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It's funny how people are irked by very different things. As a bona fide SP lover, the populating of scenes didn't bother me, in fact, as I've stated several time elsewhere I felt it added to the ghostly feel of the picture. Incidentally what did irk me, and which I haven't seen criticised by SP detractors is the exposition scene with Tanner post credits. As exposition goes it's incredibly clunky and had me scratching my head far more than other supposed niggles, such as Bond getting the plane in Austria, which makes perfect sense.
being slippery and how Bond should take a hold of the railing, and Bond
just steps off the boat onto the dock and walks on. :))
The London Review of Books recently reviewed Spectre. It wasn't very complimentary. It had some interesting quotes from Fleming of how he grew bored of his own creation. Full text not available online sadly:
Be happy about Rory, because the alternative, with him doing more on screen, would have made the film a headache. The initial drafts used him so laughably bad it hurts, and just ruined his character completely.
Logan is mad
As it is, I don´t see any indication that the man who came to kill Mr White was Blofeld. I don´t think you come to hate guns because you had to point one at someone in order to protect your daddy. You come to hate guns if you had to kill someone with a gun.
Whatever the reason, it fits in with my impression of Mendes as Bond director being too self-concious and pretentious. I had countless moments in SP where I felt as if the director is saying, "look what a clever director I am". Only that a truly clever director is not visible like that.
I agree. I find him not dull, quite the opposite, in his case the understatement of his performance does make even more sense than in Craig´s case. I found his minimal face changes in SP quite amusing.
I liked the humour, set ‘em up and knock ‘em down, but not too much, about the right level for an action movie, without undermining the “serious” action
I liked that they tried to tie in the previous Craig movies, so as to wrap up the annoying loose end that the dubious Quantum concept had become
However as always with Craig Bond I am left hoping, but not believing, that Bond will now be allowed to find his way back to working for a government entity that can be portrayed in a more positive light, rather than having to “go rogue” in every movie
After the Bourne series, Captain America the Winter Soldier and many others, surely it is time to give the governments and secret services a break from being suspect?
There was the now customary Craig character development, where Bond is evasive when forced to confront his tragic past and his morally questionable occupation
There was “box ticking”, as critics describe scenes which hark back to previous Bond moments, but I thought it was all tastefully handled
Nice work from the supporting characters on the side of good, particularly Q, however only the butler really added any colour on the side of evil
Batista was one dimensional as a character, but looked the part and performed his action well
Some good action sequences, if improbable and law of physics defying at times, however that is the norm these days, I'm learning to tolerate it
For those who like a quota pf gritty realism, the ephemeral plot had a more than a few weak points, such as, does “catching a train into the middle of nowhere and waiting for the villain to send a car to pick you up” constitute a credible and realistic “plan” of action?
Usually Bond at least makes some pretense to pose as a visiting scientist or something
Is there really a secret room concealed behind every mouse hole?
And the whole villains lair just blew up why? (but then haven't they always?)
The movie also went on a bit, when you might have expected it to end, however that has also become the blockbuster norm these days
The main fault for me was the villain, he just didn’t have the necessary evil charisma to make it work
Ralph Fienes acting in his opening exchanges with Bond gave off a far more nasty vibe than anything Christopher Waltz managed in his scenes
I would have thought It should be easy enough to identify a good villainous actor?
But the Bond franchise is only batting about 50/50 on that level
In Craig’s tenure, Le Chiffe and Silva were Aces
Green and now Blofeld have been busts
I guess Christopher Waltz got the job after his excellent work in “Inglorious Basterds” but he is unable to summon anything like the same sinister menace here, so perhaps it is the fault of the script or director?
He was also very good in “Django Unchained” however there he played a good guy and that is the vibe he still gives off here, likable or ineffectual rather than evil
Overall somewhere in the middle then
As Bond drove off into the sunset in this one, I guess the next Bond movie will have more than a hint of "The Bourne Supremacy" with Bond starting off in some idyllic setting living the dream with his girlfriend until some old friend or enemy tracks him down
Finally, how will they explain in the next movie that the SIS building has not actually been demolished?
