was in this just enough. I liked her and Bond’s little banter. And I especially liked when he called her at home and found out she was with a guy. There was almost a twinge of jealousy in his voice.

They’re also establishing the dynamics between her and M with that line dropped of him not knowing it was her birthday the week before. No telling if we’ll see short repartee between them in future movies. After they reintroduced the classic characters in Skyfall the new take on Moneypenny and Harris’ performance has been really well done.

The Mission

It’s kind of an unusual take on the old mission scene. This time it takes place in Bond’s apartment. the mission is given by a message from the deceased M and Moneypenny comes strolling in through Bond’s door. Good scene. It was the first time we saw Bond’s digs since Live and Let Die too. This time it’s not as sparsely decorated. His daily grind is not as extravagant as his on the job gig. I did like seeing that Bond still has M’s ugly bulldog statue.

Q

Spectre Ben Whishaw Daniel Craig Q James Bond

Again another character who I really dig watching. It’s a different take on Q and Ben Whishaw really pulls it off. It’s fun to see Whishaw and Craig play scenes together. It’s really a nice updated Bond/Q relationship. They have the teasing, the ribbing, the characters frustrations down.

Watching their scenes you would almost think like this was their fourth Bond film together, like they’ve been acting together since Craig first started. As with Moneypenny, they stuck gold with the casting and take on this character.

There were very funny lines and exchanges between the two. At first when Q unexpectedly shows up in Austria – I started to groan thinking, ‘what the hell, he came all the way….’ then when Craig and Whishaw started their bantering I forgot all about the logic of it and just enjoyed seeing him again. I did think it was a bit pointless when he got into a short foot chase with some bad guys and escaped by ducking into a door. That didn’t add much excitement to the proceedings.

Oh and maybe I’m mistaken, but when Q analyzed the Spectre ring did he discover that every Bond villain had worn that one particular ring? All their DNA was on that one ring??? That’s just downright silly! We got it – Le Chiffre, Dominic Greene and Silva all worked for Spectre. They could just say that and move along with the story. The idea they all happened to wear the same ring it’s ridiculous and looks like a real desperate contrivance.

The Bond films never had this whole sequelized pattern. Yeah, we might get a small connecting piece of dialogue or something to remind us of a previous adventure, but they were mainly stand alone movies. Now I’m wondering if all this shared universe craze has infected Bond in a negative way. I can accept all of Craig’s baddies worked for Spectre in some capacity, – even though that….I have some qualms about – but them all having worn the same ring.

Oh come on! Are they so desperate to link all these guys into this one big story they’re going to try to convince us that they all wore this same ring? Boy did I roll my eyes at that one.

Just to remind myself – this is a movie series with a car rigged with an ejector seat that automatically straps a parachute on you. Yeah, ok I’m getting upset about that same movie. Ok, now back down to earth.

Bond’s Arrival & His Contact

Spectre James Bond Mr. White

I suppose I’d classify this one as Bond meeting up with Mr. White (Jesper Christiansen). After finding him hiding in a hidden room White gives Bond some vital information that sends him on his way.

The return of Mr. White was more underwhelming than I had hoped. It’s a mysterious, opaque exchange – not much more than what we saw in the trailer. He just feeds Bond vague clues for him to move him along and then he kills himself.

Ummm…..there was something really odd about this scene.

I didn’t buy all the mystery that Mr. White is still basking in. We learn he’s become disenchanted with Quantum (actually I can’t remember if they ever actually say the name Quantum. I noticed the references to Quantum of Solace was much less compared to the ones to Casino Royale and Skyfall). White is dying, he wants to make sure his daughter Dr. Madeleine Swann is safe….so why not drop the riddles and tell Bond clearly and concisely what he needs to know in order for him to best protect his daughter?

Ok, I can buy that perhaps White doesn’t completely trust Bond and by not telling him everything and leaving it up to Madeleine to fill in the gaps will more likely guarantee that Bond will keep his word and protect her.

But I didn’t like the suicide thing. It kind of negates the importance of White’s concern for his daughter by just leaving it completely in the hands of Bond. Heck, I would have thought he would have tried to live long enough to make sure that Madeleine is safe, that Bond keeps his word and after that do everything he can to help destroy Spectre. That would do more good than just shooting himself.

Checking In

Daniel Craig James Bond Spectre

We’ll mark this one as when Bond walks into the clinic and sees Dr. Madeleine. This was another strange scene. This health clinic was a definite throwback to Blofeld’s clinic in Majesty’s. I just didn’t get how Bond walks into this place on the top of a mountain and can get a sitdown with a doctor.

This joint looks like it takes special appointments and there’s not a lot of walk-in clients you know. Maybe I’m being nitpicky, but the whole scene felt really weird.

The other checking in bit I’d also toss in was Bond and Madeleine going to White’s favorite hotel room in Morocco to find another clue he’s stashed away that will help Bond find Spectre.

