(Warning: Spoilers ahead.)
Spectre, the 24th James Bond movie, opened to theaters in the U.S. on November 6. A few days a go I saw it in IMAX and enjoyed myself thoroughly. At long last, the opening trademark gun barrel sequence was restored to the film’s open; the music started teasing it over the Columbia Pictures logo. Although I very much like the Craig films, I’ve been missing the traditional opening. This was a cue that Spectre was going to try and mix the new and the old, and it did. The pre-credits opening was incredible, in no small part due to the helicopter stunts. (Though I was slightly peeved at a few obvious close-ups done in front of a green screen from inside the helicopter; in 2015 should green screen effects really be that obvious anymore?) The arc of the last 3 movies was tied up in a satisfying manner for me; this is a movie that you will enjoy more if you saw all of the Daniel Craig Bonds that preceded it.
- Skyfall was a box office blow-out and so Spectre doesn’t compare (indeed, Skyfall was an anomaly this way so nothing will tend to compare);
- Feels like Skyfall all over again;
- Craig’s Bond has been more gritty and “real” since the Casino Royale reboot, and in Spectre things got too campy and cartoonish;
- The third act finale was too simple / too easy;
- Bond / double-oh section being obsolete is overused;
- 007 going on the lam is overused;
- The movie is too long;
- The title sequence and song sucks;
- Popcorn and snacks cost to much at the theater. (OK, I threw this one in there.)
For me, I thought it was a good blend of ‘Bonds.’ Yes, it wasn’t 100% gritty Craig from Casino Royale; but neither was it the affable (if not at times, laughable) gentleman portrayed by Roger Moore. Yes, there are some recycled plot devices and overtones, but it’s kind of hard not to have some after 23 previous films in the franchise spanning 50 years. It was certainly as enjoyable as Skyfall, and sadly strange not to have Judi Dench back as ‘M,’ except for a brief cameo on a TV screen in Bond’s apartment.
Bottom line: See the movie, in IMAX if possible. It’s still a fun action flick even if you don’t know the franchise. Mark Hughes says it best in his balanced review on Forbes:
As a 007 entry, Spectre gets far more right than it gets wrong. It is far from perfect, but it is also far from a failure. As a big-budget action-adventure spy thriller, it is top-notch cinema filled with impressive action, breathtaking stunts, splendid visuals, and solid performances. Fans will get what they expect and want — a worthy sequel that ups the ante from previous films, delivering the Craig-era’s version of the classic Bond world morphed to fit a more serious, modern, grounded approach. The bottom line is, if you enjoyed the last three films, you’re very likely to enjoy this one.