Spectre Review

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The second biggest film of the year has arrived, the latest Bond. Directed by Sam Mendez, just like the last one, is Spectre any good? I’m going to tap into all my Bond enthusiast skills to figure it out. There are spoilers from here on in.

I like to start with a little summary, should you watch it? Of course you should. You should always watch the latest Bond film. If you don’t, they might stop making them and I don’t want to live in a world like that. Should you see it at the cinema? Only if you absolutely have to see a movie and there’s nothing else on. You’ll won’t miss out on anything by waiting for Netflix or BluRay. At this point you might be beginning to get the impression that I wasn’t all that impressed.

The Pre Credits Sequence

The best thing about the scenes set around the Day of the Dead, is that it gives you the opportunity to use lots of spooky imagery in your movie posters. Other than that, it’s fairly pointless. For me it was just the first of many things that have been used to promote this fm but actually have very little to do with the plot. The fight on the helicopter was cinematically great, but it marks a return to the extremely impossible for Bond. Something that was so good about Skyfall was how it didn’t move into the impossible. Bond is a superhero without any super powers. Yes he can win a fight on a helicopter, but he can also fall out of it and die. That has gone in Spectre. We know that they can’t kill Bond, but that doesn’t mean he can do anything he wants. There are rules to the Bond universe and those rules should include physics. It looks great at the beginning of Goldeneye when Bond jumps off the cliff to catch up with the falling plane, take control, and fly away. But we know that he can’t really do that. In the real world Bond would have fallen at the same rate as the plane, never caught it up, and died as a stain at the bottom of the cliff. I thought we’d left that behind, no such luck.

The Main Story

So Blofeld doesn’t like James Bond because Blofeld’s dad preferred Bond when they were both kids. It’s basically the plot of Austin Powers 3. Really. We learn that everything bad that has ever happened to Bond is the fault of Blofeld. We don’t get to find out how he managed to do that, you just have to accept it. Blofeld explains that the bad guys in Daniel Craig Bond 1 and 3 were working for him, not the bad guy in DCB 2. It’s all a bit tenuous, like I said, it’s never really explained. Just like when Bind recovers a Spectre ring (because all international crime syndicated have their one jewellery brand) Q is able to verify all these claims by scanning the ring with his laptop. He sits the ring on a little scanner built into the keyboard of his laptop, and we see it pop up all the files for Javier Bardem, Mads Mikkelsen, and Eva Green. Did not like that. Unfortunately they didn’t attempt to explain away the fact that neither of the previous two bad guys were doing anything to Bond until he went after them. I just don’t understand how they were anything to do with Blofeld.

All of this referencing other movies takes us into uncharted territory. This is the first Bond film that won’t make any sense unless you’ve seen all the others. Until Spectre every Bond film stood alone. I’m willing to accept that for a character like Bond, bringing in new viewers isn’t necessarily the aim. If you’d never seen a Bond film would Spectre be the first? Does it really have to worry about bringing in new fans in the same way that Jurassic World, or the last Star Trek movie has to? Probably not. For reference, if you are going to watch you first Bond film, start with Dr No and work through in order.

This lack of standaloneability feels odd. There wasn’t really a Bond universe to speak of before. Each film was simply the next adventure, and we assume that by the end of the movie the adventure will be over. That’s no longer the case. Perhaps influenced by the superhero movie, the world now loves a good origin story, and they seem intent on showing us Bond’s without getting a younger guy in to play The role. Now I know that Bond’s parents died when he was young, in a climbing accident. He was raised by Blofeld’s Dad, and Blofeld didn’t like that. He lived in Scotland and his family was wealthy enough to own an estate. I also know that there was a woman he loved, but she died when he couldn’t save her, and that drives all his inner anger. I made it through 22 movies without knowing any of that, and I’d happily have made it through a further 22. I’d have been perfectly happy with a bad guy wanting to blow up the world unless Bond can stop him, instead I got to hear about his unhappy childhood. Apart from the back story the rest of film was pretty textbook.

One thing I’m tired of is the insistence of adding an extra storyline about either Bond being cut off by MI6, the 00 department being shut down, or Bond not being fit to be Bond. They started in Licence to Kill and they love to bring it out. Now it’s every time and I’m tired of it. I’d like them to just get in with doing a story about Bond and his support working like the well oiled machine we’re meant to think they are.

The Actors and Characters

It’s nice seeing M, Q, and Moneypenny getting some interesting stuff to do. It reinforces that M is a man with field experience and isn’t above getting his hands dirty. That leaves you with more respect for him when he’s giving Bond a bollocking. Ben Wishaw’s Q is a wonderful character and continues to be a nice update for the modern era. Moneypenny is a tricky one. On the one hand you want her to be a strong female character, on the other hand she really is M’s PA. it’s hard to give her much interesting stuff to do when her job involves booking appointments and opening the mail. That said, she is brilliant and has attitude. She isn’t running around shooting bad guys but you never forget that Bond just doesn’t happen without her. She has come a long way since the single scene appearances of the old movies.

