Sunday, November 8, 2015

Spectre - Movie Review

Spectre, directed by Sam Mendes, is the latest installment in the 007 series which features Ian Fleming's international spy, the one and only James Bond. The film once again stars Daniel Craig in the lead role as well as Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Monica Bellucci, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Rory Kinnear, Stephanie Sigman, and Jesper Christensen.

The Story:
After the events that took place in Skyfall, the British secret service's existence is being threatened by a new regime looking to increase global surveillance and James Bond himself is put on the shelf for some explosive actions that took place during an unauthorized trip to Mexico City. Meanwhile, Bond is on a mission to solve a new mystery that could reveal secrets from his past and the trail he has picked up could bring his entire world crashing down upon him.

The Review:
I really like James Bond movies. This is a really good James Bond movie. This James Bond movie is not without flaws. Daniel Craig is my favorite James Bond. This could potentially be the last movie that features Daniel Craig as James Bond and that is where some of the flaws creep in. With so much backstory having been built in over the previous three films, there seemed to be a lot of pressure and urgency to wrap everything up in a nice, convenient bow so, if a reboot is necessary, the audience won't be left with a bunch of loose ends and unresolved story lines. A lot of this effort seemed rushed and not really well thought out. What is probably considered to be the big reveal of the movie is just sort of thrown out there and we are supposed to accept it without much more than a brief monologue. I wish I could discuss this more, but it's very spoilery so I'll leave it alone other than saying it does involve Christoph Waltz's character which should be no surprise.

One of the things I really liked about Daniel Craig's debut as Bond in Casino Royale was how it did a great job of establishing what type of man he is and why he is so good at what he does. Falling in love with and then losing Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) ultimately turns him into the cold hearted, womanizing, killer that is essential to his run as the world's most prolific spy although, by the time we get to Spectre, he has gone completely opposite of that setup by repeatedly falling head over heels for women he ends up having to save and protect. I can see where it sort of makes sense since you could say he's trying to save Vesper over and over but, to me, having the same thing play out through each subsequent film becomes redundant by the time we see it again in this film. Out of any of the issues I have with the film, this one bugged me the most.

Before watching the movie, I had heard some rumblings that Mendes takes things too far and the action is too over the top and not very believable. My first question for these people would be to find out if they know what a James Bond film is. Sure, the Daniel Craig era has been a little darker and grittier than ever before, but the hallmarks of the franchise have always been outlandish villains and unbelievable action. I felt like the action sequences were really well done yet lacking in payoff as, during each one, I thought I had an idea of where it was going to end up, but then something else a little less exciting would take place and I'd be just a little bummed although definitely not totally disappointed because there was still some really cool stuff going on. Having Dave Bautista in the movie was a great casting move and he does an amazing job at giving us a classic Bond henchman type bad guy. Every time he is on camera, it feels like the intensity and danger level is raised several notches and my only complaint here is that I would have liked to see more of him in the movie.

Another staple of the series is the inclusion of some super sleek, sexy, and technologically advanced automobiles that end up being pushed to their limits and tragically destroyed by Bond himself (funny how that description matches the women in Bond films as well...haha). The Aston Martin DB10 featured in Spectre is absolutely beautiful and is only rivaled by it's opposition in the movie, the Jaguar C-X75 driven by Dave Bautista's villainous Hinx character. The inevitable chase scene is one of the better moments of the entire movie and mostly because we get to see these amazing cars in action. As always, the opening to the movie is about as action packed as you might expect and takes place in Mexico City during the Day of the Dead celebration. The sequence is beautifully shot and, if nothing else, made me want to grab my passport and head down to Mexico to experience all the amazing sights and sounds for myself...minus the explosions and shooting, of course.

Finally, I did not like the Bond song which was written and performed by Sam Smith. The song and opening credits are just weird, not very Bond like, and sort of killed the mood after all the excitement in Mexico City. Where's Duran Duran when you really need them?!

The Verdict:
Spectre is yet another great Bond film and will sit alongside many of the better films in the series. If this really is the final turn for Daniel Craig as 007 then I would say this was a solid way to wrap things up so a new era can begin. Personally, I would like to see Craig continue in the role as he has done such a good job and my only complaint about his performance would be that his pants are always way too tight and he couldn't possibly do all that running, jumping, and fighting without multiple rips and tears taking place.

Spectre is available in IMAX theaters and there is some advantage to seeing it in this format, as long as you go to a true IMAX theater. While Spectre does not contain any scenes that were filmed using actual IMAX cameras, the director did use specialized digital cameras which capture images in a larger aspect ratio (height and width) than other available options which can then be digitally formatted for either standard or IMAX presentation. While you are not getting the true IMAX quality image and sound, this option provided the closest experience possible.

CLICK HERE for more info on where you should see Spectre.


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