I’m really trying to exercise my ‘suspension of disbelief’ thing, I really am, but I was a bit confused by this whole hotel setup of White’s. Another hidden room…in a friggin hotel room. It doesn’t seem like the safest place to hide valuable secrets. I just didn’t get it. Luckily no hotel worker ever found it or White’s secrets would have been gossiped about by the entire kitchen staff.

Meeting the Villain

Christoph Waltz Blofeld Spectre

Ah, here Waltz makes his grand, spooky entrance in the ‘Eyes Wide Shut‘ meeting scene we saw in the trailer. It was a good scene. Ominous. Intriguing. A tantalizing taste of bigger things to come. The only thing is the Spectre organization and Waltz don’t get much cooler than this scene.

It’s kind of a double-edged sword. Seeing the shadowy Waltz in this huge room, surrounded by his loyal minions definitely makes me want to learn more about him. It starts to raise my

expectations as to what this guy is all about. Much the same way we would see this faceless guy petting a cat in the old Connery films and how it would get our ears to perk up. But it didn’t pay off in any kind of satisfying ways for Waltz.

The more I learned about Waltz the less interesting and threatening he became. That doesn’t always have to be the case with villains like this. They can get a big dramatic buildup and it can deliver on it. But this time it didn’t. I felt the more time he was onscreen the more disappointed I was with him.

Maybe they were just impossible expectations to meet. All us Bond fans knew who this guy was going to be. The biggest, baddest villain in the 007 series is coming back – Ernest Stavo Blofeld. Last time we saw him was way back in ’81 getting dropped down a smokestack. After years of a McClory stranglehold on him the character is finally set to arrive back to the series. How could his return not have such anticipation attached to it right?

Spectre Blofeld cat

Eh. I mean, Waltz was alright in the role, but I don’t think he did anything especially memorable with this interpretation of the character. He didn’t really standout as much as I hoped he would.

One little thing: I loved that they had his cat show up. If they didn’t I probably would have done a ranting video about that. How can you have Blofeld without his cat? I especially like Waltz’s little touch of after picking up his kitty brushing its hair off himself. I have a cat so I could identify with that.

But I think they goofed up his big reveal when he finally announces his name to Bond. They showed the cat a few minutes before Waltz got to give his line that his name was Ernest Stavo Blofeld. It took away the big revelation of who he was. The instant we saw the cat the secret – well, it was out of the bag already. They should of held off showing the cat until after he said his name.

The Indestructible Henchman

Spectre James Bond Mr. Hinx train fight

Oh yeah, let’s get a big guy that will be a real match for Craig’s Bond who will throw him around like a ragdoll! Dave Bautista’s Mr Hinx was very cool and a welcome threat to 007. Actually did they ever call him Mr. Hinx in that meeting scene or do we just know his name from the credits?

He didn’t have any lines like the old classic Bond henchmen, and like them – he didn’t need them! Well, I guess he says one word. He was a real physical presence in the movie and when he showed up I was jazzed to see what he would do. The fight on the train was rough and brutal. It wasn’t a real gentlemanly fight, like it was Bond struggling trying to do anything to get the upperhand.

Actually at one point when Bond sets Hinx’s jacket on fire it looked like he was going to do the Roger Moore move that he did to Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me by trying to kick his henchman out the train window. But then Hinx just grabbed Bond, threw him to the floor, whipped off his jacket and continued tossing Craig around. Realistically Bond would have been killed a few times over in that brawl. Exciting fight scene.

I was digging Mr. Hinx so much I was really disappointed that he didn’t show back up. The train scene was done, Hinx was eliminated and that was it. I was let down that that was it for him.

Getting pulled off the train would have been a fine exit for him for the scene, but not for the entire movie. Is he dead? Will he make a return? Who knows. He should have really reappeared later either at Spectre’s desert HQ and had been an obstacle for Bond to get through to get to the helicopter or maybe popping up in the ruins of MI6 and Bond being forced to contend with him before saving Madeline.

The Bond Girls

Monica Bellucci Daniel Craig Spectre

Probably equaling my disappointment with Blofeld was the brief screen time of Monica Bellucci. I knew she wouldn’t be the leading Bond Girl, so I was expecting her not to have a major role. I would have banked on her fulfilling the role of the sacrificial lamb.

In fact from her introduction at the funeral of her dead assassin husband, her saying that she knew she would be killed, telling Bond that he can’t help her, it all set the stage for a grisly death for her that Bond couldn’t prevent.

She survived, but I was shocked at how limited her time with Bond was. Bellucci was so good, had such great sexy chemistry with Craig and looked dynamite I didn’t want her to leave.

Alas, she makes an abrupt departure after being guaranteed safety by a phone call to Felix.

I was aggravated. Spectre is such a long movie and a lot of the time and focus went to things that were nowhere near as interesting or exciting as secondary characters like Lucia Sciarra and Mr. Hinx. Two scenes was not enough for her.

She was so good and powerful in her two early scenes with Craig that when the leading Bond Girl Léa Seydoux as Dr. Madeleine Swann shows up later she’s already trumped by

Bellucci. Swann is fairly forgettable. I didn’t really warm to her. They tried giving her a bit of backstory with being White’s daughter, knowing how to protect herself and stuff like that, but ultimately she came off flat.