During the press interviews Daniel Craig has been defending the presence of Monica Bellucci seeing as she’s so old. Craig is right when he says that she isn’t old, she’s age appropriate. He’s also right when he said “For fucks sake, it’s Monica Bellucci”. He didn’t swear, but I bet he would have if it wasn’t an interview. If we’re judging her on looks alone, her being 51 only serves to make her more attractive. She’s spectacular. I don’t care how old she is, if you were a 19 year old girl and woke up tomorrow looking like Monica Bellucci, you’d be pretty damn happy about it. For fucks sake, it’s Monica Bellucci.

What I don’t understand is why she’s in the movie, based on how much she’s actually in the movie. When I was 6 I played Wise Man 3 in the school nativity. You know, they guy with the myrrh. I had more lines in that nativity than Monica Bellucci had in Spectre. She maybe did two days on the film, which I’m basing on the fact that her two scenes take place in two locations. Moneypenny is in the film far more, and is infinitely more important to the outcome of the movie.

Perhaps the most annoying part of Bellucci’s character was how she contributed to a moment of the film that would have been far more appropriate in the Roger Moore age. Bond goes to her house, and just starts kissing her. Of course she’s up for sleeping with this guy who killed her husband in the pre credits sequence, because that’s how life works. If you see a lady you like, just go to her house and flop out your secret agent. Any women around will be well up for it. NOT! (Please don’t really do that). They could have cut her character entirely and it wouldn’t have had a single negative affect on the film.

The real female lead was Lea Seydoux. The e in her name should have an accent on it but I don’t know how to make my keyboard do that. I was ready to say that she hasn’t been in much before, but she’s actually been in loads of really big movies that I’ve seen. Turns out that she has made absolutely no impact on me with any of her previous performances, and today she continued that record. It’s not that she’s bad, she isn’t. It’s just that she’s just there, nothing more. At no point would I have rated her performance as anything other than adequate.

Andrew Scott is a baddy. You know he’s a baddy because M doesn’t like him and because it’s Andrew Scott. Sorry Andrew, but Sherlock has broken you. Until you do something better you’ll always be judged against it, and the trouble is that Moriarty was a much better role than they give you in Spectre. I hate characters like this in movies. We all know they’re baddies from the moment they appear on screen so don’t patronise us by pretending that we don’t know that. It’s just like Peter Weller I’m Star Trek. Is he a baddy? Of course he is, it’s Peter Weller.

Blofeld is played by Christoph Waltz, and in Spectre he remains one of the most watchable men in cinema. He does a nice line in creepy-but-nice and Blofeld is a good chance to do that. I think it’s down to his voice. There’s just something about his accent and tone that would make you listen to him say anything.

The Theme Song

It’s the first Bond theme to get to the top of the charts in the UK. I didn’t like it. It’s still better than the Madonna one, but it’s no View to a Kill.

The Gadgets 

The gadgets were good. Some interesting guns, an exploding watch, and an Austin Martin DB10. The sequence with the car is basically a ten minute car ad, but it’s fun to watch and those cars are just beautiful.

The step too far is the smart blood. That’s not a clever friend, it’s the special blood that Bond has which allows Q to track him anywhere on the planet. No no no no no no. No. It’s not quite an invisible car, but it’s getting close.

To Sum Up 

It’s not a great film, and it’s not a great Bond film. However, it’s far from being the worst and I expect it will do very well and result in there being another Bond film.

2 stars on the Rich Movie Rating SystemTM

Explaining My Movie Rating System

I have been writing mini movie reviews on the Movies You Should See Facebook page, and it seems you’re all enjoying them. I thought it would be a good idea to explain my star rating system, believe it or not, there is actually some logic there.

There are many ways in which we can rate how good a film is. My system is based on personal enjoyment, and your desire to recommend that film to another person. After all, isn’t that what counts the most? A movie could be technically the best film ever made, but if you don’t enjoy watching it, what’s the point? There’s a conversation we’ve all had. A friend will tell you that they intend to watch a particular movie, and will ask you if you’ve seen it, and what you thought of it.

Most films score three out of five. It’s a perfectly respectable score, and it means that when you’re friend asks you what you think, you’ll say something along the lines of “Oh I think you’ll enjoy Dave. Kevil Klein is really funny in it. It’s a nice little movie”. Films that score three out of five are films that don’t really have anything wrong with them. Every thing in them, is absolutely fine. It’s just that they don’t summon the enthusiasm that a four out of five movie brings. 

