Spectre: Reappraised, Reassessed

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  • Yeah the foster brother angle really, really doesn't work. But I'm hoping on this viewing I can look past that.
  • 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.

    Aye, you've said it all. First watch was thrilling, but after the initial delight of a new Bond film you see everything the film isn't. It's near the end of my rankings as well.
    But I am very excited for NTTD, and I do hope that, if NTTD is a marvelous Bond film, that my appreciation will increase for SP. We shall see!
  • echoecho 007 in New York
    Posts: 6,002
    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.

    Good post, this. I don't know how, but my sense is that the Madeleine character would have worked a lot better had we seen her in a scene with her father. Perhaps she needed to be in the chalet with Bond and White.
  • edited October 2020 Posts: 1,595
    I know this is a touchy subject, but I think part of my resistance to Madeleine is the sheer age difference between her and Bond. I know it is considerably less than many of the age gaps of the Moore era, but let's be real, Moore looked quite a bit younger than he was (until he didn't, of course, lol). Craig looks every bit as old as he is. There's a moment where they're in the Rolls Royce (I think it's a Rolls) headed to Blofeld's lair and there's this beautiful shot of Madeleine holding Bond's hand, but Craig's aged and rough hand entwined with Madeleine's very smooth, very obviously young hand just sort of... I don't know. It's harder to sell that as a capital-R-Real relationship rather than a passing affair.

    edit: Also the Moore films rarely if ever presented the relationship with the leading lady as something substantial.
  • DenbighDenbigh UK
    Posts: 5,869
    echo wrote: »
    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.

    Good post, this. I don't know how, but my sense is that the Madeleine character would have worked a lot better had we seen her in a scene with her father. Perhaps she needed to be in the chalet with Bond and White.
    It could've worked. I actually think it would've been interesting if Bond and Madeleine had met at the Spectre meeting. While it may not have suited the characterisation of her wanting to escape from her father's lifestyle, if Bond had met her there, and she was looking for her father, it may have solved a lot of issues. She already seemed to know enough about the organisation so maybe she could've seen it as a way to find him (for some reason), and instead of the car chase becoming a conversation between Bond and Moneypenny, it's an exciting car chase with a Bond girl involved.
  • Posts: 4,602
    If a script is to go down the "emotional connection" route, the writers have to give the audience some context re the character. (obviously, it was there already with SF) and the script was very good in CR (the train banter being a highlight). It just was not there in SP. Mads needed more screen time so we could get to know her background etc. Bond just turns up at the clinic to "collect" her. As mentioned, screen time with dad or, perhaps , a flash back sequence to provide the emotion. It never worked and it's a big contribution IMHO as to why the movie as a whole never really worked.
  • Posts: 3,279
    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.

    Agree 100%
  • Posts: 2,075
    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 completely agree on the M part. It is just so out of character and disrespectful to both of them really. M should be respected, and Bond has always respected him, even if he hasnt always agreed with M. If I was M, I'd have fired him on the spot.
  • echo wrote: »
    Good post, this. I don't know how, but my sense is that the Madeleine character would have worked a lot better had we seen her in a scene with her father. Perhaps she needed to be in the chalet with Bond and White.
    I'm not too sure about seeing her in the chalet with her father. However, I quite agree about the need to see her with her father in at least one scene. In my mind, Madeleine clearly should have been kind of the heart or the MacGuffin of the story, with Bond searching for her from the start, ignorant of SPECTRE and being confronted with the organization after promising White to protect his daughter.
  • suavejmfsuavejmf Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England
    Posts: 5,131
    C was terrible along with the Blofeld Step Brother angle.

    Apart from that, it’s ok, but still Craig’s worse by far.
  • edited October 2020 Posts: 6,677
    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.

    Agree 100%

    My experience, to a tee. Moreover, 2015 was a though year for me and I felt I couldn't appreciate it. Someone I loved was in the hospital, and she died just a month later. So I can never return to that film with a smile, never. Not the film's fault, of course. But it has so many flaws, that I can't really give it an excuse either.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,696
    How most people here feel about SP is the way I feel about SF. But then, my favourite Craig film is QOS. I don't need everything to make sense in a Bond movie- just entertain me without forgetting these movies are mostly about fantasy, not reality.
  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython “Baja?!”
    Posts: 8,028
    suavejmf wrote: »
    C was terrible along with the Blofeld Step Brother angle.

    Apart from that, it’s ok, but still Craig’s worse by far.