Spectre Lea Seydoux Dr. Madleine Swann

I don’t think Seydoux was good casting for this part. She looks really young. Buying that she’s some kind of shrink working at this clinic in the Alps is hard to swallow. But hey, ok it’s a Bond movie I can roll with that.

But what makes it worse is that she has no chemistry with Craig. They just go through the motions of Bond and his gal and there’s nothing particularly unique about the pair. So it’s pretty standard stuff, nothing special.

Walking out of the theater I was thinking how things might have worked had Bellucci and Seydoux swapped roles. Have it be Sciarra’s daughter Bond visits at the funeral and later being asked by Mr. White to protect his estranged wife. Well, we can’t have a Bond Girl be in her fifties they’d say. Who cares!

I don’t care if Bellucci is eighty she looked great and she was the standout Bond Girl in Spectre.

I also was reminded how silly it was they passed on Brosnan’s suggestion of using Bellucci in Tomorrow Never Dies way back in 1997 and finally she shows up here. What a blunder they made back then and all for the sake of getting Teri Hatcher on the poster.

Sophistication

Daniel Craig James Bond suit car

This time out I think Craig does more costume changes than in any of his other Bond movies. I wasn’t keeping track, but it sure seemed like a lot! I remember he had three pairs of different sunglasses – and I’m counting those snow-googles he sports.

At one point it seemed like he starts on the train ride in his first outfit, slips into a tux at night, changes into a brown suit for getting off the train, then before meeting Waltz changes again into a dark suit! Normally Bond’s costume changes aren’t at the top of my list of things I notice, but damn this time I did! By the way his brown outfit in Tangiers reminded me of the one Dalton sported in The Living Daylights.

I’m not bothered by the logic behind all the wardrobe changes and don’t question how does Bond have all these great clothes at his disposal when he’s not lugging around huge trunks behind him the whole time. It’s just the way it is.

I’m sure Bond clothes aficionados will have the detailed information about all of Bond’s suits and jackets. I just know Craig looked good in all his gear. He can wear the clothes pretty well. I was surprised Craig didn’t show up in his turtleneck and shoulder holster that we saw him wear on the teaser poster though.

Attempts On Bond’s Life

I guess the car chase and the snow chase were the big action set-pieces. They were decent, but I didn’t go too crazy for either of them. I thought the train fight was much better.

Time For Some Sex!

Yep, Bond has sex with both his Bond gals – as expected.

Bond Goes Undercover/The Villain Proves He’s Ruthless/The Sacrificial Lamb

Bond dons the Spectre ring, says his name is Mickey Mouse and enters the big Spectre meeting. I really did like this scene. At one point when Waltz begins talking to him directly it looks like Bond is getting pretty nervous and knows he’s in trouble. Suddenly he realizes he’s not just going to walk out of there.

As an example of his power Blofeld really doesn’t do much to demonstrate how evil he is. No throwing a lackey in with piranhas or feeding someone to a shark. The closest thing we get in the meeting scene is Mr. Hinx killing someone for a seat at the table. But that’s more setting up the danger of Hinx.

Christoph Waltz Lea Seydoux Spectre

Blofeld was mainly all talk about how evil he was and not much actually showing off it. Even in Thunderball Blofeld pushed a button to kill one of his lackey’s.

So I’d go with Blofeld showing Madeleine the video of her father killing himself. This was another strange scene. Bond reacts more emotionally than Madeleine towards her seeing the video. She must of known what was going to happen on the TV screen so she could have easily averted her eyes, but Bond is going nuts over it.

She’s a shrink and knows the life that her father lived, so I don’t know if it would be that traumatic for her to see. I thought perhaps Blofeld manipulated the video to make it look like Bond forced White to kill himself, but I don’t think so.

Yeah, I don’t know what was going on there. Mr. White seems to fill the role of the Sacrificial Lamb. I suppose Spectre and Blofeld are in a roundabout way responsible for pushing him to kill himself, but it’s still not that powerful a showing of Blofeld’s ruthlessness.

Monica Bellucci Daniel Craig sex Spectre

I really think they should have iced Bellucci. I liked the lady and I would have been upset to see her be killed. If they were just going to escort her out of the movie so quick anyway, they might as well have made her exit a dramatic one and used her as the Sacrificial Lamb.

They could have had Bond wake up the next morning in bed with her, rolling over towards her and discovering her eyes have been popped out of her crushed head. They could have done sort of a tweak on the Goldfinger scene – since they love referencing that movie so much.

Later when he crashes the meeting Bond would immediately know who was responsible for killing Lucia when he sees Mr. Hinx and what he does. I would have felt bad that Lucia was gone, Blofeld could have included Lucia’s name in his speech about all the women Bond cared for were dead and I would have been really rooting for Bond to get that meanie. I think there was a missed opportunity there.

