Spectre: Reappraised, Reassessed

Hello, everyone. I hope you are all well. Presumably, we’re all members of this forum because we love James Bond. And because we are all die hard fans of the series, that often means we can be rather savage when it comes to some of the entries that disappoint us or that we perceive as lesser. I am no exception. My last viewing of Spectre was cut short because my partner declared it “boring” and I more happily obliged (the film was around the ⅔ mark, right as Bond and Madeleine get off the train). I have also called it “lifeless” and “contrived” and “uninspired” in the past, along with other negative criticisms.

My call today is for us to reassess and reappraise Spectre before the release of No Time To Die. Whether we like it or not (and I think, unfortunately, I’m in the “not” camp), Bond 25 seems to be taking a lot of threads from Spectre, namely the romance between Bond and Madeleine, but that is hardly the beginning or the end of the connections between the two films. In short, Spectre will greatly impact No Time To Die.

As Bond fans - as people who love this character and the series (the movies, the books, etc) I would hope that we are all extremely excited for Craig’s final film, and I know for me personally, my current opinion of Spectre is, unfortunately, likely to color my viewing experience of No Time To Die. I’m not asking us to ignore the aspects of the film that we consider weak, flawed, or downright infuriating. They’re there, believe me, I agree. Rather, what I am asking is, in the spirit of giving No Time To Die a fair shake, we reappraise and reassess Spectre on “its own terms” if you will. What do I mean by that?

How well does it do what it sets out to do?
With the Bond/Madeleine romance being given such emphasis in Bond 25, does it work here? What are the strengths of this?
Lastly but most importantly -- what are some things Spectre does well, or even fantastically?

I hope I’ve made sense today. I’m planning on rewatching it soon, with an open mind and a positive approach. I want to love Bond 25. I’m not a cynical fan. I’m not going in predisposed to be aggravated because of my negative opinions about its predecessor. So, let’s give Spectre a spin with fresh eyes before No Time To Die’s release, shall we?

Post your opinions, your feedback, your new insights, your changes/unchanged views on the film below. Of course, other discussion is welcome as well.
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Comments

  • NicNacNicNac Moderator
    Posts: 7,194
    When I first saw Spectre I was pleased that it seemed to return to old style Bond, mixing thrills with humour. I loved the PTS especially. The film ticked so many boxes and I came out feeling positive and satisfied.

    Then, with each subsequent viewing it lost a little of its impact.
    I saw the cracks.
    Long dull scenes featuring big, empty cities, the awful yellow tint, Craig's lackluster performance (and I have been a Craig fan from day one). The M/Bond scene is a case in point. The way Bond spoke to M, honestly if M had punched Bond on the nose I would have stood up and cheered. Bond should be a bit cheeky to M, but not downright snide and so disrespectful.

    Then there is the undeserved length of the film. Why should a film so lacking in epic quality have such an epic length?

    Now its dropped like a stone into bottom 5 territory. And I can't see a way for it to claw itself out. We shall see then if there is anything other than the opening 10 minutes which manage to thrill me.
  • WalecsWalecs On Her Majesty's Secret Service
    Posts: 3,157
    NicNac wrote: »
    When I first saw Spectre I was pleased that it seemed to return to old style Bond, mixing thrills with humour. I loved the PTS especially. The film ticked so many boxes and I came out feeling positive and satisfied.

    Then, with each subsequent viewing it lost a little of its impact.
    I saw the cracks.
    Long dull scenes featuring big, empty cities, the awful yellow tint, Craig's lackluster performance (and I have been a Craig fan from day one). The M/Bond scene is a case in point. The way Bond spoke to M, honestly if M had punched Bond on the nose I would have stood up and cheered. Bond should be a bit cheeky to M, but not downright snide and so disrespectful.

    Then there is the undeserved length of the film. Why should a film so lacking in epic quality have such an epic length?

    Now its dropped like a stone into bottom 5 territory. And I can't see a way for it to claw itself out. We shall see then if there is anything other than the opening 10 minutes which manage to thrill me.