    Blofeld wasn't a step brother, he was a foster brother. Those are very different things, but I too often see fandom mix those terms as if they're interchangeable.
  • WalecsWalecs On Her Majesty's Secret Service
    edited October 2020 Posts: 3,157
    They're the same, identical thing to me.
    Step brothers, forster brothers, school mate, playground mates, neighbours, the root of the problem is that I can't buy the unlikely, contrived coincidence that the best secret agent and the worst criminal in the world are old acquaintances as if Bond was some sort of chosen one and they were fated to fight each other simply because Blofeld's daddy took care of Bond when he was young.
    The rest is simply semantics.
  • cwl007cwl007 England
    Posts: 611
    I've said in a post a long time ago that Spectre frustrates me mainly because there is a good film in there and actually I don't think it needed a huge amount of effort to find it. It would have improved massively for me if;
    - Get rid of C and his subplot, not needed.
    - Put more extras/vehicles in Rome to give the much publicised chase some jeopardy and drama.
    - Blofeld and Bond would have no prior personal relationship, foster brother or otherwise, it's such a tacky trope. I realise any continuity stretching back to Dr No and into the CR 're-boot' is stretching credulity beyond breaking point but lets at least pretend the old films exist...
    YOLT script: Blofeld "let me introduce myself, I am Ernst Stavro Blofeld"
    Bond "yeah I know mate, we grew up together for a while!!"
    - If the torture chair has no stakes at all just don't bloody bother.
    - Make the escape from Blofeld's base more difficult, or just difficult! As it is they almost stroll out. I would have put Hinx in there to spice things up a bit.
    - there are other little niggles but they are the main ones.
  • While Denbigh and his Nine Eyes subplot were unnecessary, I think a pertinent place could have been given to them. It would have been a totally different movie, but the idea of ​​revealing that C was Blofeld, or at least the leader of SPECTRE, as it was at one point suggested by some Sony executives, could have been better than the foster brother angle.
  • Posts: 3,279
    cwl007 wrote: »
    I've said in a post a long time ago that Spectre frustrates me mainly because there is a good film in there and actually I don't think it needed a huge amount of effort to find it. It would have improved massively for me if;
    - Get rid of C and his subplot, not needed.
    - Put more extras/vehicles in Rome to give the much publicised chase some jeopardy and drama.
    - Blofeld and Bond would have no prior personal relationship, foster brother or otherwise, it's such a tacky trope. I realise any continuity stretching back to Dr No and into the CR 're-boot' is stretching credulity beyond breaking point but lets at least pretend the old films exist...
    YOLT script: Blofeld "let me introduce myself, I am Ernst Stavro Blofeld"
    Bond "yeah I know mate, we grew up together for a while!!"
    - If the torture chair has no stakes at all just don't bloody bother.
    - Make the escape from Blofeld's base more difficult, or just difficult! As it is they almost stroll out. I would have put Hinx in there to spice things up a bit.
    - there are other little niggles but they are the main ones.

    That pretty much nails my gripes with the film too.

    The car chase feels more like an episode of Top Gear, the personal angle with Blofeld is utterly pathetic, amateurish and childish, and the aftermath of the torture scene makes a mockery of everything Craig's Bond stood for before SP. When Bond got tortured in CR he passed out and recovered in hospital, when he gets into a fight in QoS he bleeds, when he gets shot in SF he loses his mojo physically.

    Yet in SP he gets tortured in his brain, and then functions 100% perfectly immediately afterwards. Whatever credibility SP carried up until that point vanished completely for me after that horrendous scene. To me this was Craig's CGI surfing moment.
  • DCisaredDCisared Liverpool
    Posts: 1,329
    I don’t like the PTS as much as a lot of people. I like Bond in costume and the day of the dead festival location but how Mendes made a helicopter flying upside down seem boring I’ll never know. Bond landing on the couch is crap too.

    Mendes manages to make another action sequence (that on paper should be incredible!) boring with the depressingly dull Rome chase. And then there’s the Solden one! Zzzzzz... the action scenes (apart from the train fight ,which I love) are just so monotonous. Add that to the piss filter and stupid step- bro angle and awful C character and it really starts to wind me up this film.

    The Mr White scene is a highlight for me and I really enjoy Madeline and I’m delighted she’s back for NTTD but the rest leaves me feeling what could’ve been. it’s such a shame they wasted Waltz in SP and made it such a chore to watch.
  • The train fight is absolutely phenomenal and somehow the rest of the action is a complete snooze. I have no idea how that was accomplished. Again, hoping I come away with a differeent opinion after this next viewing.
  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython “Baja?!”
    Posts: 8,028
    Does anyone actually LIKE the film, even mildly?

    Just wanna make sure I’m not alone on this...
  • w2bondw2bond is indeed a very rare breed
    Posts: 2,252
    I think the train fight rivals Bond vs Grant. Not too fond of Madeleine saving the day, I'd rather someone use their wits to defeat Hinx. The barrel solution is great.
  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython “Baja?!”
    Posts: 8,028
    Her shooting at Hinx really should have built up to her shooting up goons at the SPECTRE site to show that she was more than capable, but instead it's Bond despite having undergone torture.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,696
    Does anyone actually LIKE the film, even mildly?

    Just wanna make sure I’m not alone on this...

