***This is a post that is going to be full of major spoilers so if you have stumbled upon this post thinking that this is a harmless Spectre review, it is not! You can check out my previous post for my spoiler free review but this is a post for all those who wish to discuss the classified, for your eyes only kind of spoiler material***
If you have seen Spectre then you will understand why I had to write another piece, there was so much in this movie! It’s a shame that a lot of it bugged me and I couldn’t really talk about in my main review. So I’m going to start with the thing that annoyed me the most about Spectre and that is just how darn predictable it was! This frustrated me so much and the promotion for the film is much to blame. I don’t watch trailers but thanks to twitter even if you don’t you still manage to see stills from almost ever second of said trailers. Therefore from the get go I knew that Mr. White featured in Spectre. This immediately removes any mystery as to who ‘The Pale King’ is when mentioned in the first scene of the film. Adding to this the presence of Mr. White also made it obvious that this film would have links to Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, removing more intrigue immediately. This is only the minor stuff though, calling the film Spectre was the biggest mistake of them all.
With Spectre comes Blofeld and not for a second did any self-respecting Bond fan think Christoph Waltz was cast as some dude called Oberhauser. We all knew and this was only confirmed by the trailers as Waltz wore the very Blofeld esque attire. Even if this hadn’t of been the case though the film itself makes it so obvious. When we see Bond and Dr. Swann approach the Spectre facility, inside a crater, its instantly clear whose lair we are heading too, furthermore when the infamous white ‘pussy’ appears its ridiculously obvious. Therefore when Waltz finally reveals his true identity it is so anti-climatic. I didn’t hear a single gasp in the cinema either of the times I saw the film – what would have been better would have been to come outright with the real casting news and then we wouldn’t have had to wait for the reveal we all knew was coming. Imagine the surprise and shock if this had been done correctly though, this would have had Star Wars Darth Vader potential! Anyway that is my first issue – Predictability.
Once you get past the predictability of Blofeld there were further issues with the character too. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the personal relationship he had with Bond, for me it almost weakened his motives. I’m also undecided whether or not I like the fact that Blofeld was the man behind every single villain from the last three Bond movies, maybe one or two would have been cool but to conveniently place them all under his command was a bit disappointing for me. I like to think that maybe some previous villains had their own agendas and weren’t just puppets of Blofelds. I thought the writing for Blofeld was also quite weak. If you cast Christoph Waltz in one of the most iconic villain roles ever you should use him. I know that his calm demeanor can be menacing but I wanted him to be mental and really go to town with this role, this is no fault of Waltz’s but instead the lack of opportunity given to him. A more exciting scheme than setting up a worldwide surveillance system should have been used here, one that could have allowed Waltz to show more menace. Anyway Spectre felt like more of an introduction to his character so hopefully there is more to come from Waltz and his full potential can be meet because when he was allowed to in Spectre he showed brilliance in this role.
The finale was interesting, it almost felt like Saw meets Bond! Whilst I enjoyed it I couldn’t help but feel things would have worked better with a dual finale featuring an extended escape sequence from the Moroccan desert complex all whilst the MI6 team take down C and the surveillance launch. Nonetheless I enjoyed the finale I just thought the passing of time wasn’t great enough or made that clear for the reappearance of Blofeld to have much effect. However, I did like that we got to see how he got his infamous scar, that was a nice touch.
In my review I mentioned the humour within the action – now I don’t mind Bond conveniently falling onto a sofa amongst a collapsing building, I gave that a laugh. However the whole Fiat 500 section amongst the Aston Martin vs Jaguar car chase simply removed any pace from that sequence. As a result I never really felt the ferocity of that chase. As for the only word uttered by Mr. Hinx – the less said about his “shit” demise the better. The out of place love making scene that followed too felt cheap, even for Bond.
Spectre is a definite change in tone from Craig’s previous three films, whilst those had a darker and more serious origin style telling to their stories Spectre feels much more established as a fully fledged Bond film. Whilst this ultimately should be a good thing it will just take some getting used to for me. I’ve loved the different tone that the Craig era has handled and I maybe just wasn’t ready for the iconic elements of the Connery era to impose themselves upon that. With time I know I’m going to come to really appreciate Spectre and most of these complaints will only really be an issue for a first time watch.
I realise I have seemed overly critical of the film and whilst its obvious that I had my issues with it there were so many aspects that I enjoyed too. You can read most of those in my main review but some that I didn’t mention are as follows. I really appreciated the mirroring of the original poster showing glass with bullet holes in it and as Bond shot at Blofeld I immediately noticed the clever use of the poster. Of course I loved the secret video message from Judi Dench’s M and the accompanying theme. As I’ve said I enjoyed the finale even if I think I can imagine a better one but the continued increased involvement of MI6 is nothing but positive and M’s line stating they know what C stands for was the funniest moment of the film. As an avid Bond fan I also loved the numerous references to previous bond films. From the obvious throw back to Live and Let Die and Baron Samedi in Mexico City to the striking similarites of the clinic in the Alps to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’s Piz Gloria or even the obvious but appreciated parallels of the crater base to that of Blofeld’s volcanic lair in You Only Live Twice I was in my element. Mr. Hinx was a welcome return to the more physical villain and his fight on the train is probably the best combat scenes we’ve seen in Craig’s era.
So whilst I was a little disappointed with Spectre and I think the whole thing could have been executed a lot better I think Sam Mendes has done a tremendous job. He has 23 predecessors to compete with, none less than his very own Skyfall, and millions of Bond fans that all have different preferences. For me Spectre is much the same as how authors of The Essential James Bond Lee Pfeiffer and Dave Worrall describe some of the earlier Bond movies – “It’s an entertaining film, but its parts are more impressive than the whole.”