    +1
  • Last_Rat_StandingLast_Rat_Standing South Florida
    Posts: 3,565
    NicNac wrote: »
    When I first saw Spectre I was pleased that it seemed to return to old style Bond, mixing thrills with humour. I loved the PTS especially. The film ticked so many boxes and I came out feeling positive and satisfied.

    Then, with each subsequent viewing it lost a little of its impact.
    I saw the cracks.
    Long dull scenes featuring big, empty cities, the awful yellow tint, Craig's lackluster performance (and I have been a Craig fan from day one). The M/Bond scene is a case in point. The way Bond spoke to M, honestly if M had punched Bond on the nose I would have stood up and cheered. Bond should be a bit cheeky to M, but not downright snide and so disrespectful.

    Then there is the undeserved length of the film. Why should a film so lacking in epic quality have such an epic length?

    Now its dropped like a stone into bottom 5 territory. And I can't see a way for it to claw itself out. We shall see then if there is anything other than the opening 10 minutes which manage to thrill me.

    I can agree with that assessment. The scenes with Lucia in Rome is very enjoyable for me.
  • edited October 1 Posts: 3,129
    I don’t get Craig being “lackluster”. If anything it’s his most confident performance.
  • Creasy47Creasy47 In Cuba with Natalya.Moderator
    Posts: 33,387
    NicNac wrote: »
    When I first saw Spectre I was pleased that it seemed to return to old style Bond, mixing thrills with humour. I loved the PTS especially. The film ticked so many boxes and I came out feeling positive and satisfied.

    Then, with each subsequent viewing it lost a little of its impact.
    I saw the cracks.
    Long dull scenes featuring big, empty cities, the awful yellow tint, Craig's lackluster performance (and I have been a Craig fan from day one). The M/Bond scene is a case in point. The way Bond spoke to M, honestly if M had punched Bond on the nose I would have stood up and cheered. Bond should be a bit cheeky to M, but not downright snide and so disrespectful.

    Then there is the undeserved length of the film. Why should a film so lacking in epic quality have such an epic length?

    Now its dropped like a stone into bottom 5 territory. And I can't see a way for it to claw itself out. We shall see then if there is anything other than the opening 10 minutes which manage to thrill me.

    Couldn't agree more, particularly on Craig's performance in the film.
  • Posts: 28
    Craig looks like he'd rather be anywhere else. In fact I think his performance is less enthusiastic than Connery's in YOLT.
  • DenbighDenbigh UK
    edited October 1 Posts: 3,879
    The film was like a "good" first draft, but needed a lot more work.
  • ShardlakeShardlake Leeds, West Yorkshire, England
    Posts: 3,963
    I hate the bloody film and haven't made a secret of it.

    I watched it earlier this year after watching CR, QOS SF (in concert) to prepare myself for the then original release date back in April.

    My opinion didn't change, it was as uninteresting as I remember, the PTS is easily the best thing about it. After that its is about engaging as watching paint dry.

    Craig might seem confident to some but to me a huge advocate of his Bond, I clearly saw a difference in how he was in SP to the previous 3. I definitely thought he looked bored.

    That is my assessment, possibly shooting a good portion of the film with an injury played into that and I don't believe him when he says he had more fun on the shoot than any of the other films, as he claimed in an interview.

    He so much more energised when talking about this new film, more like he was on SF, proud of what they'd done and couldn't wait for people to see it.

    If NTTD can somewhat make SP more relevant that will be an achievement in itself.
  • Last_Rat_StandingLast_Rat_Standing South Florida
    Posts: 3,565
    I'll reassess the night before NTTD comes out
  • edited October 1 Posts: 1,470
    I guess I should place more emphasis on the aspects that will bleed over into NTTD, namely Madeleine.

    How do we feel about that angle? Is there any way in which it works? I desperately want to find some positives in this film to allow me to enjoy NTTD more thoroughly.

    Edit: Thank you all for the responses thus far. My first thread I've posted here, actually.
    Edit2: @Shardlake As someone who has also been pretty harsh on SP, I would love to see NTTD retroactively improve it as well. I guess for me the point of this revisiting is to try to create the opposite effect, in which a positive view of SP would help us as fans be more ready and willing to accept NTTD.