    I love it.
  • Junglist_1985Junglist_1985 Los Angeles
    edited October 2020 Posts: 1,007
    Yes, there is an excellent film trapped in there somewhere amongst the bloat! The changes I would make to elevate the film are:

    - Dump the C plot
    - Flesh out, build up Bond and Madeline’s relationship (the train scene dinner could have been the perfect time to beef up romantic dialogue a la CR)
    - Add cars, traffic, barriers to the Rome chase
    - Dump foster brother plot
    - Do an actual torture scene (even a line would have saved it - “this drill has a 90% chance of erasing your ______ “
    - Skip going back to London... End the film with a proper Blofeld lair escape, fight, villain capture (yes in Morocco)
  • echoecho 007 in New York
    Posts: 6,002
    It's a strange film. There are elements that work well (the PTS, White, the clinic, L'Americain, the asteroid scene, the train dialogue) but for some reason the film never manages to take off.
  • tonesmalones09tonesmalones09 Minneapolis
    Posts: 28
    Does anyone actually LIKE the film, even mildly?

    Just wanna make sure I’m not alone on this...

    I do enjoy it myself, partially because of the reading I laid out earlier. I can't deny the common complaints about the Blofeld angle, the C stuff and the mishandling of SPECTRE as an organization (author of all your pain BS). But I think up until the Blofeld meeting at the villain base SP is a pretty classy, stoic Bond film in a good way. A lot of what I get out of it is surface pleasures like the costume and set design. I don't love the color grading (although the 4k UHD Dolby Vision disc helps the warm tint not feel as oppressive as the other home video formats) but I think van Hoytema's cinematography is quite gorgeous, some of the best of the series. It's unpopular I know but I quite enjoy Newman's score as well, Madeline's theme, Donna Luccia and Safe House being my favorite tracks. Hinx is great, this is kinda the first time I feel like we got some classic Bond-y tropes into a Craig film like a menacing henchman and I love that. Agree about the torture sequence lacking any stakes and the lair escape not really existing, but hey we got a classic villain lair and got to see it explode in grand fashion, right?

    And yeah, I think if you view it as a movie about Bond "un-learning" what he did in CR, finding some solace in life as a human being and not just being a blunt instrument, there is some emotional pathos to the story. Again, I think it's somewhat flubbed in execution but enough is there for me to latch onto.

    Depending on the day, SP might be my 2nd fav of the Craig era (I like all of them, adore CR) and is always hovering around top 10-12 of the entire series.
  • Posts: 6,869
    Does anyone actually LIKE the film, even mildly?

    Just wanna make sure I’m not alone on this...

    I love it too!
    Would much rather watch it than SF, which i struggle to enjoy! (Though am a little more tolerant of it than I was!)
  • Posts: 2,075
    Spectre has a series of great scenes that, individually, are fun, but never come together to form a collective whole. It is not greater than the sum of its parts.

    Many of the issues have been raised here and I agree with them, so instead will focus on what I do like.

    - A more releaxed and confident James Bond, I dont view Craig’s performance as bored.
    - A great PTS in Mexico, piss filter aside.
    - I do like the score by Newman and some of the cues are just lovely, especially the romantic cues.
    - The DB10 is gorgeous, I wish it wasnt destroyed and became the ongoing replacement to the DB5.
    - Some nice visuals, especially the Morocco set sequences.
    - The Rome set sequence is great, aside from the snooze inducing car chase. Everything up to that point is, well, on point.
  • ShardlakeShardlake Leeds, West Yorkshire, England
    Posts: 4,043
    Trying to polish the turd that is the script that was put before the cameras and gave us SPECTRE is not the easy exercise it might appear, hey @peter

    We'll tell you from experience, we tried it, I had some what I thought were great ideas, obviously nixing the Brothergate plot, getting rid of C, beefing up the Rome chase.

    It all sounded great when I handed it to Peter and then we got into it. Peter is the proper scriptwriter, I'm just someone who hated the film and came up with ideas to change it.

    Peter granted initially thought the changes were good, then we tried to incorporate them in but the issues with SPECTRE are much more deeper than a few tweaks. Peter can explain better than me.

    Consequently the 2nd draft in process has dumped the whole sorry thing and started again almost from scratch with possibly a character or 2 that appeared in the film.
  • Agent_Zero_OneAgent_Zero_One Ireland
    Posts: 554
    Shardlake wrote: »
    Trying to polish the turd that is the script that was put before the cameras and gave us SPECTRE is not the easy exercise it might appear, hey @peter

    We'll tell you from experience, we tried it, I had some what I thought were great ideas, obviously nixing the Brothergate plot, getting rid of C, beefing up the Rome chase.

    It all sounded great when I handed it to Peter and then we got into it. Peter is the proper scriptwriter, I'm just someone who hated the film and came up with ideas to change it.

    Peter granted initially thought the changes were good, then we tried to incorporate them in but the issues with SPECTRE are much more deeper than a few tweaks. Peter can explain better than me.

    Consequently the 2nd draft in process has dumped the whole sorry thing and started again almost from scratch with possibly a character or 2 that appeared in the film.
    Sounds very interesting. I do love seeing fan rewrites in general, like that extended QOS script from a few days ago.
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