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Thread: Spectre

  1. #1
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    Spectre

    Spectre – directed by Sam Mendes

    *** SPOILERS ****

    We who are dyed-in-the-wool fans of the genre know that Spectre stands for Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion. First introduced in the 1962 film, “Dr. No” and by author Ian Fleming in his novel, “Casino Royal” (the first in the series) – Spectre always loomed in the background as a world-wide syndicate backed by militaries, governments, and corporate baddies. Fleming never revealed too much about them except their leader Ernst Stavro Blofeld, an evil genius, has singled out Bond as his nemesis with the aim of wiping out Bond at all costs. Throughout the novels and in the past, Blofeld is responsible for attacks on Bond and on his girlfriends (Blofeld kills Bond’s only wife in “On her Majesty’s Secret Service.”). The movies gave us more of an organizational glimpse in “Thunderball” when we see an actual Spectre meeting made up of crime syndicates from around the globe. Blofeld – with a white cat on his lap – wanted special revenge on Bond for thwarting his plans. This time, we get more background on who Blofeld is and why he never seems to want Bond’s death, only torment him.

    Sam Mendes who gave us the best selling Bond of all time – “Skyfall” – is once again at the helm and spares no expense this time either. Every dollar spent on this action-packed thriller is up on the screen from helicopter fights to airplane crashes to car chases in million-dollar luxury sports cars. Yet, from the very start, we’re thrown back to an opening we’ve not seen in a Bond movie since Daniel Craig took over – the gun barrel opening. It’s as if Mendes is saying, “This might be it, folks.” The next hint we get is in the title sequence. No other Bond (except one shot of Moore) ever appeared in the title sequence except Daniel Craig. This time, the titles focus on Craig as a flaming hero surrounded by beautiful naked women. The title song is also another first. It never mentions the title. All during the opening we see glimpses of other Bond movies starring Craig – a hint at things to come. There is a finality about the opening and when the curtain comes down, so too does Craig’s involvement as Bond. That much is clear. And while the franchise looks strong – new M, new Moneypenny, new Q, and new Blofeld – they will carry on with a different James Bond.

    The movie is straightforward (cars, girls, and gadgets) and the plot contains bits and pieces of other Bond movies (Bond cut off from the agency, going rogue, etc). What followers know right away that may not be apparent to newcomers is that this movie resolves the unanswered questions left from Craig’s first three Bond movies – the villains are connected. Spectre (its symbol identical to that used in “Thunderball”) has reached its tentacles into all crime activity on the planet. These are the bosses of the bosses and their qualification is; “Just how bad are you?” Bond is on the outside of his spy organization looking in, the double “00” program on the skids and the age of connected intelligent agencies with drones everywhere taking over. In response to “What can one man do?” new M for Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) puts it succinctly in a wonderful speech about, “Do you know what it’s like in the field, to decide whether or not to kill a man…” In the end, we see the need for one man of action to make a difference – act with precision instead of guessing with a drone. The price? All that training and education and sophistication can be lost with a single gun shot – irreplaceable. Yet, Bond can go where no drone can – into the heart of the lair with an ear to the ground and a defiance to military protocol.

    The cast is perfect and it only takes a second to know that everyone knows their parts and plays them so well. It’s as if they’d been searching for the right ensemble and finally stumbled on the perfect actors for the parts. New addition Christoph Walz is welcome as Blofeld and we who have written on this site know him well from the Quentin Tarantino films which have showcased his great talent. I almost wish there was more of him. But at two hours and twenty-eight minutes, this is one of the longest Bond films ever. I didn’t even realize the length until my wife pointed it out to me on our exit. In my mind, the film’s pace more than makes up for the time spent. There’s hardly a moment of reflection on the screen between train fight scenes that rival those in “To Russia with Love” and car chases that equal the best of those seen in previous Bond pictures. Add to that, a rough and tumble Femme Fatale, Madeline Swann played by Lea Seydoux (“Grand Budapest Hotel”) as one of the strongest female leads Bond ever bedded.

    However, all of the accolades may be nothing more than a wave goodbye. The ending, which I will not reveal in this review, is most certainly a swan song for Craig – approaching 50 – is at the Bond retirement age. With all that modern audiences call for in an action thriller, 50 seems the cutting-off age for actors in this genre. When they pushed Moore to come back in his fifties, it showed on the screen as the oldest Bond to play the part – lack of stunt work and more polish – almost killed the series. The supporting cast – firmly locked in place – could most certainly return and will, no doubt, in another series of movies. Is the same old formula good for more adaptations? That’s up to Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson, who own the franchise. If “Spectre” makes even half what “Skyfall” did, they’ll make their money back and then some. “Spectre” will certainly please most Bond fans. It may also gain some new ones. Critics may be less kind and want something new for Bond or retire the series altogether. Is 24 the magic number? We’ll see. Highly recommended and will not disappoint fans – at all. Critics? Not so much.
    Last edited by cinemabon; 11-06-2015 at 03:08 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Speaking of Craig's Bond retirement you do not mention the forcible retirement of Judi Dench, who is said to have wept when told she would not be called back to play M this time. I did not go to see this today, choosing instead to see McCarthy's outstanding journalistic procedural, which it one of the year's best movies and will NOT be available to watch back home yet, which SPECTRE (which I look forward to) is.