Exotic Locations & Impressive Sets

I heard that Spectre cost quite a bit of change and it does show onscreen. There’s some great locales. They were really bouncing around all over the place. I’m not going to bother commenting on all of them, but I think the Spectre meeting hall set is the standout to me. That huge table leaves an impact.

Being The Villain’s Guest

Spectre Daniel Craig Lea Seydoux James Bond Madeleine Swann

I was kind of surprised they were going back to the desert so soon after Quantum of Solace.

It was somewhat surreal seeing this long train ride through the desert and Bond standing there waiting to be picked up by a Spectre chauffeur. The whole thing felt so old-school. Connery being invited to have dinner with Dr. No. Bond sitting down for a civilized charade of a conversation with the villain.

Another hideout in the desert. This time it was better though. They tried to explain how it was a crater from a meteorite and it didn’t show up on satellite. It was certainly a better way to make it believable than just saying it’s a hotel in the desert. And this time there were actual worker milling about instead of one good-looking maid.

That meteorite scene with Blofeld wasn’t as captivating as I think they were going for. Madeleine watching the video I talked about. Bond’s torture – that was pretty crazy. Craig sells those torture scenes really well. It was dramatic and disturbing. It sure looked painful and I was anxious for him to get out of there. I don’t know how I feel about that one. It got a reaction out of me, but I don’t know, it was a little out there, pretty twisted.

Oh and Blofeld’s connection to Bond, their shared history together and his backstory – I didn’t like it. I don’t want to start getting into that because these Spectre thoughts have already gone on for too long, but nope I didn’t like it. They have to put everything into one small, compact, shared universe where everyone has a connection to each other right.

All the previous bad guys were working under the same umbrella (which we know wasn’t planned from the outset and they’re trying to make that idea work now). And now even Bond and the big bad guy are interwoven. Oh boy.

Maybe I would feel differently if that whole thing carried some dramatic weight in the story, but it was like it was just said and it didn’t really affect Bond whether he had this connection to Blofeld or not. It felt pointless and unnecessary.

Bond Escapes

Finally Bond escapes his torture chair thanks to Q’s watch. It was funny how quickly Bond and Madeleine made it out of that hideout into the chopper. Bang, bang, bang and the path is clear. Mr. Hinx could have added some tension there.

I had only seen a blurb of a headline (like I said I avoided reading anything about Spectre) that said it has the biggest explosion on film or something. So I was waiting to see this place go up – and if that was it…was that really the biggest? It didn’t look that gigantic to me. I don’t know, I didn’t actually read the article.

But yeah, Bond blows the joint up and escapes without much of a problem.

The Ticking Clock

Daniel Craig as James Bond in Spectre

Back in London and Bond is now tasked to find Madeleine in the burnt out MI6 building before Blofeld blows it up again.

Man, how many buildings got demolished in this? I think there were two in the pre-credits, Spectre’s hideout and the MI6 building – again.

The race against the clock was ok. It wasn’t the most nail-biting sequence. When Bond only has three minutes and he’s standing there staring at Blofeld’s chopper I wasn’t hopping up and down yelling “Move! Move!”. Bond and Madeleine’s escape was relatively easy. Not much more to say about that.

I would have thought Blofeld would have devised it so the likelihood of Bond making it out there would be nearly impossible, sort of rig the game in his favor, but he pretty much played by the rules. He never even destroyed the boats down there. I would have done that instead of taking the time to hang pictures of Bond and all his alumni on targets.

By the way I could have sworn I saw the name Emma Peel on the memorial wall. I’m sure there are fans that have already examined those shots of the names in great detail to see what kind of references are hidden away on that wall. The Hildebrand reference I’m sure most fans caught.

The Climax

Spectre James Bond gun

I guess the climax would include the MI6 escape along with Bond shooting down Blofeld’s chopper. I don’t know, but why do I feel a little letdown with this climax.

I almost feel like I got stiffed with the hideout escape and stiffed with this showdown. Like I would have rather they had done one big satisfying climax at one of those places instead of two separate action scenes.

The Whereabouts of Bond???  

Bond doesn’t kill Blofeld and hightails it off in the Aston Martin DB5 with Madeleine. Mendes really loves using that car. I think at this point Craig has driven it more times than Connery.

I guess I sound like I didn’t like the movie – and I guess I didn’t. I had higher hopes for it.

There were some pluses. I didn’t talk too much about Craig, but he’s great again as Bond. He’s classy and tough and funnier than he’s gotten a chance to be. There’s definitely more of a balance between the winks in all the action than when Craig started. And most of the humor landed. The scenes between Bond and Q, Bond landing on the couch, coolly slipping off the parachute. They’re really trying to inject more fun back into the films.

Spectre car chase Rome

I think the movie just started to get overstuffed. They were trying to do too much and not all of it clicked together. The story was a big problem, along with the villain. They’re trying to do this personal story of Bond and Blofeld, along with the Double-O section at stake and neither of those really worked. They spent so much time chipping away on those two areas and neither one was coming up with gold.

Then they had some great potential sitting on the side with Bellucci and Bautista. Both of them should have been used much more.