    With most Bond films, in fact with all Bond films pre-Craig, none of this would matter. You can forget the last one if you didn't like it. With Craig's films though, and with blockbuster filmmaking in general nowadays, that isn't the case. Threads of SP will be all throughout NTTD.
  • TripAcesTripAces Universal Exports
    edited October 1 Posts: 3,873
    I have had the opposite reaction.

    I did not like it upon first viewing. Actually, I was disappointed, because the trailers looked fantastic. As a lover of SF, I was looking forward to this. But I also knew the film had a troubled production and that Mendes was displeased with the script. No matter. I went in with high expectations.

    Then: Boom.

    Yes, the foster brother angle was forced and a bit ridiculous. But the bigger problem was that the third act was a mess. You had all kinds of talented people on this project, and nobody (NOBODY!!!!) could figure out how this needed to end.

    Now, a few years later, my view has softened. I still have problems with the final act, but most of the film, leading up to the torture scene, is fantastic. There is much to like/admire in this film:
    • A huge PTS (one of the best in the series)
    • Q in the lab: "I told you to bring it back in one piece, not bring back one piece." Still kills me. Great delivery by Ben.
    • The funeral scene (which I love, especially Bond's little wave at the end)
    • The Lucia scene
    • The Spectre meeting
    • Bond's confrontation with Mr. White
    • The clinic (two great lines here, about what to do with the digestive shake, and Bond telling one of the security guards, "No, Stay!")
    • The entirety of the Morroccan scenes
    • The train fight

    It's still far from one of my favorite Bond films. But it's far from the bottom, too.
    Denbigh wrote: »
    The film was like a "good" first draft, but needed a lot more work.

    Indeed, I don't think Mendes was quite ready to begin filming. The script was rushed and not ready yet. I think Babs and Michael learned their lesson and did not rush CJF with NTTD.
  • MurdockMurdock Mr. 2000
    Posts: 15,993
    I loved it when I first saw it but after a few rewatches all the flaws became glaring and became a chore to watch.
  • DenbighDenbigh UK
    Posts: 3,879
    I remember going to see it at university with a bunch of friends who knew I was a massive Bond fan, so when I came out disappointed and they all loved It, all of them expecting my reaction - it was really awkward haha :D
  • Posts: 2,801
    From someone who never really warmed to SF, i have to say i really enjoyed SP on first viewing, and subsequent viewings. Yes, the opening scene is awkwardly staged (and I think Fiennes is bad here as much as Craig, and whats going on with Fiennes teeth??) and the final section in London was a mess and felt cobbled together! But there is still more for me to enjoy than SF. Love the pts, and titles, and the whole section in Rome is great, and i like Seydoux, and her first meet with Bond at the clinic, i even enjoy the plane set piece and the train scenes are fine, and that fight sequence still brilliant! Nowhere near as good as CR or QOS, but its still goes in front of SF for me, though i have a feeling NTTD is going to shake things up!
  • Posts: 1,470
    I never felt like Mendes' heart was really in this one. It's like he had used up all of his inspiration and vision on SF.

    Also, the Lucia scene is tremendous. Beautifully filmed.
  • NicNacNicNac Moderator
    Posts: 7,194
    I don’t get Craig being “lackluster”. If anything it’s his most confident performance.

    I get that, he is confident after three previous films. But when I said lackluster I really meant that Craig has gone for a lighter tone to his performance in places, and seems to take his eye off the ball somewhat. I’m not convinced that the actor who gave so much thought into the role in the earlier films wasn’t winging it a little here? So maybe the confidence you mention is in fact over- confidence?
  • Posts: 403
    Also, the Lucia scene is tremendous. Beautifully filmed.