“You haven’t seen The ‘Burbs? I love that film, you should definitely see it.” There’s your four out of five film. These are the truly great films that most people will enjoy. You have to search hard to find fault, and if you do, you won’t let it spoil your enjoyment of the film. You may even have spent some time trying to make other people see the film. But, as good as these films are, they don’t have the gravitas of five out of five movies. 

The top score is a very special thing, reserved only for very important films. These are the ones that make you question the sanity of your friends, if it turns out they haven’t seen it. “How have you been alive this long and not seen Ghostbusters?” See what I mean? “How have you not seen Jaws? Stop what you’re doing, we’re going to watch it right now.” The top scorers need to be something that crosses generations. I imagine some of them are stored in museums now.

If you’re asked about a movie that scores two out of five, you may not even give a verbal answer to your friend. Perhaps a screwing up of your face says it all. Disappointing is a word that best describes these films. Perhaps, these films are most commonly second parts of trilogies, or third parts of larger franchises. Think Jurassic Park 2, Alien 3. It’s not that they’re truly terrible. Clearly there was some money spent, and the people involved had good intentions. It’s just that they missed the mark.

That leaves us with films that score one out of five. Friends don’t let friends see one star movies. Reserve this score for the films that really offend you. They’ll make you feel sad for all the talented filmmakers who can’t get funding for their projects. They’ll make you wonder how the people involved make a living and provide for their families. They come from many sources. Perhaps they’re a computer game, TV show, or Twitter feed that has been turned into a movie. They may feature a current pop star. Even worse, they may feature a well known, popular actor, but you’ve never heard of the film. If it has Al Pacino, and you’ve never heard of it, then the chances are that it’s utter crap.

So there you have it. My movie rating system explained. Avoid one star films at all costs. Two star movies are only to be watched alone, late at night, and never pay for them specifically. Wait until they’re on Netflix. Don’t worry if I only score a film as a three, it’s absolutely fine. If you plan on playing with your phone the whole way though, you need a three star film. Get excited when it’s a four. Maybe put some effort into seeing it. That’s what iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play are there for. See it immediately if it’s a five, don’t waste time. You’re actually missing out on a part of the human experience by not seeing this movie.

If I Live Tweeted RoboCop 2014 *SPOILERS*

I didn’t really tweet all this, but I did think it all by myself. Why not actually follow me on Twitter?

If you still want to see the RoboCop remake, you’re crazy. But this blog post may spoil it.

Is that Samuel L Jackson?

If you built an ED-209, why would you give it that voice?

Don’t use the music from the original. It’s really cheap and crappy when you do that.

Omar! Have you seen The Wire?

In the future, all computer screens will be transparent for absolutely no reason.

Why have they shot this so horribly? I have motion sickness right now.

32 minutes in and it’s rubbish. I might not make it through the whole movie.

Sad robot neck sounds. Poor RoboCop.

“I wouldn’t buy that for a dollar” that doesn’t even make sense. Such utter crap. That’s worse than the end of Into Darkness

RoboCop uses Bing. So should you.

Does RoboCop have to shave? Hold on while I Bing that.

Oh naughty Commissioner Gordon. That’ll come back to bite you in the ass later.

And he’s still fighting robots in a warehouse. I was still at school when this scene started.

Now I’m an hour in and it feels like nothing much has happened. I’m so bored. There hasn’t even been any mention of how Murphy got blown up. No asking who did it, or why. No attempt to figure out anything about that. And I thought the whole point was supposed to be that Detroit was going to hell. There’s none of that in this film, why does America even need RoboCop? Plus, the RoboCop outfit looks rubbish. Helmets can be tough to do, just ask the Captain America people, and this is not a good example.

“At least you’re the right colour now” Are we ok with this? Really? Clearly RoboCop does see colour.

Why do they have footage of his explosion? What is this, Star Trek 4?

I think I get it now. What you would normally spread throughout a movie, has been put in the last 30 minutes of the film, and the preceding hour and twenty just had white noise.

I bet that bald, hill-billy, Michigan Militia bloke doesn’t survive to the end of the film.

Not much time for Murphy to give even a single thought to finding the people that blew him up.

That thing where RoboCop searches all the CCTV cameras to find criminals, just put that on an iPad and give it to every cop.

“He’s off solving his own murder” FINALLY!

At this point in the film, I have so many questions about the plot that the screenwriter clearly didn’t have.

If RoboCop is such a good shot, why is he firing so many bullets?

RoboCop can see fingerprints on guns, but he needs to turn the lights on first.

It looks like this is pretty much the end. Will Garry Oldman redeem himself? Will I give a crap if he does. There are 15 minutes left and I could turn it off right now, and not care how it ends…

…Actually, I’m going to do that. RoboCop 2014 – 1 out of 5 Rich Points.