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Sprectre

Spectre

Imagine you’re Sam Mendes and you have to make a James Bond movie to follow the critically and commercially acclaimed Skyfall, how on earth do you top that? By making one of the most expensive movies ever made and paying homage to previous Bond films it seem. But did the gamble pay off?

After an unoffical mission to Mexico makes headlines, James Bond (Daniel Craig) is suspended by M (Ralph Finnes). But that doesn’t stop Bond from trying to find out about Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz) and his mysterious organisation that’s been behind several acts of terrorism around the world. Teaming up with Dr. Madeline Swann (Lea Seydoux) Bond attempts to track them down before their latest plot is unleashed on the world.

Lets get this out of the way. Spectre is not as great as Skyfall but it’s still a pretty good effort by Mendes. The opening scenes set in Mexico during the Day of the Dead celebrations are brilliantly staged with some lovely tracking shots of Bond working his way around the celebrations to track his target. The cinematography is also excellent with the whole film looking as stylish as you’d expect a Bond film to be.

In his fourth outing as Bond, Craig is still suave, with hints of danger and unpredictability underneath. It was also fun having the gang back together especially Ben Whishaw as Q with his dry sense of humour as he gets embroiled in Bond’s schemes despite the risk to his job. It’s just as shame that for most of the film the team at M16 are separated from Bond. More teamwork next time would be great. Christoph Waltz makes a good first appearance as Franz Oberhauser, hiding in the shadow until he draws his direct attention to Bond, but his subsequent scenes are frustrating as he keeps making the same mistakes as previous Bond villans in not killing Bond when he has the chance! His reasoning for his hatred of Bond is also rather underwhelming. Meanwhile Lea Seydoux does a capable performance as Dr. Madeleine Swann but is not as memorable a Bond girl as say Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd. It’s also a shame that Monica Bellucci’s role as Lucia is short as she seemed quite good and her character was interesting.

Some of the nods to previous Bonds are fun but at other timers it overwhelms the film leaving it with little identity of its own and more like Bond Greatest Hits. It’s also way too long and dragged a little at times. There are rumours around that this is Daniel Craig’s last outing as Bond, and if so he may not leave on an ulitimate high like Skyfall but it would still be a fitting end to his Bond era.

Rating 3.5/5 – exciting and cool but unfortunately also rather long

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SKYFALL

I have to admit I haven’t seen many James Bond films.  For some reason the franchise has never really stood out to me. Although Bond is suave, cool with plenty of gadgets, the character himself is not that interesting to me. I haven’t found the need to watch more of his adventures or know more about the character.

So it was quite surprising how much I enjoyed Skyfall, the 23rd film of the long running franchise. MI6 is in trouble and new villain Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) is out for revenge, and it seems M (Judi Dench) is right in the centre of it.

There are some spectacular set pieces directed by Sam Mendes. A particularly thrilling opening sequence has Bond tracking a killer round Turkey ending in a nerve wracking fight on board a moving train. Fans of high adrenaline action will not be disappointed. That’s not to say the film is just about the action. I still don’t find Bond the most compelling hero but Daniel Craig is great as the world’s most famous spy and best when he’s interacting with the film’s other main players.

There are great supporting characters, some getting more scenes than others but all leaving you to want to know more about them. Judi Dench gets her chance to shine as M is directly involved in the main plot. Javier Bardem is creepy, intriguing and in some moments surprisingly funny as Silva. Although he’s not exactly sympathetic or likeable you at least understand his motivations rather than just a desire to destroy the world or something. The Bond girls (Naomie Harris MI6 agent Eve and Bérénice Marlohe as  the mysterious Sévérine) are also strong characters in their own right with hints at their own backstories rather than just being there so Bond has someone to flirt with. Also added to the mix is Ben Whishaw as the geeky and slightly arrogant Q, and Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory the Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee who both make a good impression in the few scenes they are in.

This is definitely one of the most enjoyable Bond films so far, full of many thrilling scenes and moments of humour thrown in, such as Bond’s first meeting with Silva which manages to be intense and funny at the same time. I might actually look forward to the next instalment in the franchise.

 

4/5 Everyone will be talking about it anyway so you might as well see it and enjoy 50 years of Bond.

 

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