Spectre – A Review

Sam Mendes directs Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux and Christoph Waltz in the latest James Bond thriller Spectre. This is James’s 24th, Craig’s 4th and Mendes’ 2nd outing in the series inspired by Ian Fleming’s novels.

The movie begins with an exquisitely crafted opening sequence filmed during Dia De los Muortos or the day of the dead in Mexico City. A parade that is an explosion of colour and energy is given a sombre almost monochromatic appearance and a hypnotic rhythm thanks to Thomas Newman’s excellent score. From there on things go full on Bond mayhem as Craig blows up a building to kill an assassin he was asked to target in a message from M ( a much-missed Dame Judy Dench). Buildings fall like dominos and a helicopter threatens to send scores of revellers below to join the dead that they have gathered to commemorate.  This is also the blink and you’ll miss it appearance of bond girl no.1 the Mexican beauty Stephanie Sigman.

From then on we move to Rome to attend the funeral of the assassin that bond killed and we are introduced to bond conquest no 2. The alluring Ms Monica Bellucci. In between Mexico and Rome there is a lot of bureaucratic shenanigans going on at between M played by Ralph Fiennes who seems to be channelling his inner Voldemort and the new head of internal security C, Andrew Scott who does nothing to hide his villainous side. I think the makers of the film made a massive mistake in cast Scott as the man who would have the keys to the world-wide surveillance system – I mean come on he is Moriarty it is such an iconic role that you cannot help but see his performance as C coloured with Moriarty shades. 

From Rome we are taken on a mostly pointless and unengaging journey as we are introduced to several villainous characters. The Pale King, Hinx the henchman and Franz Oberhauser who are supposed to evoke a sense of Déjà vu but it just seems gimmicky. I completely understand that Mendes wanted to pay homage to the legacy of the Bond flicks but taking visual and character cues from previous outings but it just becomes messy. And with his penchant for unnecessary psychological drama which for me was the downfall of Skyfall. The entire back story with the reason for Waltz’s hatred towards Bond just seems half-baked just as Silva and M’s relationship dynamic was in Skyfall. 

The only saving graces with Skyfall were the amazing Adele’s Oscar winning title track and the new Q Ben Wishaw. With Spectre atleast Ben Wishaw is good but Sam Smith’s title track is just plain bad – it even put me off of Sam Smith a little bit and I love his music otherwise. Lea Seydoux as Bond girl is beautiful but she doesn’t have the same screen presence as Eva Green who was one of the most memorable one of bond girls in recent history. Naomi Harris as Moneypenny isnt given too much more than to play fetch and it is infuriating. Is it necessary to crowd the bond movies with so many female characters and giving them nothing more than 1 scene each ? why not have 1 solid female character. Here is an idea to ponder a Female Bond Villain – Mendes if you want to play psycho dramas there – create a female bond villain who is so hell bent on destroying bond and the world along with it just because he didn’t call the next day.  

To me Bond movies are about action, a larger than life secret agent that has almost no basis in reality and almost cartoonish villains with the plot to destroy the world that Bond will stop just in time. All this catharsis of the wounded soldier and his back stories and villains with mommy and daddy issues is just not how imagine the Bond-verse to be. If Mendes wants to do American Beauty he should do American Beauty but not in Bond-verse. And what is it with him destroying all of the famous Bond Symbols? First killing off M in Skyfall and now the iconic MI6 building – WHY SAM WHY! I am frankly done with Mendes’ run with Bond.

Christopher Nolan is thought to have sought to direct a Bond movie before Mendes was handed the reins. His influence on modern action capers is very evident with his hugely successful Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception. I actually think it would be a brilliant Idea to let him have a shot at Bond. I love Craig as Bond but he seems to be over it himself and it would be interesting to see how Nolan would do with Tom Hardy as Bond. Maybe reinvent the Bond series, give us a new origins story even – clearly that hasn’t been done with this one franchise and Nolan is as good a director as any and he clearly seems to want to do it himself.

Advertisements

Oscars 2013 Recap

ImageLet the nitpicking begin! To each his own but I loved Seth McFarlane for most parts as the host of the 85th Academy Awards.  A Year that Oscars decided to pay tribute to the music in movies considering that this was a good year for Musicals with Les Misérables being nominated for Best Picture among other big awards. A night that featured musical performances from Dame Shirley Bassey leading the 50th year of James Bond tribute, Norah Jones performing everyone needs a friend from Ted, Jennifer Hudson blowing the roof off the Dolby Theater with her Dreamgirl number “And I’m telling you” and the Magnificent ADELE singing and then later winning for Skyfall can be forgiven for Barbra Streisand doing In Memorium.

Image

My favorite moments from the show:

  1. Adele Singing Skyfall
  2. Daniel Day Lewis’s acceptance speech and his jokes on Meryl Streep and them switching roles of Thatcher and Lincoln. I just wish someone would cast these two together and make them both 4-time Oscar winners.
  3. Ang Lee Winning – like a dark horse Lee Swooped in and took the award and graciously at that.
  4. Seth McFarlane joking about the super secretive nature of Argo – so Secretive infact the Academy didn’t know who directed it and thus not nominating Ben Affleck
  5. Affleck’s acceptance speech and promising to not hold grudges 🙂

Most Disappointing moment of the night:

  1. Jennifer Lawrence winning instead of Jessica Chastain.
  2. Brave winning instead of Wreck it Ralph

I ended the night with 5/6 for the predictions on who I wanted to win with the only one I lost was for Jessica Chastain.

Below is the complete list of winners

Best Picture                                            Argo
Best Actor                                               Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
Best Actress                                           Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Best Director                                          Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
Best Animated Feature Film                 Brave
Best Cinematography                           Claudio Miranda (Life of Pi)
Best Short Film Animated                     Paperman (director John Kahrs)
Best Short Film (Live Action)               Curfew (Directed by Shawn Christensen)
Best Original Screenplay                      Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)
Best Adapted Screenplay                      Chris Terrio (Argo)
Best Original Song                                 Adele Adkins & Paul Epworth (Skyfall)
Best Original Score                               Mychael Danna (Life of Pi)
Best Actor In A Supporting Role          Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)
Best Visual Effects                                 Life of Pi
Best Documentary Feature                   Searching For Sugarman
Best Documentary Short                       Inocente (Directed by Sean Fine, Andrea Nix)
Best Sound Mixing                                 Les Miserables
Best Sound Editing                                Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall
Best Film Editing                                    William Goldenberg (Argo)
Best Supporting Actress                       Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)
Best Foreign Language Film                Amour
Best Makeup & Hairstyling                   Lisa Westcott & Julie Dartnell (Les Miserables)
Best Production Design                       Lincoln
Best Costume Design                          Jacqueline Durran (Anna Karenina)

And the total wins for the movies (which will go up on their adverts now)

Life of Pi (4 Oscars)
Argo (3 Oscars)
Les Miserables (3 Oscars)
Lincoln (2 Oscars)
Skyfall (2 Oscars)
Django Unchained (2 Oscars)
Brave (1 Oscar)
Silver Linings Playbook (1 Oscar)
Zero Dark Thirty (1 Oscar)
Amour (1 Oscar)
Searching for Sugar Man (1 Oscar)
Anna Karenina (1 Oscar)

Image
Taking everything into consideration I feel much better about 2012 at the movies than I did before the show.  Almost all the right people won and were gracious in their acceptance speeches and Seth McFarlane was appropriately risqué and hilarious for most parts with some real zingers.

As for early 2014 predictions – I Have Meryl Streep for August Osage County