    This and the PTS are probably my two favourite scenes in the film.
  • TripAcesTripAces Universal Exports
    Posts: 3,873
    Denbigh wrote: »
    I remember going to see it at university with a bunch of friends who knew I was a massive Bond fan, so when I came out disappointed and they all loved It, all of them expecting my reaction - it was really awkward haha :D

    LOL. Yes, I had similar experiences. Friends who saw it came to me and were saying, Oh my God! Wasn't Spectre great? Didn't you love it?" And I was like...

    giphy.gif
  • Posts: 1,470
    Oh, I need to mention that now amount of "positive watching" from me could ever get me to like the "C" stuff in any capacity whatsoever. In fact, that entire subplot (plot?) is just so, so awful and detracts from the pacing of the story which is so clearly about Bond and Blofeld and Madeleine. Film would be much stronger if they'd done away with that stuff.
  • w2bondw2bond is indeed a very rare breed
    Posts: 2,091
    The unexpected benefit from watching Spectre (and Skyfall)? Die Another Die gets better.

    Tamahori got it right about CGI being commonplace in films in the future (ie now). So why should I hate on DAD (however bad it is) for CGI when modern films are full of it. Even ignoring the CGI, DAD is more watchable, yes that includes the cheese-fest dialogue
  • CraigMooreOHMSSCraigMooreOHMSS Dublin, Ireland
    Posts: 5,559
    w2bond wrote: »
    The unexpected benefit from watching Spectre (and Skyfall)? Die Another Die gets better.

    Tamahori got it right about CGI being commonplace in films in the future (ie now). So why should I hate on DAD (however bad it is) for CGI when modern films are full of it. Even ignoring the CGI, DAD is more watchable, yes that includes the cheese-fest dialogue

    .....and the daft plot. And the silly villain scheme. And the sometimes "cheap" feeling the film has.

    DAD has a lot more wrong with it than the CGI, it's just that the visual effects naturally stick out as they are so prominent.

    Spectre is pretty rubbish too, granted.
  • WalecsWalecs On Her Majesty's Secret Service
    Posts: 3,157
    My main problem with DAD is my main problem with Spectre (and all Brosnan movies, including GoldenEye): the third act is such a chore to get through.
  • Posts: 3,129
    NicNac wrote: »
    I don’t get Craig being “lackluster”. If anything it’s his most confident performance.

    I get that, he is confident after three previous films. But when I said lackluster I really meant that Craig has gone for a lighter tone to his performance in places, and seems to take his eye off the ball somewhat. I’m not convinced that the actor who gave so much thought into the role in the earlier films wasn’t winging it a little here? So maybe the confidence you mention is in fact over- confidence?

    The lighter tone is exactly what I like about Craig in SP. For three straight films we had Craig Bond with a chip on his shoulder, always going through some kind of pathos. This resulted in very strong performances in Craig, but it gave us little of seeing Craig Bond in a more relaxed demeanor. We never really did get that fully formed classic Bond we were promised at the end of CR. With SP it felt like Craig got to relax for the first time and just be Bond (something he actually expressed for in 2008 after QOS). Given that NTTD seems to be reverting back to having Bond with a chip on his shoulder, I appreciate Craig's performance in SP even more.

    But I can understand if one like's Craig Bond going through inner turmoil, then seeing him in SP feels like the fire is gone. I never felt that way. And I suspect his crass joke about slitting one's wrist seriously colored fans' perception of him just phoning it in SP.
  • WalecsWalecs On Her Majesty's Secret Service
    Posts: 3,157
    NicNac wrote: »
    I don’t get Craig being “lackluster”. If anything it’s his most confident performance.

    I get that, he is confident after three previous films. But when I said lackluster I really meant that Craig has gone for a lighter tone to his performance in places, and seems to take his eye off the ball somewhat. I’m not convinced that the actor who gave so much thought into the role in the earlier films wasn’t winging it a little here? So maybe the confidence you mention is in fact over- confidence?

    The lighter tone is exactly what I like about Craig in SP. For three straight films we had Craig Bond with a chip on his shoulder, always going through some kind of pathos. This resulted in very strong performances in Craig, but it gave us little of seeing Craig Bond in a more relaxed demeanor. We never really did get that fully formed classic Bond we were promised at the end of CR. With SP it felt like Craig got to relax for the first time and just be Bond (something he actually expressed for in 2008 after QOS). Given that NTTD seems to be reverting back to having Bond with a chip on his shoulder, I appreciate Craig's performance in SP even more.

