Sunday, November 08, 2015

Two-Word Movie Review - Spectre

Here are your two words:

Bad Blood

These two words come partly from the high-tech tracking device used to monitor .007's activities, partly from the unique relationship between James and this episode's nemesis, and partly from my disappointment in this James Bond offering after having been so dazzled by Skyfall.

Let me stop here and point out that until Skyfall, I was not a James Bond fan.  I could take these movies or leave them.  But Skyfall was good, and I had been waiting for its follow-up since Skyfall's closing credits.

Let me also say that Spectre is a perfectly good James Bond movie. Action, adventure, things blow up... but...

Spectre is no Skyfall.

The opening sequence was promising (and was that one long, impressive, un-cut camera shot?  I think it might have been).  But my faith in finding a satisfying spy experience was rattled with the opening credits theme song that did not sound like a James Bond-worthy theme.  No disrespect to Sam Smith's fine performance; it was a good piece of music, but it wasn't that mysterious, haunting kind of James Bond theme that I have come to associate with this long-standing franchise.

After that, I was kind of lost.
For one, I was confused why the new M, after having acted as someone who'd be willing to bend the rules a little at the end of Skyfall, was being such a rule enforcer at the beginning of Spectre.
Dude, I thought you were gonna be cool.  What happened?

But most disappointing, I found the plot difficult to follow. This could be just me, though.  Someone else might be able to keep track of all the names and connections better than I can.  The three extra steps to get to the end game might have been more obvious to someone else.  I prefer my movies to be more served up to me rather than needing to be puzzled apart.
This seems to be a classic James Bond thing, though.  We are supposed to be lead down the same path of discovery as the spies.  I have always felt that they try to cram way too many paths into one movie.  This might be why I'd never been a fan of the franchise.
I just couldn't see the connections.  Who is that?  Why is he going there?  Wait, why did everyone want that guy dead; seems like all they really wanted was his information.

Oh.  They try to build on Bond's childhood, but they do it wrong.  What they did in Skyfall worked; what they do in Spectre seems really forced.
In Skyfall, they showed you things and let you *feel* them.  Remember the game keeper at Skyfall?  You liked him, right?  You felt the fondness between him and Bond even though nothing in the dialogue spelled it out for you.
In Spectre, they *tell* you things. What should have been a moment of discovery was more like sitting through a university lecture.

And the bad guy just didn't scare me, didn't make me feel uncomfortable.  The threat to international security was explained a bit, but not illustrated at length.  Plus, it's too expected that Bond will escape each troubling situation in which he finds himself.  I was never sitting on the edge of my seat wondering if/how the good guys will win.  It was just... expected.

If you are a James Bond fan, Spectre is as good as any James Bond movie... maybe better than most.  This one has everything you look for in a James Bond flick, including hints about the next installment.

It simply was not the follow-up to Skyfall that I expected.


Read more Two-Word Reviews here.

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