Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Film: 'Spectre'

So, was it worth all the fuss and the wait? I regret to say "No", and that being by quite some way.

First, some things I did like about it:-
Christoph Walz makes for a credibly creepy, psychopathic, interesting villain as head of the nefarious, acrostically-named organisation bent on world domination (ho-hum!) which gives the film its title.
Ralph Fiennes as 'M' and Ben Whishaw's 'Q' play more participatory roles than previously.
Daniel Craig is as good a Bond as ever, though for the first time here I had the niggling feeling now and again that he was starting to act on auto.
The most spectacular sequence is the pre-title opening set in Mexico City. Nothing in the body of the film comes even close to it.
There's not much else that I felt really positive about.

Several of the set pieces are derivative - situations and locations straight out of previous Bond films. One gets all the expected chases and fights - cars, helicopters, train - as well as the climactic confrontation (with obligatory torture) between Bond and his nemesis in (where else?) but in the latter's secret, secluded lair - lavishly furbished and equipped as always..
The main romantic interest is provided by Lea Seydoux whose character observes the standard formula of initial mistrust, even deep antipathy, being transformed to a realisatory enlightening that Bond and she are on the same side.
I felt that the encounters between the two of them significantly slowed the action down, such that there were several points at which I found myself stifling yawns. The film is close on two-and-a-half hours long, the longest Bond to date, and at times it felt like it.

If Sam Mendes's direction is efficient enough for the purpose (he also directed the superior 'Skyfall') the story could have done with a strong injection of imagination and originiality.
Apart from Mexico City (and London) other locations are Rome, the Austrian Tyrol and Tunisia.

And then, as a post-script, there's the indifferent (to my ears) title song by Sam Smith - not quite the worst ever (which honour surely belongs to Madonna for her utterly dismal 'Die Another Day') - but nowhere near as memorable as some that the series has produced. And I hadn't a clue what on earth he was singing about. When he goes into falsetto mode his consonants disappear like Adele's do in her 'Skyfall', leaving me tantalisingly in Limbo until I look up the lyrics, though Adele did have a stronger melody.

The first Bond film I ever saw was the fourth in the series, 'Thunderball', in 1965 (it was also the very first time that I went to a cinema alone) and caught up with the earlier ones shortly afterwards. By then I'd have read most, or perhaps all, of the Bond novels - a series which I've now read half a dozen times. I still remember watching the film of 'Thunderball' and marvelling at how exciting it was. I was practically gripping the arm-rests! Since that time, of course, we've all grown wiser and more demanding in our entertainment requirements. We can all spot a ropey back projection now, for example. But I think all those early Bond films of the 60s, 70s and some into the 80s, plus maybe two or three of them since then merit a second or even multiple viewings. Regrettably, I do not think that 'Spectre' deserves to be on that select list of mine.................................6.


  1. For the umpteenth time mine is a minority view, J.G. Some are hailing this as one of the very best in the entire series and I'm not going to maintain that they are all wrong. I'd recommend anyone to go and make up their own minds.

  2. Hey hey, man. :)

    Just followed you on Google, going to visit your blog more often from now on. Keep up the great work!

    1. Thanks, F.S. - and welcome aboard! Just don't forget that my opinions are very personal, me claiming no expertise at all on the intracacies of film-making - as well as my being well outside the target audience for which most films are made these days - probably older by getting on for 50 years now. I don't know how long I can keep it up or even wonder if I want to do so, as so many films I feel out of sympathy with. But I've no plans to retire quite just yet. Thanks again.

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  4. At first pass, I might have give this a 6 as well. But 24 hours later, I'm thinking I'd take it to a 4.5. The holes in the story as big enough to drive a truck through. I thought Craig did fine, given what he had to work with - which wasn't much.

    1. I saw your own review yesterday, Blobby, but left off from making a comment in the hope that you'd see mine and put your own here, which I'm happy you have.
      This film has had generally better reception in the U.K. than it's had elsewhere, including America, and I think we were, on the whole (but not me) too kind to it. I found a feeling of tiredness creeping in, making me wonder if a new Bond might inject a bit of life into the franchise. Names suggested include Idris Elba which should put the cat among the pigeons for some but at least it would make everyone sit up and watch again. Has the series over-stretched itself, I wonder, a feeling a got way back in the middle of the Roger moore films. History has certainly moved on and I do ask myself if the entire premise is out-dated. But one can but wait and see.

    2. I still have to believe they white-board these stories to make the stories - if not the action - plausible. But apparently they don't......or don't care.