The movie looks expensive. Everything looks beautiful. The action is alright. There wasn’t any of that crazy shaky-cam stuff and it was easy to follow. Thinking back on all of Craig’s Bond films the best action sequences for Craig I still think are from Casino Royale. The construction foot chase, the airport chase. the hallway fight. That stuff was great. Skyfall had some good action, but they weren’t really huge setpieces – other than the pre-credits train chase.

The action in Spectre works I guess. It might be bigger and more expensive but none of it is as special to me as other Bond films. My favorite scene would be Bond and Hinx’s train fight. I think about it and want to rewatch that again, along with the pre-credits one too.

Daniel Craig James Bond Spectre

I’ve only seen Spectre once last night so I’ve just had today to think about it before writing all this. I wish I could say I’m in the middle with it, but the more I think about the movie, the more I realize I’d probably be trying too hard to defend it and I should just state, ‘No, I didn’t like it”.

I could also start spouting out plenty of questions about the logic of the story, but I’ll wait on continuing with that.

I plan on seeing it again and who knows maybe I’ll like it more the second time or maybe less. I have no idea what anyone else has said about it. The only thing I know is it’s holding a 64% on Rotten Tomatoes. So this weekend I’ll check out some reviews, but I’m much more interested in hearing what other fellow Bond fans thoughts are. And I’m really curious to hear what the reaction is to Waltz’s Blofeld and his backstory involving him and Bond. I’m betting that’s something everyone will have some strong opinions on.

Lastly, the Spectre poster – eh again. The skull mask in the background helps it a bit since it does look really cool, but once again we get a poster that consists of Craig just standing, this time his leading lady is next to him. I guess they’re content of just doing movie posters with him either standing there or walking. They don’t get much more elaborate than that.


 

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16 Responses

  1. Unknown says:

    A very fair analysis of the pluses and minuses. The movie looks as cinematically beautiful as any film I've ever seen, but about halfway through, the plot got lazy and started veering into the ridiculous and contrived realm. Waltz could have made for a very good Bond villain of his own. But not a good Blofeld… he felt shoehorned into the role, and he can't play someone dark, mysterious, cold, and imposing… Waltz is too naturally flamboyant for that kind of role. And we just had a big flamboyant bad guy in Skyfall. Blofeld should have been played by someone else, and not had that terrible 'daddy issues' motive. Give me a break. I kinda hoped they'd kill Waltz at the end. I don't want to see him come back. The tail end was a nice 'idea' to me. Have Bond ride off into the sunset in his favorite car with a chick he likes by his side …goodbye our dear mr craig …. BUT, that end just felt so rushed and tacked on, like it wasn't set up properly. A good idea, awkwardly executed. GREAT REVIEW.. YOU ARE THE MAN. I hope you finish your "Craig Reconstruction" with more VIDEOS some day.

  2. Capt. Nemo says:

    Do you think they might be setting up Mr. Hinks return as Jaws?

  3. Alec Conroy says:

    It's funny, I actually really had to sit and think whether or not I loved it or hated it after I left the theater. The whole way home my girlfriend asked me if I liked it, and I kept saying that I really really want to… Craig was really good, I loved the opening action sequence(btw, the case had a bomb in it and it detonated when Bond shot it) the cinematography was gorgeous, the supporting cast great, the car very cool and like you I wasn't crazy about the song but once I saw it in the movie it worked.
    Bautista really did stand out and I actually liked Swann a bit more than you despite feeling like the "I love you" moment was sorely out of place and unearned.
    Really my big issue was that Bloefeld had a history with Bond. It felt unnecessary, and like a cheap attempt to add dramatic weight to the film. I finally told my girlfriend that 2/3 of the movie was undeniably great and the last third was a mess because of the Bloefeld stuff. The scar bit even felt forced, and I much more liked thinking that he probably got it via his rise to power or during some sick underworld dealings rather than… From Bond…
    I remember after Skyfall was released, screenwriter John Logan was quoted as saying that if he had his way "Bloefeld would be in every Bond movie." I think Logan is a fine writer, but that is one thing that makes me hope he doesn't return. Bond isn't the center of his own universe, he is a man doing a job and his villains come from M's manila envelopes, Spectre is just top dog and shows up more than most. Bond isn't a superhero and does not need a Joker or Lex Luthor and without his occupation and skill-set he would be inconsequential to his world.
    Sadly, we are in an era where Hollywood sees Nostalgia as a highly profitable, so 1/4th of every movie is the filmmakers referencing the legacy of the series they're working on… I do think Bloefeld should be recurring, but not every movie or even every other movie, really once or twice a Bond era(4-5 films) should be enough, otherwise Bond is a globetrotting agent who has other things that M needs him to do.
    Also, if ever there was a time for Bond to need the assistance of other 00’s, I feel like the siege of MI6 should have been it. Call 008 and 004 and young Alec Tavelyian and have them help Bond! Hell, seeing early Alec work with Bond would probably make Goldeneye better by increasing the weight of the betrayal.
    So in short…. I hate/loved the film… There is undeniable good in it, but it tampers with the series legacy in a jarring way, I'd personally rank it somewhere 12-15 in the grand scheme of the EON 24-film series, so slightly more love than hate.