    But I can understand if one like's Craig Bond going through inner turmoil, then seeing him in SP feels like the fire is gone. I never felt that way. And I suspect his crass joke about slitting one's wrist seriously colored fans' perception of him just phoning it in SP.

    Unfortunately Craig's lighter tone is inconsistent with the tone of the movie.
  • CraigMooreOHMSSCraigMooreOHMSS Dublin, Ireland
    Posts: 5,559
    The problem for me is that Craig's performance is at odds with what the script is expecting the character to go through when it comes to falling in love with Madeleine and being confronted with revelations from his past. If it had been a more straightforward, less melodramatic story, it would have felt more natural for that side of Bond to be shown.

    Ultimately, I don't think Craig is bad in Spectre, I just don't think they used him correctly in the film and it's easily the least interesting performance he has given as a result.

    The relationship between Bond and Madeleine in NTTD already seems more authentic because Craig has reverted back to a more intense performance. All that remains now is whether the writing fully sells it. Fingers crossed.
  • Posts: 3,129
    Walecs wrote: »
    NicNac wrote: »
    I don’t get Craig being “lackluster”. If anything it’s his most confident performance.

    I get that, he is confident after three previous films. But when I said lackluster I really meant that Craig has gone for a lighter tone to his performance in places, and seems to take his eye off the ball somewhat. I’m not convinced that the actor who gave so much thought into the role in the earlier films wasn’t winging it a little here? So maybe the confidence you mention is in fact over- confidence?

    The lighter tone is exactly what I like about Craig in SP. For three straight films we had Craig Bond with a chip on his shoulder, always going through some kind of pathos. This resulted in very strong performances in Craig, but it gave us little of seeing Craig Bond in a more relaxed demeanor. We never really did get that fully formed classic Bond we were promised at the end of CR. With SP it felt like Craig got to relax for the first time and just be Bond (something he actually expressed for in 2008 after QOS). Given that NTTD seems to be reverting back to having Bond with a chip on his shoulder, I appreciate Craig's performance in SP even more.

    But I can understand if one like's Craig Bond going through inner turmoil, then seeing him in SP feels like the fire is gone. I never felt that way. And I suspect his crass joke about slitting one's wrist seriously colored fans' perception of him just phoning it in SP.

    Unfortunately Craig's lighter tone is inconsistent with the tone of the movie.

    I’d say it does, but only for the most part.

    The Spectre HQ section feels like it’s calling for more of the emotional turmoiled Bond but Craig never plays to that. Finding out things like Hannes Oberhauser having been murdered, and yet Bond kind of just shrugs it off.

    It’s stuff like this that convinces me that they should have scrapped the entire foster brother angle altogether and just had Blofeld only having conflict with Bond over foiling past operations.
  • DraxCucumberSandwichDraxCucumberSandwich United Kingdom
    Posts: 45
    Craig never plays to that. Finding out things like Hannes Oberhauser having been murdered, and yet Bond kind of just shrugs it off.

    So basically the same reaction as everyone who’s ever watched the film. I guess the argument is that as Craig doesn’t even try to sell it, no one buys it
  • tonesmalones09tonesmalones09 Minneapolis
    edited October 2 Posts: 26
    The problem for me is that Craig's performance is at odds with what the script is expecting the character to go through when it comes to falling in love with Madeleine and being confronted with revelations from his past. If it had been a more straightforward, less melodramatic story, it would have felt more natural for that side of Bond to be shown.

    Ultimately, I don't think Craig is bad in Spectre, I just don't think they used him correctly in the film and it's easily the least interesting performance he has given as a result.

    The relationship between Bond and Madeleine in NTTD already seems more authentic because Craig has reverted back to a more intense performance. All that remains now is whether the writing fully sells it. Fingers crossed.