    What about Whishaw? Do you like him? I like him a lot. Waltz does seem like an excellent addition. Another worthy actor touched by the magic wand of Tarantino and given renewed career longevity.

  3. #3
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    Mike Wilson was so worried about telling Dench they intended to "kill her off" in "Skyfall" that before the luncheon, he called her agent to break the news. According to Craig, she showed up at the lunch all "red eyed and angry." After Craig told her, "But you'll die in my arms, Judy!" she evidently calmed down and by the end of the lunch was laughing. (see Charlie Rose last week).

    I love the current supporting cast including Walz and I can't go into why I also like Walz because it would give away the ending. Ralph Fiennes has to play it straight as the head of MI5 about to be decapitated. Oddly enough, his counterpart at MI6 - C, Andrew Scott - played such a great villain in "Sherlock" it's almost impossible to see him as any but a villain. Naomi Harris had other scenes in "Spectre" as they tried to expand her role. But when they entered post production, they cut her part back to the needed scenes as the film ran almost three hours in length. As to Ben Whishaw, he's proved his worth as "Q" giving us the needed comic relief during times of crisis. His role is also expanded in "Spectre" and I can't see anyone else playing the quartermaster.

    As to who will be the next Bond, Wilson and Broccoli have promised Craig he can return if he wants to be Bond again. Will he and Mendes repeat another Bond? According to both men on the Charlie Rose interview, they are reluctant to say. Opening week in Europe, "Spectre" broke the previous "during the week" opening held by "Harry Potter..." If Craig and Mendes are offered enough and the script is good, they'll be back. Mendes stated that he and Craig worked closely on the script with writers Logan, Purvis and Wade (sounds like a law firm). When you add in the Foreign BO, 150 million is a strong opening weekend.
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    Decent but Not Memorable

    I was really skeptically going to see Spectre and only did so because someone else wanted to see it. First off, I enjoyed Spectre more than I thought I would, but alas, I'm with the majority of Imdb reviewers in feeling that this Bond version doesn't have the same compelling presentation as say Casino Royale (2006). I really was taken aback in a good way with how Sam Mendes directed the car chase scenes, I couldn't believe that car chases could be really improved on the screen that much any more. The Spectre plot was also very involving and kept my interest throughout the movie. I even enjoyed the Roger Moore comedic dialogue that was smoothly and adeptly incorporated into the movie.

    Even though I understand of the impossible action scenes of Bond movies, Spectre just seemed use the same variations over and over again so much so that I was getting pretty tired of the repetition and also the illogical escapes, like where does an airplane seemingly come from nowhere? There is a lot more predictability in this movie also, with not a lot of surprises going on. Even Christoph Waltz wasn't able to fully capture the evil incarnate, using his typical on-screen persona, and perhaps too much of a dissociation of his emotions to really scare the audience. I was in fact hoping for a really nice twist with one of the female characters that never came, a pretty big letdown. Overall, Spectre was decent, better than I had anticipated and I'm glad I saw it, but it isn't a Bond movie that I'd care to see again. It's maybe time for Craig Daniel to move on and based on this movie, he is wise to do so on top.

  5. #5
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    The most costly Bond ever has finally made its $300 million dollar budget back as Broccoli and Wilson hold their collective breath. Worldwide grosses passed the 500 million dollar mark this week, making "Spectre" the highest grossing Bond of all time, so there's no denying its popularity. However, I have to agree with you, Tab, on its predictability. The film's ending gives Craig an easy exit. He could say he ended up with the total package (as Bond). He made a ton of money on this movie and could walk away, set for life, destined to be compared to Connery in every aspect. I believe the series has come full circle. After 24 Bond movies, what more is there to say? They've done every book and repeated several with different versions. Perhaps its time to retire Bond permanently and move on to other things.
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  6. #6
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    Finally a Truly Happy Ending for Bond

    If this is Daniel Craig's last Bond film, there is a sense of heroic American/English justice in his sweetheart ending after all the tragedy Bond has endured, even losing a wife and a close girlfriend. bond deserves a sustained, redeeming, and nurturing happiness, hopefully all us do. With Thanksgiving coming up even with all the Christmas commercialism, maybe this particular Bond allows us to reflect on what we truly can be thankful for...for the sacrifice and pain each of endure every single day.

  7. #7
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    Great stuff guys.

    Daniel Craig is a great James Bond.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  8. #8
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    "Spectre" passes the $800 million mark making it the second biggest Bond of all time - second only to "Skyfall" also made by the same director/star arrangement.
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