    Oh, btw! They have a behind the scenes youtube of the Mexico City scene and they actually didn't cgi the crowd in most of it, it's really interesting but they actually did use hundreds of extras!
    Oh, and last gripe… Purvis and wade need to go too. I'm tired of their writing and I feel like its to the point where I can watch the films and tell which lines were written by them and which ones were by Haggis or Logan. New blood is needed.

  4. Nick_H says:

    Basically, it's like Thunderball.

    When I think of Thunderball I think of lots of individual great moments and stand out scenes but overall it's a top 10 Bond movie but not a top 5. Thunderball lives in the shadow of Goldfinger and SPECTRE lives in the shadow of Skyfall. So SPECTRE goes in the top 10, but not the top 5. When I mention this to others they often think SPECTRE sucks or is bad. It isn't. It's good. It's very good. Go see it and you'll have a good time. Numbers #6-10 in the Bond ranking charts is very good…even #11-15. There are moments in SPECTRE that will enter classic Bond lore, but overall it lacks that depth and edge of Skyfall….SPECTRE is high polish but in the Bond comfort zone. But if you've watched Bond films for a long time you'll know those great Bond movies: Goldfinger, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, The Spy Who Loved Me, Skyfall and (my favourite Brosnan movie; our host holds the opposite view) don't come every time out: Topping Skyfall was too tall an order so we get the Daniel Craig equivalent of Thunderball. That's not a bad thing at all.

    By the way, I thought Madeline Swann was a good character. Her visible indifference to Bond for the most part was a strength of the character and she could cut him with a look; something you don't get often with a Bond girl. I liked her, Bellucci was playing a fairly interesting but ultimately simple damsel in distress. Still good though.

  5. Chris says:

    I know it's not one of your favorites, but it's nice to see some "homages" to Live and Let Die; Bond's wardrobe especially on the poster, his skull ensemble being reminiscent of Baron Samedi, and seeing the inside of Bond's flat. To (really) stretch the Roger Moore love, the backstory for Bond and Blofeld includes a character from the Octopussy short story.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I was able to buy the fact that Silva was working for SPECTRE. Watching Skyfall I couldn't help but think that Silva has to have a backer. But they clearly were making things up as they went along. For a film that was delayed in production so Sam Mendes can finish up his previous project to return, they could have spent more time writing the story and making sense of it. Giving Blofeld and Bond a shared history felt awkward. I mean who's the jerk who reads the script and goes "It seems OK to me." If it was me I would have said "That's stupid, cut it out." I mean forget about the name change. Make Blofeld a complete mystery. Change the line to "Ah, welcome James! I've been waiting a long time to meet you and finally, here we are!" It is not just this film but so many other films, television shows. Do they think the audience is stupid? It's like when in Spider-Man 3 they try to sell the audience it was the Sand Man who killed Uncle Ben when we clearly saw it was the other guy. Stick to your damn story. Anyway, the film was a lot of fun, I want to see what the original script was like, because it seems to me the rewrites made it worse.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Now, the casting of Waltz made it obvious he was going to be Blofeld, I could not help but think how awesome it was if it was just to mislead the audiences into thinking he was the main bad guy when Andrew Scott turned out to be Blofeld all along. Anyone who has seen Sherlock can know he would play the f*** out of that role!

  8. spaceodds says:

    A very good and through analysis. I've seen SPECTRE three times already and I've warmed up to this movie each time. I liked the majority of the action scenes and the locales were pretty good, but at the same time I felt short changed, and none more so than the aftermath of Bond's first encounter with Swann. I honestly would have loved to have seen a ski chase, but alas it was not meant to be. As a Londoner I absolutely loved the finale and how Bond's home town is the stage for the main event. Kudos to Mendes of using a UK based finale again.

    Character and casting wise; Harris' Moneypenny ruined Skyfall for me. Her forced chemistry with Craig, and her atrocious delivery of some rather horrid dialogue left me feeling bitter and resetful. Just look at the ending of Skyfall (still can't get over that) Thankfully there isn't much of that here since the character is finally proving herself to be useful and Craig provides the spark to the banter between the two (not to mention she is barely in the film this time round)

    Q was a revalation in Skyfall, and this continues in SPECTRE. Whishaw is fantastic in the role, and I totally agree with everything you said about the character. As for M; I for one don't miss Dench, she was wasted in the Brosnan era and she only became interesting during Craig's films. As for Fiennes', he's fantastic, who better to play M than a potential Bond candidate from 1995. A brilliant debut for Fiennes' M and I for am looking forward to see him stick around. If MGM ever wanted a Bond spin off; M, Q, Moneypenny and Tanner would be a very interesting option (surely everyone will agree it's better than Jinx!)

