Sunday, November 22, 2015

Talking Spectre

Caught up with Spectre today.

OK. let's get the reservations out of the way.  Having re-watched most of Skyfall a couple of weeks ago, I can agree that Spectre is not as good a film.  The script of the former was particularly sharp and concise; the movie looked consistently gorgeous;  and it sat well with the sort of story arc that the Daniel Craig Bond had been on.   In this one, by comparison, the script has its moments, but the villain is far too talky and not as convincing;  and the story tries a bit too hard to put some cohesive whole on even pre-Craig elements of Bond.  The look of the film is distinctive - the cinematography seems to have dusty sepia everywhere - and while some of it must be a deliberate link with the theme of Bond living in the shadows, I did miss the clear and often glowing look of Skyfall.   Oh - and that bland and forgettable theme song.  It's funny, but critical reception of a Bond film really does seem to have an awful lot hanging on how memorable that is...

But nonetheless:  this is still an impressive and entertaining film that stands up well as part of the incredible re-invigoration of an out-dated character under Craig.  (I see he is even a producer of the films now - good luck to him.)

I mean, seriously, who would have thought before he took the role that people would view Bond and take seriously its human drama elements?   Sure, I was upset as a 9 year old when Mrs Bond was gunned down immediately after her marriage to that Australian imposter (quite a downer of an ending); but apart from that, there was never any sense of real humanity or loss in any of the Bonds. I also like the way each of these films have fed straight into the next.  As with Pirates of the Caribbean, I can imagine watching them all in quick succession on DVD would be rewarding, because the recurring elements will be fresh in the mind and the unfolding, somewhat complicated story make clearer sense.

The things I liked about Spectre in particular:  Sam Mendes's return as a director - I guess the lesson is that if you want to take Bond seriously as a character, you use a serious drama director.  But the action is also handled so spectacularly well.   The opening sequence in Mexico City is just superb, in particular; but all of the locations scrub up well in this movie.  

SORT OF  SPOILER WARNING:   And despite my reservations about the script, I did like the moral seriousness of the ending, and the note of optimism that Bond is ready to "settle down" and find something more fulfilling in life.  This really is a big turnaround for the character's arc as played by Craig, and in that sense, it really would be a fitting way for him to depart the series.

But if he does, it will be virtually impossible to believe the series will ever repeat the success of this present era.

And PS:  remember, I don't even dismiss Quantum of Solace.  Perhaps that tells you a lot about how much I have liked the Craig reign.

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