    I think something I thought about that made Craig's performance (and SP in general) click better for me was this:

    Bond's arc in SP is the reverse of CR. It's meant as a bookend

    In CR we see Bond become the hard edged, romantically sealed off secret agent of the films preceding it. I don't ever really think of CR as an "origin story", but by the end of that film he's the confident, suave, womanizing guy we all know. (QoS kinda undoes and re-does this, which has always rubbed me the wrong way)

    In SP we start with Bond as that guy in full force. Craig on the roof in Mexico is about as confident (even a tad bored) as we've ever seen him. This continues throughout the first two acts. Bond "pumping" a widow for leads feels pretty dated in 2015, but this is meant to show the classic Bond character in act one. Bond waving at Hinx in the plane feels a little too relaxed for Craig's Bond, but then again he's done this for quite a long time now. But then southing breaks in him after the train fight. I think Mendes was trying to un-do the Bond character and break him down, back into a human being. That's why he does all the foster brother nonsense, and why Madeline is supposed to be a character that redeems him and is so important. "everything is personal" is a fairly quick and easy way to try to break down Bond as a character.

    Now I agree with most people that this is largely unsuccessful in execution. Seydoux's performance of Madeline, and how the character is treated in general, don't accomplish the goal of convincing the audience that this girl is the one that breaks through to Bond. But I can now squint and see what Mendes was going for and appreciate it on that level. It looks like NTTD is obviously doubling down on this approach to Madeline and I hope it is more successful.

    Also, forgive me if this idea has been discussed before or is plainly obvious to most everyone else. I'm relatively new to the forum.
  • CraigMooreOHMSSCraigMooreOHMSS Dublin, Ireland
    Posts: 5,559
    The problem for me is that Craig's performance is at odds with what the script is expecting the character to go through when it comes to falling in love with Madeleine and being confronted with revelations from his past. If it had been a more straightforward, less melodramatic story, it would have felt more natural for that side of Bond to be shown.

    Ultimately, I don't think Craig is bad in Spectre, I just don't think they used him correctly in the film and it's easily the least interesting performance he has given as a result.

    The relationship between Bond and Madeleine in NTTD already seems more authentic because Craig has reverted back to a more intense performance. All that remains now is whether the writing fully sells it. Fingers crossed.

    I think something I thought about that made Craig's performance (and SP in general) click better for me was this:

    Bond's arc in SP is the reverse of CR. It's meant as a bookend

    In CR we see Bond become the hard edged, romantically sealed off secret agent of the films preceding it. I don't ever really think of CR as an "origin story", but by the end of that film he's the confident, suave, womanizing guy we all know. (QoS kinda undoes and re-does this, which has always rubbed me the wrong way)

    In SP we start with Bond as that guy in full force. Craig on the roof in Mexico is about as confident (even a tad bored) as we've ever seen him. This continues throughout the first two acts. Bond "pumping" a widow for leads feels pretty dated in 2015, but this is meant to show the classic Bond character in act one. Bond waving at Hinx in the plane feels a little too relaxed for Craig's Bond, but then again he's done this for quite a long time now. But then southing breaks in him after the train fight. I think Mendes was trying to un-do the Bond character and break him down, back into a human being. That's why he does all the foster brother nonsense, and why Madeline is supposed to be a character that redeems him and is so important. "everything is personal" is a fairly quick and easy way to try to break down Bond as a character.

    Now I agree with most people that this is largely unsuccessful in execution. Seydoux's performance of Madeline, and how the character is treated in general, don't accomplish the goal of convincing the audience that this girl is the one that breaks through to Bond. But I can now squint and see what Mendes was going for and appreciate it on that level. It looks like NTTD is obviously doubling down on this approach to Madeline and I hope it is more successful.

    Also, forgive me if this idea has been discussed before or is plainly obvious to most everyone else. I'm relatively new to the forum.

    Not at all. Good post. Welcome, by the way - I don't think we have interacted before.

    You're right, too. A lot of it does sound good in theory, and Madeleine seems ideal on paper with the whole "daughter of an assassin, the only one who can truly understand him" idea. But the execution is off and often contradictory.
  • WalecsWalecs On Her Majesty's Secret Service
    Posts: 3,157
    Also, forgive me if this idea has been discussed before or is plainly obvious to most everyone else. I'm relatively new to the forum.

    I don't think it was, good post and welcome to the boards.
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