    Waltz and Scott; it was obvious they were the villians and I honestly think that Scott should have been revealed as Blofeld. Imagine his character gets away, he is hiding away monitering something on his PC, when a cat comes into frame and he pets it. Sure it's corney but hey, it's a Bond film. As for the girls; I agree with you, they should have been turned around with Bellucci being that main Bond girl. Sedoux's Swann, could have been worse, but she is very much a sadly forgetable Bond girl.

    As for Craig. Well right from the moment when he drops down on a sofa, we know this is going to strive for a more witty and humourous approach, and I for one welcome this since it was handeled with affection thus making it hillarious. Die Another Day for instance made the Bond formula and references stand out, thus making them excruciating. Having started off as a gritty and realistic Bond, it is very surprising to see Craig starring in this; and yet again he is fantastic in the role. Craig has successfully transcended from girtty to witty and he has formed a perfect balance between the two.

    On another note; did the ending of the film felt like a finale to you for Craig's Bond? What if him throwing his gun away and driving away with Swann was supposed to be a good-bye to the role? Or could it be a set up to the next film? I very much want to believe the latter since Waltz's Blofeld should have had more to do, and him in SPECTRE was supposed to have been an introduction.

  9. Miguel Oniga says:

    Glad I met this series. Watching the film tomorrow then get back to you.

  10. jack ryan says:

    I saw Spectre recently and I really enjoyed it. In fact, I liked it more than Skyfall. It was the closest they've come to a genuine 'Bond Film' since Casino Royale. There were some issues I had with it. For instance, Bond does not need a backstory. And neither does Blowfeld for that matter. I was fully expecting not to like it, but I was pleasantly surprised. As M says to Bond: "It's good to have you back 007".

  11. Frakkr says:

    Although I have closely followed the whole shooting proceedings from the get-go and knew a lot about the movie before actually watching it. I still wanted to be able to vision it in its' entirety before thoroughly reading your review. Weird I know, but let's say I consider your reviews to be extremely accurate and on-point. Now that I've come back from the cinema this evening. I can't say I disagree with you.

    Here are some remarks off the top of my head. Some are negative, some are neutral, some are a little of both:

    -Craig's Bond looks really out of his mind in this one. Strangely enough he retains a completely cool composure in some scenes (he's even blasé to the point of being bored for some critics) whilst suddenly wavering into complete hysteria in others.
    He's definitely louder and screams quite a lot in several of those scenes. The plane-crashing, Bond freaking out with Mr.White's video footage, and the MI6 countdown especially springs to mind. I can understand the yelling's needed for the torture scene, but the rest was just all too much.
    I guess they wanted to make him more of an extrovert in Spectre, it doesn't really tune in well with the more intriguing silence of Craig's previous sequels. It's a small detail, but one that essentially makes Bond the cool & intriguing killer he is(Dalton's Bond's an early example of that).
    Bond is still all those things, only less so because of that.
    -Furthermore, Craig looks fairly old in that movie. He has the moves alright…for now. Back when I was checking the early footage of Craig standing in the burial scene in Rome, I just couldn't help but think of Karl Lagerfeld.
    -The music I was not fine with. And by that I mean Thomas Newman's score. While I do enjoy his work on Skyfall (and particularly the Shanghai Drive score), I just felt like Spectre was a rehash of Jarhead-like soundbites for me (which he obviously composed yrs ago).
    It sounds 'modern', could fit in a police series, but far less serious for a 007 movie. In light of Newman's links to Mendes, I think dropping David Arnold for him was a bad idea. Arnold can bring the Barry-esque elegance to build up a Bond movie (whether good or bad), Newman can't.
    -As you said already, the logic is all over the place. It kicks in right from the start, when Bond tells the woman in Mexico that he'll be back…and then flies off God knows where in a helicopter.
    I can understand the humouristic tone in that omission, but it sadly doesn't stop there.
    -If there is one colour which predominates in this movie, then it certainly is the yellowish Sepia filter they used in numerous scenes. It's all too reminiscent of the brownish colours of Quantum of Solace. I didn't like that.

    Spectre feels like the movie Quantum of Solace should have been. Mixing elements of the two would have made for a fine movie. Both were struck by similarly unwarranted handicaps: the Writer's Strike for Quantum, and the North Korean-SONY hacking scandal for Spectre. Prompting the crew to patch things up in a minimum amount of time. It's as if we were talking about the same movie cut in half and left to its' own devices (and directors).

    All in all, I enjoyed it. That being said, I think Craig & Mendes were too obsessed with topping Skyfall (which was plain good) instead of looking up to Casino Royale. And it shows.

    Skyfall was visually beautiful (especially the Shanghai scene), the story went well but slipped a little downhill with the second Act (starting around Macau). [Ah, here's something you could look into if ever you're planning for a Skyfall review in the long term!] Casino however had the class and the true atmosphere of a Bond movie.

  12. Frakkr says:

    I also want to add that the car chase scene looked far too goofy and out of place in a Craig movie. Anyone else got the same reaction to it?