Exactly. And he still is considered number 2 even in the Craig era. M's right hand man. I don't feel any hatred towards Kinnear. I thought he played the role perfectly.
Doesn´t change though that I think Kinnear´s doing a great job especially in SP.
That still makes him a civil servant.
Of course. What I guess I meant is that Bill Tanner does not have to be this charismatic military man some here seem to want him to be. MI6 employees come in all shapes and sizes. And I like this contrast between him and Bond. One an alpha male the other a drab civil servant.
Agreed. Craig was best with Campbell directing IMO. He needs a good script and James Bond films need directors who deeply understand Bond films. It's not enough just to throw in the typical ingredients as they did with SP.
I agree but CR did have the added advantage of solid Fleming material, among the best.
Fleming would never have made Bond and Blofeld childhood acquaintances. Babs and MGW screwed up royally there.
And the ending on the Thames still has a feeling of being tacked on, and suddenly becomes too implausible. The fact that Bond gets caught, then escapes, then walks into the trap. Why lay out a trap if Bond is caught? Or did Blofeld expect Bond to escape and then follow the trap? That just didn't make sense.
This tacked on scene reminded me of 2 others which also felt tacked on - the ending to Speed, when Sandra Bullock is caught by Hopper after walking off. And Bond shooting Blofeld in the helicopter reminded me of the ending to Die Hard 3, which I always felt was tacked on.
Whether Bond got caught and brought to Blofeld in the old MI6 building or Bond himself entered the building has an equal result: Show Bond his past and get him trapped.
They already have.
SPECTRE Tantalizes with Beauty and Beastliness
James Bond films are first and foremost exercises in a unique and increasingly archaic aesthetics. The visual and aural template for these films was established in the first half of the 1960s, a demi-decade in which refined formality and a belief in beauty still held sway in the Western world. This elitist aesthetic was conjoined with a peculiar sense of the bizarre to produce a sensual cocktail which intoxicated film audiences with the very first sip in 1962, and continues to do so in 2015 with the latest 007 adventure, SPECTRE.
The very longevity of the Bond series and its throwback aesthetics is a slap in the face of postmodern vulgarians who have pronounced the death of beauty and consigned good taste to an anti-egalitarian Jehannum. It is also a standing assertion of the timelessness of beauty and its centrality to what we deem a human existence worth living.
And it is along these aesthetic lines that SPECTRE makes its mark as yet another unqualified James Bond success. But of course, a film series in its 24th instantiation could not have survived by simply recapitulating the imagery and the sounds of its preceding films. Doing so would be filmic plagiarism and would terminally bore audiences. The trick is to hew to the traditional Bondian aesthetic while deviating just enough to produce novelty. It is a matter of varying a distinctive and appealing theme.
This is what SPECTRE does so well. The film, directed by Sam Mendes, reprises the beauty and tastefulness we expect from Bond films. Daniel Craig in the lead role is as natty as ever in Tom Ford couture. Craig, at aged 47, has never looked fitter, tougher and more dashing. Nor has he portrayed James Bond more convincingly. His smirk, swagger and sarcasm bespeak a spy who is supremely confident, not only in his ultimate triumph, but also the righteousness of his cause.
In addition to the handsome chap in immaculate suits and tuxedoes, SPECTRE naturally features women of astonishing beauty. The headliners are 51-year-old Monica Bellucci, the wife and then widow of an assassin dispatched by Bond in the film’s pre-title sequence, and Lea Seydoux, the daughter of yet another villainous gun-for-hire.
Bellucci infuses her tragic character with a dignified beauty that is both convincing and captivating. Seydoux, while perhaps not the most classically beautiful Bond girl of all, nevertheless possesses a strikingly unforgettable appearance, and beguiles with a spirited girlishness that contrasts well with Bellucci’s more worldly and careworn demeanor.
