Monday, November 9, 2015

Movie Review | Spectre [IN THEATER]

If you've been following along, you know I love movies. Like ... LOVE. 

And within the realm of movies I love, Bond has a very special place in my heart. I remember when I was young watching the movies on TV during marathons. I grew up in the age of Pierce Brosnon as Bond, but looking back on it, he was meh. The movies were more flash and gadgets than good cinema. But the classic Connery films and Moore ... oh man. Eventually I owned all the DVDs. And I get ridiculously excited about a new Bond film. Especially with Daniel Craig. His Bond is is just so ... him. It's his own twist, a darker more real Bond. One who doesn't need all the gadgets to be the best. He is a Bond in a different era. The Cold War is over. As they last few movies have alluded to, Bond today is a different character in the context of our current world and environment. 

And now, for my review of Specre. NOTE: spoilers ahead!!!!!

Overall, it was a solid Bond movie. In the contest of Craig's Bond films, I would say it was better than Quantum, but not as good as Skyfall or Casino Royale. But honestly, Skyfall set such a high bar that it does seem hard to beat it. But it was still a really good, solid Bond installment. Classic Bond and I enjoyed every minute of watching it with a huge smile on my face and lots of "oooooo" and "ahhhh" and "yeah!". 

I actually saw it twice - Thursday night and Friday night. Because ... Bond. And because Thursday was a screening and it wasn't in IMAX, and of course I had to see it in IMAX. 

In honor of 007, I thought I would compile my thoughts into 007 things/buckets/observations about the film.
  1. The Good Guys - Craig is amazing as Bond. Duh. He was always good, from the start, but it really seems like he has matured into Bond and owns the character now. He has really taken this iconic man and made him more. Then there are all the other characters in this film. Of course M, Moneypenny, Q ... all great. I also must comment on the fact that it seems like Bond gets more help than usual from the above folks as he goes about his business, especially towards the end. 
  2. The Bad Guys - First thing that came to mind when I saw Andrew Scott as C was "Sherlock crossover!!!". Then I calmed down and thought "he clearly has to be a bad guy because I just cannot think of him as anything other than that". (If you don't follow BBC's Sherlock, he is the main bad guy there). Then there was Dave Bautista as Hinx. Awesome bad guy. He has (literally) one line ... "shit". His character is reminiscent of the iconic Bond henchmen Jaws and Oddjob - awesome! Then there is Christoph Waltz. I love him in general. And he makes a very elegant bad guy, very much a Bond villain for a modern world. 
  3. The Settings  - Rome ... Austria ... London ... Morocco ... Mexico City. Beautiful! There were actually many settings and scenes that felt very reminiscent of other Bond films/segments. The health spa on top of the snowy alps (a-la Piz Gloria in On Her Majesty's Secret Service or the ski scene in The Spy Who Loved Me). The bad guy's evil lair in the middle of a deserted area (a-la the hollowed out volcano evil lair in You Only Live Twice). The busy street festival (a-la Carnival in Brazil in Moonraker). The fight on the train (a-la the fight on the train in From Russia with Love). Dinner on the train with the Bond girl (a-la dinner with Vesper Lind in Casino Royale). The tracking device implanted in Bond (a-la the tracking device he gets in Casino Royale). Chase sequence on the River Thames (a-la boat chase on the Thames in Die Another Day). 
  4. The Props - Cars cars cars. I'll just focus on the special only-for-this-movie DB10 concept car that Aston Martin made. I nearly cried when it went into the river! Also really loved getting a glimpse into Bond's apartment. I think that is only the second or third time in the Bond franchise we have seen inside his home, and it just felt so right for Bond. Well done! Q's layer ... of course. M's office ... of course. And everything else ... from his suits to this watches to his sunglasses and "i'm dressed for the Alps" outdoor gear. 
  5. The Opening Sequence - I really enjoyed the Mexico City Day of the Dead opening ... great! The continuous shot following Bond and his lady-friend down the street and into the hotel and all the way over to when he points the gun to the bad guy across the street is beautifully done and a feast for the eyes. I'm pretty sure I've never seen that continuous shot approach in a Bond film before, so it was a nice new take. And Craig's casualness as he scales the rooftops in his (perfectly fitted) suit, then falls down the wall so perfectly onto the couch. Ha. 
  6. The Opening Credits - No Bond film is complete without a killer opening credits sequence and song. I will admit that neither was my favorite in the history of Bond, but they were both good. The song grew on me upon the second listening/viewing. It's hard to come after Adele ... 
  7. The Details - Any true Bond aficionado will love all the little details and gems hidden (in plain sight) throughout. The bulldog with the Union Jack on Bond's coffee table in his apartment - what M left him in her will. The DB10 has buttons marked with Dymo Tape, harkening back to the labels on the car in 1964's Goldfinger. The evil henchman reminiscent of Jaws or Oddjob. The cars themselves - all showing off the decades long relationships with the likes of Aston Martin, Jaguar, etc. 
Again, overall I would say it was a solid Bond installment. Classic Bond and perfectly good. Great even! It's hard to beat Skyfall which was just so awesome. One of my only complaints is that it felt like it lacked some originality in plot and sequences (see point 4 above), but ... I mean ... after 24 movies it is a little hard to be super original. And to be honest ... Bond doesn't have to be original. Bond is about the classic story and classic format. Stick with it for success.

One of my favorite things about Spectre (and, actually, Craigs' previous Bonds too) is the approach the film makers take to putting Bond's role in the context of the changing environment of the world. They speak to the fact that technology has changed the playing field - look what can be done with computers and drones. But M (new M and old M) argue very nicely about the need for someone pull the trigger ... or, more importantly, NOT pull the trigger. Also, the question of surveillance and government oversight for the safety of the people ... where does it stop? All good questions. 

Also, I like how it seems like there is a nice little arc going on in Craig's for Bond films - they come together nicely and stand alone independently very well (as Bond films should), but they were really well when enjoyed together to catch the connections. I am curious where they will take it for Craig's 5th film. 

Speaking of 5th ... WHEN?!!??!?!?! 

On a side note, I was reading up on some Spectre trivia and noted that this is the first film for Craig since 2012's Skyfall. CRAZY!

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