    The more I think about what I saw, the more I'm seeing Craig attempting to mimic "machine-gun Brosnan" with his Goldeneye-style adjusting of the heli at the beginning (idem for the plane in Austria) and his easy-peasy shootout with a CSA Sa vz. 58 Compact in Morocco.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I liked Specter better than Skyfall, which was too unoriginal (plot-wise and character-wise) and totally off-the-rails in regards to its ideas. Wheras Skyfall was lethargic and inert, Specter had a nice tempo and an old-school liveliness. Specter was more Fleming, less Mendes, and Craig was more Bond, less Bruce Wayne/Jason Bourne.

    The big problems were the third act and two weak villains in the form of Blofeld and Hinx. The way they tried to tie in Specter with the previous films made zero sense, as there's no way that Blofeld could've been behind LeChiffre's gambling problems in CR, which is how Bond go onto Quantum to begin with. The third act was just lazy, with bad storytelling and an inept action sequence on the Thames.

    As for the villains, Blofeld was little more than a rehash of Silva (a nutcase with parental issues) and bore no resemblance to either Fleming's character or earlier film versions of the character, and Hinx was a little too goofy-looking to be a threatening silent henchman. He would have worked better with some dialogue.

    The Craig era suffers from an inferiority complex. With the exception of Casino Royale, every Craig film has been a clear attempt to ride the coat tails of a rival franchise. Quantum was an obvious Bourne cash-in, Skyfall was a clear attempt to Batman-ify Bond, and Specter took beats from the Marvel movies and even Mission Impossible. One thing I liked about the 90s Brosnan movies was that they were comfortable being Bond movies and weren't threatened by other franchises. The first Brosnan film that sought to follow a trend was DAD, with its lame attempts at copying xXx and The Fast and the Furious, and we know how that turned out.

    While I think Craig only did one great Bond film with CR, I enjoy Specter and QoS as "okay" entries. Skyfall is in or near my bottom five, though I know that's an unpopular opinion. Skyfall simply did too much that had already been done in Goldeneye and TWINE. The thing about modern (post Cold War) Bond films is that they're very, very uneven. Babs has done a good job raking in the dough but she can't maintain quality from film to film, and thus far she's only produced two legitimately good entries, IMO: Goldeneye and Casino Royale, and I think Goldeneye is the more enjoyable of those two films.

  14. John Jamele says:

    I was really dissapointed that we are still using storylines focusing on Bond's past- jeesh, did Blofeld really have to be the son of the guy who helped raise Bond when his dad died, making that a big motive for Blofeld? Puh-leeze. And the "corruption inside Mi6 which is going to be closed down declared obsolete" storyline- didn't they do this already? Or am I thinking about 2-3 Mission Impossible movies?

    The Blofeld reveal was lame. He needed to be shown first stroking the damn cat. And I didn't need an origin story on the scars Donald Pleasance has in YOLT. And it would have been fine if Blofeld's helicopter had just plunged into the Thames, body not found- I didn't need five minutes of watching him struggle to get nowhere on the bridge.

    Overall, I think Craig looks bored as Bond, and the screenwriters have run out of ideas. I thought that after Skyfall they had wrapped up the "lets learn all about Bond" bit and were ready to give us a good, old fashioned, Evil Genius Ready to Nuke the World/Rob Fort Knox/Restart the Cold War story. Instead we get more "secrets from someone's past come back to haunt him/Mi6." Seriously, enough already!

  15. John Jamele says:

    oh, I forgot- through the entire movie I was waiting to see if Craig would cause an explosion by shooting an oxygen tank. He's done that in each of his four Bond films, so it's become that predictable. He even winked before doing it in Skyfall. Kind of dopey- but still better than Brosnan and his nonstop machine guns.

  16. Christopher says:

    Having recently seen Spectre, my initial thoughts were of disapointment. At two and a half hours, the movie is a hard slog. Ian Fleming certianly knew the importance of brevity but apparently Sam Mendes didn't get the memo. In the good ol' days, (as we all know here) Bond would have blown up Blofeld's lair just in time for some lip locking. Here, it's back to night time London for more computer hacking and multiple climaxes. To many thrillers today just don't know when to get off the stage. I agree with John Jamele that the reveal of Blofeld is strangely lacking (and keeping with the francise's history of botching this character). Christoph Waltz's performance presents a standard euro-trash sleaze bag- not much different from Matheieu Amalric's limp-wristed villian from Quatum Of Solace. Plus, I always hated Donald Pleasants horribly scarred Blofeld and didn't want it re-introduced here, either.

    Still, two days later, the movie lingers- unlike Quantum- the only "one and done" Bond movie in my lifetime. Craig does seem a little bored, but he handles the much needed sardonic wit quite nicely. I love how he waves to Mr. Hinx from the plane he is piloting before blasting him with bullets. While Monica Belluci was wasted, (her character should have been killed off- at least it would have been memorable) I found Craigs chemistry with Lea Seydoux was quite nice.

    Despite it's flaws, Spectre is sportatically brilliant and hypnotic. Well worth a second look.

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