Then, too, there is the extravagantly cosmopolitan cinematography for which the Bond films are justly renowned. SPECTRE opens in Mexico City during the Day of the Dead, moves on to Rome, the Austrian Alps, and Morocco before finishing up in London. And cinematographer Hoyt van Hoytema has certainly lived up to his illustrious predecessors in Bond cinematography.
The aerial shots in this film are particularly spectacular. Much of the Mexico City sequence, including a harrowing punch-up in a helicopter that careens over thousands of terrified revelers, high-perspective views of the villain’s meteorite crater lair in the Sahara, and nocturnal views of London all benefit from being filmed at altitude.
But Hoytema’s work is even more telling in the frigid, remote bleakness it lends to the proceedings. This first becomes evident in the funeral scene set in Rome. The mourners, all in black, contrast starkly with the white stone of the church and mausoleum. Likewise with Bond’s black sunglasses against his pallid visage.
This aesthetic theme carries over into the snowy Austrian Alps where Bond traverses a mountain lake by boat in search of information about the SPECTRE organization that is behind a series of terrorist attacks designed to frighten the victim nations into embracing a new panoptic surveillance network that, unbeknownst to those nations, is itself a SPECTRE project.
After obtaining a crucial item of data from a terminally ill ci-devant SPECTRE agent, Bond travels to a glassy and icy clinic atop an Austrian mountain where he links up with Seydoux’s character, Madeleine Swann. The viewer fairly shivers not just at the beauty of it all, but also at the coldness that radiates from the movie screen.
Although climatologically opposed to Austria, Morocco shares the European nation’s utter austerity in this film. The vast expanses of desert, punctuated only by lonely roads and rail lines, and rimmed by distant bluffs and mountains, create a sense of profound isolation as Bond and Swann close in on SPECTRE’s heart, its secrets, and its mastermind.
Complimenting this aesthetic which disquiets via its bleakness, is a palpably ominous sense of dread that manifests itself immediately—the sentence “The dead are alive” displayed across a black screen opens the film—and only relents in the waning frames.
The opening credits are dominated by a massive black octopus whose tentacles writhe around Bond and various other people and objects as Sam Smith’s dolorous threnody keens in the background. At one point the octopus’ head becomes a skull to produce an image straight out of nightmare-land.
The element of horror, immediately and thoroughly established, remains an idee fixe. A meeting of SPECTRE agents in Rome, which serves as the introduction of both the main villain (played by Christoph Waltz), and the obligatory henchman (played by Dave Batista), is utterly chilling, and the horror is augmented by an act of shocking violence perpetrated by henchman Hinx on an unsuspecting SPECTRE agent.
Batista’s Hinx, incidentally, is easily the most frightening henchman in all of Bond cinema. He is a hulking and malign Teddy bear with an exceedingly nasty disposition. Hinx’s elemental fearsomeness comes to the fore in a fight with Bond on a train in which Bond actually shows fear and the viewer too fears that Bond cannot cope with the behemoth. The danger Hinx presents to Bond is completely convincing, and that makes all the difference.
And speaking of elements, fire, the infernal element, is a pronounced trope in SPECTRE. While being chased by Hinx in Rome, Bond’s tricked out Aston Martin disgorges gouts of flame at the pursuing car. During the train fight, Bond hurls a burning oil lamp, which explodes upon impact with Hinx, but ultimately does not deter him. And more disturbing, at various points in the film, cities in flame, victims of SPECTRE, can be seen on television monitors. The frequent use of fire—as opposed to mere explosions—adds hellishness to the film’s already disquieting aesthetic kit.
In this vein, we would be remiss not to mention a torture scene in which SPECTRE’s leader subjects a seemingly helpless Bond to the ministrations of a dental drill. Warning: this sequence is not for the squeamish.
What this all adds up to is a Bond film which possesses all of the aesthetic polish and beauty that is a series hallmark, while also descending into bizarre and grisly horror. (Ian Fleming meets Edgar Allen Poe.) The result is a Bond film whose imagery impresses itself upon the viewer’s mind, and is not easily forgotten. And at the end of the day, that is what matters the most in this genre.